Statement of Solidarity in Support of Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

We are circulating this statement of solidarity in support of Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, of Princeton University’s African American Studies department. After speaking out about race and racism in the US at a commencement address last month (May 2017) she has been viciously targeted by Fox News. In statement reads:

“On May 20, 2017, Professor Taylor delivered the commencement address at Hampshire College, which was video-taped and distributed. In it, she spoke movingly about the necessity of historical inquiry, the struggle for justice, the importance of solidarity, and the urgency of hope.

Fox News subsequently targeted Professor Taylor in print and on television on May 28, focusing on an opening remark of hers that President Trump, “a racist and sexist megalomaniac,” was the biggest threat to the students’ futures. Fox succeeded in inciting Trump followers, who have attacked her with racist, sexist, and homophobic speech and vicious death threats. Those targeting Professor Taylor have called for Princeton to fire her.”

The university have launched this petition to show their support for Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, which has already collected 2000+ signatures. You can join this campaign and stand up for justice by signing and sharing the statement too. Click here to add your voice.

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Pan African Space Station arriving in Amsterdam soon!

The Pan African Space Station (PASS) will be arriving in Amsterdam in the coming days, landing at the OBA Central Library on Sunday 11th December, until the 15th December!

The website declares:

“Launched in 2008 by  Chimurenga, the Pan African Space Station (PASS) is a periodic, pop-up live studio; a performance and exhibition space; a research platform and living archive, and an internet based radio station.

Produced in collaboration with the Prince Claus Fund and The Amsterdam Fund of the Arts, the PASS live studio in Amsterdam will feature a 5-day programme, running daily from 14:00 – 20:00 (CAT), with artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians and rebels whose practices draw from and respond to a variety of contexts; to prompt us, through performance, conversation and other forms, to imagine how worlds connect.”

In addition to the artists, writers and rebels, ERIF will also be there for an internet radio interview hosted by the radical feminist collective Radio Redmond Amsterdam, on the 13th December between 14h and 15h. We’ll be discussing our recent Returning the Gaze II: Stories of Resistance conference as well as our future plans for the organisation too!

Definitely come through to see the various activities going on throughout the five days, and say hello to us while we’re in the hot seat on the 13th if you can!

Check out and share all of the necessary info, including the full programme and livestream link here.

 

Strategies for Action: speaking out & taking space!

Blogging #RTGII
by Leah Cowan

One of the first Saturday sessions at Returning the Gaze II: Stories of Resistance was led by Mohamed Wa Baile (a playwright, scholar and activist with Allianz gegen Racial Profiling) and Gloria Holwerda (the artist behind the A Sint You Want intervention, and the founder of INARG: the InterNational Anti-Racism Group). The topic was ‘strategies and campaigns’, with a focus on resisting racial profiling in Switzerland, and racist imagery in the Netherlands.

The binding threads between Wa Baile and Holwerda’s work are important. The existence and perpetuation of racist imagery in ‘entertainment’, packaging, marketing and branding sets the stage for an environment in which – as Wa Baile asserted- “race or ethnicity is used by law enforcement as a basis for criminal suspicion”.

The Allianz gegen Racial Profiling (Alliance Against Racial Profiling) in Zurich via Facebook.

The Allianz gegen Racial Profiling (Alliance Against Racial Profiling) in Zurich via Facebook.

 

Wa Baile noted that police in Switzerland behave in a seemingly pleasant and friendly fashion whilst asking people to show their documents. To a passerby, these interactions may seem innocuous, but when it happens to someone over and over again, Wa Baile explained, they begin to question the ‘random’-ness of these so-called random stop and searches, and document checks.

The same applies to Gloria’s example of the presence of a blackface character in Sesamstraat, until pressure from INARG forced the show to ditch the character. The same also applies to the continuing presence of a blackface character in Donald Duck, and until 2015 the host of blackface Zwarte Piets in the Dutch children’s TV programme Slot Marsepeinstein. I found Gloria’s gallery of images presenting blackface, after blackface, after blackface deeply affecting- like a round of punches, with each stinging more sharply than the last.

A still from Slot Marsepeinstein via Youtube.

A still from Slot Marsepeinstein via Youtube.

