Esther Armah

International Blackness vs. Homegrown Negroes: Lupita, Chimamanda, Thandie and me

"She is very white!" Revered Swedish film critic Jannike Ahlund watches a clip of actress Thandie Newton playing Olanna, one of the Nigerian twin sisters in the film adaptation of the award-winning novel Half of a Yellow Sun by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In January, the Goteborg International Film Festival and International Writers' Stage Gothenburg co-hosted a conversation between Jannike and Chimamanda in Sweden. The audience laughed awkwardly at Jannike's assertion. Chimamanda frowned at the description. Critiques of Thandie Newton in this leading role gathered force. Chimamanda was called upon to respond to them.

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Michael Dunn Trial: Is America's Legal System Capable of Defending Black Life Against Irrational White Fears?

"Sis, c'mon, dis Brooklyn Winter Olympics!" I'm sitting in a car in backed up traffic, watching two young black boys and their sister turn treacherous sidewalks into an icerink and the slopes of Sochi - their own personal Winter Olympics. They laugh, slide, create shapes, do commentary, scrunch up their faces, dance, slip, right themselves and do it over again. I laugh thinking about how irritated we all are by the ice. I laugh thinking how irritated we all are by the ice, but how kids take adult things and through their lens see and make magic, create a wonderland. The older brother declares he won the gold medal, slides dramatically to his knees, puts his arms in the air and starts his thank you speech: "First I'ma thank God that I didn't break my lil black butt on this crazy ice...." His younger brother and sister crack up laughing and start applauding. They then begin to argue about who gets the silver and bronze medals. As I watch, I start to imagine Jordan Davis as a kid--Trayvon Martin, too. I wonder about the games they played, their dreams, what medals they might have won or claimed in childhood games. I see the faces of Jordan's mama, Trayvon's mama and the worlds they must confront in which their 18 and 19 year old sons are now corpses and names on the tongues of a nation--high profile examples of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" laws.??

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Dear Harry Belafonte: Ending Violence Against Women Demands That Men Take Responsibility

"Men, who created violence against women, are the ones who should end violence against women. Let us use this century to be the century where we say we started the mission to end the violence and oppression of women." So said veteran humanitarian, activist and artist Harry Belafonte during his keynote speech at Phi Beta Sigma's Centennial Founders’ Day Gala Saturday night in Washington, D.C.

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Will Emotional Terrorism Rule the Courts in the Marissa Alexander Case?

Marissa Alexander, the African-American mother whose warning shot in self-defense landed her 20 years in jail, is at home right now in Florida. Her sentence was overturned in September, and finally—on the night before Thanksgiving—she was released from a jail cell on bond. That means Alexander can sleep in her own bed, run a bath, open a window, look at the sky, and kiss her babies without the sounds of keys and injustice.

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America's Permanent State of War: Abroad and At Home, In Our Hospitals and In Our Streets

Charged, finally: Theodore Wafer has been charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and felony with a firearm. Renisha McBride was 19 years old when he shot her in the face on his front porch in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. The average age of the soldiers who signed up to fight in the Vietnam War was also 19. The lyrics of Paul Hardcastle’s 1985 musical track, "19," repeat this fact.

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Don Lemon Stirs the Stop and Frisk Pot - What Ever Happened to Nuance and Good Judgement?

Twitter is exploding right now. CNN's Don Lemon is the focus of 140-character rage as accusations fly back and forth that his weekly Tuesday radio commentary on The Tom Joyner Show was a defense of stop and frisk -- a NYPD policy that, on the one hand, criminalizes millions of black and brown men and, on the other hand, gets credited for a declining crime rate by the likes of former mayor Bloomberg and police chief Ray Kelly. Stop and Frisk is a policy that is passionately hated, debated and defended.

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