(Whatâ€™s colour got to do with it?)
Islam-Christian Can it work together
12 Things a Negro should know...
Stimulates - Educates - Motivates - Elevates
Black - B r i g h t
EDITORIAL - SACRIFICING BLACKNESS I was reading Deborah Gabriel’s book “Layers of Blackness” – Colourism in the African Diaspora, and it reminded me of my painting “Shades of Black” which depicted a lighter skinned woman on top, and the darker skinned underneath. When I painted those images I don’t know what I was thinking at the time, but something in my psyche had acknowledged colourism even though I didn’t know what the definition was back then. Deborah Gabriel, apart from being the author of ‘Layers of Blackness’ is a teaching professional and a journalist and I have reveiwed her book which you will find in this issue. I don’t like the idea of colourism still existing in the 20th Century, but sadly, experience has shown that black people still discriminate against each other because of the shade of their skin. Could this be a reason why many dark-skinned women opted to have children for light-skinned men with ‘good hair’, sacrificing their blackness to give their fair-skinned offspring a ‘better ‘life? Others have opted for bleaching creams to make their complexions lighter believing that this was the gateway to better opportunities? Many conservatives believe this is because blacks are genetically inferior to whites, while some liberals believe that the IQ gap is “the result of nearly three centuries of slavery and yet another 130 years of segregation and institutionalised racism”. Hume, Krieger, Sidney & Coakley and many others have stated that the lighter you are, the higher your IQ level. Have you ever heard such a load of tosh!? If this is true, how did Professor Geoffrey Palmer, DSc, OBE whose skin tone is a darker shade of black become one of three in the UK to be awarded a Doctor of Science? It just goes to show that one can achieve excellence regardless of colour pigmentation if given equal opportunities. Myrna Loy 1
So, imagine if you will, two people, meeting, falling in love and wanting to spend the rest of theirs lives together. Now, imagine each one having to explain to their family about the other. This could be a tricky conversation to have and indeed, there are probably many people who, when introducing their new partners to the families may choose to omit the ‘tiny’ detail of religion. Now, add to
the steps of London Mosques and countless news stories which are published through the media. There is the media’s version of Muslims – bomb-making, religious fanatical extremists, hell bent on destruction. This idea is drip fed throughout the newspapers daily which in turn feeds and fosters people’s fears. With such coverage of this high profile religion, it is hard to see past all of this and make an objective judgement for oneself.
There are many preconceived ideas which can be harboured against a race or nation of people and this is mainly due to lack of knowledge and understanding for that particular culture. This opinion, more often than not, will present itself when two people from different backgrounds get together. For example, a Christian woman and a Muslim man – a potentially controversial mix wouldn’t you say? Especially in this time of the ‘so called’ reign of terrorism on the West, the war in Iraq, fundamentalist leaders denouncing the scum of the West from
It has been said that love can conquer all. Well, yes and no. Yes, love has the power and ability to cross all boundaries; all colours, religions and all invisible barriers that present themselves. It can bring a wonderful diversity and cultural mix to the union which adds such richness to life, or No, too many prejudices and preconceptions. The relationship can succumb to the negativity; which can either influence or damage the love. It may also come at a price - family members may not agree with the union and may disapprove or oppose it, and in some extreme cases, may even disown the couple.
A Cultural Mix
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gions, there will be followers of any faith who will decide
ily and held very highly. Unfortunately, like most reli-
band and wife. Women are seen as the core of the fam-
standing between men and woman and especially hus-
tolerance of the faith. Islam is based on love and under-
the Qur’an and they are very respectful and indeed show
knowledge of the Christian faith. Jesus is mentioned in
However, what you will find is that all Muslims have
and moreover, will never even attempt to find out.
would be surprised if they knew one single truth about it,
for most people who form their views of this religion, I
Islam was the need to punish the non-believers.
would seem that the only thing the West learned about
violent religion – after all that has occurred since 9/11. It
For the Christian woman, she will need to contend with unhelpful views from well meaning people relating to Islam: it’s too controlling, women are marginalised and undervalued; this religion is seen predominantly as under the control of men and they are solely for the control of women. Equally, the view could be that Islam is seen as a
the mix a different nationality into this too - an interesting combination wouldn’t you say? Not only does one have to jump the hurdle of religion but also of a new ethnicity plus all the customs and traditions that accompany it.
(Or google the title and read the Review)
Ask your Library!
It’s the funny side of being British in the Caribbean!
by Myrna Loy
“ T h e O t h e r S i d e o f To u r i s m ”
tough parts and allow them to see past all the predetermined fears of others about themselves. They just want to be together. It seems though, that as the relationship develops and things between them become more serious, such important questions will surely be raised. It would be naive to say that whomever you love, your family will also love them no matter what. It’s a lovely idea but an unrealistic one.
other. It’s almost as if love has this ability to take out the
things - all they care about how much they love each
ent backgrounds fall in love, they don’t care about these
Its an interesting concept, but when two people of differ-
ter into non-English ways, to somehow change her.
somehow this man will try to unduly influence her daugh-
tionship with someone non-white, may bring the fear that
Indeed for a white mother to see her daughter in a rela-
otic when there was no desire for this in the past.
ways? They could become protective and unusually patri-
what will this “foreigner” try and change about their
Then there is the cultural dilemma. What affected people fear the most, is fear itself. They fear the unknown -
to “pick and choose” the bits they like from it and interpret this information in the way they want. Men can be cruel and harsh to women no matter what their religious beliefs are.
