Category: thinkpiece

Europeans, Let’s Talk…

europe, global, racism, society, thinkpiece July 1, 2020

Lockdown has pushed me into developing several new interests, some of them, very delicious, and others, seemingly pointless–or, so I thought, initially. Long story short, the Instagram accounts of the least interesting characters of Love Island have helped me to confirm my long-running theory:

White Europeans are blind to Europe’s massive racism problem.

OK? Now, let’s break down how we got here (prepare to pray for me in 3, 2, 1). Sans my Love Island fix, I’m following more former Islanders on Instagram; and because of that, my discover page shows posts from the ones who fell through the cracks. Does that mean something? It didn’t until I started noticing a peculiar pattern. Being? An absence of black squares. Meaning? Absolutely nothing to the untrained eye, and the untrained eye only–but, EYE, am a professional, luv.

After I identified my (aforementioned) hypothesis, I quickly differentiated between my control group, the Islanders who posted nothing, and, my experimental group, the Islanders who posted black squares. And while testing my hypothesis, like the damn good scientist et investigateur that I am, I observed something that unearthed it all: within several captions, the words, I stand with America, or some variation of the sort. WTF does that really tell us though? British people, like so many other Europeans, are failing to call out the racism that exists in their very backyard.

Years of visiting, vacationing, or working in cities like Milan, Paris, London, Amsterdam, all the way down to the island of Ibiza, have revealed to me Europeans’ genuine belief that racism isn’t nearly as bad in Europe as it is in the United States. Some Europeans have fallen so deep into the Kool Aid, that they even believe that racism is nearly non-existent in Europe. If you’re one of them, I need you to understand this;

When Black people hear you say, “Europe doesn’t really have the same race issues that exist in America,” we say the name Phillip Mbuji Johansen,

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a Black, Danish man named in a piece published in the New York Times yesterday titled, “A Black Man Was Tortured and Killed in Denmark. The Police Insist It Wasn’t About Race.”

We say the name Shukri Abdi,

shukri

 a 12 year-old Somalian girl who was murdered in Manchester, UK in 2017. Shukri was bullied by her classmates who were at the scene where she was found drowned. The police failed to investigate, and declared her death a tragic accident.

We say the name Adama Traoré,

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a Black, French man murdered by Paris Metropolitan Police on his 24th birthday in 2016. It was reported that “Traoré was detained and pinned down by three police offers, reportedly telling them before he died that he couldn’t breathe.”

We think of the African immigrants shot by a Fascist in Macerata, Italy. We think of Black, European footballers like Italian-Ghanian pro, Mario Balotelli, saying things like, “the ‘really extreme’ racism I’ve witnessed in Italian football is worse than any I’ve seen in England or France.”

We think of the racist actions of the UK government that lead to The Grenfell Tower Fire. We think of reports that a dozen cops in Rouen, France, exchanging a series of white supremacist messages in a WhatsApp group in late 2019; and of the StreetPress’ exposé, “uncovering a private Facebook group of eight thousand, French, law enforcement members from across the country, in which police regularly exchanged racist commentary.”

We say the names Alberto Adriano, Sean RiggKingsley Burrell, Stephen Lawrence, Zyed Benna, Bouna Traoré, and so many other Black and Brown Europeans who had their lives stolen from them. And before you call their deaths mere “exceptions to the rule,”

you should know that the history of racism across Europe is well-documented, although, significant erasure has taken place.

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Anti-Black, German propaganda

Most Europeans are unaware of the human zoos, or “ethnological exhibitions,” that displayed Black people in cities like Hamberg, Berlin, Paris, Riga, Bern, Bucharest, Warsaw, Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Milan, and more well into the 1960s.

human

"The World’s Fair, in 1889 was visited by 28 million people, who 
lined up to see 400 indigenous people as the major attraction. 
The 1900 World’s Fair followed suit, as did the Colonial Exhibitions
in Marseilles (1906 and 1922) and in Paris (1907 and 1931) which 
displayed naked or semi-naked humans in cages. Paris saw 34 million 
people attend their exhibition in six months alone."

Most Europeans don’t know the name of Ota Benga who was put on display at The Bronx Zoo in 1904.

ota_benga_2

According to reports, “the card outside the exhibit read: Age, 23 years. Height, 4 feet 11 inches. Weight 103 pound. Brought from the Kasai River, Congo Free State, South Central Africa, By D. Samuel P Verner. Exhibited each afternoon during September.” 

