Monday, 16 October 2017

Narrative images: Searching for Atlantis and the Aryan Myth in Tibet

In 1938, Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler sent an expedition to Tibet to search for the "Ur-Arier", to find evidence for the theory that Tibet was home to the "Aryan race". Himmler was convinced that Aryans - coming from an ancient civilisation in Atlantis - had escaped and survived the past millennia in the Himalayas and was determined to rediscover this lost Aryan race, this "master race" that had lived on the mythical island of Atlantis before the island paradise was engulfed by the sea. The swastika, by the way, was one of the "evidences" to back the theory as it was a symbol of good luck in Tibetan culture and also used in Nazi Germany (via and via).

The photographs depict anthropologist Dr. Bruno Beger taking cranial measurements in Tibet. Beger came to the conclusion that Tibetan people represented "a staging post between the Mongol and European races" and that they could play "an important role in the region, serving as an allied race in a world dominated by Germany and Japan." (Z., 2005).

In 1971, Bruno Beger was convicted as an accessory to 86 murders - Beger measured and selected imprisoned people in the concentration camp of Auschwitz, people who were afterwards gassed - and was sentenced to three years. Not only did he receive the minimum sentence. Beger did not serve any time in prison. He died in 2009 at the age of 98 (via and via).

Bruno Beger and the Skeleton Collection LINK

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- Z., Mickey (2005) Source of the Blood: Nazi Germany's Search for its Aryan Roots. In: Peet, P. (ed.) Disinformation Guide to Ancient Aliens, Lost Civilizations, Astonishing Archeology & Hidden History. disinformation
- photographs taken by Ernst Krause in 1938 via and via

Friday, 13 October 2017

Skunk Anansie & Ageism

Excerpts from an interview (2013) with Skin after releasing the album "Black Traffic". Skin was asked if she was pleased with the response she had received (via).
"Yeah, everyone’s been really lovely, apart from one review in the NME! [Pete Cashmore of NME rated the album 1/10 with the summary “The people who made this album have an average age of 46. They need to retire. NOW.”] (...)"

"The fans love the album they come to see us live and we have rave, rave, rave reviews apart from that NME review! (...)
The point of that review was that we’re too old to be in a rock band!!! You know, they’ve hated Skunk Anansie from like the minute we sold 100,000 records. And because this is a good album, they don’t want to admit it’s a good album so they literally had to scratch around and try to find a way to slag us off instead of being honest and saying, “You know I’ve never liked this band but this is a really good album”. A good journalist would have done that. But they landed on our age as the only thing they could slag off about us.
You know life doesn’t end at 40. If you love to do something, say you want to be a writer for the rest of your life, what’s to stop you doing that as long as you’re good and as long as you put out stuff that people want to read. It should be the same in any profession. You know if you’re a dancer, keep dancing until your body says no. If you’re a good dancer, then dance.
Ultimately it was very ageist. If you were to apply that level of ageism to racism or homophobia everybody would have gone crazy. If you don’t like the band and you don’t like the album and all you can say is that we’re old then just don’t f*** review us. I mean everybody gets old, but this is a f*** good album!"

More Skunk Anansie:

::: You'll Follow Me Down (with Luciano Pavarotti): LISTEN/WATCH
::: Because of You: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Hedonism: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Kill Everything: LISTEN
::: You Saved Me: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Over the Love: LISTEN/WATCH
::: You Do Something to Me: LISTEN/WATCH

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Avoidable Blindness and Gender

"By far most of the people who go avoidably blind are women."
Brian Doolan, The Fred Hollows Foundation

About two-thirds of the world's blind are women ... in industrialised countries because of their higher life expectancy, in non-industrialised countries because women have little access to surgery. Cataract (which can be cured by surgery and is responsible for most avoidable blindness) surgical coverage among women in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, for instance, is consistently lower and sometimes half that in men (via).

"In a rapid assessment of cataract surgical services in Pakistan, cataract surgical coverage was found to be 92% for males and 73% for females." (WHO)

"In a cluster sample survey in the Menoufia governorate in Egypt, in which 2426 individuals aged 50 and over were examined, 12% were blind; of these 38.3% were male and 61.7% were female." (WHO)
Women face barriers ranging from the cost of surgery, the inability to travel, lacking social support to lacking access to information (via). By 2010, the number of people living with blindness could triple worldwide (via), many of the people affected will be women, poor, poor women.
"In many cultures and regions, within families and the context of communities, blind and vision-impaired women are not considered as important as men to get services. It’s a question of financing and cost recovery where investment in families is rather going to men and to the younger generation than to women and the older generation." Johannes Trimmel

"It's obscene to let people go blind when they don't have to."
Fred Hollows

"The bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis is responsible for the infectious eye disease of trachoma and is a leading cause of blindness in developing countries. Trachoma infection rates are higher in girls and women, as are repeat infections that can lead to blindness. As primary caregivers, young girls and mothers are more exposed to the infectious agent present in the eye secretions of infants. Peak rates of infection occur in pre-school children, which at this age leads to higher rates of scarring, trichiasis and blindness. Trachomatous trichiasis is the stage of trachoma characterized by inturned eyelashes which abrade the cornea and leads to blindness.
In a recent Egyptian study, recurrence rates of trichiasis after surgery were 44.4% for women, and 37.7% for men. These gender differences may be the result of women delaying surgery. Studies suggest that infection loads and rates of reinfection are higher among girls than in boys. Trachoma-related blindness has been found to be 2 to 4 times higher in women than in men.
A study in Oman found more blindness in women due to trachoma; out of 85 sampled blind women, 25 had trachomarelated blindness and out of 49 sampled blind men, 8 had trachoma-related blindness."

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photographs by Brent Stirton via and via, copyright by the respective owners

Friday, 6 October 2017

Mississippi Appendectomy: Racism and Forced Sterilisation

"Mississippi appendectomies, they were called because they would tell women that they needed to get their appendix out, but then sterilize them."

