Monday, 24 July 2017

My Black is Beautiful

"We know that bias is not just an African American issue. It’s an issue that takes on many shapes and forms, across gender, race, age, weight, sexual orientation, and more. Our goal with 'The Talk' is to help raise awareness about the impact of bias, we are also hopeful that we can make progress toward a less biased future by recognizing the power of people of all backgrounds and races showing up for one another."
Damon D. Jones, director of global company communications for Procter & Gamble

"My Black is Beautiful was created in 2007 by a group of visionary black women at P&G to spark a broader dialogue about black beauty. Our mission is to ignite and support a sustained national conversation by, for and about black women. Together, we can serve as the catalyst for a movement that effects positive change."
Procter & Gamble

The My Black is Beautiful Manifesto (via):

From the color of my skin,
to the texture of my hair,
to the length of my strands,
to the breadth of my smile,
to the stride of my gait,

to the span of my arms,
to the depth of my bosom,
to the curve of my hips,
to the glow of my skin,
My Black is Beautiful.

It cannot be denied.
It will not be contained,
And only I will define it.
For when I look in my mirror,
my very soul cries out,
My Black is Beautiful.

And so today,
I speak it out loud,
I declare it anew,
My Black is Beautiful.

Whether celebrated,
exploited or denigrated.
Whether natural from inside
or skillfully applied,
My Black is Beautiful.

To my daughters,
my sisters,
my nieces,
my cousins,
my colleagues and my friends,
I speak for us all when I say again,
My Black is Beautiful.

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More P&G commercials/diversity campaigns:

::: #WeSeeEqual: WATCH
::: #LikeAGirl: WATCH
::: Unstoppable: WATCH

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Iron Eyes Cody, the "typical" Cherokee of Italian origin

Iron Eyes Cody (1904-1999) was born (in Louisiana) Espera Oscar de Corti, second son of Antonio de Corti and Francesca Salpietra who were both from southern Italy. When he began acting in Hollywood in the 1930s, he also began telling people that his father was Cherokee and his mother Cree - a descent he seemed to be insisting on also in his private life and even after his history was revealed.

"To those unfamiliar with Indigenous American or First Nations cultures and people, he apparently gave the appearance of living "as if" he were Native American, fulfilling the stereotypical expectations by wearing his film wardrobe as daily clothing—including braided wig, fringed leathers and beaded moccasins— at least when photographers were visiting, and in other ways continuing to play the same Hollywood-scripted roles off-screen as well as on." (via)
Iron Eyes Cody spent his life as an "Indian", more than that, a "typical Indian", became the "face of Native Indians" and was even said to be "America's favorite Indian" (via). Obviously, there was no need to be real in order to be (stereo)typical.
Only in 1996 did the public learn that Iron Eyes Cody was of Italian origin (via).

His face was viewed about 14 billion times on billboards, posters, and magazines. He played with Steve McQueen, Richard Harris, Ronald Reagan, and John Wayne and to those who did not know him from movies, he became a well-known face through his role in the commercial "The Crying Indian" (via) which was produced for Earth Day in 1971. At first he was reluctant to do the commercial as "Indians don't cry" but he later changed his mind (via).

Iron Eyes Cody got his knowledge about "Indians" from the time when he was touring the country with his father in a wild west show. It was during these tours that he taught himself "the sign language of other tribes of Indians" (via).
"But several (real) Native American actors soon came to doubt Iron Eyes’ authenticity. Jay Silverheels, the Indian actor who played “Tonto” in The Lone Ranger, pointed out inaccuracies in Iron Eyes’ story; Running Deer, a Native American stuntman, agreed that there was something strangely off-putting about the man’s heritage. It wasn’t until years later that these doubts were affirmed." (via)
Iron Eyes Cody apparently saw himself as an advocate of Native Americans and identified strongly with them. On tours, he reminded indigenous US-Americans of their traditions and admonished them against gambling and alcohol (via)
“Nearly all my life, it has been my policy to help those less fortunate than myself. My foremost endeavors have been with the help of the Great Spirit to dignify my People's image through humility and love of my country. If I have done that, then I have done all I need to do." Iron Eyes Cody
::: Rare TV interview with Iron Eyes Cody: WATCH/LISTEN

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images via and via

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Marlon Brando & Martin Luther King: Their letters and telegrams

"A typescript letter, signed, dated 15 January, 1959, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Marlon Brando on 1959 Petition Campaign and YOUTH MARCH FOR INTEGRATED SCHOOLS... headed stationery, the letter informing Brando "At the now-famous Youth March for Integrated Schools last October, you will recall that ten thousand young people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial and there voted to return this Spring to Washington "to press for the laws which will guide and sanction our advancement to a fuller, more just interracial democracy"...we are now in the process of reconstituting and enlarging the committee to acheive (sic) the objectives of the Lincoln Memorial meeting through a Petition Campaign for hundreds of thousands of signatures and a Youth March carrying the Petitions to the Congress and the White House on April, 18, 1959..." 

The letter goes on to ask for Marlon Brando's help... "We need the help of important Americans for whom the youth of the nation have respect. You are such an American. We would be honored if you would lend your name to the sponsorship of the Petition Campaign and Youth March for Integrated Schools of 1959...1p.", signed in blue ballpoint pen by Martin Luther King, Ralph Bunche and A. Philip Randolph, with reply card, stamped addressed envelope and typescript petition; accompanied by five Western Union telegrams, including: one from Martin Luther King Jr. to Marlon Brando, dated 18 March, 1965, inviting him to ..."join me in a march to Alabama's capitol beginning at Brown's Chapel in Selma, Sunday March 21, at 1.00P.M."; another to Martin Luther King from Brando, dated 10 June, 1964, the telegram telling King "I recently returned from the hosptal after having had an attack of sever bleeding from an ulcer. I have been subject to great personal strife in my own life and am obliged to go into Court Thursday. I feel honored that you asked for what assistance I could give. I cannot at this time be of assistance. It distresses me that I will not be able to join you..."; and a letter from the Rally For Freedom Committee, dated 29 May, 1963, thanking Brando for his donation of $5,000" (literally via) realised a price of USD 13.200,- at Christie's.


