Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Soviet Union: the Black Man’s Safe Haven?

YOU ONLY have to think back to last year’s football furore to conjure up the opinion that racism is rife in Eastern Europe.

In fact, former footballer Sol Campbell was so outraged that Euro 2012 was to be hosted in Poland and Ukraine – countries where black players had previously been taunted with monkey noises – that he warned black British football fans not to attend the tournament, insisting “you could end up coming back in a coffin.”

Stories of this nature have done little to paint Eastern Europe as a region where foreigners are embraced with open arms. And yet, in the early 20th Century, the former Soviet Union provided a safe haven for many black Americans who migrated there to escape racism and segregation in their homeland.

Black Russians – The Red Experience seeks to examine this little-known chapter of history. While it is well-documented that famous black Americans like singer Paul Robeson and poet Langston Hughes were drawn to Russia during their careers, this insightful documentary in the making from Russian-born, New York-based filmmaker Yelena Demikovsky, will explore the lives and experiences of ordinary black Americans who went to the Soviet Union during the Stalinist era, in search of a better life.

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