Yes, I actually read books. What? Did some of you only think I watched movies or anime series? Please slap yourself if you ever thought that about me. No, I’m not talking about manga or comics. I mean actual books. I haven’t read a fictional book in over a year. I’ve been reading a lot of history and non-fiction books. While I don’t consider myself a genius, I’m not an idiot, and I actually know things or, at the very least, am willing to learn something new.
Here are some books I read over the past several months or so.
Black and British and The Kaiser’s Holocaust by David Olusoga: I thought I would talk about two separate books by the same author. I was more familiar with David Olusoga’s documentary work, but I didn’t know he wrote books. Black and British was a fascinating history of Black British culture for centuries. It covered not only Windrush, but slavery, one of the first Black British communities in Liverpool (some families can trace their family back to the early 18th century), and notable people with various contributions. The Kaiser’s Holocaust is about the Namibian Genocide by the German government, which was the first genocide of the 20th century. David Olusoga directed the Namibian Genocide & The 2nd Reich BBC documentary, which I strongly recommend and is has a lot of the exact facts of German colonization, severed skulls being sent to Germany, the first usage of concentration camps in Shark Island, and the direct and indirect Nazi connections with both the 2nd and 3rd Reichs such as General Franz Ritter von Epp being the most damning example since he hired and inspired a then-unknown Adolf Hitler not long after his malicious tour of that part of Africa.
The Iceman Inheritance by Michael Bradley: This was a recent read that I found out about on a podcast. It was a shocking history book that goes back to prehistoric times about the roots of racism in Europe, whether it was the harsh climate they lived in during the ice ages or millennia after the fact. Also, this was written by a white guy from Canada, so don’t freak out at me about that. There were so many implications with cited sources how it permeated from a cultural and educational standpoint that led to racism, sexism, colonization, etc.
MFIT Magazines (Many Faces In Teaching) and Decolonizing the Curriculum by Dr. Marie Charles: These publications have been quite eye-opening. Dr. Charles is a very talented educator and historian from England, and she’s been doing a fantastic job with her research. The MFIT series is an ongoing history project that shows the African antecedence connecting that continent to ancient Europe from millennia ago using comparative linguistics, archaeology, and artifacts, to name a few, and it’s been peer-reviewed. After discovering about the Cheddar Man in Somerset, I became intrigued to learn more about this ancient history that doesn’t get talked about since you had Pangaea, for example. It has been absolutely mind-blowing such as seeing Black royalty on old coins or seeing comparisons between an Irish artifact with a white mask on the eyes with the Nzu mask in the Igbo culture. Decolonizing the Curriculum should be canon in the educational field as it uses strategies for teaching multi-ethnic populations while also bringing up so many good points about why it’s essential.
Caliban’s Reason by Paget Henry: This was the last complete book I read, and it was an excellent deconstruction of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Paget Henry is an Antiguan historian and professor who calls out the play’s pro-colonial and pro-slavery implications while making parallels to eurocentric education with how melanated voices are silenced or questioned at all times. Even the etymology of Caliban was disturbing because it’s an anagram of the Spanish word for the Indigenous Carib tribe: Canibal! Yes, that’s literally where the word “Cannibal” comes from, and it added to this imagery of thinking that Black and Native people are automatically “savages” in the European eyes, and they see them as beats that need to be killed or tamed at all costs. It’s also interesting how Shakespeare seems to get a pass for implications like that or how Othello had blackface even centuries after the bard existed, but that’s a story for another day…
How Music Dies (Or Lives) by Ian Brennan: I hate the music scene sometimes. Ian Brennan gave me more reasons to do so, but in a good way. This author is actually a music producer who has gone to several countries to record various bands and musicians authentically. He brings up how the term “world music” has problematic implications, how pop music has taken over the world, how people in the West (especially Americans) fear listening to music that isn’t in English, or how there’s audio colonization of sorts. It has exposed me to several musicians around the world, and he had good intentions instead of acting like some white savior since even he admits that he’s still learning and isn’t trying to be some hero. I was sick of all these first-world problem bands, not just in pop, but pop punk and metalcore, for example. A lot of the people Ian Brennan recorded come from poverty, war, genocide, and other atrocities, and it makes those bands look like the spoiled brats they are!
