Benjamin Zephaniah: ‘I’m almost 60 and I’m still angry. Everyone told me I would mellow’

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Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah

source: The Guardian 
published: 25 August 2017 

Benjamin Zephaniah’s 1998 poem Carnival Days is a lyrical love letter to the Notting Hill carnival, where “We dance like true survivors / We dance to the sounds of our dreams.” Or, more accurately, it’s a love letter to what the carnival once was. He still supports the event, which takes place in London this weekend, and plans to be there on Monday, but reckons it has become less innocent, less spontaneous in the two decades since he wrote his poem. These days, even dreams have to be policed – and ideally sponsored.

“It’s become more corporate and – to some people this might sound positive – more organised,” he says. “Stalls have to pay a fee; sponsors get involved. People used to take to the streets and do it for themselves. They’d say: ‘I’ll sell some food on this corner; you sell some food on that corner.’ It was organised anarchy. There was no big committee. There was a group of people and that was it. Now, it’s all about liaising with the police, which for me takes away the spirit of us really taking to the streets.” Continue reading

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White nationalists are flocking to genetic ancestry tests, and they’re not liking what they find

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Undercover Man Hidingsource: Alternet 
published: 17 August 2017 

It was a strange moment of triumph against racism: The gun-slinging white supremacist Craig Cobb, dressed up for daytime TV in a dark suit and red tie, hearing that his DNA testing revealed his ancestry to be only “86 percent European, and … 14 percent Sub-Saharan African.” The studio audience whooped and laughed and cheered.

And Cobb – who was, in 2013, charged with terrorizing people while trying to create an all-white enclave in North Dakota – reacted like a sore loser in the schoolyard.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on, just wait a minute,” he said, trying to put on an all-knowing smile. “This is called statistical noise.” Continue reading

A mad world: capitalism and the rise of mental illness

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Sectioned - mental healthsource: Red Pepper
published: 9 August 2017 

Mental illness is now recognised as one of the biggest causes of individual distress and misery in our societies and cities, comparable to poverty and unemployment. One in four adults in the UK today has been diagnosed with a mental illness, and four million people take antidepressants every year.

‘What greater indictment of a system could there be,’ George Monbiot has asked, ‘than an epidemic of mental illness?’

The shocking extent of this ‘epidemic’ is made all the more disturbing by the knowledge that so much of it is preventable. This is due to the significant correlation between social and environmental conditions and the prevalence of mental disorders. Continue reading