June 10, 1964





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images via and via, transcript of the telegram via

Monday, 17 July 2017

Quoting Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. As well speak of a female liver.”
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)

photograph taken around 1900 via

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Narrative images: A Woman Hitting a Neo-Nazi With Her Handbag

"Some images never go out of date. They remain endlessly urgent. Where most viral photos enjoy a fleeting flash of fame, flaring up like a rash across social media, there is a cache of imperishable images that have lingered longer and strike a deeper chord. They stay forever part of the mind’s permanent collection of archetypal signs."
Kelly Grovier

"Kvinnan med handväskan" or "The woman with the handbag" is a photograph that was taken by Hans Runesson in the Swedish city of Växjö on 13 April 1985. The photograph shows neo-nazis marching and supporting the "Nordic Reich Party" and, most importantly, Danuta Danielsson (1947-1988) hitting a neo-nazi (via).
"Predating by decades the instant-reaction platforms of Facebook and Twitter, an edgy image captured on the streets of Växjö, Sweden in April 1985 during a demonstration by the Neo-Nazi Nordic Reich Party succeeded (without today’s propulsive power of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’) to imprint itself on the cultural consciousness. Snapped at the instant when a Polish-Swedish passerby, whose mother had reportedly been sent to a Nazi concentration camp, could no longer contain her irritation at having to share civic space with fascists, the black-and-white photo of Danuta Danielsson clocking a Neo-Nazi with her handbag continues to resonate for many as a silent rallying cry." Kelly Grovier
Reactions to this photograph ranged from applauding Danuta Danielsson, calling her a hero and wanting to honour her with a statue... to criticising her and deciding not to honour her with a statue as that would - among other reasons - otherwise "glorify violence"... back to people hanging handbags on statues around the world in reaction to Danielsson's statue not being built (via). A debate started whether a mild form of violence as the "handbag scene" captured is socially acceptable with the moralising undertone that one needs to differentiate "between behaviour we might understand and behaviour we can applaud" (via). Of course violence is not acceptable. Still, the focus of this discussion may only be touching the surface considering the form of violence exhibited here, the background of the woman and what the neo-nazi was actively demonstrating for.
"She is unquestionably also one of Nazism’s real victims–this is the downtrodden’s reaction to racist violence." Ola Luoto
Danuta Danielsson was of Polish-Jewish origin. 85% of the deportees murdered in Auschwitz were Jewish (i.e. 1.1 million people, 900.000 of them in gas chambers immediately on arrival), 10.8% (i.e. 140.000 persons) of the deportees killed there were Poles (via). Danuta Danielsson's mother was one of the few persons (31.746 were reported in January 1945, via) who survived Auschwitz.
And there she is in a Swedish city, four decades after the official end of the murderous Nazi regime and sees skinheads mourning the good old nazi days and supporting the Nordic Reich Party, a party that was "deeply involved in extended legal disputes with the Swedish government over the distribution of anti-Semitic literature". The Nordic Reich Party was led by Göran Assar Oredsson who actively promoted "the National Socialist revival in Scandinavia" (Kaplan, 2000). When "Keep Sweden Swedish" emerged in 1979, a nationalist activist group that "prophesized cultural and economic devastation due to immigration, as well as the loss of racial purity and the inability for nonwhites to function in Swedish society", the Nordic Reich Party was not part of this movement because Keep Sweden Swedish hardly celebrated Hitler or presented Jews as a significant threat, in other words, was too moderate and not nazi enough. The Nordic Reich Party even alleged that "the activist group was filled with disguised Zionists bent on undermining National Socialism and the resurgence of the Nordic race" (Teitelbaum, 2017). This is the ideology the "handbag victim" was demonstrating for.

The skinhead Danielsson hit, by the way, was Seppo Seluska who was said to be convicted for torturing and murdering a Jewish homosexual the same year the photograph was taken (via). Danuta Danielsson allegedly commited suicide in 1988 (via).

There is the question why statues of men holding swords are more acceptable than a woman holding a handbag (via). There is also the hypothetical question what this neo-nazi would have done to her Jewish mother in the 1940s. There are many more questions. The photograph is still considered to be both controversial and inspiring. Artist Susanna Arwin created a small bronze model in 2014, in 2015, handbags "mysteriously started to appear on statues across Sweden" protesting the decision not to dedicate a statue to Danielsson (via). This year, Ramsey Nasser and Jane Friedhoff developed "Handväska" ("handbag"), a video game in which you can hit nazis with handbags (via)
"That photo was from f*** yesterday. It’s from Sweden, and it was the local Swedish neo-nazi movement going on parade. So this was way after the second World War." Ramsey Nasser
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- Kaplan, J. (2000). Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right. Walnut Creek, Lanham, New York &. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield
- Teitelbaum, B. R. (2017). Lions of the North: Sounds of the New Nordic Radical Nationalism. Oxford University Press ebook
- photograph via

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

A Razor Designed for Assisted Shaving

"In the past 100 years, over 4000 razor have been designed to shave yourself. There have been 0 designed with the intent to shave someone else. Until now. (...) With millions of people around the globe under care, Gillette offers a humble but meaningful improvement in their daily lives."

"And I'd do anything, anything for him." This wonderful commercial about love, role reversal, and more love shows Kristian Rex and his father, a former boat captain who suffered a stroke and cannot complete some tasks since then - such as shaving (via).

Monday, 10 July 2017

That Unfinished Oscar Speech, by Marlon Brando (1973)

"Hello. My name is Sacheen Littlefeather. I'm Apache and I am president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee. I'm representing Marlon Brando this evening and he has asked me to tell you in a very long speech, which I cannot share with you presently because of time but I will be glad to share with the press afterwards, that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry – excuse me – and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee. I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening and that we will in the future, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity. Thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando."
Sacheen Littlefeather

"Ask most kids about details about Auschwitz or about how the American Indians were assassinated as a people and they don't know anything about it. They don't want to know anything. Most people just want their beer or their soap opera or their lullaby." Marlon Brando
In March 1973, Marlon Brando (1924-2004) declined the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in "The Godfather". Instead, he asked Sacheen Littlefeather - actress, activist for Native American civil rights and then-president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee - to attend the ceremony in his place (via and via). This was one of the most political and powerful moments in Oscar history (via and via) and not everybody appreciated it (John Wayne, for instance, was not amused). A "tsunami of criticism" followed (via).
One of Marlon Brando's reasons was the way the film industry portrayed Native Americans. At that time, a "high proportion of the Western made up to the 1950s, (...), showed Indians as hostile savages attacking the whites." They were "represented as motiveless and insanely violent" and "merely the backcloth to the inevitable white settlement of the West" (Stokes, 2013).
Apparently, people did not only have a problem with her message but with her being a woman as well:
"Oh, I got threats. They said, 'Why did they send a woman to do a man's job?' [The people backstage] said they’d give me 60 seconds, or they’d arrest me. John Wayne was in the wings, ready to have me taken off stage. He had to be restrained by six security guards. Afterward people questioned my authenticity, they said I wasn’t even Indian."  Sacheen Littlefeather
"They were booing because they thought, 'Well, this moment is sacrosanct and you’re ruining our fantasy with the intrusion of a little reality'". Marlon Brando
"Remember, I was making a profound statement: I did not use my fist, I did not use profanity, I used grace and elegance and quiet strength as my tools." Sacheen Littlefeather
After her brief speech, Littlefeather was escorted away by two security people who protected her. People made "some very stereotypical sounds" and threw tomahawk chops towards her. Her activism brought renewed attention to Wounded Knee but also the end of her career. The actress was not hired again as people within the industry were afraid hiring her would shut down their productions (via).

