My thoughts on the EU referendum

Hey people i'll be on Channel 4 tonight debating the EU referendum with Paxman and all the rest... here are my basic thoughts ahead of time... 

Some thoughts on the EU



Before I get into my own opinions on the subject I would first like to note the astoundingly banal and generally poor standard of debate from both sides in this campaign. Ranging from complete lies and scaremongering to disregard for experts and their pesky little ‘facts’ to half truths and outright racism and in the past few days some from both sides attempting to marshal the murder of Jo Cox by a right wing terrorist (of course our ‘free’ - read Murdoch - press refuses to call him that) to support their respective positions before her body is even cold in the ground. Really generally gutter stuff. When did we become this anti-intellectual, this unconcerned with knowing actual facts and this easily duped by a political class who will almost certainly still be rich a powerful on June the 24th either way? Or were we always made of such stuff?


I also think the public should be deeply suspicious as to why we are being asked our opinions on this particular issue when we were not asked regarding austerity, the bankers bailout or Iraq, Libya, Syria in fact clear and massive public opposition was actually actively ignored as with countless other issues.


So whilst I am pro-remain, just about and with great reservations and no illusions about what that actually means; it’s a vote for the current neo-liberal status quo –I admit that this is a coke and pepsi style choice, organic non-gmo orange juice is not an option. The British Nation State is not some anti neo-liberal social alternative to the EU; in fact the UK was the pioneer of neo-liberal economics in Europe and the city of London remains the center of European finance.


There is of course a progressive people led anti-austerity, anti corporatist, anti-imperialist case for leaving the EU and if that strain of argument were even close to an audible voice in the campaign and if our current political trajectory was not one of the most regressive in the Union I may have well been swayed to join the leavers. But as it has played out the leave lot have appealed to good old fashion fear of the ‘other’ to rile up support for their cause at a time when the ‘others’ are being left to drown in the sea in droves, sensitive humane stuff.


Some of the people of this island do have a great tradition of pro people radical internationalist politics (anti apartheid struggle, the suffragettes, chartists abolitionist movement etc.) but this tradition has always been marginalized and oft persecuted by the state and it’s certainly not that tradition that has been empowered in this ‘debate’.


And whilst I can recognize the political achievement in bringing a continent that had constantly been at war with itself to relative peace and stability the EU is indeed a corporatist, neo-colonial entity, a subject to which we will return later. However legitimate criticisms do not legitimise lies…


We have been told constantly by the leave lot that the EU is undemocratic and that poor little bullied Britain is subject to the random whims of Brussels. This is simply bullshit and anyone who can be bothered to do an internet search on the structure of and relationship between the European Council, The European Commission and the European Parliament would realize that the EU is probably as ‘democratic’ in its decision making process as the UK, with our House of Lords, our Monarchy and our City Of London Corporation – to say nothing of the oil/arms industry lobbies - arguably more so. In addition there are whole sectors of the EU arrangement that the British Nation state has opted out of in a way no other member nation has been able to such as the single currency, the Schengen no border zone and EU law on migration and asylum. The British government has also repeatedly shown its frustration with the EU rights for workers.


Which brings us on to one of the elephants in the room that no one in this mess of a debate seems to have brought up. Iraq. The Brexiters keep telling us that Britain’s ‘sovereignty’ is compromised by being in the EU (this is just legally untrue by the way) and that Britain is not free to make its own decisions blah, blah, blah. Perhaps these people were in a coma during 2003 when several EU member states, much of the UN and of course British public opinion (there was also that small matter of lack of evidence for the very thing that the war was justified upon) were all against invasion and yet the British elite and their US cronies went ahead anyway and more recently the UK Government decided to drop bombs in Syria without so much as parliamentary approval.


Does any of this sound like a small bullied little victim of the dictates of Brussels?


