Caribbean ”Radicals” and building a foundation

I haven’t been super into social media as of late, however one of the great benefits of these global networks is the access to and interactions one share with cool people who happen to be far away.

Specifically on twitter, I follow a bunch of these cool people. In particular a bunch of black intellectuals who lift topics on the daily that gets my head buzzing in all the the best ways.

One of them is Dr. CBS @ blackleftaf, who posted this tweet a few days ago:

Under it people started listing Caribbean writers who’ve made important contributions to everything from pan-africanism, anti-racism work and neo-colonial studies, to the basics of class/imperial anlysis from a non-western perspective.

My first thought was – Wow Im so grateful I follow great people who provide me with homework on the daily to further my dive in these fields. (Thus I started compiling comments into a list of people to check off.)

My second thought was, wow I have so much to read now, yikes (yay).

Here’s the list:

Frantz Fanon
Aime Cesaire
Walter Rodney
Claudia Jones
Winston James
Jemima Pierre
Lloyd Best
Eric Williams
CLR James
Hubert Harrisson
Oliver Cox
Rhoda Reddock
Richard B Moore
Alissa Trotz
Aaron Kamugisha
Percy C Hintzen
Monique Bedasse
George Padmore
Zophia Edwards
Marcus Garvey
Amy Jacques Garvey
Amy Ashwood Garvey
Otto Huiswoud
Harvey R Neptune
Michael Bennett
Brian Meeks
Anthony Bogues
Paget Henry
Michael-Rolph Trouillot
Michael Ralph
Angelique V Nixon
Sylvia Wynter

Some of them I’ve heard of before and some I haven’t, I figured I’d put the list here for anyone who might be interested in reading some of their work too. Some are older contibutions and some are newer ones. I recommend checking the original thread if you’re on twitter since I might’ve missed some that’ve been added later + following @ blackleftaf since she drops gems on the daily.

My plan is to check them off gradually along side my studies, and I’ll be starting with this one:

The titel of this post is a play on the supposed radicalness of prominent black thinkers. Specifically those who chose to criticize the status quo of the world – imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism and white supremacy. They laid the foundation so that people like myself today who wishes to crack open the old paradigm and bring forth the birth of a new, can see where we’ve been and won’t have to start from scratch (at least in thought). They already knew that for us to move further, past ground level action, we’d have to do our homework, so they left us a bunch.

Why did so many ”radical” voices come out of the Caribbean? One might ask. I honestly don’t know. Maybe it was the violent birth of nations that wouldn’t have existed otherwise followed by the scramble for a new post-colonial identity? Whatever it was, it produced some of the greatest thinkers and voices in history.

If you end up reading any of them or already have and feel like discussing it – drop a comment, either on here, twitter or instagram. The digitalisation brought us together supposedly for this exact reason. I’ll also be checking in here with thought’s and maybe a review or two as I go along.

‘Til next time

After My First Week As A History Major

So, after my first week at Uni, I wanted to share some thoughts and briefly reflect on it.

Most of the opinions I currently hold regarding the field of history or what it means to be a historian are fundamentally thoughts Ive had for some time, even if theyve been shaped and elaborated on through debates, active research and growth. I say this to highlight the backstory of my conclusions, which is this:

1) – I. LOVE. history. I could read and debate this stuff for hours, I’m so excited about this. I’ve been spending hours reading these first few weeks, and now all I wish for christmas is a faster and more effective way to retain information, thanks. (Relevant Avatar sidenote: For those who don’t know me my third favorite character after Aang and Toph was Wan Shi Tong, he’s goals)

2) – The achievements of black and brown people, as well as the African continent as a whole has been systematically written out, down-played and placed on the sidelines within this field.

(Many of you probably already knew this, as did I, but I get unmistakenly reminded whenever I’m in any designated setting than my own)

What to take from this statement you ask?

– If you’re of the opinion that ”black historians” are ”radical loonies” or that the concept of a ”black” historian is odd to you then you might want to go over it again. Some of them are of course, same goes for traditional western and eastern historians who’ve made up all sorts of things in an attempt to benefit from history (for example see the Piltdown Man). In any field there’s bound to be liars and loonies but I’m here to say that it’s been concluded as a fact – if you havent accepted it yet – that history has been consciously written to exclude/downplay the achievements of the people of the African continent (and their decendants).

Ironically, historians have been telling us this for quite some time in their famous ”History is (usually) written by the winners” – quote.

Most people don’t care about this that much, like really truly care. Which is okay I guess its not like history carries any form of political leverage or power. It’s not like a group of people were literally granted a country due to history. How do I know? Name one early complex society in the African continent that’s south of the Sahara, ill wait. Nothing? Okay. That’s fine. Don’t blame yourself. We like to put the blame on us and ofc part of the responsiblity is ours, but you mean to tell me that we have an entire continent, the very continent we as a species walked out of, yet majority of our historical excavations have been done everywhere else but there? Which is usually, in combination with the lack of documentation, the primary reason given for the lack of information available as well as provided.

I love history. So much. I can’t get enough of it, it’s like being told stories as a kid yet most of it’s (supposedly) true, which makes it even cooler. I geek out completely and been reading history mags (who’s target audience is clearly middle-aged white men,) since I was like 11 yrs old. Odly enough, the closest I got to seeing anyone remotely resembling myself in these mags were in stories of the Incas, Mayans, and Egyptians. (Us westeners sure love Egyptians, sometimes it gets weird).

Nonetheless, back to the topic at hand, It just doesnt make sense, rationally, logically, it doesnt add up. How, did our species walk out of that continent, (which we all more or less collectively agree on) and then proceed to collect information about everywhere but there? It must’ve been a conscious effort to place the focus somewhere else. Was it only a a matter of conscious disregard, maybe some plain disinterest due proximity? Probably a bit of both.

I opened up the discussion with a classmate, who seconded my thoughts and added that this has become more relevant of a question along with the recent concept and study of neo-colonialism/de-colonization. Which is true. Meaning that the idea itself already exists with the next generation of historians, I whole heartedly hope that we won’t collectivly fumble it and continue to echo the same withered textbooks people been reading.

So what’s the purpose of this post? And what’s the conclusion?

