Tag: documentaries

Angela Davis shows activism only needs one common goal


The Free Angela and All Political Prisoners documentary released in 2012, recounted the extraordinary events that simultaneously made Angela Davis infamous and heroic. I hadn’t watched it until last week; it reminded me of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Focussing on the events surrounding the Soledad Brothers case that led to Davis becoming a murder suspect and fugitive on the FBI’s most wanted list, the documentary highlight why unity in activism is important.

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Angela Davis was right when she said “we needed a Donald Trump”


Before Donald Trump bulldozed into the UK last week, everyone knew there would be drama. Waves of protests in support of and against the US president were seen in England and Scotland.

Donald Trump was only in the UK for a few days, but his presence led to an estimated 250,000 protesters marching through London, along with the famous inflatable ‘Donald Trump baby’.  A far-right protest was also happening in the capital and some of those protesters were singing Donald Trump’s praises (of course). Wherever he goes, the Trump effect is palpable.

After criticising UK Prime Minister Theresa May, then sitting down to dinner with her and having tea with the Queen, Trump went to his luxury resort in Scotland for some downtime. However, Scottish protesters made it clear that Trump was ‘not welcome’ in their country because of his views, interpreted as racist and misogynistic.

As the leader of what is said to be the most powerful nation on earth, I get why Trump is constantly served to us on a platter by the media. Usually upon hearing his name I do the classic eye roll and sigh. Sometimes I actually laugh in moments of disbelief at what comes out of his mouth. Trump’s comedic value is up there with the best of them. All jokes aside, I am aware of how dangerous Trump is.

It was a quote from one of the most candid political activists of our time, Angela Davis, that made me think Donald Trump does serve a purpose. While many are repulsed by his views, there is no doubt that Trump has awoken the social consciousness of everyone.

Last year during a speech at Florida Atlantic University, while condemning Trump, Angela Davis stated, “maybe we need a Donald Trump to wake us up”.

Davis has been a political activist for decades and played a key role in the civil rights movement in America. However, it was in the early 1970s that she became infamous after being linked to the ‘Soledad Brothers’ case and listed as a fugitive on the FBI’s most wanted list. Davis was imprisoned, but during one of the most captivating trials of its time (hence inspiring a documentary), was exonerated by an all-white jury.

Angela Davis, Donald Trump, documentary, film, cinema
The documentary inspired by Angela Davis’ unique life story

In addition to affiliation with the Black Panther movement and more recently Black Lives Matter, Davis has also been described as a feminist. As a staunch adversary of Trump, at the age of 74, Davis shows no sign of her political activism abating.

There’s no doubt Trump’s presence on the global political landscape has inspired many. Trump inspires his supporters, who claimed they didn’t have a voice before him and everyone else who was wrapped up in apathy but now forced to stand against oppressive ideologies.

 

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Photo credit: Block Party Cinema

James Baldwin’s unfinished business


Few writers’ words still resonate thirty years after their death, but James Baldwin was no ordinary writer. It’s believed that Baldwin died of cancer on 1 December 1987 aged 63 while starting, what is now his final manuscript – Remember This House. Comprising only 30 pages at the time of his death, the focus of this manuscript were personal recollections of the lives and assassinations of 3 juggernauts of the civil rights movement in America – Martin Luther King Jr,. Malcom X and Medgar Evers.

james baldwin
The Oscar nominated (2017), BATFA award winning (2018) documentary, based on James Baldwin’s last unfinished manuscript – Remember This House.                                           Photo credit: Block Party Cinema

The lives of the former two have been compared throughout history. The ideologies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X even came up during the commentary surrounding Marvel’s Black Panther movie, directed by Ryan Coogler. The ideologies of Black Panther (T’Challa – played by Chadwick Boseman) and Erik Kilmonger (played by Michael B Jordan) were likened to the two civil rights activists. Some thought Kilmonger’s desire to arm all oppressed people so they could protect themselves reflected Malcom X’s rhetoric. While T’Challa’s (what some would deem) measured approach was like that of Martin Luther King Jr.

I watched two men, coming from unimaginably different backgrounds, whose positions, originally, were poles apart, driven closer and closer together. By the time each died, their positions had become virtually the same position. It can be said, indeed, that Martin picked up Malcolm’s burden, articulated the vision which Malcolm had begun to see, and for which he paid with his life – James Baldwin in a 1963 TV interview

Medgar Evers died on 12th June 1963; a World War II veteran and university graduate, Medgar Evers was instrumental in overturning segregation laws at the University of Mississippi, public facilities and collating evidence from witnesses in the Emmitt Till murder case. Malcom X died on 21st February 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. died on 4th April 1968. All three of these civil rights activists were killed within a 5 year period and none of them lived to see their 40th birthdays.   

In his array of writings and novels where he documents the civil rights movement, Baldwin’s words are still pertinent today. Events that led to the Black Lives Matter movement and similar situations, played out over social media is testament to this. When the civil rights movement started there was no social media, now we all have front row seats to witness injustice and oppression. While there has been progress, there is still some way to go for black lives to be seen as equal to others of the human race. There’s still unfinished business to handle…

Clip from 1963 where James Baldwin is asked about his view on the future of America.

“The future of the Negro in this country, is precisely as bright or dark as the future of the country. James Baldwin 

 

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 Featured image credit: Screenshot from ‘I am not your Negro’ trailer YouTube

Strolling through colourism & class in Jamaica


Jamaica is a beautiful island, tourism is one of its biggest industries. Like most Caribbean islands, there is more to Jamaica than sunshine, white sandy beaches and good rum!

Despite all her beauty, there is an ugly which lurks beneath. Colourism, a negative racial construct is endemic within ethnic communities globally and Jamaica hasn’t escaped. Earlier this year, the Jamaican Gleaner newspaper reported sprinting legend Usain Bolt, discussing being discriminated against by his fellow ‘upper class’ Jamaicans, at the start of his rise to success, due to his humble beginnings.

“Especially when I started out. It was more shocking than anything else. That was how I ended up buying my house..I was living in a complex and I had issues with a few of the lighter-skinned people. I used to live near a lawyer and when I moved in, he said to me ‘be careful, they don’t like to see young people strive’.”

 Strolling, is an online documentary series by  director Cecile Emeke from London – “connecting the scattered stories of the black diaspora”. One episode follows two Jamaicans, recounting their experiences of Jamaica’s class/colour divide.

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