PLEASE DON’T LABEL ME! Page 4
Colourism in the African Diaspora by Deborah Gabriel (a Blackbright Review) Page 13
LAYERS OF BLACKNESS
Colourism P.1 Mix ed Religion P.2 T ha Endz P.3 I Didn’ t Know.. P.5 My Ex-Friend - P. 6 I A polo gise - P.7 Abstinence? Pa g e 8 12 T hings A Ne g r o P.9 James Br own P . 10 Diamond Br own P.11 St Maar ten P.14
IN THIS ISSUE...
Tha Endz Productions (Richard Akrofi, Yinka Oretuga and Kwame Badu below) developed a passion for reporting facts about urban communities. They went into ‘tha Endz’ and questioned ‘gangs’ about their lifestyle - if they liked it, if they wanted to change it, and how (or if) it could be changed. Most of those who were interviewed showed visible signs of entrapment. Many youths felt they needed a second chance; some felt afraid but put on a brave face to survive. Responses from them include: “by the time you find out how important education is, they’ve locked you up and you’ve got a police record. You can’t get a job with a police record!” “High rise council flats is all I see - I can’t see beyond it - all the exits are up one end of the street”. “Parents should drum [education] in our heads more - there should be more apprenticeships available”. “Schools don’t prepare us for business or the real world”. “I feel controlled by drugs and poverty - it’s headback or jail”. “The Church is the answer?” “Sing, dance and entertain that is all we have been allowed to do, and it is what we still do - we entertain through sports, dance, film acting, comedy and singing!” Tha Endz Productionz have produced Tha Endz DVD which captures the real soul-moving stories behind young black boys in deprived communities in London. The DVD helps us to decide whether the youth ‘are a product of their environment or the environment a product of the people’, says Kwame. We see one side of their story through mainstream media, Tha Endz tells the other side. The documentary covers everything from education to gun crime, from street slang, Christianity to politics. Tha Endz is focussed on people actually living in these dire communities, young men and women who articulate their fears and dreams. While the DVD does not impose solutions on the viewer, it makes it clear what the problem is, and how they can be solved if we listen to the cry behind the voices. Tha Endz have highlighted key problems and I am sure will encourage resolve and provoke empathy as it did in me. (Review by Myrna Loy)
No Second Chances for ‘da yout’ in tha endz
It is believed that much has changed with regard to what people know about mental health and its affects and yes, there has been obvious progression and development over the years. For instance the Mental Health Act of 1983, means that mental health sufferers will now be treated, willingly or against their will. This means that people who suffer from mental health will be given a service that helps them treat these illnesses or can exacerbate 4
Mental illness or mental health is the term used to describe a person who, due to distress and disabilities, their psychological and physiological pattern has been altered to the point that they are not accepted by the community and culture. This does not necessarily mean that a person with mental illness does not have the mental capacity to make informed decisions and choices about their life, and nor does it make them abnormal.
When you think of Mental Health what comes to mind? Mental health has always been viewed negatively. Historically a person with mental health was considered an idiot or crazy. even to this present day ignorance prevails as mental health is viewed as a ‘mad person’s disease’ and not at all taken seriously. Dating back to the medieval period, prior to 1750, attitudes to the mentally ill were simplistic. People with mental health problems were seen as ‘idiots’, ‘mad’, even ‘possessed by devils’. Folklore offered a cure for madness - ritual bathing in healing waters, which some tried. The mentally ill were often treated badly - either left to their own devices, ‘confined’ at home or in an institution. In neither case did they receive medical treatment.
by Bianca Edwards
Don’t label me!
Why should we, as a black community be worried about this? Well amongst the figures, research suggests 1 in 5 black people over all other ethnicities suffer from mental health - but what is worrying is with the social stigma held against this illness, a lot of black people are afraid to say that they have a problem. Also with the alleged institutionalised racism, there are a lot of black people who fear approaching the system due to lack of trust in it.
century that the biological viewpoint was most dominant. However, psychiatrists such as Emil Kraepelin, have challenged this view and said that lifestyle choices can also trigger mental illness symptoms.
The argument has been debated whether mental health is triggered by social factors such as tragic events in their life or a biological imbalance in the brain. Psychiatry, which is the study of mental health, has held the view for much of the 19th
A creative programme run by Keith Jebb, (Creative Arts lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire) aims to show that people who suffer from mental illness have the same capabilities as so called normal individuals. He aims to inspire mental health users and encourage them to use their talents and give them a goal and a path to succeed in life. Many ‘victims’ of mental health have been unemployed for a long time and the creative programme is their chance for integration. This programme proves that they are able to make informed choices about their life; they are not stupid or unintelligent and nor are they crazy. Keith Jebb said: “mental health users can function quite normally. Once they have come to terms with their illness they can deal with it and live normal lives. Their illness does not make them abnormal, they just have a problem that needs treating.”
The truth of the matter is that mental health is much more vast than many people know, with a staggering 1 in 4 people suffering from mental illness at one point in their lifetime. One would wonder why we have not, as a society, accepted this and helped these people.
Ignorance of mental health still exists in society and in our community. Some of us still believe that one that suffers from mental illness (be it as mild as depression, schizophrenia, paranoia or memory loss), that they have quite frankly, lost the plot, therefore these individuals become isolated from society - as if they are abnormal human beings.
it depending on how accurate the diagnosis.
by Bianca Edwards
The example of Mrs Zito shows that by dismissing the problem, sweeping it under the carpet and dismissing mental health sufferers who so obviously need help and by giving them labels, you are hindering the community.
The case of Christopher Clunis, Black African and schizophrenic, stabbed Johnathan Zito, a white male in the eye after being released from hospital in 1992. This was a famous case that gained much publicity at the time. What was astonishing about this case is Jonathan’s wife reserved anger and campaigned for mental health care for mentally ill patients. She realised that the mental health services were losing control and instead of wanting revenge, she decided to devise a lobbying campaign to improve the services for the patients so the problem would not reoccur.
Craig’s situation shows that social factors can definitely affect mental health and although biological traits can be a factor, social indicators are a possible influence.
From the case of Craig Williams it made me realise that negligence and lack of care can affect the way a person deals with certain situations. Craig’s teacher noticed what other teachers didn’t, because she cared about her students enough to analyse the situation and look deeper into the reasons why he misbehaved rather than just giving him a label. This suggests that children do not misbehave for the sake of it. Therefore bearing in mind that mental illness affects 1 in 5 black people this should be taken into consideration and treated as a potential factor for abnormal behaviours.
But I soon learned that my behaviour was due to clinical depression. As a guy, I never thought that a guy could have depression. I know it sounds stupid, but I thought it was considered weak. I have a lot of pride and when I was told by my science teacher that I might be suffering from depression I refused to believe it. However, after a year I went to the doctors and gave him my symptoms and I was diagnosed with clinical depression. At that point I was so grateful for my teacher caring about me so much. If she had never taken that time and care, I would be going down an endless path. I have been taking anti-depressants drugs for a while and they have helped me immensely.”
Craig William, an IT student from Northampton University, 25 said: “I suffered from depression from the age of 16. I had quite a sad and disruptive upbringing. My mother was a heroin user and my dad was violent. I moved out when I was 16 and lived in a hostel for two and a half years. I was always labelled the disruptive, rude, arrogant child at school.
So when you go clubbing, wear ear plugs, or incite a change of attitude so that clubbing can be safe, and ask the DJ to turn the sound down so that you can enjoy music for many years to come!!
The RNID compares the earplugs to wearing condoms for sex, sun cream or wearing a helmet.
“Because of Bluetooth and IPods, people are getting more used to putting things in their ears that are fashionable”, said a spokeswoman.
Exposure to loud noise over 90 decibels damages your ears and can give rise to permanent hearing loss. The inner ear (the cochlea) does not regenerate and results in high hearing loss.
Individuals should not be subject to noise level over 100 decibels for more than 2 hours a week.
Remaining in clubs for long hours amidst high level noise exceeding 90 decibels can adversely affect your hearing, which will become more noticeable as you get older.
The charity says that 90% of young clubbers have shown early signs of hearing damage after only one night out and is asking students to design ear plugs that do not look too medical for people who love music.
that The Royal Institute for the Deaf (RNID) has recommended a redesign of ear plugs so that youths going clubbing can protect their hearing?
Did You Know...
We found ourselves in a strange world where we had nobody but each other. Gradually we adopted ourselves to the English individualism. Work, study, social life; pressure on every part of the self, being busy, being 6
We met when I was about 10. After a couple of years we became close and from the age of 16, I counted her among my best friends. We came to the UK together to pursue our studies and became close like sisters.
You could say that I’m only 20 and I don’t have much life experience yet to know much about a relationship break up. However, I have experienced a broken friendship, just very recently…and maybe it started a long time ago, but I wasn’t paying attention. Of course, there are friends who come and then naturally leave your life - friends you have known since early childhood, especially when each of you have moved on in a different direction. There are some unfortunate cases when you count on somebody as a real friend for life but at one point you realise that you have grown apart.
We could argue that we live in an individualistic world where people despite all communicational advances gradually grow apart and you could tell me that my exgirlfriend and I simply moved on… but if this is the
We didn’t have time. I hate this statement. We all have time -as long as we are alive we all have 24 hours a day and it is entirely up to us to organize our time. As a foreigner in Britain, this was a thing which shocked me the most here. It seems to be fashionable to be busy all the time - not to have time. It’s a very useful excuse for everything. I am contaminated too. We were too busy studying, building a base for our future careers.
perfect, being successful, knowing everything, knowing everyone, being everywhere - and we did succeed in being almost everywhere but not there for one another. Please, don’t get me wrong, if there was a problem I always knew she was there for me, however, a friendship needs more than being together when a problem occurs. Friendship means being together without any special reason, just to enjoy each other’s presence.
By Maria Kozarova
I apologise to my black woman for all the seen and unseen lies, for the heartache and pain that brought tears in your eyes. I apologise to black woman for not being true from the start, for running away from you, leaving a hole in your heart. For ignoring your feelings and pushing them aside, Because I was too damn arrogant and pumped up with pride. I apologise too, for making promises that I couldn’t keep, for building a foundation based on treachery and deceit; for being selfish and inconsiderate, I did what I wanted to do; for making costly decisions without thinking of you. I apologise to for not holding you through restless nights and stormy days, for my immature thoughts and my foolish ways. Instead of carrying your love with me, I just threw it on the shelf, after we made love I turned away, only thinking of myself. You cried your heart for me, while I was out running wild and loose, I destroyed the essence of your love with physical, mental, and emotional abuse. I gave you hell black woman by giving up when times got rough, I didn’t slap you, I pushed you, I neglected you even that’s bad enough! Now I see why you build a wall around you, because it is me you despise, but that’s the price that I have to pay for all the times I wore a disguise. I pray to God that one day you will realize that I love you black woman, and I apologise.
www.myspace.com/blackbrightnews Nuff nuff respect to this poet who is unknown www.myspace.com/ladyloy but who has opened his heart so that we can hear it. www.lifefm.org.uk (to listen live Sats 10-12 noon) 7
Blackbright News and Life FM 103.6 working together to empower... Banter, Social Commentary, Speeches, Interviews, & Reggae Music...
By Maria Kozarova
My ‘ex-friend’ lives next to me, I see her every day and still we live totally separate lives. I’m determined to continue the effort to revive our friendship. Maybe it just needs a lot of time and a lot of persistence - or maybe I just need to learn accept it.
a wise solution and tell you the exact steps on how not to lose a friend, but I don’t know what they are. I don’t know what happened to our friendship. There is one thing which I have learned from it though is that personal relationships of any kind need time and effort and they need to be built upon. Once you start feeling comfortable and too secure, you are prone to get lazy; you can take the person for granted and you don’t take care of the friendship anymore.
case then neither of us would regret that we are no more close friends, which is not true. We did talk about it, and we made some effort, but probably there has been too much distance. How strange - being distant to someone who lives next door. So where is the problem? Now I should come up with
(Photos by Yvonne Hector)
The most common method of birth control is ‘contraception’. This sounds obvious right? Wrong! This is the case here in the U.K but over in America the latest craze for birth control is abstinence! Thousands of high school students in the USA have pledged abstinence. They vow to hold back from sex until they are married. “Only abstinence is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and Sexual Transmitted Infections (‘STIs’) - Palo Alto Medical 8 Foundation.
Every minute of the day couples around the world are engaging in ‘nookie’, close encounters or what is usually known as sex. All different types of people have sex - short, tall, young, old, all nationalities, religions and cultures - I think you get where I’m going. The question is not who is having sex but are they having safe sex?
What is Birth control and who is using it I hear you ask? It’s all in the name really. Birth control means to control birth and prevent pregnancy.
Written by Victoria Woode
(Following in whose footsteps?)
IS ABSTINENCE THE ANSWER?
The contraception method often favoured by women of all ages is ‘the pill’. This is a hormonal method that works by stopping the release of an egg from the ovaries or by altering the lining of the vagina. The combined pill and the Progestogen-only pill are only available on prescription. Within these categories there are several types of pills all with various side effects. With the combination pill you must take it at the same time every day
STI’s are particularly harmful to women. If undetected it can seriously affect their reproductive system causing cervical cancer and even infertility. Channel 4’s “Embarrassing Bodies” cited that every day one woman dies from cervical cancer! It takes two to tango so both partners in a relationship must be responsible for protecting themselves.
Contraception is widely available to people of any age, so reasons as to lack of use are beyond me. Condoms are essentially the easiest form of contraception to get hold of around the clock. Now that tax has been taken off the price, condoms are even cheaper. Condoms can protect you from pregnancy and STIs, and are the only contraception able to be used by a man.
how we can redress this.
Britain has been in the midst of a teen sex crisis (primarily concerning pregnancy) for years. It is not my place to pass judgement as to why this is but I will suggest
Most young people, who refrain from sexual intercourse, do so because of religious or moral reasons. “Adolescents who take a virginity pledge have a substantially better life outcome” (The Heritage Foundation), so, statistically you have nothing to lose.
Birth control is not just about withholding sex or contraception, but it is also about controlling yourself, knowing when it is right to have sex and knowing how to respect your body. Remember sex under 16 is illegal. by Victoria Woode
There are plenty of resources that can help you with your decisions involving sex. Try your local GUM clinic or doctors. Some schools provide support with topics such as this. It may seem embarrassing to talk to a total stranger about your sex life but if you feel mature enough to be having sex you should be mature enough to talk about it.