[Warning: This post contains a very contrary opinion to most people and will contain controversial content. Read at your own peril]
EDIT (2022): This rant post was written prior to me watching The Lion’s Share which is the documentary involving the Mbube/The Lion Sleeps Tonight plagiarism case, the Petite Noir/Beyonce music video controversy, or finding out about disturbing parts of Matthew Broderick or Rob Lowe’s pasts that they got free passes for. It seems like this rant has been getting a considerable amount of attention for some odd reason over the past few months (I have my theories why though). I wouldn’t be surprised if people are angry at my observations as they defend this work. Anyways, I’m more offended about other aspects of The Lion King than the Kimba controversy like the Hakuna Matata trademark, the depiction of the hyenas, Mufasa’s protagonist-centered morality, and the aforementioned Mbube case for example. If I can go off-tangent for a bit…Ringing Bell is the best-animated movie involving a parent getting murdered by an animal with dark brown fur and a wounded left eye. Just saying.
I’m sure some of you are probably sick of me at this point bashing this Disney movie if you’ve read earlier posts on this blog or saw certain reviews on Iridium Eye. I’m not sorry for what I’m about to say on here. This frustration has been building up for the past couple of weeks and it’s something I need to vent about on this blog of all things regardless if people agree with this post or not.
[sigh] Here we go.
For starters, I didn’t always hate The Lion King. If anything, it used to be one of my favorite Disney movies when I was a kid. This is going to partially give away my age, but I saw that movie during it’s first theatrical run when I was very little. I even saw the stage adaptation in Chicago at the Cadillac Theatre when I was a bit older. One of my favorite soundtracks back then was the “Rhythm of the Pride Lands” which was the companion soundtrack and it was also the first time the song “He Lives In You” was used. Not Lion King II or the Broadway version. I saw the original VHS tape probably a hundred times during my childhood. I used to know the words to most of the songs way back when. However, I stopped paying attention to Disney during my teenage years because I was really into anime. Okay, I still like Japanese animation, but I was nowhere near as much of an otaku as I was when I was in high school.
It was also around this time when I first heard about Kimba the White Lion. I heard that The Lion King ripped it off, but I thought it was shallow with just the main characters. Flash forward to my adult life when I saw a Cracked article involving childhood icons you didn’t know were shameless rip-offs, and the memories came back again. This piqued my interest, did more research and started to rent the DVDs on Netflix after Kimba stopped airing on Hulu (Disney is a partial owner of that site, so I don’t know if it was because of them or not). While it has it’s issues and has aged animation since it was made in the 60s, I enjoyed that anime for it’s usage of subject matter, originality, and seeing obvious facets that Disney stole from it. If you don’t believe me, check out this link. I couldn’t believe the scenes of Caesar (AKA Original Mufasa) consoling Kimba from the beyond in the night sky. I couldn’t believe the scene where the villainess Belladonna tried to kill Kimba by pushing him off a cliff. I couldn’t believe one of the major villains (Claw) just happened to be a scarred lion usurper with a black mane, dark fur, and had hyena henchmen with him. Every character not named Timon and Pumbaa in that movie is a copy of someone from Tezuka’s manga/anime series. Seriously, shame on Disney for stealing from this classic anime and for trying to block the Jungle Emperor Leo ’97 movie from North America. Trust me, you won’t be looking at The Lion King the same way again once you see the obvious similarities. I can’t see how any sane person could watch Kimba and not think that no one from Disney saw this. Why does The Lion King get a free pass in plagiarism when other media like Yuki Yuna is a Hero gets lambasted for having similarities to Madoka? You know if the situation was reversed, then all you Lion King fans would scream bloody murder that your favorite movie got plagiarized by a foreign (majority non-White) country if Kimba came afterwards. It would be amazing if Disney admitting to stealing from Tezuka’s creation, paid royalties to them, or got epic backlash for their thievery, but I know that will never happen because wishes never come true.
