After its debut screening in February of this year at the National Film Festival in Utah, USA, the main source of information for the documentary The Infiltrators, Claudio Rojas, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials – just days before the documentary was due to be screened at the Miami Film Festival. Friends and colleagues of Rojas claim this act is political persecution.
by Rowan Gavin
Since their formation in the early ‘90s, Californian Rock & Rollers The BellRays have befuddled the expectations of music media and the industry, just as much as they have thrilled audiences. They’ve taken an open-minded approach to the genre that has defined American music for the past seven decades, and they’ve been an independent outfit that whole time.
The BellRays have self-published their nine albums through a variety of independent labels, including Upper Cut and Alternative Tentacles. 2017 saw the release of EP Punk Funk Rock Soul vol 1, the long-awaited follow up to 2010’s Black Lightning, and last month gave us the album-length Punk Funk Rock Soul vol 2. I caught up with Lisa Kelaula & Bob Vennum, the band’s permanent members, before they went on stage at Norwich Arts Centre last Friday.
by Tara Debra G
Content warning: Holocaust/genocide, slavery, white supremacy
Under the cloak of night, on the 24th of April this year, an obelisk that celebrated members of the Crescent City White League was removed in New Orleans. It was erected in 1891 to honour the group that, twenty years prior, launched a failed insurrection against the Reconstruction Louisiana state government, murdering police officers in doing so. Its plaque in 1931 read: “the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.”
The Republican Party’s war on the environment has begun in earnest.
The US Army Corps of Engineers have . The . Republican senators have introduced a bill to disband the Environmental Protection Agency. The using the Congressional Review Act. The . The . Trump has promised to disband the Clean Power Act and the EPA website has removed all pages relating to climate change. Trump’s America First Energy Plan and, although the initial plan to has been withdrawn, proposals have been put forward to transfer federal land to state control. In the UK, the government is pushing forward with the intention to and even more. A report by the Energy and Climate Committee has predicted that the UK will fail to meet its renewable energy targets. The led to its operations being transferred to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, casting doubt of the ability to prioritise the environment over business.
by Olivia Hanks
All people are of equal value. The same is not true of opinions – and the conflation of the two is leading us down a dark path to ignorance and authoritarian rule.
2016 was not a good year for experts. Michael Gove (that straight-talking man of the people) declared that the British public had “had enough” of them. On the face of it, it seems he was right: in voting to leave the European Union, 17.4 million people defied the advice of specialists in every field from finance to ecology to social cohesion. A few months later, in the best Anglo-Saxon tradition of oneupmanship, the United States voted to be led by a man whose approach to policy is to say things at random and see which gets the biggest cheer.
Two things that have become clear with the election of Donald J Trump as President – elect. Firstly, America’s status as a sole superpower and its Exceptionalism is coming to an end, and secondly, the liberal international order, rooted in principles of international law and community and defined in part by American hegemony, has been turned upside down. The world is in an increasing state of flux.
While it is undergoing a process of reordering, the likelihood is that global affairs may not be very responsive to the will of the United States either through its diplomatic capacity, its institutional structures which it retains its legitimacy, or through hard power. Authors such as Kupchan go further, arguing that America must prepare for the decline of the West, correlating with a decline in its own position.
by Tara Gulwell
Content warning: mentions death row and execution.
Arriving at Angola prison is a bit like realising the horror film you’ve been watching is actually a documentary. Suddenly a landscape that was far removed from my own experience was coming into focus before me as I arrived at the gates. I’ve had family members who were imprisoned or have gone through the criminal justice system, but this was Angola. This was the Alcatraz of the South, one of the most violent subjects of intense fascination in American mythology.
We live in turbulent times. Just months after Britain decided to leave the EU, as well as the recurring popularity of Australian anti-immigration pundit Pauline Hanson, it was now America’s turn to tread down a similar right-wing path — this time by electing everyone’s favourite media darling, Donald Trump, as President.
As President. Of the United States. Oh how far we’ve sunk.
But is there actually a rational reason for wanting to elect a racist, scare-mongering serial womaniser out of sheer desperation of the times we’re living in? Or maybe there are other things everyday people are getting fed up of as well. Perhaps people have even become jaded with liberal culture as well. Nowadays it is often a shallow parody of its former self. It’s often hollow, intellectually-sterile, idealistic, immobile and sometimes even commercialised in the media.
by Zoe Harding
Content warning: As you’d expect, this article contains Donald Trump and all the associated bullshit that comes with him. It gets better at the end, but it’s still pretty grim. For a TL:DR, try Warren Ellis’ excellent Transmetropolitan comics, or this. Also contains strong language.
