Thanu has been part of Dutty Artz for almost a year now, and came on to help bolster our efforts in community organizing and social justice efforts. Along the way we launched the inaugural Beyond The Block festival in Sunset Park last September. However, at our Change The Mood fundraising party at Glasslands in August, we all found out how wicked of a DJ Thanu was. So, with a little coaxing we got her to put together a mix for us. Here’s what she has to say about it:
I sort of see my process as a mix of hard hitting bass for the dancefloor meets good tunes meets some sort of politiking. The songs I start and end with have immigration themes – Lido Pimienta sings of la migra and Copia Doble Sistema remix a Sonido Guay tune of a person leaving their lover to migrate north. with shout outs to women of color (africana/los rakas), #idlenomore (tribe called red’s song in solidarity with Chief Theresa Spence), Ana Tijoux’s Shock in support of Chile’s student protest movement, zuzuka poderosa’s pisicodelia with it’s themes of anti-violence. The mix weaves through latin, hip hop, electric powwow, samba, bhangra, african (kuduro, azonto, nigerian), soca bass.
What I like most about this mix is that Thanu helps us refocus on what’s really important in all the genre blending and transnational identification happening in music scenes around the world. Just as people are experiencing new ways to participate in global culture via the Internet, they are having to face similar struggles in the wake of neoliberalist policies and free market global capitalism. The Internet may allow us to blur boundaries between genres, but borders both physical and social continue effect people in very concrete ways. It seems that in the Internet mediated musical landscape, whenever someone uses signifiers like Global, Ghetto, Transnational, or Tropical, they rarely acknowledge these issues, let alone attempt to address them. Working with Thanu over the past year on various projects, I’ve come to know that she is able to bring such issues to the fore so effortlessly in her music, because her life experience is reflected in her mixing. And as I listen to Foreign Brown, I am reminded somewhere between Ottawa and Santiago that there’s definitely more going on than just Bass.
You can catch Ushka with iBomba partner DJ Beto, at Bembe tonight at 10pm and every second Monday of the month. Tonight’s iBomba guests are Rizzla and D’Hana
Ushka / Foreign Brown tracklist:
Yuh Dun Know – Diana King ft. GunJan (Rude Gyal mix) intro
Fire Eyes ft. Lido Pimienta & Javier Alerta – Acido Azteca
Mami Moh (Chief Boima Dub)
Bayalibuza – Thornato remix
Africana – Los Rakas
Moner Alo – Brooklyn Shanti ft. Anoura
Jatt Pagal Karte ft. Jeeti – Lehmber Hussainpuri
Siempre Mas Pesa’o feat. Boogat & Madhi – Poirier
É da Nossa Cor feat. Mestre Camaleão (Sabo Remix) – Maga Bo
DEADLINE QUICKLY APPROACHING: The Philip Levine Poetry Book Prize, sponsored by the MFA Program at California State University, Fresno and Anhinga Press, is looking for book-length manuscripts of original poetry not previously published in book form. Winner will receive $2,000 prize and publication by Anhinga Press. This year’s final judge is poet Peter Everwine. For full guidelines as well as the link for online submissions and payments, go to: www.fresnostate.edu/artshum/english/graduate/mfa/levine.html.
LUMINA Literary Journal Poetry Contest Now Accepting Submissions
Deadline: October 15, 2014
LUMINA‘s 2014 Poetry Writing Contest Judged by Patricia Lockwood. Submission Fee: $12 100 word bio (max) at the bottom of your cover letter. Submit up to three poems, 60 lines maximum per poem. You must submit all poem(s) in a single document. DO NOT INCLUDE any personal information in the body of your submission. Previously published works will not be considered. We accept simultaneous submissions. Please withdraw your submission immediately if work is accepted elsewhere. First Place: $500, publication in LUMINA Vol. XIV, Second Place: $250, publication in LUMINA Vol. XIV, Third Place: $100, publication in LUMINA Online Literary Journal.
The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, under the auspices of the African Poetry Book Fund and in partnership with the literary journal, Prairie Schooner, is an annual award of USD $5,000. Named for the literary philanthropistGlenna Luschei, this Pan African Poetry Prize is the only one of its kind in the world and was established to promote African poetry written in English or in translation and to recognize a significant book published each year by an African poet.
Each year, the prize is judged by an internationally renowned poet. The judge for this inaugural prize is Nigerian poet and novelist Chris Abani.
The African Poetry Book Fund will award the winning poet $5,000.
Books must be submitted in the year after their publication, which means that books published in 2013 must be submitted for consideration between May 1 and October 1, 2014.
The 2014 contest is open to any book of original poetry, in English, published during 2013 in a standard edition by a full-length collection of poetry written by any African national, African resident, or poet of African parentage with roots from any country, living anywhere in the world. A standard edition is 48 pages or more in length.
Books of translation are welcome and eligible for consideration for the prize.
Self-published books are not eligible.
Publishers may submit as many titles as they wish. The publisher should send four copies of each book to the Academy, postmarked between May 1 and October 1, 2014.
There is no entry fee but an entry form is required for each title submitted. The winner will be announced in December.
Books published by the African Poetry Book Fund will not be eligible for consideration.
WHEN TO SEND
Manuscripts are accepted annually between May 1st and October 1st.
Publishers may submit as many titles as they wish. The publisher should send four copies of each book to the APBF, postmarked between May 1 and October 1, 2014.
Uncorrected galleys and PDF galleys of books will be considered as long as the publication date falls within the period of eligibility.
Please send four copies of each entry to the following address, postmarked between May 1 and October 1, 2014:
The Glenna Luschei Poetry Prize The African Poetry Book Fund Prairie Schooner 123 Andrews Hall University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE 68588-0334
Books will not be returned.
There is no entry fee but an entry form is required for each title submitted.
Holy Fuck Burger. I’m serious people. Everyone has got this story wrong. Newsweek has it wrong. Entertainment Weekly has it Wrong. Fox News got it Wrong, of course. This has nothing to do with Prostitution or thinking someone was a prostitute.
(Catching my breath)
Ok, so as you may know actress Danielle Watts who starred in the Oscar nominated movieDjango Unchained was detained on Sunset Blvd the other day after police were called out on a report of her making out with her boyfriend Brian Lucas in a car parked near the Directors Guildin Studio City.
Now you would think this is a pretty minor issue, this is a pretty minor case. We’ve seen Hollywood Actresses like Reese Witherspoon who have claimed as an “American Citizen” they have a right to defy the orders of police before, even though she actually was in the process of obstructing officers in the process of arresting her boyfriend for DUI. Just because she played a lawyer in “Legally Blonde” and “Legally Blonde 2″ doesn’t mean she knows the law they way she thinks she does. And we generally assume this is always just a case of Divas Gone Wild and thinking their above the law.
Or perhaps not, in this case. Local CBS News reported the case this way.
Daniele Watts and her boyfriend, Brian Lucas, believe they were targeted unfairly and suspect police assumed the actress was a prostitute and he, her client.Lucas said, “He was asking me questions like: ‘Who is she?’ ‘How do you know her?’ ‘Are you together?’”
The two have been dating for the past year and a half.
The incident in the 11900 block of Ventura Boulevard happened last Thursday in Studio City.
In cellphone video captured by her boyfriend, Watts could be seen sobbing as she pleaded with police.
“I don’t have to feel ashamed for being who I am and that’s really where the tears were coming from,” Watts told CBS2/KCAL9’s Art Barron on Sunday.
Now I can understand being mistaken for a prostitute, that could be right insulting. Black woman snogging a White guy. She couldn’t possibly like the man, unless he was paying her. She couldn’t possibly be anything other a street walker. Lots of assumptions.
But that’s not exactly how things went down, if you listen to the full audio which I have transcribed at length for your enlightenment.
Get your popcorn and strap in kids, this is gonna take while.
