Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Calais Jungle

The Calais Jungle, London Southbank
I am sure you have heard of the “Jungle”, the name given to the camp in Calais where many refugees have gathered hoping to cross the Channel and enter Britain. A lot of them are African people.

I saw The Calais Jungle, an exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall, London Southbank, on Sunday. It was included in the Africa Utopia festival, which has now ended, and the Love Festival, and continues until 2nd October. If you have not seen it, I recommend you see it.

The exhibition includes loads of photographs of people who live in the Jungle, as well as homes, shops, churches and mosques. The Jungle is a vast complex.

What I really like about this exhibition is that the photographs show people's faces. They are not just a faceless mass of refugees, which is how the current crisis is often reported in the mainstream press.

Part of the Jungle was recently demolished, making many people, including children, homeless. Well over 100 children simply disappeared and the French police, according to what is said in this exhibition, did nothing to try to help them, protect them or investigate their disappearance. The children of the Jungle, who have escaped a war zone and the unimaginable terrors they have witnessed, are afraid of the French police.

There have been loads of stories coming out of the Jungle, and French lorry drivers have taken  action this week because they want their government to close it down. The Jungle's residents have become pawns in a very dangerous game being played between and within France, Britain and other European countries. Many lorry drivers feel under pressure from refugees demanding that drivers allow them to stow away in their vehicles. 

The UK government is reported to be building a wall near Calais to further deter The UK government is reported to be building a wall to further deter migrants from entering Britain.   

These refugees are clearly desperate and my heart goes out to them (not making excuses for any intimidatory behaviour).

It is important that we bear the refugees in mind. I am fortunate to live in London, a place that is relatively stable and peaceful, and I feel helpless to do much for them. The one thing I can do, besides blogging, is publish the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence. Please support the blogging carnival.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Black History Film: Freedom Riders

Bombed Freedom Rides Bus

Have you ever gone into McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC or indeed, any fast food place to buy and eat a meal? I am sure at some point we have all patronised some such establishment, or a café or diner.

Have you ever reflected on the fact that there was a time we were not allowed to enter such places?

The documentary Freedom Riders covers a period in 1961 when people – both Black and white – challenged the laws and customs that forbade Black and white people from mixing or co-mingling. The film contains archive footage as well as interviews with some of the original Freedom Riders.

Freedom Riders, a hard-hitting documentary, depicts when members of CORE – the Commission on Racial Equality – embarked on a journey to test a recent ruling by the Supreme Court which had declared segragation on interstate buses to be unconstitutional. They set out to test whether Federal law was being enforced.

The journey began in Washington, D.C. The Freedom Riders boarded buses to Atlanta, GA, where they met with Martin Luther King. They were excited to meet with him and hoped he would join them. But he cautioned them not to continue their quest, and to use methods that were less confrontational.

At this point, I admit to being confused. While applauding their courage, I do not understand why these young people chose to put themselves in extreme danger rather than finding another, less violent way to address the issue.

The Freedom Riders continued on their way, heading towards Birmingham, AL. One group rode a Greyhound bus (coach), the other used Trailways. The Greyhound never made it to its destination - it was firebombed by a racist mob. The Trailways bus arrived in Birmingham to be greeted by another racist mob. Bull Connor, Birmingham's Chief of Police, had made a deal with the Ku Klux Klan to allow the mob to assault the Freedom Riders for 15 minutes before the police arrived.

Because they were confronted by such extreme force, the Freedom Riders resolved to continue on their journey. They refused to be intimidated into giving up. This much I do understand and, again, applaud.

The Freedom Riders were then joined by fresh troops from Fisk University in Nashville, TN. Each had signed his or her last will and testament before joining the Freedom Rides. As time went on, more and more people joined them.

