The greatest athlete ever?

Right up there with Muhammad Ali and Didier Drogba.

More: Serena Williams transcends sport. We’re lucky to be living in her time
 

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Why it is difficult to explain racism

The Black Voices section of the Huffington Post, ran that article Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism earlier last week.

Mainstream dictionary definitions reduce racism to individual racial prejudice and the intentional actions that result. The people that commit these intentional acts are deemed bad, and those that don’t are good. If we are against racism and unaware of committing racist acts, we can’t be racist; racism and being a good person have become mutually exclusive. […]
Social scientists understand racism as a multidimensional and highly adaptive system — a system that ensures an unequal distribution of resources between racial groups. Because whites built and dominate all significant institutions, (often at the expense of and on the uncompensated labor of other groups), their interests are embedded in the foundation of U.S. society. While individual whites may be against racism, they still benefit from the distribution of resources controlled by their group.

Yes, an individual person of color can sit at the tables of power, but the overwhelming majority of decision-makers will be white. Yes, white people can have problems and face barriers, but systematic racism won’t be one of them. This distinction — between individual prejudice and a system of unequal institutionalized racial power — is fundamental.

The article is very US-focused, but the mechanics would apply to many situations. The article allowed me to get my head around a few concepts that I saw and witnessed, but could not completely get my head around. The fact that is it written by a white researcher gives a different perspective:

Individualism: Whites are taught to see themselves as individuals, rather than as part of a racial group. Individualism enables us to deny that racism is structured into the fabric of society. This erases our history and hides the way in which wealth has accumulated over generations and benefits us, as a group, today. It also allows us to distance ourselves from the history and actions of our group. Thus we get very irate when we are “accused” of racism, because as individuals, we are “different” from other white people and expect to be seen as such; we find intolerable any suggestion that our behavior or perspectives are typical of our group as a whole.

 

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How much does war cost? Economics of war in South Sudan

South Sudan is only four years old, but the world’s youngest nation tops the rank of failed states worldwide.
After decades of conflict with its neighbour Sudan, long-sought autonomy in 2011 was meant to be a dream come true, but the country has been wracked by violence ever since.

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On the same subject, Cornel West…

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Yes, the “N” word is still bad in 2015

President Barack Obama participates in a podcast with Marc Maron in Los Angeles, Calif., June 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama participates in a podcast with Marc Maron in Los Angeles, Calif., June 19, 2015.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama’s use of the word shocked many, but this was not the first time he used the word. In his book Dreams from my Father, the president used it “about a dozen times”, said the White House deputy press secretary, Eric Schultz. In reality, Obama’s use of the word was shocking because it is something most acting presidents would never say, but also because the weight of it still matters in 2015.

From The Guardian

You can listen to the whole interview on the WTF podcast website.

I don’t really use any form or shape of the word anymore.

I used to when I was younger, as a form of endearment with my friends. If you are listening to rap music, watching hood movies, or even spending time playing certain video games, it is extremely easy to detach yourself from reality and forget about the whole history behind the word.


The entertainment industry commercialised the term, and played on the controversy to sell more. From Chris Rock developing his entire routine around it, to Nas promoting his Untitled album, to Chet Hanks casually using the word with his white friends. Both blacks and whites individuals are responsible from it yes, but that’s quite different from putting the responsibility on “black people” for carrying the word through the years. You can certainly not say that rappers are responsible for the word, but entertainment did play a role in spreading its use, and the mis-understanding.

Globalisation took it to places that do not understand the heavy burden this word carries.

Yet, I cringe every time I am with white people and I hear the word.
It’s like when white people start having these conversations about slavery / war and poverty in Africa/ black crime around me. These are situations that turn you from just being the only black person present in that space and time to the spokesman for blackness. It really does not take that much.

– So what did you think about 12 Years A Slave?
– What did you think about the new Kendrick?
– That kid they found in the suitcase is from Cote d’Ivoire, right? You are from Cote d’Ivoire, right?

 

Back to the point, out of all the racial issues in the United States today, people getting angry because Obama is speaking frankly about racism and saying nigger is beyond me. Especially when his very point in saying nigger is that racism is still everywhere in America. I really hope that this will start real conversations about race today in the world, and give a real understanding of the significance of the world in 2015.

Watch Nas’ documentary about breakdancers in Uganda

From executive producer and rapper Nasir “Nas” Jones and journalist-turned-filmmaker Adam Sjöberg, Shake the Dust chronicles the influence of breakdancing, exploring how it strikes a resonant chord in the slums, favelas and ghettos of the world and far beyond. Showcasing some of the most jaw-dropping breakdancing moves ever committed to film, Shake the Dust is an inspiring tribute to the uplifting power of music and movement.

 It’s now available on VOD on Stream.
 

Shake the Dust from BOND Strategy & Influence on Vimeo.

Quite a fantastic subject to look into. Good that it is coming from hip hop legend Nasir Jones as well. I saw a couple of documentaries coming through about the African musical scene recently (kuduro, heavy metal, rumba), and it’s fantastic to see some of these artists recognised on a global scene, especially outside of the “world music” category.

South Africa should have sent Bashir to the ICC

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has left South Africa to his country, defying South African’s constitution to prevent his departure on the basis of an International Criminal Court order for his arrest.

Yet another setback for human rights in Africa.

The whole conversation about the ICC being prejudiced against Africans is misplaced. Now, I am not saying that only Africans deserve to face trial at the ICC. Far from it. Many individuals deserve to be tried under the institution.
What I think however, is that ICC is our best way to get justice considering the weak national and continental judicial institutions.
The national legal systems too often serve the ruling party, and has been heavily politically biased. Case in point, I strongly believe ICC is in a much better position to offer Laurent Gbagbo an impartial trial than any national jurisdiction. Same would apply for Sudan, Kenya and many other countries.
Regarding the continental institutions, we would not even be here discussing whether or not the ICC had to investigate Bashir, if the African Union was doing its job to improve the situation for the continent, as opposed to just serving its leaders.

Same thing with the whole issue around a resolution against “third terms”, where the institution could have led the way for democracy in several countries. Of course, nothing much will come from the African Union Heads of State and Government in South Africa. As Justice Malala said in The Guardian last week,

You cannot have moral authority with 91-year-old president-for-life Robert Mugabe at the helm

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