– That black historians were born out of a dire need. That the collective historical worldview is lacking and full of holes and that the historical field itself is very much alive (ill continue to say this dont @ me lol). It’s very alive and decisions are being made everyday about what gets put in the books and what doesn’t. Proximity matters – the way I look directly affected how I approach this field from jump.

I’m here and look the way I do because of history that goes further back than slavery and I want it to be included, I want to see myself in the books I read, beyond Egypt. We’re supposed to cover the African continent later on in the course, I read the introduction in which they already excused the lack of knowledge there was due to various circumstances. We’ll see how it goes, maybe i’ll have to double down on this. But for now, I’ll sit right here and continue to update my blog as I learn the (very incomplete) history of the world. I’ll keep asking why it doesn’t add up, whilst (fingers crossed) receving the tools to add some missing pieces one day.

Sweden’s History of Racism: Part 2 – Carl Von Linné

So in this part we’ll talk about Carl Von Linné, the prince of botany, and the role he played in Sweden’s contribution to systemic racism as well as his role in (some say) the very foundation of the ideology itself.

You probably know him from the previous 100 SEK bill or as ”that famous flower guy”. It’s impossible to grow up here, or live here for a period of time, without seeing his face or hearing his name. He’s one of Sweden’s greats. What Charles Darwin was to the science of evolution, Carl Von Linné was to modern botany. He formalized the two-term naming system (binomial nomenclature), which is used to name flowers, plants, animals and organisms and in turn categorize them. He helped the world (somewhat) agree on a universal naming system and provided a system by which to do so (if you which o know more about the system in detail, you’ll find that here), this was his life’s work (1707-1778). We use this same system today for ex. when referring to ourselves – Homo sapiens ( + another sapiens in our case), Homo is our genus (our race), it includes everything from our long dead archaic ancestors to us today. Sapiens means wise, it’s the name we gave ourselves because unlike our previous ancestors, somebody decided our most notable trait seems to be our wit. Then recently somebody added another sapiens, to differentiate between earlier generations of Homo sapiens vs you and me, since we’ve been around for a while now.

– So, he categorized animals, named some plants, what’s the big deal? He clearly did us a great favor. He helped lay the foundation of taxonomy and the scientific field of ecology? Yeah, you’re right, he did all that. However the categorization didn’t stop there, he helped lay the very foundation of categorizing humans too and here’s where it starts going south.

Linné’s system of taxonomy, aka the system he used to categorize plants and bugs, was also known as the very first system to include humans grouped with apes, rather than as a separate group. He noted that both species shared the same anatomy, thus he grouped us both under Antropomorpha (manlike). He received loads of criticism (and some praise later on) for it. Putting man at the same level as monkeys and nature itself (in 1735) was incredibly disrespectful. (White) humans were seen as spiritually and physically more advanced beings, created in the very image of God. A lot of people refused the idea that they could be related to apes, or that they were apart of nature rather than above it. However this controversial evolutionary debate wouldn’t really take off until a few years later with the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859).

Systema Naturae, first edition published in 1735, was Linné’s most famous work, and he came to publish several updated editions of the book over time. This first edition contained some animals and plants he had classified, however here he also introduced the concept of subdividing humans in to four varieties based on continent and skin color. If you’re read up on racism, or just grown up and existed in today’s historically racist society, you’ve probably stumbled across these classifications before: Europæus albesc (white europeans), American rubesc (redish american), Asiaticus fuscus (tawny asians, later changed to Asiaticus luridus, meaning yellow asians) and Africanus nigr (short for nigriculus) (blackish African). He also added an extra section known as a ”wastebasket” specifically for the purpose of categorizing humans that didn’t fit anywhere else, humans that were seen as monstrous, wild, abnormal or ”unknown”. Each one of the groups came with their own characteristics of course, based on his measurements and observations. White Europeans were, to quote ”of fair complexion, sanguine temperament, and brawny form… (they were) of gentle manners, acute in judgment, of quick invention, and governed by fixed laws and their mother”, yellow Asians were melancholic, greedy, inflexible and governed by superstition, red Americans were hot tempered, stubborn, ”free” and governed by tradition and the black Africans were, to quote ”Of black complexion, phlegmatic (cool) temperament and relaxed fibre… Of crafty indolent (lazy), and careless disposition and are governed in their actions by caprice (impulse)”.

This (basically) marks the very invention of the concept of race, at least as a respectable scientific field of study. Other people contributed as well, other people were discussing the same things at the time, but Linné’s Systema Naturae became the blueprint, the reference. People have always been racist/discriminatory/oppressive, however from now, it becomes acceptable to measure skulls, establish an institute for the study of racial biology (we had one here in Uppsala, Sweden) as well as castrate, systematically oppress and assimilate indigenous tribes, all under the name of science. Sweden did all of these things and more. Other countries did all of these things and more too and science provided an excuse, a sheet to hide under. We still use science as an excuse for these same people to this day, speak of how their interests were strictly scientific, they were children of their time, that they couldn’t possibly know what their studies would be used to justify. All (mostly) true, and after we’ve acknowledged that I hope we can accept then how being a racist doesn’t have to be a conscious effort, you can literally just be a child of your time/environment, this is one choice, however here’s another on, NOT being a racist means you make a conscious decision to work on not being one. Our collective history of racism, and it’s role in our ”modern” civilization’s very foundation means we’re left with a structure today that perpetuates it.

I’ve seen loads of people come to Linné’s defence to talk about how he wasn’t really racist, he just categorized people based on their looks. The reality is we’ll probably never know whether he was or not, we can speculate – Hmm yes most people like him at his time were, but for the topic at hand and as a conclusion of this topic to be honest it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we need to recognize the impact his work had on both botany and racism.


Carl Von Linné

Race and History: Comments from an Epistemological Point of View

Racism: A Very Short Introduction

Sweden’s History of Racism: Part 1 – Colonies

Ah yes, racism in Sweden. Very much present, and not at all new. In this series I’ll go over why. We’ll start with the colonies.

