Monday, March 2, 2015

Title Change: Are Black Americans Serious About Separation?



I changed the title of my previous post from A New Black Nation to Are Black Americans Serious About Separation? I made this change since I don't think there will ever be a "new black nation" chipped off America because the American nation wouldn't allow it and blacks wouldn't seriously want it. But, there is a small group of Americans which is considering separating from all these grievous groups - blacks, Hispanics, liberals, and the large array of immigrants who identify themselves as non-whites. Rather than giving blacks, and these other groups, their own nation, they are considering siphoning off their own.

I don't know how this will work out. But it is becoming more of a reality than a few years ago.

Addendum:

I initially wrote A New Black Nation (whose title I changed as I indicated above) referring to this post by Laura Wood at The Thinking Housewife. The discussion has grown there with a comments on a separate black nation.
Laura writes:
You write:

Black re-settlement in Africa is out of the question.
Of course, it is out of the question today and anytime in the near future, just as a separate black nation in North America is out of the question today and anytime in the near future. But you can’t predict the future. You can’t forecast what kind of changes there might be. It is not out of the question because it is physically possible. To work for any such goal now would be patently ridiculous.
I think that as I wrote above, blacks wouldn't seriously want a separate black nation, or if they did, they would demand all kinds of conditions in order to gain as much benefit from the white America as they could.

I think David J., who is a black American commenting at Laura's post, is a clear example of that, although he is civilized and thoughtful with how he expresses it. But, it is strange to find someone expect to stay within the white culture while talking of "my people" as a separate and irreconcilable group. His praise of white culture may be genuine, but his support for unity is opportunistic.

I say this based on my observations of blacks who declare, antagonistically, that they have very little in common with white America, yet expect all the benefits of white America to be passed on to them.

This is similar to what is happening in Quebec, which has talked about separation from Canada for decades, which has come close to separation from Canada at least on two turbulent occasions. But at the moment of decision, it always opts to stay with Canada. And with each return to "unity" comes a list of conditions that benefits Quebec culturally and financially, giving it the best of all worlds.

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Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Are Black Americans Serious About Separation?

I think not. I think they just want the best of all worlds: a place which they can call their country, but which will have the perennial benefits of a white America. But they will keep rumbling on, making all kinds of demands, using a stealthy weapon of discrimination to get their way, since to be racist (well, to be called racist) is now one of the deadly sins.

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It is interesting that the standards for art remain Western. We have tried Chinioserie, Japonism, Orientalism, Primitivism, and many more non-Western "inlfluences" on Western art. I put influences in quotes because the trajectory is more Western art picking up styles from the non-Western world and applying it in a new way to Western art.

Laura Wood of The Thinking Housewife writes about the celebration of African-American History Month here:
As the annual observance of African-American History Month comes to a close, it is worth noting one of the most compelling reasons why African-Americans, or blacks, should have their own nation in North America: Blacks view themselves as a separate nation — a nation with its own distinctive history, its own heroes, its own literature, its own folklore, its own popular culture.

There is no Irish-American History Month, Italian-American History Month or German-American History Month. There is no White History Month. The Irish, the Italians and the Germans are not clamoring for these observances. That’s because they do not view themselves as separate to the same extent. They are not a separate nation. Look at the uniformity with which blacks approach politics. Almost all blacks vote the same way. No group in America has such a strong collective identity.
Here are her posts and the ensuing discussions:
- A Black Nation in America
- A Healthy Black Nationalism and its Benefits for Blacks

I went to the African-American History Month website that Laura directed us to, and looked up the link provided for African-American artists' collections at the National Gallery of Art. As I went through the collections' highlights, it became clear that these were works which emulated, if not mimicked, Western art standards, and even the "black" references could not disguise these origins.

The one that stood out for me was the African Nude by James Lesesne Wells. It was clearly after Henri Matisse's odalisques (of which there are dozens), which Matisse got from Ingres' Grande Odalisque, which itself was influenced by several centuries of Western artists, as well as Greek and Roman art. The leaf-like shapes in the background are also from Matisse's well-known leaf-like cut-outs he did much later in life when he could no longer paint.

Other resemblences are the "flattened surface" which Matisse explored and experimented with throughout his life: "Matisse used his curvilinear forms and bold decorative patterns to emphasize the flatness of the canvas surface." [Source]

Matisse worked with various print-making techniques, partly to get this "flattened surface" that he finally perfected with his cut-outs.

