Institutional racism has, for many years, been the more unpleasant side of societies throughout the world. Black and other minority communities have long been oppressed by predominately white police departments. Crimes within these communities have rarely received the attention that equivalent crimes in white neighbourhoods have. Civil rights marches have been going on for years, social media tracks the violence of police forces, and the alternative media exposes the racist actions of institutions and establishment figures. But has anything really changed? Have we made any progress that truly shows a change in perception? Sadly, it doesn’t seem so.
Often my articles here in the Arts section follow a similar pattern; I observe what I think is a poor defence or poor criticism of a subject, give my contrary reasoning and cast some shade, then tried to conclude with what I think is a better approach to art in general. The overall meta-thesis tends to be “artists and audiences need to be smarter and less sensitive”.
Whilst I do have fun writing such pieces, I feel that my critical pattern is par for the course for liberalism in general. There is an overwhelming feeling of being against something rather than for something. Politically I can reason myself around this. If I’m against inequality in the workplace, I’m de facto for equality. With the arts though it can make me feel like a grumpy old curmudgeon who hates everything and writes from a place of negativity and harsh criticism; To remedy that I wanted to write about something that I was excited about. I failed.
Not only is it a great crime drama with a nunchuck-wielding lead named Dashiell Bad Horse, but the show will have an almost entirely Native American cast and give a voice and representation to the issue of a people marginalised and mistreated in their own land.
What I wanted to write about is the upcoming television adaptation of Jason Aaron and R.M. Guéra comics series Scalped. I love Scalped. It’s a gritty western-crime-noir about an undercover F.B.I. agent on Prairie Rose Indian Reservation. It’s brutal, tense and amazing. Its depiction of life on the “rez” and the struggles of Native Americans feel raw and honest and uncomfortable. I’m not the type of guy who gets super excited for either comic book adaptations or TV series, but this is different. Not only is it a great crime drama with a nunchuck-wielding lead named Dashiell Bad Horse, but the show will have an almost entirely Native American cast and give a voice and representation to the issue of a people marginalised and mistreated in their own land.
by Alex Powell
CW: mentions homophobia and homophobic abuse
Last week marked 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 entered into law, in the first step towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality. There’s been a great deal of coverage of this milestone in British media, including some brilliant, informative TV programming (I highly recommend the BBC’s drama ‘Against the Law’). But it is Owen Jones’s recent Guardian column ‘Hatred of LGBTQ people still infects society. It’s no time to celebrate’ that seems to have been most prominent. Jones’ arguments are certainly justified, but commentary like his risks misrepresenting the situation that now faces LGBT+ people in this country. It’s not all bad.
CW: discussion of domestic violence
An eight episode series, Las Chicas del Cable (The Cable Girls) begins with a woman killing her friend’s husband – part self-defence, part accident – also shooting her friend. It’s a drama full of love stories, as well as crime and mystery, yet domestic violence is a major theme that runs through the series. Set in 1928 in Madrid, it shows the impossibility of leaving an abusive relationship in a patriarchal society, where even the law protects men who are abusers.
by Lotty Clare
Content warning: mentions violence against women, abuse, rape, self-harm, suicide, racism, harassment, homophobia.
Last Saturday, a group of UEA students and Norwich residents travelled to a protest at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire. This protest was the fifth Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ) has organised to shut down detention centres. As I approached the building, hidden inside an industrial estate, surrounded by fields, in the middle of nowhere, it was just as intimidating and depressing as 6 months ago when I went to Yarl’s Wood for the first time. It looks like a prison, except that it is ‘worse than prison, because you have no rights’, as former detainee Aisha Shua put it. Some women are in Yarl’s Wood because their visa expired, others because their asylum claim was unsuccessful. They have committed no crime. And yet they can be detained there indefinitely.
On the face of it, rural train stations don’t feel as though they should be particularly thought provoking places, and they’re probably the last place you’d look to find an inspiring piece of community art. ‘Community art’ in this sense may be bending the meaning of the term a little too far for some – what I saw outside Wymondham train station the other evening were simply thinly scrawled words spray painted onto an old grey wall.
The words were ‘graffiti is a crime’.
An amusing phrase to go alongside the obvious activity – but as I walked past debating whether or not I could be bothered to take a picture or bring it up in pub conversation later, it got me thinking more and more about how graffiti is viewed in society. I don’t condone defacing clearly private property; I believe graffiti is an art form that needs to be given space.
The 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil, has resulted in a lot of firsts. Nine countries are celebrating their first ever gold medal, including first-time entrant Kosovo, whose sovereignty the Olympics committee recognised only two years ago. The Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) was also formed to ‘bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis’. Despite not having won any medals, their significance lies in their representation. The ROT acts as a symbol of hope to those who have been forcefully displaced from their home country that the dreams of these displaced athletes will happen despite all the unfair hardships, injustices and atrocities they have experienced.