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Programming note #34

For Lent (February 14th to March 29th) I will be giving up my English-language media diet: no books, music, news, film, television, radio or Internet in English. It is a bad habit of mine. And I want to learn Portuguese. I will be on a Portuguese-language media diet (which. if it has some English-language content like songs, that is fine).

Exceptions: I will make exceptions for work-related stuff, this blog (comments, research), anything teaching Portuguese, and, if I get a chance to see it, “Black Panther” (2018).

Suggestions: If there is anything you want me to do a post on, particularly something you think I am missing out on because of my diet, please let me know in the comments below. If it is seconded I will most likely do it.

– Abagond, 2018.

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Wakanda

Wakanda is the most technologically advanced nation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the heart of Africa, it is all Black everything and ruled by a superhero, the Black Panther, aka T’Challa.

Note: This post is based on “Black Panther: Nation Under Our Feet” (2016) by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The Black Panther film will not be out till this Friday in the US (Thursday in New York).

  • Location: Marvel Cinematic Universe, in Africa just west of Lake Victoria (about where Uganda and Rwanda are in our universe).
  • Ruler: T’Challa.
  • Major cities: Birnin Zana (seat of government), Birnin Azzaria (seat of learning).
  • Culture: Pan-African. Has Zulu and Maasai elements.
  • Language: Wakandan. Has Swahili loan words.
  • Religion: the goddess, the tree, orishas, shamans, spirits.
  • Government: monarchy. The king is called the Black Panther. His power is supported by the Dora Milaje, an all-female fighting force, celebrated in fable and song.
  • Technology: vibranium, nanotech, biomechatronics, kimoyo bands, midnight angel prototype.
  • Economy: vibranium-based, non-colonial.

Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU): where Spiderman, Captain America, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and others live. (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman live in the DC Universe or DCU.)

Vibranium, the “vaunted metal”, comes from the huge Mena Ngai meteor strike in Wakanda. It absorbs kinetic energy and sound and can form a power network among its pieces. It powers Wakandan technology, from spears to personal bracelets (kimoyo bands). Because of its network quality, it is not something that can be easily carted away to make someone else rich, the fate of much of Africa’s wealth, from diamonds to chocolate to slaves.

The Djalia: the plane of Wakandan memory. A griot lives there, an old woman who is “a caretaker of all our histories, now lost to the acolytes of machine, and the prophets of this metal age.”

Torn: Wakanda is torn and has lost its way. There is an uprising in the south and revolution in the north. The king, T’Challa, can follow the souls of others but has lost his own. He allowed Queen Shuri, his own sister, to be killed and did nothing. His soldiers massacred vibranium miners. He was busy saving the world while Wakanda was falling apart. He brings shame to his people, not hope.

Wakanda, like most nations, is founded on lies and dishonesty. Unlike most, it is torn three ways by Wakandan science, animistic religion, and Lockean philosophy.

Changamire, the philosopher:

“Wakanda has all the intelligence any advanced society would want, and none of the wisdom that any free society needs.”

The griot of the Djalia:

“You have been told that the might of your country is in its wonderful inventions, in its circuits and weaponry. This is the mastery of things. But Wakanda was great before it had things, and its secrets are older than any vaunted metal. …

“Here we will arm you not with the spear, but with the drum, for it is the drum that carries the greatest power of all, the power of memory, daughter, the power of our song.”

– Abagond, 2018.

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530

Essence magazine

Cover of the first issue: May 1970.

Essence (1970- ) is one of the top magazines in the US aimed at Black women, particularly the kind who think they are woke while wearing $735 Manolo Blahnik heels. It comes out of New York once a month.

This post is based mainly on the issues for March and May of 2017.

Time-Life: If you imagined a magazine for Black women put out by Time-Life, that would be Essence: heavy on beautiful colour photography, bad narrative flow, light on words, which often appear as text McNuggets. The horoscopes by “astrological intuit” Sonja Marie is the most down-to-earth part of the whole magazine, advising readers to put down their phones when talking to a friend in person.

DNA: Time, Inc owned Essence from 2005 to January 2018. But deeper in its DNA is Gordon Parks, a fashion photographer for Life magazine, one of the founders of Essence.

Essence is known for its yearly festival, which was shown in “Girls Trip” (2017). It is also on the Web (essence.com), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and SnapChat. Not Tumblr.

Target demographic: Black professional women, well-to-do, single, ages roughly 22 to 55. The $735 shoes are not aspirational or just for looks: they give the price and where to buy them.

