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Hes just the latest in a long line of minorities who have stood against their community, says novelist Nadifa Mohamed

Last week rapper Kanye West met President Trump at the White House in what must be one of the most bizarre meetings in Oval Office history. Wearing his infamous, Chinese-made, Make America Great Again baseball cap, West regaled an unusually silent Donald Trump with his thoughts on masculinity, hydrogen-powered planes and the Democratic party.

In May, in another logorrhoeic display, West opined that slavery was a choice a result of mental imprisonment and more recently expressed a desire to see the repeal of the 13th amendment to the US constitution, which abolished slavery. Wests continued praise for Trump, a man who once referred to white supremacists as very fine people, has led to widespread condemnation and the accusation (from fellow rapper Snoop Dogg, among others), that West is nothing but an Uncle Tom.

The central character of Harriet Beecher Stowes Uncle Toms Cabin is as different to Kanye West as its possible to be: impoverished, enslaved, a Christian martyr. However, the figure of the Uncle Tom has long migrated away from that archetypal hero of the abolitionist movement. From the moment he was contrasted with the radical New Negro of the 1910s, the Uncle Tom was seen as the insider who loved the massa and put the slavemasters interests above his own people. Powerfully portrayed by Samuel L Jackson in the otherwise dismal Django Unchained, the Uncle Tom at his worst is an informer, a co-conspirator, or an instigator and apologist for white violence.

There is something of the orphaned child about him; desperate for love and care, wherever it may come from. There is the air of the orphaned child about Kanye West, too. Since the death of his mother he appears unmoored, lost in the fantasy land that his Kardashian in-laws live within in Los Angeles; he is hurt that, on return to his hometown of Chicago, Drakes tracks are played more on the radio than his own. West demands that his support of Trump be perceived as an act of independent thought, his escape from the prison of Democratic party support (that binds most African Americans); as brave as Nat Turner and Harriet Tubmans flight from chattel slavery.

The diagnosis of bipolar disorder floats above Wests MAGA cap (he said last week that he was misdiagnosed), and it is impossible to tell whether his controversial statements stem from manic episodes, or a carefully contrived strategy to stay in the headlines; his flirtation with Trump possibly as manipulated as his wife Kims nude photos.

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The most bizarre moments from Trump and Kanye’s meeting at the Oval Office video

Meanwhile in the UK, the Conservative candidate for London mayor, Shaun Bailey, has been condemned on social media as an Uncle Tom after his past statements resurfaced regarding the danger of Britain becoming a crime-riddled cesspool if Muslim and Hindu festivals are accommodated.

Over the years many ethnic minority Conservatives have been disparaged as Uncle Toms and native informers a term for those who worked with colonial authorities and there is a strong sense of betrayal when black or Asian people seem to turn their backs on the communities they have left. However, it has to be unreasonable to assume that all members of minority groups have identical economic or political interests, especially in Britain, where neither the Labour nor the Conservative party have been innocent of using race and racism to garner votes.

In Baileys case, though, there is a problem in a prospective black mayor of London regurgitating the unsubstantiated, prejudiced views of the far right.

The weaponisation of black or Muslim voices to amplify and justify the views of illiberal forces is a growing global phenomenon. In Sweden, the former Muslim Mona Walter condemned the election of fellow Somali migrant Laila Ali Elmi, claiming it to be the first step in the (wholly farcical) Muslim takeover of the country.

In the United States, the renowned anti-Islam campaigner, Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, has long been celebrated by the hard right (she has worked for the neocon American Enterprise Institute). In her autobiography, Infidel, a picture is painted of a Somali and Muslim world so oppressive to women that the only rational response is to reject it and flee from it. Yet she conveniently sidestepped her former feminist convictions to support Brett Kavanaughs nomination to the US supreme court. At a time when sexual equality is under siege, all voices should be heard and all experiences added to our understanding of the societies we live in; yet I cannot help but feel that a lucky few are insensible to the pain of the many.

The reach of Hirsi Alis views, most of them dependent on her privileged position as a former insider within the Muslim world, is startling, and can only be understood in the context of how her extreme statements accord with mainstream anxieties and prejudices. It also relates to the marginalisation of the people she speaks about, who have few high-profile voices.

While I do not believe it serves society to denounce as an Uncle Tom those we perceive as misguided or dangerous, we do have to be vigilant against the utilisation of a few satisfied individuals to justify the disenfranchisement of a large, poorly represented group. And maybe we shouldnt act so surprised that Kanye West sees himself better represented by a billionaire celebrity, like himself, than anyone else.

Nadifa Mohamed is a British-Somali novelist

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As the Prince of Pops skin got lighter his music became more politicised, and 1991s overlooked album encapsulated this radical moment in music

For a figure as enigmatic as Michael Jackson, one of the more fascinating paradoxes about his career is this: as he became whiter, he became blacker. Or to put it another way: as his skin became whiter, his work became blacker.

To elaborate, we must rewind to a crucial turning point: the early 1990s. In hindsight, it represents the best of times and the worst of times for the artist. In November 1991, Jackson released the first single from his Dangerous album: Black or White, a bright, catchy pop-rock-rap fusion that soared to No 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained at the top of the charts for six weeks. It was his most successful solo single since Beat It.

The conversation surrounding Jackson at this point, however, was not about his music. It was about his race. Sure, critics said, he might sing that it dont matter if youre black or white, but then why had he turned himself white? Was he bleaching his skin? Was he ashamed of his blackness? Was he trying to appeal to every demographic, transcend every identity category in a vainglorious effort to reach greater commercial heights than Thriller?

