UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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Welcome to the first issue of the International Free Press [IFP]. We are a monthly electronic news and information magazine that will publish on the Internet. This is the first electronic magazine of its type and scope. Writers, editors, researchers and contributors are drawn from an international pool of interested journalists, business people, scholars, artists, students, scientists and many others.
A venture of this type breaks new ground, and creates many new challenges that have to be overcome. Time Zones, political differences in contributor orientation, illness and other factors have all come to play a part in this first issue. As we grow and expand, certain aspects will remain the same while others will be refined or modified. We hope to provide in coming months a graphical counterpart to our basic text edition which will allow the use of images and perhaps sound. This will consist of a World Wide Web site, where the information may be accessed.
Black people live in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, the Pacific, the Americas and in other parts of the globe. The advent of commercialized and publicly funded internet access, along with the forthcoming Information Highway will allow communication between groups and individuals that has not been previously available. I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to discover more about other black people, and their stories. It soon became obvious that others wished to know the same, and with that the IFP was born.
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Islam and the UN population conference
By Adel Darwish
EGYPT'S government is facing severe embarrassment after the world's most prestigious centre for Islamic studies, Cairo's Al-Azhar University, has called for key policy changes in a UN document to be presented at the population conference to be held in Cairo next month.
The document condoned homosexual relationships and adultery and destroyed the values to which all revealed religions aspire, according to a critique from the Islamic Studies Centre.
The critique also warned that the UN document undermined parental authority, could encourage prostitution, was a defence of sex outside marriage and easy abortion, arguing that the UN programme of action needed changing to make it conform to Islamic principles.
In its detailed review of the document, the Azhar objected amongst other things to passages which suggest that abortion might be legitimate for reasons other than to save the life of the mother. "Terminating a pregnancy is absolutely forbidden, even where the foetus is the result of incest or rape, unless there is a medical reason which requires protecting the life of the mother," the centre said.
Earlier this week the Vatican made similar criticism, although on theological ground, it nevertheless found a welcoming reception in the Muslim religious institutions both in radical Iran and in secular Egypt. The Egyptian officialdom has brushed such criticisms aside, saying they would not affect [MDRV, MDNM] the conference as planned, nonetheless, they are seen as a fundamental challenge to the state.
Last week Al-Azhar hasd issued a fatwa- an edict - that embarrassed the liberal dominated ministry of education as the clergy accused the ministry of undermining Islamic values. The ministry of education had acted upon the recommendation of a committee of inquiry into parental complaints that teenage daughters were intimidated by orthodox teachers to take up the veil. The minister of education banned the veil as it violated the school uniform; but was subjected to criticism from the radical Muslim clergy.
The Al-Azhar's increasing intervention in individual choices like the head dress and its unsuccessful campaign last year to pressurize book shops to take some books off the shelves, hence alarming many liberals and historians who say that such intervention was unprecedented.
Throughout Egyptian history from ancient times to the present, the priestly class has been subordinated to the political leadership, providing a religious imprimatur for statutes and policies of the state. The ruler ruled. The priests gave him their blessing. In recent times and until now the Sheikh of Al-Azhar is a state appointee.
This latest intervention by Al-Azhar however follows other interfering steps in civil society, the such as censoring of books at the Cairo bookfair.
The authorities acknowledge that Al-Azhar University is less pliant than before, and accept that they have allowed Al-Azhar University and other institutions to be infiltrated by extreme Islamist activists, in some cases supported by Saudi Arabia and other conservative Gulf states, while their attention was focused on combating Islam-inspired violence in the streets.
This criticism is yet another embarrassment for President Mubarak, who seeks to derive international prestige from such a conference, and who has set a personal example of family planning by having two sons only. Al-Azhar is not without its critics. Feminists accuse the university and Islamic traditionalists of opposing the population conference because it gives women the right to choose in matters of birth control.
Adel Darwish [to be continued next issue]
Belize Online Connects to the INTERNET
By Manolo Romero
Belmopan, Belize 21 July 1994 - Belize Online Information Services has announced the introduction of INTERNET service with effect from August 1st 1994. The INTERNET allows users to access a wealth of information sources and exchange electronic mail and files with more than 25 million people in more than 100 countries around the world.
Belize Online is the first community access online information service established in our country and was featured as the cover story in the July issue of the BIS publication Belize Today. An online service allows anyone with a computer and a telephone modem to dial into the service and access software libraries, information databases or exchange mail with others. Under an agreement with government, Belize Online provides free access to news and information on Belize through a special area called Forums on Belize. In this area callers can find news, information, background material, statistics and several government publications useful for research, homework assignments or for other applications.
Free users also have limited access to BOL's software libraries which currently hold more than 10 thousand programs including applications for education, science, business, personal productivity and recreation. Added-value services, including INTERNET access and larger download volumes for software are available for a small fee.
BOL director Manolo Romero says that INTERNET access had been planned for later this year, but "Demand from existing users compelled us to accelerate our link-up to this world-wide system". The INTERNET, now known as the Information Super Highway is growing at an astonishing rate as more and more people realize the benefits of economical access to communication and information sources. Romero said that Belizeans should be proud to know that Belize is now connected to the Information Super Highway and that this will open the door to the more rapid integration of the latest information technology in our schools, businesses and even the home. Belize Online has expressed its appreciation to the UCB BELINET distance education project and its director Mr. Brian Candler who assisted in obtaining an INTERNET feed.
One of the first benefits of Belize Online's link with the INTERNET will be the creation of a Belize News Mailing List. This is a special feature that will hold all the news and information bulletins generated by the Belize Information Service. Anyone in any pa r of the world will be able to subscribe to this list free of cost merely by sending an E-mail message to the list via a local phone call in their country. Thereafter they will receive in their local E-mail box, all information posted on the Belize News List every day.
"This will certainly make it easier for Belizeans, news organizations, governments and friends of Belize to access information on our country quickly, efficiently and economically," says Romero, adding that the mailing list will of course be available free of cost to educational institutions, businesses or any individual with access to E-mail within Belize. "In a time when it is important to maintain a profile on the international scene and keep our friends informed on the latest developments in our country, Belize's presence on the INTERNET will be highly advantageous", he concludes.
THE NAACP: A BRIEF HISTORY
by Cherie Ann Turpin
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded 85 years old, and is the oldest civil rights organization in the US. It has 600,000 members and approximately 2,100 branches in the states and abroad.
CONCEPTION(S) AND BIRTH
The NAACP was founded in 1909 by a small, interracial group of intellectuals in New York who felt a social, political and moral need to address the race riots occurring in the South. This group was spurred on during the summer of 1908, when a race riot in Springfield, Illinois, according to Ovington, "killed and wounded scores of Negroes, and drove thousands from the city". These intellectuals also strove to regain the political and social power lost after Reconstruction in the South. This disenfranchisement was caused by the re-establishment of Black Code laws, known as Jim Crow laws; the proliferation of lynchings, burnings, maimings and rapes by the Ku Klux Klan and other white terrorist groups; and the loss of an economic base (i.e. land, monetary reparations) by legal and illegal by white landowners.
The founders of the NAACP included Mary White Ovington, Dr. Henry Moskovitz, and William English Walling. Who met with other intellectuals in a small apartment in New York City. They issued a call on the symbolic day of February 12, President Abraham Lincoln's birthday, for a conference to discuss "the Negro question".
On May 30, 1909, the conference brought together thousands of black and white citizens concerned with the advancement of democracy and the enfranchisement of Black women and men in the US. Brought into the picture was Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, already known for his sociology scholarship at Atlanta University, his groundbreaking text "The Souls of Black Folk," and other scholarly achievements.
Mr. DuBois, with such active black intellectuals as Ida B. Wells, formed an organization called the Niagara Movement in 1905. Its platform endorsed legal remedies as a strategy to address the pitiful and dangerous conditions of African Americans in the US.
In 1910, the Niagara Movement and the NAACP united under the title of the NAACP. It adopted the Niagara Movement's charter and tactics for the enfranchisement of Blacks in the US. From the beginning to the middle of the twentieth century, the NAACP focused on litigation as a means of protecting African Americans from further mob violence, lynchings and harassment by white citizens and the criminal justice system. The guarantee of rights, as stated in the Bill of Rights and in the Constitution, simply did not apply to Americans of African descent, according to the federal, state and local governments. White politicians, especially those from Southern states, worked hard to maintain this race hierarchy in the legal system.