TMZ provides the audio for this and just to show they are nearly as biased about this as CBS, albiet in a different direction, here are some of their comments before I actually get into the audio itself.
The “Django Unchained” actress who claimed she was harassed and hurt by cops after making out with her boyfriend was actually having sex in her car according to witnesses … then went on a rant with cops accusing them of racism and not knowing who she was … according to police audio obtained by TMZ.The eyewitnesses said the guy was sitting in the seat, she was straddling him and it was for everyone to see. One eyewitness told cops they cleaned themselves up afterward with a tissue.
TMZ obtained police audio of the incident. Watts instantly plays the race card when Sgt. Jim Parker asked for her ID. She quickly moves from the race card to the fame card — then storms off, refusing to show her ID.
Just for the record I think TMZ is the shittiest fucking scumhole of a show on the planet. I also think it’s hella funny, so I watch it fairly regularly. Try figuring that one out on your Sigfried couch, I haven’t made sense of it yet. These guys are bottom feeders. Vultures. Parasites. A pack of half-talent half-failure comics who think they’re a news agency trying to make hay on people who’ve gained genuine fame by having – most of them - actual talent. Or beauty. Or both.You can imagine the seething hatred, can’t you?
I actually met a TMZ photographer on the way back from Netroots ’14, he was sitting in the seat next to me on the plane from Detroit to L.A. He also happened to be a former member of Parliament with George Clinton and actually had vocalized the “Boy Wow Yibbe Yo Yibbe Yay” section of the Clinton hit “Atomic Dog.”
Just think for a second how that career path has worked out for him and you get the basic mindset of TMZ. Bitter? No, Fucking Frigid.
Anyhoo let me shut up and let the tape do the talking.
Officer: Who’se the owner of the car?Brian: That’s me.
Officer: And registration?
Brian: Nah. Unintelligible.
Officer: What about her ID?
Brian: Well I have her passport.
Daniele in background on phone: Daddy? Daddy can you hold on for one second? Hold on. Hold on. What’s the issue? (To Officer)
Officer: Somebody called the police saying there was lewd acts in the car. Doesn’t matter I have to ID you.
Daniele (Crosstalk): There’s no lewd act happening…we’re not doing anything.
Officer: Somebody called…
Daniele: I’m on the phone with my dad. This is my boyfriend, sitting in the car.
Officer: I want to see your ID. Somebody called which means it gives me the right to be here, so it gives me the right to identify you. By Law.
Someone calling gives him the right? Is that all it takes? Isn’t that what we heard when somebody called to report a strong-arm robbery at the Ferguson Market, even though nobody working there felt the need to make that call? It’s still an open question that there even was a robbery in the first place. I’m at 60/40 that there might have been. But the point is that after encountering Michael Brown and initially telling him and his friend to “Get the fuck on the Sidewalk” and leaving – it would seem that that bystanders callis what made Officer Wilson GO BACK. Then the madness did ensue, and Michael Brown ended up dead.
Someone called police when Chris Lollie was sitting in on a bench in an apparently public area waiting to pick up his kids. He refused to provide Police ID, so they Tased and Beat him into Submission. Not dead, but not unharmed.
Someone called the Police when 18 year-old Steve Lohner was walking down the street in Aurora CO with a shotgun over his shoulder. And after refusing to give police his ID, he was went on his way with merely a citation – and his shotgun. And an attitude. But then Steve Lohner looks like this… so… yeah.. whatever.
As as result the argument “Someone called and it gives me a right”… isn’t a very strong argument to me. Others may disagree.Either way, compared to all of these people – well except Steve – Daniele had it easy. Kinda.
Just quickly on the issue of whether the law grants the police the right to demand ID, that’s not entirely clear to me – lawyers on the site feel free to clarify.
The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) established that it is constitutionally permissible for police to temporarily detain a person based on reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, and to conduct a search for weapons based on a reasonable belief that the person is armed. The question whether it is constitutionally permissible for the police to demand that a detainee provide his or her name was considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, 542 U.S. 177 (2004), which held that the name disclosure did not violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. The Hiibel Court also held that, because Hiibel had no reasonable belief that his name would be used to incriminate him, the name disclosure did not violate the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination; however, the Court left open the possibility that Fifth Amendment right might apply in situations where there was a reasonable belief that giving a name could be incriminating. The Court accepted the Nevada supreme court’s interpretation of the Nevada statute that a detained person could satisfy the Nevada law by simply stating his name. The Court did not rule on whether particular identification cards could be required, though it did mention one state’s law requiring “credible and reliable” identification had been struck down for vagueness.…
Police may question a person detained in a Terry stop, but in general, the detainee is not required to answer. However, many states have “stop and identify” laws that explicitly require a person detained under the conditions of Terry to identify himself to police, and in some cases, provide additional information.
So in short, IMO this issue remains minor technical dispute between the accepted allowances of “probable cause” under the 4th Amendment and potential conflicting issues under the 5th Amendment Right of privacy and against “self incrimination” when it comes to providing ID when requested since Hiibel didn’t address this issue and as far as I can tell Hiibel V Nevada does not apply in California based on this post/opinion I found.
Hiibel v. Nevada does not apply in California, even though it was decided by the US Supreme Court, because California has no statute requiring you to identify yourself when detained on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Nevada does, and Hiibel was convicted of violating it. If California had such a law, then Hiibel would apply. California does have a law having to do with resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer performing his duties, and it’s possible someone can make a case for this if you refuse to ID yourself – I haven’t seen it done yet, though.
So in California, since Hiibel doesn’t seem to apply, what is exactly “reasonable” to ask when no crime has been alleged?The Officer argues that he “received a call” and that gives him probable cause to request ID, but does this violates a persons right to remain silent and refuse to incriminate themselves with providing their ID when the call itself doesn’t allege an actual crime and there is no evidence of a crime taking place?
Hmmm… from what I can tell “NO!” but as a definitive legal issue I’m going to punt on that for now until I hear better advice from more informed persons. However, it is that issue, not the issue of whether Daniele is or is not a sex worker that colors the remainder of the conversation, and it gets really interesting after this point.
Daniele: Do you know how many times I’ve been called… the cops have been called just for being Black? I’m black and he’s white I’m just being real.Officer: That is not…
Daniele: I’m just being really honest Sir.
Officer: Who brought up a Race Card?
Daniele: I’m bringing it up because…
Officer: I said nothing about you being black. [Edit: Actually he did according to Brian in the CNN interview shown below when he first walked up - but it's not included in the audio]
Daniele: And I have every right to be here.
Officer: And I have every right to ask for you ID.
Daniele: And I have a right to say “No”.
Officer: No, you do not have a right to say “No”.
Daniele: Ok, well you can take me down to the court office and I can make a scene about it.
Daniele: And you know what? I have a publicist. And I work as an actress at a studio.
Officer: I’m probably interested, that you have a publicist, but I’m gonna get your ID anyway.
Daniele: No, I’m going to say “No”. If you’d like my ID you can say that I’m resisting arrest…
Officer: There’s no resisting, you’re just interfering.
Let me jump in again for moment at this point. In all honestly Daniele IMO is responding like a person whose been repeatedly abused. Bratty? Yes. Strident? Yes. Defiant? Yes. Annoying? Hell yes. Entitled? Maybe. Diva-ish? A bit. But if as she alleges she been profiled time after time, sometimes – even if it’s not the right time – a person will take a stand and simply on the basis of principle to say “No!” Whether she’s right or legally I can’t definitively say, although from my quick research on it she just might be correct and Sgt Jim is wrong but her abject refusal is based on exactly what she says in this section…“Do you know how many times cops have been called because I’m Black?”
