Speakers For the Dead // dir. by Jennifer Holness & David Sutherland.

When Irish settlers first moved to the area now known as Priceville in Ontario Canada, to their surprise, they found a community of black people already living there.

This documentary reveals some of the hidden history of Black people in Canada. In the 1930s in rural Ontario, a farmer buried the tombstones of a Black cemetery to make way for a potato patch. In the 1980s, descendants of the original settlers, Black and White, came together to restore the cemetery, but there were hidden truths no one wanted to discuss. Deep racial wounds were opened. Scenes of the cemetery excavation, interviews with residents and re-enactments—including one of a baseball game where a broken headstone is used for home plate—add to the film’s emotional intensity.


Before the Earth was
I was
Before time was
I was
you found me not long ago and
called me Lucy
I was four million years old
I had my tools beside me
I am the first man
call me Adam
I walked the Nile from Congo to Delta
a 4,000 mile jog

I lived in the land of Canaan
before Abraham, before Hebrew was born
I am Canaan, son of Ham
I laugh at Arabs and Jews
fighting over my land
I lived in Saba, Southern Arabia
I played in the Red Sea
dwelled on the Persian Gulf
I left my mark from Babylon to Timbuktu
When Babylon acted a fool, there was me
I was the fool
When Babylon fell, that was me
I fell

I was the first European
call me Negrito and Grimaldi
I walked along the Mediterranean
from Spain to Greece
Oh, Greece!
Why did you kill Socrates?
Why did you give him the poison hemlock?
Who were the gods he introduced
corrupting the youth of Athens?
They were my gods, black gods from Africa
Oh, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle
Whose philosophy did you teach
that was Greek to the Greeks?
Pythagoras, where did you learn geometry?
Democritus, where did you study astronomy?
Solon and Lycurgus, where did you study law?
In Egypt, and Egypt is Africa
and Africa is me
I am the burnt face, the blameless Ethiopian
Homer told you about in the Iliad
Homer told you about Ulysses, too,
a story he got from me.

I am the Chinese
China has my eyes
I am the Aboriginal Asian
Look for me in Vietnam, Cambodia & Thailand
I am there, even today, black and beautiful

I used to travel to America
long before Columbus
came to me asking for directions
Amerigo Vespucci
on his voyage to America
saw me in the Atlantic
returning to Africa
America was my home
Before Aztec, Maya, Toltec, Inca & Olmec
I was here
I came to Peru 20,000 years ago
I founded Mexico City
See my pyramids, see my cabeza colosal
in Vera Cruz and Yucatan
that’s me
I am the Mexican
for I am mixed with all men
and all men are mixed with me
I am the most just of men
I am the most peaceful
who loves peace day and night
Sometimes I let tyrants devour me
sometimes people falsely accuse me
sometimes people crucify me
but I am ever returning
I am eternal, I am universal
Africa is my home
Asia is my home
Americas is my home

by Poet Marvin X
The Relationship Between Africans and African Americans
The Relationship Between Africans and African Americans

Below are tweets by Nigerian writer Luvvie Ajayi that I compiled together. 

We’re all so ethnocentric and we think our history is taught to everyone else. It’s not. Africans aren’t taught about the Middle Passage in school or about slavery in the U.S. We don’t get lessons about the Civil Rights Movement in Nigeria when we got the Biafran War to learn about. Nahmean? 

Much of the tension between Africans and African Americans exists because we don’t talk enough about our uncomfortable relationship. I didn’t know a thing about African Americans being slaves when I was growing up. I thought everyone had a maid and driver like I did. I didn’t even give the United States extra thought because I was comfortable in Nigeria. I was GOOD. I thought all Black folks were. I was 9. I never identified as “Black” growing up because Black was the default where I was from. Racial politics is something I learned when I got here.

Many Africans who come to the U.S. do so when they’re FULL GROWN. That means you won’t be immersed in studying black history and whatever biases you already had will probably stay because who will teach you otherwise? Certainly not the bogus ass mainstream media.

