Wednesday, July 30, 2008

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Fear Itself with Ernest Dickerson + Wendell Pierce; Radical Radio Soweto

6 PM Mountain Time

Beginning in January and finishing in July, Edmonton and the
surrounding area hosted the shooting of Fear Itself, an American network summer horror anthology.

Ernest Dickerson, who helmed Juice and Never Die Alone among many features, directed the episode “Something With Bite,” which debuts tomorrow night on NBC.
Check your local listings.

I’ve written a featu
re story on film and television production in Alberta with Fear Itself at the centre for the issue of Unlimited magazine, so check your newsstands in August, and the Bro-Log.

Actor Wendell Pierce, best known as Detective Bunk Moreland on HBO’s The Wire, plays the world’s first veterinarian to become his own patient. I caught up with both gentlemen on and off-set during their shoot at the end of April and the beginning of May.

In the second half of the show, we'll go to South Africa, and a story of democratic success being crushed by corporate power. South Africa today, fourteen years after the democratic revolution, is a far cry from where most of its revolutionaries intended it to be.

The country’s economy is still mostly owned by the European settler minority. Outside of countries in the midst of civil war, South Africa is still
the rape capital of the world. The country struggles with an HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Thanks to Thatcherite economics, South Africa has developed a middle class which collaborates with the settler minority, while the majority still live in poverty, for whom electricity itself has become a neoliberal battleground.

Some South Africans realised that broadcasting and creativity could be combined to train South Africans for employment while giving them the means to voice their realities, their frustrations and their solutions.

Their pirate radio concept became a massive success. The government, serving the interests of homogenised corporate radio, answered that massive success with a massive crackdown. We'll go to Pambazuka News for a July 6, 2007 story on radical radio in Soweto.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Paul Street: Obama IS like JFK, but that's no compliment; or, Faking MLK While Betraying His Mission

Paul Street writes: "Walking in JFK's cautious and calculating footsteps on race, the technically black Obama has been careful to distance himself from the fact and claim that racial oppression and white supremacy continue to pose steep barriers to black advancement and racial equality in the U.S.

"He talks about the racism that stokes the fires of living black anger as if it was merely a troubling overhang from the past (Rev. Jeremiah Wright's ancient era).

"Obama advances no relevant or explicit policy agenda to take on the deeply entrenched institutional racism that lives on beneath white America's readiness to elect a president who is 'black, but not like Jesse.'
"He has made numerous speeches and comments suggesting the black Americans are personally and culturally responsible for their disproportionate presence at the bottom of the nation's steep socioeconomic and institutional hierarchies.

"He has failed to link himself strongly to contemporary Civil Rights struggles around the small-town southern white prosecution of the 'Jena 7' and the monstrous 50-shot New York City police murder of Sean Bell. Obama responded to the exoneration of Bell's killers with a terse statement lecturing black New Yorkers on the need to respect 'the rule of law.'

"Such behavior has provoked the understandable ire of Reverend Jackson, whose psycho-sexualized revenge fantasies are music to the politically pragmatic ears of Obama's handlers in the "post-Civil Rights era" - when racism is officially over....

"Walking in JFK's imperial footsteps, Obama has advanced mealy-mouthed and ever-shifting positions on Iraq, clearly (however) indicating that an Obama White House will maintain the criminal occupation of oil-rich Mesopotamia for an indefinite period of time.

"He takes brazenly imperial positions on Israel/Palestine, Columbia, Cuba, Afghanistan, Iran, the 'defense' (Empire) budget, and the broad role of the United States (which Obama absurdly calls the 'last and best hope of the world') in the world.

"Here is an interesting formulation from an essay Obama published in the U.S. Council of Foreign Relations' journal Foreign Affairs in the summer of 2007:

"'The American moment is not over, but it must be seized anew... A strong military is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace.... we must become better prepared to put boots on the ground in order to take on foes that fight asymmetrical and highly adaptive campaigns on a global scale...I will not hesitate to use force unilaterally, if necessary, to protect the American people or our vital interests ...We must also consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense, in order to provide for the common security that underpins global stability - to support friends, participate in stability and reconstruction operations, or confront mass atrocities.'