Nazi Germany had "the utopian view of a society cleansed of everything sick, alien, and disturbing". Jews, homosexuals, Marxists, and other groups were so-called health hazards that were eliminated in the most atrocious ways, one of them by sterilising them. When medicine was turned into destruction and the Sterilisation Laws were passed, "German physicians used American physicians as their models" (Byrd & Clayton, 2002). At the Nuremberg trials, they cited Virginia's 1924 Eugenical Sterilization Act as part of their defense (via). The first sterilisation law was passed in Indiana, U.S.A. in 1907 to keep disabled people from having children (via).
"Nazi physicians on more than one occasion argued that German racial policies were relatively "liberal" compared with the treatment of blacks in the United States. Evidence of this was usually taken from the fact that, in several southern states, a person with 1/32nd black ancestry was legally black, whereas if someone were 1/8th Jewish in Germany (and, for many purposes, 1/4th Jewish), that person was legally Aryan (a 1/4 Jew for example, could marry a full-blooded German). Nazi physicians spent a great deal of time discussing American miscegenation legislation; German medical journals reproduced charts showing the states in which blacks could or could not marry whites, could or could not vote, and so forth."
In the U.S., black Americans, Latino Americans, and poor Americans became victims of forced sterilisations. At one mental health hospital in South Carolina, for instance, during the ten years between 1949 and 1960, 102 out of 104 surgical sterilisations were carried out on black Americans although the hospital had admitted twice as many Whites as Blacks. According to civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) - who coined the term Mississippi Appendectomy and who herself was a victim of forced sterilisation - 60% of the black women taken to Sunflower Mississippi City Hospital were sterilised without any medical reason. Often, they did not even know about it (Byrd & Clayton, 2002).
"It was a common belief among Blacks in the South that Black women were routinely sterilized without their informed consent and for no valid medical reason. Teaching hospitals performed unnecessary hysterectomies on poor Black women as practice for their medical residents. This sort of abuse was so widespread in the South that these operations came to be known as “Mississippi appendectomies." Dorothy Roberts

"At some point in the century, more than half of the states in the U.S. had similar programs that allowed for the sterilization of those the government deemed unfit to procreate." 

Only seven of the 33 states have publicly acknowledged or publicly apologised to victims. Most of the programmes started in the early 1930s targeting people in "institutions for mental illness or mental retardation". Slowly, they began targeting "the blind, the deaf, the disabled, alcoholics, those with epilepsy, and ultimately the rural poor on welfare would fall unter the umbrella of 'unfit to procreate'", as well as criminals, "promiscuous" women (including victims of rape), and pregnant women out wedlock. 65.000 US-Americans were sterilised before the last programme was shut down in the 1980s (via).

In North Carolina ("home to the third most prolific and arguably the most racist sterilization program in the nation"), over 7.600 women, men, and children were sterilised during the state's sterilisation programme's 45-year reign, most often without consent. North Carolina was the only state where social workers had the right to suggest who was to be sterilised. Their recommendations were rarely turned down by the eugenics board (95% were accepted). In this climate, doctors felt encouraged and entitled to sterilise people whenever they saw fit.

"I was raped twice, once by the perpetrator and once by the state of North Carolina."
Elaine Riddick

A study of sterilisations carried out in California, "the most aggressive sterilizer in the nation" came to the following conclusions:
"Our dataset reveals that those sterilized in state institutions often were young women pronounced promiscuous; the sons and daughters of Mexican, Italian, and Japanese immigrants, frequently with parents too destitute to care for them; and men and women who transgressed sexual norms. Preliminary statistical analysis demonstrates that during the peak decade of operations from 1935 to 1944 Spanish-surnamed patients were 3.5 times more likely to be sterilized than patients in the general institutional population."
Alexandra Minna Stern
"In his exhaustive survey of state hospitals and homes in the late 1920s, and in a follow-up study about a decade later, Popenoe found that the foreign-born were disproportionately affected, constituting 39% of men and 31% of women sterilized. Of these, immigrants from Scandinavia, Britain, Italy, Russia, Poland, and Germany were most represented. These records also reveal that African Americans and Mexicans were operated on at rates that exceeded their population. Although in the 1920 census they made up about 4% of the state population, Mexican men and Mexican women, respectively, comprised 7% and 8% of those sterilized. Without the forced repatriations of hundreds of Mexicans from state facilities, orchestrated by the Deportation Office of the Department of Institutions, it very likely that this figure would have been higher. More striking, at the Norwalk State Hospital, in southern California, where a total of 380 Mexicans constituted 7.8% of admissions from 1921 to 1930, they were sterilized at rates of 11% for females and 13% for males. In addition, whereas African Americans constituted just over 1% of California’s population, they accounted for 4% of total sterilizations." Minna Stern, 2005

Native Americans were another target group of forced sterilisation - not so long ago. Between 1970 and 1976, about 25 to 50% of Native American women were sterilised in Albuquerque alone. Not a single woman was interviewed, neither was informed consent considered to be necessary.
"What may be the most disturbing aspect of the investigations followed: it was physicians and healthcare professionals in the IHS who coerced these women. It was they who abandoned their professional responsibility to protect the vulnerable through appropriate, non-eugenic indications for surgery and informed consent prior to the procedures. On a Navaho reservation alone, from 1972-1978, there was a 130% increase in abortions (a ratio of abortions per 1000 deliveries increasing from 34 to 77). The same study demonstrated that between 1972 and 1978, sterilization procedures went from 15.1% to 30.7% of total female surgeries on that one reservation. Healthcare professionals’ coercive tactics included the threat of withdrawing future healthcare provisions or custody of Native American children already born—if consent for sterilization was withheld." Rutecki, 2010

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court:

