Not sure how it was in your household growing up, but in mine and many other Caribbean homes, Saturday mornings were dedicated to household chores. Maybe my mother possessed ‘the rod of correction’, and she had those steely eyes that shot daggers, but I knew I had to get up and get cleaning like it was the week before Christmas. Truth be told, I did not inherit my mother’s skills, because I can’t seem to get my teenage son out of bed, much less vacuum the lounge. Let’s not speak about his bedroom (not sure what animal died in there). Is the new-age parenting style failing our future generation? What made my mother’s eye glance so compelling, that it affects me even today as a ‘grown-ass’ woman?
The narrative of reparations has been revisited within recent times. In fact, it is part of the Senator Booker’s (US) manifesto, in his bid for the Democratic Presidential Candidate. I caught his interview on @blackcoffee recently. One of the key questions raised was: would reparations raise the economic status of black people? Generally, Booker’s response was vague, to say the least. Theoretically, he explained that reparations are a repayment of debt owed, not a cure for the disease (confused emoji here).
For those who may be ignorant of what reparations are, I will give a brief insight. Reparations represent compensation for being trafficked and enslaved in the Atlantic Slave Trade. It would be restitution paid to the descendants of slaves for slavery and the decades of lawful discrimination that followed it. From a moral perspective, this is a wonderful idea. However, from an economic perspective the logistics are questionably flawed. Not to get too political or to take sides, I would like to delve into the practicality (if any) of this phenomenon. A pertinent question: how would the beneficiaries be selected? A question raised by another Senator (Mitchell McConnell). If you know your history well, there were also free black people during the time of slavery. Should their descendants benefit from reparations?
Another key concern is how do we calculate how much is owed. Transitional justice, I agree is necessary and is due, but what is the monetary value of it. I don’t know where exactly my ancestors originated, nor do I know to whom they were sold or for how much; how many owners (masters) they had; if they escaped and to where. The research for reparations would be extensive and costly. If this Bill is actually passed (which I doubt), what would become of the US economy? The estimated figure for the US alone was half a trillion dollars! With the current African American population around 38 million people, this will equate to $13,157.89 per person! This nominal figure brings me back to my original question, how would this raise the status of black people? Agreeably, this may be more money than one had the day before, but this money really cannot provide you with true wealth or power, nor would it erase the issue of driving while black or the many other prejudices dealt to the black population. Rich black people are also stopped and searched by eager white police officers.
My understanding is that reparations should give black people an equal playing field to the majority, but that shift is deep-seated and much more cultural than it is financial. First and foremost, we are judged by how we look, and these preconceived biases keep us at a disadvantage, more than the money in the bank. Justice is due and it is due now, not in incremental improvements, but across the board – the way we are addressed, where we are housed, the education system, the legal system, even the hiring system. No amount of guilt money paid for the ills of slavery will ever compensate for the continued discrimination, nor would it stop the prejudice, if there isn’t a social movement for change.
On 03.05.19, we held our second ever discussion where we spoke about whether, as black Brits we owe anything to the Motherland. After much anticipation, we’ve finally uploaded the full video to our YouTube channel, check it out below:
Like what you see? Register for our next discussion in November here –> https://bit.ly/2FGTYjD
Why not check out our first ever discussion here
I haven’t written a blog post in a while, I haven’t kept up to date with the news, I haven’t been closely following the political mess we’re in currently (thinking of Boris becoming our PM is too much to bear), I haven’t been reading for fun, I’ve not written in my journal for weeks and lastly I haven’t been attentively following race related scandals. In all honesty, I was at a point where I just wanted to pause and focus solely on my final exams for the LPC.
How important is representation in relationships? Is there a need to see stronger, committed black couples celebrated? A friend of mine believes that dating outside of the race is a betrayal to the entire black community. She is adamant that she must find a good, black man to marry and produce beautiful black babies. In this era of “wokeness”, the rhetoric is black consciousness and embracing all that is innately beautiful about being black. So, in step with that, I believe her quest is primarily driven by the need to conform to societal pressure rather than her genuine desire to be with a black man.