"The article in which these words appeared was published while liberal and left peaceniks all over my home town (Iowa City) were putting up Obama signs next to peace posters quoting Dr. King on how 'War is Not the Answer.' Ronald Reagan or JFK couldn't have given more brash forewarnings of imperial adventurism to come!

"In the openly imperial foreign policy chapter of his Kennedy-esque campaign book The Audacity of Hope, Obama criticized 'left-leaning populists' like 'Venezuela's Hugo Chavez' for thinking that developing nations 'should resist America's efforts to expand its hegemony' and for daring (imagine!) to 'follow their own path to development.'

"Such dysfunctional 'reject[ion] [of] the ideals of free markets and liberal democracy' along with 'American' ideas like 'the rule of law' and 'democratic elections' - interesting terms for the heavily state-sponsored U.S. effort to impose authoritarian and corporate-state capitalist policy imperatives on impoverished nations - will only worsen the situation of the global poor, Obama claimed.

"Obama's bestselling book and supposed proclamation of 'progressive' faith (the candidate used that word to describe himself on numerous occasions in the volume) ignored a preponderance of evidence showing that the imposition of the 'free market' corporate-neoliberal 'Washington Consensus' has deepened poverty across the world in recent decades.

"Billions are forced to live in ever-more extreme poverty as Obama's book audaciously instructed poor and exploited states that 'the system of free markets and liberal democracy" is "constantly subject to change and improvement...."

Veteran left historian and activist Paul Street ( paulstreet99@yahoo.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is the author of Empire and Inequality (2004) and Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (2007). His next book is "Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics" (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, August 2008.

US proxy war against Somalia endangers millions; Obama silent (again)

Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report writes:

"The United States is directly complicit in what the United Nations has called the 'worst humanitarian disaster' in Africa.

"The Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, launched in late 2006 with massive air, naval and logistical support from the Americans, has resulted in the displacement of 3.5 million people, 700,000 from the capital city of Mogadishu, alone.

"More than two-and-a-half million Somalis face starvation – a figure that could rise to three-and-a-half million by the end of this year.

"A recent Amnesty International report on human rights violations in Somalia, said Ethiopian soldiers have begun “slaughtering Somalis like goats” – meaning, killing them by cutting their throats. Amnesty International’s Deputy Africa Director put it this way: 'The people of Somalia are being killed, raped, tortured; looting is widespread and entire neighborhoods are being destroyed.'

"The U.S. has made Ethiopia its hit man in the Horn of Africa, a decision that is guaranteed to destabilize the entire region. That’s part of the American modus operandi: to create chaos – always resulting in mass deaths among the poor – in order to declare Africans unfit to run their own affairs.

"This is a theme that plays well among U.S. corporate media, who have dutifully pushed the Bush line on Zimbabwe, but go months without even mentioning the American-made crisis in Somalia.

"Democratic Party leadership is no better, including presidential nominee-to-be Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, Somalia’s neighbor. Obama, the Speaker of the House and the top Democrat in the Senate are all mum on U.S. crimes against the Somali people."

Barack Obama v. Black fathers

Tyrone Simpson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Vassar College. He is also part of the Urban Studies Program, Africana Studies Program, and Program in American Culture. Prof. Simpson can be contacted at He writes:

"This dream of the Obamas bringing the Cosby fantasy to the White House signals what should be the true fear of progressives: the possibility that the election of Obama will conclude the process of politically sedating African Americans begun during the Clinton years.

"Though no longer embraced by blacks as the nation's 'first African American president' because of his race-baiting during his wife's campaign, Bill Clinton was once deeply beloved by the black electorate.

"We showered him with unconditional affection while he expanded the prison system, destroyed welfare, and exported solid jobs beyond our borders. His uncanny ability in public to make us feel good about ourselves, to pawn off symbolic black enfranchisement as the real thing, enabled him to pursue such policies without the inconveniences of black resistance or critique.

"Is Obama positioning himself to enjoy the same privilege? Will he be able to abuse black people without consequence?