I have to make this post. Last week we had a Swedish journalist come out with an article claiming Sweden isn’t racist, and that Sweden doesn’t have anything in common with the US thus we shouldn’t try to import their issues and make them our own. The actual truth though which he missed is that black people in America paved the way and shaped what modern black activism is today, and there’s no shame in us adopting their blueprint in hopes of dealing with our own issues with racism alongside with showing solidarity for their struggle. Especially since Sweden’s got quite the nasty history of it’s own which all too often seems to be forgotten. When I was a kid, we didn’t learn about this in school, which leads me to believe that most people don’t have the slightest idea of Sweden’s roll in the transatlantic slave trade. In later parts of this series I’ll go over various major events in Sweden’s history of racism, in this part I’ll briefly cover Swedish colonies. ‘Cause Sweden had colonies. Not for a very long time. Not very large ones, but colonies none the less. We don’t get to act like we didn’t have them. Here’s a list: Nya Sverige, Cabo Corso, Guadeloupe, Porto-Novo and Saint Barthélemy.

First out is Nya Sverige (New Sweden). Located on the east coast of north america, in a small area along the south side of the Delaware river (an area which today is part of the states Delaware, Maryland New Jersey and Pennsylvania), this colony was founded in 1638. The land was purchased by the Company of New-Sweden (Nya Sverige-kompaniet) from the local indigenous Leni Lenape people in exchange for wares, as part of Sweden’s colonization of America and was the first permanent Swedish settlement in the area. So to put it briefly, the settlement was struggling from the beginning due to illness and poverty, however things started getting really bad towards the end of it’s run. When the swedes arrived back in -38 (accompanied by some Dutch people due to a co-operative agreement) the first building they set up was Fort Christina (still there today), a base of defense, named after the Swedish Queen Kristina who was ruling at the time. The Dutch, residing further up the river, also on the south side, weren’t feeling it, so they proceeded to establish a second base of their own 12 km (7 miles) from the Swedish one – to mess with them. Tension was growing between the Swedes and their Dutch neighbors next door. The Swedish settlements’ governor at the time was ruling with an iron fist and seizing property to gear up in case a battle were to break out, this made the settlers unhappy so they started running away to seek refugee over on the dutch side. The governor then hired local Leni Lenape to hunt down the runaway mutinous Swedes and bring them back dead or alive. Fast forward a bit, (past some squabble back and forth), the Dutch governor lays siege to Fort Christina in 1655, the Swedish governor gives up, and so after 17 years since establishment the colony was no more. (Or well, most Swedish people decided to stay, but now the colony was under dutch rule and they renamed the base Fort Altena.)

Then there’s Cabo Corso, with it’s prime location along Africa’s gold coast in present day Ghana. The land was purchased by the Swedish Africa Company (Afrikanska kompaniet) in 1650 after making a deal with the King of the local Akan people (Efutu Kingdom). (It got to keep it’s Portuguese name Cabo Corso after the previous Portuguese settlers.) That same year, the first Swedish ship of settlers, under the leadership of Henrik Carloff arrived and built the base Carlousborg (still there today) and the settlements main export/import was intended to be gold, timber and slaves. The Swedish Africa Company, that was mentioned earlier, was founded by Louis De Geer (ill talk about him more in another blog-post later on, he’s important) after getting a special permit from Queen Kristina to establish a trade post here The queen also granted the company monopoly on all Swedish trading beyond the Canary Islands, aka they we’re making a lot of money. So what happened? They were geared up for success? Well, remember the Carloff guy, leader of the first group of settlers? He was made director of the island, however a few years in, he got accused of dealing in some off-the-record trading of his own and got fired. He left the colony pissed, went to Denmark (whom Sweden recently been at war with), spoke to the King, and the King was like mess with some Swede’s? I’m down. So Carloff returned to Ghana with a brand new gun-heavy ship, hired 2000 local Asafo (Akan warrior groups) and conquered Carlousborg. Now the colony was Danish. Carloff appointed his colleague Schmidt responsible for the settlement, and left for Denmark again taking ships and riches with him. Side note: this was one of the things that sparked Swedens second war with Denmark lol. Later when the Swedish government and King Karl X Gustav dealt with the danish to reclaim what was stolen, Carloff ghosted with the treasure and there’s been no record of him since. So after the Swedish-Danish peace treaty that was signed in 1660, Denmark was supposed to return the colony to Sweden, but uhm, you know Schmidt? Carloffs sidekick? He sold it. He sold the colony to the Dutch and ghosted with the money. Thus, our gold coast settlement was no more after 11 years. The end.

Just kidding, next up is Guadeloupe, an archipelago located in the Caribbean right above the Dominican Republic. This was a short one, it was ours for a whole 14 months, between 1813-1814. When talking about Guadeloupe, we also gotta talk about Napoleon Bonaparte and Jean Baptiste Bernadotte. We’ll start with the last guy here, if you’re Swedish and reading this you might know him as King Karl XIV Johan. So briefly summed up the crown prince, king to be, died abruptly, leaving Sweden with no heir, at least none the nobility liked. So this one guy called Georg Adlersparre made up a story about needing a co-sign from Napoleon to instate this random duke as an heir and convinced everyone to let him go to Paris. The real reason he wanted to go was to fetch a French heir, since he believed the only person who could lift Sweden out of their post-war financial crisis and restore it to it’s former glory was a french guy. French people were very popular (and obviously not popular) in Europe at the time due to Napoleon making a name for himself trying to conquer everyone. So he got there, spoke to a bunch of important generals, and picked out one of Napoleons favorites, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte. He was like – come and be our next king, and Jean was like sure. The old king then adopted him and he was renamed Karl Johan. So, to the Guadeloupe part, the archipelago was under British rule (previously french) and the brits were fighting Napoleon in the ongoing war. Sweden (clearly) sided with the french, so the Brits were like – Hey side with us, help us take down Napoleon and we’ll gift you this colony we got. Sweden was like ok cool. We started putting a crew together to sail down and claim it as our own, but before we even set sail the island had been returned to its french former owners and all promises got flushed. The brits payed us some money instead as a sorry.

Then there’s Porto-Novo. Lol, so uhm. In 1733 Sweden tried to gain a hold in India with the Swedish East India Company, so they started building a factory in the city of Porto Novo (today’s Parangipettai), then got sacked by the brits and the french a month in. That’s it.

