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Blondie: Dreaming

Remarks:

Debbie Harry, the lead singer of Blondie, turned 70 this past week, if you can believe that. This is my favourite Blondie song. It went to #2 in Britain in 1979, but only to #27 on the pop chart in her native US.

Lyrics:

When I met you in the restaurant
You could tell I was no debutante
You asked me what’s my pleasure
A movie or a measure?
I’ll have a cup of tea and tell you of my dreaming
Dreaming is free
I don’t want to live on charity
Pleasure’s real or is it fantasy?
Reel to reel is living rarity
People stop and stare at me We just walk on by – we just keep on dreaming
Feet feet, walking a two mile
Meet meet, meet me at the turnstile
I never met him, I’ll never forget him

Dream dream, even for a little while
Dream dream, filling up an idle hour
Fade away, radiate

I sit by and watch the river flow
I sit by and watch the traffic go
Imagine something of your very own
Something you can have and hold

I’d build a road in gold just to have some dreaming
Dreaming is free
Dreaming
Dreaming is free
Dreaming
Dreaming is free

Lumumba

lumumbaPatrice Lumumba (1925-1961), a Congolese freedom fighter, was the first democratically elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (known as Zaire from 1971 to 1997). He was only in office a few months: the CIA and Belgium, with the help of Mobutu, had him killed. Mobutu went on to become a puppet dictator for the US.

Killing Lumumba was not enough: the Belgians, who had ruled the Congo, cut up his body and dissolved it in sulfuric acid.

On June 30th 1960, the day of independence, King Baudouin of Belgium spoke:

“The independence of the Congo is the crowning of the work conceived by the genius of King Leopold II undertaken by him with firm courage, and continued by Belgium with perseverance. … It is your job, gentlemen, to show that we were right in trusting you.”

Lumumba, when he spoke, had a somewhat different view of White rule:

“We have experienced forced labour in exchange for pay that did not allow us to satisfy our hunger, to clothe ourselves, to have decent lodgings or to bring up our children as dearly loved ones.

“Morning, noon and night we were subjected to jeers, insults and blows because we were “Negroes”. Who will ever forget that the black was addressed as “tu”, not because he was a friend, but because the polite “vous” was reserved for the white man?

“We have seen our lands seized in the name of ostensibly just laws, which gave recognition only to the right of might.

“We have not forgotten that the law was never the same for the white and the black, that it was lenient to the ones, and cruel and inhuman to the others.”

But now it was a new day:

“We shall show the world what the black man can do when working in liberty, and we shall make the Congo the pride of Africa.

“We shall see to it that the lands of our native country truly benefit its children.”

That last sentence sealed his fate.

The head of the American CIA said:

“The removal of Lumumba must be an urgent objective.”

The British foreign secretary said;

“Now is the time to get rid of Lumumba.”

The Belgian minister of African affairs said:

“Lumumba must be eliminated once and for all.”

What America, Britain and Belgium all had in common: mining companies that were carting off Congo’s wealth of diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt and uranium.

king-leopold-1885

King Leopold II’s rule left some 10 million Congolese dead – and many with their hand cut off.

western-imperialism-cartoon

Western imperialism in one picture.

Within weeks after independence, the south-eastern province of Katanga broke away with the backing of the Belgian army. Katanga had most of the country’s mines.

The CIA tried to poison or shoot Lumumba – but could not get close enough.

Enter Mobutu: Unable to buy off Lumumba, the US did the next best thing: it bought off Mobutu, whom Lumumba had made the head of the army. Mobutu had Lumumba arrested and sent to Katanga. In the woods of Mwandingusha, a firing squad under Belgian command shot him dead on January 17th 1961.

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:

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Haitian Dominicans

Sentilia Igsema (2nd R, seated), born in 1930 in the Dominican Republic to Haitian immigrants, poses with four generations of her family outside their home in Batey La Higuera, in the eastern Seibo province, October 7, 2013. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas

Sentilia Igsema (2nd R, seated), born in 1930 in the Dominican Republic to Haitian immigrants, poses with four generations of her family outside their home in Batey La Higuera, in the eastern Seibo province, October 7, 2013. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas

Haitian Dominicans (1844- ) are people in the Dominican Republic (DR) with roots in Haiti. In round numbers, 800,000 were born in Haiti, 200,000 were born in the DR. They make up about 7% of the country. Most came fleeing violence or seeking work. Many work as maids, field workers, construction workers and so on – work that most Dominicans do not want to do.

Ethnic cleansing: The DR government says it will start kicking them out in August 2015. It has been doing this all along on a small scale, but it seems set to do it on a much larger scale: it is building detention centres and rounding up buses.

Not all one million will be affected: just those who are undocumented – between 250,000 to 500,000.

Being undocumented in the DR does not necessarily mean you snuck into the country. For example:

  • Some do not have enough money to get the right papers.
  • Some were born at home and do not have a birth certificate.
  • Some were brought in by the government to cut sugar cane and were never given the right papers.

Being undocumented means you cannot get a mobile phone, get married, get good health care or get a good education. Many live in constant fear.