Part 2. Jurisdiction, Admissibility and Applicable Law

Article 6: Genocide
For the purpose of this Statute, "genocide" means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- Byrd, W. M. & Clayton, L. A. (2002) An American Health Dilemma. Race, Medicine, and Health Care in the United States. 1900 - 2000. New York & London: Routledge
- Minna Stern, A. (2005) Sterilized in the Name of Public Health. Race, Immigration, and Reproductive Control in Modern California. American Journal of Public Health, 95(7), 1128-1138
- Rutecki, G. W. (2010) Forced Sterilization of Native Americans: Late Twentieth Century Physician Cooperation with National Eugenic Policies. CBHD
- photographs of Fannie Lou Hamer via and via and via and via and via

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Tattoos, Beauty and Matriarchal Power

"Tattoos were a symbol of matriarchal power." 
Yumna Al-Arashi

“I remember the moment my Yemeni grandmother scorned my aunts and cousins for making fun of my tattoo. The room fell silent. She said that by insulting me, I was also insulting her mother, and all of the women who came before her. Soon after, she shared faded photographs of my great-grandmother, who was beautifully adorned with lines and geometric patterns all over her face. My grandmother told me, ‘There was a love of individuality that my mother took in pride. I thought it was lost, but now I see her in you.’”
Yumna Al-Arashi

Yumna Al-Arashi was inspired by the story of her late great-grandmother and started searching for and photographing the probably last generation of women with facial tattoos in North Africa. The main reasons why these tattoos are vanishing are the spread of Western ideals of beauty - what was one beautiful is seen as weird and backwards by younger generations - and Islam which prohibits permanent changes to the body (via). In Algeria, there is also the "French Myth" according to which tattoos protected Algerian women from French soldiers by making them unattractive in Western eyes (via).
"The custom, once prevalent throughout the Middle East and North Africa, dates back thousands of years. (...) In large part, the appeal is aesthetic. Young daughters admired their mothers’ tattoos and yearned to one day get their own, just as Western girls count down the days until they can apply lipstick like their mothers. The designs themselves held rich symbolism, communicating connectedness to the earth and the fruits it produced, as well as the cosmos that made it so. Certain images also carried spiritual powers, including the ability to protect oneself and one’s loved ones from evil spirits.(...)Women, for the most part, stopped tattooing their faces and bodies in the 1930s and 1940s. Some elderly women with tattoos have since opted to remove them because of the religious connotations. The ever-shrinking remaining generation of women bearing the traditional ink are now in their 70s and older." Priscilla Frank

“I wanted these tattoos for as long as I could remember I wanted them to show my beauty, to highlight it. Every beautiful woman had tattoos. They symbolize my power, my beauty, and my ability to connect to the Earth. It’s something I’m so proud of.”
A woman

Photograph above:
“I have the stars and the moon on my cheeks. They’re the most beautiful things my eyes have seen. I don’t know how to read or write and I don’t have any devices like you, but I know my land and my Earth, the stars and moon help me navigate it. That’s why I’m here.”
Brika, Tunisia

photographs via

Monday, 2 October 2017


"The standout is Truth, taking and synthesising these themes into a gloriously cinematic, choir-laden masterpiece, seeking to remind us of the beautiful harmonies that differences bring."
Tara Joshi

"The whole project is the video and then my sister [Amani Washington] did a series of paintings. So the music and the paintings are an abstract metaphor for something that I wanted the video to bring to reality—to show [the beauty you’d experience] if you were able to have a zoom-out view of [Los Angeles, a big city that’s] very representative of the spirit of the United States. If you were to zoom out and be able to see these different people experiencing these different things simultaneously, how would it feel? It felt exactly like the way I thought it would. It feels beautiful. It feels warm. It feels the way it feels to live in the city: Walk past one house, and [take in the] smells and the sounds and the sights, and then you walk past another house and it’s a whole ’nother set. So that whole idea of zooming out and having this view of the people and their different ways."
Kamasi Washington

"The concept for Harmony and the video for “Truth” make clear that Washington is framing his work so that they’re in conversation with the biggest social issues facing the world. His music is both a challenge and a balm, the starting point of a conversation and a place you can go to meditate on what’s been said. Following on its massive and sometimes unwieldy predecessor, Harmony of Difference, a brief and concentrated blast of emotion, is a great place to catch up on what Washington has to say."
Mark Richardson

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Quoting Stevie Wonder

"Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn't mean he lacks vision."
Stevie Wonder

"Sometimes, I feel I am really blessed to be blind because I probably would not last a minute if I were able to see things."
Stevie Wonder

"Clearly, love is love, between a man and a woman, a woman and a man, a woman and a woman and a man and a man. What I'm not confused about is the world needing much more love, no hate, no prejudice, no bigotry and more unity, peace and understanding. Period."
Stevie Wonder

"I am all for anything that is going to better equip a person who is physically challenged in any way, to have an opportunity to be able to do what they are able to do."
Stevie Wonder

"I am not a normal man."
Stevie Wonder

"Do you know, it's funny, but I never thought of being blind as a disadvantage, and I never thought of being black as a disadvantage."
Stevie Wonder

"When I was a child, kids used to make fun of me because I was blind. But I just became more curious, 'How can I climb this tree and get an apple for this girl?' That's what mattered to me."
Stevie Wonder

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Stevie Wonder on YouTube:

::: Superstition: LISTEN/WATCH
::: For Once in My Life: LISTEN/WATCH
::: I'm Gonna Make You Love Me: LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Shadow of Your Smile: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterdy: LISTEN/WATCH

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photograph of Stevie Wonder via

Friday, 29 September 2017

Beauty Warriors

"To be successful, you must be perfect and look perfect—these are our society’s rules, which we all follow without even realizing how ridiculous the standards are. We often forget about the importance of inner beauty."
Evija Laivina

"The series “Beauty Warriors” is (sic) collection of photographs featuring strange and unusual-looking beauty products. All the products were bought on Ebay, and most items were made in China. These products promise instant cures to almost all beauty problems; they fight “problem zones” and promise to cure problems without surgical intervention. Each item visually appeals to me and I tried to show the relationship between beauty product and model."
Evija Laivina

Evija Laivina is an HND Contemporary Art Practice student at Inverness College UHI (via). Her “Beauty Warriors” received the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2017 Student Spotlight Award.