Also, that was a question, not an accusation. The accusation isn’t even against the officer, it’s against the people who made the call. This officer could have responded with “No, I don’t know…” and given her a chance to explain that point, but apparently he instead chose to accuse her of throwing down he Race Card, because in this situation her being only Black person involved and feeling vulnerable was clearly just incidental in his mind. She’s the racist merely for bringing it up. But wait, his insufferability gets worse. Listen to the audio if you can, because his tone is just dripping with aggrievement and condescension.
D: I’m saying that I’ve not done anything wrong. I’m on the phone with my father, my step-mom is dying…O (Interrupting her as he does constantly) : Do you know that probable cause is?
D: Yes, and I have not… what is your probable cause?
O: I have probable cause.
D: I’m sitting here talking on the phone to my father.
O: We received a radio call. (Turns to Boyfriend) Can we have her ID please?
D: NO! You may not. You may not have my ID.
O: Send me a female officer please?
D: Please, please do.
O: I’m gonna get your ID one way or another. [In this post Ray Rice Era, anyone else feel a chill at these words?]
D: Fine. You can do whatever you like.
O: Yes. Yes, I am.
D: (Talking to Phone) Daddy? (Unintelligible – Voice grows fainter as she walks away)
O: Thank you for bringing up the Race Card, I Never Hear That. [Not passive aggressive are we?]
D: (On Phone) Daddy I can’t believe it. (Unintelligible) All the things that are (Unintelligible), talking to the cops right now. I can’t make out with my fucking boyfriend in front of my fucking studio…
O: [Sarcastic] There ya go.
Boyfriend: We were like in our garage….
(Daniele getting more excited in the background): I don’t have to give him my ID. It’s my right (starts shouting) to sitting on the fucking street corner and make out with my boyfriend. It’s my right.
O: Keep yelling it really helps!
D: My dad wants to talk with you.
D: Here he is on speaker phone. Daddy your own speaker phone.
Daddy on Phone : (Unintelligible)
D: He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care. I doesn’t matter you can call the cops on somebody. You can call the cops on somebody and all of sudden your a criminal. I’m just gonna walk away (voice grows fainter)
O: Great. I’d already be gone. Just so you know. I’d already be gone.
Boyfriend: (Garble) do you need my license?
O: I already have your license. I’d already be gone.
B: Yeah. (In exasperation) Oooohhh god.
O: Yeah. I’d be gone.
See the truth of this thing is betrayed here. He doesn’t have a crime. He would be gone. He didn’t witness a crime. Unless the 911 caller wants to file charges, there is no crime. He has no reason to even ask for ID except for that fact he wants to run their names for wants and warrants. She won’t give him her name, so of course, she has to be punished and humiliated - because that’s what Cops are for, aren’t they?But here’s the thing that’s fortunate for Daniele. She may not know it, but she’s about to get “The Lecture”. I’ve gotten “The Lecture”. The Lecture is a good thing if you get it while you’re still on the street, relatively free. It means the cop thinks he teaching a grand “lesson”. You should learn it. You should appreciate it. You should thank Jehova/Vishna for your new enlightenment. Be glad you’re getting the lecture, because the times that they don’t give you the lecture - you’re going to jail.
Then either on the way to jail, or after you get there, you still get The Lecture. There is no escaping the Lecture. Just grin and bear it. It doesn’t last forever. It only seems like it.
Daniele was not having it. Not. at. all.
D: I don’t understand how we live in a free country where in at a parking lot and I’m making out with my boyfriend and I get arrested…O: [To other officers] Gotta be careful. Little emotional.
D: How do we live in a free country? (Unintelligible) .. for nothing.
O: What’s your first name?
O: Why do you think you’re in handcuffs.
O: Do you think we put you in handcuffs? Did we put you in handcuffs or did you do it?
O: (Incredulous) Did I put myself in handcuffs? (Yes, it is as crazy a question as it sounds)
O: Who do you think put yourself in handcuffs? (This is a direct quote, I swear to God!) Who do you think put you in handcuffs?
D: I think this Officer right here put me in handcuffs.
O: No! I think you did the minute you left the scene.
D: Yes, because i was….
O: Do you see?
D: …treated like a criminal…
O: Do you see the gentleman here in handcuffs? Is the gentleman here in handcuffs before you? No, he’s not.
D: (Sigh) Do you think that I’m stupid?
O: I don’t think you’re stupid at all. [Yes, apparently you do!]
D: What’s your first name Officer Parker?
O: My name is Sargent Parker and that’s all you need to know.
D: Why don’t…why do you need to know my first name but I don’t know yours?
O (Overtalking her, again!) Because I need to identify you as the source of radio call.
D: I think I’d like to identify you to my publicist, what’s your first name?
O: Now you see why your in handcuffs?
D: Why are you afraid of the news getting out that you’re arresting somebody – who was making out with her boyfriend?
Even so, his conversation with Daniele Watts which is only a few days old, is already eclipsing all of those stories on Google. And on Twitter.
Here’s the thing, he hasn’t been on the news – he’s talked to reporters about other people who are in the news. He hasn’t been on a Red Carpet with reporters who want to talk to him, they just had to because LAPD sent him instead of someone else to read their press releases a couple times. NOW he’s on the news.
Other Officer: (Unintelligible)Danielle: Because you told me to turn around and face the wall, and I didn’t. Did he tell me to stay or did I tell him I was walking away while talking to my dad?
Officer Parker: (Unintelligible)
D: Did you hear him tell me to stay here?
Parker: You can’t walk away ma’am.
Boyfriend: He didn’t say anything as you walked away…
D: You didn’t say anything to me as I was walking away. [He was too busy complaining he "could have been gone" - saying it five times - to her boyfriend]
Actually, I do believe you can walk away if the officers don’t give you an order to stay, and he didn’t give any such order, although I wouldn’t recommend it as a strategy.
A person is detained when circumstances are such that a reasonable person would believe he is not free to leave.Police may briefly detain a person if they have reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime.
If he had required her to stay – which he didn’t – he would have had to have “reasonable suspicion” that she committed, or was going to commit a crime. But we already know “I would have been gone…” so um.. what the frack?What she really did, was piss him off. That’s all.
Also, she wasn’t really hearing that lecture of his very well. Still in Handcuffs.
D: There is no reason, because I literally walked away from him – I was on the phone with my dad.O: (To other officers who I assume now have her ID via her boyfriend): They both have no…
Other Officer: No Probation.
O: Not wanted for Murder? Nothing, right?
O: Do you see what time it is? 15 minutes ago, I would have been gone. [One more time quoting the opening line of "Oh Sherrie" and this guy is gonna owe Steve Perry some royalty money!]
D: What because I wouldn’t give you my ID? That was enough for me…
O: It is enough ma’am. It is enough. [Or rather it's Not without a Hiibel in this jurisdiction]
D: That’s fine. This is not a problem for me.
D: I’m gonna get all of your names.
O: It’s obviously a problem for you.
D: What is a problem for me, is that you think you’re better than me. And you think you have more power than me.
O: Oh. (Calmly, matter of factly) I do have more power than you.
D: … and that’s not true.
D: So I’m gonna show you. You’ll see. Because we’re all equal, and (getting excited)that’s what our country is based on. The land of the free and the home of the brave. We are all equal.
O: Do you need paramedics? You want me to call paramedics for you?
D: (Sarcastically) Sure. I’d love a tranquilizer. (Unintellible)..in cuffs, yeah. It’s really exciting to see where my mind went.
O : (Still talking while she’s talking): I could call paramedics for you?
D: Just the fact that you just told me you have more power than me makes me want you wanna be (unintelligible) somewhere…
O: (Whining) But I do have more power than you here.
D: This situation, just because you have me in handcuffs does not mean you have more power than me
O: Oh, I do. When I tell you to do something you have to do it, that’s the law ma’am. [Kinda not!]
D: Clearly I didn’t have to do, because I still didn’t.