Not really, it sounds more like one of the most regressive states in the EU (yes us, the UK) by many factual indicators (arms exports, prison population, child poverty, basic educational attainment etc.) want to be ‘free’ to be even more regressive. ‘We’ – a certain section of Britain - want our country back. I can almost hear them singing Britannia rules the waves, bless them they think it’s 1851, when in the real world India has just put a rocket on Mars for 10% of the cost NASA can with a whole bunch of women scientists and while still technically a ‘third world’ country. The world is complex and for people brought up to believe they are great simply because they came out of their mothers womb on a particular patch of the earth it can be hard to adjust to the reality that ‘greatness’ takes actual work.


Back to the EU it is not the liberal, harmless, beacon of human rights that its most ardent supporters purport it to be. It is an imperialist behemoth that collectively imposes grossly asymmetrical trade relationships on Europe’s former colonies and it has immense collective amnesia about how it came to be so wealthy. This neo-colonial economic relationship with the Global South massively contributes to the poverty, instability, conflict (and of course resultant migration) of large parts of the globe, whilst the EU poses as the worlds shining light for spreading democratic ideals. Interestingly I have not seen any of the main voices for Brexit raise this continued economic exploitation of the South as an issue, much less as a reason for leaving. It does not seem to even be on their radar.


Back to how it seems Brexit under the current circumstances would affect everyday people. Lets just deal with the facts; most economists of many school of economic thought are against Brexit. Legal experts, (I am being told that UK law firms are already re-registering as Irish in case of Brexit) the majority of scientists all seem to think it a bad idea and I would agree with Mr. Gove that we should ignore the well paid experts if we had a great national moral conviction that we were leaving for moral, humane reasons that would genuinely better the planet, but that’s not what we have.


Even far from the political mainstream prominent activist/lawyer/reparationists like Esther Stanford-Xosei are clear that the EU for all its imperialist unity and actually partly because of that unity (Berlin 1884 anyone?) is a better structure within which national minority groups can wage their respective human and peoples (group) rights struggles than an isolated British nation state at this point in time.


So where does this leave us? With the big I world, immigration, immigration, immigration. We can try and deconstruct all of the other arguments as intellectually as we like but this debate has been so visibly dominated by this omnipotent fear of the other coming over here ‘stealing our jobs and taking our women’ that we must address it. People are to be heard claiming that 500 million people now have a British passport as if the red book was inherently superior to its Swedish, Italian and German counterparts which we as British Citizens also - by the same logic - have.


The Brexit lot is so desperate they are even claiming that being free of the EU will leave ‘us’ to look toward parts of the world Britain has long neglected like the Commonwealth! I mean really. This is post empire melancholia at its finest. Can you imagine a group of people so intellectually bereft of ideas that they expect us to believe that British multinationals are suddenly going to start dealing with the non white parts of the Commonwealth as business partners rather than as pools of cheap labor and un-processed resources the moment we leave the EU? You’ll pardon me while I laugh…


Britain and or private ‘British’ entities like the East India Company ruled most of the Commonwealth for a couple centuries before the EU existed and decided not to build any significant infrastructure and or industrial development other than in those parts of the empire where they thought white people would settle and live - under apartheid - forever more. So when I hear members of the same class, who have never show any signs of global south solidarity before invoke the well being of our homelands as a reason for leaving the EU, I am very suspicious. No in fact I just plain don’t trust a word they say.


The experts are telling us that there will be at least a decade of re-negotiating trade deals, very serious economic downturn and loss of business, the potential for the UK to adopt regressive human rights legislation (many of the right have made it clear they’d like to bring back the death penalty for instance) loss of our own free movement across Europe and all of the retired gangsters from the ends having to return from Spain but this is all worth it to regain some outdated imperial notion of sovereignty (a sovereignty which Britain still legally has) and just in case the Turks join the EU in 20 years, essentially. Of course its highly unlikely that Turkey will ever join, given that all EU member states get a veto on new members but the mere threat is enough for some people.