It isn’t well-known that Hitler sterilized as many African-German mixed race children without anesthetics. And:

"Black soldiers of the American, French, and British Armies were 
worked to death on construction projects or died as a result of 
mistreatment in concentration or prisoner-of-war camps. Others were 
never even incarcerated, but were instead immediately killed by the 
SS or Gestapo. Black prisoners received harsher treatment and less 
food than white POWs, and whilst most white POWs were imprisoned, 
many of the black soldiers either worked until they died or were 
executed."

Sweeping these atrocities ‘under the rug’ doesn’t make them any less real, heartbreaking, violent, and racist. So, white Europeans, I beg:

stop allowing the horrors, and the Americanness of police brutality to distract you from dismantling the racism that is killing and oppressing the Black people who call Europe home.

We. Are. Tired.

america, politics, society, thinkpiece June 22, 2020

I couldn’t get these words out last Wednesday, on my usual ‘new post’ day. I was too tired. I couldn’t do it last Thursday either, because I was too busy being tired carrying the weight of other things. And I figured talking about this on Juneteenth might come with bad juju, so today’s the day that I’ll say this:

I’m tired.

I was hoping I’d have more energy to talk about how urgently we must practice and protect our freedoms, how we undermine the size of our spheres of influence,

 

the history of governments wanting us to shut the fuck up, as shown through America’s Sedition laws, and The Earn It Act; I wanted to share notes from the talk I gave to a class at California State University last fall, in which I highlighted Michael Kent Curtis’s sentiments in his Free Speech, The People’s Darling Privilege, revealing, “the Supreme Court came to its current protective view of free speech only very gradually and only in the twentieth century…[due to struggles] between the Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans over the 1798 Sedition Act, the fight over slavery, attempts to suppress antislavery speech, as well as anti war speech during the Civil War,” but I’m tired. 

I wanted to talk about how The Earn It Act threatens our cybersecurity and free speech, under the guise of spending $5 billion towards “uncovering more child sex abuse material by investing in more FBI agents and online investigators,” but I’m tired.

I wanted to use this space–the one I pay to occupy–to inform, drop sources, and stir conversation, but, I’m tired, just like SO many Black women.

We show up, we take up space, we do the work, just like OLUWATOYIN SAULUonly to be subjected to humiliation or death by male assailants. We’re pushed in dumpsters for timelines. And when we’re not being called out for merely being, we’re gaslighted for merely feeling. Even after we start book clubs, and show that we truly just want the best for the people who look like us and still don’t see our humanity, just as much as we do the people who don’t look us and never saw us, we’re the least prioritized.

And when Black women are silent, because we’re busy healing from the traumas we carry; because we’re tired of screaming at the top of our lungs in memoriam; because we’re tired of our hearts breaking over the people who call us QUEEN with the same venom they’ll use to call us cockroaches, we’re selfish.

Why can’t we fucking rest instead?

"We mostly praise Black women for how much they can endure, strength, how much emotional labor they can provide for us. 
That alone is dehumanizing. Think about what you're contributing to. And please listen to Black women on this. You are causing harm. 
Protect Black women."

Storytelling in the Age of COVID-19

art, business, CEO, identity, know, thinkpiece April 29, 2020

Countless commercials are talking about our ‘unprecedented times,’ so what does this moment mean for storytelling in business?

To find out, I turned to Tamon George, Co-Founder & CEO of Creative Theory Agency, and my latest guest on ‘Oh…We’re Going There’ podcast.

Tamon is a creative theorist based in Washington DC whose award-winning, culture-focused marketing agency is amplifying voices, and telling necessary stories that overturn common narratives.

Here’s my conversation with Tamon, and links to connect with him:

Spotify Podcasts

Apple Podcasts

Google Play

Stitcher

Creative Theory Agency

@Tamon_

The Race Card

america, politics, society, thinkpiece April 8, 2020

In this episode, I’m chatting with Saira Rao, an attorney, author, activist, and former candidate for Congress in Colorado’s 1st district.

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Saira Rao and Regina Jackson. Photo: Rebecca Stumpf

Saira is also Co-Founder of Haven Media Organization, a radical digital platform by and for women of color, and Race 2 Dinner, which holds dinners with white, liberal women to help them confront their privilege and racism.

Here’s my conversation with Saira, and how you can connect with her:

Spotify Podcasts

Apple Podcasts

Google Play

Stitcher

Race2Dinner

Haven Media

Saira’s Twitter

Born In The GOP

america, news, podcast, politics, society, thinkpiece February 19, 2020

In this episode, I’m discussing GOP policy, student loan debt, and the Constitution with Gregory Cheadle, formerly a Republican, now running as an Independent for Congress in California’s 1st District. Gregory made headlines with the president when he was referred to as his “African American,” at a 2016 rally.

Here’s our conversation:

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Google Play

Listen on Stitcher