The New Jim Crow

We’ve all heard the statistics, and most of us have simply become numb to hearing them. For many people, the over-incarceration of Black people is simply a fact of life. It shouldn’t be.
Thanks to legal scholar and professor Michelle Alexander1 we now have a new book that explains how we ended up with a criminal justice system that targets and endangers Black communities, as well as ideas on what we can do to free ourselves from that system’s clutches.
When we put the book — The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness — in the hands of 20 ColorOfChange members to review, the response was unanimous. In addition to giving the book glowing reviews, they all wanted the entire ColorOfChange community to know about it.
It’s why we’re now inviting you to get your own copy (and for your friends or family as well, in time for the holiday season), as well as participate in a conference call with Professor Alexander in the new year to discuss it.
You can get your copy here:
Professor Alexander’s book outlines the evolution of drug laws and how their ongoing effects on Black America parallel the role that segregation played in the period following the Civil War and preceding the Civil Rights Movement.2 And it raises questions about what it will take to build a movement that can reform the broken drug laws that fuel high incarceration rates.
Criminal justice reform is key to our community — a third of Black men will spend part of their lives in prison,3 and Black children are more than six times more likely to have a parent incarcerated than White children.4 ColorOfChange members have demonstrated time and again that they want to change the status quo. More than 59,000 ColorOfChange members called on Congress to remove the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, and nearly 25,000 sent a statement to Senator James Webb of Virginia, thanking him for his attempts to overhaul our approach to incarceration.
We believe — and the ColorOfChange members who read and reviewed the book agreed — that the book will help us, as everyday people, stand with even more power to advocate for change. Ms. Alexander is herself a longtime member of ColorOfChange.org, and she’s agreed to speak with those of you who read the book, and answer any questions you have. We’ll contact you again early in the new year with more information about how to participate in that conference call, which is sure to be informative and powerful.
Here’s what ColorOfChange.org members are saying about The New Jim Crow:
“This book explains how this new Jim Crow came to be and how deeply ingrained it is now in the American psyche. Unless we really understand how this happened, we’ll never break this vicious cycle of African-American overincarceration… How many family members of prisoners lie about their relatives in the penal system in an effort to mitigate the stigma of criminality? This system penalizes entire families. [The book] was such an eye opener."
— Irma, Washington, DC
“This book will give you a good understanding of the system, its historical roots, its origins in the War on Drugs, the complicity of the police and legal system leading to mass incarceration of people of color, and the tragic result of creating a permanent caste system based on color. It opened my eyes and stirred my soul.“
— Larry, Freeland, WA
“This isn’t a fight for the lawyers. This is a fight for regular people, the non-experts, the advocates, the sympathizers, the human beings who care and want to care more. Fertile ground for change is wherever we are, however we are, and accessible to those of us with less than sizable monetary wealth or a law degree.”
— Thuha, Fountain Valley, CA
For more on The New Jim Crow and to get your copy, click here:
Thanks and Peace,
-- James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Natasha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
   December 9th, 2010
Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU -- your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don't share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way. You can contribute here:
1. “The New Jim Crow,” article by Michelle Alexander in Mother Jones, 03-08-2010
2. “Legal Scholar Michelle Alexander on ‘The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness’,” Democracy Now, 03-11-2010
3. “Too Long Ignored,” The New York Times, 8-20-2010
4. “Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility,” Pew Charitable Trusts, 9-2010
Additional resources:
“More than 1 in 100 U.S. adults are in prison,” New York Times, 2-29-2008


Black Consciousness in Brazil

Tue, 11/16/2010 - 13:51 — Italo Ramos

New census data show two million more Brazilians now describe themselves as black than did so ten years ago, when “they had said that they were not blacks, but 'mestiços' or 'mulattos,' a category more favored, socially.” This is, the author believes, a significant number, proof of the deep impact of the black consciousness movement and Brazil's relatively recent affirmative action programs. At the same time, “slowly but consistently, white people are admitting the real face of a segregationist and racist Brazil.”