It’s not been a great year for fans of basic human decency towards people who aren’t white, straight, cis men. I’d list the crappy things that have happened on that front alone but I’ve got 800ish words and 2016 is going to get history books all of its own. Now, the self-proclaimed Land of the Free has elected a President who dog-whistled his way into power on a wave of fear, hate, intolerance and general bastardry. Well, great. All we need is a major natural disaster in December and then we’re on track for a nuclear war in January. Shitty things are already happening. Here’s a running list. (Note: The election is still recent. I hope these turn out to be sensationalist clickbait. I really hope.)
by Zoe Harding
Can anything stop Donald Trump? The recent presidential debate between the Man with the Golden Skin and Madame Nixon has been heralded as another in a series of candidate-ending screw-ups, Trump appearing rambling and incoherent while Clinton seemed uncharacteristically cheerful and unscripted. Trump was called out repeatedly for lying, and his awkwardly unreleased tax returns were dragged ever closer to the cold light of day. Even his post-debate spin was desperate, with Trump claiming imaginary poll victories and showing a surprising measure of the political correctness his supporters are rabidly opposed to. He even blamed his microphone for his weak performance, giving Clinton a chance to drop one more zingy soundbite.
But here’s the thing: this isn’t going to slow Trump down. This won’t turn his supporters off him. To drop into a metaphor I’ve seen employed elsewhere, Trump is Godzilla.
There is something to be said for the recent solidarity protests in London, Birmingham and Manchester as organised by the Black Lives Matter movement. Never have I seen such a positive, unionised display of blackness that has caught the eye of not only the media, but also the average citizen. As more articles are released, I am becoming more intrigued by the role that social media has played in galvanising mass movement, and implementing revolutionary politics that will leave behind a long lasting message for people of colour to come.
My experience in the UK regarding institutional violence against people of colour was that the baton was always passed to our stateside counterparts. It is not difficult to see why, when sites such as Twitter and Tumblr opened us up to the lives of Trayvon Martin, Ayesha Jones, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland — long before it caught the attention of popular news sites and news networks. It was important that these narratives were being discussed, as it gave people of all races an insight into the practices within forces that are designed to safeguard us —especially in a society of 24-hour surveillance.
by Zoe Harding
Content warning: mentions mass shooting, homophobia, Islamophobia.
As you know, on Sunday a homophobic mass-murderer killed 49 people and seriously wounded 53 others in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He used a handgun and a semi-automatic rifle, took hostages and was only finally killed when the Orlando police rammed the wall of the club with an armoured vehicle and forced him to come out, before gunning him down.
News media and political statements have been full of Islamophobic vitriol and scaremongering. Owen Jones walked off Sky News after deciding he was sick of listening to Mark Longhurst and Julia Hartley-Brewer trying to downplay the homophobic aspects of shooting up a gay club in favour of a more anti-Daesh approach — despite the attack not yet being confirmed either way if in any way connected to Daesh. As Julian Canlas commented for The Norwich Radical, ‘It is not just an ‘Orlando nightclub massacre’. It is an Orlando lgbtQ+ Latinx nightclub massacre.’ Florida governor Rick Scott suggested that the best thing one could do to aid victims of the shooting was pray, and dodged questions about what could be done to stop further shootings— the NRA logo practically glistening behind his eyes.
By Ben Pavey
Donald Trump has been drawing a lot of flak recently regarding his call to deny all entry to the US to Muslim immigrants, a call which has been derided by a spectrum of people from his own party to politicians abroad. But the weakness of some of the condemnations- Ted Cruz’s “Not my policy” or Reince Pribus’ “I don’t agree”- hint that the fervor is not as heartfelt as it should be. The problem for most of the party is that the Republican party has made unashamed racists part of their base. Trumps remarks are not, as various candidates have tried to suggest, an outlier of republican thought, but the logical end point of the past 50 years.