To this day, many assume Jackson bleached his skin to become white that it was a wilful cosmetic decision because he was ashamed of his race. Yet in the mid-1980s Jackson was diagnosed with vitiligo, a skin disorder that causes loss of pigmentation in patches on the body. According to those close to him, it was an excruciatingly humiliating personal challenge, one in which he went to great lengths to hide through long-sleeve shirts, hats, gloves, sunglasses and masks. When Jackson died in 2009, his autopsy definitively confirmed he had vitiligo, as did his medical history.

However, in the early 1990s, the public were sceptical to say the least. Jackson first publicly revealed he had vitiligo in a widely watched 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey. This is the situation, he explained. I have a skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of the skin. It is something I cannot help, OK? But when people make up stories that I dont want to be what I am it hurts me Its a problem for me that I cant control. Jackson did acknowledge having plastic surgery but said he was horrified that people concluded that he didnt want to be black. I am a black American, he declared. I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am.

For Jackson, then, there was no ambivalence about his racial identity and heritage. His skin had changed but his race had not. In fact, if anything his identification as a black artist had grown stronger. The first indication of this came in the video for Black or White. Watched by an unprecedented global audience of 500 million viewers, it was Jacksons biggest platform ever; a platform, it should be noted, that he earned by breaking down racial barriers at MTV with his groundbreaking short films from Thriller.

The first few minutes of the Black or White video seemed relatively benign and consistent with the utopian calls of previous songs (Can You Feel It, We Are the World, Man in the Mirror). Jackson, adorned in contrasting black-and-white apparel, travels across the globe, fluidly adapting his dance moves to whatever culture or country he finds himself in. He acts as a kind of cosmopolitan shaman, performing alongside Africans, Native Americans, Thais, Indians and Russians, attempting, it seems, to instruct the recliner-bound White American Father (played by George Wendt) about the beauties of difference and diversity. The main portion of the video culminates with the groundbreaking morphing sequence, in which ebullient faces of various races seamlessly blend from one to another. The message seemed to be that we are all part of the human family distinct but connected regardless of cosmetic variations.

In the age of Trump and the resurgence of white nationalism, even that multicultural message remains vital. But thats not all Jackson had to say. Just when the director (John Landis) yells Cut! we see a black panther lurking off the soundstage to a back alley. The coda that follows became Jacksons riskiest artistic move to this point in his career particularly given the expectations of his family-friendly audience. In contrast to the upbeat, mostly optimistic tone of the main portion of the video, Jackson unleashes a flurry of unbridled rage, pain and aggression. He bashes a car in with a crowbar; he grabs and rubs himself; he grunts and screams; he throws a trash can into a storefront (echoing the controversial climax of Spike Lees 1989 film, Do the Right Thing), before falling to his knees and tearing off his shirt. The video ends with Homer Simpson, another White American Father, taking the remote from his son, Bart, and turning off the TV. That censorious move proved prescient.

The so-called panther dance caused an uproar; more so, ironically, than anything put out that year by Nirvana or Guns N Roses. Fox, the US station that originally aired the video, was bombarded with complaints. In a front page story, Entertainment Weekly described it as Michael Jacksons Video Nightmare. Eventually, relenting to pressure, Fox and MTV excised the final four minutes of the video.

Cats the way to do it: Jackson and friend. Photograph: Cinetext / Allstar

Yet amid the controversy (most in the media simply dismissed it as a publicity stunt), very few asked the simple question: what did it mean? Couched in between the Rodney King beating and the Los Angeles riots, it seems crazy in retrospect not to interpret the short film in that context. Racial tensions in the US, in LA in particular, were hot. In this climate, Michael Jackson the worlds most famous black entertainer made a short film in which he escapes the confines of the Hollywood sound stage, transforms into a black panther and channels the pent-up rage and indignation of a nation and moment. Jackson himself later explained that in the coda he wanted to do a dance number where I [could] let out my frustration about injustice and prejudice and racism and bigotry, and within the dance I became upset and let go.

The Black or White short film was no anomaly in its racial messaging. The Dangerous album, from its songs to its short films, not only highlights black talent, styles and sounds, but also acts as a kind of tribute to black culture. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the video for Remember the Time. Featuring some of the eras most prominent black luminaries Magic Johnson, Eddie Murphy and Iman the video is set in ancient Egypt. In contrast to Hollywoods stereotypical representations of African Americans as servants, Jackson presents them here as royalty.

Promised a sizable production budget, Jackson enlisted John Singleton, a young, rising black director coming off the success of Boyz N the Hood, for which he received an Oscar nomination. Jackson and Singletons collaboration resulted in one of the most lavish and memorable music videos of his career, highlighted by the intricate, hieroglyphic hip-hop dance sequence (choreographed by Fatima Robinson). Again, in this video, Jackson appeared whiter than ever, but the video directed, choreographed by and featuring black talent was a celebration of black history, art, and beauty.

The song, in fact, was produced and co-written by another young black rising star, Teddy Riley, the architect of new jack swing. Prior to Riley, Jackson had reached out to a range of other black artists and producers, including LA Reid, Babyface, Bryan Loren and LL Cool J, searching for someone with whom he could develop a new, post-Quincy Jones sound. He found what he was looking for in Riley, whose grooves contained the punch of hip-hop, the swing of jazz and the chords of the black church. Remember the Time is perhaps their best-known collaboration, with its warm organ bedrock and tight drum machine beat. It became a huge hit on black radio, and reached No 1 on Billboards R&B/hip-hop chart.

