Sunday, 29 May 2011

Meaning of Obama's Victory to the Afro-Americans!

A new study by two US researchers, American whites believe they are now more discriminated against because of their race than their Afro-American fellow citizens. The new study, entitled "Whites See Racism as a Zero-sum Game that They Are Now Losing", reveals surprising results.

Samuel Sommers, a professor of psychology at Tufts University in Massachusetts, and Michael Norton of Harvard Business School performed the research on two groups of Americans. They asked a sample of 209 white people and 208 black people to rate how much each group was discriminated against on a scale of one to 10, starting from 1950 and ending at the start of the new millenium.

Both groups agreed that anti-black racism has significantly decreased during the past 60 years. Afro-Americans evaluated their discrimination at 9.7 in the 1950s and 6.1 after the year 2000. White people also recognized that racism against black people in the 1950s exceeded 9 points (precisely, 9.1) and ranked it currently at 3.6.

However, the experts noticed an enormous difference between black and white perceptions of discrimination of white people. According to the Afro-American group, such discrimination has risen only by four-tenths of a point during the past 60 years (from a ranking of 1.4 to 1.8). On the other hand, white people believe it has risen from 1.8 to 4.7.

"This is a completely surprising finding when you reflect that there are still great disparities in society due to which Afro-Americans are still much worse off," Professor Sommers told the UK paper The Independent, "including employment rates, health care access, real estate ownership, and wage levels." Sommers went on to say the findings indicate that white Americans simply view racism as a game in which one side will always win and the other will always lose - therefore, if racism against black people has been ameliorated, white Americans believe it must have increased against them.

It’s the little things that matter in life. The portrayal of blacks in media has to be addressed. Certain racial stereotypes must be done with. They no longer have a place in new America. For a long time, Blacks have been associated with lying, being prone to crime, irresponsible and good for nothings. Ever noticed that blacks in films are the first to die, in fact they assume inferior roles in films and are portrayed negatively.

Talking about stereotyping in films, I am reminded of my childhood favourite TV series ‘The A Team’. If you grew up in the 90’s you would probably remember how Mr. T. (weird hair-cut) was portrayed in the series. Ever noticed how he was meant to behave in a barbaric manner His other name BA Baracus was used to suggest so; (seems as if they wanted to say barbaric).He was scared to death to fly on an airplane that they had to dose him just before take –off. He was a man of few words and did most of the manual work- too eager to please the ‘master’ and could not think independently. He took orders from Hannibal Smith (the white guy who did most of the thinking). He was a big contrast of Hannibal Smith, who was the think tank; cool, smart, and intelligent. The film is reminiscent of the slave master relationship that existed during slavery.

One can not talk about American black history and the fight against racism without mentioning Martin Luther King’s famous speech, ‘I have a Dream’ delivered on August 28 1963.As a Civil Rights activist, Luther , through his powerful speech, which is still relevant in modern America, called for racial equality and an end to discrimination. According to Wikipedia, the speech was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century by a 1999 poll of scholars of public address.

As W.E. B DuBois states that the ‘problem of the 20th Century is the problem of the colour line’, Obama has to bear in mind that King’s ‘dreams’ are still alive today. King hoped for a just society with equal opportunities, a society where you are not judged by your race. He said ‘I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ That has to be fulfilled. Obama has a big role to play for his fellow Black brothers and sisters.

As I see it, Obama’s victory, at a metaphorical level represents the advancement of the black race; a victory over white supremacy and dominance .An affirmation that black is not inferior as the world was meant to believe for hundreds of years, to the extent that many have lost pride and confidence for being black.

In my home country, Zimbabwe we used to have the skin-lightening creams. It’s a pity that some of our black sisters are still using them to date; some even want to pass for white. As Ngugi clearly states we need to ‘decolonize our minds.” That’s true.

Obama’s victory on the other hand is a celebration of black beauty; what negritude writers have been advocating for: ‘black is beautiful’. I hope racism will be defeated. It is also my hope that, the legacy of slavery: discrimination, unequal economic opportunities, segregation, racial stereotypes will come to an end .Most importantly whatever change Obama advocates for, it must bring hope to the Afro-American- and must create a society where blacks and whites will be able to live together in harmony and ‘let the past bury itself’. It has to be a step towards freedom and true independence as well as racial harmony. Lastly, Obama’s administration must fight to eliminate racial problems as joblessness, lack of housing, police brutality, and poor educational facilities.

Sepp Blatter cleared, set to be re-elected president

Blatter is the only candidate in next week's presidential election following rival Mohamed bin Hammam's withdrawal from the race overnight.
Bin Hammam, the president of the Asian Football Confederation and Blatter, along with Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, will appear before the Fifa ethics committee later today. Bin Hammam and Warner face bribery allegations while Blatter is charged with knowing about alleged bribery.
But retiring executive committee member Beckenbauer told Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: "He (Blatter) did a wonderful job. It's not easy. Fifa is like the United Nations - we have 208 members.
"It's not an easy to handle, but I think Blatter and his staff are doing a wonderful job."
The German admitted, though, the allegations were very damaging for the game.

