Wednesday, 15 November 2017

An idiots guide to why Golliwogs are Offensive!.




Despite Golliwogs being an interesting character, Florence Kate Upon created the character around 1894, the climate was not good for blacks at that time, to give you a brief idea of what life was like for Black American's at that time in history, One hundred and thirty-four black Americans are known to have been lynched in the year of 1894 and then Enid Blyton used the character in her books as Kate never patented the character, leaving it open for anyone to use.

Blyton used it to enforce negative stereotypes of blacks as stupid, untrustworthy or rude. Blyton was a woman of her time and a vile obnoxious racist at that, in-keeping with the times. Today that very same racism keeps her popular as you hardly ever hear her works spoken about without the racist question being raised at the same time, just as sex sells so does racism and she knew that all too well.

The Three Golliwogs published in 1944 perfectly illustrates historical context of the Golliwog dolls.

'Once the three bold Golliwogs, Golly, Woggie, and Nigger, decided to go for a walk to Bumble-Bee Common. Golly wasn't quite ready so Woggie and Nigger said they would start off without him, and Golly would catch them up as soon as he could. So off went Woggie and Nigger, arm-in-arm, singing merrily their favourite song - which, as you may guess, was 'Ten Little Nigger Boys.'

'Little Black Sambo books are another example of this period and Ten Little Niggers referred to above is the name of a children's poem which celebrates the murder of ten Black children.

Ten little nigger boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self, and then there were nine.

Nine little nigger boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself, and then there were eight.

Eight little nigger boys traveling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there, and then there were seven.

Seven little nigger boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in half, and then there were six.

Six little nigger boys playing with a hive;
A bumble-bee stung one, and then there were five.

Five little nigger boys going in for law;
One got in chancery, and then there were four.

Four little nigger boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one, and then there were three.

Three little nigger boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one, and then there were two.

Two little nigger boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up, and then there was one.

One little nigger boy living all alone;
He got married, and then there were none.

  
The climate of the time and the attitudes towards blacks was far from all fluffy and cute as some people like to proclaim and there was far more sinister forces at work perpetuating racists attitudes and normalising those abhorrent racist views that sadly still exist today as we can see quite regularly.

Golden Shred saw how popular Golliwogs were in 1910, again a very bad time in history for Blacks. On 19th December 1910, the City Council of Baltimore approved the first city ordinance designating the boundaries of black and white neighbourhoods. This ordinance was followed by similar ones in Dallas, Texas, Greensboro, North Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky, Norfolk, Virginia, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Richmond, Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia, and St. Louis, Missouri. 

Golden Shred took up the character on their Jam, giving away badges if you collected a certain amount of tokens, again just as Blyton knew, racism sells and this could be nothing but a win win for Golden Shred that proved to be correct.

In the 1960s the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, one of the most noted regiments in the British Army, wore a Robertson's golly brooch for each Arab they had killed. After the war, wog became a more general slur against brown-skinned people. There can be no doubt that these dolls represent racism at its worse the forced indoctrination of young children into racist stereotyping

These Golliwogs became unacceptable to many and Golden Shred were forced in 2001 or 2008 (not sure on the date) to stop producing the golly due to its history and changing social climates.

Most whites are ignorant to its history and the history of the oppression that blacks faced and will vehemently claim the Golliwog is not racist and just an innocent cute character, history tells a different story but none the less they are highly collectible mostly by whites in defiance of the racist claims, but for people like me interested in history, the Golliwog does have a historical value as a good  example of the oppression blacks faced and the mechanisms on how racism works.

The Golden Shred company dissolved in 2013 so are even more collectible now, being a 150 year old company makes it desirable for a serious collector of Golden Shred Memorabilia. However, Facebook Posts of cartoon gollies with hundreds of racists comments below it are not worth very much on the collectors market and only serve to perpetuate the racist attitudes that was commonly found at the beginning of the century, subjecting me and people like me to brainless racists attitudes that are quite frankly outdated. 

A Golliwog is a disgusting White stereotype of an enslaved African that seeks to negate the greatest crime in human history and transform the misery of enslaved Africans into a cartoon figure of fun.

So if you post a Golly that I have to face on my time line then expect to be deleted.