By Josh Wilson
Citizens of America will not enter a polling booth for over a year but yet the Presidential election seems to be in full swing already. So what even is a primary? Are there any radical candidates? And is Kanye really running to be leader of the ‘free world’? Hopefully this radical guide to the US election will be able to clear things up a bit.
Over the past week, footage of Syrian refugees has bombarded international news channels. Most of the four million fleeing Syrians – currently living in overcrowded refugee camps in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey – often go on to travel thousands of miles through central Europe, and across the Mediterranean, to countries such as Austria and Germany. Many have attempted to find their way onto boats, trains and trucks crossing the Channel to the UK.
by Mike Vinti
Since its inception gangsta rap has been a thorn in the side of the establishment. Brash, violent and loud, its explosion in the late 80s and 90s tore up the rule book of hip hop and reshaped the genre in its own image, introducing the world to the harsh reality of life on the streets of black America. With the cinematic release of ‘Straight Outta Compton’ a week away (August 15th) it only seems fitting to look back at some of gangster rap’s greatest and explore its legacy thirty years on.
Gangsta rap is hip hop’s bratty younger brother, fed on the social conscious rhymes of early hip hop but filled with the anger of a generation excluded from the yuppie party of the eighties. Like punk before it, its church is broad, ranging from the smooth, sun-drenched rhythms of G-Funk, to the hard edged, sample heavy boom bap of Wu Tang Clan. Frequently criticised by those on the left and the right for glorifying violence and misogyny, scapegoated for the prevalence of crime in black communities, and beloved to many a hip hop head, the story of gangsta rap is the story of poverty in America, as relevant to this day as it was back in ’86.
The run-up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election has been full of surprises so far — whether for better or for worse is another matter altogether. Not long after former First Lady Hillary Clinton announced her campaign, Jeb Bush, brother of George W. and former governor of Florida, subsequently announced his own candidacy. America could potentially have its first-ever female president, or its third Bush president within the space of three decades.
Then it got a bit funny. Business magnate and television personality Donald Trump decided to offer himself up for election, much to the collective delight of Internet — the announcement itself was barely spared by popular satirists such as Stephen Colbert on his popular television show. Finally, Louisiana governor, Indian-American Bobby Jindal, announced that he too would be running for president.
After two successful terms with America’s first-ever black president, it does seem that America is now hankering for more diversity in its politics.
The recent Charleston shootings on June 17th — in which nine people were shot and killed inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church — has raised eyebrows from all quarters as to why suspect Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, has not been labelled by the media as a ‘terrorist’ for his hate crimes.
The reason being, as offered by several news outlets, is that convenient labels such as ‘terrorist’ or ‘thug’ would automatically be applied if the attacker were Muslim or black. However, Roof, like many other ‘lone killers’ the United States is becoming increasingly known for, has instead been given labels such as ‘mentally ill’ and ‘angry loner’.
It was Norfolk’s — and arguably history’s — finest polemicist, Thomas Paine, who best summed up the illogical institution of monarchy when he wrote, “One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves of it. Otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it to ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS for a LION.” Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense rocked the world when it was first published some 240 years ago – inspiring revolution in America, and resentment amongst the ruling class in Britain. It left them trembling at the prospect of revolution on their own doorstep, as the former Corset-maker from Thetford dared common folk everywhere to question exactly why we should offer the inbred parasites atop our society anything but contempt, and the wrong end of a sword.
There have, of course, been some earth shattering changes since the days of Paine — but before you get too comfortable, think hard, ye serfs, on the events of Saturday May 2nd.
by Cadi Cliff
When a celebrity says something explicitly racist, we make a noisy ritual of shunning them. We’re able to do this because the multiculturalism movement changed the rules of civility. It has taught us what not to say to each other, but not what to say next.
Michael Brown, 18, was shot on August 9 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The black teenager was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer. The disputed circumstances of the shooting and the subsequent protests have ignited debate about law enforcement’s relationship with African-Americans and use of force by the police. The grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer over the death of Eric Garner came ten days after a grand jury in Missouri decided that Darren Wilson should not face criminal charges. The failure of any prosecution in both the Brown, Martin, and Garner cases highlights a trend in the American judicial system; once is a tragedy, twice is a pattern.
Every time toxic, tragic events reveal the unequal ways that different Americans experience re-segregation and state violence, we talk about having a productive discussion, but we never really have it. Instead, we’ve regressed a half-century in our racial progress.