It gets worse.

In 2013, the highest court in the land ruled, in effect, that to be a citizen it is no longer enough to be born in the DR. If you were born after 1929, you must have at least one parent with Dominican blood.

Haitian Dominicans who were once citizens no longer are – like those pictured above.

That makes 100,000 or more native-born Haitian Dominicans not just undocumented but stateless – citizens of neither the DR, where they were born, nor Haiti nor anywhere else.

Hitler did that to the Jews. It is against international law.

Dominican American writer Junot Diaz noted:

“The last time something like this happened was Nazi Germany, and yet people are like, shrugging about it.”

Mario Vargas Llosa drew the same comparison.

Antihaitianismo: Just as Nazi Germany was built on anti-Semitism and the US was built on anti-Black racism, so the DR was built on anti-Haitian racism. Haitians are the Despised Other, the national scapegoats.

In 1937 it led to the Parsley Massacre, ordered by Trujillo to “whiten” the country. Between 18,000 and 35,000 Haitian men, women and children were cut to pieces with machetes.

Haiti is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake: 70,000 still live in tents. Some Haitian Dominicans no longer have family in Haiti. Some do not even speak Haitian Creole – like those pictured above.

About 15,000 have aleady fled the DR for Haiti. Others have gone into hiding. Violence against Haitian Dominicans is growing. One man has even been lynched.

The US is not an innocent bystander: it own men patrol the border between Haiti and the DR.

Of those running for US president, only Martin O’Malley, so far as I know, has condemned what the DR is doing. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio strongly condemned it. President Obama remains silent.

Thanks to Mary Burrell for suggesting this post.

– Abagond, 2015.

haiti-2

Sources: Economist, Democracy NowMiami Herald, Fusion, Truth Out, Wikipedia. The Independent, PBS, Vice News.

See also:

burning Black churches

The Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, Mass., burns on Nov. 5, 2008. Some firefighters were injured battling the blaze.

The Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, Massachussetts burns on November 5th 2008 – right after Obama won the 2008 election. (Credit: U.S. Attorney’s Office via Reuters.)

The burning and bombing of Black churches (1822- ) has a long history in the US. It has sometimes been used as an instrument of White racist terror. There have been waves of church burnings:

  • after the Civil War,
  • during the civil rights movement,
  • the 1990s and,
  • just last week.

Last week:

  • June 21st 2015 – College Hill Seventh Day Adventist in Knoxville, Tennessee
  • June 23rd 2015 – God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon Georgia
  • June 23rd 2015 – Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee
  • June 24th 2015 – Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • June 26th 2015 – Glover Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina
  • June 26th 2015 – Greater Miracle Temple Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Florida

Of these, two seem to be an accident while at least three seem to be arson. No one was hurt – they mostly took place in the middle of the night.

For comparison, during this same period only one fire took place at a non-Black church: the College Heights Baptist Church in Elyria, Ohio.

The authorities have not (yet) ruled any of these a hate crime. That is generally hard to prove – mainly because most arsonists are never caught. There are no suspects so far in last week’s arsons.

Given the timing – just after the Charleston massacre and during a week in which there were calls to take down the Confederate battle flag at the South Carolina capitol – it seems likely that some were hate crimes.

Last November Michael Brown’s father’s church was burned.

The first recorded Black church burning was in 1822: the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina – the very church that was the scene of the Charleston Massacre.

After the Civil War and during the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, the Klan and other Whites bombed and burned Black churches as acts of terrorism. Black churches during these periods were staging grounds for organizing Blacks to demand equal rights.

According to civil rights historian Taylor Branch, during the 1950s and 1960s Black churches were being bombed almost every week. In Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964, churches were burned almost every other day.

The most infamous case was in 1963: the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birminghma, Alabama, which left four Black girls dead.

In the 1990s there was another wave of Black church burnings. Some White churches were burned too, but most were Black, even though the US is only 13% Black.

At that time Black churches were not a hotbed of protest for equal rights. Many of those burned had rarely organized anything more than a church supper.

Of those arsonists who were caught, tried and found guilty, only 23% were found guilty of a hate crime. Because of plea bargains and the difficulty in proving hate, the actual number was probably higher. Few, though, belonged to hate groups.

The most infamous church arsonist of the 1990s was Jay Scott Ballinger. In 1998 and 1999 he burned 50 churches across the South and in the Midwest. He was part of – a satanic cult that burned down churches.

– Abagond, 2015.

Update (July 1st): Last night another Black was burned:

  • June 30th 2015: Mount Zion AME Church in Greeleyville, South Carolina.

This very same church was burned by the Klan 20 years ago this month.

Sources: Especially The Atlantic (2015), Washington Post (2015), Department of Justice (1998), Baltimore Sun (1996), Washington Post (1996).

See also:

558

Remarks:

This went to #14 on the US R&B charts in 1970. The song has been covered to death and was used in both “Crooklyn” (1994) and, more memorably, “Boyz n the Hood” (1991).

The video comes from the November 27th 1971 episode of  “Soul Train”.  Dressed in black is Keni Burke, who has appeared before in this space with “Risin’ to the Top” (1982), another classic that did not chart as well as you would think.