Jackson on tour in Rotterdam, 1992. Photograph: Paul Bergen/Redferns

The first six tracks on Dangerous are Jackson-Riley collaborations. They sounded like nothing Jackson had done before, from the glass-shattering, horn-flavoured verve of Jam to the factory-forged, industrial funk of the title track. In place of Thrillers pristine crossover R&B and Bads cinematic drama are a sound and message that are more raw, urgent and attuned to the streets. On She Drives Me Wild, the artist builds an entire song around street sounds: engines; horns; slamming doors and sirens. On several other songs Jackson integrated rap, one of the first pop artists along with Prince to do so.

Dangerous went on to become Jacksons best-selling album after Thriller, shifting 7m copies in the US and more than 32m copies worldwide. Yet at the time, many viewed it as Jacksons last desperate attempt to reclaim his throne. When Nirvanas Nevermind replaced Dangerous at the top of the charts in the second week of January 1992, white rock critics gleefully declared the King of Pops reign over. Its easy to see the symbolism of that moment. Yet Dangerous has aged well. Returning to it now, without the hype or biases that accompanied its release in the early 90s, one gets a clearer sense of its significance. Like Nevermind, it surveyed the cultural scene and the internal anguish of its creator in compelling ways. Moreover, it could be argued that Dangerous was just as significant to the transformation of black music (R&B/new jack swing) as Nevermind was to white music (alternative/grunge). The contemporary music scene is certainly far more indebted to Dangerous ( ie Finesse, the recent new jack-inflected single from Bruno Mars and Cardi B).

Only recently, however, have critics begun to reassess the significance of Dangerous. In a 2009 Guardian article, it is referred to as Jacksons true career high. In her book on the album for Bloomsburys 33 series, Susan Fast describes Dangerous as the artists coming of age album. The record, she writes, offers Jackson on a threshold, finally inhabiting adulthood isnt this what so many said was missing? and doing so through an immersion in black music that would only continue to deepen in his later work.

That immersion continued as well in his visual work, which, in addition to Black or White and Remember the Time, showcased the elegant athleticism of basketball superstar Michael Jordan in the music video for Jam and the palpable sensuality of Naomi Campbell in the sepia-coloured short film for In the Closet. A few years later, he worked with Spike Lee on the most pointed racial salvo of his career, They Dont Care About Us, which has been resurrected as an anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement. Still, critics, comedians and the public alike continued to suggest Jackson was ashamed of his race. Only in America, went a common joke, can a poor black boy grow up to be a rich white woman.

Yet Jackson demonstrated that race is about more than mere pigmentation or physical features. While his skin became whiter, his work in the 1990s was never more infused with black pride, talent, inspiration and culture.

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The long read: Can you be convicted of a killing if you were there when somebody else dealt the fatal blow? The law says so especially if youre young and black

At 5.13pm on Thursday 12 May 2016, a young man named Abdul Wahab Hafidah was seen on CCTV cameras running westward through busy traffic across Princess Road in Moss Side, a crowded, diverse, working-class neighbourhood two miles south of Manchester city centre. He was pursued by two young men on foot, and another on a bicycle. As traffic slowed at the junction of Princess Road and Moss Lane East, Hafidah tried desperately to open the door of a passing car, before turning to face his pursuers, waving a knife. They stepped back, and he ran off down Moss Lane East. Someone threw a hammer at him, but missed. The chase went on, joined or followed by seven other young men who made their way across Princess Road over the next 45 seconds.

Hafidah was drunk, and he was scared. He knew some of the boys who were chasing him, and he knew they were angry with him. On Moss Lane East, he tried once more to get into a passing vehicle. As he ran across the street, he was hit by more than one car, one of which was a Vauxhall Corsa, driven by a friend of some of those pursuing him. A pathologist later found that he had suffered leg injuries suggesting a glancing blow at low speed.

At around 5.14pm, near the junction of Moss Lane East and Denhill Road, roughly 100 metres west of Princess Road, several of Hafidahs pursuers caught up to him. He was punched, kicked and stamped on, although witnesses remember the details and the number of attackers differently. According to statements taken by the police, a student walking home from college saw at least three or four people drag Hafidah to the ground, punching and kicking him. A man working in an office overlooking the scene saw a couple of youths fighting on the northern side of the road, and six or seven youths watching from a nearby grass verge. Another witness, a lab assistant, thought there were five attackers. A woman on her way home from work saw three young men knock Hafidah to the ground. He curled up into a ball while they kicked him around the legs, torso and head.

Dont you think youve done enough? Get off him! the woman coming home from work shouted at the assailants, according to her witness statement. All but two ran away; one of those two continued to beat Hafidah. The lab assistant thought the other young man was telling the attacker to leave it and run, but that the attacker ignored him. The attacker was really angry, she thought, and was shouting at Hafidah as he kicked him. She noticed that the attackers face was covered, and that he was wearing gloves, despite the weather that day, which was clear and warm.

Then he bent over Hafidah and stabbed him in the neck. The attacker ran off after the others, most of whom were already at least 20 metres away. The assault had lasted 30-40 seconds.

No, no, no, the lab assistant cried as she ran towards Hafidah. Not another one of our boys! A man on his way home from Asda tried to press the victims hood against his neck to stop the bleeding. With some of his last words, Hafidah asked this man to tell his family that he loved them. Paramedics arrived. The shopper and the lab assistant sat on the grass verge and cried.