Sepp Blatter was cleared of any wrongdoing in soccer's bribery investigation on Sunday and is poised to be re-elected for a fourth term. Mohamed Bin Hammam, due to stand against Blatter until he withdrew from the presidential race in the early hours of Sunday warning, and CONCACAF president Jack Warner were provisionally suspended pending a further investigation. FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke confirmed that the election would go ahead on Wednesday with Blatter standing unopposed. "The committee concluded that the implicated officials must be temporarily excluded from active participation in football activies," ethics committee deputy chairman Petrus Damaseb told reporters. The allegations concerned a meeting of the Caribbean Football Union in May 10-11 in Port of Spain, attended by Warner and Bin Hammam and Caribbean soccer officials. "Some individuals alleged that money was paid as an inducement to support Mr Bin Hammam's candidacy, facilitated by Jack Warner," said Damaseb. Blatter was interrogated at Bin Hammam's request because he may have known about payments, FIFA said, but Damaseb said nothing wrong had been found.

Former International Olympic Committee vice-president Dick Pound helped clean up the organisation following the Salt Lake City scandal, when officials were allegedly bribed to give the 2002 Winter Olympics to the city.
And the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency feels national associations could leave Fifa and set up their own governing body.
"It may be if Fifa is not going to do the game any good, the game may have to do something to Fifa," he said.
"You could withdraw from Fifa, for example. You could say 'we're not satisfied that the organisation is being properly run and it's not a credit to the sport that we know and love and therefore let's have an alternative to Fifa'.
"That's one possibility - it has been done in other sports. They say 'we're the effective governing body of football now and not Fifa'."
Pound insists Fifa need to conduct a thorough investigation into the corruption claims if their reputation is to recover from the battering it has taken in recent weeks.
"There are so many allegations of corruption and foul play and so forth around the activities of Fifa itself and in some of its recent selections for its events," he said.
"If there's that much smoke there may be some fire and I should have thought that it's not good for Fifa's reputation nor for the reputation of anybody involved for these things to be flying around without somebody saying 'let's take a look at them and see if there is a problem and if there is a problem what do we do about it?.

Blatter replaced Joao Havelange as Fifa president in 1998, but has come under scrutiny in recent weeks. Fifa's ethics committee opened an investigation into the Swiss chief earlier this week because of his knowledge of an alleged bribery scandal, which also involves Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam and Concacaf supremo Jack Warner.

"He [Blatter] has done a wonderful job so far,” Beckenbauer was quoted as saying by Radio Five Live. “It's not easy. Fifa is like the United Nations - we have 208 members. It's not an easy job to handle, but I think Blatter and his staff are doing a wonderful job.”

He added: “The recent allegations were very damaging for the game, though. It's a disaster for football and I hope when June 1 comes and the election will be over, then all the discussion about corruption is finished and Fifa can go back to normal."

Blatter is the only candidate left for the Fifa presidential elections on June 1 following the withdrawal of Bin Hammam this weekend.

Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon is an ultramarathon of approximately 90 km (approx. 56 miles) run in the Kwazulu-Natal Province of South Africa between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. It is the world's largest and oldest ultramarathon race. The direction of the race alternates each year between the "up" run (87km) starting from Durban and the "down" run (89km) starting from Pietermaritzburg.

The Comrades was run for the first time on 24 May 1921 (Empire Day), and with the exception of a break during World War II, has been run every year since. The 2010 event was the 85th race. To date, over 300,000 runners have completed the race.
The race was the idea of World War I veteran Vic Clapham, to commemorate the South African soldiers killed during the war. Clapham, who had endured a 2,700-kilometre route march through sweltering German East Africa, wanted the memorial to be a unique test of the physical endurance of the entrants. The constitution of the race states that one of its primary aims is to "celebrate mankind's spirit over adversity".
From 1962 to 1994 the race was run on Republic Day, 31 May. After this public holiday was scrapped in 1995 by the post-apartheid South African government, the race date was changed to Youth Day on 16 June. In 2007, the race organisers (controversially) bowed to political pressure from the ANC Youth League, who felt that the race diverted attention from the significance of Youth Day, and changed the race date to Sunday 17 June for 2007 and 15 June for 2008. In 2009 and 2010 the date was changed (to 24 May and 30 May respectively) to accommodate football's Confederations Cup (2009) and World Cup (2010) in South Africa.

Athletes currently have 12 hours to complete the course, extended from 11 hours in 2003. There are a number of cut-off points along the routes which runners must reach by a prescribed time or be forced to retire from the race. A runner who has successfully completed nine marathons wears a yellow number, while those who have completed ten races wear a green number, permanently allocated to the runner for all future races.
Medals are awarded to all runners completing the course in under 12 hours. Medals are currently awarded as follows:
Gold medals: The first 10 men and women.
Wally Hayward medals (silver-centred circled by gold ring): 11th position to sub 6hrs 00min
Silver medals: 6hrs 00min 01sec to sub 7hrs 30min.
Bill Rowan medals (bronze-centred circled by silver ring): 7hrs 30min to sub 9hrs 00min.
Bronze medals: 9hrs 00min to sub 11hrs 00min.
Vic Clapham medals (copper): 11hrs 00min to sub 12hrs 00min.
Prior to 2000, only gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded. The Bill Rowan medal was introduced in 2000 and named after the winner of the first Comrades Marathon in 1921. The time limit for this medal was inspired by Rowan's winning time in 1921 of 8hrs 59min. A new copper medal, the Vic Clapham medal (named after the race founder), was added in 2003. This medal coincided with the increase in the time allocation for completing the event from sub 11hrs to sub 12hrs. The Wally Hayward medal, named after five-time winner Wally Hayward, was added in 2007 for runners finishing in under 6hrs.