Ideally, love should see no colour, race, ethnicity, or even gender. The heart wants what the heart wants, well so we have been told. If your heart wants a white man or woman, who am I to judge? Should I feel slighted or offended by your choice? I think not! The whole purpose of civil rights and human rights was for equity and access; to give the freedom to choose. And with that freedom, to live with the consequences of your choice. Black love undoubtedly has its own issues and challenges, especially in a society where it is rarely applauded. However, is it really a betrayal if I love outside of my race? Why do we feel so offended by interracial relationships? Is it a reflection of our own insecurities manifesting in the bitterness towards interracial couples? And why is this anger mainly directed to black men and white women? (Another discussion for another post).
There is a stark difference between what we perceive and the reality of the situation. And although in this generation there is a universal acceptance of mixed-race relationships, there are still murmurs and latent discontent in the inner layers of the races. Interracial marriages are not as commonplace as we might believe. According to the British census conducted recently, only one in 10 cohabiting couples in England and Wales involve two people of different ethnicities. While this was over 30 per cent increase from the last census in 2001, it still only represents a small percentage of the population. A similar statistic exists in the US, where one in 10 marriages are between two people of different races or ethnicities. Clearly, there are still many people who think like my friend, who may never date outside of her race.
I want us to celebrate love; in whichever form, it is displayed. Some would argue that black people are too tolerant and compliant, thus allowing interracial marriages to be prevalent. I beg to differ. Many of us would not even look in the direction of a non-black, much less consider going on a date with them. A couple friends of mine claim that they “just feel a connection to black men/women”. When swiping through dating apps, we tend only to like the black faces, regardless of whether they are a match or not. Is it instinct, or is it discrimination? Doesn’t this type of behaviour fringe around prejudice or bias? We have been pleading for equality and inclusion, yet we are discriminating against “the others” (non-blacks). Hence, limiting our potential dating pool.
With that said, I am also a victim and a perpetrator of this behaviour. I must consciously decide to swipe right when I see a white face. I must talk myself into it, but I want to change that. I am disappointed with the selection of black men – all the good ones are either married, in jail, or not interested. So, if I am to be married with kids in the next five years, I need to open my dating pool. My selection process needs to be as diverse and inclusive as the hiring process that we have been fighting for.
This post could end up being very similar to ‘Do black people overplay the race card?’ but I just felt the need to vent plus the whole point of writing is to release your inner thoughts, right? Well at least that’s why I write.
A recent picture posted by Richard Branson on LinkedIn depicted the staff of the Virgin Group, dressed up for an employee event. This is typical Virgin Group and Richard Branson’s promotion of the role of the employee in making an organisation great. However, what really caught my attention was the first comment under the photograph. A keen follower asked about the diversity or rather the lack of diversity at the organisation. Truth be told, I thought the exact same thing when I looked at the photograph. The replies were controversial, to say the least. My thoughts were not so much about the comments but rather the lack of diversity that still exists in large corporations, particularly here in the UK, despite the enactment of the Equality Act 2010.
I want to broach on a very delicate topic about tolerance – cultural tolerance. For hundreds of years, we (black people) have been pleading and bleeding to be accepted into society as equals. We have died and come back from the dead, screaming for equity in a system designed to keep us back and down. We want the concrete ceiling broken! But why must the world tolerate us, when we don’t even tolerate ourselves?
When it comes to commonly believed stereotypes of black women, high attainment within sports is rarely something that is mentioned. What has prompted me to write a post on black women within the sporting industry is the whole Caster Semenya debacle that keeps popping up on my radar. If you haven’t already heard, Caster Semenya is a South African Olympic Champion who competes in the 800m and 1500m races. As a result of having hyperandrogenism, Caster Semenya has uncommonly higher levels of testosterone for a woman and because of this she has been in an ongoing dispute with the The International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF). The IAAF insist she has an ‘unfair advantage’ and should take medications to reduce the amount of testosterone she has, if she wants to carry on competing as a female athlete.