Focusing on legal remedies to the overt and routine system of racism, and to counter further proliferation of Jim Crow laws, the NAACP based its strategy on "undermining the legal foundations of the American race system by involving itself in court cases dealing with disenfranchisement and residential segregation" according to Meier. The NAACP took on issues such as the Scottsboro case; the nomination of avowed racist Judge John J. Parker for the US Supreme Court; the framing of Black Army Infantry Regiment #24 soldiers for a race riot in Houston; and the long and unsuccessful campaign for a federal anti-lynching bill.
During the Depression of the 30s the NAACP -- using its influence gained through litigation, and its cooperative relationship with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) -- began pressuring President Roosevelt on his New Deal programs. These new agencies developed such prejudicial policies as discriminatory wages, and the exclusion of Black sharecroppers and domestics from benefits through Social Security and the Agricultural Adjustment Act.
CRAWLING, THEN WALKING
During the 40s and 50s the NAACP played significant roles in litigation leading to the deconstruction of Jim Crow laws and racial segregation in government institutions, such as public schools and universities. Thurgood Marshall, who in 1968 became the first Black US. Supreme Court Justice, began his legal career by joining the NAACP legal staff in 1936. He quickly became an invaluable and brilliant litigate.
Marshall successfully argued for the admission of the first black law student to the University of Maryland in Pearson v. Murray; the admission of black students to the University of Texas Law School in Sweat v. Painter and other Supreme Court cases leading to Brown v. Board of Education. The Supreme Court rejection of Plessy v. Ferguson, and its separate-but-equal ruling in Sweat v. Painter, set legal precedence for the overwhelming legal victory in Brown v. Board of Education.
In 1940; Marshall created the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) to focus on civil rights litigation, which, was large enough to nearly engulf the other programs of the NAACP. The two organizations shared information and officers until 1957, when the IRS ordered a clear separation because of tax exempt laws. By that time, Marshall, as Chief Counsel for LDF, had already argued and won Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. The NAACP then created the Special Contribution Fund for civil rights litigation (1253).
During the 50s, although the NAACP continued to gain legal victories for African Americans, violence against them continued to occur, with little or no protection from the justice system. Murders, such as of Emmitt Till in 1955, Mack Charles Parker in 1959, and NAACP Florida state coordinator Harry Moore and his wide in 1951 were stark reminders of the violence resistance of Southern whites to racial integration of public institutions. The NAACP also began to be overshadowed by a young man named Martin Luther King, a minister with a small grassroots organization called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He and other student activists through SNCC began to be known for the kind of hands-on activism that the NAACP used to be known for. This activism, however, was punctuated by the heavy work of NAACP attorneys, many of whom were busy defending student activists who inevitably landed in jail and needed legal representation. Indeed, this activism depended upon the groundwork laid by NAACP and LDF legal activists. The media, however, focused its attention on King, a young, brilliant scholar and speaker; eventually, the movement was perceived by many, especially media, to be led mainly by King.
The NAACP was considered by some younger activists to be stodgy, even conservative. "The NAACP was criticized from both within and with...as being a conservative, bureaucratic organization was out of touch with the new militancy" (Meier 27). It remains, however, as "the major source of legal aid" to student activists of the early 60s traveling through the South as Freedom riders and political agitators of Jim Crow institutions (27). By the time the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed through Congress and received President Johnson's signature, the NAACP, active players in the passage of both laws, was almost completely eclipsed in the media by the words and works of King, the SCLC, SNCC and the resurgence of Black nationalism.
HENRY OSSAWA TURNER
By Sherry Miller
Why isn't Henry Ossawa Tanner a household name? He is a major American artist with an international reputation. Is he relatively unknown here because he is an African American? He has been acclaimed among black leaders including Booker T. Washington, Edward Bannister, and W.E.B. DuBois. Tanner's solid accomplishments in painting and his illustrious family history, together with their relative exclusion from American arts and letters, make a strong argument for multiculturalism - in this case the inclusion of non-white-male artists in the canons of our books and universities.
A major retrospective of Tanner's work was on view at San Francisco's M. H. de Young Museum in early 1992. This is the fourth and final venue for the exhibition which had already appeared in the major museums of Philadelphia, Detroit and Atlanta. Most of us still don't know who Tanner is or what we can learn from him.
Henry Ossawa Tanner was born in 1859 and grew up in Philadelphia. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he studied with Thomas Eakins. By 1887 he had exhibited frequently in Philadelphia galleries, at the Pennsylvania Academy and at the National Academy of Design in New York. He went to Paris in 1891 and by 1894 his painting, "The Banjo Lesson" had been accepted in the prestigious Paris Salon. Every year until 1914 Tanner had a selection in the Salon show. In 1897 "The Resurrection of Lazarus" was purchased by the French government for the Musee de Luxembourg.
Tanner resided primarily in France but spent periods of time in the United States, exhibiting frequently in Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. In 1908 Tanner had his first solo exhibition in New York and in 1913 he had a solo show at Knoedler's, a gallery that remains well-known to this day. By 1923 he was awarded Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government. He continued to have major exhibits throughout the United States. He enjoyed an international reputation as an American painter, along with Whistler, Mary Cassatt and other Americans who painted abroad. We know the others and we now have an opportunity to know Tanner.
Looking at Tanner's works at the de Young quickly dispelled the traditionalist's argument, barely acceptable in the latter twentieth century, that Tanner is not an important artist and that his relative anonymity has nothing to do with his race. The de Young galleries were filled with over ninety paintings and numerous drawings. A quick walk through all the rooms revealed a strong, consistent artistic vision supported by the self-confidence and skill of the artist as painter. At various times Tanner used primarily marine, animal, landscape, portrait, genre, Near Eastern (Oriental) and Biblical themes. Numerous examples of each kind of painting verify the artist's skill regardless of his subject matter.
From his earliest works, Tanner demonstrates the mastery of color, brush stroke, composition and light that belong to a true painter. In this exhibition there were no poorly painted pictures. Tanner's serene and elevating inner vision binds the ninety paintings together. His large canvases invite you to reflect calmly and deeply on the meaning of life as seen through the eyes of a lion, an old black man, a Jew, sometimes of a Biblical character. His color range and compositions are complete. There are no holes, no unfinished corners, no unresolved surfaces, that allow your attention to be diverted and wander out of the painting. To enter into one of Tanner's paintings is to see a reflection of a whole, meaningful, spiritually imbued universe.
Tanner's religious Biblical paintings form the largest group in the show. Perhaps it is the strange "Tanner Blue" palette that makes them stand apart from the rest of Tanner's work and from that of other artists. Here again a traditionalist might dismiss these paintings as irrelevant and derivative for their period (1897-1909) compared to Tanner's contemporaries - the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and emerging Fauves.
Tanner is a unique painter in the manner of Odilon Redon or Gustave Moreau who also painted in the late 19th century. When Tanner's painterly gifts are wedded to Biblical subjects, the effect of looking at one of these bluish turquoise misty paintings is to feel a suggestion, an atmosphere, a mystery, an imaginative place of departure. These are almost symbolist paintings not limited to the subtle often moonlit view of barely discernible Biblical characters. One can look at the figures and their surroundings and go on to imagine a whole world, a whole story, even a whole religion. Tanner fulfills one of the potentials of great painting - to take the viewer outside of him or herself into a larger, more universal world.
If the Biblical pictures attract attention first, then the accomplishments of the other paintings are that much more amazing. Tanner's marine pictures, like "Fishermen at Sea" (1913-14), a powerful view down into a boat from above, and "The Disciples See Christ Walking on the Water" (1907), often come close to the skill of Winslow Homer for evoking the sublime majesty of the ocean. Tanner's ability to render the ocean is not an accidental accomplishment. He often went to the Jersey shore and later the Brittany coast in France. Why was he excluded from the 1983 Boston show of Masterpieces of American Painting 1760-1910 which included similar marine paintings? Once again, is it simply because the curators were unfamiliar with the scope and stature of this African American artist? Both Tanner and Bannister were excluded from another major exhibition in Detroit of American arts between 1876 and 1983.
