Tag: history

by Guest Contributor SLB, originally published at PostBougie

I could never be a real militant. Because there’s no way a real militant would’ve sat through Baz Luhrmann’s latest epic, Australia, which clocks in at a superfluous 3+ hours, and dug it as much as I did. It’s a film rife with knee-jerk infuriation potential. It’s got everything to rankle the revolutionary: racial slurs, a brother taking bullets for Hugh Jackman, an abusive white-on-black relationship, the phrase “I’m as good as Black to those people out there,” and even a little blackface for good measure. But I’ve yet to mention the race-baiting facet that receives the brightest spotlight: the magical Negro (and Half-Negro, as it were) archetype.

From the first frame, a puerile, adorably accented voice works overtime to endear you to what will inevitably be another racist tale of White colonists winning the day. But even so, the charms of that voice are hard to resist–especially when you see the chocolate-drop face it belongs to. Nullah (Brandon Walters) is a biracial pre-adolescent (maybe ten? eleven?), happily living on rundown property called Faraway Downs with his aboriginal mother, a few other servants, and a villainous White rancher named Neil Fletcher. Aboriginal mom, villainous White rancher… you probably already see where this is going.

Enter Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. All you need to know about them is that, by the second hour of the film, Nullah is in their custody and by the third hour of the film they’ve lost him to the desolate Catholic mission camp where all mixed-raced Aboriginal children in a priest’s or policeman’s plain sight were herded, after being stolen from their secure, healthy Aboriginal households. Will the stubbornly feuding, but madly in love Kidman-and-Jackman reunite to reclaim their “creamy” boy, Nullah, by the film’s
bombastic ending?

This is a Baz Luhrmann flick. Come on, fam. Read the Post Ballad of the Magical Half-Negro (by Baz Luhrmann)

August 7, 2008 / / Uncategorized

by Guest Contributor Jessica Yee

One of the best kept secrets in American health administration is the existence of Indian Health Service.

Unbeknownst to many outside the Native community, our healthcare is actually delivered by the military.

Oh sure, they call themselves the “Public Health Service Commissioned Corps” which is just a nice way of saying they don’t carry guns, but you can bet that you will more than likely receive care from someone dressed in full-out camouflage gear who indeed works for the U.S. Uniformed Services.

How did this all get started? Well for lands seized (read: stolen) the government has a federal responsibility to provide healthcare to Native Americans. After assimilating us and annihilating our culture, the War Department had this duty in 1849. Which was then overseen by the Bureau of Indian Affairs who was responsible for the many abuses and mistreatments that occurred under their umbrella until 1955, when the government thought it would then be a good idea to turn it over to the Department of Health and Human Services.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really comfortable going to see a doctor wearing army boots in a non-war torn country. Last time I checked, they haven’t exactly been our best friends in the Native community (forcible removal to attend Residential Schools, reproductive trauma from military testing anyone?) I’m also less than pleased being the only race whose healthcare comes like this. Read the Post Who is Responsible for Your Healthcare?

July 24, 2008 / / Uncategorized
July 21, 2008 / / Uncategorized

by Guest Contributor Plasma Rit, originally published at Girl in the Machine

Sid Meier’s Civilization series comprises of turn-based strategy games with a focus on growing a budding nation. Begun in 1991, the games take place in a variety of eras–you can build an empire as far back as 4000 BCE and nurture it long enough to witness World War II. The series has proven to be very popular over the years, gaining a loyal fanbase and even winning a few awards along the way. In 1994, Sid Meier released a game called Colonization: Create a New Nation. Players choose from four European nations–England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands–and set sail for the Americas (or “The New World,” as the game calls it). The object of the game is to foster a colony and eventually gain independence from its mother country. Sid Meier is preparing to rerelease this game in the form of a Civilization IV standalone expansion sometime in 2008.

I was a bit taken aback at the sight of a game about colonization, although I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. The idea of a game about conquering other civilizations and stealing their land is pretty tasteless to me, but unfortunately many Americans don’t view colonization that way. I found that most people tend to see it through an Elementary School History Lens–you know, when you were taught how the plucky, pure future Americans who could do no wrong went on a journey for freedom and were buddy-buddies with the Native Americans?

The original Colonization game handles Native Americans in a very interesting way. Players can choose to either befriend the natives (who in turn teach them skills and help defend the colony) or wipe them out entirely. Read the Post Colonization: Fun n’ Games

July 15, 2008 / / Uncategorized

by Latoya Peterson

Last weekend, while channel surfing, I was flying through my channel line up when my remote paused on a program I had heard about for quite some time – Meeting David Wilson.

