Thursday, 17 August 2017

"Answer me that, Mr. Green Lantern!"

- "I been readin' about you... how you work for the blue skins... and how on a planet someplace you helped out the orange skins... and you done considerable for the purple skins! Only there's skins you never bothered with!... the black skins! I want to know... how come?! Answer me that, Mr. Green Lantern!"
- "I... can't..."
(Green Lantern, 1970, #76)

"We would dramatize [contemporary social] issues. We would not resolve them. We were not in the polemic business. I was smart enough to know enormously complex problems couldn’t be dissected within the limitations of a 25-page comic book and humble enough to know that I didn’t have solutions anyway. Still, I cherished the notion that the stories might be socially useful: I could hope they might awaken youngsters, eight- or nine-year-olds, to the world’s dilemmas and these children, given such an early start, might be able to find solutions in their maturity. My generation, and my father’s, had grown up ignorant; my son’s didn’t have to. Maybe I could help, a little." Denny O'Neil
"The reality of the situation as America entered the decade of the 1960s and the messages contained in comics differed markedly. Bob Dylan pointed out that ‘‘The Times They [were] A’Changing.’’ Why so this change? The cultural hegemony that had dominated America began to erode. People’s ideas on the concept of reality underwent a profound change. Youth in particular neither internalized nor supported norms that had, for decades, enabled the dominant class to impose its value system on society. More and more, out-groups and minorities believed that a ruling elite of white, middle-aged males controlled American society. (...)
O’Neil, Adams, and editor Julius Schwartz teamed up to revitalize Green Lantern (Goulart 157). The new Green Lantern co-stars in a comic book in which social issues are dramatized. (...)
The Green Lantern character is the classic example of how it is possible for people to ‘‘ignore the social and political realities that have separated blacks from whites . . . the upholders of the established order from the poor and powerless, precisely because they would not, or could not, look below the surface and distinguish between form and substance’’ (Sherman 160). O’Neil condemns individuals who are guided by a ‘‘set of beliefs and/or aims (including interests, preferences, desires, etc.) that functions to promote and secure privileges for certain individuals or groups over other individuals or groups’’ (Hogan 28). (...)
The elderly black tenant’s remarks force Green Lantern to think about the ugly faces of racism, poverty, and oppression in American society. He responds to the black man, saying, ‘‘I can’t’’ (6). Green Lantern searches his own soul. Back in his hotel room, he recounts the vow he made: ‘‘No evil shall escape my sight.’’ He sees evil all around him disguised in familiar everyday persons and places. Self-liberation occurs, but he is unable to shed his liberalism."

Moore, 2003

- Moore, J. T. (2003). The Education of Green Lantern: Culture and Ideology. The Journal of American Culture, 26(2), 263-278. (pdf)
- images via

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Four Women (1966)

"I am emphatically against the injustices of black people, of third world people. 'Four Women' came to me after conversations I had with black women. It seemed we were all suffering from self-hatred. We hated our complexions, our hair, our bodies. I realized we had been brainwashed into feeling this way about ourselves by some black men and many white people. I tried to speak to this in the song. And do you know, some black radio stations wouldn't play it? It is true what they say: the truth hurts."
Nina Simone

"But it was “Four Women,” an instantly accessible analysis of the damning legacy of slavery, that made iconographic the real women we knew and would become. For African American women it became an anthem affirming our existence, our sanity, and our struggle to survive a culture which regards us as anti-feminine. It acknowledged the loss of childhoods among African American women, our invisibility, exploitation, defiance, and even subtly reminded that in slavery and patriarchy, your name is what they call you. Simone’s final defiant scream of the name Peaches was our invitation to get over color and class difference and step with the sister who said:
My skin is brown/My manner is tough/I’ll kill the first mother I see/ My life has been rough/I’m awfully bitter these days/Because my parents were slaves.
For African American women artists of my generation, “Four Women” became the core of works to come (...)".
Thulani Davis

"Ironically, “Four Women” was charged with being insulting to black women and was banned on a couple of radio stations in New York and Philadelphia soon after the recording was released, in 1966. The ban was lifted, however, when it produced more outrage than the song. Simone’s husband, Andrew Stroud, who was also her manager, worried about the dangers that the controversy might have for her career, although this was hardly a new problem. Simone had been singing out loud and clear about civil rights since 1963—well after the heroic stand of figures like Harry Belafonte and Sammy Davis, Jr., but still at a time when many black performers felt trapped between the rules of commercial success and the increasing pressure for racial confrontation."
Claudia Roth Pierpont

"'Four Women' was written overnight, but it took me four months before I had the nerve to play it to somebody because I thought it would be rejected. I played it for my husband on an airplane one day; I thought he wasn't going to like it because it was so direct and blatant."
Nina Simone (1984)

“My skin is black,” the first woman’s story begins, “my arms are long.” And, to a slow and steady beat, “my hair is woolly, my back is strong.” Singing in a club in Holland, in 1965, Nina Simone introduced a song she had written about what she called “four Negro women” to a young, homogeneously white, and transfixed crowd. “And one of the women’s hair,” she instructed, brushing her hand lightly across her own woolly Afro, “is like mine.” Every performance of “Four Women” caught on film (as here) or disk is different. Sometimes Simone coolly chants the first three women’s parts—the effect is of resigned weariness—and at other times, as on this particular night, she gives each woman an individual, sharply dramatized voice. All four have names. Aunt Sarah is old, and her strong back has allowed her only “to take the pain inflicted again and again.” Sephronia’s yellow skin and long hair are the result of her rich white father having raped her mother—“Between two worlds I do belong”—and Sweet Thing, a prostitute, has tan skin and a smiling bravado that seduced at least some of the eager Dutch listeners into the mistake of smiling, too. And then Simone hit them with the last and most resolutely up to date of the women, improbably named Peaches. “My skin is brown,” she growled ferociously, “my manner is tough. I’ll kill the first mother I see. ’Cause my life has been rough.” (One has to wonder what the Dutch made of killing that “mother.”) If Simone’s song suggests a history of black women in America, it is also a history of long-suppressed and finally uncontainable anger.
Claudia Roth Pierpont