"In today’s world, success is closely tied to perceived perfection. Appropriating the style of traditional portraiture, this series questions the use of products that promise to augment our physical appearance."
Evija Laiviņa

photographs via, copyright by the artist

Friday, 22 September 2017

Time to forget

"It's time to forget
To forget about your age
Forget about your race
Your social standing
Your ideological view...
Forget about everything that keeps us apart"

September is World Alzheimer's Month, November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month in the U.S., and June is Alzheimer' & Brain Awareness Month. These initiatives all aim at raising awareness and changing the circumstances of those directly and indirectly affected. According to the World Health Organisation, members of civil society "can play a key role in improving the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families" by enhancing dementia research, by supporting people with dementia, their carers and families, by fostering improvement in health and social care delivery, by raising public awareness, and by influencing government policy-making. More: LINK

Thursday, 21 September 2017


Louis has a protective daughter, Alzheimer's and a strong will to carry on despite the difficulties. This beautiful animated short film was produced by the award winning animation school Gobelins.

Today is World Alzheimer's Day, a day that is dedicated to raising awareness about persons with Alzheimer's and its impact on their families. Alzheimer's is a family disease as family members often develop chronic stress when they helplessly watch their parent's, partner's, sibling's, ... cognitive decline and see how the symptoms worsen (via).

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Born this day ... Lee Lorch

"Because he believed in the principles of decency and justice, and the equality of men under God, Lee Lorch and his family have been hounded through four states from the North to the South like refugees in displaced camps. And in the process of punishing Lee Lorch for his views, three proud institutions of learning have been made to grovel in the dust and bow the knee to bigotry."
Ethel Payne

Lee Lorch (1915-2014) was a mathematician and civil rights activist. He obtained his PhD in mathematics from the University in Cincinnati in 1941.
After World War II, Lorch started teaching at the City College of New York "but was soon fired because of his civil rights work on behalf of African-Americans." Shortly after taking up his job at the City College of New York, he moved into Stuyvesant Town, a private residential development on the east side of Manhattan, owned by the Metropolitan Life Insurance. Blacks were barred from living there as, according to the president of Metropolitan Life, "negroes and whites do not mix" and apart from that "it would be to the detriment of the city, too, because it would depress all surrounding property." Lee Lorch had all the credentials to move in, i.e., a "steady job, college, teacher and all that. And, not black." The lawsuit against Metropolitan that had been brought in by several people and organisations in 1947 had failed in the state courts as the insurance company was free to select tenants based on absurd criteria. Lorch was aware of the discrimination other faced and became a vice-chair of the tenants' committe that was founded to eliminate the housing discrimination. He also invited a black family (art student Hardine and Raphael Hendrix and their 6-year-old son Hardine Jr.) to live in his own flat where he was living with his wife (a longtime activist herself) and his young daughter.
"The Stuyvesant Town tenants committee, with 1,800 members, was made up of the families of veterans who believed that after fighting a war for justice overseas, they could not ignore injustice at home. "The courage and sharpshooting of a Negro machine gunner saved my life with a dozen other white G.I.'s (...). Can any one of us say he can't be my neighbor? I can't." Surveys of residents conducted by the tenants committee showed that two-thirds of Stuyvesant Town's 25,000 tenants opposed MetLife's exclusionary policy."  (Fox, 2010)
"I had become very aware of racism through the war; not just anti-Semitism, but the way the American army treated black soldiers. On the troop transport overseas, it was always the black company on board that had to clean the ship and do the dirty work, and I felt very uncomfortable with that." Lee Lorch, 2007
Metropolitan Life refused to accept the Lorches' rent check and started searching for ways to get them out. But Lorch had decided not to go quietly, that he would resist and that they had to throw him out by force.
"Nineteen of the families decided to fight to keep their apartments. (...) The city marshal ordered the targeted tenants to be out of their apartments by 9 o'clock on the morning of Jan. 17, 1952, and hired a moving company to drag their furniture onto the street. In response, the families barricaded their doors. They sent their children to stay with relatives and passed baskets of food from window to window with ropes."  (Fox, 2010)
In 1950, Metropolitan Life admitted three token black families but did not change its tenant housing policy. In 1959, only 47 black tenants lived in Stuyvesant Town.

Lorch did not pay the price for his activism only once. In 1949, he was forced to leave City College since he was "unquestionably a fine scholar and a promising teacher" but "an irritant and a potential troublemaker". The N.A.A.C.P. protested the decision ... but Lorch had to leave.
Lorch started teaching at Pennsylvania State University. When he arrived at the campus, he was immediately taken to the university's acting president whom he had to explain what had happened at Stuyvesant Town as the university had received phone calls from wealthy alumni who wanted to know why Lorch had been hired. He was denied reappointment because he had accommodated a black family which was "extreme, illegal and immoral, and damaging to the public relations of the college." Students, the American Association of University Professors, the American Mathematical Society, The New York Times, The Daily Worker, and Albert Einstein protested ... but Lorch had to leave.
In 1950, Lorch became one of two white professors at historically black Fisk University. He continued his activism, tried to enroll his daughter in an all-black school, refused to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee ... in 1955, Lorch had to leave Fisk University.
When the Little Rock Nine enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957, Lee Lorch - at that time an official with the Arkansas chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. and chair of the Mathematics Department at Philander Smith College in Little Rock - was working behind the scenes and accompanying the students to school and tutoring them. He was told his best contribution would be to terminate his affiliation with the Little Rock Branch of the N.A.A.C.P. Whites abused him for his desegregation activism, blacks kept their distance because of the "un-American" stance he was accused of. After threats and the school's funding at risk, Lorch resigned.
By 1959 it was official that no US-American college would have him, Lorch was blacklisted. The family moved to Canada where he taught at the University of Alberta and then at York University until he retired.
In 2010, Lee Lorch was asked if he would do anything differently. His reply: "More and better of the same."
"It's hard to imagine now, but there was no civil rights legislation back then. You could be fired without explanation. But how could you do anything else, in all good conscience?" Lee Lorch
Decades later, several colleges - among them two that had fired him - and associations gave Lee Lorch honorary degrees and other awards (via and via).