Early last October, the work of the last Brazilian census had not yet been finished, but we already knew that our adult black population had grown two percentage points, from 5% to 7%, over the last ten years. (In Brazil, black people are officially considered a category apart from the racially mixed population.) For those who know Brazil and know that the country has the largest black population in the world, after only Nigeria, these numbers may seem surprisingly small. And these people may also ask how could this have happened? The new persons who were born in this so short period of time - 10 years - are not adult enough to be included by the census collector. So, where did those two percentage points came from?

Before answering, let’s explore another fundamental question: 7% is a small, insignificant number?

The answer may be Yes and No, as it depends on whom is reading it. Numbers are not geographic symbols but, as they don’t lie, they are the most powerful kind of authority we have to prove something, although our sense about their meaning may vary according to different national criteria. If you are Brazilian, 7% is very small, considering a population of 190 million people. But for those people in the world who deal with racial discrimination and racism, it will never be insignificant.

The census, made by the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística-IBGE, doesn’t explain, as it is not its official business to make considerations about the development of racial awareness, but that difference of 2 points shows that, now, two million more people are accepting and proclaiming their real color. Ten years ago, when another census took place, they had said that they were not blacks, but “mestiços” or “mulattos,” a category more favored, socially. That difference is good proof that racial consciousness is growing in Brazil, which means that more and more black people are not ashamed of their racial identity, and, not statistically but ethnically speaking, two percentage points is a big and significant number.

But there is more about that.

These 7% might be added to 45% of those who said to the collector that they are mulattos, and the result will be a population of 52% of blacks and mulattos, and 49% of whites. So, in an American sense, the Brazilian black population is now larger than the white one. In the Brazilian sense, as was said, blacks and biracial are two different categories.

Another number that Census shows, 2%, refers to people who, 10 years ago, said to the collector that they were white, but, now, they want to change their category, some choosing to be mestiços, some mulattos, some indigenous. These are very light-skinned black persons who used to pass as white, but now are not ashamed to declare their real origin. They don’t want to be white, anymore.

(A good question would be “Why would a light-skinned person want to pass as white?” Well, I don’t want to answer, because my words wouldn’t be sympathetic to them.)

So, the Brazilian black population not only is the second largest in the world, but also exhibits the record of being the most mixed. In this sense, it reserves first place. Mulattos, in Brazil, are, mainly, a product of the Portuguese, who colonized the country, and the Africans, brought there to be slaves. And this mixture was always so dense that, in slavery times, there were more mulattos than today, proportionally to the total population. But the readers must not take this last information as a sign of racial liberalism from the Portuguese side, because it actually hides violence, a crime.

Speaking about crime, in this aspect, Brazilian and American slavery histories are similar. Both are full of cases of rape. At that time, it was common among landlords to take enslaved women as concubines. In Brazil, this practice was more open than in U.S., but, to take the best of American examples, we can ask: Did Sally Hemings love Thomas Jefferson? Those seven children were sons of sexual consent? If Sally really loved him, would she impose some conditions to return from France to Virginia with him, as she did? Jefferson agreed with those conditions and set her (their) children free, just like Brazilian landlords used to protect their bastard sons, giving them much better treatment. This was a natural behavior, so common that until today both societies make a difference between blacks and mulattos, giving to the latter a higher social status. What contemporary Brazilian and American whites don’t realize is that, by doing so, they are simply
modernly repeating what their ancestors, owners of slaves, used to do.

In Brazil, in the time of slavery, the mulattos were chosen to be what was called Capitães do mato (bush captains), the leading hunters of fugitives slaves in the forests and responsible for chasing those ones walking in the streets in the cities. That was a job that gave some privileges to them, as they were not in the fields nor in the big houses, but seen as the protector of the interests of white owners of slaves. But the position also gave them the very bad reputation of being enemies of black people.

The social order is self-reproductive. If nothing is done to change it, in terms of a revolt, the imposition of a law or the exposure of positive role models, the social order repeats the same pattern of the society, eternally, just like it is. So, as changes don’t happen overnight, the culture of slavery perpetuated many old customs, making that institution not as remote as we would like. And, today, the capitães do mato have disappeared, as they are not necessary, anymore, because of the end of slavery, but, more than one century later, in their places, a big majority of soldiers of the Brazilian military state police, is comprised of mulattos. These are the police in charge of invading huts in favelas and of chasing poor people in the streets, mainly blacks, asking them for identification cards and arresting those who cannot prove that they have a regular job. Black people hate them. It is history, if not just repeating itself, making a kind of

