Unlike the vast majority of the Dutch and Belgian public who embrace racial sterotypes at Christmas, Swedes, at least Stockholmers put an end to a racist display in a store window this week.
Reported by Charlotte West and Paul O'Mahony in The Local.se
Stockholm's most prestigious department store, Nordiska Kompaniet (NK), has had to remove a set of black ragdolls from its Christmas window display after receiving a number of complaints from concerned customers.
A visit to NK's Christmas displays has been a part of Stockholmers' staple holiday traditions ever since 1915. This year's theme was “A dream Christmas”. Puppies, dragons and polar bears danced side-by-side with sugar plum fairies and... what appeared to be golliwogs.
When the windows were first available for public consumption on Sunday, one featured three of the black dolls emerging from a Christmas package.
"The company that does our window displays gets a lot of its stock from Germany," NK spokeswoman Sofie Stenbeck told The Local.
"They went there to buy the dolls. But they ended up getting a lot of e-mails from customers, who said that the dolls looked like golliwogs," she added.
A golliwog is a black ragdoll that was originally a literary character created by English author and illustrator Florence Kate Upton in the late 19th century.
These dolls, with their jet black skin, lipstick red lips and fuzzy hair, became a popular children's toy. They resembled the characters in the American minstrel shows, comedies that often stereotyped black people as bumbling idiots.
The golliwog was also used as the mascot of British jam manufacturer James Robertson & Sons from 1910 until the company's products were boycotted as offensive in the early 1980s.
According to Sofie Stenbeck, NK was also contacted by members of the public who found the dolls inappropriate.
"When we looked at the window again we saw that the dolls were very similar to these golliwogs. We took a decision to remove them. Of course they shouldn't be there if they cause offence," she said.
By Wednesday the dolls had been replaced by a toy spider and a stuffed turtle.
Nov 30, 2007
Nov 29, 2007
Christiane Taubira, born in Cayenne, French Guiana, is a French politician. She ran for the office of President of France in 2002. Her party agreed to support the Socialists in 2007 so she didn't run in France's most recent Presidential election. President of her party Walwari, she has served as a French deputy at the National Assembly since 1993, and was re-elected in 1997. Non-affiliated in 1993, she then voted for the investiture of the conservative Edouard Balladur cabinet in 1993. In 1994, she became a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), being the fourth on the Énergie Radicale list led by Bernard Tapie. In June 1997, she then joined the Socialist party (PS), and then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (PS) commissioned her for a report on gold search in Guiana.
Christiane Taubira gave her name to the May 21, 2001 law which recognizes the Atlantic slave trade and slavery as a crime against humanity. In 2002, she was a Left Radical Party (PRG) candidate for the presidency although she does not belong to the party. She gained 2.32% of the votes. After 2002, she became vice-president of the Left Radical Party. She was elected again as deputy on June 16, 2002, and joined the socialist group in the Assembly.
Né le 02 février 1952 à Cayenne (97300)
I - Formation supérieure
Économiste (1er, 2eme et 3ème cycle de Sciences Économiques à Paris II - Assas et Panthéon) Sociologie et Ethnologie afro-américaine (Sorbonne et Jussieu) Agro-alimentaire (3eme cycle CFCA : Centre Français de la Coopération Agricole Paris et Bordeaux) Langues étrangères : Anglais, Espagnol, Portugais.
II - Expérience professionnelle
Ancien Professeur de Sciences Économiques, ancienne Directrice du CNAM (Guyane), Ancien Directeur ou Directeur Général de Caricoop (Coopération agricole Antilles-Guyane) ; Atpag (Services techniques de la pêche maritime) ; Occe (Coopération et Commerce Extérieur avec la Caraïbe, les 3 Amériques, l'Asie du Sud-est).
III - Fonctions électives
Députée de Guyane élue en 1993, réélue en 1997, 2002 et 2007 ; Membre de la Commission des Affaires Étrangères, Députée au Parlement Européen élue en 1994 (un mandat de 1994 à 1999) ; Membre de la Commission Développement et Coopération, Membre de la Délégation UE/ACP.