This segues into my next point. I wasn’t aware of this as a child, but growing up, I realized how racist the implications were with the hyenas. Have you not listened to how they talk? They straight-up talk in stereotypical African-American Ebonics (Shenzi) and an exaggerated Mexican accent (Banzai). What ticks me off is when Disney fans don’t call their depiction racist or handwave it because you have Black cast members voicing some of the heroic lions namely James Earl Jones playing Mufasa. No, just because you have Black people playing both sides of the good/evil paradigm, it doesn’t make it bigotry-free (this also applies to the remake). It’s the equivalent of a racist claiming they have a Black best friend or family members to prove they aren’t racist. That or saying slave owners can’t be racist because they have Black people around them. Let’s not forget Disney has a history with using animal characters as POC proxies with racist undertones. Look at the crows in Dumbo and the lead one’s name was JIM! You know, like the same laws in America that involved having enforced segregation, lynchings, or it being legal for White people to rape African-Americans? There’s also Siamese cats talking in broken English in Lady and the Tramp, Aristocats, and even an episode of Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers for crying out loud. You could even throw in Tito from Oliver & Company as a slap against the Latino community. Coincidentally enough, Cheech Marin would voice both Tito and Banzai in his voice acting career. Is this why so many Americans falsely assume that Black people let alone other ethnic groups act like the hyenas all the time? If you think so, then you need your head examined and we should question if you’re a bigot.
Extending onto that point is how the hyenas were treated with the Elephant Graveyard. Besides the name being a blatant carbon copy of the place in Kimba where the animals had to rescue Roger Ranger in one of the later episodes, I found the place to be disturbing, but not for the same reasons as it was portrayed in the movie. As an adult, I had this realization that this punishment against those animals involved isolating the hyenas in a barren wasteland and they’re forced to starve. It hit me when I researched lesser-known aspects of history: Mufasa was committing genocide against them and I was sickened by it. Scar did bad things, but his big brother is not much better if you really think about it; he’s just applauded for his actions. If you think I’m being crazy, then maybe you should read up on the Congolese Genocide under King Leopold II or the Namibian Genocide by Germany’s 2nd Reich. The former had a body count of 10 MILLION Congolese and Leopold never got punished for it. If you take away the hand-chopping, guns, and mass rape, then it would be the same thing. The latter had a concentration camp called Shark Island where the Germans starved out the Herero and Nama tribes and there was a valley of bones left behind. By the way, one of the perpetrators was General Franz Ritter von Epp who would eventually employ Adolf Hitler and Hitler said he was influenced by this general. LET THAT SINK IN! It’s as if the animators were aroused by putting anti-Black racism with that act as they believe melanated people don’t belong in their circle of life. Come on, if those hyenas talked in Yiddish accents instead of stereotypical Black and Latino accents, then the ADL would’ve thrashed Mickey Mouse in a heartbeat and everybody knows this. But because it’s happening to the bad guys and because they talk in a racially-coded way, it’s somehow justified in the animators’ and fans’ eyes. No, that’s protagonist centered morality on Mufasa’s part (saying nothing how that punishment contradicts his circle of life speech), and it’s propaganda in a form of G-rated White Supremacy. In my adulthood, I’ve seriously pondered if White people actually saw me as one of those hyenas in the past before. I’ve been discriminated against, so I wouldn’t put it past them. It’s hard to watch that knowing about the genocides against Black people, the 1994 crime bill which overloaded the prison-industrial complex (while being soft on Caucasian offenders, let’s be honest), Apartheid South Africa, and gentrification to name a few things to punish them. Do you enjoy Black people or any other POC group getting punished or afflicted at all costs and is The Lion King your film of choice of vicariously having that joy in a supposedly “innocent” way? Are you more offended by me pointing out the racist implications of this Disney movie than the millions of dead bodies from those aforementioned genocides let alone other atrocities?