Until today, there is not an explanation for that change of attitude made by the “new blacks.” Can it be an effect of the Affirmative Action? Maybe. Affirmative Action came to Brazil around 2003, when a university in Rio de Janeiro adopted the first Brazilian system of quotas for students originating from public schools, blacks and indigenous people. Since then, the discussion about race, discrimination and racism provoked remarkable changes in the false image of a racial democracy Brazil has maintained since the abolition of slavery. Slowly but consistently, white people are admitting the real face of a segregationist and racist Brazil. But the quota system is also a university success. The last research made by the Universidade Federal da Bahia states: “…the quota students’ performance improves every year. The poorer the students, the better their progress.”

Brazil is a young country, with a juvenile enthusiasm in many senses, without answers or even research, yet, about its most important questions, like those about “new blacks.” Few people care about who makes Brazil what it is, and for whom. Of course, we are not so innocent as to not know that Brazil is evolving within a permanent conflict of huge cultural, political and economic interests that we have already identified and we are learning how to deal with its resistances, changes and tricks, like the disguised face of the modern capitaes do mato. Slowly but consistently, we are pushing ahead and improving an Affirmative Action that came late. And, for a developing country, it is comforting to know that some difficult questions, so important for tracing a right and quick road to a really democratic future, are not being answered even in developed countries.

Italo Ramos is a Brazilian journalist. He can be contacted at


Interview with Sally Price


PROA: Your book on Maroon Arts shows how descendants of rebel slaves from diverse African origins living in Guiana and Suriname have kept alive pan-African aesthetic ideas while adapting them creatively to changing economic and social circumstances. It seems amazing that even facing much adversity (civil war, a plummeting economy, drugs, mining companies) they still care about artistic mastery. How do you explain it?

SALLY PRICE: People don’t lose their culture just because they hit hard times. Think about the descriptions we have of Africans suffering through the horrors of the Middle Passage and arriving in the Americas where one 18th-century writer observed: “todos os escravos são levados para o convés ... e seu cabelo é raspado em diferentes imagens de estrelas, meia-luas etc., o que eles geralmente fazem uns com os outros (sem dispor de lâminas), com a ajuda de uma garrafa quebrada e sem sabão.” [J.G. Stedman, quoted in S. Mintz and R. Price, O Nascimento da cultura Afro-Americana, Pallas Editora 1992, p. 72]. I would guess that equivalent examples could be found in the open-air camps where victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti don’t even have food to eat. People are surprisingly resilient in the face of adversity. It was, for example, around the time that their villages were being bombed in the civil war that Saramaka Maroon women developed openwork carving in calabashes

Interview with Sally Price


Let’s Rescue the Race Debate - NYTimes.com

“There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. ... Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs ... There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well.”

This 100-year-old, cobbled-together quote from the “the Great Accommodator” Booker T. Washington has gotten quite a bit of circulation in the right-wing blogosphere since the Tea Party came under attack over racial issues.