IV-Actions législatives (sélection sur dimension internationale)
Auteur de la première proposition de Loi visant à interdire la fabrication, le stockage, la vente et l'usage des mines anti-personnel (MAP) février 1995,
Auteur d'une résolution du Parlement Européen pour l'interdiction des MAP ; Mars 1995, Rapporteur à l'Assemblée Nationale de la Loi d'interdiction des MAP, Membre de la Délégation Officielle française à la Convention Internationale d'Ottawa (Canada) pour l'interdiction de production, de stockage, d'exportation des MAP (décembre 1997),
Rapporteur à l'Assemblée Nationale de la loi de ratification par la France de la Convention internationale d'interdiction des MAP,
Membre de la Délégation Officielle française à la Convention Internationale de Maputo (Mozambique) pour l'évaluation de l'application de la Convention d'Ottawa (juin 1999),
Auteur de la proposition de Loi visant à reconnaître la traite négrière et l'esclavage comme crime contre l'humanité. Texte adopté par le Parlement français le 10 mai 2001, promulgué par le Président de la République française le 21 mai 2001 sous le n° 2001-434.Texte co-signé par le Premier Ministre et huit ministres concernés par ses dispositions (Éducation, recherche, Justice, Culture et Communication, Affaires Étrangères, Affaires Européennes, Intérieur, Outre-Mer),
Intervention devant le Conseil Exécutif de l'Unesco pour plaider la nécessité de l'adoption de lois nationales et d'un texte international de reconnaissance du crime contre l'humanité et de réparation par des politiques publiques ciblées (octobre 1999),
Membre de la Délégation Officielle française à la Conférence Internationale contre le racisme, la xénophobie et l'intolérance qui lui est associée à Durban (Afrique du Sud, septembre 2001). Conférence-débat à Durban de présentation de la loi française n° 2001-434. Intervenante dans le panel de l'Unesco consacré aux liens entre esclavage et racisme à Durban, Rapporteur du Budget de l'Action Humanitaire de la France (1993, 1994, 1995),
Rapporteur pour le Parlement Européen des relations entre l'Union Européenne et les pays ACP (Afrique, Caraïbe, Pacifique) dans le domaine de l'Environnement et du Développement durable),
Auteur d'un rapport commandé par le Premier Ministre sur l'activité minière en Guyane et ses retombées dans les relations de coopération, Rapporteur de Conventions fiscales entre la France et divers pays de la Caraïbe.
V - Activités complémentaires
Membre de la Commission Française de Développement durable (nomination par le Premier Ministre), Membre de l'Observatoire National de la Parité (nomination par le Premier Ministre), Membre du Conseil Consultatif de la Défenseuse des Enfants (Claire Brisset).
VI - Thèmes prioritaires du travail législatif et politique
Education - Jeunesse - Recherche - Développement durable - Environnement - Droits des Femmes Droits des Enfants -Coopération et Géostratégie des bassins régionaux (Amérique du Sud, Océan Indien, Pacifique).
VII - Engagements divers
Contributeur de Handicap International, Membre de la Ligue française des Droits de l'Homme, Membre de l'Human Rights Watch, Membre de ECPM (Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort), Parrainage d'enfants (prise en charge mensuelle des frais de scolarité) : Sénégal, Brésil, Actions pour la suppression de la dette des pays du Sud.
VIII-Autres missions internationales
Observateur parlementaire aux premières élections multiraciales en Afrique du Sud (avril 1994), Membre de la Délégation Officielle française à l'investiture de Nelson MANDELA, Mission parlementaire sur le droit des Minorités en Afrique du Sud (septembre 1994), Membre de la Délégation officielle française à l'investiture de M. Thabo M'Béki, Président de la République Sud-Africaine (juin 1999), Membre de la Délégation du Parlement Européen au Sommet des femmes à Pékin (Chine septembre 1995), Membre de la Délégation de la Commission des Affaires Etrangères de l'Assemblée Nationale au Sommet des femmes méditerranéennes pour la paix à Marrakech (Maroc février 1995).
IX -Conférences universitaires et internationales
Universités françaises de Paris-Sorbonne, Paris-Nanterre, Paris-Créteil, Bordeaux, Nantes, Montpellier, Toulouse, Lyon, Grenoble, IEP Paris, IEP Strasbourg, Université Antilles Guyane. Divers lycées en France, aux Antilles, en Guyane, à la Réunion. New-York University ; Schomburg Center ; CUNI ; Howard University ; Congressionnal Black Caucus ; Commission Indépendante Millénaire pour l'Afrique (PNUD, Bénin juin 2001).
X - Ouvrages
Rendez-vous avec la Republique. 2007
Codes noirs : de l'esclavage aux abolitions (Introduction). 2005
L'esclavage raconté à ma fille. 2002
Essais sur la pêche maritime ; sur la coopération transfrontalière ; sur l'identité et la multiculturalité. Nouvelles publiées en ouvrages collectifs (Gallimard).
Bulletin parlementaire mensuel « Kayakou ».