My skin is black
My arms are long
My hair is woolly
My back is strong
Strong enough to take the pain
inflicted again and again
What do they call me
My name is AUNT SARAH
My name is Aunt Sarah

My skin is yellow
My hair is long
Between two worlds
I do belong
My father was rich and white
He forced my mother late one night
What do they call me
My name is SAFFRONIA
My name is Saffronia

My skin is tan
My hair is fine
My hips invite you
my mouth like wine
Whose little girl am I?
Anyone who has money to buy
What do they call me
My name is SWEET THING
My name is Sweet Thing

My skin is brown
my manner is tough
I'll kill the first mother I see
my life has been too rough
I'm awfully bitter these days
because my parents were slaves
What do they call me
My name is PEACHES

(lyrics via)

Related postings:
- The day Nina Simone's skin grew a little more black: LINK
- The Backlash Blues: LINK
- Nina Simone: LINK

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photographs via and via

Friday, 11 August 2017

Can a photographer be blind? Can a car be art? Volkswagen and the blind photographer.

"I didn’t take photography seriously until I went totally blind. I was trained in sculpture and industrial design. I have always been a visual person and planned to study architecture at Yale, but then I started to lose my sight. A doctor coolly told me I had Retinitis Pigmentosa and left the room without further comment. (...)

One day I was cleaning out a drawer and found my mother in laws’ old camera. She had passed away a few years earlier. I like mechanical things, so Amy found me fooling with it. I asked her to describe the settings to me so I could figure out how to use the 1950’s Kodak. I found the camera fascinating and discovered it had an infrared setting. I thought a blind guy doing photos in a non-visible wavelength would be amusing. (...)

Women talk about a glass ceiling. Blind folks face a glass front door. We can look into the workplace but aren’t allowed to enter. I do something else. I slip photos under the door from the world of the blind to be viewed in the light of the sighted. I view my work during the event of taking the shot in my mind’s eye. I “see“ each shot very clearly, only I use sound, touch, and memory. I am more of a conceptual artist than a photographer. My influences come from my past memory of art and what I now find in the world at large. I now ask to touch sculptures in museums too. That’s another long story. (...)

What I get out of taking photos is the event not the picture. I do the large prints to get sighted people thinking. Talking with people in galleries builds a bridge between my mind’s eye and their vision of my work. Occasionally people refuse to believe I am blind. I am a visual person. I just can’t see."

Pete Eckert

"The design of the new Arteon leaves a lasting impression. But can it also be felt by someone who can’t see it?"

"For his amazing artworks of the new Arteon he started by approaching to the car very sensitive. Slowly, almost reverently, he traced the lines from the exterior to the interior and internalized every square centimetre of the bodywork. Until he has captured the complete Arteon in his mind. Or, as he puts it: 'The Arteon emerges before my mind’s eye.'"


images via and via

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

...Affirming that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such,

Affirming also that all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humankind,

Affirming further that all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust,

Reaffirming that indigenous peoples, in the exercise of their rights, should be free from discrimination of any kind,

Concerned that indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests,

Recognizing the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources,

Recognizing also the urgent need to respect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples affirmed in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements with States, (...)

Recognizing that respect for indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices contributes to sustainable and equitable development and proper management of the environment, (...)

Bearing in mind that nothing in this Declaration may be used to deny any peoples their right to self-determination, exercised in conformity with international law,

Convinced that the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples in this Declaration will enhance harmonious and cooperative relations between the State and indigenous peoples, based on principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and good faith, (...)

Recognizing and reaffirming that indigenous individuals are entitled without discrimination to all human rights recognized in international law, and that indigenous peoples possess collective rights which are indispensable for their existence, well-being and integral development as peoples,

Recognizing that the situation of indigenous peoples varies from region to region and from country to country and that the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical and cultural backgrounds should be taken into consideration,

Solemnly proclaims the following United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a standard of achievement to be pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect:

Article 1 - Article 46: DOWNLOAD

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photographs via and via, copyright by respective owners

Monday, 7 August 2017

Sorry, by Kevin Rudd (2008)

“I believe it was absolutely the right thing to do as the first act in my prime ministership in parliament. This had been unfinished business for the nation for a very long time and it was time to bring that chapter to a close. (...) The bottom line is many professional politicians had the view that saying anything on the issue of race was politically dangerous, if not suicidal. (...)This was a hearts and minds, guts, flesh and blood understanding that we have wronged Aboriginal people, and that as a representative of a nation and myself as a white Australian I had a particular responsibility – as a white male – to spell it in black and white in words that I meant as to why I was sorry."
Kevin Rudd (2016)

The speech of the then Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd to Parliament (via):

I move:

That today we honour the indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, indigenous and non-indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

There comes a time in the history of nations when their peoples must become fully reconciled to their past if they are to go forward with confidence to embrace their future.

Our nation, Australia, has reached such a time.