"Akata." It’s a word that some Nigerians use to refer to Black Americans. It’s ugly. I don’t use it. That word epitomizes the terrible stereotypes that Africans have about African Americans. Many young Africans don’t know what it MEANS. They participate in dehumanizing a people w/o even knowing it. They use it because they’ve heard it being used so casually that many don’t know that it’s derogatory. Passed down prejudice. It means "wild animal." 

Africans who come to the U.S. are statistically more successful than African Americans and they think “if I could do it, why not them?” Again, it goes back to not knowing how slavery wreaked havoc on these people who are our skinfolk and kinfolk. We do not understand. It’s coming from a place of “pull yourself up from the bootstraps because I did” when there’s 400 years of damage folks still gotta fix.

I want Black folks in the U.S. not to hate us for the ignorance we carry. It’s from our lack of knowing. Teach us. The same blood runs through our veins. Many of yall look like my cousins. I can’t see Black folks in the U.S. as anything BUT my peoples. I credit the classes I took in undergrad for really opening my eyes. Many of the Africans in the generation above me don’t get the chance.

It is up to those of us who are young to let our African parents know some of the things we know about the history of those we sold. We sold you to those white folks. We are/were kings back home. I want to think we didn’t know they’d do this to you. :-( And those some white folks ransacked our own nations and drew arbitrary borders that are causing wars TO THIS DAY! The weird thing is that Africans and African Americans have the same villain, who’s tried to take our culture from us and rob us blind.

I hope we can have these types of convos in person in a room, fish bowl style. There’s a lot of hurt on BOTH sides.

When I came to the U.S., I had a STRONG Nigerian accent. I learned to hide it by imitating how my classmates spoke. It’s mostly gone now. I was in a new school—public school—for the first time in my life. I was the new kid FIRST TIME! When teachers would look at my name, then at me, then down at the list again, I sheepishly raised my hand and say “that’s me.”

The teachers would BUTCHER my name beyond recognition without even TRYING and students would say “MON” after every sentence to me. I felt like a foreigner… that is when I learned to hide my Nigerian accent. It worked. Kids would ask me, ‘Do you have lions in your backyard? Do you wear clothes?’ I didn’t have a quick enough comeback. I wanted to reply with ‘GIRL I HAVE A DRIVER, A MAID, MY OWN TAILOR AND HAVE NEVER DONE MY OWN DISHES!’ But alas… I was there, wasn’t I?

I learned doubt when I previously had very little. At 9, I learned that the world might not be my oyster, after all. It was humbling. We left Nigeria because my mom wanted us to do out higher education here because universities kept striking and all’at.

There’s 2 chapters of my life: in Nigeria and after. I grew up in privilege over there. Here? We started over. The fact that I have one foot on the continent of Africa and one here. I feel like a literal African American, having understanding of both. To be able to trace my lineage back as long as I want is a privilege. I’m sorry for those who were robbed of it. :-(

What can we all do to heal? What can we all do to really come together and realize that we’re fighting the same struggle, after all? My story isn’t extraordinary. It just is. However, what I’ve learned is that sometimes, we gotta drop the pain at our feet for rest. I’ll be back in Nigeria next month. Usually when I go, I’m silent on social media. I want to bring you all along w/ me this time.

"The first thing I saw when I walked in the door [of the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore] was a 500lb bale of cotton and it was taller than me, thicker than me, wider than me, and I was just met with the loftiness of Patsey. One of the most shocking things I learned was that it was common to make accessories out of the skin of slaves that died. There were wallets and bags, and they were prized possessions. It doesn’t get more horrific than that. I was stunned that I hadn’t even heard the name Solomon Northup. In school we learned about slavery but we spent more time learning about the Holocaust."
Lupita Nyong’o, from her cover story in Dujour magazine about the horrifying things she learned while studying for her breakout role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave.
The Drummer Who Invented Jazz's Basic Beat
The Drummer Who Invented Jazz's Basic Beat

Musicians call it “spang-a-lang,” for obvious phonetic reasons, and it’s so synonymous with jazz, it no longer occurs to us that someone had to invent it. But someone did: a drummer named Kenny Clarke, who would have turned 100 today.

