Selma Revisited: from Violent Racism to Reflective Compassion (part 1)

3 Producers of the film
Left to right, Producers of the Golen Globe Award-nominated film Selma:
Dede Gardner, Oprah Winfrey, and director Ava DuVernay. (photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for AFI)

 The movie Selma, directed and executive produced by Ava DuVernay, opened on Christmas Day 2014 and rang in the New Year 2015 with domestic sales estimated at $1, 204,000 according to Box Office Mojo. Whereas there have been any number of films about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. produced for television, Selma is the first major feature film on the great civil rights leader made for theatrical release.

The movie’s box office performance at the beginning of the year placed it at number 23 on Fandango’s list of “Top Box Office Movies,” and it currently stands at number 22. Both positions place it far behind “The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies” ruling at the time at number 1, and “Unbroken” at number 2.

However, Selma played during the first week of its release in only 19 select theaters. It is set to screen nation-wide on January 9, just in time for the 86th anniversary of Dr. King’s birth on January 15. In honor of the fact that the movie would not have been made without the definitive role played by the people of Selma, Alabama, in the past as well as in the present, Paramount Studios announced that residents will be allowed to view it for free until the end of January.

DuVernay has already won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association New Generation Award for the film and it has earned 4 African-American Film Critics Association Awards. It has also received 4 Golden Globe Award Nominations. In addition to DuVernay, the line-up of producers includes Hollywood heavyweights Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey, who also performs in a supporting role as Annie Lee Cooper. Paul Webb provided the screenplay and among the exceptional cast that brings it to life are David Oyelowo (as Martin Luther King Jr.), Carmen Ejogo (as Coretta Scott King), Cuba Gooding Jr., Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Tim Roth, and Allesandro Nivola.

Technology and the Struggle for Human Rights

The story of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery is now a well-known one for many important reasons. It is obviously vital for the place it holds in the story of African-Americans’ ongoing struggle for social and political equality in the United States, as it is for the place it occupies in America’s attempts in general to refine its practice of the concept of democracy. In addition, it dramatically demonstrates the role which the evolution of technology has played in struggles for human rights in the modern era.

For the full article by Aberjhani please click this link:
Selma revisited: from violent racism to reflective compassion (part 1 of 5) – National African-American Art |


PEN American Center – Novelist Philip Roth’s Dilemma and Every Author’s Challenge

                                                       Novelist Philip Roth at reading table.
                                                                 (photo by
James Nachtwey)


In his September 7, 2012, “Open Letter to Wikipedia,” acclaimed author Philip Roth made an appeal to the editors of Wikipedia. Posted in his blog for TheNew Yorker, he asked them to correct a statement he identified as misleading in the site’s article on his novel, The Human Stain. Roth––whose literary honors include a Pulitzer Prize, American Book Award, and Man Booker International Prize––stated the following:

The entry contains a serious misstatement that I would like to ask to have removed. This item entered Wikipedia not from the world of truthfulness but from the babble of literary gossip—there is no truth in it at all.”

He noted further that he had attempted through an official interlocutor to address the issue but was informed that site administrators required “secondary sources” to verify the proposed corrections. “Thus was created the occasion for this open letter.” Roth’s predicament created a pain-inducing illustration of a very modern techno-ethical issue: who should exercise the greater authority over individual public profiles on sites frequently referenced for factual information regarding an established literary figure?

Roth’s primary concern was accuracy in regard to a novel he had written. The editors at Wikipedia seemed mostly concerned with objectivity and authenticity in regard to the same. This is likely NOT a case of guerrilla decontextualization as some might surmise but more a matter of one website’s policy in conflict with one celebrated author’s informed preference.

The Challenge and a Possible Solution

For the full article by Aberjhani please click the link below:

PEN American Center – View by Blog Post Title.

Guerrilla Decontextualization and King of Pop Michael Jackson – by Aberjhani

Image frame from the video-poem

                       Image frame from the video-poem Notes for an Elegy in the Key of Michael.

“It’s very important to keep the historical context in mind as you contemplate the nature of love and service required in the 21st century.” –Cornel West, from Hope on a Tightrope


To what extent might the phenomenal entertainer and humanitarian Michael Joseph Jackson have been the target of an extended guerrilla decontextualization campaign throughout the second half of his life?

Hardcore devotees to Jackson’s music and altruistic humanitarian vision would say there can be no question that he was targeted in such a manner. Hardcore doubters might say maybe he was the one doing the guerrilla decontextualizing through the evolving manipulations of his public profile as a performance artist. They point to his chameleon-like shift from a distinctly afrocentric appearance in one decade to androgynously multi-ethnic in the next, and in his final years to an almost ethereal projection––a figure solidly in the world but somehow already afloat beyond it.

