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Tack för allt, Izzy Young

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Izzy Young och hans Folklore Center var länge spindeln i nätet kring den mytomspunna stadsdelen Greenwich Village i New York där luffare, poeter, fackföreningsaktivister, alkoholister och dagdrömmande beatniks samlades i början av sextiotalet. Han kom snabbt att bli en viktig del av den radikaliseringsprocess som tog fart bland musikerna inom den pånyttfödda folk-scenen.

You get a daft and I´ll get dizzy
We´ll go down to see old Izzy
What did the fly say to the flea
Folklore Center is the place for me

– Bob Dylan, Talking Folklore Center

Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joni Mitchell, Odetta och halvsyskonen Peggy och Pete Seeger var bara några av dem han hjälpte till framgång genom åren. Izzy umgicks under 40-talet flitigt med kringflackande protestsångare som Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Woody Guthrie och Tom Paley. Hans kunskaper om den rika amerikanska folklore-traditionen var i det närmaste ogripbar och hans envisa vilja att föra den vidare från lokalen vid Mariatorget i Stockholm gjorde honom till legend även inom den svenska folkmusikrörelsen som han snabbt blev en del av.

Izzy, alltid lika charmigt vresig, berättade historier om uppväxten i de judiska arbetarklasskvarteren uppe i Bronx. Om fackliga möten och politiska konflikter.

Jag hade förmånen att umgås regelbundet med honom under några år. Det som från början var tänkt som en kortare serie intervjuer utvecklades till vänskap och ett längre reportage i musiktidningen Sonic (finns att läsa på webben). Vi fikade, gick på bio och Izzy, alltid lika charmigt vresig, berättade historier om uppväxten i de judiska arbetarklasskvarteren uppe i Bronx. Om fackliga möten och politiska konflikter. Om musikens makt och poesins påverkan i ett samhälle uppbyggt av alla men anpassat för ett fåtal.

Izzy Young var ständigt i opposition.

Izzy Young var ständigt i opposition. Aldrig rädd att säga vad han tyckte om allt och om alla. Ofta förbannat men aldrig elak. Pratade med den där typiska New York-dialekten du bara hör i gamla amerikanska gangsterfilmer och med ett språk som skulle få Tony Soprano att rodna.

Eller som Bob Dylan själv skriver i sina memoarer från 2004:

”Hans röst var som en bulldozer och han verkade alltid för högljudd för den lilla lokalen. Izzy var ständigt en smula irriterad över det ena eller det andra. Han var sentimentalt godhjärtad, i själva verket en romantiker. Ur hans ögon glittrade folkmusiken som guld. Det gjorde den för mig också. Folklore Center var en skiljevägg och en mötesplats för all tänkbar aktivitet, och man kunde när som helst stöta på den verkliga kärntruppen bland folksångarna. En del av dem hade till och med sin postadress där.”

Fram till i höstas fortsatte den 90-årige Izzy Young att arrangera regelbundna konserter i sin lokal på Wollmar Yxkullsgatan på Söder i Stockholm. Hans enorma samling böcker kring amerikansk folklore har nu flyttats till USA:s nationalbibliotek i Washington DC.

Jag hoppas du fortsätter att röra om i grytan var du nu är.

Israel Goodman Young somnade in i måndags kväll. Enligt dottern Philoméne Grandin omgiven av nära, kära och levande musik. Världen har nu blivit lite fattigare. Tack för alla fina stunder som du delade med dig av. Jag hoppas du fortsätter att röra om i grytan var du nu är. För här fattas du redan.



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Engelsk

Women and human rights: Front and centre at the Oscar ceremony this year

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Gender equality, the marginalization of indigenous languages, migration, the refugee crisis, the lives of domestic workers, poverty… All these issues which are at the heart of the United Nations’ work, are also front and centre in some of the films celebrated this year at the Academy Awards.

Two women, Yalitza Aparicio and Nadine Labaki, could make history this Sunday during the 91st Oscar ceremony taking place this Sunday in Los Angeles, in the United States. Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio could become the first indigenous woman to win the prestigious golden statuette for her role in the feature Roma, by director Alfonso Cuarón. As for Nadine Labaki, from Lebanon, she could become the first Arab filmmaker to be awarded an Oscar, for her film Capernaum.