Tanner's landscapes rank right up there with Corot, including his view of the Atlantic City Dunes, the North Carolina Mountains, and a picture of Georgia woods with the ocean beyond. Each of these pictures has a mystery all its own. The Atlantic City dunes barely exist in people's memories today but Tanner's picture brings back all the romance and beauty of what must have existed in that early resort. Tanner also gives us the spiritual mystery of the North Carolina mountains rather than an egocentric view of the landscape.
Tanner's portraits most clearly demonstrate his equality with the great painters of his era. "Bishop Joseph Crane Hartzell" and "Two Disciples at the Tomb" could hang proudly next to a Sargeant or a Manet. Once again, we have to ask why Tanner is overlooked in spite of such powerfully painted faces as Harkwell's or the Disciples'? Tanner's portrait of Booker T. Washington, which should be a standard image in our visual vocabulary, brings alive a great man, a great African American, and reveals the skill of the painter in rendering a man's soul in the image of his face.
"Half Length Study of a Negro Man," a charcoal and pencil drawing, looks up at a Negro bearded man from just below the pelvic bone. Tanner's confidence, skill, subtle powers of observation and willingness to deal with his subject's inner life are all revealed in this intimate drawing. Unobscured by the passion of color and paint, Tanner's vision and bonding with his subject reach us directly in this simple yet extraordinary drawing.
Much of the literature around this exhibition (the plaques in the museum, the catalogue essays, the brochures) talk about Tanner's genre paintings, meaning his images of African Americans going about domestic tasks like the "Old Man and Boy at Dinner," or the famous "The Banjo Player" (famous because a poster was distributed recently). Although we would like to see these pictures as typical of Tanner's whole body of work, they are only a small part of it. We cannot take the part for the whole without missing many great works of art. Breadth and consistency make Tanner a great painter.
And the Tanner family story contains a wealth of new material. It is well-documented in the exhibition catalogue, particularly in an essay by his grand-niece, Rae Alexander-Minter. This story, which should be as well-known to Americans as that of John Singer Sargeant or Winslow Homer, is partially revealed while viewing the exhibition and reading the accompanying materials.
Henry Tanner's father, Benjamin, a Pittsburgh native whose family dates back to the 18th century, studied Greek and Latin at Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny, PA. In 1888 Benjamin Tanner became a Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which, according to W.E.B. Du Bois, was "the greatest Negro organization in the world." Tanner's district included Canada, the West Indies, British Guyana and South America.
The elder Tanner founded schools and missions, carried on a lifelong study of Greek, Latin and Hebrew, published a major book on the schism of the black and white Methodist churches and became a brilliant ecclesiastical scholar. His home in Philadelphia became "the center of the black intellectual community in Philadelphia." He published the A.M.E. Church Review, on the of the first church magazines published by blacks for a national audience.
His oldest daughter Halle graduated from Women's Medical College in Philadelphia (founded because the other medical schools would not train females) and went to work for Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute. She became the first woman ever admitted to practice medicine in Alabama. Henry Tanner's brother-in-law, Aaron Mossell, was the first black person to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Henry's niece was the second black woman in America to receive a Ph.D., and the first in economics. She was also the first black woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the first to pass the bar and practice in the state. Another of Henry's sisters married Lewis B. Moore, the first black to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Tanner himself was often grouped with outstanding black leaders and was considered a success in his own lifetime. He mostly lived in France from 1891 on and married a white woman, but he never ignored his Negro identity. "He often opened his home and studio to black American artists, such as William Henry Johnson, Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, Laura Wheeler Waring, Aaron Douglas and Hale Woodroffe, all of whom sought his advice and counsel when in Paris. While reading a passel of his letters, I discovered that my granduncle never considered himself an expatriate; in fact he eschewed the word. He believed he did not have the luxury of being an expatriate, a privilege, as James Baldwin would suggest years later, accorded only to white Americans."
His son, Jesse O. Tanner, explains his father's importance in Alexander-Minter's essay: "My father always worked very hard on his pictures and they were painted very slowly. If you study them, you keep discovering new things about them - a new form is revealed, a new star seems to shine, a new shadow stretches out - in a word, his pictures are very much alive. A Tanner can do more than give you enjoyment, it can come to your rescue, it can reaffirm your confidence in man and his destiny, it can help you surmount your difficulties or console you in distress."
Seeing the Henry Ossawa Tanner exhibition, and reading the accompanying notes, can be our first step in opening the rich, moving, and sublime world created by African American artists.
c1994 Sherry Miller. Miller, an artist and art writer, had just moved to San
Francisco from Maine when she saw the Tanner exhibition in early 1992. Since
then, she has become an online editor, forum host , writer and publisher. She
edits The Electric Page and the Multimedia Reporter which can be found on
eWORLD and Women's Wire. c1994. Sherry Miller San Francisco CA 94107
*the research notations for this article may be retrieved from the author.
Merits of Cultural Diversity
by Dennis Mwansa
Watching the news on TV. every night, I am always on the look out for news from Africa, in general, and my country in particular. In Japan, as in most industrialized countries, news from the developing countries hardly filters through the mass media. The news that does, is often of tragic stories like genocide, starvation and natural catastrophe. Of late the media has been full of reports on the tragic ethnic violence in some African nations, specifically Somalia and Rwanda. In conversations with my Japanese friends, I have been asked about Africa's multi-ethnic demography and the suffering this has caused.
In the three and a half years I have attended university in Japan, I have seen a growing number of foreign students pass through the language center-a department for Japanese language studies--embarking on their intended fields of study. One of the language teachers asked me if the language spoken in my country and other African countries was similar to Japanese. She was surprised when I said no, because a large number of the black African students progress extremely well in the language course, although they had not been exposed to Japanese. ``They seem to find the language less difficult than most of their European and North American counterparts", she said.
In the ensuing discussion, I suggested that the reason might be that the African students have a background which makes them adaptable to a new language. The average sub-Saharan African speaks more than two languages fluently. Most of those countries use the language of the former colonial power as the official language while the people themselves use a variety of indigenous African language for their life outside work. The result is that they have a wider phonetic base than say a Briton or American who has spent all his, or her, life speaking only English.
African attitudes toward communicating in a second language is also different to that of some other countries. Today's urban African society prepares its citizens for multilingual communication. After listening to my theory, the teacher told me that she had always associated ethnic diversity in Africa to tribal warfare.
Japan has a largely homogeneous population speaking one language. Many of my Japanese friends are amazed at my description of Zambia--one nation with more than eight distinct languages in use. Most Japanese listeners conclude no good can come out of such a situation and hence the tribal warfare.
I'm delighted at least one Japanese language teacher at my university has
recognized an positive result of multi-ethnic African societies.
The Brothers Project
by Sherry Miller
Jelousy, Miss Gay San Francisco 1994, wins my sweepstakes for the best interview I've conducted in multimedia? Why? Not just because she's sweet, funny, articulate and compassionate. Some of us in the business have a little of that stuff. Not only because she understands and participates in The Brothers Project interactive kiosk. Many people worked on this project. I guess it's because her time is devoted to helping her peers and sharing hope and encouragement with people who walk through the door of the Brothers Network.
One evening after work I walk the six long blocks up O'Farrell from Market Street, looking for number 625. The neighborhood changes dramatically the further you walk in that direction. Number 625 is an ordinary storefront with some plants, some sofas, a desk, a computer, some literature on a table. There are three black men sitting there. They greet me, but don't say too much. I say I'm there to meet Steve Feedback. One young man calls him in an adjacent building, but he's not there. I say, I'm also there to look at the video of the Brothers Project. A tall narrow kiosk stands in the corner of the room. They turn it on and I have to stand up to look at it. In front of these three strangers I am watching three male characters and a woman discuss safe sex, going home with new partners, rapping, singing.
Suddenly, I am this white woman, of a certain age in a room with three strangers, watching a black guy put a condom on a false rubber penis with his teeth, as an example of how to make safe sex more fun. Well folks, at that moment I felt like all my life experiences came to the fore (never mind what they were) and I turned around, much to everyone's amusement, and started talking to these three guys.
One man, somewhere around thirty, was named John. He laughed and smiled whenever I spoke to him, but he wouldn't talk. John is a volunteer at the Brothers Project which serves gay and transgender African-American men in their problems with aids and AIDS prevention.