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- Fox, A. (2010). Battle in Black and White. In Rosenblum, C. (ed.) More New York Stories. The Best of the City Section of The New York Times, New York & London: New York University Press, 246-253
- photographs via and via

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Superman and the Undocumented Workers

In Actions Comics #987 - "The Oz Effect" - Superman protects undocumented immigrants from an angry white man who wants to shoot them for taking his job. Superman, once an undocumented immigrant himself, has always stood up for justice. The issue was released a few days ago, at a time Superman's protection is very much needed again.

image via

Thursday, 14 September 2017

"Equality should have no boundaries." Nike.

Nike's campaign from February 2017 (Black History Month) speaks up for equality. Part of the campaign is a clip that features "Nike athletes", a film narrated by Michael B. Jordan (via).

"Equality is about Nike raising its voice and using the power of sport to stand up for the value of equality and to inspire people to take action in their communities."

"Together with our athletes, employees and communities, we are encouraging people to take the respect and fairness they see on the field and translate it off the field. We can help advance the conversation and create lasting change."

Behind the scenes:WATCH

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image via

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Role of the Behavioral Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement, by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967)

"On 1 September 1967, the Nobel Prize-winning civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech entitled 'The role of the behavioral scientist in the civil rights movement' to the American Psychological Association (APA, 1999; King, 1968). With eloquence and passion, Martin Luther King championed the civil rights struggle and spoke to the interests of his audience. He stressed how behavioural scientists could and should support the civil rights movement. King's eloquent and passionate speech is still relevant today - explaining how psychologists and other mental health professionals could help address today's pressing social issues."

Some excerpts:

(...) In the preface to their book, 'Applied Sociology' (1965), S. M. Miller and Alvin Gouldner state: 'It is the historic mission of the social sciences to enable mankind to take possession of society.' It follows that for Negroes who substantially are excluded from society this science is needed even more desperately than for any other group in the population.
For social scientists, the opportunity to serve in a life-giving purpose is a humanist challenge of rare distinction. Negroes too are eager for a rendezvous with truth and discovery. We are aware that social scientists, unlike some of their colleagues in the physical sciences, have been spared the grim feelings of guilt that attended the invention of nuclear weapons of destruction. Social scientists, in the main, are fortunate to be able to extirpate evil, not to invent it.
If the Negro needs social sciences for direction and for self-understanding, the white society is in even more urgent need. White America needs to understand that it is poisoned to its soul by racism and the understanding needs to be carefully documented and consequently more difficult to reject. The present crisis arises because although it is historically imperative that our society take the next step to equality, we find ourselves psychologically and socially imprisoned. All too many white Americans are horrified not with conditions of Negro life but with the product of these conditions-the Negro himself.

(...) Now there are many roles for social scientists in meeting these problems. Kenneth Clark has said that Negroes are moved by a suicide instinct in riots and Negroes know there is a tragic truth in this observation. Social scientists should also disclose the suicide instinct that governs the administration and Congress in their total failure to respond constructively. What other areas are there for social scientists to assist the civil rights movement? There are many, but I would like to suggest three because they have an urgent quality.
Social science may be able to search out some answers to the problem of Negro leadership. E. Franklin Frazier, in his profound work, Black Bourgeoisie, laid painfully bare the tendency of the upwardly mobile Negro to separate from his community, divorce himself from responsibility to it, while failing to gain acceptance in the white community. There has been significant improvements from the days Frazier researched, but anyone knowledgeable about Negro life knows its middle class is not yet bearing its weight. Every riot has carried strong overtone of hostility of lower class Negroes toward the affluent Negro and vice versa. No contemporary study of scientific depth has totally studied this problem. Social science should be able to suggest mechanisms to create a wholesome black unity and a sense of peoplehood while the process of integration proceeds.
As one example of this gap in research, there are no studies, to my knowledge, to explain adequately the absence of Negro trade union leadership. Eight-five percent of Negroes are working people. Some two million are in trade unions but in 50 years we have produced only one national leader-A. Philip Randolph.
Discrimination explains a great deal, but not everything. The picture is so dark even a few rays of light may signal a useful direction.

(...) I have not lost hope. I must confess that these have been very difficult days for me personally. And these have been difficult days for every civil rights leader, for every lover of justice and peace.

Full text: American Psychological Association

photographs via and via

Friday, 8 September 2017

Captain Kathryn Janeway

"It took balls for these guys to hire me in this capacity. It’s a bold choice, and an appropriate one for 400 years in the future."
Kate Mulgrew

"I'm not even remotely surprised at how much attention the fact that the show had a female captain attracted. This is the human condition. It's novelty."
Kate Mulgrew cited in Altman & Gross (2016)