Lastly we got Saint Barthélemy (Saint Barts), the most commonly known one and the colony Sweden held onto the longest. Sweden bought the island, (located in the Caribbean, off the coast of Puerto Rico), from France in 1784. A remnant of the ownership can for example be seen today if you look at St Barthélemy’s capital, Gustavia, founded by the first Swedish settlers that docked at La Carénage harbor and named after the Swedish King Gustav III who bought the island. French was kept as the predominant language and Swedish was reserved for the senior officials and wealthy merchants. The island produced a moderate amount of goods, mainly cocoa, cotton, sugar, tobacco and fruit. Slave trade was permitted, and special laws regarding taxation were written to cover slave trade alone. There was also a specific set of rules put together by Governor Pehr Herman von Rosenstein called the Code Noir (the Black Code) which was set to control the life of the island slaves. The code noir split the population into the assigned groups: white people, liberated colored people and black slaves. In the early years, the colony made a lot of money due to it’s favorable position along popular trading routes, but towards the end the colony was losing money due to other routes gaining popularity as well as a series of devastating hurricanes so Sweden sold it back to France in 1878. This was our last colony.

Sweden’s part in the transatlantic slave trade:
I put Saint Barts last, because around the same time as the colony was slowly coming to an end (from 1813 and forward) Sweden also started discussing abolishing slavery in their colonies outside Europe. It was going out of style. On St Barts, as mentioned above, during it’s peak both Swedish and international slave trade was conducted. It was officially abolished in 1847, when the Swedish government bought all the remaining slaves on St Barts and set them free. People like to point out that there was ”only” 10-50 ”documented” Swedish shipments of slaves, and even less so only 10 of which were registered to have been done with Swedish ships. I put ”only” and ”documented” because the numbers aren’t exact, since there hasn’t been a thorough survey of our old documents, there simply hasn’t been an interest. We also paid Brits/Danes/French and American’s to ship slaves for us. We bought people, we sold people, we made deals with surrounding islands. We also had a bonus on St Barts that shipments (of people) straight from Afrika could be imported taxfree if they went through us, all to make St Barts lucrative. – 50 shipments tho? that’s only like 0,1% of all slave trade that took place. That’s like nothing, yeah but then we’re not counting that our economical involvement was far greater. I wish I could find records of the total amount of trips funded by Sweden, all the deals we made money from through tax and what-not, our numbers would definitely go up. Sweden made money off of transatlantic slave trade, it’s part of our heritage and helped fund what we are today, whether we like it or not. We whipped, killed, hot branded ”livestock” and used iron collars, just like the other countries involved.

Fun fact, slave-trade has actually been illegal in Sweden since 1335, however, it obviously was not outside of Sweden. So Swedish people brought their business elsewhere. It’s odd though, because Swedish Kings and Queens were involved in establishing every single one of these colonies, both financially and as acting hands in negotiations, yet here it was illegal… it’s almost as if there was a double standard… It reminds me of how in history class we’d talk about the Holocaust, and how the division of tasks enabled the entire thing to go on as it did, because everyone involved could go – No no I just oversee this or that I’m not really responsible or involved. As in how the real racism and slave trade is going on somewhere else, not on our porch, so Sweden’s hands are not clean. Not only are we not taught about it in school, but whenever you try to look it up or read about it in your own time, the opening-lines to all the texts tend to ring the same with their –First things first, Sweden’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade was so teeny tiny minuscule… I don’t care. I didn’t come to read about it because it was ”less” than other countries involvement, I came to read about it because it should’ve been a part of the school curriculum from the start. Just because it was ”less” doesn’t mean we get to write it out, and bump it down the roster below Magnus Ladulås (Swede’s will get this reference).

Anyways, this concludes part one with a brief introduction of the colonies, I’ll continue with part two next week which will cover some other aspect of our history of Racism. Until then, stay hydrated. (It’s 30°C outside (86°F) in Sweden right now and it’s new to us.)

Some extra links (some are in Swedish and some are available in both Swedish and English):

Svenska kolonier

Det svenska slavfortet

Fort Christina

Cabo Corso

Lätta fakta om Saint Barthélemy – Sveriges sista koloni

Kolonin Saint Barthélemy

När Sverige skulle bli kolonialmakt

Sveriges slavhistoria avslöjad

Svensk slavhandel

The display picture is: Drottninggatan, Gustavia 1840 – by Anton Molander


So, I’ve already written about saviourism, white privilege, certain aspects of colonialism, aswell as some neo-colonialism that overlaps with systemic racism. If you’re interested in any of the above, since they’re all branches of racism, feel free to scroll further down for those posts, or to follow the blog since I most definitely will be covering them again. You can also type each of the terms into google to start reading any and everything you find or use the links ill be adding at the bottom. Take note that this post is specifically related to the B.L.M. movement, many of the tips can be applied to other social justice movements, but my intention is for the focus of this post to be on the B.L.M. movement and the fight against racism. Think of it as ”things to keep in mind” when you approach it with a wish to engage if you’re new.

If you, like so many others are hoping to join the fight against racism, or if you claim to already be in it and is reading up to get better at it, below ill be sharing some tips, pointers and links to potentially help you on your way.

The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter that I’ve chosen to use as my title, is also a great source to find information about different aspect of racism, how to actively work against it and un-learn it. To access it, simply type it into Facebook, Google or Instagram. People share experiences, tips, issues, articles, they also use the phrase by itself to highlight the importance of black lives, since there’s a need for it.

I’ll start this post by addressing some questions and thoughts I’ve received from friends and acquaintances:

1. If you (as a non-black) person feel bad about what you’re seeing in the media right now. Good. You’re supposed to. If brutalized and murdered black bodies make you feel sad and outraged, if systemic racial oppression makes you feel overwhelmed, exhausted and unsure about yourself, your actions and what you’ve been (or not been) doing to help… great! Then there’s something here we can work with. See, NEWSFLASH, you’re supposed to feel bad. Because it sucks, all of it, for all of us, and especially for black people. What you’re NOT supposed to do is write to your traumatized/exhausted/depressed/hurt black friends to ask what you can do to make yourself feel better. Because it’s not about you and that’s lesson one on racism as a non-black person. It’s not about you, always remember it’s not about you, and when you’re about to comment on something, mention something, share thoughts or just open your mouth in a racism related context, ask yourself: – Am I about to reshape or center this around myself or my experiences? If yes? Then don’t. (Also, the people that should worry you, are the ones that aren’t feeling bad right now). Take note that some activists/friends of yours or public speakers you follow may have expressed that they’re available for conversations if people have questions and wish to learn. Use these opportunities to ask the questions you might not’ve been able to answer alone through google, and if they have a gofundme/patreon/paypal chip in on the work they do, the same way you’d pay any teacher.