The following day, the New York Times printed Brando's unfinished Oscar speech:

That Unfinished Oscar Speech

For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: ''Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.''

When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.

But there is one thing which is beyond the reach of this perversity and that is the tremendous verdict of history. And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?

It would seem that the respect for principle and the love of one's neighbor have become dysfunctional in this country of ours, and that all we have done, all that we have succeeded in accomplishing with our power is simply annihilating the hopes of the newborn countries in this world, as well as friends and enemies alike, that we're not humane, and that we do not live up to our agreements.

Perhaps at this moment you are saying to yourself what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards? Why is this woman standing up here, ruining our evening, invading our lives with things that don't concern us, and that we don't care about? Wasting our time and money and intruding in our homes.

I think the answer to those unspoken questions is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It's hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.

Recently there have been a few faltering steps to correct this situation, but too faltering and too few, so I, as a member in this profession, do not feel that I can as a citizen of the United States accept an award here tonight. I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother's keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.

I would have been here tonight to speak to you directly, but I felt that perhaps I could be of better use if I went to Wounded Knee to help forestall in whatever way I can the establishment of a peace which would be dishonorable as long as the rivers shall run and the grass shall grow.

I would hope that those who are listening would not look upon this as a rude intrusion, but as an earnest effort to focus attention on an issue that might very well determine whether or not this country has the right to say from this point forward we believe in the inalienable rights of all people to remain free and independent on lands that have supported their life beyond living memory.

Thank you for your kindness and your courtesy to Miss Littlefeather. Thank you and good night.

(speech via)

Trivia: Scandals around Brando's Oscar trophy continued. Leonardo DiCaprio, who was given Marlon Brando's Oscar trophy for his performance in "Wolf of Wall Street", gave it back this year because the production company was "skewed up in a billion dollar money-laundering scheme" (via).

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- Stokes, M. (2013). American History through Hollywood Film: From the Revolution to the 1960s.
- image via

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Hoping dream becomes reality, by Nichelle Nichols (1968)

Like most entertainers, TV and cinema personalities. it has been my pleasure to be actively involved with the struggle of my people attempting to extricate themselves from the bonds of discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry that has held us so fast, for so long.

I’ve been more than happy to appear at schools, churches and community affairs in hope that what success I have attained could serve as an inspiration for some black youth who might otherwise give up. The energy and time I have invested in helping the mothers of Watts, VISTA, Head Start, Bootstrap and OIS has been meaningful to me.

Fighting for a race

I know I am not only fighting and working for my people as a race, I’m fighting for myself as an individual as well. As a black person, I am affected by the same unjust elements, simply on a different level.

One of the most enlightening experiences I’ve had was in a poverty area church . . . predominantly black. The minister had asked me to talk to the youth group. His concern was for their future, their ambitions, and discouraging from violence.

What can one say to a 17-year-old black boy who says, “Miss Nichols, before I die in Vietnam for a country that will not acknowledge me as a person, I’d rather die in the streets fighting for my freedom here. And if not my freedom. maybe the next generations to come.”

Perhaps this was the first time I had truly understood the meaning of the Black Movement, for even in spite of their despair I could feel a great sense of pride. Many of the girls and boys now wore their hair in the natural style. Yes, they were black AND proud of it. Poor AND not happy with it. American AND determined to be treated like it. Could I assure him of equality? Could I assure him of his rights?

As the first black woman in a TV series, I had made a small fissure in the wall surrounding a closed wall called “for whites only.” Would I set a precedent to help open the way to greater involvement in the industry? Would I be able to gain greater acceptance and understanding of my people as people?

At that moment, I realized how badly my people need help, and how badly my country needed help.

The best way to help my people and all people is to help the nation wake up. We as a enemy known to man, ourselves. people are facing the greatest As long as we live from riot to riot and from assassination to assassination, this country is in trouble.

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The article "She's hoping dream becomes reality" was originally published in The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana) on 26 July 1968, text via Click Americana

Related postings:

- Leonard Nimoy
The Conscience of Star Trek
- Leonard Nimoy on what he would say upon being the first man to set foot on the moon
- Spock, the Outsider
- Dear Mr. Spock,... (1968)
- Love. It Comes in All Colors.
- My Captain
- Half a Life
- The Drumhead
- The Nonstereotypical Role of Lieutenant Uhura
- Hoping dream becomes reality, by Nichelle Nichols (1968)
- Captain Pike has a female first officer & Captain Kirk hugs a mountain
- The Star Trek Opening Monologue
- Quoting the "First Lady of Star Trek"
- It's as simple as that
- Trekkies
- Quoting William Shatner
- Quoting Gene Roddenberry
- "Trek Against Trump": For a Future of Enlightenment and Inclusion
- More on space, spiced with some science fiction and a lot of diversity
- It's OK to be Takei
- Quoting George Takei (I)
- Quoting George Takei (II)
- Quoting George Takei (III)
- Public Library
- "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"

And here an article on Star Trek and diversity in German:
- Zukunftsvisionen, kulturelle Phasenverschiebung, Vielfalt und eine Hommage an Star Trek

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images via and via

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Diversity is flawlessly logical. Four years "Diversity is beautiful", Spock and my Vulcan ear.

Four years, 595 postings (24 of them on Star Trek), 5832 subscribers, 6.723.579 views, and thousands of interestinglogical and fascinating comments. Thank you so much and .... live long and prosper!

original image via, creatively modified by Paperwalker

Sunday, 2 July 2017

"As long as I can I'm gonna play. It's just too much fun."