 

I’ve had conversations with many self-identifying liberals who are quick to describe such occurrences- of both racial profiling by police, and the use of racist imagery to sell products and entertain audiences as, at worst, ‘well intentioned’.

This type of analysis is misguided- the question should be not what is the intent, but what is the effect. Well, the effect is in some senses simple to measure: a Dutch national news website counts a daily average of 35 reported instances of police violence in the Netherlands, including the murder by asphyxiation of Mitch Henriquez by a police officer in 2015. Earlier this month, on the 19th November, protestors called for justice for Hervé Mandundu- an unarmed man who was murdered by police in Bex, Switzerland. This is one of numerous examples of police brutality, and the impunity officers receive when attempts are made to hold them to account for their racist attacks.

The impetus and result of racist imagery is clear: as long as black bodies continue to be considered by some as fair game for mockery and mimicry in order to sell festive chocolates, communities of colour are disrespected and dehumanised. And, as rapper and poet Akala says- once you dehumanise a person, you create a mandate for their murder.

Calls to Action!

  1. Sign and share this INARG petition demanding that toy manufacturer Mattel Inc stop making and selling the racist toy “Junkyard Dog”. This petition will be available online until 31st December 2016.

Use the ERIF blog space to discuss issues of racism and imagery in your local community and to promote your campaigns and strategies to combat it.

Second Conference on Anti-Black Racism in Europe

Hey folks!

On the 25th and 26th November, the Second conference on Anti-black Racism in Europe, organised by CRAN, will take place in Geneva, Switzerland.

Find out more about the conference and its programme by via the English and/or French e-flyers, which we also encourage you to circulate widely.

Want to attend? You can already download and fill out this registration form and submit it directly to CRAN via: cran02@bluewin.ch

PETITION: Mattel stop making racist toys!

INARG JYD_MATTEL petition image 2016

InterNational Anti-Racism Group (INARG) have launched a new campaign, this time again the toy making giant Mattel, in a bid to put pressure on them to dis-continue their Junkyard Dog action figure model. The toy depicts a black man wearing a chain around his neck.

The group states that:

“JYD’ was a, racist, wrestling persona, invented by a promoter, Bill Watts (a white man), which Mr. Slyvester Ritter (a former, USA professional football player) portrayed. JYD promoter, and Mr. Ritter, used popular racist stereotypes (i.e. African Americans/Blacks as ‘animal-like’, lives ‘of low value’, and neck shackling referencing; commanded by another/enslavement/imprisonment), to appease, the predominately white audiences, in those times. An exploitation used, to also present JYD as, ‘unthreatening’, and ’controllable’, while facing, predominately, white competitors. This persona, dehumanized JYD.”

INARG explain more about the toy, its racist implications and their campaign via the Change.org petition page here. Please support the campaign by signing and sharing the petition to get this toy either out of stores and away from children or completely revised as soon as possible.

KRITNET Conference Registration Now OPEN!

Our friends over in Austria – KRITNET – have been hard at work putting together their forthcoming conference Migration, Criminalisation, Resistance, Invention – which will take place later this month in Vienna.

In their own words…

While politics of fortification and racist mobilisation grow stronger every day, there are also multiple forms of resistance and invention that have emerged – not only since last summer – managing to fight, resist and elude racism in its various guises, violence, oppression, borders and exploitation.

There are rather few opportunities for those resisting these developments to meet, to get to know each other, to talk and think together. Trying to fill this gap, this conference aims at enabling participants to exchange experiences, join their struggles, form new strategies and spaces of resistance, and alliances fighting these recent racist intensifications. 
We believe that in times that are marked by increasing state and civil racist violence, knowing each other, thinking together and forming common strategies can be key to gain strength, and to open spaces for reacting, resisting and inventing alternative worlds and realities to those we are currently confronted with.”
Needless to say, if you’re based in Austria, you cannot miss this!!
Find out more about the conference programme, location and registration details (before the 17th May!!) via KRITNET’s website here.

PRESS RELEASE: INARG challenges North Sea Jazz festival over blackface imagery

This update just in from our friends over at the InterNational Anti-Racism Group (INARG): 

“In 2015, INARG, asked North Sea Jazz Festival;Why was blackface shown as part of the Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Holland?”