2. Scenario ”I haven’t shared anything or spoken out personally on the issue, but let me share a black picture for #blackouttuesday in solidarity with the black lives matter movement, because I do care! Fighting racism just takes a lot of effort” Hmm alright, uhm. So two things to point out here. First, If you decide to repost or share anything (something you think could be useful information for other people for example), make sure you understand what you’re sharing. Secondly, if you decide to post a black picture, ask yourself WHY you’re doing it and what the desired outcome is, if you can’t answer that, don’t do it. We’re struggling with alot of clutter and alot of mindless reposting. People think they wanna help but they don’t really want to go through the actual trouble it takes, so they settle for a repost of something they don’t understand or truly know why they’re sharing. Notice how there’s nothing wrong with the act of reposting, just make sure you understand. This obviously goes for anyone reposting anything ever.

3. If you’re not initially (and after that still occasionally) completely overwhelmed by the thought of dismantling racism, you don’t understand racism. Simple. The go-to should be learning about all the separate and intricate aspects of racism in part. Because if you think you’re tackling racism head-on and that you’ve figured it out, I’m gonna need you to take a step back. This has been going on for years, if it was as simple as telling people to ”be nicer to black people” we would’ve solved it years ago. Unlearning racism is a journey that takes time, effort and focus. You don’t simply read a 100 books to understand, ‘cause it’ll take you another 10 years to even begin to apply it to your daily life and your line of thinking. To give an example: I check myself every time I do my hair to ask myself why I prefer a sleek bun over a matted one, when my natural hair texture is matted, the desire (and preference) for a sleek bun is internalized racism. The racism isn’t gone until I’m free to wear either without preference based around which one is commonly accepted as ”neater”, and this is just me?! If we’re getting detailed here I’ve got the ”good” texture of the bunch, imagine what it’s like for people with ”heavier” afro-centric features than me (there’s an old system in place judging people favorably based on their proximity to whiteness, I’ll cover that in-depth some other day but google colorism and the paper bag-test for now). Then proceed to think about all the people I meet on a daily who’s gonna see my bun and think to themselves wow like did she even try? She should’ve sleeked it back with gel to make it look straight. Notice how this is also just a minor thing? One. Minor. Thing. That’s how extensive this is. Racism is a system, an indoctrinate teaching, a behavioral pattern and for some a way of life. Racism is mainly subconscious, meaning you won’t really notice that it’s there, making it harder to identify and fight within one self.

4. This is an important one, and I cannot stress this enough. Think for yourself. Please. When you see posts upon posts of people telling you to ”read up” they obviously mean read up, but that also includes this: thinking. I already said this in point 2 but let me repeat it because this is a key-step, PLEASE think for yourself. That’s the work you’re supposed to be doing, apart from showing support and speaking up when it’s needed lawdamercy think. for. yourself. When you see something you don’t understand, don’t just scroll past it and assume you’re good ‘cause you think racism is bad and you’ve got black friends, you’re not good, it’s not fine, figure out why you don’t understand. (Also, if you find yourself motivated to read up but unsure what to read, don’t be afraid to ask, but also, don’t expect a black person to do the work of finding valuable information for you, especially not for free. This is like asking a classmate to do your homework for you. Not cool. >>>Re-read end of point 1 if needed.<<<

5. When somebody goes ”Black Lives Matter”, don’t respond all lives matter, or blue lives matter or my dogs life matters or no life matters (nihilistic edgelord junk). Don’t. Don’t do it. Everybody knows this. Remember what we talked about before? About putting yourself in the center of an issue? May I ask why you feel the need to insert yourself everywhere? Don’t do it. This. This is it. So don’t do it. A great example I’ve seen people use is, if your house is on fire, and you shout ”my house is on fire!” to get it extinguished, and then every other house that’s NOT on fire got a resident stepping out onto the sidewalk shouting ALL houses are on fire, do you realize how stupid that looks? Yes, maybe someday your house too may be on fire, but right now we’re talking about this one. All lives matter, we know this, everyone knows this. However we’re highlighting that black people are unjustly being killed in frighteningly high numbers and systematically oppressed, this is the fire we’re trying to put out. Either you help out or you get out the way. Inserting yourself by asking why not all lives matter, that’s you trying to hijack another movement. If the only time you care about all lives is when somebody else is trying to get their message across, you don’t truly care at all.

This is also what my disclaimer in the beginning of the post is for, I’ve seen that there’s a bad habit in media of making parallels between different social justice movements, between different people or in hopes of making an example to further understand or pick apart an argument. For example, using another gruesome event to try to make the event being discussed seem less bad. Don’t do it. It’s not a competition in who can throw out the most gruesome event or make the most distasteful parallel. If you feel the need to comment on the ongoing violent protests in the USA today, and flip it, switch the colors of the protesters with the people getting hurt or anything like it in hopes of proving your argument, what you’re really doing is erasing the history of the problem itself by isolating one specific event, which obviously will render the event itself nonsensical. The defining history has to be taken into consideration.

6. Last point, this one’s for everyone. A skill you need to acquire when dealing with any and all social justice movements is to be able to step aside and let the people whom the movement is for step forth to speak. Google ‘interpretative prerogative’ or ‘tolkningsföreträde’ in Swedish. This is not just between black vs non black people in terms of the black lives matter movement, but also between black people within the movement itself. For the black people in Sweden taking a stance right now, earlier or in the future and expressing their opinions regarding the actions of black people in for example the US, it’s important to know that at the end of the day it’s not our place to judge their actions. We can comment, share our two cents and debate, but at the end of the day we can’t possibly imagine what it’s like to grow up in America as a black person, even if most of us have our own experiences with racism, identify with the people we see or feel a bond to what could be relatives and even if our own countries are dealing with the same issues, we can’t possibly begin to understand what it’s like to be them because we’re not them. The best we can do is support them in every way we can, share their stories, sign their petitions, donate to their cause, listen to what they need from us and fight our own local issues of racism along side theirs for an overall better future for black people everywhere. (This calls for another disclaimer, take note how I’m NOT saying it doesnt concern us because this is very much our issue too.)