Health issues
As with every ultramarathon, there are potentially health risks involved in extreme physical events. In the history of the Comrades, there have been 7 deaths up to the 2007 event.

The race is run on the roads of KwaZulu-Natal Province, marked by "The Big Five" set of hills. On the up run they appear in the following order: Cowies Hill, Field's Hill, Botha's Hill, Inchanga, and finally, Polly Shortts.

The Comrades had over 1,000 starters for the first time in 1971, with over 3,000 in 1979. The race was widely broadcast on both radio and television. The race was opened to all athletes for the first time in 1975, allowing blacks and women to take part officially. In 1975, the Golden Jubilee of the Comrades, Vincent Rakabele finished 20th to become the first black runner to officially win a medal. Elizabeth Cavanaugh became the first women's winner in a shade over 10 hours.
1976 saw the emergence of Alan Robb, who won the first of his four Comrades titles. Robb repeated his win in 1977, 1978 and 1980, including breaking the tape in Durban in 1978 in a record 5:29:14, almost 20 minutes and four kilometres ahead of runner-up Dave Wright.

During the 1980s the Comrades began with a field of 4,207 in 1980 and topped 5,000 for the first time in 1983.
In 1981, University of the Witwatersrand student Bruce Fordyce won the first of his eventual nine Comrades titles. An outspoken critic of apartheid, Fordyce and a number of other athletes initially decided to boycott the 1981 event when organisers announced that they would associate it with the 20th anniversary of the Republic of South Africa. Fordyce ultimately competed wearing a black armband to signal his protest. He repeated his victories in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 (a record 5:24:07 down run), 1987, 1988 (a record 5:27:42 for the up run), and 1990.
In 1989, Sam Tshabalala became the first black winner of the Comrades.
Schoolteacher Frith van der Merwe won the woman's race in 1988 in a time of 6:32:56. In 1989, Van der Merwe ran 5:54:43, obliterating the women's record and finishing fifteenth overall.
In the same year Wally Hayward entered the race at the age of 79 and finished in 9:44:15. He repeated the feat in the 1989 Comrades, where he completed the race with only two minutes to spare and at the age of 80 became the oldest man to complete the Comrades.

During the 1990s the size of the starting fields was in the region of 12,000 to 14,000 runners. In 1995 prize money was introduced for the first time, attracting more foreign competitors. The traditional race day of May 31, formerly Republic Day, was changed to June 16, the anniversary of the Soweto uprising.
However, it seemed to be controversy that would dog the race during the 1990's.
In 1992 Charl Mattheus crossed the finish line first, but was later disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance. He claimed it was in medicine he had taken for a sore throat, but Jetman Msutu was elevated to the winner, thus becoming the second black winner of the Comrades. In a sad twist for Mattheus, the substance for which he was banned was later removed from the IAAF's banned substance list since all evidence pointed to it having no performance enhancing properties. Mattheus also suffered much negativity in the public eye but later managed to redeem his clean image with an emphatic faultless win in the 1997 down run beating a strong local and international field.
A year later in 1993, Herman Mathee (who unfortunately bore a similar surname to Mattheus and was often publicly mistaken as the same person) finished amongst the top ten gold medal winners but was later stripped of his gold medal after video evidence found that he had caught a taxi along the route cutting out almost 40km of the 90km race. In a Comrades first, the 11th place finisher, Simon Williamson, was months later officially elevated to tenth place and awarded the last gold medal by then South African president FW de Klerk. In an ultimate reflection of Comrades spirit, Williamson on race day had passed another runner, Ephraim Sekothlong, in the last 100 metres to claim 11th spot and unknowingly a gold medal.
In 1999, the Motsoeneng brothers, who strongly resembled one another, performed a memorable act of cheating during the race. By exchanging places with his brother at toilet stops and aided by car lifts at various stages, Sergio Motsoeneng finished ninth. This came as a surprise to those behind him, who could not recall being overtaken by the Zimbabwean runner. The brothers were exposed when television footage revealed them to be wearing watches on different arms.

The 75th anniversary of the Comrades Marathon in 2000 was the largest ever staged, with a massive field of 23,961. An extra hour was allowed for bronze medal finishers to celebrate the milestone. Identical twin sisters Oelysa and Elena Nurgileva won a combined seven Comrades titles from 2003-2010, while two-time champion Stephen Muzhingi became the first non-South African winner from Africa in 2009. Russian runner Leonid Shvetsov set both down and up course records in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Comrades triple for Muzhingi

Defending champion Stephen Muzhingi was oozing confidence on the eve of the 86th Comrades Marathon, while his counterpart on the women's side, Elena Nurgalieva, was far more conservative in her predictions.

Muzhingi, who won the ‘down' run for the last two years, said he was confident of breaking the men‘s record for the ‘up' run between Durban and Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.

The Zimbabwean was “aiming for five hour and 24 minutes“, which would challenge the record of 5:24.49 set by Leonid Shvetsov of Russia in 2008.