The decision to have a female captain was "a landmark moment" (Knight, 2010) and one the creators never made a grand point about. There was a female captain. Naturally (via). Because it "seemed like the logical thing to do" (via).
"I told them, ‘I want to do this with a woman,’ and they were very supportive. They just said, ‘Let’s not close the door to men. Look at men as well.’ But being opposed to hiring a woman — that’s nonsense. They just weren’t 100 percent sure we would find the right woman." Rick Berman
Captain Kathryn Janeway was strong-willed, fearless, strong. In terms of behaviour, she was a second-wave feminist's ideal power woman: equal of any man. Janeway was dressed in the Star Fleet unisex uniform that conceiled her feminine figure (Knight, 2010). Kate Mulgrew, in fact, refused to sexualise Captain Janeway (via). The solution to this "problem" was to bring in a "physically overdeveloped" cyborg in a catsuit ("Seven of Nine" played by Jeri Ryan) who "took the pressure off the Captain to satisfy the sexual voyeurism of which male science fiction audiences were widely suspected" (Relke, 2006). The cyborg's purpose was "to cater to the snickering demographic of young male viewers and it worked" (Garcia & Phillips, 2009). It may be added that Seven of Nine replaced Kes, a character that was surely not the most exciting one, that the scripts were popular, that the cyborg was intelligent and had a sense of humour and that her interaction with other crew members was at times rather amusing. These facts could have contributed to the success - there is hope it was not the catsuit alone.
"That moment stands out for me when Jeri Ryan arrived. That was an interesting moment because – there’s been a lot of controversy about it generated by me – again unfortunate.""When you’re the first female captain you hope against hope that that’s going to be sufficient until the day it wasn’t.""I said, ‘I’m not going to sleep with Chakotay, it’s not going to happen. I said you’re just going to have to go somewhere else for it, so they got this very beautiful girl to come in. She played a wonderful character. And yes, I was unsettled by it because I had hoped – as I’m sure Hillary Clinton hoped. We all hope." Kate Mulgrew

Before Kate Mulgrew, there was Geneviève Bujold. Bujold was supposed to play Captain Janeway in Voyager but left after three days because she could not adjust to the work schedule TV series have (via). Kate Mulgrew was the next choice:
"Something in me rose up at the very thought that after Miss Bujold defected, that I would fail and then they would bring back another man. I thought, ‘No, no, no we can’t have this. We simply cannot, we must go forward.’ And so we did. And guess who had me to the White House after the end of the first season? A woman by the name of Hillary Clinton." Kate Mulgrew

"The beauty of ‘Star Trek’ is that Roddenberry was very far-seeing. Gender regarding the Captain’s seat was a unilateral thing. It transcended all of those classifications. I think that I played Janeway as I would play her today."
Kate Mulgrew

"I watched this with great curiosity because I love to see how men deal with their deepest anxieties ... about will this franchise succeed or will it not, with this woman at the helm.... They changed it (her hairstyle) five times in the first season, two, three times in the second. You know, my message to Patrick Stewart is, 'You lucky devil.' I mean, it was just constantly a source of anxiety for them, and of course it had nothing to do with the reality."
Kate Mulgrew, cited in Relke (2006)

"I played Captain Janeway in the era that had not resolved the conflicts surrounding mothers and work.
It’s slow-going. I’m not gonna be foolish about it. It’s still a boy’s club. But this must change, out of necessity."
Kate Mulgrew

"A female captain has a lot of leeway that a male captain wouldn’t have."
"Women have an emotional accessibility that our culture not only accepts but embraces. We have a tactility, a compassion, a maternity-and all these things can be revealed within the character of a very authoritative person."
Kate Mulgrew

"Kate has a lot of pressure on her. There’s really no precedent for her situation. Except maybe Joan of Arc. And she had the anointing of God."
Robert Beltran (Chakotay)

- - - - - - - - - -
- Altman, M. A. & Gross, E. (2016). The Fifty-Year Mission. The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek. New York: St. Martin's Press
- Garcia, F. & Phillips, M. (2009). Science Fiction Television Series, 1990-2004. Histories, Casts and Credits for 58 Shows. Jefferson & London: McFarland & Company
- Knight, G. L. (2010). Female Action Heroes. A Guide to Women in Comics, Video Games, Film, and Television. Santa Barbara et al.: Greenwood
- Relke, D. M. A. (2006). Drones, Clones, and Alpha Babes. Retrofitting Star Trek's Humanism, Post-9/11. Calgary: University of Calgary Press
- images via and via and via

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Tuvok, the Black Vulcan

"Star Trek: Voyager", the fifth incarnation of Star Trek was produced from 1995 to 2001 (via). When it premiered in 1995 with female Captain Kathryn Janeway and black Vulcan Tuvok (played by Tim Russ), a sexist and racist discourse started. As Russ points out "it's part of the fabric of this country" but at the same time it "seems counter to the typical Trek fan who tend to be above all that." (via)

For others, Tuvok was an inspiration. In an interview, Clayton Woullard, for instance, thanks Tim Russ:

"I’m black, and growing up, Tuvok was such a role model for me — to see a strong, black character, keeping it together and saving people, and having adventures, so thanks."

Tim Russ's reply:

"There you go. You’re firsthand feeling the impact of what I’ve done on a show, you’re a perfect example of the impact this character has had on people. When I’m doing it, I don’t think about that until later on after the fact. But yes, true to Rodenberry’s creation, he always strived to portray the future as it would make sense to portray it: so that you have a female captain, you have minorities on the bridge as bridge officers, in powerful, strong dramatic roles…and those are still not as common, I think. So it’s very cool to have the opportunity to be part of that legacy. It’s his vision." (via)

images via and via

Monday, 4 September 2017

Anti-Semite and Jew. An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate. By Jean-Paul Sartre (1944)

In 1944, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) wrote his essay "Anti-Semite and Jew", a critique of anti-Semitism. The critique is criticised for not being based on research and being a philosophical speculation written on an abstract level. Nevertheless, the result is "a powerfully coherent argument that demonstrates how theoretical sophistication and practical ignorance can, sometimes, usefully combine", as Walzer writes in his preface. Here are some excerpts:

Anti‐Semitism does not fall within the category of ideas protected by the right of free opinion. Indeed it is something quite other than an idea. It is first of all a passion. No doubt it can be set forth in the form of a theoretical proposition. The "moderate" anti‐Semite is a courteous man who will tell you quietly: "Personally, I do not detest the Jews. I simply find it preferable, for various reasons, that they should play a lesser part in the activity of the nation." But a moment later, if you have gained his confidence, he will add with more abandon: "You see, there must be something about the Jews; they upset me physically." (...)