Hafidah died two days later in Manchester Royal Infirmary. He was 18 years old.

In the weeks following his death, 17 young people were arrested in connection with the killing. The young man who stabbed Hafidah who would eventually admit to the crime after he was sentenced to life imprisonment in September last year was a 19-year-old named Devonte Cantrill. A six-month investigation led police to the same conclusion. In an interview room at Longsight police station on 15 November 2016, Cantrill was asked several times why he committed the crime.

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Whiteness is hard to define, but apparently it involves lots of vegetables, alcohol and the arts and names like Yoder

A few months after I moved to New York, a magical conversation happened that would radically shift my psyche forever. I was telling my friend that I had gone to his favorite shop and he asked: Who served you? Was it the tall white guy?

I frowned and replied, Are the rest of the staff not white? to which my friend replied Huh? What do you mean? No. I was just describing him.

While he wandered off to get a beer, I stood dumbfounded. This was the first time I had heard a white persons race used as a casual descriptor, a simple point of differentiation in what I perceive to be a white world.

As a Brit, I grew up in a country that was 86% white, so white was the norm. That kid you were imagining in books like Roald Dahls was white, unless you were told otherwise (which you never were). The men paraded on the TV show Crimewatch were described as black when they were black, and short or tall or thin or fat when they were white.

Now I live in the United States, a country that is 61% white. Non-whiteness is much more visible here, and suddenly the contrast of whiteness is too. But Im still struggling to make the shift from my previous mindset, where white is the default, the presumed, the baseline. You dont notice normalcy; you see the deviations from it. So the word white could always be hopped over as an adjective.

Now, white still feels like an absence: an absence of color, an absence of food that is different and an absence of a mum who pronounces your name differently from the way your friends do. But if my friend can use white as an adjective, then what exactly are they describing? What is white culture, exactly?

I decided to find out by asking the questions that I and many other non-white people have been asked over and over again. I looked for answers in data.

Q: What do white people eat?
A: Vegetables.

The US Department of Agricultures latest data shows that the average white American eats 16lb more vegetables at home each year than do non-white Americans (that could add up to 112 medium-sized carrots, 432 cherry tomatoes, or God knows how much kale).

The only thing that white people seem to love more than vegetables is dairy. White Americans eat 185lb of dairy products at home each year, compared with just 106lb for black Americans.

But this isnt just the result of our appetites: all of these numbers are shaped by structural factors. For example, fruit and vegetable consumption increases each time that a new supermarket is added near to someones home, according to a 2002 study. That same study also found that white Americans are four times more likely than black Americans to live in a census tract that has a supermarket.

Q: What do white people drink?
A: Alcohol.

Almost a third of non-Hispanic whites had at least one heavy drinking day in the past year, according to the CDC. Only 16% of black Americans and 24% of Hispanic Americans said the same.

If youre wondering which drinks white people are drinking, then you have the same question as a team of researchers who followed 2,171 girls from the time they were 11 years old to the time they were 18. As each year passed, the researchers noticed that compared to the black girls, white girls drank a lot more wine (and beer, actually, and, er, spirits, too).

Q: Whats a typical white name?
A: Joseph Yoder.

The Census Bureau did an analysis of 270 million peoples last names to find those that are most likely to be held by certain races or ethnicities. Yoder might not be the most common family name in the US only about 45,000 people have it but, since 98.1% of those people are white, its just ahead of Krueger and Mueller and Koch as the whitest last name in the country. Which means that statistically speaking, the Yoders of America are probably the least likely white people to marry someone of a different race to themselves.

The most common white last names. Illustration: Mona Chalabi

The most common Hispanic last names. Illustration: Mona Chalabi

The most common black last names. Illustration: Mona Chalabi

The most common Asian last names. Illustration: Mona Chalabi

Many of these last names have German and Jewish origins. Which seems to run counter to my theory of white culture being intangible Jewish culture is far from it. Having experienced discrimination, and having a distinct, tangible culture is enough to potentially disqualify you as white, as some American Jewish people themselves ask the question: Are Jews White?.

As for Joseph, well, the best data I could find was the most popular baby names listed by the race or the ethnicity of the mother (no mention of the father so some of these Josephs are probably mixed race). Even then, the numbers are only from New York and were collected from 2011 to 2014. Still, I found that the most common white names are Joseph, David, Michael, Jacob and Moshe (seven of the most common names were male because people tend to be more creative when theyve birthed a girl).

Q: What do white people do for fun?
A: Enjoy the arts.

I turned to my esteemed colleague and friend Amanda and asked what she would like to know about white people. Amanda, herself a white person, replied: Why do they love guitars so much? Alas, despite two hours of online research, I couldnt test her theory about musical instruments and race. (Although I did find out that bassoons are more popular with women than men, which led me to a YouTube clip of a woman playing the bassoon with a comment that read THIS is how you bassoon. It made me laugh so hard I had to take a break from writing this.)

Instead, I looked at the latest American Time Use Survey. It was published after the Bureau of Labor Statistics asked 10,500 people in the US how they spend their time. White people are the only racial or ethnic group in the dataset to have a number higher than zero for time spent attending museums or the performing arts. Its only 36 seconds, but remember, this is a daily average, so that adds up to 219 minutes each year.

I double checked my findings against a 2015 report from the National Endowment for the Arts, which found that white Americans were almost twice as likely as black or Hispanic Americans to have done at least one arts activity in the past year. Their definition of an arts activity was pretty broad it included jazz, classical music, opera, musical and non-musical plays, ballet, and visits to an art museum or gallery.