That is why the parliament is today here assembled, to deal with this unfinished business of the nation, to remove a great stain from the nations soul and, in a true spirit of reconciliation, to open a new chapter in the history of this great land, Australia.

Last year I made a commitment to the Australian people that if we formed the next government of the Commonwealth we would in parliament say sorry to the stolen generations.

Today I honour that commitment.

I said we would do so early in the life of the new parliament.

Again, today I honour that commitment by doing so at the commencement of this the 42nd parliament of the Commonwealth.

Because the time has come, well and truly come, for all peoples of our great country, for all citizens of our great commonwealth, for all Australians - those who are indigenous and those who are not - to come together to reconcile and together build a new future for our nation.

Some have asked, Why apologise?

Let me begin to answer by telling the parliament just a little of one person's story - an elegant, eloquent and wonderful woman in her 80s, full of life, full of funny stories, despite what has happened in her life's journey, a woman who has travelled a long way to be with us today, a member of the stolen generation who shared some of her story with me when I called around to see her just a few days ago.

Nanna Nungala Fejo, as she prefers to be called, was born in the late 1920s.

She remembers her earliest childhood days living with her family and her community in a bush camp just outside Tennant Creek.

She remembers the love and the warmth and the kinship of those days long ago, including traditional dancing around the camp fire at night.

She loved the dancing. She remembers once getting into strife when, as a four-year-old girl, she insisted on dancing with the male tribal elders rather than just sitting and watching the men, as the girls were supposed to do.

But then, sometime around 1932, when she was about four, she remembers the coming of the welfare men.

Her family had feared that day and had dug holes in the creek bank where the children could run and hide.

What they had not expected was that the white welfare men did not come alone. They brought a truck, two white men and an Aboriginal stockman on horseback cracking his stockwhip.

The kids were found; they ran for their mothers, screaming, but they could not get away. They were herded and piled onto the back of the truck. Tears flowing, her mum tried clinging to the sides of the truck as her children were taken away to the Bungalow in Alice, all in the name of protection.

A few years later, government policy changed. Now the children would be handed over to the missions to be cared for by the churches. But which church would care for them?

The kids were simply told to line up in three lines. Nanna Fejo and her sister stood in the middle line, her older brother and cousin on her left. Those on the left were told that they had become Catholics, those in the middle Methodists and those on the right Church of England.

That is how the complex questions of post-reformation theology were resolved in the Australian outback in the 1930s. It was as crude as that.

She and her sister were sent to a Methodist mission on Goulburn Island and then Croker Island. Her Catholic brother was sent to work at a cattle station and her cousin to a Catholic mission.

Nanna Fejo's family had been broken up for a second time. She stayed at the mission until after the war, when she was allowed to leave for a prearranged job as a domestic in Darwin. She was 16. Nanna Fejo never saw her mum again.

After she left the mission, her brother let her know that her mum had died years before, a broken woman fretting for the children that had literally been ripped away from her.

I asked Nanna Fejo what she would have me say today about her story. She thought for a few moments then said that what I should say today was that all mothers are important. And she added: Families - keeping them together is very important. It's a good thing that you are surrounded by love and that love is passed down the generations. That's what gives you happiness.

As I left, later on, Nanna Fejo took one of my staff aside, wanting to make sure that I was not too hard on the Aboriginal stockman who had hunted those kids down all those years ago.

The stockman had found her again decades later, this time himself to say, Sorry. And remarkably, extraordinarily, she had forgiven him.

Nanna Fejo's is just one story.

There are thousands, tens of thousands of them: stories of forced separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their mums and dads over the better part of a century.

Some of these stories are graphically told in Bringing them home, the report commissioned in 1995 by Prime Minister Keating and received in 1997 by Prime Minister Howard.

There is something terribly primal about these firsthand accounts. The pain is searing; it screams from the pages. The hurt, the humiliation, the degradation and the sheer brutality of the act of physically separating a mother from her children is a deep assault on our senses and on our most elemental humanity.

These stories cry out to be heard; they cry out for an apology.

Instead, from the nation's parliament there has been a stony, stubborn and deafening silence for more than a decade; a view that somehow we, the parliament, should suspend our most basic instincts of what is right and what is wrong; a view that, instead, we should look for any pretext to push this great wrong to one side, to leave it languishing with the historians, the academics and the cultural warriors, as if the stolen generations are little more than an interesting sociological phenomenon.

But the stolen generations are not intellectual curiosities. They are human beings, human beings who have been damaged deeply by the decisions of parliaments and governments. But, as of today, the time for denial, the time for delay, has at last come to an end.

The nation is demanding of its political leadership to take us forward.

Decency, human decency, universal human decency, demands that the nation now step forward to right an historical wrong. That is what we are doing in this place today.

But should there still be doubts as to why we must now act, let the parliament reflect for a moment on the following facts: that, between 1910 and 1970, between 10 and 30 per cent of indigenous children were forcibly taken from their mothers and fathers; that, as a result, up to 50,000 children were forcibly taken from their families; that this was the product of the deliberate, calculated policies of the state as reflected in the explicit powers given to them under statute; that this policy was taken to such extremes by some in administrative authority that the forced extractions of children of so-called mixed lineage were seen as part of a broader policy of dealing with the problem of the Aboriginal population.

One of the most notorious examples of this approach was from the Northern Territory Protector of Natives, who stated:

"Generally by the fifth and invariably by the sixth generation, all native characteristics of the Australian Aborigine are eradicated. The problem of our half-castes" - to quote the protector - "will quickly be eliminated by the complete disappearance of the black race, and the swift submergence of their progeny in the white."