“I don't put pressure on myself anymore and I'm going to run my own race,” Muzhingi said on Friday.

“It's a matter of dealing with distance and time, rather than people, and I'm not going to run anyone else's race.”

Nurgalieva, who has dominated the women's race in recent years, along with twin sister Olesya, said her sights were set on a sixth win, but she had no plans to chase her own course record (6:09.24) set in 2006.

“Every time I come to South Africa for the Comrades Marathon, I hope for victory, or even for position two, but I never think about the record,” said the Russian title holder.

“It depends on how fast the other girls run, the conditions on the day, and how well you slept the night before.

“There are a lot of things that must go right if we are to break the record.”

A new breed of foreign athletes were paraded in front of the media, but the South African contingent remained confident they could reclaim top honours in the gruelling 89km race.

Matshipa looked to be in control, but Muzhingi's experience showed and he stole clear with 14km remaining to win the 87km ultra-marathon in 5:32.45.

Muzhingi, who won the 'down' run the last two years, secured his maiden victory in the 'up' run to become the first athlete to win three titles in succession since Bruce Fordyce bagged his eighth straight win in 1988.

Matshipa, who was fifth last year, struggled over Polly Shortts, the last of the race's five big hills, but held on to cross the line in 5:34.29.

Another South African, Claude Moshiywa, who had faded to seventh last year after taking the early lead, ran a much wiser race to finish third in 5:42.05, holding off Jonas Buud of Sweden by 39 seconds.

The Nurgalieva twins took the lead from the start, and while Elena took a tumble 27km into the race, she recovered quickly to catch her sister and they gradually stretched the gap over South African Farwa Mentoor.

Elena broke away in the dying stages to win in 6:24.11 - the slowest winning time in the women's race since 1999 - and Olesya finished in second position, 14 seconds behind her sibling.

Mentoor, the first South African woman to finish, struggled in the last third of the race, and was passed by American Kami Semick and Ellie Greenwood of Great Britain, but held on to take fifth place in 6:35.49.

South African runners filled seven of the top 10 positions in the men's race, and four of the top 10 places in the women's category.

Gil Scott-Heron Had Sights on the Media

Gil Scott-Heron, dubbed the "godfather of rap" for his mix of poetry and music, died Friday in New York, his publicist at XL Recordings said. He was 62.
It was not immediately known what killed Scott-Heron, who was best known for the 1970 song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," a politically and socially charged song that examined the African American condition in America at the time. The song was banned by some radio stations.
Scott-Heron died at 4 p.m. at a New York hospital, said Lisa Gottheil, his publicist at XL Recordings.
Scott-Heron defined the genre, long-time friend and former bandmate Charlie Saunders told CNN. Saunders worked on Scott-Heron's 1970 debut album "Small Talk At 125th & Lenox."
Saunders, a percussionist, said the last time he saw Scott-Heron was about two years ago when he needed a place to stay.
"He came by our house to get himself together. He spent 4 to 5 days and then moved on," Saunders said.
Much of Scott-Heron's poetry and music reflected his struggles with drugs and alcohol.

Scott-Heron was not always a favorite of the masses, but he was of critics, such as dream hampton, who tweeted, "I grew up poor & w hiphop my gen began to strip shame from poverty. Before us, Gil reminded us that poor ppl are human.. . . Gil sang about health care, police brutality, nuclear proliferation, racism, marriage, hunger and hurt . . . Gil seemed sensitive to the point of being skinless. Yet he was strong."

Media images seemed never far away from his consciousness. Ben Greenman wrote in the New Yorker in 2009 after the death of venerable CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite:

"Gil Scott-Heron, the performance poet and proto-rapper, obliquely criticized Cronkite in his landmark piece 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,' and often referred to the venerable anchor as 'Walter Concrete,' most recently in 'Let Me See Your ID,' which appeared on the 'Sun City' album, in 1985. As newspapers and magazines lament Cronkite’s passing and the shift from authoritative news anchors to radically decentralized, often unreliable Internet-based news, it’s worth watching this YouTube video of 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,' set to a montage of assorted clips."

Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune: Gil Scott-Heron, soul poet, dead at 62

John Lewis, Uncut, Britain: Album Review: Gil Scott-Heron — I'm New Here

Scott-Heron was known for work that reflected the fury of black America in the post-civil rights era and also spoke of the social and political disparities in the country. His songs often had incendiary titles - Home is Where the Hatred Is, or Whitey on the Moon, and through spoken word and song, he tapped the frustration of the masses.

He referred to his signature mix of percussion, politics and performed poetry as bluesology or Third World music.

But then he said it was simply black music or black American music. "Because black Americans are now a tremendously diverse essence of all the places we've come from and the music and rhythms we brought with us," he wrote.

In a 2008 interview with New York magazine, he said he had been living with HIV for years, but he still continued to perform and put out music; his last album, which came out this year, was a collaboration with artist JAMIE XX, We're Still Here, a reworking of Scott-Heron's acclaimed I'm New Here, which was released last year.

Scott-Heron was born in Chicago on April 1, 1949. He was raised in Jackson, Tennessee, and in New York before attending college at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Before turning to music, he was a novelist, at age 19, with the publication of The Vulture, a murder mystery. He also was the author of The Nigger Factory, a social satire.

Gil Scott-Heron

Gilbert "Gil" Scott-Heron,April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011 was an American poet, musician, and author known primarily for his work as a spoken word performer in the 1970s and 80s, and for his collaborative soul works with musician Brian Jackson. His collaborative efforts with Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues and soul music, as well as lyrical content concerning social and political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles by Scott-Heron. The music of these albums, most notably Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and helped engender later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. Scott-Heron's recording work is often associated with black militant activism and has received much critical acclaim for one of his most well-known compositions "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". His poetic style has been influential upon every generation of hip hop since his popularity began. In addition to being widely considered an influence in today's music, Scott-Heron remained active until his death, and in 2010 released his first new album in 16 years, entitled I'm New Here.

Recording career
Scott-Heron began his recording career in 1970 with the LP Small Talk at 125th and Lenox. Bob Thiele of Flying Dutchman Records produced the album, and Scott-Heron was accompanied by Eddie Knowles and Charlie Saunders on conga and David Barnes on percussion and vocals. The album's 15 tracks dealt with themes such as the superficiality of television and mass consumerism, the hypocrisy of some would-be Black revolutionaries, and white middle-class ignorance of the difficulties faced by inner-city residents. In the liner notes, Scott-Heron acknowledged as influences Richie Havens, John Coltrane, Otis Redding, Jose Feliciano, Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Nina Simone, and the pianist who would become his long-time collaborator, Brian Jackson.
Scott-Heron's 1971 album Pieces of a Man used more conventional song structures than the loose, spoken-word feel of Small Talk. He was joined by Johnny Pate (conductor), Brian Jackson on keyboards, piano, Ron Carter on bass and bass guitar, drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, Burt Jones playing electric guitar, and Hubert Laws on flute and saxophone, with Thiele producing again. Scott-Heron's third album, Free Will, was released in 1972. Jackson, Purdie, Laws, Knowles, and Saunders all returned to play on Free Will and were joined by Jerry Jemmott playing bass, David Spinozza on guitar, and Horace Ott (arranger and conductor). Carter later said about Scott-Heron's voice, "He wasn’t a great singer, but, with that voice, if he had whispered it would have been dynamic. It was a voice like you would have for Shakespeare.
1974 saw another LP collaboration with Brian Jackson, the critically acclaimed opus Winter in America, with Bob Adams on drums and Danny Bowens on bass. The album contained Scott-Heron's most cohesive material and featured more of Jackson's creative input than his previous albums had. Winter in America has been regarded by many critics as the two musicians most artistic effort. The following year, Scott-Heron and Jackson also released Midnight Band: The First Minute of a New Day. A live album, It's Your World, followed in 1976 and a recording of spoken poetry, The Mind of Gil Scott-Heron, was released in 1979. In the July 1976 Bicentennial issue of Playboy Scott-Heron was profiled; the accompanying artwork shows Scott-Heron singing or speaking into a microphone as it melts from the heat of his words.[citation needed] Another hit success followed with the hit single "Angel Dust", which he recorded as a single with producer Malcolm Cecil. "Angel Dust" peaked at #15 on the R&B charts in 1978.

Early years

Gil Scott-Heron was born in Chicago, Illinois, but spent his early childhood in Jackson, Tennessee, the home of his maternal grandmother Lillie Scott.[citation needed] His mother, Bobbie Scott-Heron, sang with the New York Oratorio Society. Scott-Heron's Jamaican father, Gil Heron, nicknamed "The Black Arrow", was a soccer player who, in the 1950s, became the first black athlete to play for Glasgow Celtic Football Club in Scotland. Gil's parents separated when he was two and Gil was sent to live with his grandmother, Lillie Scott. When Scott-Heron was 12 years old, his grandmother died and he moved with his mother to The Bronx in New York City, where he enrolled in DeWitt Clinton High School. He later transferred to The Fieldston School after one of his teachers, a Fieldston graduate, showed one of his writings to the head of the English department at Fieldston and he was granted a full scholarship.
Scott-Heron attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, as it was the college chosen by his biggest influence Langston Hughes. It was here that Scott-Heron met Brian Jackson with whom he formed the band Black & Blues. After about two years at Lincoln, Scott-Heron took a year off to write the novels The Vulture and The Nigger Factory. He returned to New York City, settling in Chelsea, Manhattan. The Vulture was published in 1970 and well received. Although Scott-Heron never received his undergraduate degree, he received a Master's degree in Creative Writing in 1972 from Johns Hopkins University. His 1972 dissertation was titled Circle of stone.

In 2001, Scott-Heron was sentenced to one to three years' imprisonment in New York State for possession of cocaine. While out of jail in 2002, he appeared on the Blazing Arrow album by Blackalicious. He was released on parole in 2003. On July 5, 2006, Scott-Heron was sentenced to two to four years in a New York State prison for violating a plea deal on a drug-possession charge by leaving a drug rehabilitation center. Scott-Heron's sentence was to run until July 13, 2009. He was paroled on May 23, 2007. The reason given for the violation of his plea deal was that the clinic refused to supply Scott with HIV medication. This story led to the presumption that the artist was HIV positive.
After his release, Scott-Heron began performing live again, starting with a show at SOB's in New York on September 13, 2007. On stage, he stated that he and his musicians were working on a new album and that he had resumed writing a book titled The Last Holiday, previously on long-term hiatus, about Stevie Wonder and his successful attempt to have the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. declared a federally recognized holiday in the United States.

