THE CULTURE CORNER

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CULTURE CORNER ANTHEM THIS ISSUE

A BIG YOUTH CLASSIC

ISAIAH FIRST PROPHET OF OLD; here…

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“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture, is like a tree without roots.”

Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887 – 1940)

Every year in October we celebrate BLACK HISTORY MONTH. Black history is with us every second, minute, hour, week, month and year. PANTHER NEWSLETTER’S CULTURE CORNER will attempt to enlighten you with what they never told you in your history class. Our story will be told right here – So enjoy the journey of clarification.

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“…And I ask why am I black? –  They say I was born in sin, and shamed inequity. One of the main songs we used to sing in church makes me sick, ‘love wash me and I shall be whiter than snow’.”

Peter Tosh

(October 19, 1944 – September 11, 1987)

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Blacks in Britain (Part eleven)

(FINAL CHAPTER) 

Not widely known – But true…

 

1973 – The international oil crisis of 1973 heralded the end of Britain’s need for post-colonial labourers. Sociologist Maureen Cain published Society and the Policeman’s Role, in which she posited that racism now coloured all relations between the police and the black community. Stereotypes and racial epithets were part of the standard equipment police used to “control” blacks, whom Cain believes the police saw as “different, separate, incomprehensible. There was, therefore, no good reason for not being violent if the occasion arose.”

1974 – 1976 – Between 1974 and 1976, four “Political and Economic Planning Reports” were published, which outlined the levels of discrimination faced by West Indians and Asians. In conclusions written in the “coldly objective language of the statistician and the scholar,” the reports maintained that most of the two-million people of African heritage in Britain were subjected to discrimination in employment, housing, education, and areas of law enforcement.

1975 – After discovering in 1974 that official statistics charting the emigration of Commonwealth subjects were inaccurate, only the number of immigrants have been recorded after this date.

Late 1970’s – A huge wave of the Jamaican middle-class emigrate to Britain due to governmental unrest in their homeland.

1979 – Another account of police brutality, Police Against Black People, was submitted to the Royal Commission On Criminal Procedure. Again, listeners to the complaints turned “largely deaf ears.” The evidence, taken from “lawyer’s case files, legal and advisory centres, black self-help groups, and personal interviews,”  argued that Britain’s police “no longer merely reflected or reinforced popular morality: they re-create it – through stereotyping the black section of society as muggers and criminals and illegal immigrants.” By the end of the decade, black communities believed that despite the efforts of groups to provide documented proof of police brutality against blacks, few whites had listened. The presence of white people in black neighbourhoods became that of an “army of occupation charged with the task of keeping black people in their place.” Ironically, instead of tightening controls on blacks, “crisis management” tactics and police abuse only solidified the black community, resulting in an increased militancy. By the beginning of the 1980’s black youth swore they were not going to take any more abuse from police officers.

1981 – By 1981, the number of British persons born in the West Indies had increased from 15,000 in 1951 to 172,000 in 1961 t0 304,000 in 1981. At the time,  the total population of persons of West Indian ethnicity was between 500,000 and 550, 000 depending  upon the official source used.

The Education Act of 1981 gave parents the legal foundation to choose which schools their children could attend – local authorities could only resist when there were “clear grounds of economy and efficiency in the overall provision of education in their areas.” This Act paved the way to race-based educational segregation, where white parents removed their children from predominantly black or Asian  schools that didn’t reflect proper “British Culture.”  Read more here…

1985 – A British Home Office study reported that over 70,000 racially-motivated attacks happened in Great Britain yearly.

1988 – The 1988 Education Reform Act, driven by the so-called “market system”, built upon the new freedoms given parents in the 1981 Education Act to chose (within limits) their children’s schools. In the new Act, residual powers still retained local education to affect the distribution of children in schools within their areas, and the ability to prioritize finding to schools in “educationally and socially disadvantaged” areas, were eliminated.

1992 – John Patten, the secretary of state for education, published a White Paper that made it possible for more schools to “opt out” of local education control. This move made local education authorities powerless. Also, they were at the mercy of educational associations or “hit squads of retired headteachers and inspectors” whose purpose was to take over the management of inner-city schools.

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FAMOUS BLACK PEOPLE PAST AND PRESENT

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AKI ALEONG

Born:  19 December 1934, Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies 

Aki Aleong’s career spanned almost 50 years as an actor, singer, writer, producer and activist. Aki has served on the National Boards of Screen Actors Guild and MANAA. He was the National Chair of the EEOC of SAG, a member of the President’s Diversity / Affirmative Action Task Force and the Executive Director of AIM (Asians in Media). He has starred and co-starred in more than 250 television Shows, and over 40 movies.