The Western Australian Protector of Natives expressed not dissimilar views, expounding them at length in Canberra in 1937 at the first national conference on indigenous affairs that brought together the Commonwealth and state protectors of natives.

These are uncomfortable things to be brought out into the light. They are not pleasant. They are profoundly disturbing.

But we must acknowledge these facts if we are to deal once and for all with the argument that the policy of generic forced separation was somehow well motivated, justified by its historical context and, as a result, unworthy of any apology today.

Then we come to the argument of intergenerational responsibility, also used by some to argue against giving an apology today.

But let us remember the fact that the forced removal of Aboriginal children was happening as late as the early 1970s.

The 1970s is not exactly a point in remote antiquity. There are still serving members of this parliament who were first elected to this place in the early 1970s.

It is well within the adult memory span of many of us.

The uncomfortable truth for us all is that the parliaments of the nation, individually and collectively, enacted statutes and delegated authority under those statutes that made the forced removal of children on racial grounds fully lawful.

There is a further reason for an apology as well: it is that reconciliation is in fact an expression of a core value of our nation - and that value is a fair go for all.

There is a deep and abiding belief in the Australian community that, for the stolen generations, there was no fair go at all.

There is a pretty basic Aussie belief that says that it is time to put right this most outrageous of wrongs.

It is for these reasons, quite apart from concerns of fundamental human decency, that the governments and parliaments of this nation must make this apology - because, put simply, the laws that our parliaments enacted made the stolen generations possible.

We, the parliaments of the nation, are ultimately responsible, not those who gave effect to our laws. And the problem lay with the laws themselves.

As has been said of settler societies elsewhere, we are the bearers of many blessings from our ancestors; therefore we must also be the bearer of their burdens as well.

Therefore, for our nation, the course of action is clear: that is, to deal now with what has become one of the darkest chapters in Australia's history.

In doing so, we are doing more than contending with the facts, the evidence and the often rancorous public debate.

In doing so, we are also wrestling with our own soul.

This is not, as some would argue, a black-armband view of history; it is just the truth: the cold, confronting, uncomfortable truth - facing it, dealing with it, moving on from it.

Until we fully confront that truth, there will always be a shadow hanging over us and our future as a fully united and fully reconciled people.

It is time to reconcile. It is time to recognise the injustices of the past. It is time to say sorry. It is time to move forward together.

To the stolen generations, I say the following: as Prime Minister of Australia, I am sorry.

On behalf of the government of Australia, I am sorry.

On behalf of the parliament of Australia, I am sorry.

I offer you this apology without qualification.

We apologise for the hurt, the pain and suffering that we, the parliament, have caused you by the laws that previous parliaments have enacted.

We apologise for the indignity, the degradation and the humiliation these laws embodied.

We offer this apology to the mothers, the fathers, the brothers, the sisters, the families and the communities whose lives were ripped apart by the actions of successive governments under successive parliaments.

In making this apology, I would also like to speak personally to the members of the stolen generations and their families: to those here today, so many of you; to those listening across the nation - from Yuendumu, in the central west of the Northern Territory, to Yabara, in North Queensland, and to Pitjantjatjara in South Australia.

I know that, in offering this apology on behalf of the government and the parliament, there is nothing I can say today that can take away the pain you have suffered personally.

Whatever words I speak today, I cannot undo that.

Words alone are not that powerful; grief is a very personal thing.

I ask those non-indigenous Australians listening today who may not fully understand why what we are doing is so important to imagine for a moment that this had happened to you.

I say to honourable members here present: imagine if this had happened to us. Imagine the crippling effect. Imagine how hard it would be to forgive.

My proposal is this: if the apology we extend today is accepted in the spirit of reconciliation, in which it is offered, we can today resolve together that there be a new beginning for Australia.

And it is to such a new beginning that I believe the nation is now calling us.

Australians are a passionate lot. We are also a very practical lot.

For us, symbolism is important but, unless the great symbolism of reconciliation is accompanied by an even greater substance, it is little more than a clanging gong.

It is not sentiment that makes history; it is our actions that make history.

Today's apology, however inadequate, is aimed at righting past wrongs.

It is also aimed at building a bridge between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians - a bridge based on a real respect rather than a thinly veiled contempt.

Our challenge for the future is to cross that bridge and, in so doing, to embrace a new partnership between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians - to embrace, as part of that partnership, expanded Link-up and other critical services to help the stolen generations to trace their families if at all possible and to provide dignity to their lives.

But the core of this partnership for the future is to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians on life expectancy, educational achievement and employment opportunities.

This new partnership on closing the gap will set concrete targets for the future: within a decade to halve the widening gap in literacy, numeracy and employment outcomes and opportunities for indigenous Australians, within a decade to halve the appalling gap in infant mortality rates between indigenous and non-indigenous children and, within a generation, to close the equally appalling 17-year life gap between indigenous and non-indigenous in overall life expectancy.

Translation of Edie Ulrich's comment that was written in Tjupan language: As a 10 year old child in the mission, I remember my people as proud, happy, healthy people; walking, talking, hunting and enjoying life and protecting their families. I went away for further schooling. Coming back I saw my people again after the 1967 Referendum. I remember thinking that they seemed like broken people (via).

The truth is: a business as usual approach towards indigenous Australians is not working.

Most old approaches are not working.

We need a new beginning, a new beginning which contains real measures of policy success or policy failure; a new beginning, a new partnership, on closing the gap with sufficient flexibility not to insist on a one-size-fits-all approach for each of the hundreds of remote and regional indigenous communities across the country but instead allowing flexible, tailored, local approaches to achieve commonly-agreed national objectives that lie at the core of our proposed new partnership; a new beginning that draws intelligently on the experiences of new policy settings across the nation.