And Wells' African Nude is a the printing technique linocut, which is a variation of a woodcut.


James Lesesne Wells
American, 1902 - 1993
African Nude, 1980
Color linocut on Japan paper


The National Gallery of Art, where this painting is exhibited, says this about Wells:
James Lesesne Wells was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1902 and received BS and MS degrees from Columbia University, New York. He had a long career in printmaking, first participating in the Federal Arts Project, which encouraged the development of the art in the United States during the Great Depression, and then teaching at Howard University in Washington, DC, for almost four decades. Wells was active in the civil rights movement and often depicted the struggles of African-Americans in his work. African Nude, which Wells created late in life, reflects his printmaking skill, interest in traditional African aesthetics, and commitment to representing African-American history and experiences.
And this about his African Nude:
The woman in African Nude, wearing only a large necklace, reclines on an overstuffed settee. Her alluring position is similar to the pose found in classic images of odalisques—female slaves in the Ottoman Empire whose identities became sexualized and popularized during the nineteenth century. Yet unlike the seductive odalisque seen in Western art, whose gaze challenges by staring directly at the viewer, the nude in Wells' work, with eyes downcast, appears unhappily submissive and ill at ease amidst the oversize lush plants and gala colors of the background. The viewer is thus left unsettled, as if unwelcome despite the outwardly inviting scene.
I cannot leave this biography without commenting on the National Gallery of Art's description of African Nude.

I like the modesty with which Wells portrayed his image. But I think it is as much a commentary on modesty as on submissiveness. This leads me to the question: "Why is this black nude 'modest' while the Arab or white odalisques are so confident? Is Wells telling us not of submission but of the oppression of blacks? As is often the case with black American art, the language revolves around race conflict, and blacks always come out "losing."

Here is a 1990 New York Times article where the commentary says something similar to my point above, and written with the usual "aggrieved blacks" angle.

Below are odalisques by Matisse and Ingres.


Henri Matisse
Odalisque à la culotte rouge, 1924-1925
Oil Painting
50 x 61 cm
Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris



Henri Matisse
French, 1869–1954
Reclining Odalisque, 1926
Oil on canvas
15 1/8 x 21 5/8 in.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York



Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
French, 1780 - 1867
La Grande Odalisque, 1814
Oil on canvas
91 x 162 cm
Louvre, Paris


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Finally, all decisions, especially in the media world, count. Why did the website African-American History Month chose to use a .gov as its domain (http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov), rather than the much more common .com?

As with the politicized black artists, everything is race-relations with black Americans, i.e. the politics of the oppressed.

The domain name .gov is:
derived from government, indicating its restricted use by government entities in the United States. The gov domain is administered by the General Services Administration (GSA), an independent agency of the United States federal government. [Source]
As Laura wrote:
There is no Irish-American History Month, Italian-American History Month or German-American History Month. There is no White History Month. The Irish, the Italians and the Germans are not clamoring for these observances. That’s because they do not view themselves as separate to the same extent. They are not a separate nation. Look at the uniformity with which blacks approach politics. Almost all blacks vote the same way. No group in America has such a strong collective identity.
And she asks:
Can Americans ever amicably come to the conclusion that blacks should have their own nation and make this happen in a peaceable way?
It seems that blacks have already decided, no matter what everyone else thinks, or does. And I saw it in the simple suffix to the website African-American History Month, which is used for website's address andtitled, as though the whole of black American life is subsumed by that one month of "identity."

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Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Coffee With a Sprinkle of Jihad


Texting With the Syntax of a Jihadi

I was in Starbucks where I managed to find a seat in the corner. It was quite a nice seat considering seating is hard to come by in Starbucks. I started to read from my tablet, and found this article on the Jihadi John.

I then noticed that the guy next to me looked like he could be a Jihadi John.

I started to test him on his accent and comprehension level (if he even understood what I was saying).

Turns out guilty on both counts (accent and comprehension level).

Me: You've got yourself a nice place here.

Guy: (Looks up with a half smile, looking intimidated.)

Me: You have a pretty nice spot.

Guy: I donent no.

I just sat down and momentarily watched him push his fingers around frantically on his phone. I couldn't make out the language, but it looked like the Latin alphabet (not Arabic, although I wonder how one would text in Arabic on a Latin keyboard?)

Me: Is that the new iPhone?