Aki started his acting career on Broadway in “Teahouse of the August Moon” and “The Interview.” He went on to star in several live television shows. He has worked with Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Roger Moore, Peter Lawford, Tony Randall, ‘Joanne Woodward’, Chuck Norris, Pierce Brosnan and many other notable stars. He has been signed to all three major networks. He also co-starred with Shirley Yamaguchi (a leading actress in Japan) in a film written by Nobel Peace Prize-winning Pearl S. Buck.

Aki has been a record executive/producer/artist. He was Chairman of The Fraternity of Recording Executives (FORE; an organization dedicated to bringing executives of colour into the music business), president of Pan World Records and Golden Dragon Publishing companies. He was the National Director of Promotion for Polydor/Polygram Records, Liberty/UA Records and Capitol Records. He also produced records for Columbia Records, Capitol, Liberty/UA, Artista and other labels. He has also produced videos and documentaries and was the first Asian-American to have a top-100 record on the national charts in the US, which he wrote and produced. He is also the Assistant National Director of R & B Productions. He is also the President of Mustard Seed Entertainment and MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans).

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SIR ALEXANDER BUSTAMANTE

When Alexander Bustamante began to make his presence felt in Jamaica, the country was still a Crown Colony. Under this system, the Governor had, the right to veto at all times, which he very often exercised against the wishes of the majority. Bustamante was quick to realise that the social and economic ills that such a system engendered, had to be countered by mobilisation of the working class.

Pay and working conditions were poor in the 1920s and 1930s. Failing harvests and the lay-off of workers resulted in an influx of unemployed people, moving from the rural areas into the city. This mass migration did little to alleviate the already tremendous unemployment problem. Bustamante first impressed his name on the society with a series of letters to The Gleaner and occasionally to British newspapers, calling attention to the social and economic problems of the poor and underprivileged in Jamaica.

The years 1937 and 1938 brought the outbreak of widespread discontent and social unrest. In advocating the cause of the masses, Bustamante became the undisputed champion of the working class. He also confronted the power of the Colonial Governor, declaring, “Long live the King! But Denham must go.”

During the troublesome days of 1938, the security forces were everywhere eyeball to eyeball with Bustamante and the workers. Labour unrests continued on and off. On September 8, 1940, Bustamante was detained at Up Park Camp, for alleged violation of the Defence of the Realm Act. He was released seventeen months later.

In 1943 he founded the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), with himself as head. The first general election under Universal Adult Suffrage came in 1944 and the JLP won 22 of the 32 seats. Sir Alexander became the first Prime Minister of Independent Jamaica in 1962. He retired from active politics in 1967. He died on August 6, 1977, at the age of 93. Read more about Alexander Bustamante here…

More about Sir Alexander Bustamante here…

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AFRICAN ROOTS

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THE ABENG

ABENG means an animal horn or musical instrument in the Twi language of the Akan people of Ghana. The ABENG has had two historical uses in Jamaica. It was used by slave holders to summon slaves to the sugar fields. It was also used by the Maroon army as a method of communication. The Maroons used the ABENG to communicate with each other during the wars with the British between the 17th to 19th centuries. It is now used during traditional Maroon celebrations and gatherings. 

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IVORY MASK FROM BENIN NIGERIA

Carved in the early 16th century in the form of a King’s head, it was worn by the King of Benin because it was white; a colour appropriate to OLOKUN, King of water. It went on to be the symbol used for the 2nd Festival of Arts and Culture which was held in Lagos in 1977.

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BAMBARA ALTAR FROM MALI

The BAMBARA is made of an indeterminate composition which includes clay, Beeswax and saliva on a framework of sticks caked in dry blood. The BAMBARA people have a sequence of male initiation cults, and each makes use of the altars such as this, made up of materials of symbolic value. The power of the cult is located on which blood sacrifices are made to generate direct power.

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MABU MASK

The MABU MASK is for the runner who goes on behalf of the Kwi’fon Society to warn villagers of their approach. The Kwi’fon Society is the most powerful administrative body in Cameroon.

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TRIBUTE TO OUR S/HEROES

Rebecca J. Cole (March 16, 1846 – August 14, 1922), was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the second United States African American woman physician and was the first Black woman to graduate from the Woman’s Medical College in Pennsylvania. Rebecca Cole received her secondary education from the Institute for Coloured Youth (ICY – now Cheyney University). She graduated from ICY in 1863. Rebecca Cole received her medical degree from Woman’s Medical College in 1867 (Aside: Women’s Medical College now part of Allegheny University of the Health Sciences). She was appointed as a resident physician at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, which was a hospital owned and operated by women physicians, from 1972-1881. Dr. Rebecca Cole worked with Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first white American woman physician to receive a medical degree. Dr. Blackwell assigned Dr. Cole to the post of sanitary visitor, a position in which a travelling physician would visit families in their homes in slum neighbourhoods and instruct them in family hygiene, prenatal and infant care. Read more about her here…