However, unless we as a parliament set a destination for the nation, we have no clear point to guide our policy, our programs or our purpose; we have no centralised organising principle.

Let us resolve today to begin with the little children, a fitting place to start on this day of apology for the stolen generations.

Let us resolve over the next five years to have every indigenous four-year-old in a remote Aboriginal community enrolled in and attending a proper early childhood education centre or opportunity and engaged in proper preliteracy and prenumeracy programs.

Let us resolve to build new educational opportunities for these little ones, year by year, step by step, following the completion of their crucial preschool year.

Let us resolve to use this systematic approach to build future educational opportunities for indigenous children to provide proper primary and preventive health care for the same children, to begin the task of rolling back the obscenity that we find today in infant mortality rates in remote indigenous communities up to four times higher than in other communities.

None of this will be easy. Most of it will be hard, very hard. But none of it is impossible, and all of it is achievable with clear goals, clear thinking, and by placing an absolute premium on respect, cooperation and mutual responsibility as the guiding principles of this new partnership on closing the gap.

The mood of the nation is for reconciliation now, between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. The mood of the nation on Indigenous policy and politics is now very simple.

The nation is calling on us, the politicians, to move beyond our infantile bickering, our point-scoring and our mindlessly partisan politics and to elevate this one core area of national responsibility to a rare position beyond the partisan divide.

Surely this is the unfulfilled spirit of the 1967 referendum. Surely, at least from this day forward, we should give it a go.

Let me take this one step further and take what some may see as a piece of political posturing and make a practical proposal to the opposition on this day, the first full sitting day of the new parliament.

I said before the election that the nation needed a kind of war cabinet on parts of Indigenous policy, because the challenges are too great and the consequences are too great to allow it all to become a political football, as it has been so often in the past.

I therefore propose a joint policy commission, to be led by the Leader of the Opposition and me, with a mandate to develop and implement, to begin with, an effective housing strategy for remote communities over the next five years.

It will be consistent with the government's policy framework, a new partnership for closing the gap. If this commission operates well, I then propose that it work on the further task of constitutional recognition of the first Australians, consistent with the longstanding platform commitments of my party and the pre-election position of the opposition.

This would probably be desirable in any event because, unless such a proposition were absolutely bipartisan, it would fail at a referendum. As I have said before, the time has come for new approaches to enduring problems.

Working constructively together on such defined projects would, I believe, meet with the support of the nation. It is time for fresh ideas to fashion the nation's future.

Mr Speaker, today the parliament has come together to right a great wrong. We have come together to deal with the past so that we might fully embrace the future. We have had sufficient audacity of faith to advance a pathway to that future, with arms extended rather than with fists still clenched.

So let us seize the day. Let it not become a moment of mere sentimental reflection.

Let us take it with both hands and allow this day, this day of national reconciliation, to become one of those rare moments in which we might just be able to transform the way in which the nation thinks about itself, whereby the injustice administered to the stolen generations in the name of these, our parliaments, causes all of us to reappraise, at the deepest level of our beliefs, the real possibility of reconciliation writ large: reconciliation across all indigenous Australia; reconciliation across the entire history of the often bloody encounter between those who emerged from the Dreamtime a thousand generations ago and those who, like me, came across the seas only yesterday; reconciliation which opens up whole new possibilities for the future.

It is for the nation to bring the first two centuries of our settled history to a close, as we begin a new chapter. We embrace with pride, admiration and awe these great and ancient cultures we are truly blessed to have among us cultures that provide a unique, uninterrupted human thread linking our Australian continent to the most ancient prehistory of our planet.

Growing from this new respect, we see our indigenous brothers and sisters with fresh eyes, with new eyes, and we have our minds wide open as to how we might tackle, together, the great practical challenges that Indigenous Australia faces in the future.

Let us turn this page together: indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, government and opposition, Commonwealth and state, and write this new chapter in our nation's story together.

First Australians, First Fleeters, and those who first took the oath of allegiance just a few weeks ago. Let's grasp this opportunity to craft a new future for this great land: Australia. I commend the motion to the House.

"Tobias Titz, Goldfields Aboriginal Language Centre and Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre have collaborated with Indigenous community members from communities including Kalgoorlie, Menzies, Leonora, Tjuntjuntjarra, Port Hedland, Roebourne, Yandeyarra and Warralong, to create a body of photographs that articulate the communities thoughts, opinions and experiences regarding the 1967 Referendum" (via).

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photographs by Tobias Titz via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Narrative images: Femmes Algériennes

"I would come within three feet of them. They would be unveiled. In a period of ten days, I made two thousand portraits, two hundred a day. The women had no choice in the matter. Their only way of protesting was through their look. It is this immediate look that matters. When one discharges a condenser, a spark comes out: to me, photography involves seizing just that instant of discharge. In these sessions, I felt a completely crazy emotion. It was an overwhelming experience, with lightning in each image. I held up for the world a mirror, which reflected this lightning look that the women cast at me."
Marc Garanger

In 1960, Marc Garanger, a 25-year-old draftee landed in Algeria against his will. He had put off his departure for the army as long as he could "hoping that the war would end without him". He became the regiment's photographer from 1960 to 1962. When Maurice Challes, head of the French army, decided to destroy mountain villages in Algeria and to transfer inhabitants to internment camps, Garanger was told to take photographs for identity cards Algerians were required to carry (via), cards that made them visible and legible to French colonial authorities (Eileraas, 2003), cards they had to carry in "regroupment villages" that were supervised from observation posts, encircled with barbed wire, closed at night (Naggar, 1996):
"Naturally he asked the military photographer to make these cards. Either I refused and went to prison, or I accepted. I understood my luck: it was to be a witness, to make pictures of what I saw that mirrored my opposition to the war. I saw that I could use what I was forced to do, and have the pictures tell the opposite of what the authorities wanted them to tell."
Marc Garanger