I can imagine some of the critics ‘from the left’ reading this thus far screaming but but but. I hear you and whilst rallying against TTIP or for workers rights or any of the other left leaning reasons that have been stated (and I acknowledge in principle) for leaving the EU sounds really cool, I think this position is naïve. Britain is already by many indices as pointed out above one of and in some cases the most Neo-Liberal state in Europe - we imprison our population at roughly double the rate the Germans do, despite them taking a much more politically progressive approach to migrants and refuges, for example. The City of London after all is the center of European finance, to think Westminster will stop governing in favor of big banks post Brexit just because the big banks are in favor of remain seems an odd conclusion to me but happy to hear more about how that would actually work?


I am going to make a very crude, imperfect but philosophically interesting (in my opinion at least) historical parallel. America. I think nobody will doubt (at least I hope) that the US is ‘the’ imperial power in the world today and that it was founded on racist exploitation, slavery and genocide. Would the south leaving America after the civil war have been positive for history? We’ll never know and whilst America is 10,000 miles south of perfect I am still glad the North won and that the racist imperial union was preserved, why? Because the realistic alternative at the time was far worse; a Southern US where race based slavery and terrorism, eugenics and serfdom for poor whites would in all likelihood have continued until today. And whilst 2016 Britain is obviously not 1850’s Alabama I think the principle remains the same, sometimes a shit version of power is better than a shittier one. I am glad the allies won World War II despite their mass murdering colonial rampages around the globe, because the Nazi’s were obviously a worse alternative at the time for example. Any how I digress 


I am not mystic meg I do not have a crystal ball but I think if we leave the EU it’s the ‘hard right’ that have dominated the narrative that will be empowered and the narrow nationalism (that both leave and remain have invoked when it suits them) will again come to the fore and push us further right. This is of course conjecture, but in a land where a few million people do not think the current status quo is far right enough and with a little knowledge of British history I’d like to think its an educated guess.


I must stress though I could be wrong and we genuinely might transform into Norway on the 24th June 2016 except I am not convinced that shape shifting is real.


But hey you might save your great grandkids from having a Turk for a neighbor, but you’ll still have Bangladeshi and Ghanaian born nurses cleaning your dying grandmothers shit and all in all it is they, the poor and the ones not in power and definitely not the political class that are the cause of all Britain’s problems isn’t it? It’s they who ushered in austerity and bailed out the banks and it is they that used to hang poor people at Tyburn too; it’s always (on this ISLAND) been the fault of the immigrants.


One of the last things Shakespeare ever wrote was a soliloquy he put into the mouth of Thomas Moore telling the English people to be kinder to those fleeing persecution and poverty in other lands (in this case from northern Italy) apart from the archaic language it could have been written last week. Sad really.


Which brings us onto Scotland. The SNP despite all their many shortcomings and blind spots are easily the most progressive of Britain’s mainstream parties on big issues like austerity, war and immigration. They have also made it clear that if the UK leaves the EU that would trigger a second referendum that the SNP would almost certainly win. Where would this leave us in England, Wales and Northern Ireland? With a far right Tory government, a few million UKIP supporters and the most politically progressive part of the nation gone forever. To think that the Labor and Tory warmongers will have any real opposition in an SNP-less Westminster seems fanciful to me. But hey maybe Corbyn will be the next PM and large sections of the English working class will rediscover that Polish plasterers are not their enemy, who knows? I doubt it though.


So, strangely I find myself telling you that I think a vote for the status quo – understanding what they actually means - in this instance is actually the more sensible option because the realistic alternative does, to me at least, seem that bleak.


Social justice groups will still have to fight, things will still be shit, austerity will continue, the banks will still run the world and be able to steal 500bn from the national economy after fucking it up, the EU Plutocracy will still do its best to keep poor countries of the south underdeveloped, all of that is true. But I honestly think that a post Brexit Britain will be even more neo-liberal and nationalist than today and for that reason with no illusions about what the status quo is, if you feel to vote I would vote remain, just. 