Let’s also talk about the depiction of Africa. There are no humans in it! Was there some extinction of Africans before the beginning of the story? Disney sucks at this fact and Tarzan is another example of this when that continent is shown without Black people. So people who look like me and darker shouldn’t be seen? Is this a wish-fulfillment about depopulating Africa in animated form? Think about it. They wouldn’t try it with Europe or America. Even if they do have furry characters (don’t lie. furries love The Lion King and you all know this. Also, how come that movie doesn’t get called a furry film with all the anthropomorphic stuff in it?), they make them upright, clothed and human-like in attitude like Zootopia or DuckTales for example. Are they insinuating that Africa should just be one giant savanna or natural utopia without the humans who would live in that part of the world? If not, then they’ll show it as one big piece of poverty porn and/or a giant war zone. It’s as if the animals are treated with dignity if something happens to them than the humans who live there. Cecil the lion? I rest my case. Screw stereotypes. Those furries and their sick fantasies can go away. Also, I’m aware of the issues of the original Kimba manga and some of the other iterations which I wasn’t a fan of (that’s an understatement), but at least Tezuka Productions owned up to it and improved with the later iterations. All these Disney fans are hypocrites for turning a blind eye to the depiction of Africa and the hyena characterizations.
Those are some of my main points that have angered me. Disney needs a moral overhaul. Was it enough to steal from a 60s Japanese anime and from millions of Swahili-speaking Africans by trademarking “Hakuna Matata”? I could go on about the plot holes such as the Nala incest theory, how much that movie ripped off Kimba, how heredity monarchy is not always a good thing, how that movie isn’t that deep/meaningful, or how The Lion King or it’s fanbase avoids being called furries when other movies get labeled as such, but I think you get the point. Even I’ve had enough from defenders of this movie franchise and for people trying to shame me for not liking that film, let alone bullying me for my ethnic background or even what media I like. You’re only proving me right that way. It sickens me how there’s that remake coming out (it’s not live-action, people. it’s just realistic looking CGI) and for people making fun of me for not liking it anymore. You all have no right to moralize to me especially with all the things that have happened in American history let alone what happened to the African diaspora. I’m not saying you’re automatically evil if you’re White since that would be very stupid of me to insinuate that of one’s skin color. Spare me from your attempts of putting words in my mouth or for strawmanning my arguments. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t take movies at face value and assume everything is innocent just because it’s family-friendly from a content standpoint. For one, I’ve become offended the more I’ve learned about history, part of my culture, and with storytelling techniques. I’m sick and tired of being a scapegoat because of the color of my skin and my heritage. I would never even imagine doing the things done to my ancestors to anyone regardless of race. Not everyone is going to like what I typed, nor am I begging people to like it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to listen to real artists from the continent instead of that artificial crap from Hans Zimmer and Elton John.
All images and videos are property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws.
The fan art is property of WhiteLionWarrior at DeviantArt.
Kimba is property of Kimba the White Lion and Tezuka Productions.
This was certainly a surprise although not in the way that I had hoped.
Germany says they’re sorry to Namibia after committing genocide against that nation over a century ago. They’ve done things such as returning the skulls of the Namibians who were used in experiments and they’re just now returning Henrik Witbooi’s (a national hero for the Namaqua and Herero tribes) bible and whip back to their homeland.
That’s all well and good, but it’s is FAR from enough.
The Namibian Genocide was the first genocide of the 20th century as tens of thousands of people were slaughtered, raped, and starved out by the Germans who colonized their country and called it German Southwest Africa back then. This was perpetrated by the 2nd Reich who gunned them down and also used concentration camps such as Shark Island against the Africans. A whole bunch of people involved in that genocide would also be responsible for the Holocaust decades later. How is it that Germany is just NOW starting to say sorry? Is it because Namibia is rightfully suing that country to get reparations (which they totally deserve, by the way)?
More needs to be done. The real kicker was when the German politician is quoted saying “We can’t undo the past.”
I DARE her to say that to the families of Holocaust victims and see how it would turn out.