This involvement is not caused by experience. I have questioned hundred people on the reasons for their anti‐Semitism. Most of them have confined themselves to enumerating the defects with which tradition has endowed the Jews. "I detest them because they are selfish, intriguing, persistent, oily, tactless, etc” – “But,at any rate, you associate with some of them?” – “Not if I can help it!" A painter said to me: "I am hostile to the Jews because,with their critical habits, they encourage our servants to insubordination."Here are examples a little more precise. A young actor without talent insisted that the Jews had kept him from a successful career in the theatre by confining him to subordinate roles. A young woman said to me: "I have had the most horrible experiences with furriers; they robbed me, they burned the fur I entrusted to them. Well, they were all Jews." But why did she choose to hate Jews rather than furriers? Why Jews or furriers rather than such and such a Jew or such and such a furrier? Because she had in her a predisposition toward anti‐Semitism.

A classmate of mine at the lycée told me that Jews "annoy" him because of the thousands of injustices that "Jew‐ridden" social organizations commit in their favour. "A Jew passed his agrégation the year I was failed, and you can't make me believe that that fellow, whose father came from Cracow or Lemberg, understood a poem by Ronsard or an eclogue by Virgil better than I. " But he admitted that he disdained the agrégation as a mere academic exercise,and that he didn't study for it. Thus, to explain his failure, he made use of two systems of interpretation, like those madmen who, when they are far gone in their madness, pretend to be the King of Hungary but, if questioned sharply, admit to being shoemakers. His thoughts moved on two planes without his being in the least embarrassed by it. As a matter of fact, he will in time manage to justify his past laziness on the grounds that it really would be too stupid to prepare for an examination in which Jews are passed in preference to good Frenchmen. Actually he ranked twenty‐seventh on the official list. (...) To understand my classmate's indignation we must recognize that he had adopted in advance a certain idea of the Jew, of his nature and of his role in society. And to be able to decide that among twenty‐six competitors who were more successful than himself, it was the Jew who robbed him of his place, he must a priori have given preference in the conduct of his life to reasoning based on passion. Far from experience producing his idea of the Jew, it was the latter which explained his experience. If the Jew did not exist, the anti‐Semite would invent him. (...)

I noted earlier that anti‐Semitism is a passion. Everybody understands that emotions of hate or anger are involved, but ordinarily hate and anger have a provocation: I hate someone who has made me suffer, someone who condemns or insults me. We have just seen that anti‐Semitic passion could not have such a character. It precedes the facts that are supposed to call it forth; it seeks them out to nourish itself upon them; it must even interpret them in a special way so that they may become truly offensive. Indeed, if you so much as mention a Jew to an anti‐Semite, he will show all the signs of a lively irritation. If we recall that we must always consent to anger before it can manifest itself and that, as is indicated so accurately by the French idiom, we "put ourselves" into anger, we shall have to agree that the anti‐Semite has chosen to live on the plane of passion. It is not unusual for people to elect to live a life of passion rather than one of reason. But ordinarily they love the objects of passion: women, glory, power, money. Since the anti‐Semite has chosen hate, we are forced to conclude that it is the state of passion that he loves. Ordinarily this type of emotion is 'not very pleasant: a man who passionately desires a woman is impassioned because of the woman and in spite of his passion. We are wary of reasoning based on passion, seeking to support by all possible means opinions which love or jealousy or hate have dictated. We are wary of the aberrations of passion and of what is called mono‐ideism. But that is just what the anti‐Semite chooses right off. (...)

The anti‐Semite has chosen hate because hate is a faith; at the outset he has chosen to devaluate words and reasons. How entirely at ease he feels as a result. How futile and frivolous discussions about the rights of the Jew appear to him. He has placed himself on other ground from the beginning. If out of courtesy he consents for a moment to defend his point of view, he lends himself but does not give himself. He tries simply to project his intuitive certainty onto the plane of discourse. I mentioned a while back some remarks by anti‐Semites, all of them absurd: "I hate Jews because they make servants insubordinate, because a Jewish furrier robbed me, etc." Never believe that anti‐ Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti‐Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past. (...)

(...) By treating the Jew as an inferior and pernicious being, I affirm at the same time that I belong to the elite. This elite, in contrast to those of modern times which are based on merit or labour, closely resembles an aristocracy of birth. There is nothing I have to do to merit my superiority, and neither can I lose it. It is given once and for all. It is a thing. (...)

We begin to perceive the meaning of the anti‐Semite's choice of himself. He chooses the irremediable out of fear of being free; he chooses mediocrity out of fear of being alone, and out of pride he makes of this irremediable mediocrity a rigid aristocracy. To this end he finds the existence of the Jew absolutely necessary. Otherwise to whom would he be superior? Indeed, it is vis‐à‐vis the Jew and the Jew alone that the anti‐Semite realizes that he has rights. If by some miracle all the Jews were exterminated as he wishes, he would find himself nothing but a concierge or a shopkeeper in a strongly hierarchical society in which the quality of "true Frenchman" would be at a low valuation, because everyone would possess it. He would lose his sense of rights over the country because no one would any longer contest them, and that profound equality which brings him close to the nobleman and the man of wealth would disappear all of a sudden, for it is primarily negative. His frustrations, which he has attributed to the disloyal competition of the Jew, would have to be imputed to some other cause, lest he be forced to look within himself. He would run the risk of falling into bitterness, into a melancholy hatred of the privileged classes. Thus the anti‐Semite is in the unhappy position of having a vital need for the very enemy he wishes to destroy. (...)

