A tribute to Charleston victims

tribute to charleston victims

Tomb unknown slave New Orleans Made out of chains

Tribute to Charleston victims

Yesterday we were shocked by the death of 9 black people who were shot for the very reason of being black. This is the kind of tragedy that cannot be put into words – it is the downside of humanity, or should I say inhumanity. We cannot believe that it happened, but it did in Charleston, USA today.

As a tribute to the victims, I re-publish a part of my diary about the international diversity conference in New Orleans 2006 (yes, shortly after hurricane Katrina). May the strength of people who were slaves, who protested against slavery and who protest against the remaining infections of that period, be blessed and reinforced. May their tears be dried by soulmates and friends.

tribute charleston victims

Tomb unknown slave New Orleans

Building by remembering (New Orleans, June 11, 2006)
By coincidence we walked into a church, just because the door was opened. It appeared to be the only door where in the time of slavery, banks were bought by free black people for slaves to sit upon. Outside of the church we find, unique in the USA, the grave of the unknown slave (the photo on top). A place that makes you silent. A sign of resistance, a sign of hope. It confirms the thesis of the Museum of Art, that the future is built by commemorating the past, not by forgetting it. The power to rebuilt a town like New Orleans can be found in that concept. Because it is sure that people will rebuild the town. And the question of the future is for whom they will rebuild the city (black or white).

I remember that we asked who was in the grave of the unknown slave. The answer was: no one in particular. So many slaves died here, they were buried all around so all of the ground in New Orleans is sacred, the church people said. This made me as silent as the Charleston murders did yesterday.

A blog that might interest you: Who tells your history? and other questions
A publication related to this subject (in Dutch): Zoek een filantroop voor Slavernijmuseum

Naziha’s spring – an outstanding IDFA documentary

naziha's spring  It was a coincidence that I went to an IDFA documentary, I never have / take time for things like that but in this case the maker of the documentary was the daughter of a friend with whom I participate in a Turkish litterature club – yes, all Turkish spoken so you understand I do not speak a lot, however I do read all the books (in Turkish) while not every participant does 🙂
I have to say that Gülsah Dogan presented an outstanding documentary that should be obliged learning material for any organisation involved in the problems of Amsterdam-West families. She has succeeded to make an inside picture about one of the (former) most problematic Dutch-Moroccan families Amsterdam-West has known. And anyone in the public can recognize and feel the characters, the conflicts, the existentialist problems that occur in this story. It is very moving – there were many tears – and the complexity of extreme family situations is revealed. This is a documentary that deserves a price and I hope it will win.
See http://www.idfa.nl/industry/tags/project.aspx?id=5273991f-70a3-431d-836f-264b6b41bce6, for more info and also times to visit next wednesday, thursday and saturday 26/27/29 November. Don’t miss this one! For me, it will still be on my mind for many days; it is really, really impressive!

Find another documentary made by Gülsah Dogan here: The hunt for my father

You might also like: Kurtulus son durak

Curacao: mixed feelings but rather depressed…

curacao-vlaggen halfstok  Curacao: mixed feelings but rather depressed

All flags were half-mast in Curacao this week. All flags means the flag of Curacao and in exceptional cases also the flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands that Curacao still belongs to; but just in exceptional cases, because Helmin Wiels who was murdered last week was in support of complete independency – or maybe (sometimes one thinks just too deep and reality is more simple) because no flag of the Netherlands is available in this island of scarcity.
‘He was an important minister’, someone in a bar explains me while we are watching the television to see the speeches for his funeral. I do not dare to say that he was not a minister, he was a parlementarian by principal but my feeling is that this is not the moment to tell ‘better’ to anyone, anyhow. It is maybe a Dutch thing, this desire to be ‘precise’… What is very clear is that people express that they mourn about an important man, a man who cared about their island and who was willing to bring changes.
It also strikes me how happy people are that Dutch government officials are present at the funeral. They point their fingers to them and show me: that is a Dutch official and that person too, they have come to Curacao to pay respect to Herman Wiels. It matters to them that the ‘former colonisator’ is present, regardless the differences of opinion between the Netherlands and Curacao.
There are also people here who are ready to explain you why Helmin Wiels was not the answer to the problems at Curacao. However, the common ground is that nobody denies that Curacao has some real problems, and that it is the poor, mainly black, who pay the price for that.
What surprises me most is the awful, very polluting refinery that is in the core of this island. One doesn’t expect to see this in the Caribbean that are known for their natural beauty. The plant is large and the smell is very bad, also from a far distance and it effects one’s breath. Again it is the poor who live on the side where the wind takes the pollution, and the rich who live on the side where breathing is still possible – makes me sad…
Is this a happy island? No it is not. Everybody is talking about the safety problems here, even more than about the economic problems. I spoke to several people who disliked Helmin Wiels, even hated him; however, now that he is dead, they seemed to have lost hope. At least he was calling for change, and will there be anybody else to fulfill this role?
‘Hier is dat ding gebeurd’, people say in the bus when we pass the beach where Helmin Wiels was shot. My first thought was, what is ‘dat ding’ but I saw the picture and the objects placed at the beach and understood ‘dat ding’. It is too awful for people to be named in exact words. Mixed feeling are felt on this island but all together it is rather depressed…