Continue reading here:
Let’s Rescue the Race Debate - NYTimes.com


Color of Change: Tea Party Leaders Still Silent

...The Tea Party leaders you'd actually recognize, people like Sarah Palin and Dick Armey, have stayed silent or denied that any racism exists in their ranks.4 And there's been no attempt to tackle the systemic problem of racism within the Party. It's time for leadership to speak up.
If the Tea Party is serious about not being a home for racism there are two things all its leaders and groups must do now:
  1. Publicly make clear that Mark Williams and the bigotry he stands for aren't welcome in the Tea Party movement
  2. Adopt a clear policy stating that racist and bigoted rhetoric and imagery will not be tolerated — by leaders, groups, or candidates — and will result in expulsion from Tea Party organizations
You can help us force the hand of Tea Party leaders by calling on them to come out of the shadows and speak up. They need to make a choice — get serious about confronting the racism in their movement, or show, with their inaction, that they welcome and rely on bigotry as a part of their movement.
Either way, we need you to make it happen. Please take a moment to add your voice now, and then ask your friends and family do the same:
While it's important to acknowledge that one group, the Tea Party Federation, met part of our demands on Sunday, the reality is that they did it in the most cynical way possible. When they dropped Williams, they refused to acknowledge the fact that Williams went unchallenged as a key leader after he called the President an "Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug"5 — or after one of many other racist rants.6 They tried to downplay Williams' role in the movement and maintained that there was no pattern of racism or bigotry in their movement.
How it started
On Tuesday of last week, the NAACP passed a resolution calling on the Tea Party to denounce the racist elements within its ranks, a bold and important move.7 On Thursday, Mark Williams of the Tea Party Express (one of the movement's most prominent leaders) responded by publishing a blog post full of nasty racist stereotypes about Black people.8 On Friday, thousands of ColorOfChange members took action to back up the NAACP and demand that Tea Party leaders expel Williams, and what he represents, from their movement.9
On Sunday, the National Tea Party Federation (one of several national Tea Party groups) banished Williams and the Tea Party Express, but they refused to take responsibility for confronting this element of their movement, and have continued to attack the NAACP for raising the issue in the first place.10 Meanwhile, the Tea Party Express is defending Williams, refusing to remove him from their leadership, and attacking the Tea Party Federation as an illegitimate group that doesn't really represent the Tea Party.11
For the Tea Party movement to show that it's serious about confronting the racism within its ranks, prominent Tea Party leaders need to denounce Williams and the bigotry he represents, and they need to make themselves publicly accountable for purging racism from their movement.
It's time to give the Tea Party a choice — speak up and act, or make clear that the Tea Party is a home for racists and racism. You can help make that happen. Please add your voice and ask your friends and family to do the same:
Thanks and Peace,
-- James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Milton and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
   July 20th, 2010
Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU — your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don't share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way. You can contribute here:
1. “Tea Party Leader Mocks NAACP ‘Coloreds’ In Online Screed,” Media Matters, 07-15-2010
2. “Tea Party Leaders: We’re Not Racist! The NAACP Is! (AUDIO),” TPMDC, 07-14-2010
3. “Tea Party leader says he’s done talking about race controversy,” CNN, 7-18-2010
4. “The Charge of Racism: It’s Time to Bury the Divisive Politics of the Past,” Sarah Palin, 7-13-2010
5.“‘Tea Party’ Leader Melts Down On CNN: Obama Is An ‘Indonesian Muslim Turned Welfare Thug,’” Huffington Post, 9-15-2009
6. “Tea Party Express’ Mark Williams: King Of ‘Accidental’ Racism”, TPM Muckraker, 7-19-2010
7. “NAACP Delegates Unanimously Pass Tea Party Resolution,” NAACP, 07-13-2010
8. See Reference 1
9. ColorOfChange.org email on Mark Williams, 7-16-2010
10. “Tea Party Objects to NAACP’s ‘Selective Racism’,” CBS News, 7-18-2010
11. “Tea party groups fire on each other,” Politico, 7-19-2010

Facebook | Festival of Yoruba Arts (F.O.Y.A)

Facebook | Festival of Yoruba Arts (F.O.Y.A)


Op-Ed Columnist - Fourth of July 1776, 1964, 2010 - NYTimes.com

Published: July 2, 2010
In the matter of race, we still take steps back and forward in bewildering alternation.

Op-Ed Columnist - Fourth of July 1776, 1964, 2010 - NYTimes.com


British Museum exhibition: The African sculptures mistaken for remains of Atlantis

Frobenius thought the Ife sculptures he found in what is now Nigeria couldn't possibly have originated from a "primitive" African culture.
The African sculptures mistaken for remains of Atlantis - CNN.com


Whites only?