Professor Michael Dougan on the EU


Brexit as nostalgia for empire


What would Brexit mean for Human rights


Employment rights


The EU is exporting UK Neo-Liberalism to the rest of Europe


The EU and other Neo-Liberal nightmares


Goves appeals to Anti-Intellectualism


MBC EU Debate


Why African Caribbean’s should vote for a left exit from the EU


How the EU works – a video guide


Blog about Shakespeare and Medieval migration



MBC EU position


TTIP is a very bad excuse to vote for Brexit


Institute for criminal policy research


The UK Is Exporting Neo-Liberalism to Europe


Gove appeals to anti-intellectualism



Some books for wider context

The Shock Doctrine By Naomi Klein

Captive State by George Monbiot

From The Ruins Of Empire by Pankaj Mishra

Black People In The British Empire by Peter Fryer

Bad Samaritans or Kicking Away the Ladder by Ha Joon Chang



Oxford Union Address & Bibliography

Hey people I recently addressed the Oxford Union regarding African history as the 'lost' (distorted may be a more appropriate term) pages of human history. Unfortunately the slides are not ver clear in the video but you can view most them in my teacher Robin Walker's book 'Before The Slave Trade'. 

Please also see below an extended bibliography regarding this talk and the subject in general. 

Unesco General Histories Of Africa Vol 1-15 - Multiple authors 

When We Ruled - Robin Walker 

Before The Slave Trade - Robin Walker 

The African Origin Of Civilsation: Myth or Reality - Cheikh Anta Diop 

The Came Before Columbus - Ivan Van Sertima 

Early America Revisited - Ivan Van Sertima 

Black Athena - Martin Bernal 

Black Genesis - Bauval & Brophy 

Imhotep The African - Bauval & Brophy 

African Towns & Cities Before European Conquest - Richard Hull 

The Ruins Of Empires - C.F Volney 

Ancient Egypt The Light Of The World - Gerald Massey 

The Signs and Symbols Of Primordial Man - Albert Churchward 

Africa and Africans As Seen By The Classical writers - William Leo Hansberry 

Life In Ancient Egypt - Adolf Erman 

Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol 1-3 - Mariam Lichtheim 

African Philosophy: The Pharaonic Period - Theophile Obenga 

Timbuctoo The Mysterious - Felix Dubois 

The Black Jacobins - C.L.R James 

The Irritated Genie - Jacob Carruthers 

Africa In History - Basil Davidson 

Ta'rikh al Fattash - Al Hajj Mahmud Kati 

The Pale Fox - Griaule & Dierterlen 

A Tropical Dependency - Flora S Lugard 

Big Ups 


Another Piece of artwork and writing from The Ruins Of Empires - Get your copy here

Chapter 1 – The Search


KNOWLEDGE SEEKER:                                                                                           

These ancient ruins, do you have the authority?                                                                       

To teach plainly freedom and equality                                                                              

You show us ancient states, let us peer at their mistakes                                         

Through the windows of these crumbling bricks, that once were palace gates                                                             

Where once were grand galleries, now just silent death                                                       

kings and slaves alike both are buried flesh.                                                                 

Gold and spices were traded here, for the finest silks known to man                                                                      

And learned men traded ideas through books written hand                                           

Here, grand galleries and sculptures used to stand                                                        

All easily washed away, like footprints in the sand.                                                  

This is ugly to my eyes, but stimulating to my meditation                                                  

I wonder, is this the fate of our Nation?                                                        

I wonder what is wrong with us? Why do we blame creation?                                                                               

How could a god that only creates be the source of devastation?                                                                      

The stars have not changed their course, nor the earth its motion                                                                                  

And pride always predates a fall and the worst commotion                                                                             

The universe was governed by laws, before the pens of men                                                                                       

These crumbling ruins stand as testimony defending them                                                

Does fate author destruction? Or that our law is corruption?                                           

That causes the cities of men, to be turned to nothing                                                    

As I sit in these crumbling bricks, pondering crumbling wits                                                                                       

Filled with a sudden mix of questions, needing another fix                                         

Here appears the genius that I’ve seen in my mind                                                      

Like a guiding spirit or intuition personified                                                                   

Oh dear genius, please tell me the source                                                                   

What is the wellspring from which fortune and misfortune are born?                                                                            