Amy Jacques Garvey (1896-1973), wife of Marcus Garvey, did not derive her legitimacy from the status of her husband. She was a leading Pan-Africanist and Black Nationalist in her own right. Standing by her man through thick and thin, always advancing the cause of black liberation, she played influential roles in the movement as journalist, feminist and race activist. Born in Jamaica, she moved to the USA in 1917 where she encountered the charismatic Marcus Garvey, who was the driving force for the movement instilling race pride and seeking race redemption for people of African descent. The United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) galvanized and energized Black people from Harlem, USA, to Capetown, South Africa. At this time, Marcus Garvey was in his glory, and after 1922, when he married Amy Jacques, they both personified the movement. Read more about her here…

“Queen Mother” Moore (1898-1997), was born Audley Moore in New Iberia, Louisiana, and acquired the appellation “Queen Mother” on her first trip to Ghana, where she attended the funeral of Kwame Nkrumah in 1972. She was in the forefront of the struggle for 77 years. Her family was scarred by virulent racism. Her great-grandmother was raped by her slave master and her grandfather was lynched. Forced to quit school in the fourth grade, she studied to be a hairdresser to take care of her sisters. In the 1920’s, she travelled around the country only to learn that racism was not confined to the South. She finally settled in Harlem where she organized, mobilized and demonstrated against racist oppression and imperialism directed towards Africa and people of African descent. She was locked into perpetual struggle against black oppression at all levels, joining numerous groups and founding a number of her own. Read more about her here…

Hazel Scott (1920 – 1981). Hailing from Port of Spain, Trinidad, under the guidance of her mother Alma; she began playing piano at the age of two. When she became a celebrity in the 1940s, and even when she had her own television show in 1950; movie producers offered African-American actors only stereotypical roles. Long before the civil rights movement made organized protest common for African-Americans to register their desire for equal rights, Hazel Scott, defied racial stereotypes, portraying a positive screen and stage image, thus improving the opportunities for other African-Americans in the entertainment industry. Even for a celebrity of her calibre, Scott, like most African-Americans during the 1950’s, was no stranger to Jim Crow segregation. She, however, acted with dignity while promoting American patriotism and racial integration, and denouncing communism. In short, Scott was an astonishing sultry song stylist who created her own concept of black pride and steadfastly adhered to it. Read more about her here…

Willie Mae Thornton (1926-1984), was an influential African American blues singer and songwriter whose career extended from the 1940s to the early 1980s. She was called “Big Mama” for both her size and her robust, powerful voice. She is best known for her gutsy 1952 rhythm and blues recording of “Hound Dog,” later covered by Elvis Presley, and for her original song “Ball and Chain,” made famous by Janis Joplin. Thornton’s compositions include more than 20 blues songs. Read more about her here…

Urabi Pasha (1842 – 1911), was an Egyptian soldier and politician. He was one of the first Egyptians of indigenous descent to rise to officer rank in the Egyptian army. In the 1870’s, Urabi denounced Anglo-French plans to occupy Egypt. During murderous riots against Christians in Alexandria, British ships bombarded Alexandria and Urabi declared war on Britain. He lost the war in 1882 and was banished to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka; read more about it here…

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875 – 1912), was one of Britain’s most outstanding composers. His great composition, ‘HIAWATHA’S WEDDING FEAST’, was the most popular concert music of the time through which he achieved fame and recognition. His concern about the plight of black people in London helped many destitutes. Read more about him here…

C L R James (1901 – 1989), died in Brixton, South London. A writer and political activist, he was a unique figure of the 20th Century. His work in history, politics, literature, sport and aesthetics spans six decades. His books include his classic ‘Beyond a Boundary’, ‘Black Jacobins’and ‘Minty Alley.’  Read more about the legend here…

Dr. Harold Moody was the president of the British Christian Endeavour Union. He was a devout Christian and Physician and was well known for his skill in medicine. Dr. Harold was a native of the West Indies and was also a leader of The League Of Black People in London, England. Read more about Dr. Harold Moody, here…

Alex Haley whose book ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X’ won international acclaim, published ‘Roots’ , a story of how he traced his family history for nine generations in Africa in 1973. Roots was made into a T.V mini series and was shown worldwide in several languages. Check out his website; here…

Here ends your history lesson for this final issue.

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Check out CULTURE CORNER ARCHIVES which is constantly updated here…

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Log on for more CULTURE CORNER in the future ’til then remember…

Colour prejudice is at the root of most of the “Oriental incapacity” which bulks so largely in English literature … Anglo-Saxon educational achievement is accounted erudition, while Oriental educational attainments are indiscriminately labelled “educational veneer”, or “a veneer of Western culture”; and this applies not only to Orientals, but to all the coloured races of the world.

Duse Mohamed Ali

(1866 – 1946)

Everyting – Bless

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