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The Blackface Controversy

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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.

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Walking on egg shells

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.

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The N**** Word: Time for its​ official retirement.

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.

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So what’s the deal with Brexit?

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.

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Let’s talk, sexual harassment: It’s time black men stop getting a free pass

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.”

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Learning to love ourselves or learning to become narcissists?

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?

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The realities of white privilege

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:”[1]  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[2]) and even media representation[3].

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3 things I’ve learnt since starting #Issamovement

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.

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Can we overcome the toxicity of social media?

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%[1]. More and more young people are struggling with self confidence issues as a result of the “perfect lives” they see on social media[2]. In amongst other negative effects[3], 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?

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Our parents built a foundation. Time to level up

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.

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Dear Black Queen

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.

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Do black people overplay the race card?

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.

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Doing Me Is What I Do Best. So I guess I’m not going Uni.

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.

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Why are only some natural hairstyles acceptable?

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.

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Media representation of black people: Is the narrative finally changing?

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.

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Back To School

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.

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Fenty Fever – The inclusivity trend

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.

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Black Activist – Interracial Relationship?

“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?

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Is black empowerment racist?

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.

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How does religion impact the black community?

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.

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Speed up! You’re on the final lap

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.

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Are you building for the future?

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.

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An ode (kind of) to the single woman

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.

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So how do we stop racism?

A colleague at work asks me this. It is actually a profound question. How do we stop racism? What do we as a human race need to do in order to combat this issue that has plagued our race over generations? Sometimes I see racism like the zombie apocalypse movies that we watch. It is like a disease that seems to have taken over the human mind. The people we praise as “woke” who take stands and protest in their own small ways to make changes are like the scientists trying to find a cure for those infected. And just like the film “the girl with all the gifts” sometimes the inability to have compassion towards one another as we push for the world to recognise us, stops us from finding the cure. Continue reading “So how do we stop racism?”

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Let’s Talk … Black Timing

Raise your hand if you’ve arrived at an event on time and you’ve been left waiting for more than an hour before it started. Keep your hand raised if you attend or have attended certain events late because you know they won’t start at the time listed on the information. Finally, keep your hand raised if the only explanation for the aforementioned was… “it’s a black event”.

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The “Problem” with Black Men

The context behind this article is the pure frustration I have with many a black “man”. Is it me or are many of them becoming more and more passive? Everywhere I go, I see black women cheering each other on and building community but rarely do I see black men doing the same. Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean they’re not out there but my question is where are they?

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