For the first time in UK political history, an MP, earlier this week, was expelled from her MP position as a result of a recall petition signed by her constituents in Peterborough. They say there’s a first for everything and for the constituents to successfully do this is an example of how we live in a democratic country which values the opinions and views of its voters, for that I’m ever grateful.
If I turn left, right, centre, forward or backwards I’ll come across a negative story about Meghan Markle within the press. I don’t have to look very far or wide at all….now I understand that being a celebrity and popular figure comes with its fair share of negativity, rumours and gossip, but Meghan is not receiving a fair share, what she is receiving is an unprecedented level of scrutiny, criticism and to be quite frank downright bullying.
I recently came across the results of a study that found ‘28-32 are the sweet spot ages to get married and decreases the chances of divorce within the first five years‘.
This supports the fairly popular notion that once you are in your late 20s to early 30s marriage should be at the top of your priority list and to wait any longer will be disastrous. Ideally, you would have married even earlier, I was told that a woman’s prime is between 24-26. I asked the guy who said this to me what he means by ‘prime’, but surprisingly he couldn’t really explain himself, other than to say ‘it’s just her prime’ – it was fair to say this wasn’t particularly enlightening!
Brexit has been the hot topic on everyone’s lips for the past few years. Recently, the ante has been upped, possibly because this is the year it’s all meant to go down or because this is the year the British public has truly seen just how shambolic the whole process is, who knows? I’ve never been hugely into politics but Brexit is something that has undeniably caught my attention. I’m sure many of you will agree with me, when I say it’s painful to watch Theresa May’s deal consistently get shut down. This blog post should probably be a Brexit update, but I’d rather talk about why I feel sorry for Theresa May.
Is Serena Williams racist? “What kind of question is that?”, you reply or “of course not” you answer! Or perhaps, you think she is and agree with the people below, who believe she is racist because she is extending help to a group of women of the same race as her with less opportunities, exposure and capital.
Scrolling down my Twitter feed, I generally see all sorts of madness. The madness I’m going to share today, some of you may already know about, others not so much. This madness is essentially cultural appropriation on steroids…
There is a running joke among African communities, especially with the ‘children/ youth/ millennials’. The joke is, you only get three career options to pick from. Lawyer, Doctor, Engineer. There might be other options but most of these options are all academically driven. Now, most of my posts usually derive from the conversations that I have with my friends. On this very topic, I couldn’t help but notice that those of us who fell on the creative side of the spectrum were not “understood”, I think that’s the best way to put it. Now, in many ways, I believe this is because it isn’t something that’s seen or encouraged widely therefore why encourage your child to pursue something you do not foresee them succeeding in?
One thing that dawned on me as I wrote ‘Walking on Eggshells part 1 and part 2’ was that many people have a one size fits all view of black people i.e. all black people are loud, all black people like Afrobeats, all black people know how to twerk and so on. Although, these stereotypes are largely perpetuated by wider society and the media. I do think as black people we need to take a moment to reflect on how WE play a role in validating these senseless narratives.
How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? Perhaps you’ve already achieved them all, which is great! Or maybe not… which is also okay.
We’re now officially in the third month of the year and it’s likely that the initial euphoria and enthusiasm felt at the beginning of the year and the prospect of a ‘fresh start’ is somewhat starting to dim.
For those of you on the ball, you may have heard the recent drama surrounding Empire star, Jussie Smollett. In January this year, Smollett claimed he experienced a racist and homophobic attack. Despite vehemently holding on to his innocence, it has since been discovered that the experience Smollett shared was completely fabricated. It is presumed that he paid two brothers to stage the attack. He has been charged with filing a false police report and is out on bail whilst further investigation is underway. It has been suggested that the reason for his actions were to “draw attention to himself because he was dissatisfied with his salary”.
There’s been somewhat of a buzz in the media recently regarding fashion designs that appear to resemble blackface. Firstly, what is blackface? According to online definitions ‘blackface is a form of theatrical make-up used predominantly by non-black performers to represent a caricature of a black person and is now generally considered offensive and disrespectful.’ Secondly, why is it such an issue? Well, the practice originated in 19th century America (at a time when racism was prevalent) and used satire to ridicule and feature exaggerated and inaccurate caricatures of black people. For those that consider blackface as harmless fun, the history behind the practice is far from harmless and is laced with demeaning and discriminatory stereotypes. Also for those that continue to insist on using blackface for ‘fun’ even when black people have expressed the issue, it puzzles me why out of all the different ways we can have fun and express ourselves, there appears to be an enthusiastic eagerness and stubbornness when it comes to using blackface.
A lot of my blog posts stem from conversations I have with people in my life and Walking on Eggshells: PART TWO comes from a combination of conversations that have led me to wonder whether we are allowing ignorance/ naivete to be too much of an excuse for inappropriate behaviour?
Oscar nominated and widely acclaimed actor Liam Neeson has come under fire this week after an interview was released, in which the actor admitted that he went out for a week and a half with a cosh looking for a ‘black bastard’ – yes this actually really happened, I initially thought this was fake news, full details of the original interview here.
Living in South East London for the first 10 years of my life meant I never really thought about race or being black. It wasn’t until I moved to Peterborough, in July 2004 and started school in September, that it truly hit me. I wasn’t just the only black girl in my year… I was the only black girl in my SCHOOL. Over the years, I was able to get to grips with the constant onslaught of ridiculous questions, microaggressions and subtle racism. At the time, I didn’t even realise the severity of it all because it felt more like a pesky annoyance that I’d just have to deal with in life. As I’ve gotten older, I’m beginning to realise more and more that this isn’t the case and I will no longer tolerate nonsense. Essentially, I’ve learned to walk on eggshells without creating too many cracks.
If there was ever a word that had its own existence, it would be this. The N word is living and breathing right among us. It is casually used by every race, even though some will swear on everybody’s grave that they don’t use it. As we all know the term is a racial slur used by Caucasians during slavery to create a social hierarchy, which allowed them to exploit, manipulate and keep blacks at the bottom for hundreds of years. This post, however, is not to reflect on this history but discuss the interesting and somewhat confusing survival of the N-word within the black community.
Theresa May faces and wins yet another vote of no confidence after the historical loss in Parliament on her Brexit deal, this got me thinking, what is the deal with Brexit? On the 23 June 2016, the UK held a Referendum to decide whether to leave or stay in the EU. The results were quite close with the majority winning with 51.9% voting to leave and 48.1% voting to Remain.
If you’re an avid social media user, I’m sure you’ve seen or at least heard of the Surviving R Kelly docuseries that recently came out. For those of you who don’t know, this docuseries is a series in which “survivors and people from R Kelly’s inner circle come forward with new allegations about his sexual, mental and physical abuse.”
I have always loved learning about history. It was one of my favourite subjects in school, if not the favourite. There is a way that the past shapes the present and future that I truly find fascinating. I cannot help but wonder when we look back to the 21st century what would that history look like; especially in the last 10 years? What would this era be called? What legacy would it have, what kind of impact will be impressed upon these years? When I look at social media, speak to my friends, family, colleagues and even strangers (yes I am that person, what goes on in people’s heads truly fascinate me) a narrative of self-love, self-awareness seems to have taken root and like bamboo, it’s shooting up very fast as time goes on. Why is there this sudden movement of self-love and self-acceptance?
There are times I sit down to write one of these weekly blog posts and I struggle because I don’t feel qualified enough to discuss the subject matter. This is one of those weeks so bear with me as I gather my thoughts. White privilege is a term I’ve heard thrown about on a frequent basis as we become an evermore “woke” generation. The Cambridge English dictionary describes it as “the fact of people with white skin having advantages in society that other people do not have:” These advantages include things such as mainstream shops mostly catering their products to white people (predominately beauty products such as foundations and hair products), police brutality (black people were 8 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people in 2016/17) and even media representation.
On 1st July 2018, The Problem with Black Men (the first #Issamovement blog post) officially went live. By the end of the day, it had reached over 100 unique visitors and to say I was excited would be just a slight understatement. #Issamovement is an idea that came about this year and quickly transitioned from idea to conception after discussing it with my sister and two friends (Jane and Lola- who are part of the team). As exciting as it has been, 5 months in and the initial euphoria of starting a new movement has waned slightly. And being as the year is more or less at an end, now would be the perfect time for some self-reflection.
In a previous post I mentioned how social media is “one of the most revolutionary things to happen on this earth” and I still stand by that statement. However, with this huge shift in society comes a much darker truth that we’re only just beginning to discuss in wider society. Social media can be an EXTREMELY toxic thing. From 2011 to 2013, cases of Cyberbullying to Childline increased by a whopping 89%. More and more young people are struggling with self confidence issues as a result of the “perfect lives” they see on social media. In amongst other negative effects, FOMO (fear of missing out) is a form of anxiety that has been heightened in many, as a result of social media. So, what does this mean? We should all boycott social media and never use it again?
I’ve had the idea for this particular topic since way back, when we started #Issamovement, in July of this year (where has the time gone?). The main thing that stopped me from putting out a post on this was the simple fact of… I didn’t know what to say. Obviously now I have more of an idea but we’ll see how this goes.
As I get older, I develop a deeper sense of appreciation for my parents. I can honestly say they have done a fantastic job of shaping me and my siblings into the people we are today. And I really respect everything they went through to get us here. Like many of you, my parents emigrated from Africa(Nigeria to be precise) to the UK in their late teens/ early twenties. Now that I’m a similar age to them when they made this huge and life changing move, I understand more and more just how significant what they did was. I can’t imagine completely leaving my life behind in one country to go to another, where I barely know anyone, and start a new life (not to say I never will). Realising the magnitude of what they had the courage to do all those years ago has given me somewhat of an epiphany. I’m not here to be mediocre, it’s time to level up and the same applies to you.
Seeing the words ‘Joe Bloggs added you to a group chat’ on Whatsapp can send cold chills down a person’s spine. You instantly think of ways to inconspicuously leave the group chat without causing a stir and to no avail settle on muting the group, hoping it will eventually go away on its own. With this being said, when you are in a group chat where the conversation is popping and the creative juices are flowing there’s something really magical about it.
As we’re becoming an exceedingly more “woke” generation sometimes I genuinely ask this question. Do black people overplay the race card? I’m sure this question has already ruffled some feathers, but I have no intention of doing anything of the sort. I asked myself this recently after seeing a story on social media of an experience someone I follow shared. In all honesty… I don’t think what happened to them was race related. I’m not going to delve too deeply into what actually happened, but it did make me start thinking about the numerous other race related incidents that I have seen plastered on social media.
Bare with me whilst I recall some events from the last year or so…
Okay, so first let me set the scene. 17 years old. Put the boring summer of 2017 behind me and I’m starting the 2nd Year of college. I’ve already heard the words ‘UCAS’, ‘application’ and ‘personal statement’ 60 times too many. So like a sheep, I start the process of applying to university because that’s all I’m being told to do. Fast forward to November of that same year and a pretty obvious thought occurs to me. Maybe I don’t have to go? Maybe I shouldn’t? So I kind of just… stopped. I ignored the emails. I avoided my personal tutor. Honestly, I wasn’t trying to hear it.
There has been a massive shift in the way black women wear their hair over the last couple of years. The natural hair movement which started a while back but really built momentum over the last five to six years has had many black women and even men, reject the ways of relaxing and chemicals and returning to their hairs natural state. Even I myself did and it was a somewhat love-hate relationship with this new texture of hair. But like anything else, with time and a lot of patience I have grown to love my hair (on most days). But like my mother used to say, my hair is as stubborn as the owner.
Social media is one of the most revolutionary things to happen on this earth. Whether people realise just how substantial the impact of it is, well that’s a completely different story. Making this claim, I guess, can be deemed as a rather sweeping statement, however, here’s why I believe it to be true. Social media has changed the way in which we communicate with each other, it’s changed the way we buy, it’s changed how we interact with celebrities and it’s also provided platforms/ opportunities for people to put themselves out there, in ways that would never before have been possible. As such, many of our lives are centred around this digital beast.
