Janet Mock: Redefining Realness


“Redefining Realness” (2014) by Janet Mock is her coming of age story as a transgender woman of colour in the US, the book she wishes she could have read growing up.

On page 4:

“I had yearned for true love ever since my junior year of high school, when I read Their Eyes Were Watching God in Mrs Chun’s English class. Zora Neale Hurston wrote that Janie’s ‘soul crawled out from its hiding place’ when she met Tea Cake. I wanted to come out of my hiding place. I wanted a love that could open me up to the world and to myself. I wanted my own Tea Cake who wanted all of me.”

From that moment I was hooked – and then found myself on a harrowing roller coaster ride. I had read her May 2011 Marie Claire article about her trans story, and wrote a post about her…

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I Am Not Your Negro


“I Am Not Your Negro” (2017), by Haitian film-maker Raoul Peck, sets the words of James Baldwin to images and videos of that “glittering republic”, the US, in the 1960s and the 2010s.

It is an excellent introductionto James Baldwin if you have never read him. And even if you have, there is probably stuff you have never seen or heard.

Medgar, Malcolm and Martin: It is based in part on a book that Baldwin could not finish: about Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. They were his friends and one after another they were gunned down before the age of 40: 1963, 1965, 1968. The linchpins of the film.

Lorraine Hansberry, another friend, also appears – and then is taken from us too soon. Also dead before 40.

The film cannot match the power or depth of his essays, but it hits the main…

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Statue of Liberty


Liberty Enlightening the World (1886- ), better known since 1924 as the Statue of Liberty, also called Lady Liberty, is a huge green statue of Libertas, a Roman goddess, that stands in New York harbour. With chains of slavery and tyranny broken at her feet, she holds up a torch lighting the way to liberty.

  • Location: 40.689 N, 74.044 W, on Liberty Island (formerly known as Bedloe’s Island), 1 km south of Ellis Island.
  • Orientation: faces south-east
  • Height: 93 metres (305 feet)
  • Shoe size: 879 (US)
  • Colour: copper, started turning green in 1900, mostly green by the 1930s, all green by the 1960s.
  • Inspired by:
    • the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and
    • the freeing of US slaves.
  • Visitors: 4 million a year

The electrically-lit torch used to be a wonder, but now we take it…

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The Google Doodle for January 15th 2018, for Martin Luther King Day in the US.

#MLKalsoSaid (2015- ) is a hashtag on Twitter where people quote Martin Luther King, Jr to show that he said more than just that one thing that White people love to quote:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Some of what has been tweeted under #MLKalsoSaid:

“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society.”

“A riot is the language of the unheard,”

“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring…

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Happy Xmas (War Is Over)


Christians and Muslims going to St Paul’s, the only functioning church in Mosul, to celebrate Christmas in 2017. Under ISIS rule the church was a prison. Via the BBC.


This song was written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono and is here performed in 1971 by the John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir.

In 1972 the song went to #4 in Britain – the same year the US bombed Vietnam on Christmas.

The song never made the top ten in the US.

In 1980 the song went to #2 in Britain – the same year Lennon was shot dead in the US just 17 days before Christmas.

In 2017 I play this song in honour of Mosul, Iraq, which is publicly celebrating Christmas for the first time in four years. Under ISIS jihadist rule celebrating Christmas was dangerous.

Merry Christmas to all my commenters and 

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Philip Brailsford


Philip “Mitch” Brailsford (1990- ), a White American killer cop, gunned downDaniel Shaver, an unarmed White man, father of two, who was crying, pleading for his life:

“Please do not shoot me.”

Video of the shooting was not made public till after a jury cleared Brailsford of second-degree murder on December 8th 2017.

The night in question: On January 18th 2016, police in Mesa, Arizona received an emergency call from La Quinta Inn:

“A couple of the guests – I’m an employee – they’ve come to me and they’ve told me that somebody is pointing a rifle outside of one of the windows in our building.”

Police got to the hallway outside Room 502 and ordered everyone out of the room. A man and a woman came out. The man was Shaver.

Police ordered them to get on the ground. They did.

Simon Says: Instead of simply putting…

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Devin Patrick Kelley


Devin Patrick Kelley (1991-2017) on Sunday morning, November 5th 2017, shot nearly everyone at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a town of 600 about an hour east of San Antonio. He shot 46 people, killing 26 or 4% of the town. He gunned down even little children.

This comes just a month after Stephen Paddock shot 604 people in Las Vegas, killing 58.

Of the five worst shootings in living memory in the US, all five took place in the past ten years, three in the past two, and two in the past six weeks. None of the five shootings was carried out by Blacks – you know, those people the police fear so much. And only one was carried out by a Muslim, another out-group that Whites fear and demonize.

I knew the gunman was White right off:

  • they did not give his race…

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One morning on the island of Guanahani, men arrived from the sky, men who were not used to walking on the earth. Well, we thought they were from the sky. Later we found out that if you held them under water long enough they died and, even after three days, did not come back to life.

They came on three boats. There were maybe a hundred of them.

Their leader was a man with red hair who wore shiny clothes and a red cape. When he got on shore, he sank to his knees and cried. He kissed the earth. Then he got up and looked at the white sands, the turquoise sea, the green trees, the birds of many colours. And he looked at us, at our bodies.

He had a big picture of a black bird. Two men beside him each had a picture of…

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take a knee


Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick in 2016. (Mike McCarn/AP)

“Take a knee” (2016- ), known as #TakeAKnee on Twitter, is where you kneel instead of stand during the “Star-Spangled Banner”, the US national anthem. It was started last year by Colin Kaepernick, an American football player, to protest police brutality and racial injustice. Since 2009 it has been common for players in the National Football League (NFL) to stand during the song.

Colin Kaepernick is now out the NFL: no owner of a team will hire him, despite his championship-level talent. But other players, like Michael Bennett, have started taking the knee. Most seem to be Black.

Several New England Patriots players take a knee, Sunday September 24th 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

On Sunday yesterday (September 24th 2017) taking a knee spread like wildfire at football games across the nation. At one game even the singer of the “Star-Spangled Banner”…

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Antifa (1932- ) is an anti-fascist movement made up of those on the far left who believe in violence. It was started in the 1930s by German communists to stop the rise of Hitler. In the 2010s it is now fighting the rise of Trump.

  • Headquarters: none.
  • Numbers: unknown.
  • Catchphrase: No platform for fascists.
  • Symbol: the double flag (red and black in the 2010s).
  • Clothing: black, with face partly covered (to hide who they are from the police).

So far in 2017 in the US:

  • January: punched alt-right Richard Spencer (pictured above).
  • February: broke glass and set fires to stop alt-right darling Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at Berkeley.
  • August: protected Cornel West and clergy at the Charlottesville riot.

They aim to stop fascism “by any means necessary”. And sometimes by means unnecessary, like using violence even at protests where the left…

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