"...If we believe the official reports, the most despicable aspect of Obama's diatribe about absent black fathers is the fact that its message was not solely intended for the people it scolds, but instead for white cultural conservatives whose votes can tip the electorate in his favor.

"If this is true (and experts seems to think it is), Obama reveals himself deaf to the lesson his struggle with Hillary tried to teach. Obama gained a decisive advantage with black voters when the Clintons demonstrated that they would willingly cater to the racist opinions of the nation in order to accrue votes.

"To this day, many African Americans see the race-baiting behavior of Bill Clinton as an unforgivable trespass that will forever serve as the reason for their estrangement from him. I am waiting for the resentment of insulted fathers and wounded sons to be turned back on Obama.

"Regardless of how the campaign for president evolves, these black men will recall that one of his first gestures after securing the Democratic nomination was to make a spectacle of our pain.

"The deed is unlikely to result in exile (for Obama, regrettably, is too symbolically important for black men to fully disown him), but might emerge as indifference when the nominee is in dire need of support.

"When the lynch party sets out for him (and it will. The drama of Reverend Wright was merely a dress rehearsal for things to come), who will take up arms, man the front yard, and prevent the attackers from making their approach?"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Dennis Brutus on the Corporate-Apartheid Axis

6 PM Mountain Time

When South Africa’s revolution finally overthrew Apartheid in 1994, few of the revolutionaries knew then that they were about to be betrayed by some of their own leaders, who had been collaborating behind the scenes to create Neo-Apartheid.

Under that system, South Africa created the largest middle class on the Afrikan continent, but continued the economic exploitation of the majority of the population.

Many have described the current economy as Thatcherite and Neo-liberal. Clearly—and in a lesson that Afrikan-Americans should note very carefully—the complexion of the president says nothing, in and of itself, about the complexion of justice.

To discuss the imposition of Neo-Apartheid, we’ll hear today from poet, revolutionary and former political prisoner Dennis Brutus. Brutus was born in Zimbabwe in 1924, and later taught English and Boer Dutch in South Africa for fourteen years. Drawn into the anti-Apartheid movement, he became president of SANROC, the South Africa Non-Racial Olympic Committee, whose work led to South Africa’s exclusion from international sports, and his own arrest.

The regime re-arrested him when he escaped bail, and when he attempted further escape, he was shot in the back, and then sentenced to eighteen months of hard labour on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned with other revolutionaries.

Brutus went into exile in the United States and pursued university teaching and poetry, and eventually returned to South Africa in the 1990s. He’s currently involved in a lawsuit against American companies which profited from Apartheid, a lawsuit that the Neo-Apartheid regime in South Africa opposes.

Tonight we’ll hear from Dennis Brutus in a conversation recorded at Tribeca Radio in New York, on Mitchell Cohen’s Steal This Radio on July 09, 2008. Brutus began by discussing when and why the regime arrested him for the first time, and later how his house came to be a hideout for Nelson Mandela. Shortly after he discusses his opposition to the new South Africa’s Neoliberalism and Structural Adjustment Programmes or SAPs.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Chika Udok, Nigerian Artist in E-Town


6 PM Mountain Time

Her name is Chika Udok.

Udok is a Nigerian visual artist living in Edmonton. She studied at tg University of Nigeria at Nsukka under acclaimed Ghanaian artist and professor El Anatsui.
She's young, but already achieving excellence in painting and wall-mounted paint-sculptures.

Her work speaks to crises affecting Nigeria, women, the various Afrikan communities in Canada, and also the beauties of the Afrikan and natural worlds. She’s recently turned her house into a gallery, which features her most recent show for the next month or so.

If you’d like to see the work that’s about to be described, email her at

El Anatsui

El Anatsui was born 1944 in Anyako, Ghana. El earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sculpture and a Postgraduate Diploma in Art Education from the University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. He is Professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he has lectured since 1975. He exhibited at the 1990 Venice Biennale, where he received an honorable mention and was included in the Johannesburg Biennale in 1995 as well as the Gwanju Bienniale, Gwanju, South Korea, 2004.