Cap sur l'horizon.
Nov 27, 2007
My long lost friend Florie told me that her aunt is an opera singer, but I could never remember her name. Just a while ago my friend Angela shared an article with me about the first graduating class of 10 black women to from Harvard Law School, of which she was one. In that article Angela discovers her Harvard classsmate's book on Black Expatriates. In that book she sees an entry on Mattiwilda Dobbs whom she remembers as their classmate's godmother.
When I researched Mattiwilda Dobbs I realised that she is my long lost friend Florie's aunt, the opera singer I had been told about many years before! Here's a brief look at her ground breaking life.
Mattiwilda Dobbs has sung in virtually every major concert hall in the United States and abroad, with her sparkling voice thrilling audiences and astounding critics. She is considered to be one of the great coloratura sopranos of our time. With a career that has taken her to every corner of the earth and onto stages of the great opera houses of the world, including the Bolshoi Opera, the Vienna State Opera, Glyndebourne, the Paris Opera, and the Stockholm Royal Opera, she often broke color barriers. Her 1953 debut at La Scala as Elvira in Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri marked the first time a black artist ever sang in that famed opera house. That same year her great success as Zorbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at Glyndebourne resulted in her first major performance in New York with the Little Orchestra Society. Dobbs desegregated the San Francisco Opera Company two years later. The following year she became the first black soprano to sing at the Metropolitan Opera House and the first black female to sing regularly under contract with that house. Her debut as Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto followed Marian Anderson's and Robert McFerrin's barrier-breaking debuts by one year.
Born in Atlanta, Ms. Dobbs sang her first solo at age six, and began her musical studies in piano one year later. She began her formal voice training under the tutelage of Naomi Maise and Willis Laurence James at Spelman College where she graduated valedictorian. Upon graduation Ms. Dobbs traveled to New York to study with Lotte Leonard. While in New York, she was granted a Marian Anderson Award as well as scholarships to the Mannes Music School and to the Opera Workshop at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. She also won a John Hay Whitney Fellowship and used the grant to study French repertoire in Paris for two years with Pierre Bernac, and to coach Spanish repertoire with Lola Rodriques de Aragon in Spain.
In addition to these awards, Ms. Dobbs won the coveted first prize at the International Music Competition in Geneva over hundreds of other singers from four continents. Shortly afterwards, her international career took off with her debut in Amsterdam with the Netherlands Opera, followed by engagements in Paris, London, Vienna, Stockholm, and Milan. Numerous engagements followed, including and invitation to sing a command performance before Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, and visiting King Gustave and Queen Louise of Sweden at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Following the performance she was decorated with the Order of the North Star by King Gustave. Her list of festival appearances is also extensive, including the Edinburgh Festival, Perth (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand), and the Caramoor, Meadow Brook, and Grant Park Festivals in the United States. In Russia, Japan, Australia, Israel, South America, Mexico, Scandinavia, the United States, and all of Europe, she became a favorite with the opera and concert goers and critics.
Although she remained close to her family and performed in Atlanta several times, personal as well as professional considerations prevented Dobbs from making the city her home. She lived in Spain with her first husband, Luis Rodriguez, who died of a liver ailment in June 1954, fourteen months after their wedding. She then married Bengt Janzon, a Swedish newspaperman, just before Christmas 1957. Her family attended the wedding, but because of the stir an interracial marriage would have caused in the segregated South, the ceremony was held in New York, and the new couple made their home in Sweden. Bengt Janzon did not visit Atlanta until 1967.
Following the example set by African American performer and activist Paul Robeson, Dobbs refused to perform for segregated audiences. In Atlanta she could have performed in African American churches or colleges, but she was not able to perform for a large integrated audience until the Atlanta City Auditorium was desegregated in 1962, when she was joined onstage and given a key to the city by Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. It was the first of many performances in her home city. Before the organization of the Atlanta Opera in 1985, Dobbs performed in operas produced and directed by the acclaimed opera singer Blanche Thebom, and in 1974 she sang at the gala marking the inauguration of her nephew Maynard Jackson as mayor of Atlanta.
In 1974, after retiring from the stage, Dobbs began a teaching career at the University of Texas, where she was the first African American artist on the faculty. She spent the 1974-75 school year as artist-in-residence at Spelman College, giving recitals and teaching master classes. In 1979 Spelman awarded honorary doctorates to both Dobbs and Marian Anderson.
Dobbs continued her teaching career as professor of voice at Howard University, in Washington, D.C. She served on the board of the Metropolitan Opera and on the National Endowment of the Arts Solo Recital Panel. Dobbs continued to give recitals until as late as 1990 before retiring to Arlington, Virginia, where she currently resides.