Why is it that war famine and death visit people in turns?                                                    

But still we never learn. It seems we’ll forever burn.                                                 

Then the genius spoke to me and said



Dear disciple of truth. Wisdom is the fruit                                                                      

You can only know what's true if you examine the root                                                

Peace and happiness visit the home built from the bricks of justice                                                                              

And the throne that is built from the same, is never ever rusted                                                                                      

So rise above your senses young one it’s a must


KNOWLEDGE SEEKER:                                                                                             

Then the genius reached out and the top of my head, touched                                                                                    

In an instant my perception changed, no longer imprisoned                                        

Within my flesh, I had some kind of out of body experience                                                  

A bright red flame severed the ties holding me to the ground                

I floated up above the earth and I was looking down 

But to me earth appeared to me a barren object, grey and smooth 

If I did not know better, I would have thought it was the moon                                       

The genius touched my head once more and transformed my vision                                                                                      

I could see as clear as a hawk now, with the same precision                                                                                      

 I could see the great mass that we call the ocean                                                            

So strange that we call I the earth, when it is water mostly.



 To forget, to lose

To be lost, to confuse

Origin is map

Compass and guide

Excise the root

The fruit will comply

For, the branch that is blind to the source of the soil

Dances with death and begets nothing less

At the behest of story

Memory attends

A tale told by a tyrant

In the tone of a friend

In the war between nations

Between women and men

The wickedest of weapons

Of course, is the pen

It depends on nothing more

Than the flick of a wrist

But the damage it inflicts

Breaks generations

Yet we don’t condemn

As the bomb or the bullet

Though the pen does kill

Way more than the regiment

What is the death of mere skeletons

To the death of intelligence?

The death of the body

To the death of the mind?

We can find more soldiers

But murdered memory

Must be re-membered

By a people




Osiris is scattered

Isis must come

But Horus the young

Rejects his own mother

As we reject darkness

Especially when feminine

If you wish to see sickness

Then this is your evidence

Memory, memory

Where for art thou memory

To our shame, our dead

Mere stones in the cemetery

But the dead are the living

And the yet to be born

So it’s not death that we mourn but the changing of form

And we scorn our past it’s the mask that we wear

On our masters behalf, and we ask in our prayers

To be made over, by Jehovah

White as the cliffs down in Dover

Cos you know you believe what they told ya

And the truth that we hold is a boulder

So you beg to forget your exposure

Bury your head in the sand to the shoulders

And hope someone else is gonna solve it, but


You are Peter Jackson

They wont fight you squarely

Those that claim they’re superior

Believe the contrary


Forgetting is begetting

A self


And the part you’ve negated can’t be replaced with

All of the stars and the stripes they emblazon

On blazers and faces and races inferior

The narrative the story that causes hysteria

The savage, the baggage, the marriage to myth

We must divorce from the source of the sick

Severed from centuries

Cut from continents

Hidden in view

Who is responsible?


What is this omen?

That sings of a time

When stories of mine

Have the gall not to hide

But to scream their solution

In picture, in rhyme






A young knowledge seeker walks toward the pyramids at Giza. Facing south, with the thoughtful Nile to his east and the vast, angry, Sahara to his west he is engulfed by the desolate surroundings. Not another living thing in sight. Squinting is the best defence he can muster against relentless seas of sand, driven by a reckless wind, irritated at a life condemned to the desert. He stares into the face of the Sphinx, instantly taken aback by the uncanny resemblance it bears to his grandfather, a man whom he had seen countless times in old family photographs; that wise but tormented face that had visited his dreams so often, yet he had never actually seen in the flesh.

 His grandfather - like so many of the worlds brighter souls - was killed early in life, fighting against the forces of unjust power, but his example and sacrifice continued to provide inspiration and insight for all those interested in freedom who heard his story or read his ideas. Arriving at the foot of the great Pyramid the young knowledge seeker looks up, almost breaking his neck to see the top of this millennia old structure. Placing his weathered palm on the sandstone, he elevates his tired body onto the first enormous step and begins climbing this human made Everest. 