Read also about the synagogue of Curacao
Or the blog about A Tribute to Charleston victims


Kurtulus son durak – Turkish film festival

Kurtulus Son Durak Poster  What a nice movie is Kurtulus son durak! Women living in neighbouring apartments in Kurtulus – Istanbul start to talk about their lives and many unexpected scenes are the result of it. Is this a feminist movie? Turkish newspapers describe it as a commercial movie about empowerment of women. But the movie was made by two men, not by women. Baris Pirhasan wrote it and his son Yusuf directed it. Baris is present at the Turkish film festival in Amsterdam and explains how the movie was created. He is a very interesting man and it is worth to ask him questions.
The movie is very funny but not without a serious tune. Also it has layers and quite some depth; what I liked a lot is the alcoholic guy who is living his own life amidst all the troubles and the adventures of the women. He even helps them at some point, but when the situation becomes very difficult with the police surrounding the appartments and all, he is watching the events happening in the apartments below him at his television. He only comes down to his neighbours in trouble when the police cuts off the electricity as a first step to enter the apartments with force. ‘The television stopped’, he explains while all the women watch his arrival in surprise, and that is just one out of many funny moments.
Baris Pirhasan explained he is using cynicism or black humour as a way to make people laugh and we did; it was a great night with a great movie that is unusual enough not to be just forgotten after the laughter. To be seen in Tuschinsky Amsterdam on Saturday 22-9, 13h and Sunday 23-9, 20.45h. Enjoy!

Other documentaries you might like to read about:
Kedi: movie about cats or humans?
Naziha’s spring (by Gülsah Dogan)
The hunt for my father (also Gülsah Dogan)
Taxi Teheran

Iron Lady – too soft a movie

Iron Lady is a surprising, rather disappointing movie. Years ago, I read Margaret Thatcher’s biographie. I found it very interesting to read about her own views on what she stood for and how she wanted to achieve her goals. She was one of the first women at the international stage. In the Netherlands, until now, we never even had a female Prime Minister. So Margaret Thatcher is a woman we can learn something from.

In the movie The Iron Lady, however, we learn little about her views; the movie doesn’t even explain or pay any attention to the question how she could achieve at all to become Prime Minister as a woman in an ‘all men’ environment. On the contrary, we see most of the time an old woman who is having memories about her past life in short parts and sketches. She is already confused in a starting dementia, imagining her deceased husband around her most of the time and talking to him, sometimes even thinking that she is still Prime Minister.

In the various scenes about her life we see in the first place a woman who is Prime Minister, rather than a Prime Minister who is a woman. The focus is on her style much more than on her ideas, policies, views. Especially for a Prime Minister who lead a country through many changes, this is a surprising and also disappointing focus.

Research has shown that this treatment is reserved especially for female ministers. Journalists for example ask them two to three times more often about their private life and children than they do to their male colleagues. When they report about women in government positions, they report first of all about their style; however for their male colleagues, the main attention is paid to the content of their politics.

Nobody can say that Meryl Streep did not do a good job, because she was brilliant as ever. But she is not responsible for the script that chose to show one of the most influential Prime Ministers of the 20th century from a vulnerable side that is at least partly based on phantasy of the maker rather than as a strong and powerful person with ideas and the competence to realize them. Let’s hope another, more visionary movie maker will stand up and do the work that the Iron Lady movie has neglected to do.

Other blogs you may like:
Turist and the myth of heroism
Lore movie that silences the public
Simone Veil: une vie