This concludes my list for now, there’s obviously way more I could cover, but we’ll round it up here. Social media is blowing up right now but this is not the first or the last time this is going to or needs to happen, more discussions/fights/protests will be held in the future regarding identity, heritage, cultural ownership and race, it’s needed and long overdue as usual. Buckle up for more, we’re 6 months into 2020 which has come to be the year of exposing everything and everyone.

I’ve personally felt torn about what to write about for this last week. Everyday is history in the making and history is what I do, I naturally cover pro-black topics in relation to that, because, well, I’m black and history needs to be re-written and edited from a non-white western and non-western narrative, this is one of my fundamental beliefs. We need to create our own narrative and space, instead of living in somebody else’s. Thus, I decided to give into my feelings, and sit down, open my brain and write about Black Lives Matter and share some tips on how to approach and assist the movement, because black lives do matter. Everyday. Not just when your feed is a battlefield or my family’s a trending hashtag.

Useful links:

Rachel Cargle’s The Great Unlearn – Currated monthly syllabus to keep you engaged in unlearning racism, and racist behaviour. Self-paced and donation based:

A compiled list of some organizations you can donate to (help with bail, provide support for victims of police brutality, rebuilding etc), petitions you can sign, informative monetized videos who’s revenue will be donated etc:


Why you need to stop saying all lives matter

Black Riot: The difference between riots and protests has more to do with who and where than what


The Armchair Commentary – Commentary on the intersection of race, culture and faith

Rachel Cargle is a public academic, writer, and lecturer. Her activism and academic work are rooted in providing intellectual discourse, tools, and resources that explore the intersection of race and womanhood.

Give it back (part 3)

Alright, so we’re back at it again with the last part under this title. This time we’re talking about supremacy! Specifically white supremacy and the role it played in the history of archaeology. (Aka the role it plays in today’s debate about shadily obtained artifacts.)

First you may wonder why specifically white supremacy? Why not just supremacy alone as a concept?

Well that’s an easy one. Supremacy alone is just a term used to describe predominance, sovereignty or hegemony. It’s literally the state/condition of being superior to all others in authority, power or status. White supremacy however, is the racist belief that white people are superior to other people and therefore should be the ones in power. This birthed a system and a political ideology that perpetuates an institutional domination by white people in every field from politics to culture and history.

From the Cape to Cairo, Udo J. Keppler, 1902

So let’s zoom-in a bit,

White supremacy was absolutely booming from the 1800s to the mid 1900s. Like a real hit. We had scientific racism, race-studies, colonization, apartheid, Jim Crow Laws, the Atlantic slave trade, like there was a lot. Zoom in a little more and we hit a man named Rudyard Kipling, the biggest poet of his time who in 1899 dropped the notorious poem ”The White Man’s Burden”. For anyone that might’ve read some of my earlier posts this isn’t news to you. This poem covers part of the very essence of the ideology that is white supremacy. A desire (and excuse) to take land, raid tombs, forcefully impose Christianity and seize power. To quote an excerpt:

Take up the White Man’s burden—

    Send forth the best ye breed—

Go bind your sons to exile

    To serve your captives’ need;

To wait in heavy harness

    On fluttered folk and wild—

Your new-caught, sullen peoples,

    Half devil and half child

The White Mans Burden – Rudyard Kipling

I’ve linked it above if you’re interested in reading the whole thing, but yeah, there you have it all. The guilt, the part where they’ll receive hate from the people they’re oppressing but must stand tall, the supposed god-sanctioned raids, the ”saving” and the enslaving too.

So how does it relate to the blatant stealing of artifacts you ask?

Here’s three major ways. We’ll start from the top. First of all, colonization provides access, you go and come as you please, you’re the one in charge, you’ve claimed the land, and it’s impossible to steal from yourself so your conscience is clean. Secondly, there’s accountability, fast forward to now, your countrymen literally wrote THE law in the past, and laid the foundation then for the jurisdictional system of today so there’s nothing officially holding you accountable from that time. Thirdly, we cover the saviourism, if you validate keeping an object regardless of history, by expressing concern, claiming you’re more suitable to care for it, who’s going to argue? No one. Especially not, since you ensured it. Colonization enriched your country and crippled others, securing your country’s financial position for generations to come. Besides it’s your burden, your duty, to take it upon yourself as better equipped, to assist in this noble cause of preservation. See It’s a deadlock. A wheel that spins itself.

So what can we conclude from this?

When posed with the argument ”we’re more suited for the job so it’s our duty to help”, highlight that sending money to fund a country to accommodate an artifact also qualifies as help, and that the desire to ”step in” and ”grab hold” smells of (white) supremacy. Another option could be to assign ownership of the artifacts to the country of origin, and set up a ”loan situation” with the current country of residence, until appropriate action towards an ideal housing environment is taken. This way the country of origin can financially and ethically benefit from their own history. The countries that requested independence should be treated as equals regardless of where they’re at in their development and stepping on them isn’t the best way to further the field of history nor cultural preservation.

This part culminates the ”Give it back” piece, and so I’ll be back with something new (and old) next week.

Give it back (part 2)

Alright so let’s pick up where we left off – How the illegitimate claim of ancient artifacts acquired during the colonial-era relate to power play and supremacy. Last time we ended on the note thatWalking into somebody’s home and taking something that belongs to them is stealing, regardless of whether you were invited in or fought your way through. It doesn’t become any more yours simply because time keeps passing”. So what can prompt somebody to do this? Well let’s get into it; In this part we’ll focus on power play.

Artifacts are enriched by being viewed in their place of origin, not only does it hold a unique connection to the area where it was produced but for somebody to come view it as a visitor, the historical context would become that much clearer due to the relationship it shares with it’s surroundings. I believe that link should be honored and respected.

If the argument against this is a desire to exhibit it where as many people as possible would get a chance to visit, I’d rather we value the historical context. People are going to have to travel to see it regardless, and exposing artifacts to high numbers of tourists posses a risk and tends to damage them. As seen with the tombs of the Valley of Kings, or this coffin in a museum in England, and these are examples of things that remain in their country of origin, yet the amount of visitors haven’t gone down.

But hey, let’s get into the term itself and let’s start with the illegitimate claim (stealing) and the power play part. So what is a power play?

”A power play is an attempt to gain an advantage by showing that you are more powerful than another person or organization, for example in a business relationship or negotiation.”