Pondering leisure time. Illustration: Mona Chalabi

These numbers feel close to home. When I was growing up, my family never set foot inside a museum, gallery or theatre. Not once. I didnt think it was strange, I just thought it was like travelling in pairs or taking coaches an activity reserved only for school trips.

And yet, despite having better access to these institutions, it seems like its some white people who seem to feel culturally deprived.

Remember Amanda? I mentioned her earlier shes my colleague with the contempt for guitars. In 2015, she interviewed black psychologists to ask their opinion about Rachel Dolezal, a white academic who purposely misrepresented herself as an African American.

Anita Thomas, an associate professor of counseling psychology at Loyola University, said: In some ways its normal, but not at her age. Thomas explained that many white adolescents behaved similarly to Dolezal, attempting to take on what they perceived to be the characteristics of another race while exploring their identities. Being the other sure as hell has its downsides, but it turns out that not being the other does too especially if youre a teenager.

For white [American] youth, who are disconnected from European heritage or legacy, it often feels like whiteness as a concept is empty, Thomas added in a quote that has really stuck with me. It seems to tie together some disparate thoughts I have had on white as an adjective.

Dolezal was treated as if she were a bizarre outlier, but shes part of a much bigger pattern of white behavior. It includes Mezz Mezzrow, the 1930s jazz musician who declared himself a voluntary Negro after marrying a black woman and selling marijuana. It includes the millions of white Americans who take DNA tests and proudly reveal that they are in fact x percent non-white. And its a pattern that includes the white Americans who listen to a rights for whites album that includes songs titled Sons of Israel and Fetch the Noose. One reaction might seem laughable, the other frightening, but they are all ultimately about finding a concept of whiteness that isnt empty.

But what does all that searching yield? Im not sure I can answer the question what is white culture? but Im certain we should try. If whiteness takes no shape, then the concrete structures that shaped it (and often benefit from it) remain invisible too the supermarkets, the marriages, and the museums that make these numbers what they are. If the somethingness of white culture is never quite pinned down, it remains both nothing, really and well, everything.

If white culture remains vague, then it can lay claim to every recipe, every garment, every idea that is not explicitly non-white. That would mean that my identity is just a sum, that my non-whiteness can only be understood as a subtraction from the totality of whiteness. I refuse to be a remainder.

This article will be published in the March edition of The Smudge.

Do you have thoughts on white culture? We want to hear them! Please leave a comment below or email me at

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Rapper rejects Trumps claim hes been good for African Americans and says presidents shithole remark was disappointing and hurtful

Trump hits back after Jay-Z calls president ‘superbug’ in racism debate

  • Rapper rejects idea Trump has been good for African Americans
  • Trump tweets: Black unemployment lowest rate ever recorded!

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Anittas hit Vai Malandra, shot by Terry Richardson and viewed more than 31m times on YouTube, prompts accusations of cultural appropriation

The video for the latest hit from the Brazilian pop sensation Anitta opens with a close-up of her sashaying buttocks before weaving through the streets of a Rio favela and eventually showing the star dancing in a tiny bikini on a flooded rooftop.

Since its release on Monday, Vai Malandra (Go Bad Girl) has been watched more than 30m times on YouTube and become the first song in Portuguese to enter the Spotify Global top 20 chart.

But the hit has also unleashed fierce debate in Brazil, exposing the countrys social fault lines as it grapples with issues of inequality, racism, sexist abuse and cultural appropriation.

Black activists have accused Anitta of appropriating black styles like hairbraids. Others have praised her for filming the video in the Vidigal favela and for celebrating the sexuality of black women and women from low-income areas like these.

And while the singer won plaudits from some feminists for the videos unflinching shots of her cellulite, she faced attacks for contracting Terry Richardson to direct the video even though the fashion photographer was recently blacklisted by Vogue after repeated allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour.

Juliana Borges, a researcher at the Foundation School of Sociology and Politics in So Paulo, wrote that Anitta should not have hired Richardson at a time when women are raising their voices against abuse, harassment and sexist violence in cultural industries.

In October, Richardson was dropped by Cond Nast publishers of GQ, Vogue and Vanity Fair and the Bulgari and Valentino fashion brands after sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other powerful male cultural figures prompted the worldwide #MeToo campaign to denounce abuse.

The least we should do is guarantee that abusers are ostracised, Borges wrote for the website of the womens magazine Claudia.

In a statement, Anitta who has won praise for her articulate ripostes to sexist criticisms said that she had taken legal advice after discovering the accusations against Richardson.

We studied all the possibilities, she said. This is not just one persons work.

The video was shot in August, but Richardson has faced allegations of abuse for more than a decade and has been denounced since 2013 by Caryn Franklin, a professor of diversity in fashion at the UKs Kingston School of Art. He has repeatedly denied the accusations.

In her statement, Anitta said she had decided to keep her promises to the people of Vidigal. As a woman I insist on reaffirming that I repudiate any kind of harassment and violence against us, she said.

Brazilians have been unfazed by the heavily sexual imagery used in the clip, during which Anitta at one point wears a bikini made of insulation tape a favela fashion designed to leave perfect tan lines.

Many saw the videos use of brash favela style as a celebration of these marginalised, low-income communities and noted that Anitta grew up in one of the citys poorer neighbourhoods.

But others said the star was just dressing up.

Anitta uses blackness when it suits her, wrote Stephanie Ribeiro, an architect and activist, in a column for Marie Claire.