After the first day, the commandant ordered all women to be photographed without the veils they usually wore in public. For the Algerian women, the forced unveiling felt like standing before the camera naked (via), it was obscene and humiliating as for them, the veil is inseperable from the face, a second skin (Naggar, 1996). Some of them looked lost, vulnerable, others distressed and extremely angry. "They were firing at me with their eyes", Garanger later recalled (via). He was repeatedly struck by the violence he saw in the Algerian women's eyes when they met his camera's gaze (Eileraas, 2003).
"The gaze is a means of communication and knowledge, and I don't think that the people who I photographed had any illusions about that. Women's violent protestation of colonial aggression is visible in every one of their gazes. It is this gaze to which I want to bear witness." Marc Garanger, cited in Eileraas (2003)
"The women would be lined up, then each in turn would sit on a stool outdoors, in front of the whitewashed wall of a house. Without their veils, their disheveled hair and their protective tattoos were exposed. Their lined faces reflected the harshness of their life. The stiffness of their pose and the intensity of their gaze evoke early daguerreotypes. (...) In the Middle East, the veil is like a second skin among traditional people. It may be taken off only within the secrecy of the walls, among women or between husband and wife, but never publicly. Garanger’s portraits symbolize the collision of two civilizations, Islamic and Western, and serve as an apt metaphor for colonization. The women’s defiant look may be thought of as an ‘evil eye’ that they cast to protect themselves and curse their enemies."
Carole Naggar

"You have to understand that this is a military camp. This was war and they were forced to be photographed, so there was no communication. This had to happen. I had to take the picture, and they had no choice in being photographed."
Marc Garanger

"I was trying to give them back their humanity and their dignity through my portraits."
Marc Garanger

"Driven by a spirit of revolt, Garanger exploited photography's capacity to shape the national imagery. He tried to create images that would question the authoring (and auhorizing) functions of the colonial gaze. Given his ambivalent position vis-à-vis la mission civilatrice, Garanger opens up a space for disidentification with the racial and sexual politics embedded in colonial imagery."
Karina Eileraas (2003)

"La réalité c'est le mensonge, l'horreur. Et donc, pour survivre, pour m'exprimer avec mon œil, puisque les mots sont inutiles, je prends mon appareil photo. Pour hurler mon désaccord. Pendant vingt-quatre mois, je n'ai pas arrèté, sûr qu'on jour je pourrai tèmoigner, raconter avec des images."
Marc Garanger, cited in Howell (2010)

"I was very angry. France was forcing me into a war I did not want to do. Though everybody around me was saying "we won", I was convinced it was doomed. The outspoken opinions around me were so degrading that I gave even more strength to my pictures. All this was significant of what this war was about: These people were not considered human, but savages, beasts France could kill as pleased! That's the real aim of this war and nothing else: Racism!"
Marc Garanger

In 1961, Garanger started organising photographic exhibitions in France "to spark public debate about French military practices in Algeria". With his exhibitions and anti-colonial photo-essays, he helped to disturb the silence France kept regarding the Algerian War (Eileraas, 2003). This war, in fact, has been hardly documented in France as the country seems to have chosen an approach of willful forgetting and of "collective amnesia" (Naggar, 1996).

Garanger went back to Algeria in 2004 to meet the women he had photographed in the 1960s. The photographs he had taken were often the only ones the women had of themselves (via).

::: Interview with Marc Garanger (2010): LISTEN/WATCH

- Fifty years after Algeria's independence, France is still in denial; The Guardian (2012), LINK
- The History of French-Muslim Violence Began in the Streets of Algeria; Time (2015), LINK
- France's unresolved Algerian war sheds light on the Paris attack, The Independent (2015); LINK
- Camus and France's Algerian Wars, The New Yorker (2012); LINK
- Algerian independence film draws French protest at Cannes (2010): WATCH

- Eileraas, K. (2003). Disorienting Looks, Ecarts d'identité: Colonial Photography and Creative Misrecognition in Leila Sebbar's Eherazade. In I. E. Boer (ed.) After Orientalism: Critical Entanglements, Productive Looks, 23-44. Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi
- Howell, J. (2010). "Decoding Marc Garanger's Photographic Message in La Guerre d'Algérie vue par un appelé du contingent", Dalhousie French Studies, 92, 85-95.
- Naggar, C. (1996) The Unveiled: Algerian Women. In L. Heron & V. Williams (eds.) Illuminations: Women Writing on Photography from the 1850s to the Present, 422-426. Duke University Press
- Ptacek, M. M. (2015). Simone de Beauvoir's Algerian war: torture and the rejection of ethics. Theory and Society, 44(6), 499-535.
- photographs via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Quoting Jeanne Moreau

"To me age is a number, just a number. Who cares?"
Jeanne Moreau

"When you live under the power of terror and segregation, you can't ever start a work of art."
Jeanne Moreau

"My aim in life is not to judge."
Jeanne Moreau

"Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age."
Jeanne Moreau

"If you're extremely, painfully frightened of age, it shows."
Jeanne Moreau

"Life doesn't end at 30."
Jeanne Moreau

"My face has changed with the years and has enough history in it to give audiences something to work with."
Jeanne Moreau

"What is amazing for a woman of my age is that I change as the world is changing-and changing very, very fast. I don't think my mother had that opportunity to change."
Jeanne Moreau

"Aging gracefully is supposed to mean trying not to hide time passing and just looking a wreck. Don't worry girls, look like a wreck, that's the way it goes."
Jeanne Moreau

"People's opinions don't interfere with me. Ageing gracefully is supposed to mean trying not to hide time passing and just looking a wreck. That's what they call ageing gracefully. You know?"
Jeanne Moreau

images via and via and via and (by Olivier Roller) via; copyright by the respective owners

Monday, 31 July 2017

Christine Jorgensen, the first transgender celebrity in the U.S.