Take the Pantheon Marbles (aka Elgin Marbles after the man who stole them) for example:

Pantheon Marbles (Temple of Pantheon, Athens) in the British Museum, London

This collection of sculptures were shipped stolen in rounds from their home in Athens to Britain between 1801-1812, under the supervision of a Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin. Bruce claimed he received an ”a ok” from the Ottoman Empire who were ruling Greece at the time. Once in Britain he was met with both support and criticism but ended up being exonerated, thus he preceded to sell the marbles to the government, who then handed them over to the museum, in which they remain today.

After gaining its independence in 1832, the Greek state began a series of projects in order to restore monuments and retrieve looted art. Expressing disapproval of Elgin’s actions as well as requesting the collection be returned. However…. they still haven’t been.

Here’s where the powerplay comes in, let’s back up a few month, it’s now February 2020 and a draft of an EU document surfaces. Here the Union suggest attaching a demand for the UK to return Pantheon sculptures to Greece to its negotiations concerning post-Brexit trade deals. To quote:

”The parties should, consistently with Union rules, address issues relating to the return or restitution of unlawfully removed cultural objects to their countries of origin.”

The times of London

Regardless of how happy I’d be for this to possibly be a legit demand which could result in their return, this also serves as a juicy example of the issue at hand. Here several nations have agreed and acknowledged that Britain possesses illegally obtained artifacts which should be returned to their country of origin, yet the EU is trying to strike a deal, because legally there’s not much else they can do. These artifacts that are just supposed to be there to encourage learning and embody history (reference to my previous post) suddenly become a bargaining chips of power. So now we have both partys acknowledging the artifacts as something of great value due to their actions (Britain’s almost 200 year long refusal to return it and the EU’s Brexit demands to give it back).

The conclusion we can draw from this is that anyone that wishes to reduce this discussion to a matter of childish wonder, supposed ideal circumstances and impartial care, needs to step out the sandbox and look at it for what it is – a powerplay.

There’s real monetary value in culture, there’s influential value in owning objects of historical significance, and the people who discredit modern art, or wishes to lower modern day cultural funding, are the same people ready to fight when you speak ill of their mother ‘cause then it hits home. Some of us might’ve missed this or semi-forgotten it along the way but ultimately It’s about heritage. There is (and I cannot stress this enough) real power in knowing where you come from and owning items connecting generations back and the world leaders in my example literally just showed it to you.

If you’re more curious about powerplay amongst nations/groups of people, or wish to dig deeper in the use of this type of tactics, I recommend looking into Contemporary war/warfare or Dehumanization. However, if you’d rather it handed to you in a neat Marakulus wrapping, I’ll most likely write a piece on it in the future.

Seeing how long this got…. we’ll save supremacy for the next part lol.

Catch ya then!

Interesting links and articles:

Greece demands Elgin marbles for EU trade deal

Brexit: EU to ask UK to return Elgin marbles to Greece in trade talks

Give it back (part 1)

So.. let’s talk about artifacts.. and museums, and how archaeology during the colonial period (and various decades after that) kinda resembles… stealing.

Colonial-rule ”officially” ended for most countries during the second half of the 1900s, however, some opinions beg to differ and pose the question of whether colonialism has ended at all. In this post I’ll be discussing museums and artifacts, and the potential role they play in neo-colonialism.

So, I linked the term neo-colonialism above if you’re curious to find out more about it, but to sum it up briefly, it’s basically old school colonialism’s offspring. All those countries thrown into debt due to being left to their own demise as their colonial rulers reluctantly were letting go, were very often posed with an offer. Something like a – You’ll be independent but remain a commonwealth (wack, diminishing, acknowledging the monarch of your previous colonial ruler), or you’ll be independent but indebted to me because you need me to capitalize off of your main export, or here’s a gigantic loan to cover your massive expenses and potholes since we just threw you out the nest into the vampire that is the western economy.

The South African Cullinan Diamond, part of Queen Elizabeth’s crown jewels

Something we seldom talk about though, is how most museums today possess artifacts obtained through now illegal measures. They were excavated/stolen during the golden age of colonialism, and even though most countries officially have been declared free, their stolen artifacts remain in the possession of their previous colonial rulers. Not only are these artifacts valuable and increase the overall wealth of said country, but they also pull tourists which contributes to yearly BNP. Thus these countries continue to make money off of colonialism in this way to this very day.

Politicians know this, world leaders, professors and experts know this. That’s why some of these previous colonies have requested their artifacts be returned. Only to be be met with crickets and no’s.

I read an article just today quoting a sociologist named Tiffany Jenkins, arguing that the artifacts should stay where they are because determining the exact origin of some pieces will be difficult, as well as the inability to return things that were made in kingdoms and empires long since fallen, for example where would an Assyrian pot or a Nubian statue belong, when these places no longer exist? Jenkins also argued that the original purpose and ownership of artifacts are sometimes unknown, and that objects are made everyday only to end up in somebody elses hands. That pot or tablet allows us to learn the history of their maker and people, they don’t need to be returned to their place of origin for them to do so.

 The decision about where to place ancient artifacts should not be reduced to chasing impossible historical authenticity, contrition for the past, or ethnicity, but where is best for the object.

Tiffany Jenkins, Sociologist
Head of Amarna (Egypt) Princess, Altes Museum Berlin

Here’s where I’m about to go 180, firstly because that very same argument, to highlight ”it doesn’t need to be returned to it’s place of origin” also means, that you might as well return it, since It’s place of residency doesn’t affect its ability to be gazed upon (aka fulfilling it’s purpose). Secondly, because the value of housing these objects can not be overlooked from an economical standpoint in a capitalist-driven society. If it was only about the experience, museums could make it by with pristine forgeries for people to gaze upon, this would probably be better since it’d mean that more countries could offer the same exhibits, reaching a larger audience of learners. Leaving the original artifact to be stored under ideal circumstances, conserving it for as long as possible.

Sadly it’s not just about the experience, that’s why countries refuse to acknowledge requests of retribution. Because it’s also power and wealth, the cultural value and impact is high. People love to act like we’re past powerplay and that the age of supremacy is behind us, but it isn’t.

The very last claim that Jenkins makes states that we should be considering the best place to keep said object. Some countries would claim that they’re better equipped to house such valuable delicates. I agree. Thus, I suggest we (any and all countries housing colonial loot) collectively fund the establishing of proper protection and maintenance of the object as they’re returned home. One of many long sought after steps towards actual retribution.