On Wednesday, Rand Paul, the GOP’s US Senate candidate for Kentucky repeated his claim that a central piece of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was wrong, and that businesses should be free to discriminate against whomever they please.1 Paul and his supporters don’t seem to care that without federal intervention, Black people might still be second-class citizens in many aspects of American life: where we eat, where we work, even where we live.
Then, on Thursday, FOX anchor John Stossel went even further, calling for the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that applies to business to be repealed.2 And he’s refused to back down.
While Paul may have started this outrage, he can be taken care of at the ballot box — FOX News can’t.
Stossel’s position is an affront to Black America and everyone in this country who believes in racial progress. It’s one thing to be a candidate with backwards views. It’s another to be employed by a supposed news network and to use that platform to push hateful ideas that our nation repudiated decades ago.
It’s time that FOX drop Stossel. If people like you stand up in huge numbers and FOX does not act, it will be clear that FOX stands with Stossel and his values — and we'll go directly after the network with a public campaign unlike anything we’ve pursued to date.
Can you add your voice to the call to fire Stossel? And please ask your friends and family to do the same. It takes only a moment — just click below:
FOX has a history of providing a platform for bigoted views and race-baiting. Most recently you helped us hold FOX accountable by stripping Glenn Beck of more than 100 of his advertisers, after Beck called President Obama a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred for white people.”3
But Stossel has arguably gone beyond Beck, echoing segregationist arguments from the Jim Crow era:
"It’s time now to repeal that part of the law because private businesses ought to get to discriminate. And I won’t ever go to a place that’s racist and I will tell everybody else not to and I’ll speak against them. But it should be their right to be racist."
Stossel went on to argue something that history has disproved time and again — that private business will do the right thing, without being compelled by laws, because no one would patronize a business that discriminates. It’s a blind belief in market fundamentalism that just isn’t in sync with reality. In the '60s, white-owned businesses that allowed Blacks as customers lost business. Market forces actually perpetuated discrimination; they didn’t combat it. Simply put: segregation would still be active in parts of this country if government hadn’t stepped in.
And recent history has shown that the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act is still needed. In 1994, it was used to hold Denny’s Restaurants accountable, after the chain repeatedly refused to seat Black customers.4 Just last year, it was used to go after a Philadelphia pool that prevented Black children from swimming there.5
It’s time for FOX News to make a choice. Are they going to give Stossel a platform to revive dangerously outdated perspectives? Or will they move with the rest of the nation into the 21st century? Please call on FOX News to fire John Stossel. And once you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same:
Thanks and Peace,
-- James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Milton and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
   May 22nd, 2010
Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU -- your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don't share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way. You can contribute here:
1. “Rand Paul On ‘Maddow’ Defends Criticism Of Civil Rights Act, Says He Would Have Worked To Change Bill,” Huffington Post, 5-20-10
2. “Stossel calls for repeal of public accommodations section of Civil Rights Act,” Media Matters, 5-20-10
3. “Beck’s UK broadcast runs without ads; over 100 companies have ditched Beck,” Jack and Jill Politics, 2-16-10
4. “Denny’s Restaurants to Pay $54 Million in Race Bias Suits,” 5-25-94
5. “Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, Country Club Alleging Discrimination,” US Department of Justice press release, 1-13-10
“Dancing with the Devil,” ColorOfChange.org, 3-14-07
Summary on FOX News and coverage relating to Black Americans


Book Review - The History of White People - By Nell Irvin Painter - Review - NYTimes.com

Nell Irvin Painter’s title, “The History of White People,” is a provocation in several ways: it’s monumental in sweep, and its absurd grandiosity should call to mind the fact that writing a “History of Black People” might seem perfectly reasonable to white people. But the title is literally accurate, because the book traces characterizations of the lighter-skinned people we call white today, starting with the ancient Scythians. For those who have not yet registered how much these characterizations have changed, let me assure you that sensory observation was not the basis of racial nomenclature.
Book Review - The History of White People - By Nell Irvin Painter - Review - NYTimes.com

A Game of Chess, by Adam Isler



Trailblazing paratrooper broke color barrier in secret - CNN.com

While Morris was trying to build his men's self-esteem, the War Department was quietly considering creating an all-black paratrooper unit. Morris soon found himself with a new job as the top noncommissioned officer for the new unit dedicated to training America's first "colored" parachutists, the 555th Parachute Infantry Company, or the Triple Nickle. They decided to spell it differently from "nickel" to make sure people knew they were unique. The unit had plenty of doubters.
"They didn't think colored soldiers had the intestinal fortitude to jump out of a plane in flight," Morris remembered.