"I was 78 years old when I got my first basketball shoes. So that was a thrill. Growing up we didn’t have sports like the girls do today. We didn’t have the opportunity to play; that was before Title IX."
Grace Larsen (91)

"It keeps me off the streets and out of the bingo parlors -- saves me money."
Nina Duncan (85)

The Senior Women's Basketball Associaten accpets players from all walks of life who are 50 and older. To make the Splash team, however, athletes have to be at least 80 years old (via). Here is a wonderful clip about these impressive women:

images via

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Lucy likes tomato sauce and I have smaller toes than Artie.

"From lettuce love (and hate!) to hard-hitting opinions on ketchup and toe size, these kids know what’s important ― friendship, openness and respecting each other’s differences, a lesson we can all learn from.
Their unscripted and natural responses is just what you would expect and demonstrates that children don’t make assumptions about people and their differences in the way that all too often grown-ups do."

Alice Webb, BBC Children’s Director

The video is part of the BBC campaign "Everyone's Welcome" that celebrates the beauty of diversity. It has reached more than 20 million views on the Facebook pages of CBeebies and BBC Family and Education News Facebook (via).

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II says...

"My government will make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation."

Excerpt taken from Queen Elizabeth's II's speech in UK Parliament outlining government's agenda, delivered on 21st of June 2017, for the full text see

photograph via

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Racism needs your help to survive

Taika Waititi, Hollywood director and New Zealander of the year, fronts the campaign that was launched to crack down the rising level of racism in New Zealand. According to reports, a third of all human rights complaints concern discrimination based on ethnicity (via).

“How we treat other people will define what kind of country we become and what kind of person a New Zealander is."
Susan Devoy, Race Relations Commissioner

“Today some iconic Kiwis are standing shoulder to shoulder with the Human Rights Commission and asking us all to give nothing to racism, to give it no tolerance, to give it no acceptance and to give it no welcome. They make me incredibly proud to be a New Zealander.”
Susan Devoy

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Belfast (1977)

Got to have a believin'
Got to have a believin'
Got to have a believin'
All the people
'Cause the people are leavin'
When the people believin'
When the people believin'
When the people believin'
All the children cause the children
Are leavin'

When the country rings the leaving bell you're lost

When the hate you have
For one another's past
You can try (You can try)
You can try (You can try)
You can try
To tell the world the reason why
It's the country that's changin'
Oh, it's the country that's changin'
It's the country that's changin'
All the people
'Cause the people are leavin'
It's the world that's deceivin'
It's the world that's deceivin'
It's the world that's deceivin'
All the people
'Cause the people believin' (...)

More Boney M:

::: Gotta go home: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Ma Baker: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Rasputin: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Daddy Cool: WATCH/LISTEN

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- Photograph via
- lyrics via

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

World Refugee Day: Ahmed and Harry

"Every minute 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror."
United Nations

"I’ve met so many who have lost so much. But they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world. They ask for little in return – only our support in their time of greatest need"
António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

Monday, 19 June 2017

The Aggressive Driver Syndrome, Age, Gender and Type of Car

Aggressive driving (tailgating, rude gestures, passing on the shoulder, pulling into a parking space someone else was waiting for, etc.) is a cultural norm, a socially acquired practice with age and gender differences.
The results of a telephone survey of 1.000 adult drivers conducted in 2000 show that young drivers are more aggressive than older drivers, that men are more aggressive than women when they drive sports cars and light trucks, and women are more aggressive than men when they drive SUVs and luxury cars. The author, in fact, distinguishes between "tough driving cars" (sports, light trucks, SUVs), "soft driving cars" (economy, family), and "special driving cars" (vans, luxury) stating that each of these "psychological categories" has its own aggressive driving syndrome. These are correlations, no causality is discussed.

The author also conducted an online survey in which 72% of female van drivers confessed to swearing and cussing on a regular basis vs. 46% of male drivers of economy cars.
Generally, men described themselves higher on aggressiveness than women (either because they really are or because it is culturally more accepted, or a mix of these reasons). The difference was significant, little in numbers (6 vs. 5.5), and high in effect. When considering the lifetime of one generation of drivers, the author comes to the conclusion that women's lesser aggressiveness would theoretically lead to 120.000 lives saved and 500.000 injuries less. The type of aggressiveness is also related to age and gender. Women, for instance, swear more than men do. So do young drivers compared to older ones. Men, in contrast, speed more than women (so do younger drivers compared to older ones).
"One of the discoveries I made by studying drivers for many years is that they like to underestimate their errors and overestimate their skills. In this sample, people rated themselves as a driver on a 10-point scale, from (1) poor to (10) excellent. Men rate themselves close to 8 while women rate themselves close to 7. This is is significant and substantial, but the interpretation is not entirely clear. It's possible that men are better drivers than women, but not necessarily. It could be that men underestimate their errors, while women are more realistic or honest. What's interesting when you look at the graph, is that this gender difference is replicated across the 10 states for which I had enough respondents to attain reliability."
Interestingly, those who consider themselves near perfect also confess to significantly more aggressiveness.

Although the sample is not representative and one has to be careful when analysing self-assessment, this study has some interesting findings.

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- James, L. (2000). Aggressive Driving Analyzed: National Web Based Survey of 1.200 Drivers. The Effect of Age, Gender, and Type of Car Driven Across the States, online
- Photograph via

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Quoting Betty White

"I may be a senior, but so what? I'm still hot."
Betty White

"I think older women still have a full life."
Betty White

"Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They aren't going to get rid of me that way."
Betty White

"I don't care who anybody sleeps with. If a couple has been together all that time - and there are gay relationships that are more solid than some heterosexual ones - I think it's fine if they want to get married. I don't know how people can get so anti-something."
Betty White

"Don't try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won't live long enough to find out about, but I'm still curious about them. You know people who are already saying, 'I'm going to be 30 - oh, what am I going to do?' Well, use that decade! Use them all!"
Betty White

"I think it's your mental attitude. So many of us start dreading age in high school and that's a waste of a lovely life. 'Oh... I'm 30, oh, I'm 40, oh, 50.' Make the most of it."
Betty White

"My mom said to never lie about your age because you'll forget what you told one person and get mixed up. My age has been published over the years, so I could no more say I'm younger than 92 than fly to the moon. But it's amazing—past a certain age, you can get away with murder. You can do anything and people will say, 'Well, the poor old soul, she's … you know …'"
Betty White