On October 10, 2007, the day before a scheduled (but ultimately cancelled) second SOB's performance, he was arrested on felony possession of cocaine charges. However, he continued to make live appearances at various US venues during the course of 2008 and 2009, including further appearances at SOBs in New York. He stated in interviews that work was continuing on his new album, which would consist mainly of new versions of some of his classic songs, plus some cover versions of other artists' work. Having originally planned to publish The Last Holiday in 2003, before it was put on hold, Canongate Books now tentatively intend to issue it in January 2011. The book was due to be previewed via a website set to be launched on April 1, 2009, but this did not appear.

Scott-Heron died on the afternoon of May 27, 2011, at St. Luke's Hospital, New York City, after becoming ill upon returning from a European trip. He is survived by daughter, Gia from his marriage to Brenda Sykes. Scott-Heron had revealed, in a 2008 New York Magazine interview, that he had been HIV-positive for several years, and that he had been previously hospitalized for pneumonia.
In response, Public Enemy's Chuck D stated "RIP GSH...and we do what we do and how we do because of you." on his Twitter account. His UK publisher, Jamie Byng, called him "one of the most inspiring people I've ever met. On hearing of the death, R&B singer Usher stated "I just learned of the loss of a very important poet...R.I.P., Gil Scott-Heron. The revolution will be live. Richard Russel, who produced Scott-Heron's final studio album, called him a "father figure of sorts to me". Eminem stated that He influenced all of hip-hop.

The music of Scott-Heron's work during the 1970s influenced and helped engender later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. He has been described by music writers as "the godfather of rap" and "the black Bob Dylan. On his influence, a music writer later noted that "Scott-Heron's unique proto-rap style influenced a generation of hip-hop artists. The Washington Post wrote that "Scott-Heron's work presaged not only conscious rap and poetry slams, but also acid jazz, particularly during his rewarding collaboration with composer-keyboardist-flutist Brian Jackson in the mid- and late '70s. The Observer's Sean O'Hagan discussed the significance of Scott-Heron's music with Brian Jackson, stating:
Together throughout the 1970s, Scott-Heron and Jackson made music that reflected the turbulence, uncertainty and increasing pessimism of the times, merging the soul and jazz traditions and drawing on an oral poetry tradition that reached back to the blues and forward to hip-hop. The music sounded by turns angry, defiant and regretful while Scott-Heron's lyrics possessed a satirical edge that set them apart from the militant soul of contemporaries such as Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield.
—Sean O'Hagan.

Studio albums
Year Album Label
1970 Small Talk at 125th and Lenox Flying Dutchman Records
1971 Pieces of a Man Flying Dutchman Records
1972 Free Will Flying Dutchman Records
1974 Winter in America Strata-East Records
1975 The First Minute of a New Day Arista Records
1976 From South Africa to South Carolina Arista Records
1976 It's Your World Arista Records
1977 Bridges Arista Records
1978 Secrets Arista Records
1980 1980 Arista Records
1980 Real Eyes Arista Records
1981 Reflections Arista Records
1982 Moving Target Arista Records
1994 Spirits TVT Records
2010 I'm New Here XL Recordings

Live albums
Year Album Label
1976 It's Your World Arista Records
1990 Tales of Gil Scott-Heron and His Amnesia Express Castle Music UK/Peak Top Records
1994 Minister of Information: Live Peak Top Records
2004 The Best Of Gil Scott-Heron Live Intersound
2004 Tour De Force Phantom Sound & Vision
2004 Save The Children Delta Music
2004 Winter In America, Summer In Europe Pickwick
2005 Greatest Hits Live Intersound
2008 Live At The Town & Country 1988 Acadia / Evangeline Records

Year Album Label
1974 The Revolution Will Not Be Televised Flying Dutchman
1979 The Mind of Gil Scott-Heron Arista Records
1984 The Best of Gil Scott-Heron Arista Records
1988 The Revolution Will Not Be Televised Bluebird Records
1990 Glory: The Gil Scott-Heron Collection Arista Records
1998 The Gil Scott-Heron Collection Sampler: 1974–1975 TVT Records
1998 Ghetto Style Camden Records
1999 Evolution and Flashback: The Very Best of Gil Scott-Heron RCA Records
2005 Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Messages (Anthology) Soul Brother Records
2006 The Best Of Gil Scott-Heron Sony/BMG
2010 Storm Music (The Best Of Gil Scott-Heron) Phantom Sound & Vision

Don H. Barden

Donald Hamilton Barden, December 20, 1943 – May 19, 2011 was an American casino executive.
Barden was the Manager, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Majestic Star Casino, LLC since its formation, with responsibility for key policy making functions. Since their formation, Barden was also President and Chief Executive Officer of Investor and Manager of Barden Colorado Blackhawk, Colorado, Barden Mississippi Tunica, Mississippi, and Barden Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada; and Chairman and President of BDI. Barden also served as a director of Majestic Investor Capital since its formation.
Additionally, he was the President and Chief Executive Officer of a group of other companies he owned and/or operated. Over the past 30 years, Barden had successfully developed, owned and operated many business enterprises in various industries including real estate development, casino gaming, broadcasting, cable television and international trade. In 2003, Black Enterprise Magazine selected Barden as Company of the Year. In 2004, Barden received the Trumpet Award for Entrepreneur of the Year.
For years the Barden gambling facility in Gary existed beside another gambling facility belonging to Donald Trump. Barden bought the second facility for a price reflecting historic revenue at a time when several other facilities were opening up in Illinois and Indiana. The result was over extension and the Barden company owning the combined facilities have gone into bankruptcy. The Barden Indiana, Mississippi and Colorado facilities are being turned over to creditors. The Nevada facility and the part ownership in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania facilities are separately held and are not part of the bankruptcy.