 Eventually he arrives, sweating profusely, at the summit. Looking southward he can see the four thousand mile Nile valley pulsing like a giants vein way down into the heart of Africa, lined by pyramids and temples, decayed, destroyed, silent. Terrified by the sight before him and all it has to tell, his enquiring mind craves to know what weakness in the soul of humanity brings about the ruin of such opulence. Sitting atop the great pyramid he envisions countless similarly destroyed epochs, sacrificed at the altar of history. Deeply absorbed by the question, in a state akin to meditation, he pleads with the crumbled stone for answers.

‘The Ruins Of Empires’ -- an epic poem. This graphic novel features illustrations by Tokio Aoyama (who also produced artwork for my latest album "The Thieves Banquet"). A story that follows 'The Knowledge Seeker' through the course of human history, via astral travel and multiple re-incarnations, in an attempt to discover the causes of the rise and fall of empires. Inspired by the French author C.F. Volney's book of the same name. Pre-order the signed limited edition NOW for £25.00 (shipping: 15/12/14) 


‘The Ruins Of Empires’ -- an epic poem. This graphic novel features illustrations by Tokio Aoyama (who also produced artwork for my latest album "The Thieves Banquet"). A story that follows 'The Knowledge Seeker' through the course of human history, via astral travel and multiple re-incarnations, in an attempt to discover the causes of the rise and fall of empires. Inspired by the French author C.F. Volney's book of the same name. Pre-order the signed limited edition NOW for £25.00 (shipping: 15/12/14)

New Book List

The last time I did a book list was 2011 people been getting on to me for a new one!

So here are some other great bits that will keep you busy for at least a year. What you lot been reading? 

The New Jim Crow - Michelle Alexander

Damning The Flood - Peter Hallward

Death by Black hole - Neil De Grasse Tyson

Millennium - Felipe Fernandez Armesto

When China Rules The World - Martin Jacques

Assata - Assata Shakur

Revolutionary Suicide - Huey Newton

Ready For Revolution - Kwame Ture

Moses and Monotheism - Sigmund Freud

Black People In The British Empire - Peter Fryer

KMT - Ayi Kwei Armah

The Devil On The Cross - Ngugi Wa Thiongo 

The London Hanged - Peter Linbaugh 

From The Ruins Of Empires - Pankaj Mishra 

An Ordinary Person Guide To Empire - Arundhati Roy 

Black Genesis - Buaval and Brophy 

World Poetry (anthology) - Cliffton Fadiman (general editor)

Taoist Secrets Of Love - Mantak Chia

The Eastern Origins Of Western Civilisation - M. Hobson

Breath Eyes Memory - Edwidge Danticat 

The Sea And Civilisation - Lincoln Paine  

African Philosophy Of The Pharaonic Period - Theophile Obenga 

The human zoo and the masturbation of white guilt.

So as you have probably heard. An ‘artist’ named Brett Bailey thinks it is creative and innovative to showcase black humans in a mock zoo for the entertainment of white ‘liberals’ at the Barbican centre. Some people, including the poet Lemn Sissay, have mustered all kinds of defenses for the forthcoming exhibition: free speech, artistic expression, promotion of dialogue about serious subjects, blah blah blah. Some of these reasonings may even appear sound at first glance, until we examine them in the context of the actual world we live in, not the fairy world of a certain kind of white liberal - and their black and brown servants - the same world inhabited by humanitarian imperialisms and post racial posturing.

 For those who are unaware, black humans were indeed literally exhibited in zoos, yes zoos, next to chimpanzees and other primates in Europe and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This is partly the origin of the monkey chants and banana skins that are still all to often aimed at black sport figures today. These zoos formed part of the western propaganda that justified bringing civilization to Africa - that is, killing 10 million plus in the Congo, practically exterminating the Herero and Nama peoples and installing apartheid regimes in much of southern Africa, which is to say nothing of the countless millions shipped across the Atlantic, or the induced Irish and Indian famines.  