Meanwhile tall slender handsome young man picked up the conversation and patiently answered my questions until we all got warmed up. Something in his smile reminded me of my own. I said I needed to write a story about the kiosk and that people from the project were coming to speak at a Northbay meeting. He was happy to talk with me in the absence of whomever I was supposed to meet. He explained that HIV service organizations work better when they target a particular audience. "In risk reduction workshops, people do not need to identify their sexual orientation or HIV status. Lots of groups won't help people if they are heterosexual or they aren't HIV positive. We offer help to everyone who comes to us."
"We give information on sex and relationships, methods and ways to maintain safer sex, and outreach. We work in bars where we put HIV information on a table with condoms and lubricants and we work in homeless shelters and residential facilities."
At this point I asked him his name. "Jelousy," he replies. "I'm in the video." I hope a light bulb doesn't' go off over my head as the similarities of the man in front of me and the woman on the screen hit me. Jelousy on the video has a huge mane of curly brownish hair, gorgeous white teeth, full red lips and the best eye make up I've seen. She wears sexy clothes and she talks to you in a seductive voice. Well the teeth are the same, the figure is similar, but Jealousy has his hair back in a pony tail and plain black pants and shoes and sweater. He looks like many young men in San Francisco who have interesting jobs and will never see a corporate straight jacket.
About this time the third man in the room begins to speak. He is thin, handsome, probably middle-aged. From his appearance he could be a laborer or perhaps someone a little down and out. My already blasted stereotypes blow out the door when this man speaks. His speech is clear, articulate, expository, compassionate, humorous. His diction and vocabulary are so sophisticated that he could be addressing any audience in the world and I feel honored that he is giving me his full attention. This is Reggie Pulliam, a full time employee of the Brothers Network. Later, when he gives me his card, he says this was the first time he had a business card. It was hard to imagine that with his speaking ability he hadn't been a success all his life.
Reggie tells me that Jelousy really cares about people. "Tell her the story about the guy down the street."
With great modesty they told me about a woman apartment manager on O'Farrell Street, who called them to say there was a man in his apartment who hadn't been out for a long time, who was very sick, who hadn't paid the rent for several months. She didn't know how to take care of him. Jelousy went to see the man. He was too ill to leave the house, suffered from weight loss and fatigue. Jelousy went to the various assistance agencies in person (no point in using the phone), obtained and completed all the paperwork for this man, set up a money management program for him, made a million phone calls and generally ran around until the man got some structure and direction back in his life.
Jelousy told me a lot of this but Reggie kept prompting him and adding some more things he had done. By this time it was clear that these two men are committed to helping people with what they need, not with some agency guidelines and not just behind a desk. Reggie said "In the regular agencies there are not enough people to go out and see clients. You can't even find a case manager anymore. This man needed someone to do the legwork. No one had been coming in to check on him. He needed someone to come in and take over.
"We train people to be volunteers here," Reggie continued. We give practical and emotional support to people and we befriend them."
How did Reggie and Jelousy get to these jobs at the Brothers Project? Where were they born and raised?
Jelousy grew up in Baltimore in an abusive atmosphere. He was already a female impersonator there and one day he up and left and arrived in San Francisco. He was homeless, penniless, lived on GA (general assistance). He managed to get into a therapy program at the Center for Special Problems where he "got answers to what was going on. He learned that he was suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. He went through a lot of counseling and he learned a lot about what had happened to him. Now Jealousy has the title of Miss Gay San Francisco. "I'm doing what I want to do. I tour other cities as Miss Gay San Francisco and perform in clubs. I've been doing lip sync and I'm ready to try singing."
Reggie Pulliam was born in Richmond, Virginia, but he has no southern accent. In the past he's been in the army, fallen in love, attended UCLA, done drugs, been with crazies, and in alcohol treatment programs. "But if I hadn't done those things then, I wouldn't be here now. I'm HIV positive; this is a growing, evolutionary process for me, from a wild unfocused person to someone with a narrow frame. Now I'm aware of my own needs and desires instead of throwing caution aside and acting crazy. I have a sense of person."
"Aids doesn't frighten me. In the beginning it did. I moved to San Francisco for the third time in 1991 and spent a year feeling sorry for myself and watching TV. I was angry and arguing with everyone. Then in August 92 I came to the Brothers Network out of desperation. They gave me lots of support and I volunteered for small jobs and now I'm doing counseling. I would have been another HIV statistic. But now I have a different attitude. You have HIV, let it be there and go on with your life. I look at HIV as an opportunity to do things you wouldn't have done otherwise and be in places you wouldn't have been. And, in that way, I give a lot of help to other people. I try to communicate to them that they can learn from their situation, they can live in the present, they can go on and their life can be very rich in experience even with this illness."
"But other days I'm crazy and rant 'why me, why me' ?" I'm human. When I have a bad day people walk in and see everyone hugging me and they say, "Reggie's having a bad day today; Reggie's dealing with his HIV today.
"When I was first diagnosed, I was on AZT for along time and then I read that it should only be used for 16 weeks. I showed this article to my doctor at UCSF; she didn't know, and so I went off it. Now I get acupuncture and use Chinese herbs, but I'm also suffering from emphysema and we take care a lot to prevent PCP. I'm often not comfortable."
"This is the huggiest, loveliest place I have ever been. I really feel at home."
Reggie also explains some other aspects of the Brothers Network, "People need a place. It takes a while from when you realize you have AIDS until you find a place where you're comfortable. Here you come in and be whoever you are. We try not to judge anybody. We work hard at doing this. It's special to me because I came in as a client. I was raised as a Southern Baptist and I had judgments to make about everything we see here. I appreciate the degree to which I was allowed to grow. Here's a place in San Francisco to have it your way, instead of having to dance to someone else's music like you have to do at so many shelters."
"Many people consider black people so far gone, that they don't want to provide services for us. Why bother ? And so we are neglected, and when we finally do come for help, we're in much worse shape than other people and this reinforces the stereotype. Brothers Network can help all these people anytime."
Reggie and Jelousy explain how the kiosk works when clients or would-be clients come through the door. "We encourage them to watch it; they can stand there and push buttons on the touch screen. Just doing that causes them to calm down and it diffuses a lot of their anxiety. Also, with the rapping and everything, it's entertaining. Even if they don't follow the instructions, they get some information and the seed is planted. Eventually they'll be back for more. When they're just standing there, they don't have to give up anything to get involved."
Jelousy sees the kiosk as one step that just makes the long process of helping and healing easier. People come in the door and it helps.
The actual kiosk was executed by BAVC (Bay Area Video Coalition). The one on O'Farrell street is a prototype which will lead to funding for many copies to be put at sites around the city. This prototype has been in bars, in homeless shelters, and in residential programs - all of which are sites for outreach and counseling from the Brothers Network.
The actual program has four main characters who embody different aids issues and behaviors. When you touch one of the characters, a video dialogue begins addressing questions of safe sex, responsible practices, AIDS information. Characters say "Why don't we go to my place," and then various possibilities for safe or unsafe sex are raised. The Diva comes on when you decide to engage in unsafe practices and gives you practical information.
From the multimedia point of view, the program is not revolutionary: there are touch screens with just a few choices; there are video sequences; dissolves move you from one segment to another; there are sections of text with information about where to go for help, etc. The piece is attractive and well-executed. What is interesting is the street rapping with Kevin Brooks, the real life characters, the absence of white people and authority figures, and the
It is important for everyone in multimedia to see a piece like the Brothers Project which has such a strong social message. It is important to think about how multimedia can contribute to the world and life and the increase of compassion. It is important to understand that multimedia is broader than simply another way to make money.
Special thanks to Jelousy, Jigget and Reggie Pulliam for their time and kindness, not to mention all those hugs.
c1994 Sherry Miller. Sherry Miller edits electronic magazines including the Electric Page and Multimedia Reporter on eWORLD and Women's Wire. SherryArt@AOL.com
German Soccer's Minority Problems.
by Elke Wittich
It was at the end of the 1992 when the German public desperately sought absolution - the nation was shocked by a wave of deadly neonazi-violence against foreigners (mainly visible minorities), and every 'auslaender' telling the Germans this was minority problem was more than welcome.
Even the DFB (German Soccer Association), with no especially racist, but a significant fascist history (during and following the 3rd Reich), awoke. Some of the bosses, perhaps now looked at the common occurrences in the soccer-stadiums with other eyes.