Their nominations came two years after a heated debate over the lack of diversity in the Academy Awards’ lists of nominees and winners.

This year, the Academy has also shown greater range in its thematic coverage by nominating films that highlight major international issues, in particular related to human rights. For example, the film Roma highlights the need to protect indigenous languages such as Mixtec, as well as the life of domestic workers, and societal inequalities. As for Capernaum, it puts the spotlight on the suffering of migrant and refugee children. Green Book and BlacKkKlansman, also nominated, highlight issues of racism in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.

This human-rights focus in the world of cinema takes place as the world just celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Focus on indigenous issues and economic inequalities

Director Alfonso Cuarón has hailed Yalitza Aparicio’s nomination in the Best Actress category as the most relevant nomination of the 10 his film Roma secured.

The young woman, who made her acting debut in this feature, plays Cleo, a domestic worker who is Mixteca, an indigenous community in Mexico, specifically in the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla. Cleo works for a middle class family in the early 1970s in the neighborhood of Roma, in Mexico City.

In an interview with UN News, Mr. Cuarón noted that, in his country, indigenous peoples are particularly affected by social inequalities. “It isn’t difficult to notice that economic power is closely linked to the color of one’s skin, and indigenous peoples are those who usually end up having the least amount of privilege.”

The director stressed that the film had started a conversation on the racism that persists in Mexico, which he said “has been ignored for too long”. He added this racism had “not just been ignored” but that its very existence had actually been “denied.” He also noted that the topic of domestic work and the rights of indigenous peoples have been overall taboo.

Regarding indigenous languages, of which 2019 is the International Year, Mr. Cuarón lamented that they are “very repressed.” Cleo and her friend and fellow domestic worker Adela only speak it when they are alone “in their own spaces” – i.e. the kitchen or their bedroom – or with the “girl who is belittled, ignored and unappreciated by the masculine part of the family.”

Labaki’s ‘duty’

In Capernaum, director Nadine Labaki, nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category, sheds a light on the plight of refugee children, their violated rights, and how extreme poverty affects them.

The movie tells the story of 12-year-old Zain, a Syrian refugee who, caught in the limbo of conflict and forced displacement, files a lawsuit against his parents for having been born.

In an interview with UN News, Ms. Labaki said that she had “a duty” – “not even a choice” – to record the reality of the refugee crisis playing out on the streets of her native Lebanon. The small country, which is also facing its own political and economic challenges, currently hosts close to 1 million refugees from war-torn Syria.

“I’m actually surprised when people ask me [what pushed me to make this film] because I think, you know, if I can do something about it, and I can use my voice to do something about it, it would be a crime not to do so,” she said. “So I decided to use my tool, which is filmmaking, to tell that story, to put that story out there and to talk about this struggle because it’s my responsibility.”

Stressing that the refugee problem is visibly growing – as one can see in Lebanon “children working on the streets, carrying very heavy loads and doing very difficult jobs” – Ms. Labaki said she purposely chose to tell this story through a child’s perspective. A child “sees things so much more clearly than any adult because he is not informed or altered by societies’ codes or hypocrisy or politics.”

Referring to Alan Kurdi, the drowned Syrian toddler found washed ashore on a Turkish beach in September 2015, she said when she saw his picture, she wondered: “if this child could talk, what would he say? What would he tell the world? How would he address the adults that put him in this situation?”

The different characters in the film are not played by professional actors, but by migrants and refugees who themselves faced very similar situations to those shown in the movie. The main character, Zain, is himself played by a refugee who fled Syria eight years ago.

Ms. Labaki explained he faced “very difficult circumstances” and “never went to school.” The only difference with the film, she explained, is that the real Zain has “loving parents.”

Since the film was made, Zain was resettled in Norway where he lives now, through the efforts of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

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Engelsk

What Trump’s attack on Spike Lee can teach us about racial attitudes — in 3 charts

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President Trump took to Twitter Monday morning to accuse Spike Lee of a “racist hit on your president” after the director used his Oscar acceptance speech to encourage Americans to mobilize for the 2020 election to “be on the right side of history.”

Trump’s tweet raised eyebrows, since Lee’s speech did not mention the president. Even on Fox News, Brit Hume pushed back against the president’s tweet.