 This 21st century recreation of the very real human zoos is disgusting, deplorable and aims to do none of the things its supporters claim it does. I’ll explain why.

 This exhibition, is of course, aimed at the Barbicans primary audience: a certain kind of white people with disposable income. If its aim is to promote dialogue, with whom are these people going to be dialoging in the privileged space of the Barbican so rarely accessed by the wider community? More importantly, what is the psychological profile of the kind of person that would pay £20 a pop to see black humans exhibited in cages?

 What is the make-up and behaviour of such individuals? If you are a person of color who is remotely aware of yourself, you have encountered them before and will know their kind well. The kind of ‘liberal’ that likes to tell us how we should feel about our history, like the woman who arrogantly messaged me on twitter - not to ask my reasons - but to let me know that she (the important person) was ‘disappointed’ that I was supporting the petition (below), the kind of person like my year 4 primary school teacher who informed me that William Wilberforce ‘stopped slavery all by himself’ (white men are that omnipotent you know). The kind of mind that will leave this exhibition (presuming it still goes ahead) congratulating themselves on ‘how far we’ve come’. The question is who is their ‘we’?

 Do the proponents of this kind of ‘art’ have a history of making common cause with the very real struggles against racist Euro-American imperialism that the south is still fighting (not least of all in Baileys native South Africa) or would they prefer to engage in masturbating their guilt by seeing black bodies tied, bondaged, broken, powerless? It is that last word, Power that brings us squarely to crux of the matter. Many will actually get a sadistic kick from inert black bodies so pornographically disempowered. This is a common theme; I can’t help but be reminded of the Swedish minister of culture eating the clitoris of a coon cake made by another ‘artist’, this too was meant to provoke discussion, or so our liberal friends told us.

Mr. Bailey’s piece of racist propaganda is cut from that same shitty cloth. As for the minds of the black people allowing their bodies to be used in this way, we could write whole a book and many indeed have, try Fanon for starters.

 Yes art is supposed to be about free expression, but in reality that free expression is always bounded by the political realities of the day. To offer an analogy, would a German artist ever be given a platform as large as the Barbican to make money from displaying real live Jewish bodies piled on one another in a mock gas chamber, would this be considered art? Those who think that comparison is an exaggerated one are either ignorant of historical facts or think African lives are worth less. If this is about promoting a discussion of colonial history why not include ‘strung out on opium’ Chinese people? Why? Because contemporary Chinese power would render any attempt to display Chinese people as lifeless victims quite laughable and thus would not offer the same cheap kicks.

 Just to confirm his complete lack of understanding of the issues at hand Mr. Bailey offered the following liberal hodgepodge to explain his thinking

 ‘Exhibit B is not apiece about black histories made for white audiences. It is a piece about humanity; about a system of dehumanisation that affects everybody within society, regardless of skin colour, ethnic or cultural background, that scours the humanity from the 'looker' and the 'looked at' "

 You see, it’s not about black/white relations at all its about the looker and the looked at. Please, ever so kindly, fuck off.

If ‘artists’ like Mr. Bailey really want to be provocative and create discussion around the subjects of European colonialism and genocidal white supremacy I can think of a million more interesting places they could choose to start. Perhaps the Barbican would consider an exhibition with live white people used as dummies to pose as the many thousands of slave masters and overseers our ancestors majestically hacked to death during the Haitian Revolution? Or perhaps they would consider revising the myth of Gandhi’s uncontested pre-eminence in the Indian independence struggle and instead erect monuments to Bhagat Singh, Queen Rani and others who used the coloniser’s favorite tool -violence of course - against him in their search for freedom? Or to bring the point back to Mr. Bailey - a white South African - directly, why not make art of the dead and mutilated white bodies that Africans killed in the anti-colonial struggles that gained the limited modicums of independence that former ‘settler colonial’ African states have today?