"His most recent solo exhibition Gawu has toured Europe, Asia and North America. He is included in the anthology exhibition Africa Remix, which has toured Dusseldorf, London and Paris and will travel to Tokyo and other cities in 2006/7. His work is in numerous public and private collections including: Asele Institute, The British Museum, Centre Pompidou, de Young Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum Kunst Palast, The Newark Museum, Nigeria National Art Gallery, Segataya Museum and the Smithsonian Institution.”

In 1993 I visited an artists’ workshop in Nairobi while visiting my father’s home country.

I saw there why so much of what passes in the West for Afrikan art is such absolute garbage. In little more than a hallway of a chop-shop,
an assembly-line of men hacked pieces of wood into animal forms such as giraffes and rhinos, eventually smoothing them before finishing them with felt markers. Similar shops made “tribal masks” and other patronising, hackwork kitsch.

Sure, I could blame Western buyers and the media culture that made them think such “rustic” feebleries were the best the continent had to offer. But I had to admit, so long as the supply existed, the demand would not dry up. If someone made money from the stereotype, the stereotype could never die.

And that’s the
kind of junk you’ll see at many pavilions representing Afrikan countries in the upcoming Heritage Days Festival in Edmonton. Whereas pavilions for other countries will display hundreds of finely-wrought wooden and metal sculptures, many of the continental displays will be peddling items that belong in the trash.

My advice: never buy that stuff. Ask the vendors to bring in higher-quality work. And when you see beautifully-made art, support the sellers, and support the artists.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Tokunbo Oke on how European Capitalism Underdeveloped Afrika

6 PM Mountain Time

Tokunbo Oke is a historian and member of ALISC, the African Liberation Support Campaign Network.

“ALISC is a UK-based solidarity group set up by Africans forced into exile in the 1980s because they opposed Structural Adjustment Programmes. ALISC supports groups in Africa fighting to get power into the hands of the African majority, which means out of the hands of transnational profit-making companies, international banks and the wealthy African elite.

"One of ALISC Network’s jobs is to publicise what these groups are doing - and to explain the history of resistance in Africa, which hardly anyone knows. During slavery and colonial occupation, African women and men didn’t sit around waiting for someone to save them - they fought.”

When many people look at Afrika, they see only the present, and assume the present explains everything about the past. But a glance at 19th Century Greece would say little about the wonders of ancient Athens.

So is it with the Motherland, where five centuries of European holocaust have almost entirely obliterated our understanding not only of the diverse and magnificent civilisations of ancient and medieval Afrika, but our understanding of just how devastating has been human trafficking in the tens of millions, continent-wide occupation, economic exploitation, and proxy wars.

Tokunbo Oke spoke April 23, 2004 in London to explain how—and why—European capitalism underdeveloped Afrika.

The conclusion to Michael Parenti
on Slavery, Imperialism and Racial Supremacy

Last week on the show, courtesy of Michael Parenti, we learned how racial supremacy is not the simple matter of polite, liberal and conservative myths.

Racial supremacy is not simply the use of racial slurs; it’s not so-called “reverse racism.” It’s not dispelled by government-sponsored phrases about multiculturalism, token roles on television or in industry, ahistorical quoting of Martin Luther King’s most-abused speech, and it’s certainly not dispelled by the candidacy of one man who has become the myth-making flag-waver for corporate, military, mercenary, imperial America.

Racial supremacy is an organised political, economic and social system which keeps power in the hands of the globally racial few over the rest of humanity. It uses every means available, from academic, military and religious means to media, social networking, employment, housing and more.

It no longer needs to advertise “Whites only.” In fact, it can be very effectively served by a selection of coloured collaborators including movie stars, former generals and oil executives, and Chicago lawyers.

The system also serves to keep down millions of poor Whites in the United States, offering them only marginally better material opportunities, but a potent psychic one: the belief that they’re better than someone else. When you have nothing else, that counts for a lot.

Tonight, Michael Parenti lays out the rest of his case for explaining racial supremacy, with reference to Plato and Aristotle, modern academics and George H. W. Bush.