Nov 26, 2007
Yearly Blackface: Being in Amsterdam two weekends ago reminded me that I find Zwart Piet very strange.
Part of the Dutch and Belgium Chritsmas tradition is a fellow named Zwart Piet (Black Peter).
Black Peter (Zwart Piet), while now a benevolent companion of Sinter Klaas, was at one time a more sinister character. During the Middle Ages, he threatened to punish the children if they were naughty by throwing them into his sack or giving them switches (coal also?) instead of presents. Today, however, he helps Sinter Klaas distribute gifts, even offering to go down chimneys to fill the children's shoes, thereby saving the holy Bishop from getting dirty. Black Peter, often depicted as a boy or young man, wears a Moorish costume, probably because Spain ruled over Holland during the 16th century. So Zwart Piet is a Moor. How interesting to have a black character in Dutch and Belgian Christmas folklore.
Now let's take a brief look at Black Peter's history:
1845: Jan Schenkman writes Saint Nicholas and his Servant; Piet is described in this book as a servant and as black, not as slave and is depicted as a dark man wearing Asian-style clothes. Steamboat travel becomes part of the mythos from this point. In the 1850 version of Schenkman's book, they are depicted looking much as they do today. The servant gets his African origin but still has no standard name. In later editions Piet was shown in the page costume, the book stayed (with some changes) in print until 1950 and can be seen as the foundation of the current celebration, even though it did use a lot of older ideas and customs. Barring a very rare exception the relation between St. Nicholas and Pete has always been described as one between employer and employed, between boss and worker, never between owner and slave.
Anybody can be Zwart Piet: The website zoz.nl explains how you too can transform yourself into a Zwarte Piet: "a real Piet can be recognised by his black make-up, red lipstick, perm curls, frilly collar, hat and tights. We refer to Piet as he or him, but Piet can also have considerable female attributes: many helper Piets have real breasts under a loose blouse and abundant, unnecessary space in their puffy pantaloons."
It's easy to critisize something you don't undertand. Some people will say that I am missing the point. The point being that this Black Peter character is demeaning because he was a slave or is a servant, or was described as evil, and he threatens to take away the bad children. I honeslty may think this role was strange even if he wasn't black.
Frankly what bothers me the most, what I really don't get is why Zwart Piet is portrayed by a white person in black face. There have been black people in Holland longer than this tradition, so why not have a black person play Black Peter if the Dutch and Belgians are determined to incorporate a black person into their folklore? Is it just a "legitimate" way to don blackface once a year to the delight of young children and for the sake of warm memories for the adults?
I'm not the only person who thinks this yearly display of blackface is quite inappropriate. Here are links to two others:
Nov 25, 2007
I was in Amsterdam on business and was able to meet up with 5 ladies in the Black Holland group in the Black Women in Europe Social Network.
We hugged, talked, laughed, and laughed some more. Our conversation ranged from current events, personal projects, past experiences and future plans.
Nov 22, 2007
While the US celebrates Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks for Josephine Baker as did the French government
It's no secret that I love Josephine Baker. I love her self love, courage, moxy, bravery, generosity and optimism. There are a lot of lessons for black women in Josephine's life.
On Thanksgiving Day 2007 I am thankful for my family and friends and for the life I have created in Sweden. I am also thankful to Josephine Baker who motivated me to move to Europe years ago.
The French government was also thankful for Josephine Baker as exemplified in the three honors they gave her:
October 8, 1946 French Medal of Resistance for her wartime work
August 18, 1961 Medal of the Legion d'Honneur, the highest honor that France can bestow, and the Rosette de Resistance.
Here is my take on the Life Lessons from Josephine for which we can all be thankful she taught us:
1. First sex symbol of modern times. Josephine was known as "Black Venus", "Creole Goddess" and "Black Pearl". She became the inspiration to many of the hottest fashion designers of the time. By 1927 Josephine was one of the most photographed women in the world, along with personalities like Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford. Joséphine Baker is noted for being the first woman of African descent to star in a major motion picture, to integrate an American concert hall, and to become a world famous entertainer. We always have been and always will be style icons. But make sure you have substance to go along with it.
2. When she was thirteen she became a waitress, met a man there named Willie Wells whom she married. She left him when the relationship went bad. She went on to be married a total of 4 times. Josephine never depended on a man financially, so she left relationships as soon as they'd began to fall apart. Don't be afraid of hard work. And definitely don't be afraid to get out of a bad situation. Even at a young age Josephine displayed self love.
3. Josephine participated in World War II as a performer for the soldiers as well as doing undercover work for the French Resistance. She smuggled secret messages written in invisible on her music. She also served as a sub-lieutenant in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. The French government awarded her with the Medal of Resistance, named her a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and Rosette of the Resistance. Let your conscious be your guide. Do the right thing.
4. Although her celebrity status was unrivaled in Europe, when she returned to the United States in 1936 to star in the Ziegfield Follies the public rejected her due to her color. Visiting the U.S. again in the 1950's, Josephine continued to fight against racism. The Stork Club rejected her as a customer, she began a media battle with pro-segregationist Walter Winchell as her opponent. The NAACP named May 20 as Josephine Baker Day to honor her efforts. She participated in the March on Washington in 1963. Don't let society bring you down. Self love is possible and very necessary when you live in a hostile environment.
5. She protested in her own way against racism, adopting twelve multi-ethnic orphans, whom she called her "Rainbow Tribe." Her adopted children were: Akio (Korean son), Janot (Japanese son), Luis (Colombian son), Jarry (Finnish son), Jean-Claude (Canadian son), Moïse (French Jewish son), Brahim (Arab son), Marianne (French daughter), Koffi (Ivory Coast son), Mara (Venezuelan son), Noël (French son), Stellina (Moroccan daughter). We've got a lot of love to give.
6. After retiring to raise her adopted children, Baker had staved off financial problems in the '50s by returning to the stage, but only temporarily; in 1964, "the sale of the chateau by auction was announced,". The sale was avoided at the last minute thanks to the intervention of Brigitte Bardot and others, but the chateau was ultimately auctioned off in 1968. A clause in the sales contract allowed Baker to remain in her home until October, 1968, and a subsequent reprieve until March of the following year. While on the road, she learned that the owner planned to evict her, so she returned from touring, sent her children to Paris to stay with her sister, and barricaded herself in the kitchen. While she was out one morning collecting water -- it was Baker who, on buying the chateau in 1947, had first installed running water and electricity to the estate -- the owner locked her out. After spending the rest of the day and most of the night on the outside stoops of the kitchen, she was rushed to the hospital in a state of shock. Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III offered her a villa in Monaco, but financial troubles again forced her to return to performing. On April 12, 1975, four days after a triumphant return to the Paris stage, Josephine Baker died after suffering a brain hemorrhage. Keep your finances in order, but also keep good friends who can help you in your time of need.
Nov 21, 2007
Lucia Day Luncheon - December 13, 2007
with Emily Samson Tepe
11:45 a.m.-2 p.m.
Stockholm Grand Hotel, Hall of Mirrors
Special Guest - Gloria Ray Karlmark
Just before Christmas, Lucia comes to light up the long Swedish winter nights. Enjoy this bright and beautiful Lucia Day celebration in the elegant setting of the Grand Hotel’s Hall of Mirrors. Gloria Ray Karlmark, one of the members of the Little Rock Nine , will be our guest speaker and will tell us of the foundation she and “The Nine” have established, providing educational scholarships to lower-income children in America. She will also share with us her lifetime of work promoting positive race relations in the US, and her perspectives on Sweden. This will be followed by a traditional Lucia candlelight ceremony with the Emily Samson Tepe.
Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King are household names in the US for their roles in America’s Civil Rights movement. Less-known but equally important are the Little Rock Nine : 9 black high school kids who gained national attention in 1957 by challenging the South’s segregation of schools when they entered all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Forty years later, the Nine were honoured at the White House by President Bill Clinton, each receiving the highest award a non-military citizen can receive, the Congressional Gold Medal. Now, fifty years later, you have an opportunity to hear one of the Little Rock Nine speak at this year’s American Club Lucia Luncheon!
Gloria Ray Karlmark has lived in Sweden nearly 40 years, working throughout Europe for IBM and serving 15 years as Editor In Chief for the Computers in Industry journal, which she co-founded in 1976.
Fresh back from the US where she and her 8 colleagues commemorated the 50-year anniversary of that fateful day they walked through the gates of Central High School and into the history books, Gloria Ray Karlmark will tell us of the foundation she and “The Nine” have established, providing educational scholarships to lower-income kids in America. She will also share with us her lifetime of work promoting positive race relations in the US, and also of her perspectives on Sweden.
Do not miss this unique opportunity to hear one of America’s foremost Civil Rights pioneers!
11:45 a.m. Registration in Strömsalongerna and glögg and pepparkakor in the Vapensalen
12:00 p.m. Lucia luncheon in the Spegelsalen (Hall of Mirrors) with:
Speaker: Gloria Ray Karlmark
Music: Emily Samson Tepe
2:00 p.m. Luncheon concludes
DATE: Thursday, December 13, 2007
TIME: 11:45 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
PLACE: Grand Hotel, Hall of Mirrors
COST: SEK 450:- per member before December 4; SEK 500:- thereafter. Members may bring one guest at the member price. SEK 575:- per non-member or additional guests. SEK 5000:- per table of 10 (4500:- if before December 4th)
Space is limited - Book early!
Cancellations must be made no later than 5 p.m. Friday, December 8, 2006. Reservations are binding thereafter.
Nov 20, 2007
Novlette Rennie was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
The UK’s first black female Chief Executive in the sports sector, this award recognises Novlette’s contribution both to the world of sport and to race equality in general. Involved with sport for over 30 years, both professionally and personally, in a variety of roles ranging from player to official to manager, Novlette has been with Sporting Equals since its foundation in October 1998. She began as a National Sports Development Officer and was promoted to Project Manager in April 2000. In April 2002, her title changed to Director to reflect the strategic level of her work. She became Chief Executive in September, 2006.
Novlette Rennie said of her award:
‘I am so pleased and proud to be the recipient of such a great honour. As a black woman, I feel that the OBE recognises not only my contribution but also the validity and importance of addressing issues of racial inequality in sport. I hope that my success will serve as an inspiration to other black people who wish to pursue a career in the sports sector’.
Richard Caborn, Minister for Sport, said:
‘I should like to offer Novlette Rennie my congratulations on receiving an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List. This is an acknowledgement of the longstanding and significant contribution she has made to promoting racial equality in sport. I am delighted that her work has been recognised in this way.’
Stephen Baddeley, Interim Chief Executive of Sport England, said:
"On behalf of Sport England, I would like to congratulate Novlette on the enormous contribution she has made to addressing issues of racial equality in sport throughout her career - the award of an OBE is deserved recognition for her commitment and hard work. Her work with Sporting Equals in recent years has shown the value of getting more people from ethnic minorities involved in sport at all levels, not only as players but as coaches, volunteers and administrators. I am confident that what Novlette has achieved will help inspire more people from ethnic minorities to get involved in sport."
Nov 15, 2007
Claudia Jones was born in Trinidad, a British colony. Her family moved to Harlem, New York, where, from age 9 she lived in conditions of extreme poverty. When Claudia was 12 her mother, a garment worker, died of exhaustion and poverty. 'I couldn't attend graduation classes because I didn't have a dress. Our family was so poor. I cried for days.'
She worked as a sales girl and a factory worker. She saw that government measures directed against blacks also affected poor whites and so, when she was 18, she joined the American Communist Party. By 1941 she had become the National Director of the Young Communist League and devoted all her time to political work.
After the second world war came the McCarthyism period when the US government hounded, jailed and deported many blacks and communists for 'un-American activities', Claudia was imprisoned four times by the US government.
In prison she called on the United Nations to 'investigate the manner in which immigrants in the United States are being treated by the United States Government. If we can be denied all rights and incarcerated in concentration camps, then trade unionists are next; then the Negro people, the Jewish people, all foreign-born, and progressives who love peace and cherish freedom will face bestiality and torment of fascism. Our fate is the fate of American democracy. Our fight is the fight of all opponents of fascist barbarism, of all who abhor war and desire peace.'
There were campaigns and protests for her release but she was eventually deported in 1955. She came to Britain and lived in Notting Hill in west London where she was active in campaigns to defend the black community during the riots against them of 1958, also protesting against the racist killing of Kelso Cochrane. She was one of the founders of the West Indian Workers and Students Association.
In 1958 she founded the black newspaper, the West Indian Gazette, a newspaper for the West Indian community in Britain which campaigned for an independent and united West Indies, justice for blacks in Britain and world peace. Claudia worked to create links between political campaigns and cutural actvities; she established the first ever West Indian Carnival in 1959, which continues to this day every year on the streets of Notting Hill.
Additional reading: Claudia Jones: A Biography
Nov 12, 2007
For Immediate Release
BLACK STUDENTS EXCEL FROM CORPORATE MENTORING
The ACDiversity mentoring programme has achieved an 87.50% GCSE pass rate for 2007; this is 27.50% above the Governments benchmark of 60%. In partnership with some of London’s leading institutions, the “Mentoring and Enrichment Programme” was created for the black youth to support their development and educational growth.