O: Do you want to be out of handcuffs?
D: I don’t know. I could sit here and talk to you all day, I’m just enjoying myself. [That's gotta burn since "I coulda been gone..." six times now!] And if you have more charges for me, go ahead bring ‘em up.
O: We actually have no charges now. [No, kidding - so why is she in handcuffs still?]
D: So why am I still in handcuffs? [Yeah, why?]
O: Because you’re legally detained.
D: So why am I legally detained? [Here we go 'round the mulberry bush.. the mulberry bush.. the.. oh you get it.]
O: I asked if you wanted me to take the handcuffs off? [What is this a fucking game to him? Why do you need her permission for that?] Do you want me to take the handcuffs off?
D: I don’t know I want to make another Youtube video.
O: (Chuckles) You took something that would take five minutes and made it thirty. [I can see him pouting inside, that Coffee & Donut he was on his way to get so had his name on it!]
D: That’s great. I’m glad, because you guys are really showing me something about my country right now…
D: And I’m really enjoying this conversation. [Guess whose got the power now? He wants to go, she's making him stay!]
O: Ok. As soon as we’re done here we’ll show you a little more.
D: Great. Great. Can I have my phone please? Am I still required…
O: You’re still being detained.
D: Alright, we’ll let’s just make sure.
D: Shall we take some selfies while were here? Y’know tweet about it, got arrested today.
O: You didn’t get arrested.
D: Oh, I got detained today. The cops thought that I was a threat. Oh, that’s good yeah.
O: No, actually the cops never called, we didn’t call, somebody else did. We’re here for a reason. [Yeah, it used to be called Miscegenation, but we're much more civilized folk now!]
D: To protect and serve the people in the office up there, who were personally offended I’m making out with my boyfriend down here…
O: Wanna hear something even funnier?
D: I’ll bet there’s at least one person up there whose a racist. [Or at least a fucking busybody prude!] I’ll bet you, you’re a little bit racist.
O: Wanna hear something even funnier? We were about to have coffee. [What did I tellyou!]
D: Yeah, god. It could’ve been a nice hot cup, but instead you gotta deal with me.
O: It would’ve been five minutes. [God, what a whiner!]
D: I know, and I’m still enjoying it. Cuz instead of fucking around in a coffee shop you get to fuck around with me. Public Service. You guys work for us don’t you?
O: I don’t work for you.
D: Isn’t that what you’re oath is, “To Protect and Serve”?
O: I work for anyone who calls for police service
But apparently not anyone who actually needs it.And eventually it ends.
O: This just took longer than I assumed.D: I mean hey, this is your job.
O: Are you guys done with your DFI’s?
D: If you guys have to deal with crazy batshit fuckers like me every day…
O: You are?
D: That’s what you signed up for, I signed up for freedom. I thought America was the land of the free and home of the brave, y’know. I’m pretty fucking brave, but I don’t go around putting people in handcuffs, so y’know… I guess we all have our destinies. I serve freedom and love, you guys serve – uh – detainment. That’s cool. That’s fine.
O: I might have one (garbled) I’ll see you guys. Go ahead and take the cuffs off.
D: I hope when you’re fucking your spouses that you really feel like, alive y’know? That you feel thankful, full of gratitude for the freedom that you have. That you share with people of this country every day. I’m saying all this with love, y’know, really.
Female Officer: Do you want the handcuffs off right now?
D: Well, y’know I could sit here and shoot the shit with you guys all day, cuz I haven’t done anything wrong.
Female Officer: Stand up, turn around if you want the cuffs off.
D: Well this has been fun guys, really.
O: That’s it.
D: Really it has been.
O: It hasn’t been fun for me. [Awwww... it's gonna get worse man]
D: I know, and that’s why at the end of the day I really have a lot of compassion for you guys.
O: [Talking over her, Again!] It’s not been fun for me.
D: Cuz you get to go around making people feel like they’re powerless. And you walk around with this full sense of power that’s not real, because at the end of the day… if you don’t work for me, if you say that you don’t work for me, that you’re not here to serve the people of this country…
O: I .. uh…I
D: …then you’re not living up to what you’re here for.
O: At any time, has anybody said anything disrespectful to you? [Oh, geez there were about 5 or 6 smartass rude degrading comments ("Little Emotional Here", "Do you need a paramedic?", "Keep yelling it really helps", "I do have more power!") by my count! But if he means swearing, Nope.]
D: You guys signed up for it, they’ve all said disrespectful things to me…
O: (As if talking to a child) What did they say?
O: What did they say that was disrespectful?
D: Y’know If I felt like you were coming from a place of love [and not snide condescension]
O: I’m not.
O: Did they say anything disrespectful to you at all? [Man, he's like a dog with a bone... "I coulda been gone... did they say anything..." just can't let GO!]
O: Tell me one thing that they said disrespectful?
Other Officers getting impatient: Sargent we really are leaving!
O: Yeah, I’m the Boss of everybody.
D: Y’know what’s interesting about all this? I don’t even know what…
O: Hey, I thank you. Heh heh…
Boy I am sure glad LAPD has learned manners in the last few years after the Justice Departmentwhipped their asses with a consent decree following the Rampart Scandal. Sargent Jim Parker’s impeccable manners, professionalism and good nature must be the Pride of the Force.Yep. Yessir.
8:16 AM PT: Just a few thoughts. I think, until I see and read otherwise, that the Fifth Amendment Right to Remain Silent, is a Right to Remain Silent unless there is a state law carving a loophole into that Right. Hiibel carved that hole for Police asking for ID when they have probable cause if there’s a state law to that effect. From what I know now, California doesn’t have one which means you can functionally invoke the 5th and not answer any question, including what your name is. Officers can still perform a search and find your ID if you have any on you, but then they have to have probable cause for the search and it has to be based on ”reasonableness” or else they need a warrant. If someone has more to say about it, I’m all ears.
8:26 AM PT: Shanikka in the comments has a read out of the standing of Hiibel in California.It doesn’t apply. CA Appellate courts are apparently split on the issue right now, so it’s trulynot the hard and fast rule to comply that Sgt Parker claims it is.
Daniele was under no obligation to adjust her back so that her oppressor could ride comfortably. She refused to be treated like a third class citizen and I am proud of her.
The cop WAS NOT patient; rather he was an asshole as he spoke down to her, and mocked her, and ASSAULTED her.
People are reacting as if this happened in a vacuum. As if Danielle, a well informed citizen, is unaware of what has been happening to people who look like her. She made a stand.
And for the record, CNN’s Michaela Pereira conducted one of the worst, most disgusting interviews I have ever seen. She badgered Danielle and seemed intent on blaming the victim. Why didn’t you just cooperate? The ACLU advises that you obey the police officers, why could you have…? Do you see how you could have de-escalated the situation? And on and on.
Those are the questions that should have been asked of the abusive cop; not of the victim.
He had no intention of charging them with any crime from the very beginning, which means he had no legitimate reason to detain them or ask them for ID. The only reason he wanted their ID was so he could run a warrants check on them. That is not a legitimate reason for police to require a person to produce ID. She was perfectly within her rights to deny his request.
When she denied his request, he detained her. This is also not legitimate. This whole episode was strictly a power play designed to train civilians to kowtow to the cops.
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that no person is required to produce ID simply because a police officer requests it (Kolender v. Lawson). Since, in this case, there was no intent based on reasonable belief to charge either of them with a violation of law, she was not required to show ID.
It would have been totally legitimate for the officer to attempt to lecture them on acceptable public behavior, but he could not legally detain them in order to do so.
I would like to make a couple of points: 1. The officer is not allowed to demand her identification. Pedestrians are not required to carry identification. She only needed to provide her name.
2. The officer says: “I have probable cause.” He did not have probable cause. Presumably he meant “reasonable suspicion.” This makes his question “Do you know what probable cause is?” fairly ironic.