Trailblazing paratrooper broke color barrier in secret - CNN.com


Flash of the Spirit - a very special homily

Homily for October 19, 2003.
By Lone Jensen


The desert has little mercy. But plenty of sun unlike a winter day in Chicago when the grayness is so pervasive it seems to invade even our souls. It was on such a day I found her in the quiet library at the University of Chicago, a perfect expression for all the changes taking place in my own life at the time: the whirlwind Oya.
And with her I discovered the rest of the Yoruba Pantheon. It turned into a voyage of wonder and discovery much like the young American missionary who one bright morning in the middle of the 19th century ascended a lofty granite boulder and looked down upon the Yoruba city of Abeokuta. He wrote:
What I saw disabused my mind of many errors
in regard to Africa. The city extends along the bank of the Ogun for
nearly six miles and has a population of approximately 200.000 -
instead of being the naked, lazy savages I had been led to expect I saw a
lively industrious city. The men are builders, blacksmiths, basket
makers, hat makers, traders, barbers, tailors, farmers and workers in
leather and morocco, they make razors, swords, knives, hoes, billhooks,
axes, arrowheads and make soap, dyes, palm oil, nut oil and all native
earthen ware and many other things used in the country. It was a city
much as those I had left. 
It is not strange he was surprised, no one had told him, just as I was never told, that Africa was more than Egypt and Ethiopia, that it held rich treasures of many cultures and religions.


BBC News - Lost Jewish tribe 'found in Zimbabwe'

BBC News - Lost Jewish tribe 'found in Zimbabwe'

The oral traditions of the Lemba say that the ngoma lungundu is the Biblical wooden Ark made by Moses, and that centuries ago a small group of men began a long journey carrying it from Yemen to southern Africa.

Hearing from those professors in Harare and seeing the ngoma makes it clear that we are a great people and I'm very proud
David Maramwidze
Lemba elder

The object went missing during the 1970s and was eventually rediscovered in Harare in 2007 by Prof Parfitt.

"Many people say that the story is far-fetched, but the oral traditions of the Lemba have been backed up by science," he says.


African Continuities in the Americas

Logo green background

Quilombo Legacy
The Bumba-Meu-Boi
Three City Tour:
June 16 - June 28, 2010   

$2,995.00 Double Occupancy

$525.00 Single Supplement

The legacy of Africa permeates all forms of contemporary Brazilian society. Religion, art, and culture continue to reflect the presence of the largest population of African people outside the continent of Africa. It is the intent of AfricanIACouple#2 Continuities in the Americas: Brazil 2010 to explore the linkages and examine the continuities that exist between Africa and the Americas.
YourWorld is offering an exciting travel celebration through Brazil, visiting three different cities to explore the continuities between Brazil and Africa. Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Luis are located in the three Brazilian states that have the largest African populations. African Continuities in the Americas: Brazil 2010 will examine the profound contemporary African legacy in Brazil as part of a dynamic living culture.
YourWorld's scholar-in-residence, Prof. C. Daniel Dawson, will add to this precious occasion his profound knowledge of the people in the African Diaspora and their connections. Through his competent, uncompromising and passionate approach Prof. Dawson' s lectures will expand and guide your unique experience of a vibrant learning process in an incomparably  joyous environment.   

Prof.C. Daniel Dawson is a scholar, curator, photographer and arts administrator living in New York City. He has taught seminars on African Spirituality throughout the United States and in Latin America. He has also taught at the University of Iowa and Yale University. He has been Director of Education at the Museum for African Art (NYC), Program Specialist at the American Museum of Natural History and Director of Special Projects at the Caribbean Cultural Center (NYC). Prof. Dawson has been researching and traveling extensively to Brazil for the past twenty-five years and is considered a leading expert on capoeira. He currently teaches on African American culture at Columbia University (Institute for Research in African American Studies) and New York University (Gallatin School of Individualized Study).

Bahia is the most African of all LadyW/redWrapBrazilian states. In fact Africa abounds in the capital city of Salvador, also known as the "Black Rome" because of its celebrated church architecture and 80% African population. In this city of over two million, the culture is ruled by visible African ideas. The local cuisine, musical traditions, dance forms, Bloco Afro carnival groups, acrobatic martial art of capoeira, vibrant visual arts, and even Bahia's ginga, the graceful swing of its people, are all living testaments to this permeating African influence. In addition, Bahia is full of beautiful beaches, and quiet and historically important countryside towns.

