There’s a lot that can be said about a person when it comes to their name. In fact naming is quite important in everything. For example in business and branding the name can make or break the company. Let’s take #IssaMovement for example, that is the embodiment of the team and what we are trying to achieve, creating a movement to change mindsets in our community, provoke change and empower future generations. The name simple conveys that message. There really issa movement occurring (get it 😉).
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.
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?”
As I walk down the stairs, in this grand university building, I lift up my head and our eyes lock… YES! Another black girl! Unconsciously the corners of my mouth begin to lift into somewhat of a smile but suddenly, I freeze as I am met with a stony, straight-faced glare.
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”.
“You can tell she’s not white from the way she writes” he said as he finished reading ‘The Problem with Black Men’. I didn’t know how to respond to this, was it meant to be an insult? Would it be better for me to come off as a white person in the way I write?
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?