I wrote a previous post entitled :-
'Why I will never discuss race and racism with white people again!'. at the end of that post there is a video by Akala and I will again leave it here below.


 

Friday, 10 November 2017

Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Remembrance Day




We are currently learning about diaries and how to write a journal so I purchased the book The Diary of a Wimpy Kid recently and luckily for us it has coincided with the Into Film Festival, were a load of school kids get to go to the pictures and watch a few films for free, including home educated children.

We have booked onto a number of films over the coming weeks but this week we got to watch The Diary Of a Wimpy Kid - The Long Haul. What a funny film, the kids loved it and of course another hit as Oliver picked up the book as soon as we got home and we have some resources to work through next week to compliment the film.

Before we went home we decided to pop in to the Imperial War Museum to pay our respects as it is Remembrance Day Tomorrow 11th November and they also have the Wyndham Lewis: Life, Art, War display at the moment which I thought would be good to go and see and I certainly was not wrong.

His last major painting 'A Canadian War Factory' which was unfinished is my favourite painting, there is something about this painting that I love.


It comes across as a sad painting by one that has seen his best days gone by, it epitomises Lewis's demise for me, the unfinished nature invokes an emotion in me based in pity. Lewis was not without controversy in his life which Richard Slocombe, Art Curator, IWM (Imperial War Museums) writes about here

We ended the day with a trip to one of my clients to pick up paperwork and another client to pick up some items to sell on their behalf and then a quick dash to get ready for Badgers, which should be fun tonight as they are starting on their Xmas sculpture.


Suicide Prevention, if only I could!..


One of the worst things to happen to me in my life is loosing someone close to suicide.

It is the one thing in my life that I cannot come to terms with, the pain never gets any easier and the guilt always overshadows me in the background of my life.

That feeling of  'if only I could have done something differently, said something differently or even said something I didn't say that I should have said..

I knew the person in question was struggling to a degree, I just did not know the deep depth of that despair.

In my heart I feel like I abandoned him in his hour of need, this person brought light into my life and I should have brought light into his.

He made my life worth living at times when I felt there was nothing to live for, he was the kind of person who was there for everyone when they needed him, he was the life and soul of any party.

I knew he had financial problems, he spoke to me about them briefly, he had been made redundant from his job that he loved but it didn't take long for him to find another job, he was a talented Gas Engineer, he loved his work and took great pride in what he did.

My heart to this day breaks and I cannot seem to put the pieces back together again, I miss him every day and despite a decade passing by I still feel like I lost him yesterday.

Sometimes I will just sit and cry for hours with the sadness of the life that he never had, the grandson that he never got to play with. He would be so proud of his daughter, she is a beautiful strong young woman and a fabulous mother to her son, he would have loved life, if only he could have seen beyond the dark days that obviously haunted him behind that smile and those witty comments that he gave everyone.

I miss his tacky huge chain he used to wear and the way he used to douse himself in aftershave which made you choke with the fumes because he put that much on, I miss his wit and crudeness, I miss his clumsy but caring warm nature, he made me laugh with his jokey ways and silly antics, he was a special person and no one has come close to filling that gaping gap that he has left me with.

He has left me with a wound that will never heal and I wish every day that I could have done something differently so that he would still be here today to give me one of those amazing warm hugs of his, I have never met anyone that can hug like he could, he made me feel so warm and safe in those bug clumsy arms of his.

My heart is broken and I will never put those pieces back together again, I miss him so badly, life has never been the same since he went away.





Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Celts

Today we got into a conversation about the Celts.

We talked about the Scottish and Irish Celts Language and took a look at a Youtube videos and attempted to learn a few phrases and understand what the language is about.





We then started to look more into who teh Celts where and how they came to be in Britain.

We watched a great youtube video that comes in multiple episodes created by the BBC


We will dip in and out of this series to learn more about the Celts over the coming months.

We talked about DNA again which we have done a number of times over the past few months and discussed the Irish Symbols, we also talked about the Irish Celtic language and how it has a distinct religious feel so we discussed the importance that religion played on everyday life and how it influenced things like language, this is an interesting point toward our infrastructure project.

Oliver talked about his desire to go to an archaeology site and get his hands dirty in an archaeology dig, we have been to Archaeology sites before at Roman Lakes in Marple and we even camped on one but he doesn't remember and was quite upset that he stayed camping on a burial mound and did not remember so I think it is something we will revisit next year when the weather improves.