Spang-a-lang was only part of Clarke’s innovation. Marking time on the ride cymbal with his right hand — previously, jazz drummers employed the bass drum with the right foot — gave his left hand and feet the freedom and sonic space to play thundering accents (“dropping bombs”) at irregular intervals. The sound they made inspired another phonetic term: “Klook,” which became Clarke’s nickname.

"Clarke represents a tectonic shift," drummer and educator Ralph Peterson says. "He is the patriarch of drumming in modern jazz."

Born in Pittsburgh in 1914, Clarke was a musical prodigy, drumming professionally with local big bands in his teens. By his 20s, he was working with Louis Armstrong and Roy Eldridge, superstars in their day.

This was the late ’30s: Jazz was still dance music, with the drums providing heavy beats for Lindy-hopping feet. Most drummers struck the bass on every beat in the measure, a technique known as four-on-the-floor. But as Clarke recalled to writer Ira Gitler in Swing to Bop, while playing with Teddy Hill’s big band one night in 1939, an arrangement of “Old Man River” went too fast for his foot to work the bass pedal. Instead, he kept the pulse going on the cymbal, using the bass and snare to “cut the time up.”

It was initially too weird for dancers and bandmates used to four-on-the-floor: Clarke was soon fired. But Teddy Hill remembered him in 1941, when recruiting the house band for a Harlem spot called Minton’s Playhouse. Minton’s became the laboratory for what would soon be called bebop or modern jazz — a less danceable, more abstract approach to the music — which was built substantially on Clarke’s rhythmic ideas. The classic tune “Epistrophy,” which Clarke wrote with pianist Thelonious Monk, is shaped like the bombs he dropped: an asymmetrical melody with accents placed irregularly, often just off the beat.

Read more

White people, particularly in America, don’t know how good they have it.

To continuously engage in generational acts of white supremacy—blackface, discrimination, and even the desire to bring back slavery—towards people of the African diaspora that have strived to fulfill what our ancestors weren’t even sent over here do— overcome, reshape cultures, rebuild what was sought out to be destroyed (our character)—you must not know how lenient we are.

They say it’s so much AN INDIVIDUAL can take. Realize you’re coming for a WHOLE race. We are letting you to breathe. People of the African diaspora could easily rise up at any moment and have this shit looking like the apocalypse for repeatedly being disrespected for centuries and, often times, treated as disposable. We could easily have guns drawn, whips, chains on deck and have you hanging from trees like your ancestors did our people or racially profile like you do our people … We’re not like you. But don’t test us.

We are people. Respect us.

Our features and varying shades of brown are not costumes nor should they be ridiculed because it differs from yours. It’s skin. The varying textures of our natural hair allows up to have options when it comes to styling (braids, flat ironed, ‘fro, etc) and should not be judged or touched because it is unlike yours. It’s hair. We are not animals, or lower than animals. We are people. Respect us.

Organizations, primarily geared to people of the African diaspora (P.o.C., in general), and monumental reflections (ex: Black History Month) will always be celebrated to continuously motivate our people.

Slavery is in the past. Get over it." No. People of the African diaspora will not end discussions on our past. It is a vast part of American history, along with the history of the indigenous people of this land before the arrival of white people and after the genocide of their people by white people. 

We had our own flourishing civilizations. We were the authors of our OWN history, until we were interrupted with white authors that decided to grab our pen and dictate the happenings.

People of the African diaspora will not tear out any pages because you don’t like how your people are described. It IS history. The demise of people created your wealth among other things.

So again. You just don’t know how lenient we are. We are people. Respect us.

50 Years Today: Civil Rights Roundtable (Aug. 28, 1963)

Hosted by David Schoenbrun of CBS, this discussion took place on that day of March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream” speech.

It features Harry Belafonte (36), Charlton Heston (40), Sidney Poitier (26), Joseph L. Mankiewicz (54), Marlon Brando (39), and James Baldwin (39).