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A nation of slaves

It’s also quite scary when you consider that we’re entering an era of technological unemployment. More and more jobs are being automated: they aren’t going to provide money, social validation, or occupation for anyone any longer. We saw this first with agriculture and the internal combustion engine and artificial fertilizers, which reduced the rural workforce from around 90% of the population in the 17th-18th century to around 1% today in the developed world. We’ve seen it in steel, coal, and the other 19th century smokestack industries, which at their peak employed 30-50% of the population in factories—an inconceivable statistic today, even though our net output in these areas has increased. We’re now seeing it in mind-worker fields from law (less bodies needed to search law libraries) through architecture (3D printers and CAD software mean less time spent fiddling with cardboard models or poring over drafting tables). Service jobs are also being automated: from lights-out warehousing to self-service checkouts, the number of bodies needed is diminishing.

We can still produce enough food and stuff to feed and house and clothe everybody. We can still run a growth economy. But we don’t seem to know how to allocate resources to people for whom there are no jobs. There’s a pervasive cultural assumption that people who don’t work are shirkers or failures, rather than victims of technological change, and this is an enabler for populist politicians who campaign for support from the frightened (because embattled) working majority by punishing the unlucky, rather than admitting that the core assumption—that we must starve if we can’t find work—is simply invalid.

I tend to evaluate the things around me using a number of rules of thumb, one of which is that the success of a social system can be measured by how well it supports those at the bottom of the pile—the poor, the unlucky, the non-neurotypical—rather than by how it pampers its billionaires and aristocrats. By that rule of thumb, western capitalism did really well throughout the middle of the 20th century, especially in the hybrid social democratic form: but it’s now failing, increasingly clearly, as the focus of the large capital aggregates at the top (mostly corporate hive entities rather than individuals) becomes wealth concentration rather than wealth production. And a huge part of the reason it’s failing is because our social system is set up to provide validation and rewards on the basis of an extrinsic attribute (what people do) which is subject to external pressures and manipulation: and for the winners it creates incentives to perpetuate and extend this system rather than to dismantle it and replace it with something more humane.

(Source: azspot)


Red Origins: This awesome animated kickstarter needs your help and support.

Red Origins is an original animation created both Onyi and Obi Udeh (O.0 Brothers? Yes). The two started working on Red Origins as a hobby two years ago before they realized they had written a fun and exciting story that retold African Oral Folklore and introduced Juju to the world. Onyi and Obi then created Kolanut Productions, an independent production company, in order to bring their characters to life. Now with your help Kolanut Productions can bring this original series to life.

We are raising funds to pay animators, writers, and editors to put out a top quality pilot episode for Red Origins. We currently have several artist on standby waiting for us reach our financial goals. After we finish the pilot we will use our access to various networks to get Red Origins aired. If the network route isn’t to our advantage then the Red Origins team will put out a web based series. We are determined to share this story with the world at all costs (that we can afford).

(via black-culture)


In Photos: “Signares” by Fabrice Monteiro.

Exploring history and fashion along the west coast of Africa, for his series ‘Signares' Belgian-Beninese photographer Fabrice Monteiro recalls a time in history where distinct cultures collided.

As European traders and explorers began to ascend on Africa’s west coast around the 15th and 16th century, as these men where forbidden from bringing their families and wives from their home countries, they began to intermingle and intermarry with African women in the Senegambia region. As a result of these relations, many of these women began to orchestrate business dealings to their benefits “using these partnerships to bolster their socioeconomic standing and personal trading enterprises”. One signare in the 1770s from St Louis, Senegal, is noted to have been a property owner and dealer as she bought and sold property in Saint-Domingue, while “five other signares in Gorée signed a petition against a poorly run French company that had been awarded an exclusive contract with the island”. 

Although these relations were not at first recognized by colonial and European authorities, it later became acceptable for Europeans living in Senegal to marry and have their descendants profit from these unions through heritage rights. Most of these women were considered to be of a high class and often married “middle-class executives or French and English aristocrats”. Naturally, a new sense of fashion was born as the women combined their own traditional styles with European attire at the time.

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All Africa, All the time.

(via hopeful-faith)


That’s What She SaidA queer, Asian-American web series following the lives of 5 friends in Los Angeles. Created out of a desire to see positive Asian representations in the media, as well as to give voice to the often untold stories of queer Asian women, the series chronicles the lives of five fictional characters – Leslie, Rae, Shin, Baby, and Nic – within the queer sphere of the greater Los Angeles area.

(Source: queerthanks, via littlesappho)

Would Nyong’o be on Hollywood’s radar at all if not for her discovery by Steve McQueen, an Afro-British director of Trinidadian and Grenadian descent? To be more blunt: Would an American director have felt comfortable casting a woman of Nyong’o’s hue as the leading lady of a major Hollywood film? A quick look back at film history and a discussion with an expert on skin color in American culture indicates that this is unlikely.

For starters, there has never been a black actress of Nyong’o’s ebony skin tone to ascend to Hollywood A-list status. And among those black actresses who have succeeded in Hollywood with deeper skin tones, like Grace Jones, they have not been positioned as leading ladies or, more specifically, objects of affection. Those roles have been concentrated among fairer actresses and those with more traditionally Eurocentric features, including Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, Pam Grier, Shari Belafonte, Rae Dawn Chong, Cynda Williams, Halle Berry, Rosario Dawson, Thandie Newton, Zoe Saldana, Rashida Jones and Paula Patton—a number of whom also identify as biracial or multiracial. On the small screen, at least, Gabrielle Union and Kerry Washington have enjoyed recent breakthroughs, but while neither woman is fair-skinned, they might not always be described as dark, either.


Had an American been at the helm of 12 Years a Slave, it seems unlikely that Nyong’o or someone who looks like her would have been cast.

Writer Keli Goff at The Root states, “If Afro-Brit Steve McQueen hadn’t made the Oscar-nominated film, a lighter-skinned actress might have been cast in the role of Patsey.”

Read more from her op-ed titeld “Why an African-American Director Wouldn’t Have Cast Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave.

(via the-wolfbats)

(Source: dynamicafrica, via posttragicmulatto)

Balance of Power: A Throne for an African Prince — Events & Exhibitions at The Detroit Institute of Arts


Balance of Power: A Throne for an African Prince
According to Yoruba oral history, artist Olówè of Ise (about 1870–1938) could sculpt a person’s likeness on the spot—without looking at the wood he was carving. In his day, Olówè was the most sought-after artist for Yoruba royalty. Kings from far and wide called on him to sculpt the decorations that filled their palaces. Today, Western museums consider his works priceless.

This special exhibition spotlights a single extraordinary work by Olówè: a throne he made for Prince Ilori, heir apparent of the town of Isè in southwestern Nigeria. This exhibition is organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Support has been provided by the Walter Gibbs Endowment Fund.

image: Olówè of Ise (about 1870–1938), Chief’s Throne, about 1930, wood. Museum Purchase, Ernest and Rosemarie Kanzler Foundation Fund, and with funds from Robert B. Jacobs. DIA no. 2008.47
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My name is Ella. My name is not Ford, or Chrysler or GM. I’m talking about being able to buy food and provide rent and heat. I’m not talking about furnishing an office. Or making more or having a larger profit margin. I’m talking about sustaining my life.

—Retiree Ella Johnson worked for the city of Detroit for 33 years. She faces a 34% cut to her pension check under Detroit’s bankruptcy proposal. (via nprontheroad)

(via posttragicmulatto)