3. Lewd conduct is a misdemeanor (CPC 647). In order to arrest someone for a misdemeanor, the officer needs to have witnessed the infraction (CPC 836). The single phone call does not meet the requirement for reasonable suspicion. There are exceptions to this rule (domestic violence, child abuse), but lewd conduct is not one of those exceptions.
4. The officer was very unprofessional, and he was constantly antagonizing Ms. Watts throughout the incident. Yes, Ms. Watts was agitated, but her actions can be excused. The police must be held to a higher standard than the average citizen.
5. Her comments about the power dynamic between police and citizens is spot-on.
In this it is explained that the portion that made Brian, not Daniele, feel that the situation was racial was some of the Sgt’s initial questions “We had a report a black female and white” – “Who is she to you?” – “Are you two together?” – which are not included in the recording provided by TMZ and apparently took place previous to her objecting to the Sgt asking Brian to provide her ID.
The CNN interviewer claims that their analysts say that if the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” he can detain you until you’re ID is determined. Some of the various attorney’s in the comments [quoted above] dispute that you have to provide it to them which is a different argument. The CNN guys don’t say you have to provide it to them, they say they can detain you for a “reasonable period” until they get it through some kind of means.
In this case Brian eventually relented and provided it to them, and once they ran her name for warrants she was released. All the little snide comments and the “Lecture” was merely a bonus. CNN also claims that the ACLU says you should provide ID, but that is only for traffic stops if you happen to be the driver, that doesn’t apply to passengers or pedestrians. What the ACLU in California actually says is this.
DO give your name and the information on your drivers’ license. If you don’t, you may be arrested, even though the arrest may be illegal. DO remember you have the right to remain silent. You cannot be arrested or detained for refusing to answer questions. But it can look suspicious to the police.
DO show an ID if you are getting a ticket so that you can be released.
They advise you to do it simply as a matter of convenience and to avoid an illegal arrest, they don’t say that it’s legal for Police to demand it, unless you’re driving at the time.
5:00 PM PT: Here’s some more relevant information on Kolender regarding California Jurisdiction.
Edward Lawson was a law-abiding black man of unusual deportment (he wore his hair in long dreadlocks). Lawson was frequently subjected to police questioning and harassment in San Diego County, California, where he lived when as a pedestrian he walked in so-called “white neighborhoods.” He was detained or arrested approximately 15 times by the San Diego Police within 18 months, was prosecuted twice, and was convicted once (the second charge was dismissed). Lawson challenged California Penal Code §647(e), which required persons who loiter or wander on the streets to identify themselves and
account for their presence when requested by a peace officer to do so.
Using the construction of the California appellate court in Solomon, the Court held that the law was unconstitutionally vague because it gave excessive discretion to the police (in the absence of probable cause to arrest) whether to stop and interrogate a suspect or leave him alone. The Court hinted that the California statute compromised the constitutional right to freedom of movement.[Note 1] [Note 2]
The Court affirmed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Lawson v. Kolender, 658 F.2d 1362 (1981). The Ninth Circuit had additionally held that Penal Code §647(e) violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures because it “subverts the probable cause requirement” by authorizing arrest for conduct that is no more than suspicious. “Vagrancy statutes cannot turn otherwise innocent conduct into a crime.” Id. at 1367.
The Ninth Circuit also noted that “police knowledge of the identity of an individual they have deemed ‘suspicious’ grants the police unfettered discretion to initiate or continue the investigation of the person long after the detention has ended. Information concerning the stop, the arrest and the individual’s identity may become part of a large scale data bank.” Id. at 1368.
Lastly Penal Code §647(e) was repealed in 2008. Jim is wrong. Daniele is right. He can ask for ID, but she can also say “No” – as a result he can “detain” for a while, but not indefinitely. 10:55 PM PT: It’s getting late and I doubt people will review the diary to read this but I have one final update based on some of the comments.
The reason I felt this was “worse” than simply the insult of profiling Daniele as a prostitute, is the fact this is a display of bullying someone into giving up their 5th Amendment Constitutional rights. Sgt. Parker repeatedly claims he has “probable cause”, but he really doesn’t because he would have needed to have witnessed himself, of have a witness willing to file a complaint for, any potential misdemeanors or physical evidence of a misdemeanor to justify the reasonable suspicion for a search. If he could search them, he wouldn’t’ need to ask for her ID, he could just do the search and get it that way.
He never even tries to do that, because if he gets the ID using an illegal search, without a reasonable suspicion of anything, using that ID to learn anything else makes that information “fruit of a poison tree” and could be thrown out in court. [I highly doubt most judges would do this, but the potential is there]
He’s got nothing, so he’s Fishing and trying to use intimidation, ridicule and humiliation to get her to “voluntarily” give him what he can’t get otherwise using the law. It’s not illegal, but it’sfucking despicable.
This isn’t an aberration for LAPD. This is Standard. Operating. Procedure. It’s quite often you can be driving down the street and see LAPD Officers with 4 or 5 minority individuals all lined up on the sidewalk, being detained, waiting to see if they’ve got any outstanding warrants after being “asked” to provide ID. The thing is most people usually give in. They just roll over and the cops take advantage of their fear. It happens every day, every single day. What’s unique here is that Daniele asserted her rights and she held her ground on it. Brian caved, but that’s on him. [When I starting writing this I didn't even realize California law supports her, not him - but apparently it does]
You have to put this in context with the recent reports out of cities like Ferguson that a high percentage of minority persons get targeted for traffic stops about 20% more often, get ticketed at stops about 58% more often, get arrested at stops about twice as often and are on the receiving end of use of force three times more often. Even when it doesn’t escalate to an arrest or use of force, those tickets add up.
At this point it becomes a financial issue, if you don’t have enough money to pay all those tickets on time, or don’t show up on time for a court date, you get a $20,000 bench warrant. Driving without a seat belt, or with a bald tires can if you don’t have the money to cover the tickets can put in a position that is as bad – from the eyes of the police – as being an armed robber or rapist. This is just what Sgt Parker was fishing for.
He had no current crime, he was going after “old” stuff that tends to affect poorer people, just as we’ve seen in cities like Ferguson where a significant portion of their municipal budget comes from traffic fines. Fortunately for Daniele she’s either a good driver, has someone else do her driving or has had enough disposable cash to handle these things.
I myself, racked up a pile of tickets in the 90′s that led to a bench warrant. Then that leads to a suspended drivers license. Then if you keep driving, which I did since I was commuting to work from Tarzana to Pico Rivera (47 miles each way), I got hit with driving with a suspended license. I then began paying that ticket off – which was $1000 – in increments and after paying $700 of it, things went to hell. My check bounced. That put me back to bench warrant status, and now they wouldn’t even take cash – I had to see a judge. I knew that judge, and had been in his court watching him handle other cases. He was a fucker. By then we’d moved to Glendale which cut the commute in half, so I took the bus and stopped driving.
I didn’t drive for 12 years, and as a result my cop problems vanished.
After 12 years I got hit with a jaywalking ticket, even though I was in the crosswalk and anyone in the cross walk has right of way, but rather than simply saying “screw it” as I had before I went to court because in all that time I didn’t even know what I owed anymore. (Also I’d filed for bankruptcy in 2000 and the outstanding balance of my ticket was included in that filling). I figured Federal Court trumped State Court so I didn’t have anything to worry about, but I was wrong. Different Judge, still a fucker. He didn’t care about the bankruptcy, he said $300 now or60 days in jail.
Ultimately I spent 3 days in Twin Towers Lockup and two weeks of work release. For balding tires. And an unhooked seat belt. And one illegal left turn in Pasadena back in 1997. This is what Sgt Parker was looking for and he wasn’t giving up until he got it. This is why he lied and tried to humiliate her into giving in. To feed the system. Tue Sep 16, 2014 at 4:24 PM PT: Just as an trivial aside.. this is my precisely 400th Recommended Diary.