Brenda King, Chief Executive of ACDiversity states, “The Mentoring Programme” has now proved that mentoring will improve a student’s academic and personal abilities. Black youth have many obstacles to face, and with this programme, it enables them to build their abilities and understand the aspects of critiquing social and media
influences. The results for 2007 have exceeded all expectations with their attitudes and personal issues greatly improved”.
Since 2003, 142 students have participated in the programme with 25 students in 2007. ACDiversity works with organisations that include JPMorgan, Citi, Clifford Chance LLP , Baker & McKenzie LLP and Barclays Capital.
For all press and media enquires:
African and Caribbean Diversity (ACDiversity) was founded in 1990 by a group of black business professionals, with an objective to implement educational programmes for young African and Caribbean students in the UK. ACD became a charity in 1995.
Nov 11, 2007
...with finest African street beats, brought to you by Selektor Bert and DJ JMC...
friday, november 23, 20.00, Espresso, Burggasse 57, 1070 wien
Giving another picture of Austria and Europe http://www.blackaustria.at
Etiketter: black austria
Nov 9, 2007
Michael Packe in his book King Edward III gives a delightful description of King Edward III and Queen Phillipa's first meeting:
"He spied on the unwitting sisters, and pounced on the youngest of them, Philippa by name', at the time eight years old and nearest in age to Edward, who was nearly seven years. He had then subjected her to a minute and terrifying scrutiny. Apart from some criticism of her remaining baby teeth (they were 'not so white', he had found little fault with her solid physiognomy. Her hair betwixt blue-black and brown and not uncomely', her forehead large; her eyes blackish brown and deep, her nose though 'somewhat broad at the tip and also flattened', was 'yet no snub-nose'; her mouth was wide and generous, her ears and chin were 'comely enough', she was of middle height for her age, well taught, and of 'fair carriage'.
'Her neck, shoulders, and all her body and lower limbs are reasonably well shapen; all her limbs are well set and unmaimed; and nought is amiss so far as a man may see. Moreover, she is brown of skin all over, and much like her father; and in all things she is pleasant enough to look at it seems to us.'
Queen Philippa is remembered by history as a tender-hearted woman, who interceded with her husband and persuaded him to spare the lives of the six burghers of Calais, whom he had planned to execute as an example to the townspeople.
Read her family genealogy here.
Nov 8, 2007
Patricia Janet Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, PC, QC is a barrister and the current Attorney General for England and Wales, a ministerial position in the British Government.
She was appointed Attorney General in Gordon Brown's first Cabinet as Prime Minister in June 2007. Baroness Scotland was previously Home Office Minister of State for the Criminal Justice System and Law Reform from June 2003 to June 2007, and also spokesperson for the Department of Trade and Industry on women and equality issues in the House of Lords.
The Baroness also served as Parliamentary Secretary at the Lord Chancellor's Department from 2001 to 2003, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1999 to 2001. She was also an Alternate UK Government Representative of the European Convention from 2002 to 2003. After graduating with LLB Hons (London), Patricia Scotland was called to the Bar, Middle Temple, in 1977, received Silk in 1991 and became a Bencher in 1997.
She is a member of the Bar of Antigua and the Commonwealth of Dominica. She is an Honorary Fellow of The Society for Advanced Legal Studies, Wolfson College, Cambridge and of Cardiff University.
Listen to an interview with Baroness Scotland.
Nov 6, 2007
Mark these 4 dates:
November 25th: The International Day Against For the Elimination of Violence Against WomenNovember 29th: International Women Human Rights Defenders DayDecember 1st: World Aids Day
December 10th: International Human Rights Day
This year’s theme is Demanding Implementation, Challenging Obstacles: End Violence Against Women
Challenges and obstacles have been identified by activists in all regions of the world, and we have chosen to highlight a few of those here. These can be addressed both as demands to be made on the state or other institutions and as actions that we must take in our own work in order to achieve better results. A few suggestions for focusing advocacy in this year’s campaign include:
* Demanding and securing adequate funding for work against VAW;
* Calling for greater accountability and political commitment from states to prevent and punish all forms of violence against women in practice not just words
* Increasing awareness of the impact of violence against women, including engaging in measures to end it by men and boys;
* Evaluating the impact and effectiveness of work to prevent violence against women;
Hat tip to Black Looks who will do a round up of blog posts on this suject at her blog, Black Looks on the 10th December.
Nov 5, 2007
Black European Women's Network (BEWNET) Launches following the 1st Black European Women's Congress in Vienna
The official website of BEWNET is online now.
