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Culture

Lay Your Dreams Right Up To The Sky

Hang onto the world as it spins, around
Just don’t let the spin get you down
Things are moving fast
Hold on tight and you will last

Keep your self-respect, your manly pride
Get yourself in gear
Keep your stride
Never mind your fears
Brighter days will soon be here

Take it from me someday we’ll all be free (Yeah)

Keep on walking tall, hold your head up high
Lay your dreams right up to the sky
Sing your greatest song
And you’ll keep, going, going on

(Hey) Just wait and see someday we’ll all be free. (Yeah)
Take it from me, Someday we’ll all be free
(It won’t be long) Take it from me someday we’ll all be free
Take it from me, take it from me, take it from me

lyrics and performed by – the late great Donny Hathaway

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Robin Roberts’ Coming Out Is So Bravissimo!

You’ve heard it before …
Black don’t crack
Black don’t do atheism
Black don’t do gay

Whatever it is we do or don’t do we certainly do gay. And a lot of it too. And the more out gay black public figures there are hopefully the less homophobic our “race” will be, the less ‘on the downlow’ our people will be and the less we’ll hear of: ‘It’s not our culture, it’s a white people thing.” which is just so … gay. 🙂

We owe it to the next generation to evolve in a more progressive fashion than the last one if we don’t want them left behind in the darkness of ignorance and blind prejudice.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jack-mirkinson/why-robin-roberts-coming-_b_4518423.html

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Negro Rights vs Conservative Ire

Not Martin Luther King, not Malcolm X and not Nelson Mandela. The black figure that I’d most like to have met while s/he was alive is James Baldwin. There is something about how he delivers his point of view combined with raw intelligence and passion (the last two also possessed by the others) that I admire and probably would love to emulate. If I had half or more of all that boy … oh boy,

The video below was recorded at Cambridge University in 1965 during the Civil Rights movement. It featured Baldwin debating William F Buckley, the noted Republican Conservative, on the motion: “Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?” Baldwin got a standing ovation not just because of his brilliance, a fact, but I suspect also because of the topic. It’s clear the Cambridge students in the hall were overwhelmingly in support of negro rights. So Buckley faced a significant headwind but after much rambling, posturing, finger pointing and exceedingly creepy body language he managed to say three things of some note (1) the American negro enjoyed a standard of living above 95% of the rest of the planet; (2) it’s the negro’s fault he’s still where he is because other immigrants have done better and (3) his coup de grace –  a threat to everyone that white conservative America will fight on the beaches and on the hills for the status quo.

On those three points: clearly (1) is beside the point especially since most of the rest of the world had little left over after WWII and the economic collapse of Britain; there’s some truth to (2) in that black people should be responsible for their own destiny but as Baldwin’s speech illustrated that’s impossible in an environment where you don’t have a voice or a legitimate identity or any rights beyond being the shoe-shine boy; and (3) the threat to go to war? The gun lobby in America now makes perfect sense.


How You Gonna Play Them CDs?

We’ll, one day, tell our grandkids: ‘There used to be these things called CDs that played music and they were supposed to last forever.”

“CLOSING DOWN”
“EVERYTHING MUST GO!!”

Those were the posters screaming from the spattered windows of my local HMV store this afternoon. I sauntered in overrun by thoughts of  “Wow so many CDs! At bucket prices! I better get me some”. Greatest Hits “Rush”? Now, that’s a band I’ve heard of and I don’t have any of their records. At £2,99 maybe worth a try. What’s there to lose?

Tada, my brain jingled its pre-xmas bells: “But you don’t have a CD player” (It’s in storage but you get the drift). “And your new MacBook does not have a CD/DVD drive”. So even if I want to buy CDs (to support my local shops even though the last one is going) I can’t buy CDs because I can no longer play the darned things.

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Heart To Goose Pimples

Love this song to bits …Kenny Loggins “Heart To Heart” with Michael McDonald on background and I hear David Sanborn on sax. Those were the days … (he writes as his eyes get misty)


Justine Sacco & Phil Robertson

The latest “freedom of speech” battleground is the Duck Dynasty / Phil Robertson and Justine Sacco brouhaha. Should people be allowed to say whatever it is they want?

There’s a good reason why rhetoric was a key discipline in ancient Rome. Talk of “freedom of speech” and “rights” always come down to where we set boundaries since no society permits “absolutes”: freedom of speech or “rights”. If the Prime Minister of Britain calls all Scots “dogs” and that’s his personal view can we prove that would get in the way of his job? But most sensible people would find it unwise and unacceptable. Yet no doubt some folks will say something akin to this in private. But who cares about their private party views.

The reason why we fret so much about what people say in public is the naivety and gullibility of a large class of people to run with not just “offensive” but “dangerous” views. If views are merely “offensive” then people should get a life. But when views are dangerous then they inspire a large number of people to justify actions that are incompatible with social progress: equal rights and considerations for women, LGBT, ethnic minorities etc. [Cases in point: Russia’s hardening conservatism; Africa/Caribbean where people are emboldened to call for gay lynchings; here in the West where some think women who are raped must have been asking for it).

If the overwhelming populace were rational and sensible and not easily corrupted then yes, “freedom of speech” to everyone to say whatever they want, knowing fully well that the ill effects will be close to zero. Unfortunately we don’t live in that world. l agree with some people that one might expect a redneck to say the most outrageous things about blacks and gays. But then again last night I watched for the first time Paul Mooney an American black comedian who thinks Jesus was black. Some of what he said about white people was uncomfortable (even offensive?) and true. Some of what he said was offensive and complete bull. There were people in the audience nodding as if he was a prophet. But how many people listen to him? If he was the president of a country or a very prominent figure with the ability to influence a large number of people: whoa! I would think the man should be called to account.

The case of Justine Sacco. If she holds these views (and especially as a white person born in South Africa) is she likely to employ black people of any distinction in any job better than a servile one? That surely will get in the way of her working effectively for an “equal opportunities” employer.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10534561/Justine-Sacco-fired-after-Hope-I-dont-get-Aids-tweet.html


When Fathers Go Off The Rails

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This is not something out of Euripides. This stuff happens around the corner from you and from me and what a stupendous waste of two lives. A tragic story that highlights the immense fragility of the human mind. Any rational third party can see that killing yourself and your child (in a custody battle or even for any other reason) deprives you of all the future joy that could come from a continuing relationship with that child. Where it’s a custody battle that mother wins: there is still (i) the possibility of continuing access (ii) the probability of someday re-commencing relationship assuming mother relocates out of town either for good reasons or out of spite (iii) the option of having other children.

But oftentimes we, as humans, can’t see the road for the fog; the fog of our own distress. And when we are choked up by the emotion of the moment and the “apparent” hopelessness of our situation it’s frequently the case that we go “off the rails”. This is human nature and maybe never entirely avoidable. Arguably this man loved his son deeply and the thought of being separated was too much. But then again he did not value the life of the child above his own heartbreak and/or he hated the mother so much that punishing her was more important: “If I can’t have him neither will you”. Or he just went crazy. Considering that four years ago, these two were making love with tremendous joy and hope and it’s come to this. She will now be haunted and scarred by this for the rest of her life. A sad waste of, really, three lives.

Some other stories of fathers going off the rails:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2478486/Daniel-A-Castrillon-Oreggo-Father-shot-son-7-daughter-8-killing-wife-filed-divorce.html

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Dad-Kills-Son-Self-Shoots-Wife-in-Gruesome-Murder-Suicide-Police-222643001.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2454853/Indian-father-kills-month-old-son-axe-appease-Hindu-goddess-destruction-rebirth.html