We looked at the map and talked a bit about Europe and the West Coastal Areas of Britain and will do some more work on that when we look more at the Celt Videos.

We all really enjoyed today covering old and new ground throwing in some Greeks and Romans and familiar things like Stone Henge, DNA and Archeology.







Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Fiddlers Ferry Power Station





What a fabulous place Fiddlers Ferry is. We really enjoyed this trip, it was fascinating finding out how the coal powered plant runs, we had a tour round the place and visited some control rooms that looked like something out of a Star Trek movie.

Gemma the tour guide and tutor for the day was fabulous, she had a great rapport with both the kids and the parents.

It will be great to visit with some other power plants such as the nuclear power plant and Hydro power plant so that we can compare them.

It was fabulous to visit Fiddlers Ferry as it wont be there for much longer and will be closing in the next few years, approximate date of closure is 2025 but it may close sooner so it was a bit of a treat to be able to go here and experience a coal powered power plant.

The kids learnt how the plant works and how electricity is produced by the coal powered plant, they learnt how coal was produced and the different qualities of coal, how people lived before electricity and how they live now and what has changed, the magnets and inventors and significant scientists and discoveries of electricity.

The packed so much in it is hard to remember everything.






Here are the twins pictures they drew of their day at Fiddlers Ferry:-






Friday, 3 November 2017

Halloween howlers!

We went along to Muncaster Castle for Halloween as we did last year. We ended up setting off later than we intended because I had to work in the morning as the end of the month is the only time I can get my buying in for the month, I had to rush round so that we could get away to Muncaster so I did not do half as much as what I normally do on my buying trips, we ended up setting off on time but it was a bit nerve wrecking going over to the Lake District in the car as it isn't too clever at the moment, it's making all sorts of unusual sounds and is screaming out for a service.

We had an amazing time as we usually do there and it is always nice catching up with friends.

There are fire eaters, juggling clowns, stories in the graveyard, ghostly apparitions in the gardens, creepy mazes, potion workshops, Owl displays, great food and more.





I would definitely recommend anyone to go to Muncaster Castle at Halloween, it is an experience the kids will never forget.

And we did not break down which was a bonus!..

A few days later we had Oldham Bonfire show with fireworks, the kids had fun on the rides and ate cheeseburgers and surprisingly it wasn't that cold, thank goodness as both Oliver and I are suffering a bit with being a bit chesty and feeling urgh, the winter lurgy has struck...

For the rest of the week we will be completing our evolution display books, working on some maths and english on IXL maths and then to end the week with Storyfest and acclaimed storyteller Richard O'Neill at the local library.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Book Signings and discovery!.

It has been a busy week this week, I have been hitting work with some vigour as we are hitting silly season for sales and deadlines for Tax Returns and in between we have been working hard on our maths and English.

We popped into the archive centre to ask a few questions to start off our 'discovering history for ourselves' escapades that we are about to embark on were we will be researching lots of different infrastructure things in Oldham such as the mining history, hospitals and the cotton mills.

We attended a lovely little play called Prince Fire, a Diwali  Story by Forest Tribe Dance Theatre.at Oldham Library, yet again a fabulous production.

We also attended a couple of book signings, the first was  at Browns Cakes in Rochdale, the owner of the award winning cake shop, Natasha Brown has written a children's book called Caught Cake Handed. The wonderful thing about the book is that all the illustrations in the book are the sugar paste figures that Natasha created herself. Her talent is awe inspiring but not as inspiring as the kids who all made their own sugar paste heads during the session which they took delight in eating when they got home.



The second Book signing we attended was Guy Bass with his Spynosaur. Guy is a natural born story teller, he had the whole audience laughing from the get go. Oliver assisted in Guys storytelling and transformed into the Spynosaur to the audiences delight, clad with his dinosaur mask, claws and tail he played the perfect part of the Spynosaur to accompany Guy's story telling extravaganza.

https://www.guybass.com/stuff

Click on the link above to take you to Guy's website were the kids can take part.

Our book of the week will now be Guy Bass and his Spynosaur adventures, we can't wait to get stuck in.


Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Universal Credit Puzzle




This switch from Tax Credits to Universal Credit shines a light on the incompetence of our UK Government and their attitude to one size fits all approach.

They have an attitude that seems to shine a light on the fact that they hate their own people and view us all with the same contempt.

Some of us have battled on and worked very hard over the years but it appears the Government do not like that and wish to punish us and force us further onto relying on tax payers funding of benefits due to our incompetence to work even harder.

I have run a business for the past 20 years with the help and safety net of Tax Credits, plodding along trying to grow and weave my way through the complexities of life as a single parent, I have employed people and rented out property and housed people all with the help and support of tax Credits, I have been able to grow as a person and stay off the dole, while helping others in the process.

I have worked hard, very hard but it seems that the savings I currently make the Government of £14,000 per year to educate my two by home educating and the further approximation of £5400 per year by me paying a mortgage instead of private rent and in addition the approximate £11,000 worth of childcare I save them in the percentage they pay towards childcare that I save by working my work hours around the kids at home instead of putting them in childcare to work, which works out to approximately £30,000 saving I make this Government each year,  is clearly not enough, they now want to take a further £1000 from my pocket by switching me to Universal Credit.

The consequences of Universal Credit being that I will loose that £1000 per year until my two reach 13 and then we will loose double that amount, so clearly my mortgage payments will not be met and I will be forced to either sell the house and move into rented, keeping my business going as it is, but that means I will have to then claim housing benefit to help afford private rent thus taking a further approximation of £5400 per year in housing benefits payments or alternatively give up my self employment and look for  employment to fit around the kids, probably paying minimum wage which will mean I will still need to claim housing benefit but also costing the government that extra money, as my twins will be forced into an inadequate school system so that £14,000 per year saving will be lost to the Government, so I will be costing them an extra £20,000 per year under the new system as opposed to the Tax Credit system, it will also further push me into poverty as I will now have ridiculously high school expenses to pay for and work expenses to pay for, eating up my minimum wage pay packet, leaving us less for food, not to mention the childcare that the government will have to pay a percentage for with the Child Care element and the rest paid for by myself,  so that is a further couple of thousand per year the Government will have to find and I will loose.

While currently we 'just' manage on what I earn and the top up of Tax Credits and my cost to the Government is minimal, the switch to Universal Credit will make me more of a burden to this Government than I ever have been in my entire adult life, so while I commend the Governments attempt at pushing people to earn more, it will dismally fail, destroy lives and cost the Taxpayer an extra £30,000 per year in my case!...

This post doesn't even cover the devastation that will be caused by the minimum income floor which under Tax Credits is worked out on a yearly basis, many businesses have fluctuations in their earnings from month to month but under Universal credit of course it damn well makes sure you loose out even more and makes sure you jump through hoops every month in reporting earnings, so the above scenario for us having to move home and go into rented will be far worse and will be the tip of the ice-burgh of the problems and stress we are to face when you factor in the minimum income floor as well, it certainly does not look good for the self employed and will have a devastating effect on encouraging new business to flourish as they wont even get a chance to start, so not only will the Universal Credit cost the taxpayer more money and push me and others further into poverty, it will also stifle new business from even attempting to start up and grow.

Which bright spark thought up that system then?... 

By the way it is not the first time that stupid Government policies have interfered with my life, by making any hard work I put in irrelevant, I had a home repossessed because Government decided to pass housing benefits onto tenants instead of landlords, meaning my tenant decided to spend the money on a couple of holiday's instead of the rent it was intended for, culminating in me loosing the house by government refusal to pay me direct.

I am sure the Government will not stop at Universal Credits, they will find further way's to demoralise and destroy its hard working striving people enough to ensure we all behave in a comatose way and become obedient citizens to its every whim and aim of making the fat cats fatter, because despite all our efforts this Government is intent on squashing us low life poor people!..



Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Black History Month - British Gospel Music



 
British black gospel refers to Gospel music of the African diaspora.

 Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century,[1] with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella.[2] The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby.[3] Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.
  
18th century
Perhaps the most famous gospel-based hymns were composed in the 1760s-1770s by English writers John Newton ("Amazing Grace") and Augustus Toplady ("Rock of Ages"), members of the Anglican Church. Starting out as lyrics only, it took decades for standardized tunes to be added to them. Although not directly connected with African-American gospel music, they were adopted by African-Americans as well as white Americans, and Newton's connection with the abolition movement provided cross-fertilization.