The website in its present form is a work-in process. Feel free to send your feedback (suggestions, comments, or criticisms etc).
As from now onward, the website, especially the forum (please make sure to register for access) will be used for discussions of all kinds.
The first part of the forum is open to the public, with your password, you can freely access the "for members only part, where you can post and or read messages.
1. To prepare for the lauching of the network next year, a follow-up meeting to draft the constitution, the vision/mission, plan of action etc., and also to elect our board members will be held.
A working/strategic-meeting sometimes in March 2008* (6 months after the congress and around the International Women's Day, for this follow-up meeting in Vienna.
This strategic meeting shall bring together one or more delegates from each country present at the Vienna Congress. The procedures of the follow-up meeting shall be communicated at a later date
*2. BEWNET will officially launch in September 2008, one year after its creation, and 6 months before the EU parlamentary elections take place (they are scheduled for mid june 2009).
*3. The report of the Vienna Congress is currently being prepared. Should you have any contributions, or follow-up activities you would want included in the report, let the Black Women's Center in Vienna know before 15 November.
4. Video documentary of the congress is equally being edited and shall soon be available for sale on the BEWNET website.
Nov 2, 2007
For Immediate Release
The Afro European Sisters Network and Black Women in Europe websites team up to empower Black Women around the world with a new website and social network.
1 November 2007 (Rotterdam, Netherlands, Halmstad, Sweden) The Afro European Sisters Network founded by Sandra Rafaela has joined forces with the Black Women in Europe social network and award winning blog authored by Adrianne George to launch the Women in the African Diaspora social network and the AESN/BWIE website.
Ms. Rafaela has an Afro Caribbean and European background and lives in the Netherlands. Ms. George is an African American expatriate living in Sweden. Both women are passionate about creating Internet spaces to elevate the social status of black women around the world regardless of geographical location. The tools Sandra and Adrianne will use include their websites, blogs, social networks, and video chats and conferences via ooVoo.
Their combined Internet arsenal includes the Afro European Sisters Network (AESN) websites, blog, Squidoo lenses, MySpace page; the Black Women in Europe(BWIE) award winning blog , Squidoo lens, Facebook group, social network ; and the Women in the African Diaspora (WAD) social network.
The results of this collaboration include the increased visibility of black women on the Internet; providing a strong and positive voice for black women in Europe; facilitating the exchange of experiences to empower black women globally; and providing resources and social networks for black women.
Black Women across the globe are invited to participate in the building of this global project and should visit the sites in the AESN and BWIE network to find out more.
Sandra Rafaela – sandra (at) aesn.nl
Adrianne George – adrianne.r.george (at) aesn.eu
Sandra Rafaela is the founder of the Afro European Sisters Network. She has created spaces for black women including her website, blog, on MySpace and Squidoo. She is an Afro European from Curacao and the Netherlands. As a professional woman, she has an accomplished career in logistics.
Adrianne George is the founder of the Black Women in Europe award winning blog and Social Network, Facebook group, and a space on Squidoo. She contributes to several blogs and is one of the editors of the AfroSpear Think Tank blog. She is an African American who has lived in Europe for 5 years and currently lives in Sweden. She is a marketing communications consultant.
Nov 1, 2007
Megan Williams - Victim of a Hate Crime; Dunbar Village - The scene of a vicious crime against a mother and son
If you live in the United States urge your legislators to push for hate crime charges against those who victimized Megan Williams.
Williams says one of the suspects cut her ankle with a knife while saying, "That's what we do to [racial slur] around here," police records show.
About the perpetrators, six West Virginian suspects, who are white: "They all have previous records and have been arrested numerous times," Sheriff W.E. Hunter said Tuesday. "They are familiar to law enforcement."
While fixing her son something to eat, a young male with braids knocked on her door to tell her the tires on her truck were flat. Once outside, she said, she saw a male with a large gun and two others armed with guns. They wore black clothing over their faces, she said, and ordered her back into the apartment, where they demanded money. The attackers tore off the woman's clothes and raped her until five others arrived, according to the documents. The new arrivals took turns having sex with her and then sodomized her. The mother was then ordered into a tub filled with vinegar and water where they used hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, nail polish remover and ammonia on her. At gunpoint, the assailants forced the mother and son to have sex.
Before leaving, the males looked for a lighter to set the two on fire but couldn't find one, she told police. They ordered the pair to stay in the tub and took off. About 30 minutes later one of the males returned to sexually assault the mother one last time.
If you live in the United States urge your legislators to see that justice is served for this mother and son.