If you don’t know DJ Ushka yet, it is definitely in your interest to get to know her. Born Thanu Yakupitiyage in Sri Lanka, DJ Ushka is currently based out of Brooklyn (via Thailand). When she’s not working as an immigrants’ rights organizer, she’s incorporating the music and resistance of the global south into eminently danceable mixes. I had the pleasure of chatting on the phone with DJ Ushka a couple weeks ago, and we talked feminism, migration, and the ways DJs can participate in — and resist — cultural appropriation.
I also asked her to pick out ten songs or videos she was feeling. She ended up giving me eleven, and you know what? That is really great news for you.
How does feminism — or feminisms — affect your art? Like, both in terms of the ways you produce and also the shit you have to navigate as a woman in a male-dominated DJ world.
I mean, I think that my approach to DJing or even my entrance into the work of DJing has inherently been a feminist act, you know? I spin a lot of global music and I’ve had a lot of support from men and male DJs, and a lot of friends who stepped up, and that’s not a lot of people’s experience.
But even the fact that we’re called “female” DJs instead of DJs. Like, I recently did this gig and this woman, who was well-meaning, said that she was so excited to see a female DJ. We have to switch up the idea that a woman DJ is an anomaly, that a woman who knows how to use a turntable is an anomaly. So being a DJ helps turn around this predominant idea of who spins the music, so in a lot of ways I think even just existing as a DJ for me has always been inherently feminist.
Also I try both in sets of mine and in the spaces I create and the mixes that I do to include a lot of female and queer voices, and include a narrative of feminism as well.
There are a lot of themes of colonization, migrations, and diasporas in the mixes you put out, and I know your day job is doing immigrants’ rights work. How do these themes make their way into the music you decide to work with?
I mean I’m an immigrant, and that’s informed the work that I do. I do immigrants’ rights organizing, and always, beyond a theoretical level, I’ve been interested in migration because it’s the story of my life.
I am Sri Lankan and I moved to the UK when I was young, grew up in Thailand, and then came to the US for college when I was 18, so my trajectory has always been that of a migrant, always outside of the country of my passport. I’m always thinking about my own migration context and also everyone else’s — people who are more privileged and less privileged — people who didn’t come with a visa and people who didn’t come for college. I am interested in telling stories through my music — I want people to have a good time and dance and listen to a mix but also be thinking about what was the connection between, for example this song from West Africa and this champeta song from Colombia. Because even in terms of music there is so much to say about migration, and how migrations inform different music.
So I had this moment when I was looking at your description of the Open City mixtape where you talk about Venezuelan tuki, and it was actually the first time that I — and I’m Venezuelan — had heard of tuki. So I went on this Google wormhole and I ended up reading some more about it on the Mad Decent website, and just had this moment of rage: like, when white folks are telling you about things in your own country that they’ve been able to see because they have a kind of access that you don’t have. I’ve been home a few times in the almost 20 years I’ve been here and I absorb these snippets of culture while I’m there that I cherish so much, but nothing close to what white dudes on a Diplo budget can get. And I’m wondering if you deal with that, how you navigate this culture of appropriation and re-working of the exotic brown in the DJ and music world more generally. How you choose to resist that, I guess.
I learned about tuki from my friend Mariana — who is a Venezuelan artist from Caracas. So my entrance to learning about Venezuelan music was from Venezuelan DJs, not from Mad Decent. But anyone can get anything off of the internet and there are these Mad Decent and Diplo kind of popular mainstreaming folks — the ways that they are pulling from music from the global south and making music their own and kind of mainstream it, but I wanna challenge that. There are a lot of underground channels that people are sharing music that aren’t about white people.
When you break down concerns about appropriation of music genres by certain labels — the concern is really about power. For me as a DJ — and as someone learning to produce, and who is associated with other DJs/producers — I think it’s extremely important to credit who/where you are sampling your music from and also whenever possible, making sure that those local voices are highlighted. Maybe because of something you sampled an artist from Ghana or Sierra Leone or Colombia or wherever gets to tour and profit as well. You also have to know what you are playing. I play a lot of music from everywhere — sometimes I don’t understand the language — when possible, if I know someone who does speak that language, I’ll ask them what the song means or I’ll do a lot of research into the history of how that genre was created, so at least I know the region, the form, etc. By knowing what you are playing, you ensure that you aren’t just contributing to some “melting pot of global music” but are specifically highlighting different styles and how they go together.
The issue that people have with Mad Decent or Diplo is this “Christopher Columbus discovery of music” thing they have going on — original artists are rarely at the forefront and people question their intentions. A couple of years ago, Venus X, of Ghethogothik fame, called Diplo out on Twitter for recording her set at a ghe20g0th1k party and playing a similar set himself later. It’s a long story but I think that calling out was so important — because clearly that’s not about collaboration, that’s about stealing ideas — and in this case, a extremely successful white deejay stealing from a woman of color. People are of course influenced by each others styles — but just be transparent about it, give credit where credit is due. Chief Boima writes about this in a piece called “Global Genre Accumulation” that I think everyone should check out.
I actually was really glad that in the end I actually first learned it from you — that I got to first hear about this genre that emerged after I left from a woman of color and immigrant, and not from fucking Diplo (god, I hate Diplo).
Yeah, and you know — like tuki — some of the music that is becoming more popular is from working class places. Tuki is from the barrios, from predominantly black folk. So I wanna acknowledge that and I wanna look into the histories of that music. And you have these larger labels that take in this music and are into assimilating it into the larger genre of global bass but there are histories that are important to know. I don’t want people to think that I’m about this melting pot. I want people not to assume that we’re all the same, but to have people go out and learn these trajectories and migrations and histories.
So what is your process for making a mix? Do you kind of keep track of and write down songs that fit a theme for a while, and then go for it? Or do you sit down and research it all as a project, or some combination?
It’s a combo — I take so long to make mixes — I spend so long listening to things, messing around and seeing what mixes with each other. Like for the Foreign Brown mixtape, looking into the lyrics was important. So I started with a song by Lido Pimienta about la migra. There is this Los Rakas song Africana where they talk about skin color, and I liked how they talk about something that really affects the whole world. I included this song by Tribe Called Red talking about the Idle No More movement, and the women involved in that. I was trying to connect all these songs that connect these movements across the world, but also make it danceable.
Coming from a policy-heavy world there is a way that we think that it’s really separate from our everyday lives. Like you can be on the dance floor and you can be political. They often think that the dance floor is so different, where you go to party and not think about things, but for me they are the same — I am political on the dance floor too.
It can be so beautiful — there is this collective we just DJ’d with in Chicago and there were 850 people at this event and all the proceeds went to an immigrants’ rights org. And all these things are connected you know? Like this week the deportation record is at 2 million. New York state still can’t pass the DREAM ACT and give undocumented students the chance to go to college.
And you know, the world is so crazy, and there is all that happening, and for these few hours on the dance floor you can feel all those things and express that anger but also feel really good.
Any songs or videos you’re feeling these days?
The Wizard ft Nyanda & Chedda – Like A Pro
This track is a year old but I love it and it sounds really good in the club. The Wizard is one of the only female producers out of Jamaica (or at least that I know of) and that is super inspiring. She’s also the daughter of famous reggae musician Beres Hammond. This video also features Nyanda from Brick & Lace, another fierce Jamaican women duo that I love.
Los Rakas – Sueño Americano
[Ed note: trigger warning on this video for graphic (interpersonal and state) violence]
This track off their new album El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo explores the false promises of the “American Dream” and the immigration system that doesn’t serve immigrants. The video explores the complexities of young people who turn to crime and makes subtle political commentary on the criminal justice system. The lyrics are also super powerful — speaking about what it means to not have papers and how that limits a young person’s opportunities in this country. It’s really great to see Los Rakas take up these issues in their music.