American Gospel strongly influenced the British Gospel Scene with people like Mahelia Jackson and Thomas Dorsey

Listen here to Roy Francis joining the dots on exactly how Gospel music gained prominence in the UK. With over 30 years’ experience within television broadcasting, music and production industry, former producer of BBC’s ‘Songs of Praise’ and ground-breaking gospel music series ‘People Get Ready’ shown on Channel 4 in the 1980s.

Gospel Music although a subgenre of black music in the UK today arrived in England in the early post-war years, along with the large-scale immigrant influx and their wide variety of musical tastes. Pioneers in this field include an eight-piece a cappella family group from Trinidad called the Singing Stewarts - 



Oscar Stewart, Ashmore Stewart, Frankie Stewart, Phylis Stewart, Gloria Stewart, Timothy Stewart, Thedore Stewart and Del Stewart - who were the first to appear on a major British record label in the late 1960s. They impressed many English audiences with their unique interpretation of Negro Spirituals and traditional Gospel songs. Based in Birmingham in the Midlands they appeared on numerous radio shows and participated in the prestigious Edinburgh Festival, again increasing awareness of this genre.

In later years and decades when black people began to settle in the UK, groups such as The Doyleys, Paradise, Lavine Hudson and the Bazil Meade-inspired London Community Gospel Choir began to drive the music much further towards the mainstream and out of the comfort zone of the black churches.

The Singing Stewarts are featured in the book British Black Gospel: The Foundations of this vibrant UK sound by Steve Alexander Smith. Huddersfield-born Smith was inspired to write the book after spending time in the USA in the mid 1990s and witnessing the best that Black Gospel could offer.

The book is the world's first to cover the underground British Black gospel scene and is published with a 13-track CD.

Black History Month - British Black Majority Churches



The first Black Majority Church in Europe was Founded in London. This was Sumner Road Chapel founded by Rev Thomas Kwame Brem-Wilson in Peckham in 1906. Rev Brem-Wilson, a business man and school master was born into a wealthy family in Dixcove, Ghana around 1855. He immigrated to Britain in 1901 and founded Sumner Road Chapel known today as Sureway International Christian Ministries in Herne Hill South East London. Rev Brem-Wilson’s Church was an African Pentecostal Church and he was also involved with the origins of the Pentecostal movement in Britain. This was because he was friends with the likes of Alexander Boddy (the Anglican priest that is recognised as the father of British Pentecostalism), Cecil Polhill (one of the pioneers of Pentecostal missionary movement in Britain), D.P. Williams and W.J. Williams (founders of the Apostolic Church in Britain).

The next phase of the history of BMCs in London was the founding of the League of Coloured Peoples’ started by Dr Harold Moody. Although this was not a Church but it functioned as a Para-Church agency that catered for the needs of Black people then. Harold Moody was born in Jamaica in 1882 and he came to London in 1908 to pursue a career in medicine. He studied at Kings College Hospital in London and qualified as a medical Doctor. Frustrated at the lack of opportunity to practice medicine, he turned his attention to the medical needs of Black people in Peckham. To this end, being convinced by his faith, he started the League of Coloured People on 13th of March 1931 at the central YMCA, Tottenham Court Road.

The 1940s and 1950s saw the influx of Caribbean families into the UK due to the invitation of the British government asking them to come and help build the country after the devastations of Second World War. This led to the formation of Caribbean Pentecostal and Holiness Churches. The first of the Caribbean Pentecostal Churches founded in the UK was Calvary Church of God in Christ which started in London in 1948. Others soon followed such as the New Testament Church of God (1953), Church of God of Prophecy (1953), Wesleyan Holiness Church (1958) and New Testament Assembly (1961) to mention a few. The first New Testament Church of God in London was founded in the Hammersmith area in 1959. It was also during the 1950s that the renowned late Guyanese missionary, Phillip Mohabir came as a missionary to Britain. Phillip came in 1956 and started an itinerant ministry in Brixton which included preaching in shops, pubs, on the buses and from house to house. He also planted Churches in London and outside London. He later pioneered the founding of West Indian Evangelical Alliance (WIEA) in 1984. WIEA was later known as The African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance (ACEA) which is now defunct.