The answer to the question of who was guerrilla decontextualizing whom might be answered with a simple comparison. Examine the size of the newspaper headline fonts, the amount of space allotted in magazines, and the time made available on radio and television stations to coverage of Jackson when allegations of sexual abuse were leveled against him during the 1990s and later in 2005.  Then compare those same elements––headlines, etc.–– to those utilized when it came to reports that debunked, disproved, or presented confessions of outright perjury where those same allegations were concerned. The first dominated the media to a nearly overwhelming extent while the latter remains almost non-existent.

Or try this: perform an experiment by looking at some of the more sensational media footage on Jackson with the volume turned down to mute. A particularly interesting specimen for this experiment would be the infamous “OMG-he’s-dangling-the-baby-from-the-balcony” incident. The word “dangle,” as defined in various editions of Webster’s Dictionary, means “to hold loosely and swaying.” Turn the volume down when watching the news clip of Jackson with his youngest on a balcony and you do not see a man holding his child in a loose manner.  While the choice to hold the infant on the balcony before the gawking crowd below probably was not the best parenting decision he ever made, it is clear that he had a very firm grip on his son. The idea that he did not comes from a mind other than one’s own. It also came from the media trend, well established at the time, of prepping reading and viewing and listening audiences to expect weirdness from Michael Jackson. In short, people saw and heard what they were told to see and hear.    

For the full article by Aberjhani please click the link:

Guerrilla Decontextualization and King of Pop Michael Jackson – Welcome to Creative Thinkers International.

Report on 2011 International Year Part 6: International Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination

Crowd in Sharpeville, South Africa, commemorate those who died in the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960. 

Crowd in Sharpeville, South Africa, commemorate those who died in the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960.

Monday, March 21, 2011, will mark the 45th anniversary of the United Nations’ (UN) observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In observance of the day, the UN has previously hosted such events as webcasts that address ways people can help end racism and encouraged the composition of essays, photo projects, and the publication of articles that promote the issue.

The observance of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is somewhat different this year, however, because the UN has declared 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent. In a public statement issued by UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon regarding the event, he said:

“This year, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is devoted to combating discrimination faced by people of African descent. This focus reflects the United Nations General Assembly’s proclamation of 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent.”

In modern societies composed of many ethnic groups, such as Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Jews in the United States, to some it might seem odd to place such a singular emphasis on people of African descent. Ki-moon cited the following reason for this specific focus at this time:

“The discrimination faced by people of African descent is pernicious. Often, they are trapped in poverty in large part because of bigotry, only to see poverty used as a pretext for further exclusion. Often, they lack access to education because of prejudice, only to have inadequate education cited as a reason to deny them jobs. These and other fundamental wrongs have a long and terrible history…”

Remembering the Sharpeville Massacre

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination began as a commemoration of the Sharpeville Massacre that took place in South Africa, March 21, 1960. On that day, police shot and killed some 69 people involved in a peaceful protest against the apartheid “pass laws” in the country. Six years later, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the day as a UN Day of observance to continue the struggle against racism and to honor the lives of those killed.

To read more please click this link:

by Aberjhani

Continue the discussion on

Hillary Clinton Gives 2011 International Year for People of African Descent a Needed Boost

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

There’s no question that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s hands  are more than full these days with the war in Afghanistan, military tension between the two Koreas, relationship-building with China, and of course the revolution in Egypt. Nevertheless: Secretary Clinton took time out of her demanding schedule earlier this week to post a video message in support of the 2011 International Year for People of African Descent and Black History Month celebrations.

In her message, Clinton described this milestone event as “an opportunity for all of us around the globe to celebrate the diversity of our societies and to honor the contributions that our fellow citizens of African descent make every day to the economic, social and political fabrics of our communities.”

As it apparently did many others, the United Nations and the Organization of American States’ Resolution 64/169 proclaiming the year 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent caught me by surprise. Though in all fairness to the U.N. and Organization of the American States, they actually announced plans to observe 2011 in this manner all of two years ago.

So what happened? Or possibly more importantly, what is happening?

For more, please click this link:

by Aberjhani


By Aberjhani: Report on 2011 International Year Part 3, In the Land of Afro-Germans

Photo of actress and sociologist Nkechi Madubuko by Bodo Ganswindt.

With the
International Year for People of African Descent getting underway in January and Black History Month 2011 launching this week, Afro-descendants throughout the Global Village are assessing, celebrating, and documenting their experiences in diverse communities. Along those lines, various groups such as the Initiative of Black People in Germany have promoted Black History Month in February since the early 1990s.

German periodicals like Der Spiegle and Zeit have featured articles exploring the usefulness or futility of identifying oneself as an Afro-descendant in Germany. Popular German hip hop acts along the lines of Brothers Keepers and Advanced Chemistry have noted that the distinction is a politically important one because black people within the country experience hardships stemming directly from prejudice based on the color of their skin.

Please click this link to continue reading:

Report on 2011 International Year part 3: In the land of Afro-Germans – National African-American Art |