Guy: i-ye-Phoneee?

Still no comprehension. His "i-ye-Phonee" sounded Hispanic.

Me: You don't speak English?

Guy: Englishi?

Me: Where are you from?

Guy: Colombia.

I returned to my tablet, and continued to drink my coffee.

He was glancing back and forth at me (I guess he thought he could chat me up or something, and wasn't astute enough to realize that I wasn't asking him pleasantries):
"Where do you work?"
"Near Walmart, like this..."
"Ah, McDonalds."
"Where is your family?"
"In Montreal and here."

All this with ample sign language and repeated words. I speak good enough Spanish, but I wasn't about to make things easy for him.

Such is the state of our Multi-Culti land.

And I still don't trust him.

What is to stop him from joining Arab Muslims, whom he greatly resembles, to find himself a welcoming community in this land of those evil, racist whites?
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Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Monday, February 23, 2015

Gentle Jesus


Christ and the Woman of Samaria, 1625-28
Giovanni Lanfranco (1582–1647)
Oil on canvas, 29 x 34 in
Collection: The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology


I especially like this version of the many. Christ really does talk to this woman, who has been shunned for many reasons, one of which because she has married many times, and is now living with a man, and is considered a loose woman. He doesn't stand aloof, but sits, lowers himself before her, so as to gain her trust and to let her speak to him. He isn't lecturing her, nor condemning her, as is probably what happens to her all the time.

She later spreads the world that she had met the Messiah, and many Samaritans became followers of Jesus (John 4:29-32).

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Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
John 4: 4-26
Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”

(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.

The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.

Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
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Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Obama Is Not Caulfield



Here is the new breed of Obama critic. This wouldn't have happened a year ago, but now suddenly, everyone has seen the light when it comes to Obama:
There is a personality type common among the Left’s partisans, and it has a name: Holden Caulfield. He is adolescent, perpetually disappointed, and ever on the lookout for phoniness and hypocrisy...He believes with Barack Obama that the only reason (e.g.) Staples does not pay its part-time associates more or schedule them for more hours is so that it can pad its executive pay and protect its “billions” in annual profits.

[...]

Barack Obama has a great, big, heaping dose of Holden Caulfield in him.[Source: National Review Online article by Kevin D. Williamson]

I have read The Catcher in the Rye, and I liked it. I thought Caulfield was intelligent, but that he was dealt a difficult life by his rich but inattentive parents who let him wonder through expensive private schools. I especially liked his spunky little sister with that strange name Phoebe (strange for me when I was reading the book for the first time at age thirteen), and how Caulfield decides to change (somewhat) if only to take care of her.

But in this moment of critic proliferation, almost everyone who writes critically about Obama resorts to explaining his behavior as someone who really doesn't know better: a foolish adolescent.

That in itself is racist, as though a black leader should be excused for his behavior and mistakes with a reference to his immaturity of one form or another: emotional, intellectual, ethical, spiritual, aesthetic.

But Obama is not immature, in any sense.

He is smart. He may have fudged some of his academic papers, but he persistently fought in politics, and won his way through.

He has a strong personality, and can battle through tough competitions.

He is an eloquent speaker. I don't have to agree with what he says, but he says what he has to say very well indeed.

He has a sense of humor, making people laugh during those dour State of the Union events, and at more relaxed moments in front of the press. He teases people around him with confidence, including Michelle Obama, who seems oblivious to his humor. His latest fracas with Buzzfeed was an attempt at humor to get a point across, and it was cleverly done.

The argument can be made about his ethical and spiritual authenticity, but that is nothing to do with immaturity, but in fact a sophistication to convince people, the American public, of the worthiness of some unworthy ideas.

And he may have to deal with Michelle Obama's inferior aesthetics, but he has never made a false move with his presentations.

So, we should take him at face value: An American President.

But we should take him as an American President with a leftist, and even a far left, world view. This causes him to say stupid things. But, it isn't his stupidity, rather his ideology, which does that.

So, instead of getting all twisted up giving him all kinds of excuses, let's drop the screen and reveal the emperor.

Our inability, or more precisely, our resistance, in identifying Obama for who and what he is will have dangerous, and far-reaching, consequences: Jihadi bombs in American and Western cities; illegal immigrants competing for scarce jobs; welfare criminals; race warfare; class divisions; and so on, and so on.