One thing many young people take for granted is ‘the morning after pill’. This should not be used as contraception. It is an emergency contraception and should only be used if your regular form of protection fails you. Emergency contraception can be prescribed by your doctor after unprotected sex has occurred, or you can buy this over the counter from most pharmacists for around £24. If you have had unprotected sex you only have 72 hours in which to take the morning after pill. The sooner you take it the more effective it is. If you go past 72 hours the only alternative is to have an IUD coil fitted up to 5 days after having unprotected sex. If unprotected sex has occurred with someone you don’t know very well, then get yourself checked out at the Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic.
Some methods of contraception have a lower failure rate than others but it’s really up to you to decide what works best with your body. Effectiveness varies from 92% to 99.5% effective. No contraception is 100% effective, they can fail if not used correctly. Having said this, there are plenty of options to choose from. For example, the contraceptive injection, the IUD (which is discouraged in America), Implants (e.g. Norplant), the female condom and the diaphragm with spermicidal gel.
or within three hours. The progestogen-only pill must be taken everyday for three weeks and then you take a week out. If you forget to take your pill you should consume one as soon as possible.
6. The Negro must hghly resolve to wipe out mass ignorance. The leaders of the race must teach and inspire the masses to become eager and determined to improve mentally, morally and spiritually, and to meet the 9 basic requirements of good citizenship. We should initiate intensive liter-
5. The Negro must make his religion an everyday practice and not just a Sunday-go-to-meeting affair. i.e. Show modest behaviour all the times.
4. The Negro must learn to dress more appropriately for work and for leisure. Knowing what to wear—how to wear it—when to wear it and where to wear it are earmarks of common sense, culture and also an index to character.
3. The Negro must keep himself, his children and his home clean and make the surroundings in which he lives comfortable and attractive. He must learn to ‘run his community up’—not down. We can segregate by law, we integrate only by living. Civilization is not a matter of race, it is a matter of standards.
2. The Negro must stop expecting God and white folk to do for him what he can do for himself. It is the ‘Divine Plan’ that the strong shall help the weak, but even God does not do for man what man can do for himself. The Negro will have to do exactly what Jesus told the man (in John 5:8) to do - carry his own load -’take up your bed and walk.’
1. The Negro must learn to put first things first. The first things are: education; development of character traits; a trade and home ownership. The Negro puts too much of his earning in clothes, in food, in show and in having what he calls ‘a good time.’ Dr. Kelly Miller said, ‘The Negro buys what he wants and begs for what he needs.’
by Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879)
12 Things a Negro Should Do
We can all learn from the wisdom of our ancestors.
Circa 1900 (Abridged) Nannie Helen Burroughs
12. The Negro must stop forgetting his friends. The American Negro has had and still has friends—in the North and in the South. These friends not only pray, speak, write, influence others, but make unbelievable, unpublished sacrifices and contributions for the advancement of the race—for their brothers in bonds.
11. The average so-called educated Negro will have to come down out of the air. He Is too inflated over nothing. It will do all leaders good to read Hebrew 13:3 [New International Version] which says: “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” and the first 37 chapters of Ezekiel. A race transforms itself through its own leaders and its sensible ‘common people.’ A race rises on its own wings, or is held down by its own weight. True leaders are never ‘things apart from the people.’ they are the masses; they simply got to the front ahead of them. Their only business at the front is to inspire the masses by hard work and noble example and challenge them to ‘Come on!’ Dante stated a fact when he said, ‘Show the people the light and they will find the way!’
10. The Negro must learn how to operate business for people - not for negro people, only. To do business, he will have to remove all typical ‘earmarks.’ He must have business principles, measure up to accepted standards and meet stimulating competition graciously. In fact, he must learn to welcome competition.
9. He must improve his conduct in public places. Taken as a whole, he is entirely too loud and too ill-mannered. It is definitely up to the Negro to wipe out the apparent justification or excuse for segregation. The only effective way to do it is to clean up and keep clean. By practice, cleanliness will become a habit and habit becomes character.
8. The Negro must overcome his bad job habits. He must make a brand new reputation for himself in the world of labor.
7. The Negro must stop charging his failures up to his ‘color’ and to white people’s attitude. The truth of the matter is that good service and conduct will make senseless race prejudice fade like mist before the rising sun. God never intended that a man’s color shall be anything other than a badge of distinction. It is high time that all races were learning that fact. The Negro must first qualify for whatever position he wants. Purpose, initiative, ingenuity and industry are the keys that all men use to get what they want.
acy campaigns. Satisfied ignorance is a millstone about the neck of the race. It is democracy’s greatest burden. Social integration is a relationship attained as a result of the cultivation of kindred social ideals, interests and standards. It is a blending process that requires time, understanding and kindred purposes to achieve. Likes alone and not laws can do it.