The singer who normally sports wavy, flowing locks – was accused of cultural appropriation earlier this year after she shared pictures of herself tanned and wearing braids in Salvador, Brazils most African city.

Nobody is totally white in Brazil, the star told the Folha de S Paulo newspaper. Her father and his family is black, she has previously said.

Writing on the site Revistacult, the Rio academic Ivana Bentes argued that female stars of Baile Funk the sexually explicit Rio-born rap style that Anitta started out performing and returned to for this song were aligned with the openly sexual feminism propagated by protest movements such as SlutWalks.

Anittas live ass with its cellulite, without photoshop, is a subject and not an object, wrote Bentes.

Anitta is part of an emergence of a feminine and virile feminism! Masculinity and virility can, yes, be appropriated and transformed by women.

Bruna Aguiar, a university student and activist from Rios Acari favela, praised the star for showing the world the favela culture, which gave rise to funk.

The favela is very rich in music, in colour, in life. Its good that the world knows this that it knows we are not just bleeding bodies, gunfights and tears, she said.

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Disney wins praise for casting actor also known as Crystal Liu to play warrior woman in live-action remake

A Chinese actor will play the title role in a live-action remake of Disneys Mulan, a move seen as a victory for Asian actors in Hollywood after repeated controversies over whitewashing.

Liu Yifei, who also uses the name Crystal Liu, was picked to star in the film after a worldwide search that screened nearly 1,000 candidates. The 30-year-old actor has appeared in more than a dozen films in China and began her career in television.

The decision to cast a Chinese actress was widely praised on social media after a series of controversies over whitewashing and follows Beyoncs casting in the upcoming Lion King remake.

Hollywood has attracted widespread criticism for casting white actors to play Asian characters. Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson and Emma Stone have all played characters who were Asian in the source material.

Hollywood has conditioned us to breathe a sigh of relief when an actual Asian actor is cast as an Asian character, wrote Phil Yu, who runs the Angry Asian Man blog. Weve become sadly resigned to accept that there is, like, a 55% chance that the role will go to a white actor, no matter how ridiculous.

More than 112,000 people signed a petition demanding an Asian actor be cast in the lead role.

The upcoming film, directed by New Zealander Niki Caro, is based on Disneys 1998 feature telling the story of a woman disguising herself as a man to fight against an invading army, saving her ageing father from conscription.

Liu speaks fluent English and spent part of her adolescence in New York City. But she has so far only starred in Chinese films and is largely unknown outside of the country. She has acted in several well-received films, but also has some duds on her CV. She previously appeared with Jackie Chan in The Forbidden Kingdom, and in Outcast with Nicolas Cage.

Reaction to Lius casting was mixed on Chinese social media, possibly a reflection on her box office record.

Why would they choose Liu Yifei? She is so mediocre and China has dozens of better candidates, said one commenter on Sina Weibo.

But another was supportive. She has been great since appearing on television over 10 years ago Im happy foreign audiences can appreciate her now.

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Mansons fantasy was of race war, and now his warped logic holds sway at the highest levels of US society, writes Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore

Charles Manson is finally dead. There is no resting in peace for such a person. At his trial, Manson told the prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi that he was already dead. He had said previously that he had been dead for 2,000 years, part of the confused allusions he made to being Christ. The terrible murders he committed in 1969 and his courtroom testimony transfixed America. The cult leader was finally starring in his own movie, strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage a short, long-haired man full of violence, rage and manipulation.

Now, if you care to look on the internet, Mansons ramblings are memorialised on various websites, like inspirational quotes complete with images. The court could not break him, but then he had been broken and killed many times over many years ago, he claimed. There was some truth in it, although not the whole truth. Never that. These quotes may not be inspirational but they remain influential: the killer as the apotheosis of alienation, a strange object of admiration.

Now that Manson really is dead, will his influence if he really was anything other than a con man and a paranoid schizophrenic live on in our culture? His name itself is a shortcut to some edgy, wicked outsider mentality: Marilyn Manson; Kasabian (named after Linda Kasabian, a member of Mansons cult).

Quick Guide

A quick guide to Charles Manson

Who was Charles Manson?

Charles Mansonwasone of the most notorious murderers of the 20th century. Heleda cult known as the Manson Family in California, most of whom were disaffected young women. Some became killers under his messianic influence.

Murder from afar

Despite spending more than 40 years in prison for the murders of seven people in 1969,Manson did not carry out the killings.Insteadhe convincedmembers of his familyto murder. One of their victims was the actor Sharon Tate, who was married to Roman Polanski and was more than eight months’ pregnant when she was killed.

Celebrity friends

By the time of histrial in 1971, Manson hadspent half of his life in correctional institutions forvarious crimes. He became a singer-songwriter before the Tate murders andgot a break in the music industry when he metBeach Boys’ Dennis Wilson,who let him crash at his home.

Helter Skelter

It is believed that Manson intended using the murders to incite an apocalyptic race war he called Helter Skelter, taking the name from the Beatles song.

Notorious by name

Thekillings and the seven-month trial that followed were the subjects of fevered news coveragein the US.Manson occupieda dark, persistent place in American culture, inspiring music, T-shirts and half the stage name of musicianMarilyn Manson.

Photograph: Los Angeles Times

In interviews conducted in his later years in prison, where he says spiders he fashioned out of the yarn of his socks allowed him to control the world, Manson comes across as old, pathetic, bewildered, mentally ill. These are what people should take a look at. Yet at the time of the murders the details of which are still so absolutely shocking (the X cut on murdered Sharon Tates pregnant belly) society was still strangely ambivalent about him.

