Colonization Australian-Style

In My Blood It Runs

Directed by Maya Newell (2019)

Film Review

A very poignant film about a ten-year-old Aboriginal boy who is failing all his school subjects despite having special healing abilities and speaking three languages. DuJuan’s mother and grandmother have brought DuJuan and his younger brother from their traditional Sandy Bore homeland to attend public school in Alice Springs. Sandy Bore has no school, and his family worries he won’t adjust to modern society without education.

They all spends every weekend in the bush in Sandy Bore, where DuJuan speaks in his birth language Arrente and renews his healing powers. Struggling with contradictory messages he receives from his family and teachers, DuJuan hates his Alice Springs school. He bunks class most days and celebrates when he gets suspended.

When his school finally expels him, the family’s biggest fear is that social welfare will kidnap him and send him to foster care or juvenile detention. At night, Australian special forces patrol Alice Springs (pop 26,000) as part of the government’s anti-terrorist regime.

The Northern Territories juvenile detention facilities (where 100% of the inmates are aboriginal) are notorious for violently abusing children as young as ten. These conditions have been the focus of Australian Black Lives Matter protests.

The Role of Philanthropy and Foundations in Thwarting Black Liberation

Ford Foundation ploughs $1 billion into mission related ...

The Race for the Bottom

Al Jazeera (2021)

Film Review

This is an excellent documentary about the role of wealthy philanthropists and their foundations in thwarting the battle end institutional racism. Filmmakers make the point that “insurrection” that stormed the Capitol on Jan 6 didn’t start with Trump: that it was decades in the making.

Narrated by prestigious African American historians and academic, the begins with efforts by Carnegie and John D Rockefeller to steer newly freed slave into manual labor training that would keep them in agriculture and in the South. In 1903, Congress authorized the Rockefeller foundation to create General the Education Board. The latter would set standards for rural public schools, as well as universities and medical schools for the next 50 years. In 1910, the Flexner report, funded by Carnegie Foundation, recommended the closure of five black medical schools. In severely restricting the supply of Black doctors, the move also reduced access to medical care for Black patients.

The rise of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s would lead to a new wave of philanthropic funding, aimed at preventing the Black “insurrection.” The Ford Foundation, the source of significant funding to Black Studies, Black Art and Black higher and post graduate education, used it to split the African American community by create a Black liberal elite. I was very surprised to learn the the Black Panther Party received Ford Foundation funding for their free school breakfasts, medical clinics, eye programs and sickle cell foundation.

The film also mentions the role of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation in funding Black Lives Matter.

The rise of the Black Power movement, as well as women’s and gay rights movements in the late sixties and seventies would also trigger a white backlash, giving rise to a host of conservative foundations and think tanks (eg Heritage Foundation, Federalist Society, Walton Family Foundation, DeVos Family Foundation). The work of these foundations (along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) would lead to a sustained attack on public schools through the (publicly funded) charter school movement, as well the training and appointment of conservative judges and an electoral coalition that would elect Donald Trump in 2016.

The film can be viewed free at https://www.aljazeera.com/program/the-big-picture/2021/2/11/a-race-for-america

Addressing Grossly Underfunded Ghetto Schools

Black Lives: Agents of Change, Failing Schools vs Community Education in America

RT (2019)

Film Review

The fifth episode of Black Lives contrasts failing public schools in New York and Philadelphia ghettos with community education efforts by Black Lives Matter organizers.

Due to systematic defunding, African American students attend schools with as many as 40 kids in a class. With no time to correct it, some teachers have quit assigning homework.. At the same time, many “underperforming” (ie underfunded) schools in African America communities have been closed to redirect public funding to privately run for-profit charter schools.

Most of the film centers around efforts by Black Lives Matter organizers to teach Black teenagers gun safety (via the Black Guns Matter program) and community organizing skills. They learn how to organize protest marches, send out media releases and lobby officials at all levels of government.

While Black Lives Matter has come under criticism for its failure to bring about any genuine policy changes, their community education efforts seem to offer Black teenagers good male role models, as well as an attractive alternative to drug dealing and gang banging.

 

 

Why Civil Rights Aren’t Enough to Make the American Dream Come True

Black Lives: Trap, Why Civil Rights Aren’t Enough to Make the American Dream Come True

RT (2019)

Film Review

This video is the second of a series of nine exploring life in inner city African American communities. The first looked at life in Ferguson Missouri four years after the police murdered Michael Brown – which sparked the formation of the group Black Lives Matter (see Still dreaming of racial justice in St Louis Black neighborhoods). Clearly little had changed.

The rest of the series looks at other decaying urban ghettos, as well as examining problems unique to poor African American communities (the absence of decent jobs or housing, failing schools, teen pregnancy, gangs, and drug dealing). My first reaction on viewing the series was to question why the US media rarely reports on these issues – or efforts by local African American leaders to address them.

The second film focuses on poor Black communities in Baltimore and Washington DC. Despite the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the 1960s, the bleak living conditions poor Black Americans endure remain virtually unchanged.

The most interesting interviews in this episode are with two activist religious leaders organizing their communities to improve living conditions..

One makes an interesting observation about the determination of the FBI and CIA to infiltrate and destroy any grassroots movement that takes serious strides towards improving African American living conditions.*

He also believes the two major political parties exploit racism to win votes. Republicans provoke anti-Black and anti-immigrant sentiments among white males who feel excluded from the massive economic transformation occurring in industrialized society. Democrats use racism to line up black votes, while making notoriously empty promises to improve their lives.


*Which corresponds with my experience in Seattle’s African American community, while working with a prison reform committee and Seattle’s African American Heritage Museum.

 

 

A Closer Look at Trump Supporters

Trumpland

Fusion (2016)

Film Review

This documentary, filmed a month before the 2016 election, explores the life circumstances of a cross section of Trump supporters, referred to by Hillary Clinton as “deplorables.”

Commonalities shared by this demographic are

  • recent personal or family experience with job loss, bankruptcy or foreclosure.
  • strong feelings about Wall Street outsourcing manufacturing jobs to third world countries.
  • strong feelings about US politics being a “crooked” system set up to destroy the middle class.
  • strong opposition to their perceived corporate control of the two major political parties.
  • a perception that Trump, unlike other politicians, “can’t be bought.”

When answering filmmakers’ questions about Trump’s perceived racism and xenophobia, their replies vary. Some (especially women) feel that Black Lives Matter activists have a point about the abysmal way Black people are treated in the US. Others claim that Black people (and women) are demanding special privileges not enjoyed by white men.

Most deny that Trump is racist, claiming he only wants to prevent terrorist attacks by banning immigrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. They agree with his proposed wall because they believe his claims that most illegal Mexican immigrants are drug dealers and rapists. This flies in the face of research indicating undocumented immigrants (who are loathe to draw attention to themselves) commit far fewer crimes than either legal immigrants or native born Americans.

Seattle’s New Youth Movement

For Martin Luther King day, the Garfield High School Black Student Union held a panel discussion on Seattle’s burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement. In their first major protest, thousands of Seattle students walked out of their high schools when the grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson for killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

The keynote speaker is John Carlos. Carlos is the former track and field athlete whose Black Power salute (along with Tommie Smith’s) during the 1968 Olympics caused massive international controversy.