A destroyer in function, a sadist with a pure heart, the anti‐Semite is, in the very depths of his heart, a criminal. What he wishes,what he prepares, is the death of the Jew. To be sure, not all the enemies of the Jew demand his death openly, but the measures they propose — all of which aim at his abasement, at his humiliation, at his banishment — are substitutes for that assassination which they meditate within themselves. They are symbolic murders. (...)

Until the nineteenth century the Jews, like women, were in a state of tutelage; thus their contribution to political and social life, like that of women, is of recent date. The names of Einstein, of Bergson, of Chagall, of Kafka are enough to show what they would have been able to bring to the world if they had been emancipated earlier. But that is of no importance; the fact is there. These are Frenchmen who have no part in the history of France. Their collective memory furnishes them only with obscure recollections of pogroms, of ghettos, of exoduses, of great monotonous sufferings, twenty centuries of repetition, not of evolution. (...)

What we propose here is a concrete liberalism. By that we mean that all persons who through their work collaborate toward the greatness of a country have the full rights of citizens of that country. What gives them this right is not the possession of a problematical and abstract "human nature," but their active participation in the life of the society. This means, then, that the Jews — and likewise the Arabs and the Negroes — from the moment that they are participants in the nation enterprise, have a right in that enterprise; they are citizens. But they have these rights as Jews, Negroes, Arabs — that is, as concrete persons.

In societies where women vote, they are not asked change their sex when they enter the voting booth; the vote of a woman is worth just as much as that of a man, but it is as a woman that she votes, with her woman intuitions and concerns, in her full character of woman. When it is a question of the legal rights of the Jew, and of the more obscure but equally indispensable rights that are not inscribed in any code, he must enjoy those rights not as a potential Christian but precisely as a French Jew. (...)

But we who are not Jews, should we share it? Richard Wright, the Negro writer, said recently: "There is no Negro problem in the United States, there is White problem." In the same way, we must say that anti‐Semitism is not a Jewish problem; it is our problem. Since we are not guilty and yet run the risk of being its victims — yes, we too — we must be very blind indeed not to see that it is our concern in the highest deg is not up to the Jews first of all to form a militant against anti‐Semitism; it is up to us.

Sartre, J.-P. (1944/1995). Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate. With a new preface by Michael Walzer. Translated by George J. Becker. New York: Schocken Books, download

photographs of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir on the beach of Nida, Lithuania, 1965 (by Antanas Sutkus) via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Quoting Isabelle Huppert

"I think women are the product of previous fights. Every woman should have equality with men. That should not even be a debate. And men are not afraid of women the way women are afraid of men. Of course."
Isabelle Huppert

photograph via

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Carrie Fisher & the Gold Bikini: Intersection of Sexism, Weightism and Ageism.

"I'm what psychology journals refer to as batshit crazy. It's a delicate mix of bipolar disorder, which I'm able to control through serious medication, and a completely untreatable case of I don't give a shit. 
Unfortunately, for a woman, the side effects of this condition include: reduced employment, phone calls from terrified PR flacks and tremendous difficulty getting myself down to a weight that's acceptable to some 35 year old studio executive whose deepest fantasy and worst nightmare somehow both involve me in a gold bikini."
Carrie Fisher

"There was this thing on Fox News about this father not being able to explain to his daughter what the outfit was. What, that my character was forced to put on that outfit against my will, and I took it off as soon as I could kill the guy who picked out the outfit? I had so much fun killing [Jabba]. They asked me if I wanted my stunt double to kill him, but I wanted to. I sawed his neck off with that chain. I really wanted to kill him."
Carrie Fisher

"To the father who flipped out about it, 'What am I going to tell my kid about why she’s in that outfit?' Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage."
Carrie Fisher, 2015

"I didn’t even think it was going to be in the movie. She’s a princess. What the hell is she doing walking around in a bikini?"
Harrison Ford

"My favorite one to see is the metal bikini — on men! That is what has been happening a lot. A lot. And not thin men, by the way! So that makes me feel good about myself, kind of a before-and-after thing — this is way after. Not only is Princess Leia fatter, she's a guy!"
Carrie Fisher on her favourite Comic Con Princess Leia costume

"Where am I in all of this? … I have to stay with the slug with the big tongue! Nearly naked, which is not a style choice for me. … It wasn’t my choice. When [director George Lucas] showed me the outfit, I thought he was kidding and it made me very nervous. I had to sit very straight because I couldn’t have lines on my sides, like little creases. No creases were allowed, so I had to sit very, very rigid straight.
What redeems it is I get to kill him, which was so enjoyable. ... I sawed his neck off with that chain that I killed him with. I really relished that because I hated wearing that outfit and sitting there rigid straight, and I couldn't wait to kill him."
Carrie Fisher, 2016

"Don't be a slave like I was. You keep fighting against that slave outfit."
Carrie Fisher to Daisy Ridley

"Fisher tells a story of how George Lucas asked her to come out to San Francisco to discuss the script for Return of the Jedi. When she arrived, he pulled out a picture of Leia in that iconic bikini, and she remarked, “No, George, but seriously.” The slave bikini, chosen by Jabba the Hutt, left her vulnerable to the occasional wardrobe malfunction, too. “If I lay like this”—she arches her back flat—“and it doesn’t adhere, it is like plastic, so that is a problem here”—she points to you-know-where—“because if I lay down, it doesn’t go with me. I didn’t inform him, but I always thought that if Boba Fett were of a mind, he could see all the way to Florida.”" (The Daily Beast) George Lucas told Fisher to lose weight to wear the bikini (Yahoo).

"I started checking for any bounce or slip after takes. It was, !CUT. Hey, how they doin'? The hooters in place?'"
Carrie Fisher, 1983

The gold bikini was auctioned for $96.000,- in 2015 (via).

photographs via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via