Its a fact, that soccer-fans are largely not the well-educated among us... Imagine a soldout soccer stadium. The teams enter the ground, among the opponent players is a black person. The usual crowd reactions differ from "Husch, Husch, Husch, Neger in den Busch" (Hush, hush, hush - Negro in the bush), the neonazi-slogan "Deutschland den Deutschen!" and throwing bananas. Not just a few, it often seems as if the fans bought every single banana, the local super-markets had to sell.
Looking around one might get the opinion that most of the fans go through symptoms of mental illness, they make noises like apes (Tarzan and Daktari, TV shows, are shown Germany ), move in strange circles or simply jump around.
Most black players don't react to the crowd. But they are there, at every ground, and they not just a few lunatics. So the DFB launched a project for a special day entitled: "My friend is a foreigner" with special edited shirts the players had to wear. The original trikot-sponsors considered going to court against this because of the financial loss, but balked after an overwhelming public reaction.
On the eve of this day of solidarity (which excluded the asylum seekers) German sport-journalism did took over. The famous German Saturday Latenight Sports-Show "Aktuelles Sportstudio" invited a sport icon: the midfield player, Gabon-born Ojokojo Torunarigha, from FC Chemnitz (Eastern Germany) to tell viewers of his situation.
The nation could relax; he never had been attacked and looked on the reactions fans in other cities gave to him, as quite normal... To the sound of the nation drawing a deep breath his next sentences must have gotten lost. He spoke about his wife's situation. She is too afraid to leave the house alone and waits for him even for the smallest shopping tour. Torunarigha had an explanation for it: 'she's not famous and she doesn't score..'. Would the viewers enlightenment continue ? Never!!! So the moderator didn't ask the really urgent questions -- What's wrong in Chemnitz? Which kind of team-ghost allows a friends woman to sit alone at home, the whole day long? Why must a black woman in Germany fear to leave her house and why is this situation so normal, that there was no further examination by the moderator ?
Racism at European soccer-grounds is definitely not an invention of the last decades. Incidents against the Jewish soccer-teams in Austria and Germany are first reported in 1920; they contained attacks against the players, property all that we are now used to. What does the everyday life of black soccer players in Deutschland look like? Most leave Africa at a very early age. Shady "Spielervermittler" (unscrupulous agents) take them away from their social environments. The young talents often earn contracts with the big clubs, but the Spielervermittler always earn money at each career-step.
Whether this is a modern form of slavery isn't clear. Some say its the only way to escape from poverty, others feel that this poverty is utilized by the tough managers. Some players make their way to the elite-clubs, although what awaits them in team-rooms is a secret No-one has told the reactions of their European colleagues, fearing to loose their jobs to a foreigner. But then reactions of opposing players are documented. Souleiman Sane, a foreign soccer player, suffered tasteless insults, but most of the black players won't mention them.
Most journalists treat foreign born players like little kids: the first German words are shouted with joy at, adaptation to the German lifestyle are enthusiastically celebrated - try to imagine the when a black player says publicly announces his predilection for Sauerkraut! Like the fans of the same name, sport-journalists are not the especially most intelligent people among us. And a player is just always as good as he plays - if he scores he's the big star, if he doesn't he's just one of the "ugly apes who live here from our money". When he is the big winner, there will be funny situations in the soccer-stadium - he's "our guy" then and so you can hear similar dialogues more than once at such an event. Alternately, you may hear strange dialogues on German grounds: "Why do you support this nigger?" says one skinhead to his friend. He answers: "He may be a nigger, but he's our nigger!"
Do You Have the Right Class?
by M. Celeste Brown
Before you cancel your subscription as I have insulted your social skills let me assure you, I am not writing about ettiquette. The question I should ask is, "Do you have the right classes needed to prepare for college?" If you are considering going to college, financial aid will be your number one concern, neglecting the possibility that you will be unable to attend college on account of you are not academically prepared. Imagine this scenario:
Amanda makes B's and C's throughout high school. Amanda's parents do not encourage her to do well, and neither do her teachers and guidance counselors. She parties all the time, spend little time studying, and still maintains her C-B average. In her junior year, she decides to pursue a career in electrical engineering. Amanda's guidance counselor informs her that based on her transcripts, entering the School of Electrical Engineering immediately out of high school is out of the question. Amanda has not taken Geometry or Algebra II/Trigonometry, math courses needed to understand the math section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). Amanda has not enrolled in any college bound classes. If Amanda decides to pursue a career in electrical engineering, she would have to spend two years at community college taking prerequisite courses plus spend four to five years at a university. Since financial aid for undergraduates lasts for only five years, Amanda will have to pay full-tuition for two years. Amanda could have saved two years of her life (and her money) if she had taken the right classes in high school.
This story is an example of the dilemma students, especially African- Americans, face each year. Many students feel that their guidance counselor knows what career is best for them. The truth is that most guidance counselors often overlook the true potential of their students. Students who have the potential to be a doctor, financial advisor, or engineer may be encouraged to carpentry, painting, or some other focused trade that will immediately put you out of work if there is little demand. The Bible says in Hosea 4:6, " ... my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge." Without the knowledge of how the school system may discourage you to pursue professional or high-technical career, your opportunity for academic and economic success will be destroyed.
Are you aware there are three types of classes for the same subjects? They are college bound, average, and remedial. Did you also know that as early as 7th grade the school system separates students into these classes? The way the school system sees it, by the 7th grade students will either excel and go to college, pursue a trade, or don't care about their own education and fall through the cracks of the system. Let me explain about the level of classes.
College bound classes are self-explanatory: they are designed to prepare the student for college. The course load is rigorous, but then in order to compete in college you must be prepared for the pressure and long hours of study time while you are living in the comforts of your parents' home. Inquire about a Talented and Gifted (TAG) or Honors program in your school.
Average classes are for the students who are "perceived" to lack the motivation and intellect to attend college. These classes prepare the student for a trade or some skilled labor. I use the word "perceived" because often teachers and guidance counselors stereotype African-American children based on background or appearance. If you wear baggy pants and talk slang you may be perceived as someone who has no desire to succeed in life.
Remedial classes are for the students who are falling behind in their grade level so they need "extra help" to get up to speed. This idea is in theory only. The reality is, most of these students have disciplinary problems, with no motivation to learn. These are the students who are wasting their lives in the school system. Once a child is in this program, they become the "permanent underclass" of academic ranking. I strongly discourage students from taking remedial classes because I believe that any student with an average level of intelligence does not need this program.
A question I have asked myself for over a decade is, "Why are the college bound classes predominantly white and the remedial classes predominantly African-American?" I leave that question open for you to answer. The bottom line is, if you intend to pursue a demanding (and hopefully profitable) career, you will need an excellent education. In order to get a good education you must take college bound courses in high school. Be aware of the level of classes in which you have enrolled and are currently taking. If you are unsure of the level of classes, talk to your guidance counselor. I strongly believe that any child with an average level of intelligence can succeed in college if they put forth some effort.
What if you are falling behind in Math, English, or Science? I recommend going to summer school to make up these courses. Depending on your area, summer school may not be free. However, it is less expensive than going to a community college. If you are a junior or senior in high school, you may want to take some prerequisite courses at a community college. Upon transferring to a university, it will not have mattered which classes you took in high school. Remember, knowledge is the key to power, and with that power you can achieve beyond your dreams.
M. Celeste Brown is owner of Celeste Consultants, a consulting firm dedicated
to help Americans compete in the world job market through career planning and
COMPUTERS IN EDUCATION
by Manolo Romero
Belize has joined the race to utilize the latest information technology to jump-start computer education in our education system. Many schools have been putting in computer systems in recent years, but the Ashcroft Foundation recently pumped in more than BZ $500,000. as part of its Information Technology Programme for the Children of Belize. This is an ambitious project to ensure that computer education is rapidly incorporated into the school curriculum. In its initial stage the project has provided modern computer suites for the Belize Teachers College and seven high schools, including the Anglican Cathedral College, Edward P. York High School, Orange Walk Technical High School, Stann Creek Ecumenical, Toledo Community College, the
In an age where computer skills are now required for many jobs, Belize has distinct advantages over many of its neighbors in Central America and the Caribbean. For one, Belize has joined many developed countries where computers are duty free. Not regarded as luxury items but rather as essential tools for a country's development and competitive edge. The rapid evolution in manufacturing techniques where computers can literally be assembled in a garage from freely available components has also led to a growth of in-country computer factories, like Syscomp and Business Compute Systems. Syscomp, part of Belize Holdings, assembles computers and peripherals in Belize at prices as good as computers imported from the US.
