Look, I’m glad ‘12 Years [A Slave]’ got made and it’s wonderful that people are seeing it and there is another view of what happened in America. But I’m not real sure why Steve McQueen wanted to tackle that particular sort of thing.
[‘Fruitvale Station’] explains things like the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the problems with stop and search, and is just more poignant. America is much more willing to acknowledge what happened in the past: ‘We freed the slaves! It’s all good!’ But to say: ‘We are still unnecessarily killing black men’ – let’s have a conversation about that.
Little Girl Blue ~ Laura Mvula (from 12 Years A Slave OST)
I have been singing the praises of Ms Mvula for a few years now but this tune from the great movie, 12 Years A Slave, is a killer. You ear is seduced by her choice phrasing, no huge push to create some kind ofmelismatic anthemic commercialized hunk of nothing! Sublime, sound that brushes your ears and mind with the hand..voice..of a master. The arranging is so perfect too, piano that talks not plods or pounds, bass to the minimal side and percussion that is fitting and clear. I guess you can tell I like this one…sorry perhaps it was the movie, the song but I know this is a great song and the original is nothing to be sneezed at either by Nina Simone no less. So here you have my offering for the Sunday Soundtrack of Lives Lived from the Flimwell Papers’ Music Corner! Peace, love and yet more love, y’all!
Fun History Fact: The overwhelming majority of cowboys in the U.S. were Indigenous, Black, and/or Mexican persons. The omnipresent white cowboy is a Hollywood studio concoction meant to uphold the mythology of white masculinity.
White privilege is complaining when a black man is cast as a canonically white superhero, but when a canonically PoC character is whitewashed you defend it with reasons like “maybe the white actors who auditioned were simply more talented” and “ugh why do PoC have to make everything about race?!!”
“By treating the present as a somehow neutral baseline, with its given configuration of wealth, property, social standing, and psychological willingness to sacrifice, the idealized social contract renders permanent the legacy of the Racial Contract. The ever-deepening abyss between the First World and the Third World, where millions—largely nonwhite—die of starvation each year and many more hundreds of millions—also largely nonwhite—live in wretched poverty, is seen as unfortunate (calling, certainly, for the occasional charitable contribution) but unrelated to the history of transcontinental and intracontinental racial exploitation.”—Charles Mills, The Racial Contract, p. 78 (via queertheoryissexy)
Third—and, in my view, the primary reason for the decline—is the brutal suppression of social movements by the state. The history is unequivocal: it is when black people garner mass support within their own communities and achieve a high level of unity with revolutionaries of all races that the heavy hammer of the white power structure comes down the hardest. Marcus Garvey, the brilliant leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, was convicted in 1925 on a spurious charge of federal mail fraud, spent two years in prison, was deported to Jamaica, and was never able to rebuild his organization from exile. Claudia Jones, a great feminist and internationalist leader in the U.S. Communist Party during the 1930s, was deported to England where she played a major role in black politics but died in poverty. Paul Robeson said that black people would not fight in a war against the Soviet Union; as a result he was under constant police surveillance, denied his passport and therefore his livelihood as a globally renowned singer, and driven to a nervous breakdown from which he never recovered. W.E.B. DuBois was also denied his passport and prosecuted as “an unregistered agent of a foreign power.” He eventually left the United States to live and die in Ghana. Martin Luther King, Jr. was under constant police wiretapping; J. Edgar Hoover’s explicit plan was to drive him, as well, to a nervous breakdown. These prominent leaders were among thousands of dedicated freedom fighters who were beaten, tortured, and imprisoned.
But the largest victim of state suppression during the 1970s, and historical suppression now, is the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. With thousands of members in thirty major cities, it mobilized black, Latino, and white allies to carry out the only mass, armed self-defense movement for black people since black slaves joined the Union Army during the Civil War. The Panthers monitored police behavior, ran the Breakfast for Children program, produced the weekly paper The Black Panther, took a strong stand against the war in Vietnam, and traveled all over the world in solidarity with Third World movements. COINTELPRO, a counter-insurgency program run by the FBI, sent trained informers and agents provocateurs to infiltrate the Panthers and destroy the organization from the inside by instigating disputes among its members and even killing its leaders. Dawson documents the murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, dynamic Panther leaders in Chicago, who were drugged by a police informer in their midst and assassinated by the police as they lay sleeping in their beds. Many of the negative actions attributed to the Panthers were actually initiated and carried out by the police informers in an attempt to bring the organization down.
That attempt succeeded. If you want to understand the decline of radical movements, don’t look first to the challenges of being revolutionary—look first to the state.