"Why retire from something if you're loving it so much and enjoying it so much, and you're blessed with another group of people to work with like the gang on 'Hot in Cleveland?' Why would I think of retiring? What would I do with myself?"
Betty White

"I was one of the first women producers in Hollywood."
Betty White

"I'm the luckiest broad on two feet, I'll tell you that. They say once a woman passes 40 she doesn't get any good parts, so I'm blessed."
Betty White

“I’ve always liked older men. They’re just more attractive to me. Of course, at my age there aren’t that many left!”
Betty White

"Gravity has taken over. So there’s not much I can do about it … My problem with [plastic surgery] is you’ll go to a women’s press conference or something like that, and old friends will come up and I kind of don’t recognize them. I recognize the voice, but I don’t—all of a sudden, there’s this whole new face that I don’t know who that is."
Betty White

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photographs via and via

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Applying for a job at Disney in the Golden Age of Animation

"He [Walt Disney] didn't trust women or cats."
Ward Kimball

In 1938, Walt Disney Productions wrote a letter to a female applicant and turned down her request to enroll in the training programme because she was a woman. This letter received some attention in the past years. Meryl Streep, for instance, held a "nine-minute tour-de-force" speech at the National Board of Review dinner in 2014. In her speech, she read the letter and called Disney a "gender bigot" (via and via).

The same year, The Walt Disney Family Museum reacted by putting the letter into historical context and stating that the limited role of women in the workplace in the 1930s was culturally accepted, i.e. "normal".
"At that time, most companies in America were mostly male-dominated with women providing smaller support roles. There were several prominent women within Walt Disney Productions, well before WWII made women the backbone of the American workforce. In speeches made to his employees on February 10 and 11, 1941, Walt observed that women artists could fully equal their male counterparts, and were being included in his studio animation training program. (...) Hazel Sewell served as an art director on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was released in 1937—a year before the letter mentioned above was dated." (The Walt Disney Family Museum)
In the 1930s and 1940s, "men and women were relegated to very specific roles in the animated film process". Creative men worked in the Animation Department while creative women worked in the Ink and Paint Department. About 100 women mostly under the age of 25 worked in this department, the inkers were called the "queens" of the department (via).

"The extent of Walt’s narrow casting—and prejudices—from political beliefs to religion to gender has been the subject of much conjecture. Rae, an outstanding high-school artist, like many of the girls, heard that “each time they were beginning to get good they’ve quit to get married or something. So now he’s thumbs down on girl animators.” “The consensus was that a man has a better feel for action, personality and caricature,” said a later story about Disney female employees in a Hollywood newspaper. But Ruthie knew better. “It was a man’s world all over the place,” she said with typically wry candor. “The stars were the beauties who sang and wiggled their fannies around—that’s all girls were useful for.”"
Patricia Zohn, Vanity Fair

June 7, 1938

Miss Mary V. Ford

Dear Miss Ford:

Your letter of recent date has been received in the Inking and Painting Department for reply.

Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men. For this reason girls are not considered for the training school.

The only work open to women consists of tracing the characters on clear celluloid sheets with India ink and filling in the tracings on the reverse side with paint according to directions.

In order to apply for a position as "Inker" or "Painter" it is necessary that one appear at the Studio, bringing samples of pen and ink and water color work. It would not be advisable to come to Hollywood with the above specifically in view, as there are really very few openings in comparison with the number of girls who apply.

Yours very truly,
Walt Disney Productions, Ltd.
Mary Cleave

Here is another rejection letter from 1939: LINK

“If a woman can do the work as well, she is worth as much as a man. The girl artists have the right to expect the same chances for advancement as men, and I honestly believe they may eventually contribute something to this business that men never would or could.”
Walt Disney
Today, the Walt Disney Company is one of DiversityInc Top 50 companies for diversity (via). The company has launched a great many diversity and inclusion initiatives (e.g. the annual Women's Leadership Conference), has 32 Diversity & Inclusion full time staff members (via) and earned 100% on the Diversity Index a few years ago (via).

:: Related posting: Mickey Mouse & Jim Crow

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images via and via and via and via

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, by Olympe de Gouges (1791)

Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793) was a French political activist, feminst and playwright. In "Les Droits de la Femme" she stated that the "Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen" was not applied to women. Her devotion to the cause of women's rights, the vote for women and women's education led to her being charged with treason. Olympe de Gouges was arrested, tried and executed by guillotine (via).

The Rights of Woman

Man, are you capable of being just? It is a woman who poses the question; you will not deprive her of that right at least. Tell me, what gives you sovereign empire to opress my sex? Your strength? Your talents? Observe the Creator in his wisdom; survey in all her grandeur that nature with whom you seem to want to be in harmony, and give me, if you dare, an exampl of this tyrannical empire. Go back to animals, consult the elements, study plants, finally glance at all the modifications of organic matter, and surrender to the evidence when I offer you the menas; search, probe, and distinguish, if you can, the sexes in the administration of nature. Everywhere you will find them mingled; everywhere they cooperate in harmonious tpgetherness in this immortal masterpiece.
Man alone has raised his exceptional circumstances to a principle. Bizarre, blind, bloated with science and degenerated--in a century of enlightenment and wisdom--into the crassest ignorance, he wants to command as a despot a sex which is in full possession of its intellectual faculties; he pretends to enjoy the Revolution and to claim his rights to equality in order to say nothing more about it.

Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen


Mothers, daughters, sisters [and] representatives of the nation demand to be constituted into a national assembly. Believing that ignorance, omission, or scorn for the rights of woman are the only causes of public misfortunes and of the corruption of governments, [the women] have resolved to set forth a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable, and sacred rights of woman in order that this declaration, constantly exposed before all members of the society, will ceaselessly remind them of their rights and duties; in order that the authoritative acts f women and teh athoritative acts of men may be at any moment compared with and respectful of the purpose of all political institutions; and in order that citizens' demands, henceforth based on simple and incontestable principles, will always support the constitution, good morals, and the happiness of all.
Consequently, the sex that is as superior in beauty as it is in courage during the sufferings of maternity recognizes and declares in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following Rights of Woman and of Female Citizens.

Article I
Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights. Social distinctions can be based only on the common utility.

Article II
The purpose of any political association is the conservation of the natural and impresciptible rights of woman and man; these rights are liberty property, security, and especially resistance to oppression.

Article III
The principle of all sovereignty rests essentially with the nation, which is nothing but the union of woman and man; no body and no individual can exercise any authority which does not come expressly from it (the nation).