Share of mind: It is heavy on what it calls “Beauty & Hair”. It accounts for about a fourth of its editorial content and maybe half of its advertising. It is also big on entertainment and celebrities. Social issues get more attention than fashion, but The Economist brings up “structural racism” more than it does – and Ebony said way more about ERPA. Essence gives regular career advice, little to nothing on food, education, or family life.

Wokeness: Angela Davis, Alicia Garza, and Michelle Alexander made their Woke 100 in May 2017, but so did Democratic Party loyalists like Michelle Obama, Joy-Ann Reid, and Angela Rye (pictured).

Product placement: Articles bring up things shown earlier in ads. The clothes and jewellery worn by women in its articles, even by the woke women, are listed on the Where To Buy page, complete with prices.

Follow the money: an incomplete list of advertisers for May 2017:

  • beauty: Pantene, L’Oreal, Clairol, Burt’s Bees, Maybelline, Dark & Lovely, Olay, Cantu, Carol’s Daughter, Sally Beauty, Mary Kay, Lancome, Kinky Curly.
  • non-beauty: McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Macy’s, Always, Colgate, Clorox, Vagisil, Novartis, Geico, Home Depot, MS Nina – Psychic Advisor & Reader.

Buy White!

Ownership: Richelieu Dennis, a Liberian American man, owner of Shea Moisture, a line of beauty products. Time, Inc owned Essence from 2005 to January 2018, with a 49% stake from 2000 to 2005. It was Black-owned before that. With the sale by Time to Dennis, it is independent and 100% Black-owned once again.

Dennis:

“[W]e are excited to be able to return this culturally relevant and historically significant platform to ownership by the people and the consumers whom it serves and offer new opportunities for the women leading the business to also be partners in the business.”

The best thing about Essence: “Black is beautiful” made visible, showing Black women in all their beauty, inside and out.

– Abagond, 2018.

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566

Bob Dylan: Oxford Town

Remarks:

This is Dylan’s song that “deals with the Meredith case, but then again it doesn’t,” as he put it. The general facts are there: racial discrimination, tear gas, two men killed in Oxford, Mississippi. But he kept it vague enough that it was about the racist violence of the 1960s in general. He wrote this in 1962 and there was plenty more of that soon to come.

The song itself never charted but the album it was on, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” (1963), went to #22 in the US and #1 in Britain.

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Lyrics:

Oxford Town, Oxford Town
Ev’rybody’s got their hats bowed down
The sun don’t shine above the ground
Ain’t a-goin’ down to Oxford Town.

He went down to Oxford Town
Guns and clubs followed him down
All because his face was brown
Better get away from Oxford Town.

Oxford Town around the bend
He comes to the door, he couln’t get in
All because of the color of his skin
What do you think about that, my frien’ ?

Me and my gal, my gal’s son
We got met with a tear gas bomb
I don’t even know why we come
Goin’ back where we come from.

Oxford Town in the afternoon
Ev’rybody singin’ a sorrowful tune
Two men died ‘neath the Mississippi moon
Somebody better investigate soon.

How to be more Brazilian

A couple before performing on the first day of Carnaval in Salvador, Brazil, February 16th 2012. Via Business Insider. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Disclaimer: Not ALL Brazilians do ALL of these. Nor are Brazilians the only ones who do them. These are based on differences noted by Anglos living in Brazil and by Brazilians living in the English-speaking world. I have never been to Brazil myself – yet.

Culture:

  • Put your old national identity to one side and make room for a new Brazilian one.
  • Be a Lusophone: learn Portuguese – Brazilian Portuguese, of course.
  • Be Catholic or at least Christian or at least respect religion.
  • Use metric units.
  • Use the 24-hour clock.
  • Listen to Brazilian music.
  • Watch Brazilian films.
  • Watch soccer or Brazilian telenovelas. Or both.

Food:

  • Eat rice and beans every day.
  • Buy freshly baked bread every day
  • Drink strong coffee, not that watered down stuff they drink in the US.
  • Eat pizza with a knife and fork.
  • Add sugar to your juice.
  • Take a full hour to eat lunch. And then brush your teeth. (You did bring your toothbrush, right?)
  • Order something not on the menu.

Hygiene and manners:

  • Share, especially food (give others a first bite).
  • Shower before you go out and before you go to bed.
  • Brush your teeth before breakfast and after every meal.
  • Do not burp in public.
  • Do not blow your nose.
  • Cough into your hands not into your arm.