Recent market studies show that job applicants who are computer illiterate have markedly diminished possibilities of landing the job they desire - especially in the private sector. The public service moves more slowly and typewriters are still held in higher regard by some managers, but this is changing. Part of the process is the natural attrition of older employees who retire or leave the service, and the corresponding inflow of young blood with new skills and innovative ideas. But a corresponding part of the equation lies with many public officers actively seeking computer training from the slew of training centres now operating in Belize.
"The future belongs to those who equip themselves with information technology skills today", says Belize Teachers College Vice-Principal for administration Erlindo Pech. "We need to move away from a scenario where many computers are used merely as glorified typewriters. Computers are becoming essential tools in the schools and the workplace. Our objective is to imbue our children with the necessary skills by linking as many schools as possible via computer networks to share ideas, projects, assignments and even lecturers."
The University College of Belize is doing its part by actively promoting the BELINET project which already operates an Electronic Mail services and plans to allow students in remote areas take lessons using interactive distance education technology. UCB computer specialist Brian Candler says that the biggest drawback in Belize continues to be the high cost of telecommunication. BELINET is trying to have Belize gain full time access to the INTERNET - the global computer network in part funded by the US government.
The INTERNET is available for free to teachers, students and researchers in many countries but since Belize still retains a telephone monopoly, negotiations to achieve this goal must be carried out with BTL. BELINET currently offers intermittent access to the INTERNET with which it links twice a day, but the communications costs and the lack of live, interactive service limit it usefulness.
"Belizeans are entitled to free INTERNET access to allow our students and people to tap in to the vast wealth of information, news groups, mailing lists and software," he says. "Given the difficulty of obtaining up to date information in Belize by other means, not having access to this system places a serious handicap on our students, teachers, decision-makers and others seeking information,' he adds.
Belize Online is also interested in offering INTERNET access through BELINET but the communications costs are prohibitive at this time, especially for a system that operates as a community access service.
Management in Engineering Education
by Dr. S. Keith Hargrove
The industrial and academic communities in the United States have both developed and/or witnessed a myriad of acronymic engineering and management strategies to stimulate productivity in manufacturing and the service industry. Most of the successful initiatives in US companies have combined engineering and technical advancements with strong employee involvement to enhance the total effectiveness of the strategy. Thus, the key element of these practices is that every step in the engineering and management process in carefully analyzed for improvement.
One of the most recent approaches applied in the manufacturing and service industry is Total Quality Management (TQM). TQM seeks to improve quality of product or service to satisfy the customer. Many of America's leading corporations, e.g. Xerox, Motorola, and IBM, have experienced substantial gains in productivity and customer satisfaction. Due to a level of success in these industries, the academic community is now investigating how TQM can improve the educational process for students.
Concentrated efforts to understand and analyze their current operations and processes, measure and monitor operations, and suggesting improvements allows implementation via teamwork. Construction of a definition applicable to any environment (academia included) is then possible.
Total Quality Management (TQM) is a philosophy that encourages employees of an organization to understand and measure the performance of every process, while seeking ways to improve these processes on a continuous basis by effective implementation.
It is a common sense approach to continuous improvement of any process. In academia, we see the educational process in basically four phases; recruitment, admission, retention, and graduation. This macro view allows most institutions to pursue their own strategies in each of these areas depending on the "mission" of the institution, and to reflect the general "culture" of that university. To a lesser degree, we can examine critical elements such as the participants in the educational process, administrative support, student services, academic instruction, research, and quality of students incoming and graduating. Due to the strong demand for engineers, many of the nation's premiere engineering schools such as Purdue, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, Georgia Institute of Technology, and others are applying TQM principles in different phases of the educational process. The results have been shown positive by improving retention rates and student satisfaction. For example, these schools are focusing on not "what" is taught, but "how" information is taught. In addition, curriculums are being revised to promote responsibility and accountability. Some efforts are targeted to minority graduation and retention rates as well. As TQM continues to prove itself, it will continue to meet the nation's demand for 500,000 engineers into the 21st century. The American Society of Engineering Education sees change; in instructional technology, the roles of the teacher, student, and administrator. Furthermore, the overall quality of engineering graduates in education remains a clear and sharp focal objective of engineering colleges across the country. As an optimistic educator, I gladly accept team membership, and hope others play a role in producing engineers for the future of economic stability in America.
Campus Trends 1994
The American Council on Education (ACE) has just released the results from a nationwide survey suggesting higher educational institutions are implementing intense "budget-tightening" strategies, even in the face of increases in overall budgets. Almost 75% of the reporting schools say that although their budgets have increased, many concurrent cost-cutting measures have been enacted.
Reorganization and revised strategic plans have resulted from decreased state funding and high costs of administrative operations. Over a five-year period, state funds fell 6% from the previous operating budgets of public institutions across the country. Private and independent institutions are finding "affordability" a key element in maintaining enrollment and improving programs and services. Most are trying to control tuition increases at modest amounts. Although many programs have been cut, most schools are maintaining minority initiatives for recruitment and retention. More than half of all colleges and universities have also increased the size of their full-time faculties over the past year. Coincidentally more than a third of public research and doctoral schools reported a decrease in full-time faculty. Of all the schools reporting, only about 33 % showed net increases in minority faculty. Most commented on initiatives to recruit and retain faculty to promote diversity.
The two most important objectives of all 400 higher education institutions participating in the survey were maintaining adequate services and fund raising.
(Black Issues in Higher Education - 8/11/94)
Dr. S Keith Hargrove
Increasing our Numbers in the Legal Profession
by Dennis B. Pollard
Every now and then, the call issues forth for blacks and other minorities to join the various professions. The legal profession, like many others, lacks an adequate number of Blacks. This premise is evidenced by the lack of blacks in the courthouse or courtroom.
The primary reason for encouraging blacks to enter law be clear. Blacks present a different voice. While all humans share common experiences, blacks contribute a broader perspective to the status quo. If any group can speak of the constant struggles against discrimination, poverty, and crime, it is the one at the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder. Simply stated, the players on the legal field should see, and appreciate, people who look and think differently. Everyone benefits when society accepts views from different groups.
The Bar is still dominated by white males. Aside, it bears mention that Blacks should not simply flock to this discipline for the sake of doing so, for our numbers fall far short in most professional areas. While women, usually white women, continue to enter the legal profession in record numbers, blacks still are under-represented according to their percentage of the US. population.
Without greater numbers, blacks will continue to go unheard, and the call for change will go unanswered. Thus, it becomes the responsibility of those who have succeeded to encourage others to consider, if not pursue, a legal career. Many people obtain law degrees and do not practice, but choose business or administrative careers. It goes without saying that employers recognize the marketability of a law degree.
It has been said that more blacks, particularly young, males, exist in the criminal justice system than higher education generally. This paints a bleak, alarming picture. While this article does not seek to explain this phenomenon, the significance of the statement can not be dismissed. It comes as a distressing fact that many blacks seen in the courthouse may be criminal defendants. One should see black members of the bar as well. Psychology tells us that perceptions can be greater than reality. To say the least, a serious problem exists when blacks are not appropriately represented in the legal profession. The system appears unfair. If a system looks unfair, then a self-fulfilling prophecy will occur. The number of blacks entering the criminal justice system, and the treatment that blacks receive, as compared to whites who enter for the same or comparable reasons, must be questioned when the major players consistently fail to be Black.
This does not suggest that the system will suddenly become more fair when more blacks enter law; however, it will appear so. The criminal justice system can only become gradually more fair as more blacks enter as lawyers and judges.
One should not develop an impression that the criminal side of the legal system is the only side available. Blacks can, and should, do more that serve as prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys. The legal field is as diverse as any other. Areas include tax, probate, corporations, and personal injury to name a few. Black lawyers are needed in all aspects of the legal profession.
All children need role models, and black children do not warrant an exception. As more blacks enter the law, and other fields, children can become aware of the various options that exist. Children need to know that people can go to work every day and earn an honest living. Moreover, it is easier to strive for a goal when one knows that others have obtained the same. Along this line, one cannot deny the need for Blacks to have mentors, who are already in the profession. Every now and then it becomes necessary to call someone who already traveled the path and knows the struggles that surface along the way. Without mentors and support, succeeding in any profession, presents a huge burden. Ultimately, mentors become peers who freely provide advice when needed.
Many individuals in our society will be threatened by the call to increase the number of blacks in the legal profession. Some blacks, who have not had to share the pie, will greet other blacks with skepticism. This comes as an unfortunate part of life. Additionally, some non-blacks will claim that blacks are taking positions from them. As long as blacks know what must be done, obstacles must not impede progress.
In order to succeed in law, including law school, a proper educational foundation must be laid. A person cannot be picked at random and pushed into the legal profession. Children in the elementary schools must realize the importance of doing well in school, and obtaining good grades. Children must be rewarded for doing well, not simply punished for not doing well. There is a difference. At the secondary school level, teenagers must be reminded of the need to do well academically, and given a realistic view of the requirements to enter the legal profession. Where indicated, supplemental educational programs must be provided, and students need to know that such programs are not optional, but required. The same goes for students pursuing their undergraduate education. Without solid academic credentials, one cannot hope to enter law school.
Blacks cannot abandon hope, but must continue to develop a strategy to increase our numbers in the legal profession. Unless the status quo begins to change immediately, things will not get better.
``Iced'' by Ray Shell
by Pula Davis
Unless you do serious drugs, you have no idea what horrid mysteries the diary of a middle-aged, black crackhead can hold. This isn't a gentle or uplifting story, it's about devastating realities, failures, disappointment and the finality of bad decisions.
This first work by musician and ex-patriate actor Ray Shell was first released in Great Britain in 1993, and offers a jarring glimpse into the intense, passionate and desperate daily world of Cornelius Washington, 43, a former recording industry wheeler and dealer who unwittingly jettisoned his glamorous career for the crack pipe.
In a phone interview, Shell, who keeps journals while on tour, said he wrote in diary form because it was a natural way for him to communicate the story.
Shell has lived in England since 1978 because of concerns about crime and violence in America. He says that when he returned to the United States in the 1980s to do a Broadway musical he was struck by the severity of the American drug epidemic and it's impact on African-Americans. ``There seemed to be such a sense of hopelessness and despair here, I wanted to express that'', he said.
The result, ``Iced,'' is definitely expressive. Shell's writing is melodic and lyrical: ``I remember my very first hit just like a saved and sanctified Pentecostal remembers the day, the hour and the year that they first met Jesus...I remember it tasting like peppermints. My favorite candy. I remember the electric shock of the doooooeeeeeee bells blistering my ears and the world turning upside down...If you must crack up...crack does it best.''
His unrhymed prose in "Iced" enhances the novel's unforgettable main character. His intriguing technique that is a strange combination of poet e.e. cummings' cadence, rap language and James Baldwin's anger.
Shell says he felt it was important for "Iced " to have elements of the new blues that has emerged in the 1990.
``I would like young people to get into this book, and in order for that to happen the book needed hallmarks of the younger generation.'' he said. Some of the book's drug binge passages are indelibly real but Shell maintains the story isn't autobiographical. ``I've never been an addict. Those are creations, nothing more. An author is taught to create.'' Shell relates Cornelius' story of degradation well, from a promising early childhood to his spiral into madness and the zombie-like state of the crack addict. The message is constant: drugs are debasing and steal one's soul. Page after page, we are forced to watch Cornelius scrape through each day, hustling, dealing and stealing to survive. That Cornelius, a bright, articulate and successful man succumbs to the crack pipe at age forty, is a poignant statement in itself. His memories of a better Cornelius who had ambitions, fell in love and cared about his family are just that. The Cornelius we are shown has bottomed out, he has used up all his chances, but the author has still made him a powerful presence. Cornelius knows that he is lost, he rides the crack roller coaster to an inevitable and disgusting climax which the author says was designed to shock. ``The ending was about the worst thing he could possibly do. It was meant to be strong.'' Shell said.
A successful sister, a brother who was also addicted and died of AIDS,
an abusive father and silent mother, complete the Washington family circle.
These characters allow the author to look at some of the other issues that
challenge American blacks -- particularly the isolation of the black male. The
tenuous but necessary relationships that Cornelius has with the women in his
life are complex, reflecting Shell's own concerns about communication between
black men and women. ``Black men's feelings towards women have not always been
the most positive. We men have run the world since day one, we need to take
responsibility for our actions,'' Shell said. While the novel offers many
insights, it neglects to delve into why this particular man came to this
particularly bad end. The reason that may can be found in the author's own
sense of frustration with the role of the black male in today's society. Shell
sounds like a man who is tired of whys and excuses when commenting on the
subject. ``The black man in America has to grow up. Black Americans can
inspire and help society. There are a lot of blacks who are doing wonderful
things but a small minority's actions are magnified and we are judged as a race
on the things that they do.'' Maybe that's another novel.
CAN HOUSE MUSIC BREAK OUT OF UNDERGROUND?
By Charlotte Morgan
Mark Dickerson is the producer and DJ for America's longest running House music show, "Keys To the House", which is heard in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and on radio station KUOP in Sacramento. By the time you read this article, "Keys To The House" will also be broadcast in New York on WNYU. Mark called me right after his usual Friday night broadcast to talk about the state of House music, at 6:30 in the morning! You could tell he was excited from spinning the music industry's worst kept secret -- House music.
We started our conversation by trying to figure out why House music is still underground. "I guess a lot of people would disagree, but basically there are a couple of reasons. There is a lack of major record company support behind House music groups. By that I mean not just club support but actual radio support. None of the majors are trying to break an act to get into regular rotation."
Mark continues, "The politics of the industry is why certain acts are promoted and other acts are not. Some of the first popular House music acts are still 'starving artists': Ten City; Liz Torres; Farley Jackmaster Funk; and Darrell Pandy, the other half of JM Silk. I will never believe that Robin S. or RuPaul -- some of the more mainstream acts that I love -- deserve more promotion and airplay in regular rotation than the other acts."
When asked about what marketing strategies he felt would help increase House music's notoriety, Mark said plenty: "We should not wait for the major labels to break House. I've been personally waiting for the past 15 years. I've seen it become popular and then all of a sudden there's no money behind the promotion. House needs to model the successful strategies used by Rap music and get investors that can take it to the next level. We need nationally syndicated radio shows on the air with major sponsors like Pepsi-Cola and we also need to secure the services of powerful independent promoters who can get these records on the air. Rap still sells a lot of records despite a lack of urban radio support and major label support. They do it despite the resistance."
Mark says as long as the House nation decides this music should stay underground, it will. However, he fears that if it stays underground for too long, no one will be recording the music. "A major House hit now is two to three thousand copies. It's quite sad because at the height of the House music craze a record would sell 50,000 copies. Thirty thousand in New York or Chicago. These records were getting regular rotation airplay . . . There are certain major labels with R&B legions who have so much money and so much power that they basically dominate the airplay during the day. Now during the early 80s, these particular labels, your Columbia's, your MCA's, your Warners'; their R&B departments were selling records. All they cared about was getting records played during the day. They did not care about mix shows. Well, what happened was these House records were getting played in light rotation during the day. They were getting played a lot during the mix shows. Pretty soon records by JM Silk, Farley Jackmaster Funk and Liz Torres would outsell people like Babyface, Mariah Carey and other R&B acts."
He adds, "The labels had an investment so they had to make sure this wouldn't happen again. House music shows would be moved to later time slots. Soon mix shows started as late as two in the morning. Program directors found themselves under pressure to include records by Guy on these mix shows. The independent dance promoters were under pressure. Their records were relegated to mix shows. Airtime during the day was over."
Mark's suggestions for aspiring House performers are simple: "First, House music acts need to realize they are acts. They need to put a face on House music. It doesn't do any good if I, as a producer, make a track or a vocal and people can't see the act. People want to see the group and there is a lack of support on the part of the nightclub owners, so lots of the House acts travel overseas to places like England and Italy to perform. They get paid. Next, the DJs and people who go to dance clubs need to have a united front. In San Francisco, the kids and the DJs have presented such a united front that KMEL has to have a House mix show on Friday and Saturday nights. When the industry starts promoting House music and the artists start recording songs people can sing as well as dance to; when the artists start putting together stage shows and have venues to perform then and only then will House music grow from underground."