The independence of African countries from around 1957 onwards led to African diplomats, students, tourist coming to Britain. When they discovered like the Caribbeans before them that they were rejected by the British Churches and society at large, this led to the founding of African Instituted Churches (AICs) in London. The first of such Churches to be planted was the Church of the Lord (Aladura) planted in 1964 by the late Apostle Adejobi in South London. This Church has its headquarters (HQ hereafter) in Nigeria. Others soon followed such as the Cherubim and Seraphim Church in 1965 (HQ in Nigeria), the Celestial Church of Christ in 1967 (HQ also in Nigeria), Aladura International Church founded by Rev. Father Olu Abiola in 1970. Others include Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) Mount Bethel founded by Apostle Ayo Omideyi in 1974 (HQ in Lagos Nigeria), and Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) of Great Britain in 1976 (HQ in Ibadan Nigeria). The first of the Ghanaian Churches to arrive in England was the Musama Disco Christo Church (MDCC) in London in 1980.

Finally, from around the 1980s and 1990s, there emerged a new type of African Churches, Newer Pentecostal Churches (NPCs). It is the explosive growth of these Churches particularly in the 1990s that has drawn the attention of scholars and currently the media to BMCs. Some of these Churches are Deeper Life Bible Church founded in London in 1985, New Covenant Church, founded in London in 1985/86, The Church of Pentecost founded in London in 1988, The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) founded in London in 1988, Trinity Baptist Church founded in South Norwood in 1988, Christ Faith Tabernacle founded in Deptford, London in 1989, Christian Victory Group founded in London in 1991, Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) founded in London in 1992 and many others. Newer generation of Caribbean Pentecostal Churches also started in the 1990s such as Ruach Ministries founded in London in 1994, Christian Life City founded in 1996 in London, Micah Christian Ministries founded in New Cross in 1998 and many more. It is now difficult to estimate the number of BMCs in London as there many not registered as Charities or known. In addition, the problem of using the building of established Churches or using the pastor’s front room also makes it difficult. This means researching into their history could be problematic. On the other hand some of the BMCs like to be known therefore they are making their history available through their websites and other printed media. In addition oral history in the form of testimonies plays a vital role in telling their stories.


See next post for the history of British Gospel Music.



Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Infrastructure Project




It has been a bit of a mixed bag day today, we started off doing some maths and then started talking about Hospitals as part of our UK infrastructure project.

As we are planning to do some searching in the local archives for some evidence of Black History in Oldham which should be quite a lot as Oldham had the most Cotton Mills in the UK, we thought it would be a good idea to combine this with our Infrastructure Project and look to find evidence of Black People working or patrons of the Local Oldham Hospitals and do some research about the hospitals in Oldham, so mixing the two projects together makes for an interesting topic. We have found the telephone number of the local archives and will be phoning to make an appointment to go down and have a look and see what we can find.

We watched a documentary video and talked about Florence Nightingale and contrasted this with Mary Seacole and looked at the connections Nightingale had with Politicians who were instrumental in Nightingales conquest to change the face of nursing.


Whilst looking at the history of Hospitals we found that the Earliest documented institutions are of Hospitals in Egyptian Temples
.
Whilst we were looking at the map I mentioned that we could drive from UK right over to the African Continent and his lead onto a conversation about the Channel Tunnel so we spent some time looking at how the Channel Tunnel was created as a collaboration between the French and English, we watched a documentary video about the construction and how it is viewed as one of the 7 wonders of the world and discussed some of the jobs people did working on the tunnel and the problems they faced and solutions they came up with.



Whilst wrapping up the days fun we discussed the common denominator that Mary Seacole, Florence Nightingale and the Channel Tunnel have and that is they were solutions to human problems, hence why they are all viewed in such high esteem.

Our infrastructure wall art is coming along nicely and this is what they will be working on for the rest of the week along with some short free form text about what we have been learning.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Black History Month - Black Hair




The British afro Hair Care industry is worth approximately 4.2 billion today, there are 27 British Black Owned Hair Care Brands currently in the UK.

Hair care for blacks over the years for me has been a difficult topic, as a child I had no idea how to look after my hair and spent much of my childhood with a short back and sides or an afro, the only place I could buy black hair products was the Arndale in Manchester and during my late teens spent a lot of time relaxing my hair.