"I am still the same old “Brud,” but Nature made a mistake, which I have had corrected, and I am now your daughter."
Christine Jorgensen

"Jorgensen eventually moved from current event to yesterday's news, but as other stories of sex change appeared and reappeared, the media reminded the public that manhood, womanhood, and the boundaries between them were neither as obvious nor as impermeable as they once had seemed."
Meyerowitz, 2002

Christine Jorgensen (1926-1989) was born George William Jorgensen Jr. and became the first "transgender celebrity" in the U.S. As a teenager, Jorgensen became aware that he was trapped in the wrong body and identified himself "as a woman who happened to be in a man's body" or was "lost between the two sexes". In the 1940s, he came across an article about the Danish doctor Christian Hamburger who experimented with gender therapy by testing hormones on animals. After having served in the Army, Jorgensen headed to Copenhagen. There, Hamburger diagnosed him as transsexual and encouraged George William Jorgensen to take on a female identity and to dress as a woman in public. Jorgensen started taking hormones in 1950 and was also assessed by Georg Stürup, a psychiatrist who successfully petitioned the Danish government "to allow castration for the purposes of the operation." After one year of hormone therapy, Jorgensen "went under the knife"; the transition was completed in 1952 (via and via).

Jorgensen took her surgeon's forename to form her own name and returned to the U.S. as Christine Jorgensen, where she was greeted with fascination, admiration, curiosity and respect by the media and the public. Hundreds of reporters were waiting for her at the airport "ignoring even the presence of a member of the Danish royal family on the same airplane". Tabloids sensationalised her transsexualism ("Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty"). She had a series in the American Weekly that ran five weeks, five weeks during which the greatest circulation boost was reported; it became the number-one story of 1953. The series was translated into fourteen languages and distributed in seventy nations (Meyerowitz, 2002). The German "Der Spiegel" was rather sceptical. Its article from January 1955 read that GI George Jorgensen was alleged to be transformed into a woman.
At the beginning, there was hardly any hostility. Jorgensen, in fact, became a celebrity with hundreds of offers to appear on stages. She became an entertainer and performer in Las Vegas, Hollywood and New York, worked with professionals who explored "the transsexual phenomenon", lectured on the college circuit, wrote an autobiography that became a movie a few years later (via and via and via and via). She managed to turn "sex change" into a household term in the 1950s and became "Woman of the Year" (an award given by the Scandinavian Societies of Greater New York). With her story, the floodgates broke and a "torrent of new stories on other transsexuals made sex change a constant feature in the popular press" (Meyerowitz, 2002).
"After a few months, it became clear that Jorgensen had no desire to be a mother, and thus many called her womanhood into question. People became angry and frightened when confronted with a sexual identity that existed on a spectrum, not the male-female binary." (via)
Her popularity did not protect her from discrimination. Some reporters called her a freak or a pervert. Others observed her searching for "markers that connoted feminine and masculine, to articulate consciously the criteria that cast the person-on-the-street as either a woman or a man." One reporter admitted: "Since I knew she had once been a man, perhaps I was looking for masculine traits." A reporter of the New York Daily News wrote that Christine Jorgensen "husked 'Hello' and tossed off a Bloody Mary like a guy", commented the small size of her breasts and continued: "If you shut your eyes when she spoke you would have thought a man was talking. But her gestures with a cigaret were gracefully feminine. Her legs ... were smooth and trim. However, the planes of her face were flat and hard ... There was no hint of a beard." It was not only reporters who were not sure about her gender. The American Medical Association said that they would study her case as several doctors had questioned whether "it actually is possible for a man to be changed into a woman." When US-American doctors expressed outrage at the "mutilating surgery", the New York Post ran a six-part series claiming that she was a woman in name only and in fact a castrated male with no added female organs. Time magazine called her "an altered male", so did Newsweek and other magazines. Hostile stories began showing up. However, they could not really damage her popularity (Meyerowitz, 2002).
In 1959, she made headlines when she was denied a license to marry since her birth certificate said she was male (via). Her fiancé Howard J. Knox, a labour union statistician, was reported to have lost his job as soon as his engagement with Jorgensen became publicly known (via).
"By the custom of the day, which few questioned at the time, only a woman could marry a man. Where did Jorgensen, who had changed her assigned sex, fit into the categories of female and male? City Clerk Herman Katz, with six staff attorneys, eventually pointed to Jorgensen's birth certificate, which designated her sex a male. Jorgensen, backed by a lawyer of her own, produced her passport, which listed her sex as female, and a letter from her doctor, Harry Benjamin, attesting that 'she must be considered female'. The city of New York refused to issue the license. On April 4 the New York Times described the situation: 'Christine Jorgensen, an entertainer, was denied a marriage license yesterday on the ground of inadquate proof of being a female." (Meyerowitz, 2002)
Jorgensen, who never identified as gay, kept emphasising the difference between homosexual and transsexual - something new at the time. Before her transition, she even found homosexuality immoral as it was "a thing deeply alien" to her "religious attitudes and the highly magnified and immature moralistic views" she entertained at the time. In addition, she also feared "social segregation and ostracism" (Meyerowitz, 2002).