Until then, Mark Dickerson will continue his struggle to expand "Keys to the House" syndication, bringing the underground sounds of House music out of the shadows and into the ears of listeners around the world.
Testing the Boundaries of Freedom and Equality
by Sean H. Henriques
The advent of digital-sampling keyboards [DSK] presented a legally challenging union of art and science. Using digital technology to capture sounds that are then played through keyboard interface illustrates, as simply as possible, what a digital-sampling keyboard does. DSKs are marketed by Japanese consumer-electronics manufacturers, e.g. Casio, Roland, Yamaha, that have access to the following three factors necessary for the development of the DSK:
-Low cost microprocessors and random access memory chips (RAM)
-Established product markets
The DSK is a logical extension of what began as a synthesizer. The synthesizer utilized electronic waveforms playing through a speaker to simulate acoustic instruments. As synthesizer technology gained prominence in mass-media vehicles, many critics cautioned against the crude instrument timbres. Moog Electronics, the premier synthesizer company would ultimately fail due to the inability of synthesizers to do all that was expected.
An additional factor in the development of the DSK, arriving with the onset of low-cost memory chips, was the development of digitizing algorithms. With these two factors, un-cost RAM and sampling technology, the floundering synthesizer was relegated to becoming just a little-used feature incorporated into the newly born DSK.
With a DSK, a user is able to capture any sound and its or ambient space from any source, and process it beyond recognition by reversing it, adding echo, flange, and reverb then combining it with other similarly excised and digital samples.
The length of a sample is limited only by the amount of RAM that a particular DSK contains. What was once limited to drum hits and other short-duration sounds has now been applied to entire melodies, a cappella choruses, background noises, Gregorian chants, even excerpts of dialogue from films and news programs. This enhanced reproduction capability often makes the source of the sample more obvious. Listeners were able to tell where a sample originated and who had been sampled, if not heavily processed. This traceablility would open professional DSK users up to the vagaries of copyright-infringement laws. How long a DSK user could open up a device's input line to particular sources, before competing ownership claims were initiated became the onus of many battles.
The issue of copyright-enforcement would become the focus of many well publicized lawsuits, and fuel for a related conflict between Digital Audio Tape [DAT] manufacturers and record companies. The release of DATs would be held back many months as record companies sought a tax for the DAT units, to offset lost revenues brought about from having numerous digital copies of recordings copied by the public.
A Marketing Dream : A Product With A Cultural Impact.
The market for the DSK in America got off to a slow and unimpressive start, due to the high cost of certain components. The early purchasers of digital-sampling keyboards were often studio-owners, a group versed in the implications of copyright infringement and the law's interest in the protection of property. RAM prices dropped significantly in the mid 1980's as the market for digital sampling keyboards expanded. Once limited to recording studios and high musicians, digital sampling keyboards were now truly accessible to all. This new accessibility coincided with the development of what is now a major form of cultural expression- Rap.
A Music Made Possible By Digital-Sampling Keyboards
Rap music was spawned in the ghettos of New York City by a handful of creative disk-jockeys who would transparently slip records in and out of a steady stream of music. D.J.s were rated on how many snippets of different records they could include without losing the beat. Enterprising D.J.s then began composing tape assemblages before `performances', often parties, to ensure sterling performances that would have been otherwise impossible. With the arrival of DSKs, these DJ's abandoned earlier tape-editing methods and began collecting samples. The most sampled group to date is undoubtedly James Brown and his rhythm section. Hip-Hop DJs/producers would sample anything from a car-bomb to the sounds of an orgy. These samples then formed the entire sonic-backdrop of a hip piece, which could then be `rapped' over by a vocalist. Hip-Hop DJs/producers, and other musicians, rely on digital-sampling keyboards to make their music possible. It is for this reason, perhaps, that the majority of defendants in samples lawsuits are Rap musicians.
Irreverence, Courtesy of Punk Rock
These Hip-Hop D.J.s/producers, usually with little or no formal musical-training, therefore no links to a traditional music or music-business hierarchy, have worked in the field for many years. Relying on limited-distribution independent record labels, and live performances to generate publicity, these musicians were free to explore the creative freedom of the time. While graphically tackling such topics as police brutality, racism, misogyny, drugs, and poverty, these musicians slowly created a style and sub-culture that, by the late 1980's had found itself firmly in the mainstream. In fact, being a "DJ./Producer," has now become a symbol of status, especially in the ghetto, much as being a basketball player or film was in years past.
Meanwhile, the original sampling-artists, predominantly black musicians and producers; gained commercial success, began signing lucrative contracts, building recording studios, receiving substantial television (but not radio) airplay, and elicited the scrutiny of mainstream America. In fact, Rap musicians are now one of the primary targets of a renewed effort towards censorship of media in America. Efforts typified by Tipper Gore's `Parents' Music Resource Center', a group of influential "Washington wives" who fought the media's pervasive youth influence, and were successful in their efforts to get record companies to voluntarily censor products that might be construed as obscene.
The Other Side: Freedom's Rippling Effects
This newly acquired black based power, primarily in the forms of capital and on Pop Culture, quickly branched further into the ghetto. Music videos were shot on location, in previously ignored territories, like the South Bronx and Harlem, and shown to the entire nation on various music-television networks. Americans of varying races and ethnicity's began co-opting `ghetto style' music. Meanwhile, these Rap musicians, often practicing and re-packaging the rhetoric of radicals like Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X, retained the services of black attorneys, black-owned public relations firms, black choreographers and video professionals. This further disseminated newly acquired legitimacy and influence among other black professionals and artists. All this newly created power and capital in the black community, directly resulted from the utilization of new technology, toward development and expression of a new art form.
*this article contains extensive resource notation which is available from the author
ART & EXPRESSION
THE SPIRIT OF MOVEMENT
by Wendy Ellen Cochran
A wild wind of darkness Greeted me here in this place. It dumbfounded me Held me tightly like a new mother Til I could hardly move, breathe, live. But she stayed with me, The Spirit of Movement Like a ghost trying to remind its friend That it still exists; She guided me with a silent strength. Showing me a music of the mind That guides the body so gently As a lover for the first time, She lead me through a subtle war Of inbred violence, hate and destruction. She taught me to see movement in all People, places, times and dreams. Flowing gracefully through all these things Easing the pain that comes when one begins to see That all is so complicated and filled with hurt. She would come and go like a vision But her spirit never left me. I want to thank her For helping me to acknowledge That presence within me... I feel I have found my life.
Wendy Ellen Cochran
BLACK HISTORY FACT FILE
By Charles Isbell
(minor assistance by David Hosten firstname.lastname@example.org)
-Niagara Movement founded by WEB DuBois, 1905 -US Congress outlawed slavery in Northwest Territory, 1787 -Thurgood Marshall appointed first Black US. solicitor general, 1965 -Charles Cordone won Pulitzer Prize for his play "No Place to Be Somebody"1970 -July 26 Independence Day, Republic of Liberia -The 14th Amendment, making Blacks American citizens, adopted 1868 -Mansa Musa assumes throne in Mali, 1312 -Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago attain independence, 1962 -Kenya gains independence, 1963 -Henry S. Williams, Trinidadian lawyer, proposes concept of Pan-Africanism,1900 -Independence of Haiti, 1804 -Fidel Castro's' Fidelistas defeat the forces of Batista, Jan., 1959 -Matthew Henson sets foot on North Pole with Robert Perry, 1909 -Freed American slaves established country of Liberia, on the west coast of Africa, 1824 -August 17 Marcus Garvey, Black Nationalist, born, 1887 [died-1940] ------------------------------------------------------ ARCHIVES - archived issues may be retrieved via the service below - =*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*= -A. J. Teel-, Sui Juris, S. L. E.Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
Send HELP and GET INDEX to InfoBot@andronix.org for "Freedom, Ink." info !! =*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*=-=*= -- __David Hosten__Publishing Editor__International Free Press_Electronic email@example.com_____ao826@freenet.carleton.ca_____ ____Department Of Mass Communications___University Of Ottawa__CAN____ //////Unless otherwise stated, comments made here are my own\\\\\\\\ Newsgroups: soc.culture.african From: ao826@FreeNet.Carleton.CA (David A Hosten) Subject: International Free Press. Vol. 1, Num. 1 Message-ID: Organization: The National Capital FreeNet Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 14:30:38 GMT
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