Recipe for disaster
Nancy Murray’s statement (NI 145) that ‘We must join together to tackle institutional racism head on’ sounds like a recipe for disaster and could itself cause enough waves of reaction to overwhelm us.
Ms Murray’s four arguments against multiculturalism fail to convince me. Prejudice arises as a by-product of ignorance and anything which lessens ignorance is bound to be beneficial. Certainly we must tackle specific instances of deportation, police brutality and racist attacks but to do this in a way which pours scorn on all attempts to help us to come to terms with the new multiracial situation will only make things worse.
Not all black and white
Congratulations on ‘Black or white?’ This excellent issue’s impact was lessened by two faults. First, I felt that in one place it portrayed anti-racism as a philosophy that can be learned by rote — the recommendation to place each part of the table ‘Three views on race’ in the correct category was unacceptably simplistic. This denied the reservations of the table’s author over its value and ignored the contradictions and arguments within the movement and each one of us.
Second, why was there no mention of racism towards groups such as Jews and Gypsies? While it is true that blacks are subject to the worst racism, minorities throughout the world are also victims of this racism.
Ed. Discrimination against minorities in general was the subject of NI 128.
Your issue made the valid point that the word ‘black’ comes hopelessly burdened with negative cultural associations which it would be impossible to eradicate in a whole lifetime. So why do you and so many others persist in applying the word ‘black’ in a blanket way to everyone who is not pure ‘white’? What could be more racist?
Ed. It is the black community which has reclaimed the word black’ -. and they are better judges than we are of what is racist.
Move over Mondrian
I see that the wicked capitalists have been at it again! They’ve convinced all of us that we’re not artists. And the reason they’ve done this is money (NI 144). Of course we are all artists to some extent, just as we are all singers of varying abilities. But is it not a demonstrable fact that some of us do it better than others? The professional artist is a specialist. This does not make the nonprofessional more or less of an artist than s/he would otherwise have been.
Cheap thrills revisited
I enjoyed your February issue but wonder why Monica Connell is so keen to see us wives and mothers in print. Surely if, as Femi AjayiWood implies, art springs from life and takes on many forms, then women are the supreme artists. We create children, families, homes and the qualities we need to do this bring life to the workplace and our communities. For too long this everyday artistry has been downgraded.
Some people like their cakes iced, but for most occasions a well-made cake is more important.
I very much enjoyed the February issue on ‘creativity’ — we all need to discover our creative instincts, however mundane. I was particularly struck by your poetry exercise around the ‘Living Tombs’ article — I did this exercise in order to fill in a few spare minutes and was amazed at the words I was picking out for my poem. It told me a great deal about my own particular views and feelings a~ that time and made me see that our conscious mind does not always recognize our strongest feelings — but they come out in creative ways through the subconscious. I hope other readers were stimulated similarly.
The themes of International Youth Year are featured in the UN’S official logo through the use of the traditional olive branches (peace), the multi-profile motif (participation) and progressive shading (development). It is unfortunate that the shading was reversed in the logo appearing on your January cover (NI 143).
Mind you, your contributors paint a picture of a future so lacking in vision, enthusiasm. community and partnership that it’s small wonder you’ve got development going backwards!
Jumping Jack shock
I was both shocked and angered by your article ‘Candles and Razor Blades and Jumping Jack Flash’ — it can only be described as voyeurism. Being of a purely descriptive nature any hint of critical analysis was completely absent. Why do women perform such jobs? Why do men enjoy such humiliation of women? The article detailed one of the many ways in which men benefit from the exploitation of women and by failing to condemn this in any way you have tacitly condoned our Oppression.
Don’t speak the lingo
Yet another of the deprivations suffered in Third World countries is that most people speak a language which has little currency beyond the country’s borders. We English-speakers are largely cushioned from that problem. but on the other hand most of us suffer from linguistic insularity.
If as was suggested in the letters column of the February issue, ‘Espousing Esperanto’. this language is comparatively easy and ideologically neutral, its use would seem to be part and parcel of a humane reordering of our international relations.
The Soviet answer
I used to think the NI was great but now I’m sad to say you seem a bit weedy — nice, but weedy. For example, you emphasise the right priorities – conquering hopelessness. rootlessness, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, malnutrition and disease, illiteracy. But when some of these are tackled on a major scale, against all the odds, as in the Soviet Union. you shrug, sneer and turn away. This attitude preserves the status quo.
Third World neglected
There has been a great change over the last 15 months or so in the themes of the NI. Apart from the odd Issue like ‘Why Africa Stays Poor’, few have related directly to the Third World. Instead you have considered much more general ‘alternative issues’ and things relating to the North. Whilst ‘alternative thinking’ in the North is obviously very important, I buy your paper for its Third World content. You are compromising yourself to a much more popular image which has little to do with the South.
Keeping British troops
I was disappointed to read the rather superficial and misleading profile of Belize. At a time when there is considerable pressure in the U.K. for the withdrawal of British troops, it is particularly important to present a clear picture of Belize’s political situation and the reasons for a continued British presence.
It is certainly not nostalgia for colonial times that makes Belize so keen to retain the British troops, but a hard-headed assessment of regional politics. If a small British military presence can help Belize to remain a rare force for moderation in the region, as well as a sanctuary for refugees, then we should consider it money well-spent.
Houses and hummingbirds
I was shocked and angered by Mike Rose’s contemptuous Country Profile on Belize in your February issue. Belize may be small and distant, but I expect NI to go beyond the media’s usual shabby-houses and-hummingbirds trivialisations and provide serious coverage of the people who live there and do not regard themselves as anachronisms from an unwritten Graham Greene novel.
The article also contained a number of inaccuracies. It is US pressure which forces Britain to maintain its garrison there, not ‘Belize’s pride in its British heritage’. The former government did not try to move Belize closer to U.S. policy (e.g. it refused to support the invasion of Grenada). The new Esquivel government is more pro-American, not less, but it has ruled out U.S. military bases.
To my surprise, I must bring your Up-Date on dams (NI 144) still more up to date. Organisations such as the Intermediate Technology Development Group in the UK are now supplying equipment for small-scale hydroelectric projects. These do not harm like large dams. Small dams can be made by local labour and they need not flood good farmland — yet they provide power which saves trees from being burned as fuelwood. These small projects are to be recommended on several counts, should be well advertised and given financial support.