10 (Nigel Burnett)
This genius of a man who died on Christmas Day 2006 was one of the greatest and most influential inspirations the music world has ever known. Did you know he was still born at birth and had to be shocked or smacked into life? He grew up on the street, had prison sentences, divorces and bankruptcies, but this man was a really tough son of a gun, as he would say. He was one of the most charismatic black entertainers of his day leading the tightest funk band ever at the time which he himself put together. He created Funk and influenced the creation of many other styles including Rap. In the 70s and 80s D.J.`s would mix samples of his Music and rhyme over them. Modern Legends like Prince and Michael Jackson were heavily influenced by his flamboyant showmanship. He fought against racism in America and was seen as a great black leader. His relentless schedule of approximately 340 live shows a year labelled him as the hardest working man in show business. He was very tenacious and we can all learn from his drive which made him so successful. We are nearly half-way through the year so many of you may have faced some of your biggest challenges in life but some of us may never have to go through the torment that James Brown must have gone through during a time where blacks didn’t have the right to have a voice, which James has helped to give us. Like other great black men, he has made our lives easier, which therefore enables us to make a positive difference. Dare to believe in yourself and what you can accomplish this year and you will be surprised at the end of it how it has greatly surpassed your previous years.
Remember James Brown
... As the withheld number scrolled across the telephone pad, Diamond knew that she would be in trouble. Desmond wouldn’t believe she hadn’t tried to contact him. Diamond’s mother’s chastising voice popped in her head: “Anyting too black noh good” When Diamond reluctantly introduced Desmond to her mother, she noticed her mother’s mouth twist with discomfort and her eyebrows arch with disapproval. “Why couldn’t she look beyond the colour of his skin?” Diamond beseeched in her heart, when she recalled their initial introduction. “So what does he do?” her mother asked more out curiosity than sincere interest. “He works in a bank” Diamond responded proudly. “What does he do in the bank – clean it?” “No!” Diamond defended, “he is a banker - he deals with high net worth clients. “Humph... he won’t keep that job very long, I bet! That was one of the things Diamond didn’t understand about her mother. Why she was opposed to anyone ‘too’ black when she was dark-skinned herself? “You mean to say I sacrificed my blackness for nothing?” You think I went with your father fe yu tek up someone so black? I don’t care if him work in a bank him won’t amount to anyting!” she said viciously. Diamond would never forget her mother’s hateful words. How could she now tell her mother that Desmond was in jail? She couldn’t - it would be as though her mother’s prediction was right, but it wasn’t. Desmond had been set up, she was sure of it. Diamond felt lonely and unhappy. Tears fell down her 11
(Pt.2 A serial short story)
cheeks. She was just about to go into a fully-fledged piece of bawling when it was interrupted with a gentletouch on her arm. “What’s up ma?” he asked solemnly. “Nothing!” It was Birberry, her teenage son. “Nothing?” he challenged. “C’mon ma, something’s up. What is it?” “Seriously” Diamond said convincingly, “it was a soppy movie I was watching. You know how I am with romantic movies don’t you?” She reassured him with a smile. He removed his Birberry cap and put it on the dining table. He sensed she was lying. “Not on the table, son, please!” Diamond snapped in an irritable tone she could not contain. Birberry snatched his cap from the table and headed for his bedroom. “What time is dad due home? He asked. “I’m not sure, son” Diamond answered honestly. “Well call me when he comes in, yeh?” “Yes, OK, Eli.” She heard Birberry close his bedroom door. She looked out of the window, and then down at the phone. She could hear her son playing “Lonely” by Akon and she wondered if somehow he sensed how she felt. The tears she had contained, came out in full flow she couldn’t help it. She felt free to cry loudly because her sobs were drowned out by “You can’t truss it” by Public Enemy, and she couldn’t help wondering how her son managed empathise with her through the music. Diamond realised that she needed to do something about Desmond but didn’t know what to do. The door knocked, interrupting her thoughts. She looked through the window. It was Eli’s friend, Mark She looked at her reflection in the mirror. Her eyes looked puffy “Hold on a minute” she shouted. She went into the bathroom and splashed water on her face quickly and dried her face roughly with the hand towel so that her pigmentation was even all over and went to the door. “Is Birberry here?” asked Mark. “He is in his room. Do you want to go up?” “Yes, please Miss Dee” as he always called her. “Eli… Mark is here to see you..” Diamond shouted. Eli couldn’t hear. He was too busy listening to Tupac’s track “Keep your head up”. Diamond motioned to Mark to go upstairs. A silent instruction that Mark understood, and with a skip and
“Well that is a matter of opinion”, responded Mark laughing. “C’mon, everyone’s wearing them - they’re sick, bro!” “Sick is right! For a start, d’you know where dat style comes from? “Who cares, all da celebrities wears low-riders like dese!” His body arched to the side and his hand groped his manhood. “ You should be checkin what yu wearin’!” “What’s wit you, bruv?” said Birberry slightly irritated. “Dem styles came out from NY prisons where inmates were game for some back action, that’s why they wore ‘em - I want you to know that.” “So..?” “...and low-riders is the name they call Nazi white supremacists in the States!” “Well dey don’ call ‘em dat here - so let it go, bro! “Jus lettin’ you know my brother” said Mark. “Awwww pleeeeze! You’re messin’ with me… naah man. Dese low riders don’t come from no inmate business!” “Yes they do. You google da internet and find out! and you will see that ‘low-riders’ is a Nazi white supremacist gang in California” continued Mark with a serious tone. Just so you know what statement you’re sending when you wearing dem, bro!