On moving to Hereford I found buying black hair care products extremely difficult and could only buy my hair care products from Gloucester 30 miles away or having a trip to Birmingham, I soon learned that braiding my hair was a better option.


For many years my hair remained braided until I moved back to Manchester where access to black hair care products was much easier and eventually the internet revolution made buying black hair care products as easy as a quick click of a mouse and the range of products overwhelming.

For the past 15 years I have been natural, choosing to stay away form all chemical processes and braiding and just wearing my hair as it comes and felt very comfortable in doing so, as my identity as a black woman has evolved, so has my confidence in having my natural born hair on display.


The history of Black Hair is a contentious issue for blacks and there is a movement called 'Natural Hair Movement', The natural hair movement is focused on encouraging women with African ancestry to celebrate and enjoy the natural characteristics of their kinky, curly, hair texture. 

In the 20th century, hair for Africans represented an individual’s age, ethnicity, religion, social rank and status. Hair was taken groomed for those who understood social standards and implications within the community, as it was significant. 

Going into the African diaspora, Afro hair was usually dressed according to the local culture. For example in the 1960s, the Afro hair was represented as a political statement, it became a symbol for the Black movement  in America and UK. The Afro represented Black power and integration in American and UK political systems. Black women had many Eurocentric features and hairstyles and during the movement the black communities created their own standard of beauty. Hair then became their main icon which was a way of challenging white-dominated mainstream media. During these times Afro hair was distinguishable and an expression of Black pride, thus not supporting societal norms.
  
Kathleen Cleaver of the Black Panthers explains here:-



More can be read about the Black Hair Movement of the 60's here.

To understand this train of thought you have to go back further in history, as I stated further up in this essay, in the 20th Century hair for Africans represented many things amongst them social rank and status so hair was an important part of an Africans identity.

In the 18th Century, British colonists deemed African hair as closer to sheep wool than human hair, setting the precedent that white hair is preferable — or good, a racially charged notion in and of itself. After the emancipation of slavery, many black Americans sought to straighten their hair to fit in. Madame C.J. Walker, the first black female millionaire, made her fortune selling products meant to straighten black hair as a way to help black women get ahead in society by fitting in aesthetically. 

Even today the hatred of black hair goes beyond ignorant comments. In fact, embracing natural hair can lead some women and men to lose their jobs or face punishment at school. In March 2014, the U.S. Army issued a new policy that banned traditional black hairstyles, including cornrows, twists and dreadlocks. The regulations even described these styles “unkempt” and “matted.” After months of backlash and a letter from the Congressional Black Caucus, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reviewed and subsequently rolled back the policy.

This is not confined to USA but also here in UK even recently as September of 2017 (this year) a boy was sent home from school for having Dreadlocks (see here) in January 2017 a woman was reported to have been told she could not have a job in Harrods if her hair was not straightened (see here)
White's have mandated appearance codes for blacks dictating how Black women should wear their for a very long time, the earliest, South Carolina's Negro Act of 1735, specifically set a standard of dress for the enslaved and free African Americans" (ibid. 132). In 1740 amendments, South Carolina's slave code further elaborated the dress regulations (Genovese, 1974:359). In 1786, while Louisiana was a Spanish colony, the governor enacted a dress code which forbade: females of colour to wear plumes or jewelry; this law specifically required their hair bound in a kerchief (Crete, 1981: 80-81; also Gayarre, 1885: 178-179 and Wares, 1981:135). (More info here) 

The Tignon Law

This headdress was the result of sumptuary laws passed in 1786 under the administration of Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró. Called the tignon laws, they prescribed and enforced appropriate public dress for female gens de couleur in colonial society. At this time in Louisiana history, women of African descent vied with white women in beauty, dress and manners. One of their most standout physical attributes that separated them from their white female counterparts was their hair. Women of African descent would often adorn their hair with colorful jewelry, beads and other accents, demonstrating an exotic appearance which attracted the attention of white male suitors. Many of them had become the girlfriends and placées (openly kept mistresses) of white, French, and Spanish Creole men. This perceived threat to white women's relationships with French and Spanish Creole men incurred the jealousy and anger of their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and fiancées. (Wikipedia)


This internalized negative images carried through black generations created from involuntary lives in a white supremacist culture. Some of these codes were so specific that they targeted the types of patterns and clothes that black people were able to wear, citing them as an effort to help newly freed blacks “fit in” with their new environment. All the while, the codes continued to limit the freedom of identity and cultural expression that had been stifled through enslavement.