Article IV
Liberty and justice consist of restoring all that belongs to others; thus, the only limits on the exercise of the natural rights of woman are perpetual male tyranny; these limits are to be reformed by the laws of nature and reason.

Article V
Laws of nature and reason proscibe all acts harmful to society; everything which is not prohibited by these wise and divine laws cannot be prevented, and no one can be constrained to do what they do not command.

Article VI
The law must be the expression of the general will; all female and male citizens must contribute either personally or through their representatives to its formation; it must be the same for all: male and female citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, must be equally admitted to all honors, positions, and public employment according to their capacity and without other distinctions besides those of their virtues and talents. Article VII No woman is an exception; she is accused, arrested, and detained in cases determined by law. Women, like men, obey this rigorous law.

Article VIII
The law must establish only those penalties that are strictly and obviously necessary...

Article IX
Once any woman is declared guilty, complete rigor is exercised by law.

Article X
No one is to be disquieted for his very basic opinions; woman has the right to mount the scaffold; she must equally have the right to mount the rostrum, provided that her demonstrations do not disturb the legally established public order.

Article XI
The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious rights of woman, since that liberty assures recognition of children by their fathers. Any female citizen thus may say freely, I am the mother of a child which belongs to you, without being forced by a barbarous prejudice to hide the truth; (an exception may be made) to respond to the abuse of this liberty in cases determined by law.

Article XII
The gaurantee of the rights of woman and the female citizen implies a major benefit; this guarantee must be instituted for the advantage of all, and not for the particular benefit of those to whom it is entrusted.

Article XIII
For the support of the public force and the expenses of administration, the contributions of woman and man are equal; she shares all the duties and all the painful tasks; therefore, whe must have the same share in the distribution of positions, employment, offices, honors, and jobs.

Article XIV
Female and male citizens have the right to verify, either by themselves of through their representatives, the necessity of the public contribution. This can only apply to women if they are granted an equal share, not only of wealth, but also of public administration, and in the determination of the proportion, the base, the collection, and the duration of the tax.

Article XV
The collectivity of women, joined for tax purposes to the aggregate of men, has the right to demand an accounting of his administration from any public agent.

Article XVI
No society has a constitution without the guarantee of rights and the separation of powers; the constitution is null if the majority of individuals comprising the nation have not cooperated in drafting it.

Article XVII
Property belongs to both sexes whether united or separate; for each it is an inviolable and sacred right' no one can be deprived of it, since it is the true patrimony of natire, unless the legally determined public need obviously dictates it, and then only with a just and prior indemnity.


Woman, wake up; the tocsin of reason is being heard throughout the whole universe; discover your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The flame of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his strength and needs recourse to yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust to his companion. Oh, women, women! When will you cease to be blind? What advantage have you received from the Revolution? A more pronounced scorn, a more marked disdain. In the centuries of corruption you ruled only over the weakness of men. The reclamation of your patrimony, based on the wise decrees of nature-what have you to dread from such a fine undertaking? The bon mot of the legislator of the marriage of Cana? Do you fear that our French legislators, correctors of that morality, long ensnared by political practices now out of date, will only say again to you: women, what is there in common between you and us? Everything, you will have to answer. If they persist in their weakness in putting this non sequitur in contradiction to their principles, courageously oppose the force of reason to the empty pretentions of superiority; unite yourselves beneath the standards of philosophy; deploy all the energy of your character, and you will soon see these haughty men, not groveling at your feet as servile adorers, but proud to share with you the treasures of the Supreme Being. Regardless of what barriers confront you, it is in your power to free yourselves; you have only to want to....
Marriage is the tomb of trust and love. The married woman can with impunity give bastards to her husband, and also give them the wealth which does not belong to them. The woman who is unmarried has only one feeble right; ancient and inhuman laws refuse to her for her children the right to the name and the wealth of their father; no new laws have been made in this matter. If it is considered a paradox and an impossibility on my part to try to give my sex an honorable and just consistency, I leave it to men to attain glory for dealing with this matter; but while we wait, the way can be prepared through national education, the restoration of morals, and conjugal conventions.

Form for a Social Contract Between Man and Woman

We, _____ and ______, moved by our own will, unite ourselves for the duration of our lives, and for the duration of our mutual inclinations, under the following conditions: We intend and wish to make our wealth communal, meanwhile reserving to ourselves the right to divide it in favor of our children and of those toward whom we might have a particular inclination, mutually recognizing that our property belongs directly to our children, from whatever bed they come, and that all of them without distinction have the right to bear the name of the fathers and mothers who have acknowledged them, and we are charged to subscribe to the law which punishes the renunciation of one's own blood. We likewise obligate ourselves, in case of separation, to divide our wealth and to set aside in advance the portion the law indicates for our children, and in the event of a perfect union, the one who dies will divest himself of half his property in his children's favor, and if one dies childless, the survivor will inherit by right, unless the dying person has disposed of half the common property in favor of one whom he judged deserving.

That is approximately the formula for the marriage act I propose for execution. Upon reading this strange document, I see rising up against me the hypocrites, the prudes, the clergy, and the whole infernal sequence. But how it [my proposal] offers to the wise the moral means of achieving the perfection of a happy government! . . .
Moreover, I would like a law which would assist widows and young girls deceived by the false promises of a man to whom they were attached; I would like, I say, this law to force an inconstant man to hold to his obligations or at least [to pay] an indemnity equal to his wealth. Again, I would like this law to be rigorous against women, at least those who have the effrontery to have reCourse to a law which they themselves had violated by their misconduct, if proof of that were given. At the same time, as I showed in Le Bonheur primitit de l'homme, in 1788, that prostitutes should be placed in designated quarters. It is not prostitutes who contribute the most to the depravity of morals, it is the women of' society. In regenerating the latter, the former are changed. This link of fraternal union will first bring disorder, but in consequence it will produce at the end a perfect harmony.
I offer a foolproof way to elevate the soul of women; it is to join them to all the activities of man; if man persists in finding this way impractical, let him share his fortune with woman, not at his caprice, but by the wisdom of laws. Prejudice falls, morals are purified, and nature regains all her rights. Add to this the marriage of priests and the strengthening of the king on his throne, and the French government cannot fail.