Walking into somebody’s home and taking something that belongs to them is stealing, regardless of whether you were invited in or fought your way through. It doesn’t become any more yours simply because time keeps passing. The same way you proudly present your countries riches, stand ready to redeem their mistakes.

This theme will continue in part two where we’ll get further into the powerplay/supremacy/ownership aspect of this issue, ‘til then,

stay hydrated and wash your hands<3

Interesting articles on the subject:

British Museum ”has head in sand” over return of artifacts

European museums may ”loan” stolen artifacts back to countries in Africa

Do historical objects belong in their country of origin?

The battle to get Europe to return thousands of Africa’s stolen artifacts is getting complicated

Avkolonisering & nykolonisering 1: Colorism

Utan koloniseringen hade världen inte sett ut som den gör idag, det samma gäller människorna som lever i den. Det finns spår av koloniseringen i nästan allt antingen direkt eller indirekt. Jag undrar om det är möjligt att avkolonisera sig själv? Det verkar förvånansvärt lätt att identifierar större spår av koloniseringen i samhället idag jämfört med att identifiera koloniseringens lämningar i en själv.

Jag vill identifiera dessa lämningar för min egen skull för först då kan jag själv (samt världen) börja ”avkoloniseras” på riktigt. För även om man kan se på koloniseringen i större skala, bör man också se över koloniseringens individuella påverkan för att fullt förstå dess totala utsträckning och se över vad man själv kan göra åt saken. Ämnet avkolonisering & nykolonisering kommer jag adressera över flera inlägg, i detta kommer jag fokusera på Colorism.

Colorism: Författaren Alice Walker sägs ha myntat begreppet i sin bok In Search Of Our Mothers Garden och där beskrev hon colorism som: ”prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color”, dvs ”när människor av samma ras möter skadlig/ofördelaktig respektive fördelaktig behandling enbart baserad på deras hudfärg. Som poc (person/people of color), i mitt fall svart poc, så möter man colorism både inom det egna communityt och från andra. Ett tydligt exempel på colorism är bla den respresentation man ser i media, även om representationen av svarta människor generellt kunde varit bättre, så är det inte bara mängden representation som räknas, utan även mångfalden. Hur många svarta kändisar med riktigt mörk hy kan du namnet på? Vs hur många svarta med ljusare hy? Det svarta communityt kan detta ibland adressera som ”light skin privilege”.

Varför jag valde just colorism som först exempel är för att colorism visar på ännu en fråga inom diskriminering som vi måste tackla om vi vill nå ett jämlikt samhälle. Vid första anblick tycks de vara good old vardags rasism med en ”preferens ursäkt” stämplad ovanpå. Men problemet går djupare än så. Colorism visar på ett spektrum av diskriminering där ju närmare du är den vita standarden desto bättre blir du behandlad samt vice versa. Literally. Under koloniseringen i USA fanns det ett test som kallades the Brown Paper Bag test, detta test utfördes både av vita plantageägare och bland svarta slavar för att avgöra huruvida en individ skulle tillskrivas vissa privilegier. Simply put, var du samma färg som påsen eller ljusare så fick du finare positioner på plantagen. Var du mörkare, fick du sämre. Om du tänker en färgskala från mörk till ljus, så brukade man säga att ju ljusare du var desto närmare de stora huset fick du jobba, det bästa var att få jobba inne i huset. (Andra exempel på test är kamtestet, där håret kammas för att se om kammen fastnar, detta för att avgöra precis hur lockigt eller ”kinky” ens hår är, där kinky = dåligt).

Detta bildspel kräver JavaScript.

Colorismen inom det svarta communityt och resten av världen är very much alive, vilket inte bara syns på den blomstrande hudblekningsindustrin i främst Asien, Karibien, Mellanöstern och Afrika. Men vart kommer colorism ifrån?

Europeisk kolonialism skapade och etablerade ett rashierarkiskt system och en ras baserad ideologi. I detta system stod vita människor över svarta. (Tekniskt sett stod vita över alla andra som inte var vita, jag valde att skriva svart just nu då systemet först och främst etablerades för diskriminering mot svarta på grund av slaveriet). Biologiska skillnader i form av hudfärg användes för att rättfärdiga diskriminering mot Afrikaner, detta födde ett system som satte vita på toppen och svarta på botten.

Colorism var ett redskap vita kolonister använde för att skapa spänningar och division mellan slavarna. Som jag nämnde tidigare placerades man på en lättare och mer komfortable position vs en svårare och slitsammare position baserad på ens hudfärg. Som en direkt konsekvens av detta var det vanligare att ljusare svarta människor fick en chans till någon form av utbildning på grund av deras position i huset. Medans slavarna utanför inte fick någonting, denna konsekvens födde stereotypen att mörkhyade svarta människor var dumma och ignoranta. Andra direkta konsekvenser av detta system är den rådande vithetsnorm som finns i samhället än idag. Huruvida man blir anställd eller känd rör sig fortfarande på en skala från mörk till ljus och ens chanser ökar ju närmare vit man kommer.

(Vithetsnorm – Vithetsnorm utgår ifrån att vit hudfärg är det normala i samhället. Ex ”hudfärgade” plåster som kommer i en nyans, ingen foundation mörkare än ”tanned” i affären.)

Så, för att summera, colorism är ett begrepp som refererar till diskriminering primärt baserat på hudfärg (oftast) gällande människor från samma folkgrupp, man döms/hyllas/gynnas utifrån ens hudfärg. Denna diskriminering är baserad på ett gammalt etablerat hierarkiskt system med vita på toppen och svarta på botten. Colorism är det första ämne jag valt att adressera i denna serie inlägg då det är något man som individ på vissa fronter kan påverka direkt. Det är betydligt lättare att identifiera större mönster i samhället än mönster hos en själv, att rannsaka sig själv är dock ett bra stället att börja på.


Colorism: Dokumentär – Colorism in Jamaican Society , Wikipedia om Colorism – , What is colorism? –

Brown Paper Bag Test:

Skin bleaching Länkar:

Kort inslagg om hudblekning i världen:

UK:, Pakistan:, Indien:, Sydafrika:, Jamaica: