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Jussie Smollett is a reflection of us all

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[1]. It has been suggested that the reason for his actions were to “draw attention to himself because he was dissatisfied with his salary[2]”.

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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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The Liam Neeson racism row

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.

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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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