When one of Barden's companies acquired the Fitzgeralds Las Vegas Casino in Las Vegas he became the first black casino owner in Vegas.  In 2007, Barden was awarded the rights to build a Casino in the North Shore Area of Pittsburgh, adjacent to Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The selection was made over heavy objections of local taxpayers who preferred another competing offer from Isle of Capri Casinos. That offer would have built a new multi-purpose arena adjacent to a casino complex in the area now occupied by the Civic Arena. Isle of Capri agreed to foot the entire cost of the new complex, valued at the time at 290 million dollars. Barden's selection by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Gaming Commission forced the city of Pittsburgh and the buildings principal tenant, the Pittsburgh Penguins, to come up with an alternate plan, using taxpayer money to fund the facility.
In 2008, Mr. Barden defaulted on the casino project. He was unable to secure bridge loans that would have permitted work to continue on the North Shore Casino project. Work at the site was stopped for weeks, until another investor could be found. Only after Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm of JMB Realty bought controlling interest in the project, did work continue. Mr. Barden retained a minority interest in the project.
On May 19, 2011, Don Barden died of lung cancer at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan. He was 67. Earlier this year, his wife Bella has filed for legal separation, saying in court documents that her 67-year-old husband was so sick with cancer that he could not make his own business and financial decisions.

Don Barden honored as pioneer who 'molded opinion'

Don H. Barden, whose lifelong success as an entrepreneur began with a $500 investment in an Ohio record store and culminated in him becoming the first African American casino magnate with the ownership of properties in five states, joined the ancestors May 19, 2011 at Karmanos Cancer Institute due to complications from lung cancer. He was 67.

Barden wanted most of all to own a casino in Detroit, but then-Mayor Dennis Archer rejected Barden’s attempt to hold one of the city’s three casino licenses in 1996. Barden launched an effort (Proposal 1) in the late 1990s to open a $1-billion theme park resort in Detroit with megastar Michael Jackson in exchange for a city casino license. Although the initiative failed, Barden never left Detroit.
Among the mourners, befitting Barden's sway in entertainment and Democratic politics, were Anita Baker, Rep. John Conyers Jr., Tommy "Hitman" Hearns, former Rep. Barbara-Rose Collins, TV judge Greg Mathis and Debbie Dingell.
Speakers described Barden as a soft-spoken Horatio Alger with a big cigar jutting from his mouth and a thick roll of hundreds in his pocket.
Bishop Charles Ellis III, senior pastor of Greater Grace, said African-Americans were proud of Barden's success because it showed what their race could do.
"We were all part of Barden Cable," he said. "We talked about it like we owned stock."
Barden, 67, died May 19 after a battle with lung cancer. He was the owner of Barden Companies Inc., the Majestic Star and Fitzgerald's casinos and Waycor Development Co.
The lavish service featured a 40-page glossy program and several musical interludes, including songs by Baker and gospel singer Karen Clark-Sheard.
Among the 13 speakers were the chief operating officer of a Barden casino in Las Vegas and a representative of the African country of Namibia, where he owned an auto plant.
The service, which was filmed by five cameras, was shown on two video screens inside the church and live-streamed on the church website.
One person missing from the spectacle was Barden's estranged wife, Bella Marshall. The couple, who had been married 22 years, was engaged in a nasty divorce at the time of his death, and Marshall was sued by Barden's sister after Marshall threatened to move the body to a different funeral home.
Marshall's name was mentioned just once in passing by a speaker recounting an unrelated anecdote.
Speakers hailed Barden for building a $500 million conglomeration whose tentacles ranged from cable to casinos, from making cars to developing real estate.

Former Detroit City Council woman and U.S. Rep. Barbara-Rose Collins remembered Barden as a man who exceeded his own goals. “He aimed to be a millionaire and became a multi-millionaire.”
Anita Baker and Karen Clark Sheard sang before an audience that included Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, former Highland Park emergency financial manager Arthur Blackwell, and Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Craig Strong.

A family friend said that Bella Marshall, Barden’s estranged wife, did not attend the service.

Barden, who was born in Detroit, died May 19 at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit of lung cancer. He was 67.

Psychology Today Apologizes for 'Black Women Less Attractive' Post

Psychology Today, an academic journal that examines emerging thought and literature in the field of psychology, published on its website blog an article with this title earlier this month. This is another demonstration of the importance of being ever vigilant in confronting assaults on the human dignity of Africans and African Americans. It is notions such as this that serve to justify thee subjugation of their sociological standing in society.