But it’s hardly the first time Trump has accused a prominent African American of racism. In November, for example, PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump whether his rhetoric is “emboldening white nationalists.” Trump replied by saying, “That’s such a racist question.”

The president’s recent accusations of black racism are part of a longer and larger pattern. An August 2017 analysis by The Post’s Christopher Ingraham found that Trump is three times more likely to accuse African Americans of racism on Twitter than whites:


WAPO.ST/WONKBLOG Source: Trump Twitter archive (Not a/Wonkblog)

The president’s recurring charges of racism are ironic to say the least. Trump has made a number of statements attacking racial and ethnic minorities, while also complaining that Democrats have used the “tired disgusting argument” of racism against him and his supporters.

Trump’s accusations of black racism may be hypocritical, but they’re not surprising. After all, whites who hold unfavorable views about African Americans believe that blacks are likely racist.


Source: 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, Brown University Module (whites only). (Michael Tesler/Michael Tesler)

In 2012, I asked a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans what percentage of black people they thought disliked white people. The graphs above show that whites who have unfavorable views of African Americans and who want their close relatives to marry same-race spouses perceive the most anti-white bigotry among blacks. The most racially biased whites thought that over two-thirds of black people dislike whites.

A similar pattern emerged in a December 2006 CNN/ORC Poll, which asked its participants whether they thought “only a few black people dislike whites, many black people dislike whites, or almost all black people dislike whites.” The display below shows that whites who disapproved of their son or daughter marrying someone from a different race (24 percent of whites in the survey) were nearly twice as likely to say many or almost all African Americans dislike white people.


Source: December 2006, CNN/ORC Poll (whites only). Data accessed from the Roper Center archives. (Michael Tesler/Michael Tesler)

These results are consistent with prior research that shows that African Americans who have the most anti-white and anti-Semitic beliefs are most likely to think that whites and Jews dislike them. As Paul Sniderman and Thomas Piazza explained, “Believe a group of people is reprehensible and you give yourself a reason to believe that they are badly disposed toward you. Believe that they are badly disposed toward you, and you give yourself a reason to believe that they are reprehensible.”

Either way, it’s not surprising that the most prejudiced whites think most black people are racists. Nor is it surprising that a president who most Americans think is racist is quick to charge black people with anti-white racism.

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Labour is no longer a force for good in promoting anti-racism

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We write in response to the letter you published on 21 February, asserting that Jeremy Corbyn was a crucial ally in the fight against bigotry and reaction and that a Labour government would be a powerful force against antisemitism.

The signatories to that letter plainly feel the need to rely on their Judaism to bolster its content. This may be because they consider it to be some protection from the view that many of your readers would otherwise take when reading their assertions, but it is essentially irrelevant. The vast majority of the UK Jewish community has made its view of Mr Corbyn clear. So too has the public in various opinion polls. He is not trusted on antisemitism, first because he has not acted against it and because his own actions are, at least, concerning. Second, because those claiming to speak about antisemitism in his name do so without reproach or disassociation.

The Labour party has, previously, been a force for good in promoting anti-racism, as the authors acknowledge. Sadly, that is no longer the case. It has never been the case, anywhere, that a party which could not root out antisemitism from its midst, tolerated those accusing Jews of manufacturing it, and lost the trust of the Jewish community, ever governed fairly, decently or competently. Antisemitism is corruption, and corruption spreads.

We also disagree with the authors’ apparent belief that the ability to criticise Israel is critical to the debate on antisemitism. The Labour party’s adoption of the IHRA definition marks its acceptance of the fact that criticism of Israel must not involve antisemitism, and that there is a wide range of acceptable criticism that does not. The discredited argument that antisemitism is invented by Jews to protect Israel is antisemitic. So is criticism of Israel outside the IHRA guidelines and definition. Both of these things should be outwith the scope of mainstream, tolerant debate.

Suggesting a permissible link between the Labour leadership’s attitude to British Jews and Israel is both wrong and shameful. There is no basis to refuse to reproach or reject the antisemites we refer to above. The leadership’s failure to do so makes Jews part of the “few”, who the Labour party expressly reject.

That Labour is so mistrusted on the issue is uncomfortable and sad. But it must be said. And in saying it, we do not speak as Jews, but as citizens of this country. Antisemitism is not a Jewish problem. It is a problem for Jews.

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