Manson appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, a Christ-like image with a headline asking if he was the most dangerous man in America. Rock star murderer? The myths abounded: he had an audition for the Monkees (this is doubtful); he communicated to his followers from prison telepathically, as they all carved swastikas on their foreheads the same day. Then there is the ongoing argument that he didnt actually murder anyone himself, he just got them to do it instead.

The reality was both more prosaic and ugly. He had been in and out of prison all his life, where he learned to be abused and how to abuse he actually asked to stay in prison knowing he was unfit for life outside it but the plea went unheeded and he became a pimp and a thief offering suburban girls drugs and his psychopathic version of family. Having been rejected by mainstream society he was also rejected by the counterculture, and could not make his way in the music scene.

His anger and sense of omnipotence gave him a kind of charisma. His overriding fantasy was of a race war. He was a loser who would become a winner, and he would do it through white supremacy. The thing he called Helter-Skelter would ignite this war. This was the rationale for the slayings. It was a holy war then against the rich and the powerful. The racial aspects seem to me to be forgotten by those who sought to understand him and who gave him the attention he craved. Dennis Hopper went to see him in prison, and film director John Waters attended the trial.

The Manson murders were seen to represent the end of the counterculture peace and love giving way to brutal murder. But parts of the culture turned Manson into a strange kind of idol.

Joan Didion, in her 1979 essay The White Album, recounts hearing of the murders at Roman Polanksis house on Cielo Drive. The numbers of dead were not yet finalised but there was talk of black masses and bad trips, hoods and chains. She said: And I also remember this and wish I did not: I remember that no one was surprised At a stroke, the 60s ended the paranoia was fulfilled. Celebrity and fame were no protection against the darkness, and Didion describes the unease everywhere. She recalls too how she helped Kasabian, who testified against Mansons group, find a short green velvet dress to wear for the trial.

This is a long, long time ago, but the mythology around Manson and his cult never quite goes away. His songs, such as they are, have been recorded by Guns N Roses, Marilyn Manson, of course, and GG Allin, among others. What truths do they tell? He has been interviewed in prison, and movies have been made about him. Most killers do not get this sort of treatment, let alone purveyors of white supremacism.

His death comes though as his pernicious beliefs in a race war have entered the American mainstream. His warped logic holds sway at the highest levels of US society. Was he evil or mentally ill? Or was he in fact a product of a system that has not changed in all these years. When he said in court: My father is the jailhouse. My father is your system I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you, he told America something. And it was awful. He died an old pathetic and disturbed man. A banal monster. Nothing special. Remember that and his victims.

Suzanne Moore is a Guardian columnist

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Trump tweet likely revive controversy that followed Charlottesville, as anti-fascist protests dwarfed small group of rightwingers

Donald Trump described anti-fascist and anti-racist demonstrators who converged on Boston as anti-police agitators on Saturday, in a tweet that seemed destined to revive the still simmering controversy over his remarks equating the far right and anti-Nazis in Charlottesville last weekend.

Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston, Trump tweeted. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.

But he later seemed to back the right to demonstrate, posting: Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!

He added: I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!

An estimated 40,000 leftwing counter-protesters including various Black Lives Matter groups and activist group Violence in Boston marched through the city to historic Boston Common, dwarfing a small group of conservatives holding a free speech rally.

Many gathered near a bandstand abandoned by conservatives who delivered a series of speeches.

Boston Free Speech, a conservative activist group that organized the midday event, had publicly distanced themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others who fomented violence in Charlottesville on 12 August.

Nevertheless, some far right activists had at one point been invited to speak at the rally, before later dropping out over fears for their own safety. Asked about this, a spokesperson for Boston Free Speech would not comment, but claimed to have also invited representatives from Black Lives Matter to speak too.

Activist Vida James, 34, said of the presidents initial tweet: Donald Trump spewed hate speech in his campaign, emboldened white supremacists, and here in Boston we have police protecting white supremacists.

She added: The government and the police are actors of institutional racism, as we see with police brutality and Trumps defense of the same brutality. So the tweet doesnt surprise me.

Another counter-protester, who gave his name only as Paul, told the Guardian: Well, he is not wrong. Our generation has been radicalized by police murdering people of color. And cops shut down a massive section of Boston and protected about 25 rightwingers while 45,000 people joined counter-protests.

I think for a lot of people its clear what side the police are on. It wasnt on the side of the people protesting white nationalists even though Marty Walsh [the mayor of Boston] talked tough earlier in the week.

He also claimed to have been maced. Im fine now. It was during a scrum with a Trump supporter. Someone tried to spray the Trump guy and missed and got me, he said.

The violence in Charlottesville last weekend led to Trump igniting the most serious controversy over racism since his election campaign, with Republicans, business leaders, charities, sports stars and artists all denouncing him after he suggested that neo-Nazis there were morally equivalent to the anti-fascist activists opposing them. A woman was killed at that Unite the Right rally, and scores of others were injured, when a car plowed into counter-demonstrators.

Opponents feared that white nationalists might show up in Boston, raising the specter of ugly confrontations in the first potentially large and racially charged gathering in a major US city since Charlottesville. But only a few hundred conservatives turned out for the rally on Boston Common, in stark contrast to the estimated 40,000 counter-protesters and the conservatives abruptly left early.

One of the planned speakers of the conservative activist rally said the event fell apart.