Mapei – Don’t Wait
This is pretty much going to be the song of the summer. It’s a super sweet and simple song about friendship and love and it’s extremely catchy. This music video is also visually stunning. Another fierce femme musician I can’t get enough of.
Titica – Ablua
If you don’t know about trans Angolan artist, Titica, then you should start googling her now. She’s had huge success in Angola and was named the best Kuduro artist of 2011. In 2012, the global bass party I co-run in Brooklyn called iBomba had the pleasure of hosting Titica’s first performance in New York, facilitated by my friend Chief Boima. Titica’s dancing in her videos and in person in her performances is just amazing.
Ana Tijoux – Vengo
French-Chilean badass, Ana Tijoux, just came out with a new album called Vengo. The title track opens with flute music from the Andes and speaks about the pride of Tijoux’s indigenous Mapuche heritage. I love that Ana Tijoux always keeps politics at the center of her music and doesn’t apologize for it.
Abstract Random - Mi Nah Wanna
In 2010, Toronto-based Abstract Random released “Mi Nah Wanna,” a song that challenges homophobia in dancehall culture. The queer group describes their music as “rap electro dub hop mashup infused with feminist politics.” I don’t know why people don’t play this song more! The video also features members of the brooklyn boihood crew, active in providing visibility and empowering queer masculine of center bois and queers of color.
Old Money – Mothership
My friends from Brooklyn duo Old Money just released their new EP called Mothership and everyone should hear it! Ahmad Julian and Andre Oswald, MCs of Jamaican and Guyanese descent respectively, always push their listeners with new sounds — mixing influences of hip hop, dancehall and caribbean musics with electronic sounds. The title track explores the metaphor of the “mothership” as spoken about in American Black Liberationist movements.
MPeach – Venamo
Plugging another friend and fellow Dutty Artz member — my girl MPeach is releasing a new track this week called Boogaloo Mutante that folks should check out. MPeach is a Venezuelan artist hailing from Caracas but now lives in Brooklyn. One of my favorite videos of hers is from her 2012 track, Venamo, which urges and invites listeners to question everything, push limits, and don’t buy into what we’re told.
Stromae – Tous les Mêmes
Stromae, a Belgian-Rwandan singer from Brussels, released this really interesting music video in its visuals and approach to gender. I’m still trying to figure out what I think about it, but it’s definitely something that’s holding my attention.
BOK BOK ft Kelela – Melba’s Cell
I, like many, am a huge fan of Kelela – the much buzzed about future R&B vocalist of Ethiopian descent with the Fade to Mind label. Her mixtape from late last year, Cut4Me, turns lots of heads. Here she is with London-based producer Bok Bok on a new track called “Melba’s Cell” bringing back the essence of R&B.
PTAF – Boss Ass Bitch
While we’re Feministing, no play list is complete without PTAF’s “Boss Ass Bitch” — a song that Nicki Minaj helped make famous when she added a verse. But here’s the original trio — PTAF (Pretty Taking All Fades) — with the recent video they released to the song. Jersey Club deejay UNIIQU3 (another bad ass femme), remixed it into a club track which has also been making the rounds.
“I don’t like stories that don’t mean anything at all. I like to reveal something about the world we live in. I was meeting maize farmers in Ethiopia and for the first time I was dealing with real issues. ”
Hailed for her harrowing tales of harsh realities, multi award winning filmmaker, director and writer Judy Kibinge has rocked the Kenyan film scene with her sensational shorts and passionate feature lengths.
The Nairobi-based big screen boss has picked up numerous prizes for her intense stories of civil unrest, cultural taboos and her earlier, completely contrasting, romantic comedies. Last year she launched Docubox, a film fund which aims to create a film community in Nairobi and East Africa.
Judy hopes to excite the government with Docubox. She tells me it’s hard to get them to understand the importance of film funding because there’s a myth in her country filmmakers are lazy and want commissions for nothing. She says until something happens that allows filmmakers to live off their proceeds they will keep going round in circles.
“Being a filmmaker in Kenya is very difficult and I will say this for most of Africa,” she added. “In the beginning I found myself taking on more NGO docs. It paid the rent but it wasn’t why I took the enormous risk for, what turned out to be, a successful career in filmmaking. It became evident how many people like me have amazing ideas up their sleeves but no means of achieving them.
“Kenya doesn’t have great film schools. People like Spike Lee who make shorts on no budgets can do so thanks to the enormous bonds they made in school. So in this market it becomes very difficult to get films made which is why I set up Docubox.”
Judy was perhaps destined for this path in life coming from a family of artists and writers on her mother’s side and constantly having pens and pencils fused to her finger tips growing up. She believes it is a combination of genes and a stubborn personality which has led to her success.
She enjoyed a multicultural education in America, Kenya and England. After completing her studies the Manchester Polytechnic Art School graduate threw herself straight into a career at McCann Erickson (now McCann Kenya), one of East Africa’s biggest advertising agencies.
Judy rapidly rose to become Kenya’s first black creative director and towards the end of her eight year stint she realised she really wanted to be a filmmaker.
“When you make a shiny big budget commercial it’s a story. It has a beginning, middle and end. It’s meant to grab the audience, it can be funny or emotional. So I suppose you can say advertising was my film school.
“I quit because I couldn’t bare the idea of one more Coca Cola ad. I started to feel like am I going to do this forever? I loved it while I was there but filmmaking opened up a totally new world to me, a lot harder work but more meaningful, interesting and more engaged in reality.”
Immediately after quitting offers began flooding in to do corporate NGO documentaries. Once she had a few to her name Judy was invited to pitch for a screen writer role, never did it occur to her she could be a director and she was shell shocked when she learnt that was the position she’d landed.
Judy said she was astonished at how much she loved it and what a kick directing gave her. The most amazing joy she found, still to this day, was trying to understand what it is to be human and staying true to every tiny personal detail of each character.
“I don’t like stories that don’t mean anything at all. I like to reveal something about the world we live in. I loved making rom coms but the documentaries were taking me into the villages of west Africa and I was meeting maize farmers in Ethiopia and for the first time I was dealing with real issues.
“My films are very diverse because I make films that answer questions I am dealing with at the time as I continue to understand my craft better. I think you’re never perfect at it. I like to explore different spaces I am curious about and they’ve ended up on the pages I am working on.”
Her mould breaking debut, A Dangerous Affair, is regarded as one of the most important films in Kenya’s film history and went on to win first prize at the 2013 Zanzibar Film Festival. In 2008, she was awarded Best Kenyan Director for her personal favourite short, Killer Necklace, produced by her co-founded production company, Seven Productions.
“In this market there’s no time to wait for inspiration. Filmmaking is a craft as well as a creative enterprise and something you have to work really hard at. Inspiration is a tiny glimmer, a couple of percent, the rest is a big fat slog.
“Going back to a career in advertising can be tempting when you’re your like why am I struggling doing this film thing with no money. But I keep going because it’s one thing I am good at and I love it. I think it’s what I’m supposed to do and maybe that’s what my inspiration is.”
Her third feature length masterpiece, Something Necessary, she found the toughest to direct. It depicts the postelection violence that ripped Kenya apart. Airing just five short years after the disaster she says it didn’t really leave much room for reflection.
“The horror is still quite alive because at some point you were living in a city in a country that was falling to pieces. When I saw the script my heart sunk. I knew it was time to make a feature film again but I really didn’t want to make one about the post-election violence so it took a while to get my head round.
“The issues we deal with are so complex and overwhelming if you live in Europe it’s impossible to describe what it’s like to live with poverty and difficulty always around the corner. Even if you’re successful and living well you’re always extremely aware 70 per cent are not and whether you like it or not you carry that.