Mark was such a polite boy, Diamond reflected. He was Birberry’s best friend since goodness knows how long. Diamond felt that Mark was a positive influence. Mark was neat; clean shaven, usually wore t-shirts with jeans or a ‘no-significantbrand’ tracksuit. His trainers were not cheapos, but they were not top of the line either. Whereas Eli wouldn’t go anywhere without some kind of designer gear on. Mark had grown up with Birberry having met him at school and he was always quizzing him. “Why do you always wear your trousers falling off like dat?” Mark asked while Leona’s “Bleeding Love” was belting from the turntable. Birberry grinned proudly: “Bad innit?”
All she heard was “Wassup bro” and then some muffled voices behind a closed door.
a jump he was outside Eli’s room.
(to be continued)
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By Myrna Loy
“Hey why you doin’ me like dat?” “Jus thought I would educate you my brother…” said Mark putting his arm around his shoulder and giving him a man hug! “Cha goo weh man” responded Birberry defensively in patois. “Don’t worry about it, Bro. As long as you know, dat’s cool. Hey, let’s roll down da endz!” “Yeh, let’s go. I was hoping to see my old man but he ain’t home yet. Birberry picked up his leather jacket, put on his cap, turned the music off and yelled out: “Hey Ma! I am off out with Mark for a bit… won’t be long!” “Be careful son!” Diamond responded with concern. Diamond was glad Mark had come for Eli. He would distract him from following up on why his father was so late coming home. It would give her time to think.
‘Layers of Blackness’ was inspired by a feature Deborah wrote about on skin bleaching in 2005, which followed a documentary about skin bleaching by a black female filmmaker and by the failure of mainstream writers to discuss the psychological and historical factors associated with it. The primary aim of Deborah’s book is, she says:“to unite, not divide people of African descent”. I asked myself, how can you not divide people of African descent when the definition of colourism implies just that? As I continued to read through its pages, I realised that it was the psychological divisions Deborah was trying to remove - those mental hierarchies that had been ingrained since slavery. The more I read ‘Layers the Blackness’, the more I felt that colourism’s divisive one-drop rule tactics were simply designed to increase the numbers of slaves they had available to them, and that the term had absolutely no validity at all! Dark-skinned people (by virtue of them working outside on the plantation) were made to feel inferior, but the designation probably had more to do with the slave masters’ paternal loyalty why light-skinned slaves worked inside the house, as well as: “a mechanism to 13
remarks several years ago that my ex-husband was too black, so based on that premise, I surmised that it did. I remember asking myself, how could my mother say he was too black when he was almost the same colour as she was? It never occurred to me that it might be because: “internalised racism is so firmly entrenched in the consciousness of black people, they are often unaware that they have a colour complex”, as the book suggests. My mother’s remarks angered, confused and frustrated me. So does colourism stop with my mother’s generation? Deborah’s investigation on racial stratification on both a historical level, and a global level, implies that it does not.
Deborah Gabriel’s instructive book intrigued me. The concept of colourism brought to the forefront a number of suppressed issues and I wondered if colourism still existed in the 20th century. I recalled my mother’s
‘Layers of Blackness’ examines the reason for discrimination because of skin shade. It further looks into why historically, premium and deference has been placed on light-skin peoples at the expense of those of darker complexions by people within the same ethnic group; a term which is defined as ‘colourism’. Is it necessary to address colourism today? Doesn’t it just give African people yet another burden to carry?
(Non-Fiction) Publisher: Imani Media Limited. (Reviewed by Myrna Loy)
(Colourism in the African Diaspora) by Deborah Gabriel
“Layers of Blackness”
Purchase the book via www.layersofblackness.com
(Reviewed by Myrna Loy)
divide enslaved Africans, thereby minimising the likelihood of slave rebellions”. Whatever the reason, when African people continue, even today, to devalue “blackness without realising that they are endorsing white supremacy” [Gabriel] it makes us realise just how serious this ailment is, and how important it is that is treated, and treated fast. This solidly written, intellectual piece of work also addresses the issue as to why the dark skinned people opt to use bleaching creams - is it to give them, what they see as, a sense of acceptance? Does being lighter make them feel beautiful? It is this kind of misrepresentation why Deborah writes: “In order to resist the destructive nature of white supremacy and the negativity and inferiority it aims to impose on people of African descent, individuals need to be well grounded in their sense of identity and to have reached a level of consciousness where they are able to accept their blackness and wear it with a sense of pride – not to seek to mask their black identity under bleaching creams, cosmetic powders that lighten the appearance of the skin, or weaves and chemical straighteners that disguise natural hair. When I read this part, I must admit, I did feel a tug inside. I cannot accept that women are not emulating blackness because they wear weaves and wigs. There must be a number of women like me who wear weaves for different reasons, be it for religion purposes, medical reasons or simply to maintain a sense of wellbeing in a society where appearance is important. I am not suggesting that everyone who wears a weave or a wig is an alopecia sufferer or has religious restrictions and so need to disguise their natural hair, nor am I defending those who wear weaves as a cosmetic accessory - a ‘get up and go kinda ting’. I admit that there are women who wear elaborate and colourful weaves because (as Deborah asserts) they have lost their sense of identity and aspire to the European standard of beauty, but what I am saying is that cosmetic accessorising can be unrelated to a lack of black pride. ‘Layers of Blackness’ investigates how disempowerment started and if we have evolved from colourism. It serves as a pivotal resource in enabling the concept of colourism to be challenged so that disenfranchised Africans can feel validated in their blackness. So has Deborah managed to achieve her objective “to unite, not divide people of African descent?” If ‘affected’ Africans read the book, evaluate their behaviour and realise they are alienating themselves from each other by adopting discriminatory practices, then I guess, that by raising awareness to the presence of colourism - she has!