Sarah Betancourt (@sweetadelinevt)

More images. Police formed tight circle around arrested. For @DigBoston

August 19, 2017

Police closed the event to anti-fascist activists and the media, telling the Guardian: No one is allowed in. This is a private event. Its permitted. No cameras. Stay back. No media. There is no media allowed in. The Boston Common is a public space.

Twenty-seven people were arrested, according to Boston police, including one man with a gun, who police said was on the conservative side. A witness said the man had had a concealed weapon and had been wearing a Trump hat.

The Guardian witnessed at least seven arrests, with people placed in zip ties after police cleared Boylston Street. Others threw bottles from scaffolding on Emerson Colleges dorm building as the crowd pressed against police and Swat teams armed with batons and mace protected the police vehicle containing the alt-right speakers. There had been cries of shame and make them walk as police led the speakers to the vehicle.

Police commissioner William Evans said of the counter-protesters: We had some kids block the street, and they got a little confrontational.

He added: They were given every option to leave, but the officers, they were getting bottles, they were getting pushed and I think they did a good job handling it. The Police Department claimed that bottles of urine and empty bottles were thrown at them from scaffolding at Emerson.

Asked about Trumps tweet, Evans said: Im not going to comment on politics.

Counter-protester Arielle Gray, 26, who lives in the Boston neighborhood of Mattapan, burned sage and held a sign that read: Make America Melanated Again.

She said: I got here as the police were leading the last of the white supremacists out. I saw two [counter-protesters] arrested.

She said that although instances of racism were nothing new to people of color, racists have become bold.

When asked about violence from both sets of protesters, Gray, who is African American, told the Guardian: Im torn on violence. Violence is never truly necessary, but with my peoples history Weve had violence enacted against our bodies. There is a point that comes when people are told their voices dont matter.

Boston Free Speech released a statement to the Guardian saying they would not offer a platform to racism or bigotry. We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence, the statement said. We denounce the actions, activities, and tactics of the so-called Antifa movement. We denounce the normalization of political violence.

Some counter-protesters dressed entirely in black and wore bandanas over their faces. They chanted anti-Nazi and anti-fascism slogans, and waved signs that said: Make Nazis Afraid Again, Love your neighbor, Resist fascism and Hate never made US great. Others carried a large banner that read: SMASH WHITE SUPREMACY.

I came out today to show support for the black community and for all minority communities, said Rockeem Robinson, 21, a youth counselor from Cambridge. He said he wasnt concerned about his personal safety because he felt there was more support on his side.

Katie Griffiths, 48, a social worker also from Cambridge, who works with members of poor and minority communities, said she found the hate and violence happening very scary.

I see poor people and people of color being scapegoated, she said. Unlearned lessons can be repeated.

TV cameras showed a group of boisterous counter-protesters on the Common chasing a man with a Trump campaign banner and cap, shouting and swearing at him. But other counter-protesters intervened and helped the man safely over a fence into the area where the conservative rally was to be staged. Black-clad counter-protesters also grabbed an American flag out of an elderly womans hands, and she stumbled and fell to the ground.

Yet Saturdays showdown was mostly peaceable, and after demonstrators dispersed, a picnic atmosphere took over with stragglers tossing beach balls, banging on bongo drums and playing reggae music.

Dating to 1634, Boston Common is the nations oldest city park. The leafy downtown park is popular with locals and tourists and has been the scene of numerous rallies and protests for centuries.

Rallies also were planned in cities across the country, including Dallas, Atlanta and New Orleans.

Hundreds of people gathered at City Hall in Austin, Texas, on Saturday morning, holding signs in support of racial equality. The Austin American-Statesmen reported organizers for the Rally Against White Supremacy estimated about 1,200 people were in attendance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Sarah Betancourt (@sweetadelinevt)

Arrests happening for @DigBoston in Bosrob

August 19, 2017

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Late musicians family write an open letter to demand the Cash name be kept far away from destructive and hateful ideology

The family of Johnny Cash have said they were sickened by the association with a Charlottesville right wing protester photographed wearing a T-shirt with the musicians name emblazoned on it during this weekends violent marches in Virginia.

The man wearing a Johnny Cash T-shirt during the protests in Charlottesville. Photograph: Fox News

In an open letter posted to Facebook, Cashs daughter, musician Rosanne Cash, condemned the white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville, resulting in clashes that saw three killed and dozens injured. The letter, which is signed by all five of Cashs children Rosanne, Cathy, Tara, Cindy and John Carter Cash denounces the self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, spewing hatred and bile featured in the Fox News footage.

The white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville are poison in our society, and an insult to every American hero who wore a uniform to fight the Nazis in the second world war, it reads. Several men in the extended Cash family were among those who served with honour.

The letter goes on to detail the musicians political standpoint, explaining how Cash was a man whose heart beat with the rhythm of love and social justice, and recalling how he received humanitarian awards from the Jewish National Fund, Bnai Brith and the United Nations, as well as championing the rights of Native Americans and protesting against gun violence and the war in Vietnam. It states that he was a voice for the poor, the struggling and the disenfranchised, and an advocate for the rights of prisoners.

Cash would be horrified at even a casual use of his name or image for an idea or a cause founded in persecution and hatred, it continues. Our father, as a person, icon, or symbol, is not you. We ask that the Cash name be kept far away from destructive and hateful ideology.

Johnny Cash died aged 71 in 2003. He made over 70 albums throughout his 45 year career, and won 11 Grammy awards.

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