“Going to other countries who are far more privileged are not as vibrant as Africa, where you are always a short step away from a tough life. You lose the grit, the edginess and truth of living with so many reminders of what it is to be alive and why it’s important to be grateful.
“People are so innovative here, Kenyans have embraced blogging and learning to create apps, it is like the mobile has freed people from where they live and that is enormously inspiring to me.”
Judy is currently trying to get her latest bloody massacre block buster, Scarred, which took four years to make, aired on Al Jeezera. But if, like Judy, you are tired of the dark social intensities you can look forward to seeing her new side-splitting screen play, The Messenger. One things for sure anything written by this amazingly talented lady is guaranteed not to disappoint.
Hope and strong leadership are in short supply these days. But if you want a shot of both as well as a glimpse into a story that resonates worldwide, watch the following video. (It’s in Portuguese. Beneath it is a translation into English that was prepared by the Economist.)
The video is a two-minute-long political commercial for Marina Silva, a woman who rose up from crushing poverty, working as a housekeeper to make ends meet, to become the current front-runner in Brazil’s presidential election. It is an excerpt from a Silva speechin which sheaddresses the country’s current leader, Dilma Rousseff, responding to Rousseff’s assertion that Silva would shut down the Bolsa Familia, a social program designed to help the poorest Brazilians and one that is widely popular across Latin America’s biggest country.
“Dilma! Know that I’m not going to fight you with your weapons. I’m going to fight you with our truth. With our respect. And with our policies.
“We are going to keep the Bolsa Família. Do you know why? Because I was born in the Seringal Bagaço, and I know what it is to go hungry.
“All that my mother used to have for eight children was an egg and a bit of flour and salt, and some chopped onion. I remember looking at my father and mother and asking: Are you not going to eat? And my mother answered… my mother answered: We are not hungry.
“And a child believed that. But afterwards, I understood that for yet another day, they had nothing to eat.
“Someone who has lived through that will never end the Bolsa Familia.
“This is not a speech. It is a life.”
Until mid-August, Silva was not much more than a footnote in Brazil’s political life. That is not to say she was not important. Her story had long been an inspiring one to Brazilians. The 56-year-old was born in the Brazilian state of Acre on a rubber tree plantation. Of mixed racial ancestry, she was raised in a family with 11 children, and spent much of her childhood wracked by tropical diseases. And by the time she was 16, she had been orphaned. Educated in a convent, she became not only the first person in her family to learn to read and write, but by age 26 she had earned a history degree.
Early in her political careershe teamed up with Amazon environmental activist Chico Mendes to fight the destruction of the rainforest. Riding the popularity she achieved for her activism, she was elected to Brazil’s Senate in 1994.She continued her activism in this role and fought for the passage of laws and regulations that reversed the trend of the destruction of the Brazilian jungles that are so vital to the global environment that they have been called “the lungs of the planet” because they produce one-fifth of the world’s oxygen.
Her work led to her appointment as a minister in the administration of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Her colleagues in the government remember her as focused, effective, knowledgeable, and impressive. Ultimately, her passion for the environment produced rifts between her and some who saw her as uncompromising on critical issues of economic development. She resigned from her post in the spring of 2008.
A year later she became the Green Party candidate for president of Brazil and despite winning roughly one out of five votes in the first round of the elections, did not qualify for the runoff stage. She switched to the Socialist Party in 2013 and earlier this year became their candidate for vice president on a ticket headed by Eduardo Campos. But on Aug. 13, Campos was killed in a plane crash. In the weeks that followed, his successor, Silva, rose so quickly in the polls that while she is seen as likely to finish second to Rousseff in the first round of the elections on Oct. 5, currently she is seen as having an advantage to ultimately defeat Rousseff, Lula’s handpicked successor, in the runoff stage. Brazilian political insiders note that it is particularly significant that Lula has remained relatively silent on the issue of his preferences, leading one such insider to conclude that Lula, like many Brazilians, has grown disaffected with Rousseff’s dour, combative stance and her overall lacklusterperformance as president.
Much can change and certainly to some degree, Silva’s rise has been fueled by the shock and sympathy that followed Campos’s death. But as both the speech at the outset and her impressivecareer demonstrate, she has been lifted by more than just a twist of fate.This is an extraordinarily formidable woman whose rise offers lessons and resonances that should touch many far beyond Brazil’s borders.
First, it must be noted that the one thing that is certain is that the next president of Brazil will again be a woman. Dilma and Marina lead third-place candidate Aécio Neves by substantial margins and rumors already have him seeking to broker a deal with Silva to announce his support for her immediately after the first-round election results are announced. In a world in which women are still far from being as politically empowered as any sense of equity or justice would dictate, the world’s fifth most populous nation offers the first campaign in memory for the head of state post in a large country where both of the top contenders are women.
Silva — who has indigenous, Afro-Brazilian and Portuguese ancestors, but describes herself as black — would be the first such president in a country that is both proud of its enormous racial diversity but has yet to see that pride produce truly representative results at the highest political levels. She would certainly also represent an extraordinary climb up the country’s socioeconomic ladder. In addition to the above, the Guardian newspaper has indicatedthat on a planet that is struggling to come to grips with a massive climate crisis, Silva could become the world’s first “green” president. That’s especially important given Brazil’s centrality and leadership on environmental issues.
In all these things, the example offered by the Brazilian elections is one illustrating the promise of democracy for remaking societies, righting old wrongs, and offering a voice to the disenfranchised. To those in corners of the world where democracy has yet to take hold, Brazil’s story and Silva’s should serve as a source of inspiration. Frequently in its history and from 1964 through 1985, Brazil was dominated by military governments, which often employed brutal and repressive tactics. (Rousseff herself was a guerilla who fought the military regime and was brutally tortured as a consequence.) But since then, not only was democracy restored but a form of democracy that has emerged that actively embraced the formerly disenfranchised — from Lula, who left school in second grade to help support his family, to Dilma, to Marina. Today, it seems Brazilians are actively seeking leaders who not only can speak words of caring for the people at large but who viscerally feel it in ways that are instantly clear to those who spend even two minutes watching the brilliantly effective political advertisement above.
Of course, the reason the ad is so effective has little to do with deft editing or smart political consultants. It is not the hocus-pocus or polling mentality of modern politics that gives it its lift. It is the passion behind it and the story behind that passion. In this respect, Silva’s rise should be instructive from Brasilia to Washington, D.C., whether she is elected or not. Dilma is seen as a cerebral technocrat, a drone president who has done little to inspire during her time in office. What fizz there was in her own story — in being the first woman to become president of Brazil — has long since dissipated. Her closeness to the extraordinarily popular Lula has become open to question. Indeed, it seems in many respects that while Dilma may be Lula’s chosen successor, Marina is now being perceived by many as much more his successor in spirit.
Silva, as the first person of Afro-Brazilian background to have a real chance at becoming president, is sometimes referred to as Brazil’s Obama. In that there is one more cautionary tale and one more lesson. Obama too was different, offered a story of unprecedented empowerment, and was inspiring. But in a way, he has become his own Dilma: What once inspired now fuels disappointment at the consequences of a mixed bag of results since he took office. In that, there should be a warning for Brazilians: The passions of election seasons can fade quickly when great speechmakers are asked to govern.
But there should also be a lesson for Obama — a chance to look at Silva and be reminded of what made him a phenomenon in America in 2008. He can look into her eyes, read her story, and see a leader whose heart is still full and whose aspirations are still growing. If she wins, it will be because Brazil’s Obama offered an alternative to a president who was perceived to have gone flat much as Obama is perceived to have lost his“Yes We Can!” mojo.
In this respect, Marina Silva, the woman who may be and should be Brazil’s next president, has in her life and her message something to offer everyone from the poorest, most disenfranchised citizen of a Middle Eastern autocracy to the president of the United States himself.