A little reluctantly we took a bus tour after the cycling tour that we had booked to go
However, St Maarten (or St Martin as it is known on the French side) is a one industry economy – as you may have guessed, it is tourism! The island has 2,000 hotel rooms and 12 casinos!
The island that we had most time and opportunity to investigate (insofar as you can in 8 hours!) was St Maarten –33.7 square miles with a population of 85,000. A fascinating aspect of this island is that in 21 of the square miles, Dutch is the official language and in the other 16, the language is French, with the Dutch half being part of the Netherlands Antilles and the French part (yes, there is a border right across the island!) being part of Guadaloupe, an overseas territory of France. We were told that the linguistic diversity works as children go to either a Dutch or French speaking school, and are taught and study in that language.
Food and drink were, to say the least, plentiful – yet how much of it had been grown on or produced on the islands or taken from the surrounding sea? Did we eat any yahoo or kingfish caught by Caribbean fisherman – I remember a fantastic experience of catching a kingfish on a never to be forgotten fishing holiday in the Bahamas and then seeing a teenage boy fillet it on the quayside with a machete with the skill of a veteran!
As we cruised in luxurious surroundings we asked ourselves whether massive cruise ships are a good thing for the Caribbean Islands? My thoughts in this article are only a series of impressions and questions, rather than an attempt at a researched social or economic analysis – if only I was qualified to make one!
We cruised in the Eastern Caribbean, stopping off in Puerto Rico, St Thomas and St Maarten – all three islands have a strong American influence although Puerto Rico is mainly Spanish speaking, having been “acquired” by the US (with assistance from a gun boat) from Spain in 1898.
In February, my wife and I flew from London to Miami to link up with The Freedom of the Seas, one of the biggest cruise ships in the world (over 3,000 guests). We had been invited to join my Canadian cousin and his family and friends in celebrating his son’s wedding which took place on the beautiful island of St Thomas, one of the American Virgin Islands. The boat had every possible amenity and the service was fantastic.
by Clive Borthwick
Reflections of St Maarten
Let me finish by saying that I am a white, middle-aged man but, hopefully one who keeps his eyes open and remembers that every nation and community should be respectful of others and that in taking leisure overseas we should seek to do so in a manner that does not put at risk the spirit and beauty of the island or country that it is our privilege to visit.
I know that your editor and many readers of this magazine have strong links with the Caribbean. You may feel that I am overstating the risks but even if I have, I hope that these brief observations will, if nothing else, remind you that the islands represent something precious and should not be overdeveloped and in particular, any development should surely be in a manner which is harmonious with the needs and traditions of those who live there.
To be realistic, tourism is clearly the mainstay of many Caribbean islands. However, there has to be a risk that development, bringing with it increasingly high property prices far above the means of local residents, will ultimately blot the charm of the islands and threaten to take their soul away.
Don’t get me wrong, people working in the Caribbean have every right, and in my limited experience generally display, pride in their work and their culture. My concern, as a passing observer, is that total dependence on tourism is a dangerous economic model. The protest that I saw reminded us that big business was not the true view of the average St Maarten resident – and this was confirmed when we met two charming Dutch ladies in the St Maarten Museum in its capital city of Philipsburg, run by them as a non-profit making organisation, who told us that they had been actively involved in protesting about and opposing the development that we had seen on the hillside.
No doubt the development will bring employment to the local people – however will it help them to use traditional and sustainable skills such as fishing and agriculture? Indeed, if the US goes into recession, will the jobs be sustainable – and surely there is more pride and a more balanced life in using traditional skills than operating in a purely service economy to benefit people more economically advantaged than the islanders?
on was cancelled “due to lack of support” (three hour cycling was clearly too active for the average American cruise passenger!). At one stage we stopped high above a beautiful horseshoe shaped bay – at least it was beautiful until you looked down and saw the bulldozers scraping the vegetation off the hillside and flattening the natural contours to enable “luxury condominiums” to be built, each of which was to be sold for several hundred thousand dollars. Next to where we stopped some handmade signs had been painted by local residents, protesting at this overdevelopment of this beautiful island, which already has a traffic problem (simply too many cars!) and imports nearly all of its food.
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The Caring Publication
Published on Mar 30, 2012
12 things a negro should know, sacrificing blackness, colourism, Is abstinence the answer, layers of blackness, Diamond Brown