How liberating would it be (especially for white people) to be forced to so viscerally engage with the reality that the freedoms black and brown people enjoy today did not come as a result of Abraham Lincoln, William Wilberforce, or World War 2 but rather from the blood that our own ancestors courageously shed, fighting Europeans with significantly greater military might, as well as their own domestic oppressors and collaborators. We did not, contrary to Hollywood, sit around waiting for white saviors.

 Or perhaps, images that do not re-enforce white power do not float the boat of the aforementioned ‘liberal’ types. Perhaps they are not content with the still dominant, international image of Africa; as a disease-ridden, war torn wasteland inhabited by lifeless black skins? Perhaps they are not content with the mass incarceration that serves to privilege them or the black bodies being gunned down by police on a weekly basis in the US and elsewhere? They just need to take it one step further and have niggers back where they really belong, in cages and chains?

The bottom line is this.

The Barbican like almost all other major arts institutions in this country receives public money and thus has a remit to serve the ‘public good’. So if you agree that this proposed exhibition oversteps that remit of ‘public good’ and delves into the realm of orientalist white guilt/power masturbation that will have absolutely no useful outcomes and will certainly not empower the millions of descendants of victims of European colonization living here in London, then please sign this petition and let Mr. Bailey take his foolishness back to where he came from.


Hip Hop History Selected Bibliography & Discography

Thanks for all the support yesterday, you all made it a great event. See below for all those interested. 

Chapter 1: Africa In History
Africa In History by Basil Davidson 
The Destruction Of Black Civilisation by Chancellor Williams 
Egypt Revisited By Ivan Van Sertima 
Before The Slave Trade by Robin Walker
Chapter 2: Maangamizi
The African Slave Trade by Basil Davidson
 The Black Jacobins by C.L.R James
 Slaves That Abolished Slavery by Hart
 After Abolition by Sherwood
Chapter 3: African Cultures In The New World
The Flash Of The Spirit by Thompson
 The Africanist Aesthetic In Global Hip-Hop by Osumare 
Brazil Mixture Of Massacre by Nascimiento
 Blues People by Amiri Baraka
Chapter 4: The Golden Age Of Hip-Hop
Black Noise by Tricia Rose 
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop by Jeff Chang
Chapter 5: Art & The Politics of Power
It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop by 
M.K Asante The Hip Hop Wars by Tricia Rose 
We Real Cool by Bell Hooks 
Rhythm and Business edited by Norman Kelly

Early Rappers The Ancestors Of Rap (compilation)/Rakim The 18th Letter/The Fugees The Score /Wu Tang Clan 36 Chambers & Wu Tang Forever/Nas Illmatic/Public Enemy Fear Of A Black Planet/Klashnekkof The Sagas Of Klashnekkof/Ice Cube Death Certificate/Dead Prez Lets Get Free/GZA Liquid Swords/KRS ONE Edutainment/Sticky Fingaz The Autobiography Of Kirk Jones/Jay-Z Reasonable Doubt/Skinnyman Council Estate Of Mind/Akala The Thieves Banquet/Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill/Slick Rick The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick Tupac Makavelli/Biggie Ready To Die/Outkast Aquemini/Saul Williams Saul Williams/UNKLE Psyence Fiction/NWA Straight Out Of Compton The Last Poets/The Very Best Of The Last Poets/Gil Scott Heron The Revolution Will Not Be Televised/The Disposable Heroes Of Hip Hoprisy Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury

Hip-Hop Shakespeare Tour

Due to unforeseen circumstances, The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company have been forced to postpone their forthcoming Richard II Live tour until the Autumn. New dates have been announced & all tickets for the original dates will be valid for the new dates, with a new date for the Newcastle show to be announced in due course. Those ticket holders who wish to obtain refunds, should seek a refund from point of purchase by 5th June 2013.

New Tour dates:

Oct 1 -  Bristol / Thekla
Oct 2 – Manchester / Academy 3
Oct 4 – Norwich / Open
Oct 5 – Birmingham / The Drum
Oct 6 – London / Islington Academy 2
Newcastle (new date/venue TBC)

Ticket link