Obama is no adolescent Caulfield. He has his vision and agenda for the world, which the listless Caulfield could not muster even for the next day.
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Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Friday, February 20, 2015

Transformation to Evil

"The liberating thing about being dead is you're not bound by social constraints, monetary value and well being. Somewhere in my challenge to keep the dead walking I forgot these few beautiful and freeing rules of being dead and got caught up in survival...human survival."
Thea Munster (Faulds)
From: 2014, the TWZ [Toronto Zombie Walk] and why I will stop walking and stand still after this year.
December 31, 2014


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Here is Thea, a smart and intelligent woman. I went to school with her at Ryerson University, in Toronto. I liked her. She was quiet, pensive, and she usually said intelligent things (of the few things she said).



But something strange happened when she was doing her final year thesis, where we are left on our own to produce a graduation-worthy project.

I worked consistently, never leaving the campus, using the various production suites of film, video, photography and printing. My final year, I produced five projects:
- a short film (manual editing with film strips)
- a photography presentation (with real dark-room processing)
- a video piece, which ended up being a large, looped installation
- a silk screen piece, with messy chemical processing to make the various "films"
- and a website, which incorporated all my projects both for viewing, and for reviewing in a new manner
My film eventually was viewed in various venues, including in Paris and Prague.

My photographs were displayed in two venues, an art gallery and at the Allan Gardens Conservatory.

My video was screened at Trinity Square Video in Toronto.

What did Thea do, this intelligent, apparently artistic, student? She made an excuse! She said that she doesn't like people looking at her work, and could she show her pieces privately to the professors!!!

That was when I began to realize her weirdness.

Later on, she would spend three years working on a short film. Even for procrastinating artists that is a long time. She does have some films that she's submitted to various programs, but she hasn't listed her work in any coherent manner, so I would assume she doesn't have much regard for them.

She did make a documentary film with a group about HIV, which won an award at The City of Hamilton Arts Awards (a city about half an hour south of Toronto). The film criticizes the attempts to make HIV people accountable for their sexual behaviour by saying that it "criminalizes" them. I suppose the blood in HIV discourse fits Faulds' vampire/ghoul/zombie lifestyle.

Her "artistic" energy eventually went into various arts management positions, including as the founder of the Toronto Zombie Walk.

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Thea used to look like this when I went to school with her, with a face completely covered in white makeup cream, bright red lipstick outlined in a pout, shaved eyebrows with drawn-in lines, heavy black mascara on her lashes, and what I think was bleached blonde hair, although that could have been her natural color (most goths/vampires/zombies dye their hair pitch black).


From this site, from around 2010

Here is a photo of her around 2001, which is closer to what she looked like when I knew her.



Her final project never materialized. I think she got her degree, and kept her job at the campus video center for several years after that where I used to run into her (I was at one time editing video pieces for a presentation at Trinity Square).

A while later, I saw her downtown somewhere, still in her ghoulish make-up and black dress, and I couldn't bring myself to greet her.

Below are photos of Thea which she has posted on her Facebook page. It shows a narcissistic side of her, which I should have recognized earlier. The photos show her morphing into into evil.

The devolution into evil:











A "cemetery field trip" as is the title of this photo in her Facebook:



When you look closer at these photos, you begin to notice strange things.

Like tattoo all over her arms in the top photo, which is clearly visible here.



And the glint in her eyes in the second photo becomes this, when fully exposed.



And the sophistication that she seems to convey in some of her photos is covered with sores and scabs.



And she transforms into a flesh-eating creature



a "zombie"



who slithers out of the netherworld



to join us mortals



in a carnivalesque celebration of "the dead."



And the dead have only one standard to emulate: that of the living, where, for example, weddings are performed and zombies get married. Faulds talks, without the slightest irony, of "my husband."

Here she is with her husband, in their wedding gear.



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The transformation is complete.

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Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

East Coast Color


Newfoundland and Labrador television commercial

I've always wondered at the color in the "northern" lands. One would expect them to be dreary and grey. But, wherever people cherish the beautiful, they will always have color. Color is part of the world.

Above is the television commercial on Newfoundland and Labrador that is currently showing on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, more similar ones at the link). We have a few more months to plan for that vacation by the sea.

The survey on the website asks me (for a chance at a silkscreen of a whale) if I would travel to Newfoundland and Labrador. I answered honeslty "not very likely."

But, I can still look at the images!

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Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat