Category Archives: art and culture

Mangrove – a searing indictment of police racism, then and now

Mangrove is a film that is first instalment of a series of films from director Steve McQueen called Little Axe.

The Mangrove restaurant in Notting Hill in the 1960s, became much more than just a restaurant –it grew into an organising hub for the black community.

Its reputation went before it, as it attracted not just ordinary members of the community but a host of celebrities too, from rock pioneer Jimi Hendrix to left-wing actress Vanessa Redgrave.

And when the Black Panthers came onto the scene in the UK as an offshoot of the US organisation, it became a base for the militant group.

Saluting Frank Critchlow Altheia Jones-Le Cointe and the other heroes

Frank Critchlow was the owner of the restaurant and he was joined by the likes of Altheia Jones-LeCointe, Darcus Howe and Barbara Beese as key organisers.

This was all too much for the racist Met police, and in particular a certain PC Frank Pulley.

It was Pully who led the constant raids on the restaurant that eventually led to the framing of Mangrove Nine.

The framed activists defended themselves in court and powerfully exposed the racism of the British police at the time, and the film leaves you asking at the end, so what has changed as far as racist policing goes?

Eventually all the defendants were to walk free, acquitted of all the most serious charges.

This is a story whose telling is long overdue, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Catch it on iPlayer now.

The choice of the title Small Axe for the series of films from McQueen exploring the African Caribbean Windrush generation’s experience in the UK, is based on a line from the Bob Marley and The Wailers song of the same name:

“So if you are the big tree, We are the small axe Ready to cut you down, (well sharp), To cut you down.”
Small Axe by Bob Marley And The Wailers

Who shot the sheriff, Eric? Music and the fight against racism

????? We’re excited to have Roger Huddle joining our panel at 7pm this evening to discuss Rock Against Racism and Music and the Fight Against Racism with music from special guests. All welcome. Zoom details: 854 2960 2728 Passcode: 869873 ?????
Hosted by Oxford Love Music Hate Racism & Oxford Stand Up To Racism

This meeting coincides with the new film that tells the story of when Britain’s youth stood up against the far right… a film inspires us today – White Riot.

Statues and history done right in an era of BLM: Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus

Following the controversy surrounding the long overdue toppling of Confederate statues in the US and those of slave traders here in the UK, the Black Lives Matter movement is charged with wanting to erase history.

No, we want to tell the true story of what happened in history and its legacy today.

What follows is an excerpt from the Tate Modern celebrating American sculptor Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus –

Delve deeper into 2019’s Hyundai Commission by Kara Walker


Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019 (detail). Photo: © Tate​ (Matt Greenwood)




Allegory in art is when the subject of the artwork, or the various elements that form the composition, is used …

‘My work has always been a time machine looking backwards across decades and centuries to arrive at some understanding of my “place” in the contemporary moment.’ – Kara Walker

Kara Walker is an artist whose work explores ideas around identity, race, sexuality and violence. She works in a variety of mediums, including paintingprint-making and installation. For Tate Modern’s 2019 Hyundai commission, Walker has created a large-scale public sculpture in the form of a four-tiered fountain. Fons Americanus questions how we remember history in our public monuments. At the same time, the work presents a narrative on the origins of the African diaspora.

Fons Americanus is inspired by the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace, London. The memorial was designed in 1901 and unveiled in 1911 to honour the achievements of Queen Victoria who was the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1837–1901), as well as the Empress of India. Rather than a celebration of the British Empire, Walker’s fountain inverts the usual function of a memorial and questions narratives of power. Walker explores the interconnected histories of Africa, America and Europe. She uses water as a key theme, referring to the transatlantic slave trade and the ambitions, fates and tragedies of people from these three continents. Bringing together fact, fantasy and fiction, Fons Americanus stands as a representation of this narrative in the form of an allegory or fable.

Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019 (detail). Photo: © Tate​ (Matt Greenwood)

The full title of the work is painted on the wall of the Turbine Hall. Written in Walker’s own words, the text encourages us to confront a history often misremembered in the UK. She presents the artwork as a ‘gift … to the heart of an Empire that redirected the fates of the world’. Walker has signed the work ‘Kara Walker, NTY’, or ‘Not Titled Yet’, in a play on British honours awards such as ‘OBE’ (Order of the British Empire).


The Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace, London being unveiled for the first time in 1911

Walker’s choice to create Fons Americanus in the form of a public fountain is significant in the wake of recent student demonstrations to take down monuments that celebrate colonial histories in both the US and UK. Fons Americanus turns the celebration and honouring of monuments inside out. The monument asks uncomfortable questions by exploring a history of violence against Black people of Africa and its diaspora that is often unacknowledged.

As you enter the Turbine Hall, you first encounter a smaller monument of Shell Grotto. Taking the form of scalloped shells from art historical depictions of the Roman goddess Venus, Walker’s shell encases a weeping boy inside a well, almost completely submerged in water. His head floats just above the surface as if drowning or emerging from the depths, with pools of water running from his eyes.

Walker’s Shell Grotto connects to the ruins of a colonial fortress on Bunce Island in Sierra Leone. Bunce Island was one of many commercial forts where European slave traders and African merchants traded and captured men, women and children ready for them to be sold on the plantations of the New World or America.

Walker’s weeping boy and well question how these traumatic histories are now celebrated. The weeping boy bounces back from the depths of waters to interrogate what we choose to remember and what we forget. How can we see the monuments in our public spaces in a new light?

More at Tate Modern by following the links below:

Mel Gibson’s racist Force Of Nature glorifies police brutality

The new Mel Gibson film, Force of Nature, is rather obnoxious and racist.

Checkout the Daily Beast review, or read the excerpts below:  

Mel Gibson’s New Pro-Police Brutality Movie Is Crazy Racist

Nazis and Black Americans are equated as kindred self-loathing thieves, although they’re still sympathetic figures because they either regret their conduct (Griffin) or didn’t actively take what wasn’t theirs (Bergkamp). Given that he’s the son of a rabid Holocaust denier (and raving anti-Semite), Gibson’s participation in a film featuring a likeably remorseful guy with Nazi lineage hardly comes as a shock. But why Polish or Bosworth would want to involve themselves in such dreck remains baffling.

Unholy is the best way to describe sitting through 91 minutes of Mel Gibson and Emile Hirsch as rugged shoot-first, ask-questions-later cops gunning down Hispanic villains, and rescuing non-Puerto Rican men and women, set against a stormy background meant to recall a real-life disaster. Force of Nature is, in that regard, a throwback to a very familiar, very standard-issue sort of action affair in which police officers are excused their vicious trespasses because such hostility speaks to their venerable manliness, and light-skinned characters invariably come to the aid of helpless—and appreciative—darker-skinned folks. Even before the recent George Floyd protests and attendant calls for reform of intolerant institutions, that template was outdated and unpleasant. Today, though, it reeks of the very old-school unseemliness most Americans are ready to move past.

Daily Beast, June 26, 2020

Or check out the Digital Spy review, which highlightas the white saviour narrative against the backdrop of the hurricane in Puerto Rico :

Why Mel Gibson’s new movie has created a major controversy before release

Once the trailer was released on Monday (May 18), Force of Nature created an instant controversy as Puerto Ricans who experienced Hurricane Maria, as well as the struggles they’ve dealt with on the island, let their feelings known.

“Approximately 4,645 people died because of this hurricane. Approximately, because it was bad enough we don’t even have exact numbers,” one Twitter user wrote.

“People buried their dead in their backyards. People were without food, water, homes, electricity, for MONTHS. This is not an okay movie.”

Others criticised the movie for its ‘white saviour’ narrative with Gibson’s character “fighting a bunch of ‘bad guy’ ricans, also all the good guy cops are white”, while another called it “outright disrespectful”.