Throughout the history of Africa, hair has played an important part of the cultures, there are over 2000 distinct ethno-linguistic groups in Africa, the diaspora may be far removed but hold their roots in this important tradition and I feel it is a beautiful thing that despite the oppression and the turbulent journeys these generations of Africans have been forced through down the ages hair is still plays an important if not political role today.

To finish please enjoy this beautiful website of Hair Styles in African Culture (Here)


Black History Month - Mathematicians


 


During this Black History Month we are currently working on our Maths Techniques so I thought it was apt to write a little about Black Mathematicians.

Whilst I am a stickler for keeping UK Black History Month focused on UK Black History, I will have to stray from this focus for this topic of Black Mathematicians as even though these Black Mathematicians may not have all been from the UK or spent time in the UK, they certainly paved the way for Black Mathematicians today in the UK.

Africa is the home to the Worlds earliest known use of Mathematics and Calculation. Africans were using numerals, algebra and geometry in daily life, this knowledge spread throughout the world after a series of migrations out of Africa beginning around 30,000 BC and later following a series of invasions of Africa by Europeans and Asians (1700-BC- present).

The oldest Mathematical instrument is the Lebombo Bone, this is a baboon fibula used as a measuring device and named after it's location of discovery the Labombo Mountains of Swaziland. The device dates back 35,000 years, judging by its distinct markings it could have been used to track menstrual or lunar cycles or merely just used as a measuring stick.



More can be found out about this early African Maths from The Ta Neter Foundation which brings to light the ancient and medieval History of Africans in Africa.

Whilst we do know that Africa is the birth place of Mathematics and we can pinpoint its origins,  not much is actually known about individual Black Mathematicians before the Greeks who developed maths like  Archimedes a Greek who is known as the greatest mathematician of all time, although it is known that the majority of Greek Mathematicians studied in Egypt.

In modern Mathematics there has been and are some notable Black mathematicians although there has been no Black Winner of  the Fields medal, the "Nobel prize of mathematics" which started in 1936 and non that could match the genius of Carl Friedrich Gauss 1777-1855.

Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806) is often recognized as the first African American mathematician; however, ex-slave Thomas Fuller's (1710-1790) and the Nigerian Muhammad ibn Muhammad's (16??-1741) activities predate Benjamin Banneker. None of these men had formal degrees.


Clifford Victor Johnson (born 5 March 1968 in London) is an English theoretical physicist and professor at the University of Southern California Department of Physics and Astronomy. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education listed Clifford Johnson as the most highly cited black professor of mathematics or a related field at an American university or college.

Katherine Adebola Okikiolu (born 1965) is a British mathematician is known for her work with elliptic differential operators as well as her work with inner-city children.

Elbert Frank Cox (December 5, 1895 – November 28, 1969) was an American mathematician who became the first black person in the world to receive a Ph.D. in Mathematics. 

Euphemia Lofton Haynes (1890 - 1980), 1st Black Female Mathematics PhD she faced three obstacles in becoming a PhD mathematician. She was female, she was Black and she was in her 50’s.

Ali Mostafa Mosharafa (1898-1950) The first African to earn a Ph.D. from the University of London in 1923 and 1924

David Blackwell  (1919-2010) At the age of 22, becomes the seventh african american to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics (University of Illinois). He may well be the greatest black Mathematician.
 
J. Ernest Wilkins (1923-2011) At age 19,  becomes the eight african american to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics (University of Chicago). He is certainly one of the greatest black Mathematicians.

Clarence Ellis (1943-2014) is the first African American to earn a Computer Science Ph.D

Abraham Manie Adelstein. (1916-1992) Mathematician, Scientist, Statistician, became became the United Kingdom's Chief Medical Statistician.

There are obviously many more but not as many as there should be to add to this list, especially British Black Mathematicians of which the reasons are discussed in the book Beyond Banneker by Erica Walker.