Thursday, 12 September 2013

The summer of 2013

It's been so long since I last blogged and for that I apologise. You know how sometimes even with the best of intentions life has a way of whipping your butt and letting you know who's boss. Over the past few months I've worked hard, travelled, contributed to written publications, and neglected The Hibiscus Notes. So I thought I'd reintroduce myself by giving you my two cents worth on some of summer 2013 events. 
The Trayvon Martin case ranks for me as perhaps the key of those events. The verdict to acquit George Zimmerman left me feeling angry and frustrated. I've heard arguments that the jury reached the only verdict they could based on the facts  but I don't buy that for one minute. While I recognize that there were other factors that contributed to the travesty of a verdict - like the nonsensical and racially-motivated "stand your ground"  law and the prosecution's shoddy job, I still maintain that the jury would have reached a different verdict if Trayvon had been a white teenager and Zimmerman a black grown man. The fact that he pursued Trayvon seemed to play no part in the courtroom whatsoever. Instead we were given a profile of an aggressive delinquent teenager who caused his own death. The stark lesson from the Trayvon Martin case was that the life of an African-American is worth less than the life of a White American. Zimmerman was standing his ground when he shot Trayvon but the teenager was being aggressive and asking to be murdered when he reacted to an armed adult pursuing and antagonizing him.
Then there's Syria - more cause for despair I'm afraid but this time in the sheer powerlessness of the United Nations. We have all stood by and watched both rebels and the Assad government massacre their own people. The Obama administration decided that a red line was crossed when the use of chemical weapons resulted in the deaths of 1400 civilians including women and children. Yet much as we were angry and wanted answers, the thought of yet another US 'shock and awe' campaign filled us with more dread than the prospect of the war continuing. Some might say Obama is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. This is one occasion where I have no idea what the right thing to do would be - to do nothing and sit idly by as the carnage continues? To make a mockery of the suffering of the Syrian people by pretending that a diplomatic solution can still be reached with those who ordered the deaths of their mothers, wives and children? To put NATO boots on the ground and watch as US/UK/French public support wanes? Or to have  a United Nations peacekeeping operation - even though there's no peace to keep and we all know UN peacekeepers are least effective when there's active fighting going on. It's a complex situation and before brandishing our peace symbols or polishing our machine guns we should think long and hard about what a viable solution would be and share those thoughts with those who represent us and are in a position to act. 
On a lighter or perhaps more absurd note, the twittersphere was all in a tizz over Miley Cyrus twerking and degrading black women - allegedly. I'm pleased to say I missed the VMAs but sadly caught the "Miley Show" via the internet when curiousity got the better of me. Two words - not sexy! I could go on but that would be giving Little Ms Cyrus more attention than she deserves and we all know that the child just needs a few stern words and to be sent straight up to  her room without her supper.
On the entertainment front, I was moved by  Lee Daniels' The Butler, and bowled over by Emeli Sande's performance at Central Park. 

Forest Whittaker did an incredible job in the lead role of The Butler reminding us how far African-Americans have come in a lot of respects. The film documents the civil rights movement and the incredible life of Cecil Gaines, a real life butler who worked in the White House for three decades spanning eight presidencies. The film is brilliantly acted, funny at times but mostly enlightening and moving - It made me regain the respect I have for African-Americans who in spite of all their struggles and the odds that have been repeatedly stacked against them, have like Mr Gaines remained dignified and resolute in their goal of bettering their lives and the lives of their children.

And last but by no means least, my girl Emeli Sande rocked the crowd in central park so much last month that we forgot we had been drenched by rain moments before she appeared on stage. It goes without saying that Ms Sande can belt out a tune like the best of them but what makes her incredible in my opinion is that this is at the core of who she is. Emeli Sande sings and sometimes plays an instrument but this is essentially all she does. There are no gimmicks, no wardrobe changes every few minutes, I doubt I can even recsll what she wore, no complex choreography- just a talented singer and her amazing voice. I think I fell in love with live music again - hearing it in its pure form -watching a performer who just wanted us to listen to her words and music and be in awe of that alone. Emeli Sande is one of the most talented down to earth, intelligent musicians of our time. Fortunately for us she has taken back the music from the spoilt brats who spend more time tweeting and fabricating scandals than doing what they're supposedly famous for. Emeli Sande was the breath of fresh air that ended my summer of very mixed emotions and for that I am grateful.

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