Digital Spy, 21 May 2020

Sadly this film was financed in part by a UK company, Ingenious Media

If you are not aware of how they get their money… they rip off the UK tax payer: 

Perhaps their anti-social approach to business and making money needs to be highlighted? 

Lionsgate UK should also be called out for such casual racism.

Thanks to Richard Sutton for bringing this film to our attention

4th round of the MOBO Help Musicians Fund

MOBO press release – We are pleased to announce the fourth round of the MOBO Help Musicians Fund!

Having run three hugely successful rounds of the MOBO Help Musicians Fund since 2017, resulting in 50 projects receiving support, this year’s Fund grows from a £60,000 to a £100,000 investment into emerging artists creating music of black origin. We have also examined the further needs of musicians and bolstered the package of support to empower musicians to drive forward their businesses at a crucial time.

The expansion of the MOBO Help Musicians Fund will see each awardee receive:• £3,000 grant towards creative output
• 1:1 business advice session tailored to each awardee’s individual needs and delivered via experienced music industry professionals, as coordinated by ThinkMusic

• 1:1 health consultation with British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) professionals, covering all aspects of a musician’s health, including physical and mental health needs and specialist referrals where required

Landing page and how to apply:

If you would like to support by posting on your socials to help spread the word, please find suggested post below (accompanying image attached in email):

EMERGING ARTISTS! The @MOBOAwards @HelpMusiciansUK Fund is back & here to support you. Launched this month – each awardee receives a £3,000 grant towards creative output, 1:1 business advice + health & well-being support #MOBOHelpMusiciansFund Apply today:

Thanks in advance for your continued support. 

Best wishes, MOBO PRESS TEAM 





Sign up to our newsletter:

A Song For Equality

I would like to share something my daughter did a couple days ago with you. I feel it really helps people to understand the journey and lived experiences of black people from a holistic perspective.

It depicts, quite clearly, why we are so angry and it does this in the simplest of ways. I am very proud of her as she is only 12 years old and I think it would be helpful for the BLM movement. I hope you will agree. The song is entitled “a song for equality”. Keep up the fantastic work!

Best Wishes Dr Andre Clarke, Policing Scholar 

The natives are revolting Carruthers old boy

I am a 72 year old white man. I cannot go out to join a protest as I am currently in self-isolation so my protest is in the poem below.

The natives are revolting Carruthers old boy                                                           wind blows, rain falls but the blood spilt on the land
is never blown or washed away.
Cherokee, Apache, Arapaho and Sioux…..
Hey Joe where you going with that gun in your hand,
to wipe those painted savages clean off this land.

The natives are revolting Carruthers,
 well Fortesque you know what to do,
just pop out and shoot a few,
put the rest in chains and throw them on the boats
and make sure you beat a Zulu or two

I gotta chop down cane or pick a bale o’ cotton.
The money lust English are on tour again.
The sun beats down but there’s no bright new day
At night the cross is lit for the murdering KKK.

Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves.
The stately homes of England were built on the bones of slaves.
Colonialism, Empire and Commonwealth to boot
The great English history of pillage, slaughter , loot.

 Michael McCormack

Poetry: In memory. x

Your strength is your weakness
Your poise a disgrace
Your indifference, no mercy
As you knelt by his face

Your hand in your pocket
With a casual pose
Your arrogant distaste
That so few of us knows

Your power misused
And your status no more
Your act of no mercy
Now we close your door

How could you not care
Your image now world wide
How could you murder the innocent
We are not on your side

You bring shame to our homes
You bring shame on your own
How could you not hear him
As he lay there and moaned

What hatred you harbour
In your position of power
This cannot continue
It is the day, it is the hour

For unite we all must
Against racism unpure
Now is the time
Now we must be sure

Each voice must be heard
Each human, black or white
This must end, this must finish
Not another day, or another night

So for now, we all pray
That never again
Will discrimination win
And cause so much widespread pain