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photograph via
Description: "On Aug. 26, 1971, thousands of women demonstrated and leafleted in various places in Manhattan, including Wall Street and St. Patrick's Cathedral. The Women's Rights Day activities culminated in a parade of nearly 6,000 people, including this woman, down Fifth Avenue in support of equal rights (Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler)"

Monday, 12 June 2017

Born this day ... Clyde Kennard

Clyde Kennard was born on 12 June 1927 in Mississippi. He was a Korean War veteran and Civil Rights activist. In 1956, 1957 and 1959 (after the United States Supreme Court had ruled that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional in 1954), he attempted to enroll at the all-white Mississippi Southern College to complete his undergraduate degree. Each time he was rejected because he was black.

"Zack Van Landingham of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which ostensibly encouraged the state's public image but worked to suppress activists for civil rights, urged J. H. White, the African-American president of Mississippi Vocational College, to persuade Kennard to end his quest at Mississippi Southern College. When Kennard could not be dissuaded, Van Landingham and Dudley Connor, a Hattiesburg lawyer collaborated to suppress his activism. Files from the Sovereignty Commission, which the state opened for public review in 1998, showed that its officials went to the extreme of considering forcing Kennard into an accident or bombing his car to stop his quest. Instead, they framed him for a criminal offense." (via)
In 1959, Kennard was arrested, convicted and fined $600 for reckless driving and for illegal possession of alcohol, i.e. whiskey and other liquor that were planted under the seat of his car, as records show. His credit was cut off.
In 1960, he was arrested again. This time for the theft of $25 worth of chicken feed from a warhouse (a so-called accomplice testified against him who years later said that Kennard was innocent; despite efforts there was no pardon). Clyde Kennard was prosecuted and found guilty by an all-white jury that needed ten minutes to deliberate. He was sentenced to seven years in prison to be served in a high-security facility which made sure that he never again applied to any of Mississippi's all-white colleges.
In 1961, Kennard was diagnosed with cancer. Civil rights leaders fought for this release and Kennard could leave prison in 1963. Six months later he died (via and via).
Today, the Clyde Kennard Memorial Scholarship is named after him,

“What happened to me isn’t as bad as what happened to the guard [that abused him], because this system has turned him into a beast, and it will turn his children into beasts.”
Clyde Kennard in his last days in a Chicago hospital

"(...) Clyde died trying to improve Mississippi and America."
Larry Still (Jet, 25 July 1963)

Route 1, Box 70
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
September 25, 1959



The charge that any person who believes in any form of integration of the races is a Communist or an out-side agitator has been made so constantly and with such force that it would not surprise me if there are some people who are innocent enough to believe, if not all, at least some portion of that charge. It is for the benefit of these unfortunate people that I review, briefly, the fundamental principle upon which the conviction of the integrationists is based.

Most basic to our beliefs about the race question in America today is that there can be no racial segregation without some racial discrimination, and that there cannot be a complete racial equalization without some racial integration.

Now this principle is an easy one for us to follow, for it holds as true in human history, especially American History, as it does in logic. Reason tells us that two things, different in location, different in constitution, different in origin, and different in purpose cannot possibly be equal. History has verified this conclusion. For nearly a century now the State of Mississippi has been under a supposedly separate but equal system. Let us ask ourselves, does the history of the system support the theory of the segregationists or the theory of the integrationists? What segregationist in his right mind would honestly claim that the facilities for the two races are equal? Still segregationists say, give us a little more time, we are really making progress. Perhaps they are making progress of some kind, but human life is not long enough to extend their time. They have had nearly a hundred years to prove their theory, and so far they are no closer to proof than when they began.

The differences which we now have over this matter of segregation versus integration have, unfortunately, been characterized by some as a mortal contest between out-side agitators and-or Communists, and peaceful, law-abiding citizens. This is furthest from the truth. The question is whether or not citizens of the same country, the same state, the same city, shall have equal opportunities to earn their living, to select the people who shall govern them, and raise and educate their children in a free democratic manner: or whether or not because of the accident of color, one half of the citizens shall be excluded from society as though they had leprosy?

If there is one quality of Americans which would set them apart from almost any other peoples, it is the history of their struggle for liberty and justice under the law. Lincoln has rightly said that this nation was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Truly, the history of America is inseparable from the ideals of John Locke, John Stuart Mill and Jean Rousseau. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, says our Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal.” How different that statement is in spirit from the one which says: Before I see my child go to school with a Negro, I will destroy the whole school system. How different in virtue is the statement of Patrick Henry which says, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me give me liberty or give me death,” and the one which says, before I see a Negro with liberty I had rather see him dead.

I find it indeed interesting that the people who come closest to the thinking of Fascists and Communists in their activities should accuse the integrationists of that very thing. Is it the segregationists or the integrationists who are employing secret investigators to search the records and to apply pressure on any one suspected of opposing the present dictatorship of the minority by the majority? Is it the segregationists or the integrationists who are preaching the doctrine of the superiority of one race over another? Is it the segregationists or the integrationists who are dogmatically suppressing the aspirations of nearly half the people of this great state for their inalienable right to participate in their government?

The segregationists give as their reason for not allowing Negroes to participate more fully in the general community activities that ninety-five percent of the Negroes are not interested, which would leave only five percent of the Negroes are interested. Now, assuming that their statement is correct, and knowing that no person nor group of people in the United States has the right to forbid even one single person his constitutional rights, what accounts for their actions? Some declare that the northern states can permit integration because they have only a few Negroes, but the South can’t do that because the South has so many Negroes. Well, according to their own estimates, only five percent of the Negroes in the South are interested in the general community activities, and five percent of the Negroes in any community would certainly not weigh very heavily in any critical issue even if we were to assume that they would all vote the same way. On the other hand, if a majority of the Negro people in this State desires to participate to the fullest extent in the general community activities and are being forbidden to do so either through fear or ignorance, then the segregationists of this State are guilty of one of the strangest and probably the most tragic dictatorships yet recorded by history.

It is an easy matter, I suppose, for White people to misunderstand the aspirations of Negroes; this is understandable. But we have no desire for revenge in our hearts. What we want is to be respected as men and women, given an opportunity to compete with you in the great and interesting race of life. We want your friends to be our friends; we want your enemies to be our enemies; we want your hopes and ambitions to be our hopes and ambitions, and your joys and sorrows to be our joys and sorrows.

The big question seems to be, can we achieve this togetherness in our time? If the segregationists have their way we shall not. For instead of preaching brotherly love and cooperation they are declaring the superiority of one race and the inferiority of the other. Instead of trying to show people how much they are alike, they are busy showing them how much they differ. Instead of appointing a commission to study the problem to determine whether integration or segregation is the best policy for Mississippi at this time, they appointed a commission to try to maintain segregation at all cost whether it is the best policy or not the best policy.