"Fear became part of me. Fear of being wrong. Fear of not fitting into a pattern."
Christine Jorgensen, cited in Meyerowitz (2002)

"We didn't start the sexual revolution but I think we gave it a good kick in the pants!"
Christine Jorgensen

"I read The Well of Loneliness not long ago. It made me more determined than ever to fight for this victory. The answer to the problem must not lie in sleeping pills and suicides that look like accidents, or in jail sentences, but rather in life and the freedom to live it."
Christine Jorgensen

"No one is 100 percent male or female. We all have elements of both male and female in our bodies. I just am more of a woman than I am a man."
Christine Jorgensen

"I think that much that has been classified as abnormal for many years is becoming accepted as normal."
Christine Jorgensen, cited in Meyerowitz (2002)

"During World War II women had temporarily taken on jobs and responsibilities traditionally held by men. And psychiatrists for the armed forces had worried publicly about what they saw as deficient masculinity in surprising numbers of male recruits. In the postwar era the anxieties surrounding shifting gender roles broke into over cultural contests, with conservatives nostaligally invoking a golden age when women were women and men were men. Popular magazines began to describe a "crisis in masculinity", noted the growing number of women in the labor force, and fretted over the fragility of "sex roles."
In this context, the press reports on Jorgensen, with their endless comments on her appearance, enabled a public reinscription of what counted as masculine and feminine. But the story itself, in which an "ex-GI" became a "blonde beauty", inevitably undermined the attempt to restabilize gender through stereotype. Jorgensen posed, more fundamentally, the questions of how to define a woman and how to define a man. The coverage could provoke anxiety about the collapse of the seemingly natural categories of male and female, and it could also incite fantasies of crossing the boundary that divided women from men." (Meyerowitz, 2002)

- Meyerowitz, J. (2002) How Sex Changed. A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge & London: Harvard University Press
- photographs via and via and via and via


- The Christine Jorgensen Story (1970): WATCH
- From Christine Jorgensen to Jan Morris: LINK
- America's Original Transgender Sweetheart: LINK

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Embarassment (1980)

"This is one Lee wrote. It wasn’t 'have you got a fascist friend' it was 'I’ve got someone racist in my family.'"

"Embarrassment might have sounded harmless enough, but strip away the bouncy music hall instrumentation and you're left with the chilling story of a young white woman who has been rejected by her family because she is carrying a black man's baby (...).
The song was a deeply personal response by Madness' saxophone player Lee Thompson to the news of his teenage sister's pregnancy by a black man. Written on tour in 1980, just as the band were starting to break big, it sketches the unfolding turmoil as uncles, aunts, mum and dad faced up to Tracy Thompson's mixed-race pregnancy. (...)
To fall pregnant, as Tracy had done, at 17, was frowned on - but out of wedlock, and to be carrying a "half-caste" baby was beyond the pale for some in the family, Lee recalls, as he thinks back to the experiences that informed the song." (Johnathan Duffy)
"It was just not accepted in those days. She was shunned by a few people in the family. My father tried to talk her into getting it terminated. My sister dug her heels in and I was caught in the middle, wanting everyone to be happy." Lee Thompson
Lee Thompson had a friend in the 1960s whose brother married a black woman and had a child with her: "I remember all the chat, the gossip, the cold-shouldering. He moved out of town in the end." (via)


Received a letter just the other day,
Don't seem they wanna know you no more,
They've laid it down given you their score,
Within the first two lines it bluntly read.

You're not to come and see us no more,
Keep away from our door,
Don't come 'round here no more
What on earth did you do that for?

Our aunt, she don't wanna know she says,
What will the neighbours think they'll think,
We don't that's what they'll think, we don't,
But I will, 'cause I know they think I don't.

Our uncle he don't wanna know he says,
We are a disgrace to the human race he says,
How can you show your face,
When you're a disgrace to the human race?

No committment, you're an embarrassment,
Yes, an embarrassment, a living endorsement,
The intention that you have booked,
Was an intention that was overlooked.

They say, stay away,
Don't want you home today,
Keep away from our door,
Don't come 'round here no more.

Our dad, he don't wanna know he says,
This is a serious matter,
Too late to reconsider,
No one's gonna wanna know ya!

Our mum, she don't wanna know,
I'm feelin' twice as old, she says,
Thought she had a head on her shoulder,
'Cause I'm feelin' twice as older,
I'm feelin' twice as older.

You're an embarrassment...

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

L'horreur ne prend jamais de vacances

"Every year, a majority of French people spend their vacation on the Mediterranean coast. And every summer, the conditions at sea only increase the number of migrations and the probability of new tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean thus becomes a vast cemetery where more than 3 000 migrants drown each year."

"This movie is the first act of a campaign for a citizen mobilization which will last all summer. It will come to an end between September 4th and September 10th 2017, when about fifty “companions”, volunteers and employees of the Emmaüs Movement will swim and kayak across the Strait of Gibraltar. A militant crossing in tribute to the tens of thousands of people who died in the Mediterranean Sea and in support of free movement for all across the globe."

"Across the world, the Emmaüs Groups welcome destitute people who are deeply wounded by their journey as migrants and the shameful living conditions in most of the host countries. This is why our movement is particularly engaged in favor of the application of the #article13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country”."