Lyrics:

Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child
Things’ll get brighter
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child
Things’ll get brighter
Some day, yeah
We’ll get it together and we’ll get it all done
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna be easier
Ooh-oo child
Things’ll get be brighter
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna be easier
Ooh-oo child
Things’ll get be brighter

Some day, yeah
We’ll get it together and we’ll get it all done
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter
Some day, yeah
We’ll get it together and we’ll get it all done
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child
Things’ll get brighter
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child
Things’ll get brighter
Right now, right now
(You just wait and see how things are gonna be)

Bree Newsome

bree-newsome

Bree Newsome (1985?- ), an American film-maker and freedom fighter, said on Saturday June 27th 2015:

“This flag comes down today.”

At about 5.30am, with the help of fellow activist James Tyson, she climbed the flagpole in front of the South Carolina state capitol and took down the Confederate battle flag.

newsome-and-flag

She gave as her reason:

“We removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer. We can’t continue like this another day. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.”

Newsome is Black, Tyson is White. Both are from Charlotte, North Carolina. Newsome, though, went to high school not far from where the flag flies. As did Dylann Roof.

She and Tyson were arrested for “defacing a monument”.

newsome-tyson-mugshots

They each could face a $5,000 fine or three years in prison or both.

They should be national heroes and get some kind of medal from the president.

Michael Moore says he will pay their bail and legal expenses.

At 7.45am the flag was put back up by two state employees (both Black), hours before a pro-flag rally was to take place.

On June 20th, the flag became the centre of national attention when Dylann Roof’s website, The Last Rhodesian, came to light. It had pictures of him holding the Confederate flag – and burning the American flag. Three days before, he had gunned down nine Black people at a Charleston church, saying that Blacks were taking over “our” country.

On June 22nd, the governor called for the flag to come down. To do that she needs two thirds of state lawmakers to vote to overturn the law that put the flag up. Lawmakers have not yet taken up the issue. A vote is unlikely before July 6th.

As a flag under which White Southerners fought a civil war to keep Black slaves, many see it as a symbol of racism or treason. Others say it represents “heritage not hate”. The custom of flying the flag on public property comes not from honouring the Confederate dead, but from opposing civil rights for Blacks in the 1960s. The flag Newsome took down went up in 1962.

Newsome tweeted about the flag a week ago:

“The refusal to firmly acknowledge and condemn the racism only fans the flames further because it makes it seem like the flag is intolerable only because it primarily offends black people (who racists already feel are “taking over the country”).”

This is not Newsome’s first arrest for civil disobedience. On her website, she says she was:

“arrested last year during a sit-in at the North Carolina State Capitol where she spoke out against the state’s recent attack on voting rights.”

She is an organizer for Ignite NC, which has been fighting for voting rights in North Carolina and has taken part in Moral Mondays. She says that as an artist who is truthful she cannot help but be an activist.

bree-by-niall_jaydub

Drawn by @Niall_JayDub

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:

549

Magna Carta

One of four surviving copies of the 1215 Magna Carta. This copy is one of two held at the British Library. It came from the collection of Sir Robert Cotton, who died in 1631. In 1731, a fire at Ashburnam House in Westminster, where his library was then housed, destroyed or damaged many of the rare manuscripts, which is why this copy is burnt.

Magna Carta (1215), or Great Charter, was a peace treaty between King John of England and the barons who had taken over London. It limited the king’s power, making it the beginnings of constitutional government in the English-speaking world. It turns 800 years old this month.

Its most famous bit is the 39th clause, here loosely translated from the Latin:

“39. No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”

The key word here is “free man” – most people in England in 1215 were not free. But from this grew ideas of habeas corpus, prohibition of torture, due process of law and so on.

Magna Carta was largely the work of Stephen Langton, the Paris-educated Archbishop of Canterbury. The king and his barons had agreed to it on June 15th at Runnymede, now a field in Staines, a less than lovely suburb west of London (says the The Economist). The king put his seal on it on June 19th.

For calendar geeks, June 19th 1215 on the Julian calendar is June 26th on the Gregorian calendar.

Two months later the pope overturned it and England sank back into civil war. It was updated and reissued several times during the 1200s. Out of it grew parliament and the idea that the king could not raise taxes without its consent.

In the end, only four clauses from the 1215 version made it into English law, but Clause #39 was one of them. The other three:

1. FIRST, THAT WE [King John] HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired….

13. The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs.

40. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

In the 1600s, Sir Edward Coke, in the run up to the English Civil War, used it to challenge the king’s power. He was a revolutionary who used Magna Carta to make himself look more conservative than the king!

In the 1700s, the American revolutionaries pulled the same trick to oppose the power of the king. Its ideas made it into the US Constitution.

In the 1800s, Emerson and others saw Magna Carta as proof of the racial genius that made Anglo-Saxons respecters of freedom and natural rulers of other races.

In 2015, Magna Carta still has not reached the streets of Baltimore or the prison cells of Guantanamo – or Rikers Island.

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:

543

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