In this matter I like to quote from the great Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi, in his discourse on the existence of God. He says: “In the midst of death, life persists; in the midst of untruth, truth persists; in the midst of darkness light persists.”

So, let it be, in our case.

Respectfully submitted,

Clyde Kennard


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images via and via

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Positive vs. Negative Freedom of Religion

The positive (active) freedom of religion is the right to actively express one's religious beliefs - i.e.: the right to religion.
The negative (passive) freedom of religion refers to right not to have to communicate one's religious stance (a question that is often asked at school, in hospital, or in offices that hand out official documents), not to have to take part in religious education at school, to be "spared" from the teachers' and classmates' expression and practice of religion - i.e.: the freedom from religion.

Negative freedom of religion benefits people of different faiths and non-believers (Hector, n.d.). Atheists, in fact, can protect themselves by demanding their negative freedom of religion (Schröder, 2005). However, it does not mean that due to one's negative freedom of religion one may keep others from exercising their positive freedom of religion (Heckel, 2004). It is, therefore, rather limited in everyday life as one cannot refer to negative freedom of religion when asking for a "religious free environment" without churches ringing their bells or muezzins calling to prayer (Starck, n.d.).

Positive and negative freedom of religion cannot be separated from each other (Fuchs, 1999). Promoting one's positive freedom may mean reducing somebody else's negative freedom - as, for instance, the never ending discussion about the crucifix in the classroom shows. This discussion, however, can be led in a more balanced way when considering whose positive and negative freedoms are considered and whose are not.
Some scholars do not consider positive and negative freedom of religion as thesis and antithesis but as a synthesis that protects both the right to do something and the right not to do something (Siering, 2011). Focusing on positive freedom of religion and neglecting the negative aspect of freedom distorts freedom and changes it into something only religiously committed people are entitled to. There can only be freedom of religion if both complementary aspects are taken into account (Bielefeldt, 2012).

- Bielefeldt, H. (2012). Streit um die Religionsfreiheit. Aktuelle Facetten der internationalen Debatte, online
- Fuchs, C. (1999). Das Staatskirchenrecht der neuen Bundesländer. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck
- Heckel, M. (2004). Gesammelte Schriften. Staat, Kirche, Recht, Geschichte. Band V. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck
- Hector, P. (n.d.) Zur Religionsfreiheit in der Rechtssprechung des Europäischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte, online
- Schröder, T. (2005). Religionsfreiheit im abendländischen Kontext, online
- Siering, L. M. (2011). Die negative Religionsfreiheit und ihre Bedeutung bei aufenthaltsbeendenden Maßnahmen. Berlin: LIT
- Stark, C. (n.d.). Religionsfreiheit in Deutschland als positive und negative Freiheit, online
- images via and via and via

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Inclusive Pedagogy & Bell Curve Thinking

Inclusive pedagogy is a contentious concept as there is no agreement that all children can be educated together and where there is agreement there is still a discussion on how this can be done (Florian, 2015). As countries and cultures have different concepts, there is some confusion about the use and meaning of inclusion in educational settings. Different definitions have resulted in different practices (Makoelle, 2014). There is the widespread perception (or rather fear) that the inclusion of pupils with difficulties in learning will hold back the progress of pupils without difficulties in learning. Inclusive education, however, results in benefits for all learners (Spratt & Florian, 2013).

Inclusive pedagogy rejects so-called ability labelling, it does not limit the expectations of teachers and pupils and by focusing on the perceived "potential" reproduce social inequalities.
Labelling children as those having "special needs" means that teachers differentiate work based on their perception of ability which again places "a ceiling on the learning opportunities of those thought to be less able". Disrupting these practices and replacing them with participatory approaches to both teaching and learning is what educational (and social) inclusion is about.
Inclusion is not passive, it is not "being do to" certain groups but a dynamic process that involves all children (Spratt & Florian, 2013).
"The notion of inclusive pedagogy is not a call for a return to a model of whole class teaching where equality is notionally addressed by providing identical experiences for all. Instead it advocates an approach whereby the teacher provides a range of options which are available to everybody. Human diversity is seen within the model of inclusive pedagogy as a strength, rather than a problem, as children work together, sharing ideas and learning from their interactions with each other. The inclusive pedagogical approach fosters an open-ended view of each child’s potential to learn."
Spratt & Florian (2013)

Bell curve thinking means that positions at the centre of a normal distribution are seen as ideal while those outside are regarded as marginalised learners who require something additional, different or "special".
"Because schools are organised by grouping pupils according to commonly agreed categories, and the utilitarian principle of the greatest good for the greatest number, what is ordinarily provided will meet the needs of most learners, while some may require something ‘additional’ to or ‘different’ from that which is ordinarily available. A bell curve model of distribution, which assumes ‘that most phenomena occur around a middle point while a few occur at either high or low extreme ends’ (Fendler and Muzaffar, 2008, p 63) underpins many educational practices and is widely used as an organisational principle. Sorting students by ability is one example of how this model operates; the use of norm-referenced tests is another. Both of these practices are part of the pathway by which judgements about students’ learning capacity are determined and by which some students become eligible for additional support. As a structural feature of the school system, these sorting practices often set the points at which individual students’ educational needs are defined as ‘additional’ or ‘special’. Consequently the idea that some students will need something ‘different from’ or ‘additional to’ that which is generally available to others of similar age is taken for granted. In other words it has become normalised in educational thinking and is accepted without question. Indeed it guides the definition of additional support in many countries."
(Florian, 2015)

Having additional or special needs is being assigned membership to a group and starting to believe that one has the attributes of the group. Often, it also implies that teachers lower their expectations about what the student can achieve (Florian, 2015).

Once a child is labelled, the label is likely to stay throughout the school years. Having special needs means being different, can create stigma and low self-esteem (via). Inclusive pedagogy does not provide something different or additional but "seeks to extend what is ordinarily available to everybody" (via).

- Florian, L. (2015). Inclusive Pedagogy: A transformative approach to individual differences but can it help reduce educational inequalities? Scottish Educational Review, 47(1), 5-14
- Makoelle, T. M. (2014). Pedagogy of Inclusion: A Quest for Inclusive Teaching and Learning. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(20), 1259-1267.
- Spratt, J. & Florian, L. (2013). Applying the principles of inclusive pedagogy in initial teacher education: from university based course to classroom action. Revista de Investigación en Education, 11(3), 133-140.
- images via and via and via and via and via