I hate this double standard of only giving reparations to everyone that suffered except any African ethnic or national group who suffered as well. Researching things like the Namibian Genocide only added to my anger against humanity as these people were killed while their oppressors never got punished for it. I’m sick of seeing innocent people like them get executed, get the Elephant Graveyard treatment (I’m going to keep reminding people about that analogy especially with Shark Island and also…screw Disney!), and sexually abused by the 2nd Reich. These atrocities should be talked about and I want the Namibians to get justice for what happened in their country.
Video courtesy of Dr. Mumbi Seraki.
Also, shout out to Dr. Y for talking about this issue on his blog Afro Legends. One of his articles about Namibia was even featured in Dr. Mumbi’s video.
[Warning: Video contains strong language, racial slurs, and genocidal waxing]
It’s just another day in America and it involves a story that’s more common than you think.
In Birmingham, AL, some stupid teens from Spain Park High School decide to video a conversation where they want all Black people to die in concentration camps. Do I even need to say how sick that is even as a joke?
America has been racist long before 45 was in office and it’s starting to be much more overt. While I do agree that The South is more overt about racism, it can be upfront sometimes in the North, too. Trust me, I’ve been called racial slurs on BOTH sides of the Mason-Dixon line, even though he is right about Yankees being more coded with bigotry (and this is coming from a Midwesterner).
Phil was also right about biracial people (in this case, those who are Black/White mixed) being seen as non-White. Trust me, I’ve had my wake-up call on that matter when I was much younger and a lot less conscious about these intricate matters. I seriously doubt they’ll get punished so severely, but they totally deserve it.
I’d also like to add one point in that video by saying that Black people have been in concentration camps before. The most obvious ones to me are The Devil’s Punchbowl in Natchez, MS which happened not long after the Civil War and Shark Island in Namibia. The latter was carried out by Germany’s 2nd Reich and some of those same people would also be indirectly and directly involved in the Holocaust, too. I actually talk about this matter when I reviewed the Namibian Genocide & The Second Reich documentary on Iridium Eye if you want more details on that matter.
Seriously, those teenagers are evil and I know that they know better. I would bet you money that if some Black kids were talking about doing they same thing to their Caucasian counterparts, you know they would be expelled and possibly jailed for a video like that. No one should ever have to go through genocide, and it sickens me how people make jokes about ethnic groups who’ve faced it.
I know this is an older story, but I just have to talk about it.
I apologize if this issue is getting old especially for those in the aniblogger community, but holy crap…did Disney have to steal something else especially in regards to The Lion King? Ripping off Kimba the White Lion wasn’t enough for them?
Basically, Disney owns a trademark for the words “Hakuna Matata” which is stupid on so many levels for a common phrase in the Swahili-speaking community in Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, DRC, Uganda, etc.). I also didn’t know that there was a popular song in the 70s that used the phrase in it’s chorus.
Sure, some of you are rolling your eyes to me bashing Disney since I am a former fan of The Lion King. Besides the shameless stealing of Kimba, I couldn’t stand some of the plot holes, the protagonist centered morality of Mufasa, and the racist implications of the hyenas (come on, you don’t think they sounded like ethnic stereotypes?). Not to mention the whole Elephant Graveyard situation is much more disturbing in hindsight when you research things like the Congolese genocide, the Namibian genocide, or the genocides against Native Americans to name a few where people where exiled and starved out at punishment. Makes me wonder if Disney fans see the hyenas as proxies for Black people to be punished at all costs while claiming that company isn’t racist for hiring minorities as some rhetorical dodge for it not being racist (strawman defeated). Please, that’s like saying the porn industry can’t be sexist because they hire women.
The thing isn’t just about trademarking a common Swahili phrase or for me ragging on Disney for their business practices. The bigger picture is cultural appropriation. One other example that Dr. Mumbi gave in the video was Louis Vuitton capitalizing on traditional Masai cloth by giving it the luxury treatment which is idiotic and offensive to me. Culture isn’t some free for all object for people to steal. I would bet you money if someone were to steal stuff from Louis Vuitton or any other big company, then lawsuits would be handed like candy on Halloween. Screw that double standard. If you want to incorporate something like someone’s culture then do it respectfully and pay the price for it.