The MSNBC site describes the documentary:

David Wilson was a 28-year-old African-American man from Newark, New Jersey. He grew up in a tough, urban neighborhood, but managed to navigate his way out of poverty and into the world of news production in New York City. Now, meet another David Wilson: a 62-year-old white man from rural North Carolina. He grew up in Caswell County, where his ancestors once farmed tobacco. He now operates a small chain of BBQ restaurants in nearby Reidsville. Although they have never met, the two men share more than just a name…

Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., MSNBC premiered “Meeting David Wilson,” the remarkable and inspiring story of a young man’s reconciliation with his ancestors’ history as slaves. The world premiere of “Meeting David Wilson,” was hosted by “Today” Correspondent Tiki Barber and followed by a 90-minute live discussion of racial issues in America.

I had heard of this story on NPR, the black man who tracked down his ancestors and the descendants of the family that owned them. I was intrigued. But Meeting David Wilson is so much more than just a meeting, or just a story of two families – it is one of the few documentaries I have seen able to dig deep into the issues that have resulted from race and slavery in an accessible, humanized way. Read the Post Write Up: Meeting David Wilson

June 24, 2008 / / Uncategorized

by Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie

Last month, I went to the Portland Opera’s production of Aïda, which is shown as part of its “Great Women of the Stage” series. I had wanted to see Rodelinda and Carmen again, but I underestimated how popular the opera is in Portland and had missed out on tickets for these two divas. So I got tickets to Aïda, and my friends and I anxiously squirmed in our not-so-cheap nosebleed seats, waiting for the curtain to rise.

For anyone unfamiliar with Verdi’s Aïda, it’s a story about an Ancient Egyptian-era Ethiopian slave. Aïda is Ethiopian royalty, and yet she serves Egyptian royalty. When a war breaks out for unspecified reasons between Egypt and Ethiopia, Aïda is torn because her lover is the general of the Egyptian army, and her father is the king of Ethiopia. Spoiler alert: Terribly tragic and dramatic as Verdi is, the story ends with Aïda and her lover, the Egyptian general Radames, dying together in the tomb he is sentenced to for betraying Egypt by trying to run away with Aïda.

The curtain opens and the first act begins. I notice that, even though this is set in Ancient Egypt, the costumes of two main characters (Aïda and her rival, the princess Amneris) look more like they’re from the slave-era south: Amneris wears long, full skirts with what look like small panniers. Aïda had a long-sleeved shirt tucked into a full skirt, with something draped over her left shoulder; it looked sort of like a scarf, but maybe also like something you could carry things in. Their clothes reminded me more of this:

than this: . Read the Post Reflections on Race at the Opera

June 12, 2008 / / Uncategorized

by Guest Contributor Jen, originally published at Disgrasian

In Rwanda, from where I’m writing, it’s illegal for citizens to ask one another what they are. By “what” I mean, Hutu or Tutsi. The reason why it’s against the law to make ethnic distinctions in Rwanda these days is rooted in the genocide that took place here in 1994. That year, Hutu militias, on government orders, conducted a brutal 100-day extermination of 800,000 to 1 million people, most of them Tutsis. In Philip Gourevitch’s account from the survivors’ perspective, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, he estimated that the murder rate during those 100 days was 6 people per minute.

Tutsis were the minority then (around 15% of the population) and now. But the difference between Hutu and Tutsi has always been, from what I understand, a false distinction. There wasn’t a perceived difference among Rwandans between Hutu and Tutsi until the late 19th century, when European colonizers (first the Germans, then the Belgians) insisted on that ethnic divide for their own political gains. In the 1930’s, the Belgians went so far as to issue ID cards to all Rwandans identifying them as belonging to one group or the other. In ’94, Rwandans still carried such cards. And if yours said that you were Tutsi then, it soon became your death certificate, too. Read the Post What We Are

June 11, 2008 / / Uncategorized

by Latoya Peterson

Continuing the Spike Lee/Clint Eastwood Discussion, I received an email from reader Elton alerting me to an exchange on the Hannity & Colmes show.

Leo Terrell, a civil rights attorney came on the show to debate the merits of Lee’s position. The conversation starts out fine:

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST:[…]Look, doesn’t Clint have a point, Leo? He was making about a movie about the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. There were not African-Americans as part of that. There were African-Americans who served in the military, but that wasn’t the focus of the Eastwood film. He was trying to be historically accurate. Isn’t that the issue?

LEO TERRELL, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: No, because he didn’t show one black face during the entire four hours of that movie. I saw that movie.

Alan, there were 900 black men who fought in Iwo Jima. Fourteen of them got the Silver Star. There was a poor depiction — the fact that there was not a single African-American there, in the case that Clint Eastwood did not correctly tell history.

COLMES: But this was about the raising of the flag. That’s what this was about.

TERRELL
: No, no. It was also about who was there, not just the raising the flag. But look at that movie, look at that clip right there. There were black men who served and died in Iwo Jima.

And then, the co-hosts decide to take the argument away from the original context and throw in some background information about the Lee/Eastwood feud:

COLMES: You know, look, Leo, he made a movie about Charlie Parker called “Bird.”

TERRELL: That’s not the issue. Read the Post OJ Simpson is NOT a Litmus Test For Black People!