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So This Is 'Black History Month'?

Dear TV programmers,

At the beginning of this month many people questioned the relevance of Black History Month in 09; what with Barack Obama being Prezzy and all. Black people are supposedly integrated with English society, we no longer fear random racist attacks on the pavement, the glass ceiling has disappeared in careers etc. Do I subscribe to that? Not completely. That isn't to say it is on levels of the 50s-80s, but there is still a problem.

Everything was going swimmingly... actually I say swimmingly, what I really mean was normal TV schedule. Nothing really Black History Month about it, no not even that corny stereotypical figurine chattin' in that taking the wee blackcent on MTV Base said anything (from what I remember; YouTube/WSHH/Blogs > MTV Base in 09). Did they have idents from artists saying what Black History Month means to them this year? Genuine question.

Back on track, it was all going swimmingly until BNP leader, friend of nonviolent KKK member (nonviolent makes it's alright, or so he thinks), "I will shuffle in my seat and bite my lip for the duration of this program, chat a bit of nonsense, deflect attention by parrin' Jack Straw's dad, then when the coast is clear I will get the chance to speak about immigration & Muslims (a.k.a 'bloody forriners')," Nick Griffin appears on Question Time *exhales*. As I blog'd the other day, I didn't see a problem. Have my views changed? Not sure, possibly.

The basis of my opinion was "freedom of speech" - I now feel this was naive. I spoke to one of my dad's friends about Dick's (I lol'd when dude said that on QT) appearance and that changed my mind. He told me about the UK Government not letting Farrakhan speak somewhere over here. Found this news article on Babylon winning a case banning him from entering. It states: "Mr Farrakhan has been banned by successive home secretaries since 1986 when the then government barred him on the grounds he expressed racist and anti-Semitic views" Sound familiar? So where is the freedom of speech there then? May want to read this by Darcus Howe on Farrakhan.

This reminded me of what I'd found out about COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program), often illegal practices by the FBI "aimed at investigating and disrupting dissident political organizations within the United States." This surprised me: "According to FBI records, 85% of COINTELPRO resources were expended on infiltrating, disrupting, marginalizing, and/or communist and socialist organizations; the women's rights movement; militant black nationalist groups, and the non-violent civil rights movement" such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and others," whereas 15% for groups like Ku Klux Klan. Sounds fair (sarcasm). Not to say that this operation is going on in England, but there isn't much denying the similarities in which groups get love or should I say the least hate.

Anyway I digress, back to Question Time. Wasn't even going to address this, but I read this blog on BBC which annoyed me. Writer was fine, comments made me feel more aggressive than listening to Grime music for 12, know what I'm saying Dotun Adebayo (check JP if that went over your head)? People say the crowd/panel were unfair to him, not allowing him to speak, but it must take some doing. Problem is his stance is extremely controversial, a stance many will all-out hate, therefore it will always be hard to find members for the crowd who aren't totally against him, unlike many other guests who appear on QT.

Sometimes I find myself losing faith in humanity. Reading those comments is an example

On Monday, Channel 4 there was a documentary called 'Race And Intelligence: Science's Last Taboo' about whether intelligence is determined by race, more to the point "Are white people smarter than black people by default?" Was sceptical about the motives behind this program; I'm all for these types of programs if done properly, but is it really appropriate during Black History Month?

After watching the program I was actually surprised. It didn't make me feel totally (you'll see why that's bold in a second) inadequate and damn right stupid! Rageh Omar went on a mission to challenge the IQ system as a means of testing intelligence and looked into social and economical problems which plight African-American kids. What he didn't do was look into black civilisations pre-slavery which kind of made it look like black people are playing catch-up (hence why I used totally). Either way, I was still surprised/impressed with the outcome.

Following that documentary the next day was some documentary called Bleach, Nip, Tuck: The White Beauty Myth. Whallaloadabull... Some short Indian guy who clearly had Napoleon Complex wanted to be a little bit taller & some big black Jamaican bird from Brixton (surprise, surprise) who had 3 kids (I guessed that from looking at her) with breast from her shoulders to her knees (give it 3 years/1 more kid and they will be by her toes) felt the need for a breast reduction. I don't blame her! They looked like a burden. I'd rather be one of the famished kids in the Oxfam ad carrying fresh water on my head for miles than walk with them breast she carried. Surprised they haven't suffocated her in her sleep.

