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“White is a metaphor for power” James Baldwin

Image result for i am not your negro

I just watched the movie I am not your Negro on the suggestion of my Literature teacher.It is an amazing movie which highlights the struggle that negro people, and other have had at the hands of white people for over 400 years.

Negro people did not ask to come to America. They were brought to America to serve white people.  They were slaves to the white man until 1865, but still considered inferior to white man until very recently… well some white people still consider anyone different from themselves as inferior. Negroes were not able to go to school with white children until 1957 following the civil rights protest at Little Rock High School.Image result for negro protests

Although the 15th Amendment of the Constitution allowed black men to vote from 1896, many states discouraged negro men from voting by including clauses which stated that black men had to be literate to be allowed to vote, and some states also put a tax on voting for negro men. It wasn’t until the 24th amendment in 1965 that Lyndon B Johnson removed all barriers to allow negro men AND WOMEN, the right to vote, thereby treating them as equal citizens.

Black people were shown in advertising from the 1890’s but the images were generally shown in subservient roles, such as Rastus and Aunt Jemima. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights movement that black people appeared as equals in advertising. It seems then that the nation was starting to come around.

Progressively the nation has included many different skin tones and racial diversions in all walks of life. In 1968 Robert Kennedy announced that America could even have a black president in 40 years. That proved to be true with the inauguration of Barack Obama 40 years later.

Image result for negro protests

The movie showed the rise and fall of such civil rights leaders as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jnr and Medgar Evers. These three leaders were strong voices in the civil rights movement which dared to say that blacks were equal to whites. Malcolm X was a black Muslim leader who thought that peaceful protest was useless. Martin Luther King Jnr was a leader who was a Christian who believed in peaceful protests through negotiation. Medgar Evans was a leader who was promoting desegregation primarily in the public school system. Because these men dared to buck the system, they were all assassinated. The idea was ‘to keep the blacks in their place’.

Its not only in America where white people think they are superior to other races. We look at Apartheid in South Africa. We can look at the colonisation of various countries including Australia and India to name but 2. The treatment of native peoples at colonisation or invasion is appalling. White America does not have  a good record here either. The treatment of Native Americans, including Indian nations and Inuits still continues today.

The line that stood out for me in the movie was “White is a metaphor for power”. This is true the whole world over. James Baldwin equates it with Chase Manhattan bank. That is to say that White man considers themselves far superior to any other race on Earth,

Image result for dont you wish you were white

I saw a sign held up in a protest in the movie that said “Don’t you wish you were white?” No. I am ashamed of my skin colour and what it stands for. I don’t look at skin colour as a difference between people. However, I can see how other people, in suppressed minorities might look at me, as a white man, and be scared, even hate what I represent.

James Baldwin says in his movie that he doesn’t want to be a Christian, as he believes that in America at least, the Christians haven’t yet learnt the golden rule “Love One Another”.

All I can say is, I am sorry.

 

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Spiritual Importance of Dance

In every culture there seems to be an importance placed on music and dance. The music and dance of a culture tells stories of ancestors and events that have happened in the past. Passing on the dance and the song keeps the story alive. One is able to connect with the spiritual aspect of a culture by viewing or participating in the dance of that people.

For the Native American people, it was and still is important to keep the story of the Ghost dance at Wounded Knee in the hearts and minds of the generations to come. This story is similar to the end time prophecies in the bible. All the dead shall no longer be dead but we will be able to dance with them. There will be no more tears and crying, no wounded or sick. People will be happy and will have enough provisions. The buffalo will return, the white man will be no more.

It was the great native American dream. That the land would be restored to them, that the white men would leave and the animals would once again roam on the plains. This is the promise of times to come, not for now. If the native american were to hope for it in this current age, then I am afraid they will be a little disappointed. In fact, the white man has not finished taking land from the natives. President Donald Trump has allowed the Dakota access pipeline to go ahead, encroaching on Sioux land, and potentially poisoning the waterways that give the Sioux nations their drinking water.

For African people, and African American people, the dance is not something that they make up but one that is passed on from generations before. The dance is spiritual, embedded in them from birth. The moves are not new, they are ancient and have meaning.

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Likewise, the Australian Aboriginal people have dance and music as part of their culture. They tell stories of events by portraying animals and other things in nature in the dancing. Literature for the native people groups around the world may not be a written language but a language, with stories, fiction and non-fiction being told in the dance. To the native people of these countries and more, dance is not something for entertainment but to pass on the knowledge of what came before. It is a spiritual connection with nature and with the ancestors.

 

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Colonisation and “The Tempest”.

Say whose side you are on in the contest between Prospero and Caliban as it appears at the end of Act 1 Sc 2.

How do humans live without so called civilisation?  How do tribes of nomadic indigenous people even survive without the internet, mobile phones or the golden arches of a favorite fast food place.

Fast food for Australian indigenous people was an emu who could travel at 50km per hour or a kangaroo capable of speeds up to 70km per hour. The calling of a relative involved travelling to see them and spending time with them. Instead of Facebook, they had face to face.

We in the western world think that we are far superior to the natives of lands whom we rape for resources and riches. Natives of North America were conned into giving away precious land and resources in exchange for coloured beads. Now the American government just takes the land that has been in traditional ownership for centuries in exchange for nothing. This is sacred land. Land of great importance to the natives. Western man’s greed is greater and to him, more important, than a natives man’s sacred spots. For more on this issue follow the link.

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/01/us/standing-rock-sioux-sacred-land-dakota-pipeline/

Nauru is an island nation that was raped of its resources. The phosphate that was here was a result of an abundant bird life.here The Island has been inhabited by Polynesian and Micronesian people for over 3000 years. Prior to colonisation, this was a land which was plentiful. The people farmed the land growing fruits and vegetables and catching the fish in the waters that surrounded the nation. Then the Germans colonised it and began to rape the land of the phosphate to make their grass green in their own backyards. It continued under British,Australian, and NewZealand administrations after WWI.

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Tall pillars of coral is what remains after the phosphate is removed. © PHILIP GAME/ALAMY

Nauru gained its independence in 1968 but by then the land was barren, the waters polluted and the people reliant on imported canned goods from the western world to feed themselves. This introduced obesity and disease to the land.

In The Tempest, by William Shakespeare we see Prospero come to the Island that was inhabited only by Caliban and Ariel. Ariel was a spirit, trapped in a tree by a witch who had since died and so had no way of release. Prospero released Ariel but placed the spirit in servitude to do his bidding.

Caliban was the son of that same witch. He was born with deformities and was seen in his state to be less than human. He wandered the island and knew it like the back of his hand. He reminds Prospero in his speech in Act 1 Scene 2

“…show’d thee all the qualities o’ the isle,
The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile:”

Before Prospero came, Caliban was King of that Island, although he had no subjects. He would have not been able to procreate, and the Kingdom would have died with him.

Prospero was the coloniser, albeit an unwilling one. Again from that same speech, Caliban states:

“This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother,
Which thou takest from me. When thou camest first,
Thou strokedst me and madest much of me, wouldst give me
Water with berries in’t, and teach me how
To name the bigger light, and how the less,
That burn by day and night: and then I loved thee”

and Prospero reminds Caliban

I pitied thee,
Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour
One thing or other: when thou didst not, savage,
Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like
A thing most brutish, I endow’d thy purposes
With words that made them known.

Caliban sought to procreate with Prospero’s daughter, whom at the time was quite young. Caliban did not know the harm he could cause to the girl, or the social graces of courting, wooing and consent. He sought to take her and thus gained the wrath of Prospero and indeed his daughter Miranda.

So the blog question is…Say whose side you are on in the contest between Prospero and Caliban as it appears at the end of Act 1 Sc 2. Is colonisation a good thing? I would have to say no. Colonisation occurs and did occur on the island in The Tempest, to the detriment of the natives who already inhabit the land.

Without Prospero, Caliban would have happily lived on the island, using its resources wisely, respecting and knowing the land intimately. Prospero spoilt that with his attitude of superiority over Caliban.Because he could speak a language which he thought others should be able to speak, and hence communicate, he thought himself better than Caliban whom he couldn’t understand himself.

The western world think they are so much better than the native people who inhabit a place before colonisation. The Australian Settlers deemed the land uninhabited when they landed, even though the natives of the land were clearly evident. The settlers did not think of the natives as human.

We boast our civilisation is a better way if living. In Whose eyes? We say that western medicine is good for helping the natives live longer, free from pain and disease. It was the white man who bought the diseases in a lot of cases. It was also the white man who introduced the indigenous people of Australia to alcohol, and tobacco. It was the white man who bought petrol vehicles to the country and allowed the young people to sniff it, infecting their minds.

There are very few areas in the world not colonised. I believe there are areas in South America and New Guinea who don’t know white man. North Sentinel Island near India, has inhabitants who shoot arrows at airplanes who come to close. Leave them be I say. These people do not need out western society with all the politics, greed and corruption.The people of North Sentinel Island have survived without modern man for 60,000 years. They are doing alright without us.

Sentinelese tribespeople, holding javelins, gather on the shore of North Sentinel Island, located in the Bay of Bengal 

Sentinelese tribespeople, holding javelins, gather on the shore of North Sentinel Island, located in the Bay of Bengal

So it is a good thing when Prospero is restored to the Dukedom and returns to Milan, leaving a freed Ariel Spirit and Caliban to inhabit the island alone. Perhaps no major damage is done and Caliban is able to restore the Island to the former beauty.

Dave

 

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