The film documents the dirty deals that were done, such as the one in Birmingham I mentioned above. At one point, the riders were holed up in the First Baptist Church with MLK, who was on the phone to the then Attorney General Bobby Kennedy. The Kennedies had not taken much notice of the need to enforce Federal law forbidding segregation up until then, and as Julian Bond says, civil rights were “an afterthought” to them. But MLK insisted they take action, and the Freedom Riders captured their attention and that of the nation. The leaders got behind the Freedom Riders and their efforts were reported internationally, shaming America and the values our nation was meant to represent. 
The actions of the Freedom Riders, and the support of MLK and other prominent leaders such as the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, led to the Riders securing a high level of protection for part of their journey. This demonstrated that the State and Federal governments could have afforded them that protection from the start. This takes me back to my original question. Why did the Riders not insist on getting government protection before they started out? Or why diid they not use less violent strategies?

Unfortunately, the story did not end there. The Riders suffered more brutal racist violence. In Jackson, Miss, they were sentenced to hard labour at the notorious Parchman State Prison. Again, this was intended to discourage them but had the opposite effect. The prison became one of the stops on the Freedom Rides and over 300 of the riders served time there – under a law that had been declared unconstitutional.

I have to admire the Riders' ingenuity. Nothing and no one was going to stop them. They turned every adversity into an advantage. They even composed a song about the Parchman prison. 

The Freedom Riders' quest was a foolhardy one – in terms of the methods they used - and led to a great deal of suffering which, to my mind, was preventable. However, the courage and determination of these young people spurred the Federal Government to take action and, in the end, led President Kennedy to call for an end to all segregation.

The film draws some very uplifting and inspiring conclusions. People from all over the United States, from different races and religions, and different backgrounds, came together and put their lives on the line to put an end to racial injustice.

I definitely recommend you see this film.

Please leave your comments below and please share this with your networks. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

87-Year-Old Venus Green Locks Police Officer in Her Basement ...

This is the kind of news story I like to see.  87-Year-Old Venus Green Locks Police Officer in Her Basement ... and wins a $95,000 settement! 

How's that for some news you can use?

Seems the police officer forced his way into her home on a pretence and sarted pushig her around.  Meanwhile, her grandson, Tallie, had been shot in a convenience store and the police officer was preventing the medics from helping him.

Rather than stand by and allow Tallie to become another statistic, Venus took matters into her own hands and locked the officer in the basement!

This story just keeps getting better.  Green then sued the City of Baltimore and won - they paid her $95,000 compensation . Go Venus!

We MUST put an end to this police violence and intimidation.  Support the Week of Nonviolence and the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence 2016.

Click here to read the article on Urban Intellectuals.  .

Please share this with your networks and please leave your comments below.  Thanks.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Black Lives Matter: Finding Peace with the Higher Self

Protestors in Brixton following U.S.police killings
Listen below for this post.

I am posting this in the aftermath of a week that saw two African American men killed by the police, and a number of police officers in Dallas killed by snipers.

Here in Britain, where 590 Black people have been killed by the police, the perpetrators are not even arrested, charged or brought to trial.

We need to find solutions that are going to work for ourselves, for our families and for our communities.

Protesters in Brixton following the U.S. police killings
We want to live in peace.  We want our children to live in peace and we want to prosper.  Violence is not a solution.

Listen below.  Please share this with your networks and please leave your comments below.  Thanks.

Black Women Sue Johnson & Johnson over Ovarian Cancer 

For more about the Higher Self, see:

How to Get Clear, Precise Answers

Your Inner Wisdom 

We Need Solutions That Work 

Go here for the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence and interviews with NVC authors.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Remembering the Somme

African American soldiers in WWI
Today marks the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Growing up in the States, I didn’t know much about the First World War. I had never heard the names of the great battles such as Verdun, Gallipoli, Passchendaele and, of course, The Somme. I learned a lot of detailed information when I moved to the UK.

This information was not taught when I was in school in the States, probably because we did not enter the war until 1917. So we missed out on The Somme, although our men experienced the final two years of the conflict.

Black nurses at Camp Grant WWI
World War I is remembered for the senseless slaughter of the combatants. The battle of The Somme went on for 141 days and saw the deaths of a million soldiers on all sides of the conflict. Young men were sent to their deaths by generals who either were incompetent or just did not care about the lives being squandered – or possibly both.

World War I was a new kind of war, relying on trench warfare and heavy artillery. The doctors and nurses who treated the wounded saw types of wounds they had never witnessed before. And the killing was on a scale that had never occurred before.

It is important that we remember The Somme and the men and women who gave their lives during the war. Many of them came from Africa, the Caribbean and India.

I was not aware of the horrendous conditions in which Black soldiers who served in the British Army lived. For example, in France, the African Caribbean soldiers in the British Army slept in unheated tents, while captured German enemy soldiers were given heated accommodation in barracks. For more about this, see Black People in the First World War. Many men joined up in the naive belief that serving in the army, and "proving themselves" would lead to them experiencing less racism and racial discrimination at home.  

World War One was meant to be the war to end wars, but if we look at the conflicts in places such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and northern Nigeria today, it is clear that war is still alive and well.

Much of the fighting took place on the African continent, and some of the conflicts taking place in Africa over the past two decades have their origins in the First World War. So is much of the poverty and deprivation still being suffered by people in Africa today. For more about this, see Black People in the First World War.

I was aware that the First World War ushered in a period of great change for many African Americans. Many of the men who had served in the war and experienced being treated as equals – for example, being allowed to sit and drink in cafés in France, something we all take for granted today – returned home to the States expecting and demanding equal treatment. This was one factor that contributed to the epidemic of lynchings in the South that began in 1919 and, of course, led to many African Americans migrating North. So the First World War had a huge impact on the lives of Black people all over the world.

I have a lifelong commitment to nonviolence. We must end violence and put an end to these conflicts that are still destroying the lives of millions today. 

The images above were taken from World War I and the African American experience.   

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Listening to Our Black Children

Are We Listening to Our Black Children?
I posted this blog some time ago and it's still relevant:  Are We Listening to Our Children?  Plus click here for part 2

Those posts are for everyone, regardless of racial or cultural background (although the examples in part 2 came from the Black community). 

But I continue to be very concerned about parenting within the Black community - how we parent our children.  It's not just about physical violence.  About physical abuse, i.e. beating children, and the fact that so many of our Black parents tell me we "have to" beat our children.  No, we don't "have to" be violent to children.  We need to find better ways to communicate. We need to upgrade our skills. 

As I said, it's not just about physical violence.  I was on the bus a few weeks ago and I saw this sista with a beautiful, beautiful little girl on her back.  The child had such a beautiful smile.  She was trying to get her mother's attention and her mother was telling her to "shush" so she could talk on the phone.

This really hurt me.  And I see similar things all the time in my neighbourhood, in my community.  WHY would you ignore your child to talk on the phone?  

And I have seen a lot worse than this, and I experienced far worse than this when I was a young person.  So many of us are so damaged.  We come from damaged families.  We have been damaging each other in our families for many generations, as a direct result of racism.  As part of the legacy of slavery.  We carry wounds that go very deep. 

As I have said on this blog many times, we have learned toxic ways of communicating, toxic ways of behaving.  And we will keep infllicting these toxic behaviour patterns on one generation after another until we heal them.  This is probaby the main reason why I wrote Success Strategies for Black People.  We CAN heal ourselves and each other.  And the healing process begins with healing oneself.

My own healing journey has been a long and difficult one, and it is ongoing.  I have learned a lot through my healing process and my aim is to share with you what is of value.  See also: Violence Begins at Home

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Muhammad Ali -The Greatest

Muhammad Ali - The Greatest
Click here for my ebook, The Power of Affirmations

Did you know that, long before he became the greatest, Muhammad Ali called himself “The Greatest”?  

Obviously, it took many hours of hard work, over the course of many years, for him to become – and remain – World Heavyweight Champion. But his success began in his mind. This shows us the power of words, the power of thought, the power of the human mind – i.e., your mind.

Click here for my ebook, The Power of Affirmations, to learn how you can maximise the power of your mind. 

This blog contains loads of Blak history posts.  I recommend you search for them and share them with your networks.  You may want to start with this one: Invasion 1897.  It links to several of my African history posts.