People:

  • Family comes first.
  • Greet people warmly.
  • Hug!
  • Be friendly to strangers. Help them if they need help. But do not necessarily trust them.
  • Your friend’s friend is your friend.
  • Struggle to be on time. Better late than never.
  • Parties: Arrive two hours late. Greet everyone personally when you get there.
  • Linger at parties, restaurants, the beach.
  • Sing along at concerts.
  • Kiss your girlfriend in public, hold her hand.
  • Bring back gifts from abroad.
  • Be judgemental about how people dress, yourself included. The world treats people better when they dress well.

Talking:

  • Take time to actually talk to people.
  • When talking to someone try to put yourself in their shoes and speak to that. Get into what they are saying.
  • Talk with emotion, not like blah-blah-blah-blah.
  • Use strong eye contact to show interest.
  • Include everyone in the conversation.
  • Do not get straight to the point. Ask for things in a roundabout way.
  • Lie to protect people’s feelings.
  • Avoid saying no, even if it means making promises you later break or keeping your opinion to yourself.

Life:

  • Life is about people.
  • Measure your success by your happiness not your accomplishments.
  • Remember that the glass is half full, not half empty.
  • Be optimistic and fatalistic. Everything works out in the end. Things will get better tomorrow.
  • Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy today instead of worrying so much about tomorrow (but still worry).
  • Do something you love each day.
  • Love beauty in nature, people and architecture.
  • Complain about your country, especially the government, but be proud of your country too.
  • Be class-conscious more than race-conscious.
  • When asked where you are from, just give your nationality. Do not get into race or ethnicity or where your family came from.

– Abagond, 2018.

Sources: “Brazil – Culture Smart” (2006) by Sandra Branco and Rob Williams; Brazilian GringoGlobal Citizen Year, Lexiophiles, and endless YouTube videos.

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561

James Meredith

James Meredith (1933- ) was the first Black American to go to the University of Mississippi, better known as Ole Miss. President Kennedy had to call in the army to get him admitted.

On September 3rd 1962 the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court ruled that Ole Miss had to admit Meredith. Medgar Evers and Thurgood Marshall had chosen him as a test case.

On September 20th Meredith went to register for classes. The registrar was Ross Barnett – the governor himself. He refused to allow Meredith to register.

On September 29th at the Old Miss football game, Barnett said:

“I love Mississippi. I love her people, her customs! And I love and respect her heritage.”

The all-White crowd waved their Confederate flags while chanting:

“Never, Never, Never, Never, N-o-o-o Never.”

“Ross’s standing like Gibraltar. He shall never falter.”

“Never shall our emblem go, from Colonel Reb to Old Black Joe.”

“Ask us what we say, it’s to hell with Bobby K.”

On September 30th, at 4pm, 123 deputy US marshals, 316 border patrolmen, and 97 prison guards had moved into position at the Lyceum, the administration building, to make sure Meredith could register.

Hundreds of Whites gathered, chanting stuff like “2-4-6-8, we ain’t gonna integrate. We hate Kennedy!”

By 7pm violence broke out. Whites threw rocks and bottles, overturned cars, smashed windows.

The state police pulled out, leaving the US marshals to fight the rioters on their own. The marshals had no bullets. All they had was tear gas.

As the violence raged, the governor and then the president got on television.

Governor Barnett:

“Surrounded on all sides by the armed forces and oppressive power of the U.S.A., my courage and commitment do not waver … To the officials of the federal government I say, ‘Gentlemen, you are trampling on the sovereignty of this great state … You are destroying the Constitution of this great nation … May God have mercy on your souls …’”

President Kennedy (not knowing what Barnett just said):

“Americans are free … to disagree with the law, but not to disobey it. For in any government of laws and not of men, no man, however prominent and powerful, and no matter however unruly and boisterous, is entitled to defy a court of law… “

White rioters progressed to fire bombs and gunfire. They even went after reporters, smashing cameras. One reporter was shot in the back. The marshals were running out of tear gas.

Barnett would break his promises to Kennedy – and get on the radio and say stuff like:

“I call on Mississippi to keep the faith and courage. We will never surrender.”

President Kennedy at last called in the army (also without bullets). Whites blocked them and slowed them down. It took them six hours to arrive at Ole Miss.

By 4.30am the army had restored order.

By the numbers:

  • 160 marshals were injured, 28 of them shot.
  • 2 men killed.
  • 200 arrested, fewer than 50 of them students

At 7.55am, amid the shattered glass and overturned cars that were still smoking, Meredith went to register.

– Abagond, 2018.

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560

Happy Birthday Sandra Bland

I will never forget you.

Requiescat in pace.

– Abagond, 2018.

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