By now you must be wondering where the "White Beauty" bit comes in. I was still wondering that at 10.20 when I flicked that garbage over to BBC1 15mins before I was gonna try holding out until. The reason they gave was "[Asian guy] was 5 inches shorter than the average British male." Yeah? Well wasn't he shorter than the average Asian man as well then, nah?

How about the black mother of three? In fact, let's take a wild guess of how they recruited her. I'm guessing they sent out a runner who thought he was recruited to do 2 weeks work experience in PR to stand on a pavement in Brixton like them annoying charity people who make you call the automated mobile phone operator pretending its a friend. Instead of charity, he asked black females with big breasts these two questions:

1. Are you Jamaican?
2. Would you like a free breast reduction for them knockers you have?

They portrayed her like she is the average black female. She wasn't someone I'd call mildly attractive, mainly down to her looking like an auntie. Only thing racial was the random "I feel like people mumble black bitch when I'm on the bus" or something like that. Someone in the room said "She's more likely to find they called her 'Fat bitch'! Rhymes but isn't quite the same." Worst than that, she envied Posh Spice's figure. Just like to inform you that the Bullsh*t meter started to overheat at this point. Obviously thought of the the smallest white female. Had this been 2002 she'd have said Kylie. You could find a white woman, same age, same circumstances (kids), same shape with the same insecurities. If they got someone who was young, with big bum and small breasts wanting a breast enlargement and bum reduction then I'd say the program held weight.

There was a pigeon-chest Chinese woman with AAs (near concave cup size). Hard out here, she's on my level. I'm hearing they also had a guy who wanted to enlarge his penis. Now I don't look out for next man but we all know the rumour of black men holding it down. Don't think those are Chinese whispers either... I'm just saying. So yes, basically any program based on plastic surgery with a racial spin (Black History Month anybody?).

BBC1 program, Make Me White started at 10.35 (I was there well in advance) was on bleaching. The Anita Rani presented show mainly focused on bleaching within the Asian community. Trivial program dealing with a deep subject. Waste of time really, so I won't waste my time on the program.

Now if Black History Month is to continue like this, we may as well scrap it. Pointless. All that happens is a couple of local community centres mainly in councils Lambert, Lewisham and Southwark, hold a few groups on a cold Wednesday evening, and Kick Racism Out Of Football stickers.

What I'd like to see more of is what I already thought, but also Levi Roots' take on Black History Month from when I interviewed him:

We as a people look too much on the past. It’s time we started to look at the future. We big up the heroes of the past too much. I know that people without the knowledge of the past will never know their future - we done know that already - but we are always talking about Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, blah blah, but what about the people like I met last night? Let’s find them and start talking about them in the same vein as we do the dead heroes and we’ll see how much of a change can come about.

I enjoyed this interview Jeremy Paxman did with Spike Lee. Spike Jones hit him with real talk. Spike to Paxman: "How long have you been black?" Classic. Shame it was on BBC2 @ minutes to 11pm.

I was proud of Dizzee's performance at the Electric Proms . Doesn't make the music of black origin beat-wise, but he cuts no slack on street lyrics especially the slang. Shame it was on BBC at minutes to 11pm or red button. Care not what you say, this was a defining moment in UK black/urban music history! "He's a black boy like me, so his respect is due certainly".

1Xtra repped with the Masterpieces as selected by the specialist DJs Ronnie Herel (D'Angelo - Brown Sugar), Cameo (So Solid - They Don't Know), Bailey (Goldie - Timeless), Robbo Ranx (Sizzla - Da Real Thing) and Semtex (AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted). DJs got the opinions of fellow industry members which was interesting; Robbo played parts of an interview he did with Sizzla, Cameo had Megaman on his show etc. Check out what else they did for Black History Month here. Shame 1Xtra is only digital (get the point I'm making?).

Overall, Black History Month was some eeeeeeeeeedyat ting! We are supposed to be celebrating not using it as a selling point for race-driven programs. That isn't saying every minute of every day or even everyday, but like how you guys can waste time putting the aforementioned programs on at prime time, surely time could have been used for a more appropriate program or 2, no?

Fix up for next year please.


Marvin Sparks


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