BraBoy Favelazilians of African origin comprise nearly 60 percent of the total population of Brazil. It is estimated that nearly 4 million Africans were shipped to Brazil. By the eighteenth century, the majority of Rio's inhabitants were Africans. As a result, virtually nothing in Rio remained untouched by African customs, beliefs and behavior - a state of affairs that clearly influences today's city, with its mixture of Afro-Brazilian music, spiritualist religions and local cuisine. Brazilian colonizers, unlike colonizers in the United States, allowed Africans to continue to use their drums.  Thus began the rhythm of the saints, the samba, and it explains why Brazilian "batucadas" reign unequaled today. 
The Samba is a genre of music and dance. It is the most popular and well-known musical genre to come out of the African-Brazilian experience. It is a very percussive, energetic form of music. The escolas de samba, the large community based samba groups,  have occasional similarities to the dynamics of marching bands, but, the similarities end there. Samba is a full-fledged musical form intended for dancing, not marching. It's rhythmically unique and culturally vital to Rio de Janeiro and other parts of Brazil. Like many music and dance genres, the samba's roots are African. Groups of neighbors in poor Rio neighborhoods played the music together to sing and dance  and soon adapted the style to become part of their yearly carnival celebration. Brazil got the samba, and the U.S. got "the blues."

 São Luís, Maranhão is a city with a rich folk tradition that blends African, Amerindian, Portuguese and French influences. Daniel Dawson will highlight the African presence in a presentation on the historical significance of Quilombos, the self-liberated communities founded by Africans in Brazil. We will visit one of Maranhão's still functioning Quilombos. Each evening we will visit the Bumba-Meu-Boi Festival, one of Maranhão's most important folklore festivals celebrated annually in São Luís, but little known outside of Brazil.
 The festivities also include Tambor-de-Criola and Dança do Coco, music and dance forms unique to Maranhão.
The rhythm and dances known as tambor de crioula, or "the black woman's drum", which date back to slavery times and feature women dancing to an engaging drum beat, are powerful, creative and spontaneous.


Bumba-Meu-Boi is like carnaval in that there are parade groups, lavish costumes and songs and dancing.  But one feature that distinguishes it is storytelling and poetry - some written, most improvised. It tells the story of an ox (boi) killed by a slave to satisfy his pregnant wife's food cravings. The farmer who owned the animal called on some Indian shamans (pajés), who brought the animal back to life. In São Luís
Bumba-Meu-Boi takes diverse musical forms as a result of unique instrumentation, which often includes various types of drums and other percussive instruments.

Bumba-Meu- Boi is a combination of song, dance and play in which Indian, African and Iberian-Brazilian elements are mingled. There are an estimated 60 Bumba-Meu-Boi groups in the city - musicians playing a variety of instruments, such as zabumbas (large drums) and matracas (pieces of wood or iron rings which are struck against one another).
The Bumba- Meu-Boi was originally a parody by the oppressed members of the population directed against the society of slave-owners, and accordingly was from time to time suppressed by the authorities.
Bumba-Meu-Boi Festival * Sao Joao Festival *  Show and Dinner * Art Exhibitions  * Presenters * Dance, Drumming and Capoeira Workshops * Visits to Independent Programs and Schools * Visit to a Quilombo

Scheduled Round-Trip Air Transportation - USA/Brazil/USA * Accommodations at Luxury  Hotels *  Transfers between Airport and  Hotel * Brazilian Buffet Breakfast Daily * Historical African Heritage Tours of Rio, Salvador and Sao Luis * Trip to Historical Town of Cachoeira, Lunch included * Visit to a Quilombo * All USA and Brazilian Airport Taxes Included * And much more!

C. Daniel Dawson                                           YourWorld Consultant Group, Inc.
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JUNE 16 - JUNE 28, 2010

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Kingdom of Ife video › The British Museum

Kingdom of Ife video › The British Museum

Kingdom of Ife | Art review | Art and design | guardian.co.uk

Kingdom of Ife | Art review | Art and design | guardian.co.uk

This is an exceptional exhibition, even by the high standards the British Museum has established in recent years. It is extraordinary because it brings together such a large number of masterpieces that have rarely or never been exhibited outside Nigeria before – and when I say masterpieces, I mean artworks that rank with the Terracotta Army, the Parthenon or the mask of Tutankhamun as treasures of the human spirit.