In 2016, this year, INARG, in discussion with Director, Mr. Jan Willem Luyken, has received a reply from North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam.

Luyken, immediately, began with an apology, for the presentation of the racist film during the 2015 North Sea Jazz Festival, in Rotterdam.

Further, he stated; “It is unfortunate. We hired a VJ that Friday. We support ‘artistic freedom’ [we do not check]. The VJ choose the films. But, we/I don’t want to hide behind that. He [the VJ] said, he thought, he would be ‘educating’ the young people there, by showing some of the film. The last thing we want to appear, is racist. We deeply regret it.  I have spoken with the VJ. It will never happen again.”

INARG was not alone in contacting North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam about this racist film.

INARG would like to thank everyone! who e-mailed, or otherwise attempted to contact North Sea Jazz, against this, inappropriate film presentation!

We hope, for your continued interest, and support, as INARG persists with our efforts to stop individuals/corporations, who promote, and/or profit from, racism. “

INARG and ERIF encourage you to share this update and remain vigilant if attending North Sea Jazz festival in 2016 for any signs of racist imagery or messages. 

UPDATE: INARG’s campaign against racist imagery on candy.

Happy Monday Folks!

We have some great news to share to start the week with:

This year, the InterNational Anti-Racism Group [INARG] contacted JAMIN, a Dutch candy company who have in the past used Zwarte Piet/Black Pete (the racist Dutch blackface character) in and on their products. INARG reached out to the sweets company earlier this year, to speak with them about getting rid of Zwarte Piet.

In conversation with a representative of JAMIN (who was open to engaging in discussion) the company informed INARG that Zwarte Piet will “no longer appear in JAMIN products” as of this year!!!

Courtesy of INARG, 2015.

Courtesy of INARG, 2015.

This is truly a landmark moment in the Dutch campaign against this character and its associated imagery.  The news comes only a few weeks after it was announced that all primary schools in two major Dutch cities (Den Haag and Rotterdam) will phase out Zwarte Piet in their Sinterklaas celebrations, in the coming three years.

Furthermore, recent reports have suggested the increased use of “sooty Pieten” will be introduced from this year in Amsterdam, Den Haag, Utrecht and Maastrict (as well as official Intocht host city Meppel) in place of black-faced Pieten. This decision – which is by no means a perfect solution, but is a start towards something better we hope – is said to be based on the collaborative efforts of the Sinterklaas committees of the aforementioned cities, along with Nederland wordt beter (The Netherlands will be better) and Overlegorgaan Caribisch Nederland.

Let Us Now Praise the Roma exhibition in Birmingham, AL

If you will be in and/or around Birmingham, Alabama any time between now and the 27th September, you should stop by the Civil Rights Institute to catch the current Odessa Woolfolk Gallery exhibition by Karen Graffeo on the Roma of Eastern and Southern Europe. The heartbreaking photographs (from 2012 to present) show individuals and families in their homes, illustrating typical and contemporary standards of living for people of Roma descent.

“Now Let Us Praise the Roma” banner outside the Civil Rights Institute.

Of course, the museum which captures the horrors and triumphs of the civil rights period in the US south is reason enough to go to the institute. However, the current exhibition reminds us of the pervasiveness of racialisation and discrimination, especially within Europe. You can read more about Graffeo’s ongoing artistic work here and well as sign a petition against the persistent persecution of Roma people in Europe and across the world here.

PETITION: Request BBC use the correct term “Refugee Crisis” instead of “Migrant Crisis”

medcrisis

Following Al Jazeera’s recent bold decision to stop using the term “migrants” to refer to people trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, a petition has been launched on Change.org to ask the BBC to refrain from using the same term and instead use “refugee”.

Al Jazeera cited the term “migrant” as an “inaccurate umbrella term” for a “complex story” and preferred “refugee” as a better way to give back a voice to the families and individuals risking their lives. Meanwhile, the petition is asking the BBC to refer to the situation as a “refugee crisis” due to the difference between the definitions for migrant and refugee, as well as how this can be directly linked to finding a solution. It is safe to say in both cases, a plea is made to media outlets to work harder to humanise Mediterranean victims and survivors, who are too often viewed as a nuisance and used as currency in political debates.

You can find out more about the petition, as well as sign it and share it here.