Summer is truly over and autumn is here. There is something comforting about this season, the warm muted tones, knitted wear, boots, all around cosiness. I have already turned my wardrobe around. But turning my wardrobe around is not the only new change that has occurred for me. Your girl is back to school. Well, I suppose I should say, I have finally decided to go to university.
In September 2017, Rihanna launched her eponymous beauty brand, Fenty Beauty. Although Trophy Wife was highly spoken of by many, the true stars of the show were the 40 shades of Pro Filt’r Foundation. The launch of these 40 shades, highlighted an issue, to the mainstream, that many black girls have struggled with for far too long. Although Fenty Beauty is not the first beauty brand to cater to a more diverse range of skin tones, it’s most certainly the brand that highlighted the lack of inclusivity in the industry to the masses.
“To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage” – James Baldwin.
I am not American, but this quote applies to all blacks and not just those in the states. When you become an activist, especially a pro-black activist, are you limited in your dating pool? Once you have developed the reputation that you strive for the empowerment of black people, is it fair for your credibility to be in question based on the race of your other half? How many times have we seen black people who have jumped on the bandwagon of supporting a black individual who seems to be pushing for the empowerment of the community, only to have raised eyebrows the moment we find out that their spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend is not black?
As some of you may know, we recently started promoting our first ever debate, which will be taking place on 2nd November (find out more here) aah! My team and I fervently shared the details with all our contacts and spread the news over social media, as you do, and whilst 99.9% of feedback was nothing but positivity there was one comment, or shall I say rant, that really stood out to me.
As we’ve all heard in some form ‘Comparison is a thief of joy’. So why do we compare and become envious? Social media particularly is a catalyst for comparison and reminds me of this quote ‘the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel’.
As someone that has grown up in a Christian household, I rarely think about the impact of religion particularly the impact it has within the black community. It’s not often that I meet a black person that doesn’t have a connection to a religion or hasn’t been involved in religion at some point in their life. My closest friends are Christian and grew up with parents that are either both Christian or where one parent is Christian. Some of the friends I made in university were Muslim and grew up in Muslim homes but again I never truly sat down to think about what impact religion has on the black community.
2018 has been a whirlwind of a year for me and I’m still struggling to believe we’re in September! Whenever, it hits September I feel like the year is practically over whilst at the same time it’s a month that, weirdly, represents new beginnings for me. With New Year’s resolutions long since abandoned I want to encourage you to keep on pushing. If there is something you genuinely wanted to achieve at the start of this year that you gave up on a couple of months in, the year is not over and it’s still VERY possible to achieve or at least be on the right track to achieving what you set out to.
Being a black woman, one thing I have noticed about many black people is that we love to jump on a trend, whether we can afford it or not. When I was at uni, every other black girl was rocking Timbs and a Michael Kors bag and every other black guy was rocking those shiny Prada trainers. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having nice things and being on trend, however, within the black community I feel we often have our priorities twisted. At the top of our list is having the nice things so that we can show people, who really don’t care, we have money and at the bottom of our list is planning for not only our future but for our children’s future and our children’s children’s future. Essentially shaping our legacy and building generational wealth comes second place to having the designer shoes and bags now, before we can actually afford them.
As a single woman I am often asked “how’s the man hunt going?”, “when are you going to get a man?”, “have you tried online dating?”. The list is endless, as I am sure many of you in the same position as myself are aware. Often, I find myself explaining to people that I’m not currently looking for a man because I’m actually okay with being single at the moment, to the shock horror of many. Now this isn’t to say that when the right man comes along I won’t be open to a relationship, it’s simply to encourage you not to feel consumed by society’s obsession with relationships. If you’re a single woman let me implore you to enjoy your singleness whilst it lasts.
Some say imitation is the highest form of flattery. So, in a time where you can’t get away from the Kardashians, lip fillers and 30 day bubble butt challenges one might wonder why so many black people are outraged at the sudden rise in popularity of certain aspects of black culture.
In March of this year, the unthinkable happened to me and my family. Everything happened so fast and when the paramedics broke the news it just didn’t seem real, they couldn’t save him… my dad was gone.