Satoshi Kanazawa, a Japanese psychologist and controversial researcher, wrote the article that was a purported study on anatomical beauty traits, originally entitled, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” After a swift and quick public outcry, the title of the article was changed to, “Why Are Black Women Rated Less Attractive Than Other Women, While Black Men Rated More Attractive Than Other Men?” When you start manipulating the title of the study, you kinda know the manipulation doesn’t stop there.

Psychology Today’s website finally pulled the article down (after less than a week) but the public discourse doesn’t end there. (Editor’s note: The website captured the article before it was taken down and you can click here to read the original.)

While we can (and will) talk about this as being yet another opportunity to assault the self-esteem and dignity of black women directly, and the intelligence and sensibilities of the public, we can’t address this without addressing the anti-intellectualism being presented as intellectualism and faux science being presented as real science.

Moreover, Kaufman noted that "the majority of [Kanazawa's] data were based on the ratings of attractiveness of the participants when they were teenagers." When the data was stratified based on age, he concluded that "as adults, Black Women in North America are not rated less attractive by interviewers of the Add health study."

In another post on magazine's website, Dr. Stanton Peele leveled his criticism at the field of evolutionary psychology as a whole.

[T]he logic underlying [Kanazawa's] racism is exactly that which drives the field -- i.e., there are biological imperatives that determine social behavior, attitudes, and undeniable human reality... [But] the only inevitabilities are (a) in Kanazwa's head and (b) ev psych's fantasy version of the human species as the end result of a deterministic evolutionary process that makes people think and act in the ways they say people must -- that is, according to their own preferred prejudices (like Kanazawa's ideal woman -- who is NOT African-American!).
However, many were still waiting for a direct response from the magazine, who, according to Stanton, "is probably the most popular PT blogger." Considering the level of outrage, the apology was some time coming. Kaja Perina, the Editor-in-Chief, issued the following statement on Friday:

Last week, a blog post about race and appearance by Satoshi Kanazawa was published--and promptly removed--from this site. We deeply apologize for the pain and offense that this post caused. Psychology Today's mission is to inform the public, not to provide a platform for inflammatory and offensive material. Psychology Today does not tolerate racism or prejudice of any sort. The post was not approved by Psychology Today, but we take full responsibility for its publication on our site. We have taken measures to ensure that such an incident does not occur again. Again, we are deeply sorry for the hurt that this post caused.
However, there was no word on whether the magazine will continue to publish articles by Kanazawa. He has not published on entry on his blog since the one removed, although there is no indication that the blog will be terminated.

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Heritage Festival Celebrates Its 45th Year

Bring out your sunglasses and walking shoes because this Sunday marks the 45th African-American Heritage Parade in Newark, New Jersey.

The parade is the third largest Black cultural celebration in the country and has a theme this year of “Umoja… The Ties That Bind Us Together.”

The parade, which begins at noon at Newark City Hall, 902 Broad Street, travels from Lincoln Park to Military Park. Bands, drill teams, horsemen and heritage balloons will lead the path.

Except it isn’t. This isn’t your mother’s house and this isn’t just another steamy summer night. It's Memorial Day weekend and the African American Heritage Parade Committee (AAHPC) is celebrating with their annual festival.

We believe deeply that when they see us adults, elders, young adults, youth doing this positive event, it can’t help but make a major impression on the minds and hearts and give some help to our young people,” said Donald Bernard, the senior chairperson and chief executive officer of AAHPC, when discussing the importance of the festival.

According to Bernard, the festival began 45 years ago in the mind of John Thomas, a school teacher. When in class, discussing the various cultural parades and festivals, one African American student asked why there wasn’t a parade for his people. This spurred Thomas to help form the first parade, which went through a number of name changes as the years passed. Beginning as the Crispus Attucks Parade, the current name was finalized in the '90s.

But that doesn’t mean the festival is now set in stone. Just last year, one vendor, a karaoke tent, was causing a bit of a commotion by getting a bigger, rowdier crowd than the main stage. Rather than keep them out this year, Bernard and his constituents practiced this year’s theme of “Umoja”, or unity, by inviting the group back.

“We reached back to them and said, ‘We’ll give you the grand stage on Friday night. Let’s have a community karaoke. You guys head it up,'” said Bernard.

Today, the parade and festival are the biggest in the state and the third largest of its kind in the country. However, the festival’s scope and inspiration are not lost on the vendors and citizens of Newark.

"I think this lets people know that there are positive things you can do instead of just hanging in the street all night doing a lot mischief," said Nate "The Great," the karaoke host from last year. "I think it’s a very positive thing."

Festival-goer Paulette Rivera found some room for improvement.

"They need to get an ATM machine out here and they need to start accepting ATM cards at these booths," she said,, adding "I think it's good for the community because it gets a lot of people together to have fun.
Over the course of the weekend, the park will have vendors (save your money for goods rather than the food - $9 for fried fish and fries doesn’t compare to $1 earrings), a fair (complete with Ferris Wheel), and multiple acts on the main stage. Hip-hop and spoken word will dominate the festival Saturday afternoon.

"In the evening, we move on to classic soul and R&B with the Delfonics review," said Bernard.

Sunday will feature gospel, spiritual choirs and praise dance for the entire day, and Monday will conclude the festival with a Diaspora theme (Carribbean bands, African bands, and a Zawati African dance troupe).

For more information on the parade and festival, call (973) 642-8760, or visit