I haven’t seen all the plays this year but seven methods of killing kylie jenner is the play of the year. Jasmine Lee-Jones, the twenty year old playwright responsible for the masterpiece on at the Royal Court until Saturday 27th July, made me question if my words would even be worthy to describe what I experienced last night; that’s how talented she is. It’s no secret that I’ve been a little down lately- I’ve not been feeling myself, a walking wound that won’t scab over but sitting in that theatre, surrounded by black women all gathered to watch black women perform in a play written by a black woman I felt closer to healing than I have in a long time.Read More
I came out to my mum in an Ikea carpark, she said “thought so” then we went shopping. There was none of the poetry or conflict of Lena Waithe’s Primetime Emmy Award Winning Thanksgiving episode of Master of None. Waithe was the first African American woman to win the honour for her writing on a second season episode of the Aziz Ansari Netflix series that remains as affecting today as when it was first released. I know this cos I just watched it again and I laughed out loud and cried just as I did when I first watched it.Read More
“…don’t worry about the fact that I’m black, I won’t make you feel uncomfortable... I am completely non-threatening, I am brown but safe.”
-Afua Hirsch, (Brit)ish: On Race, Identity and Belonging
I was raised in Zimbabwe by Jamaican grandparents. On Saturday mornings, my grandfather and I would watch cartoons. X-Men was the cartoon I remember being most excited to watch. I know we can all agree the X-Men theme song slaps to this day but I digress. Watching X-Men as a 6 year old dark skin black girl, I wasn’t grateful for the dark hue of Storm’s skin. Storm’s complexion was unremarkable to me because in Harare in the early 90s to be black was to be the default. The President was black. The bus driver was black. Everyone from the teacher to the newsreader was black.Read More
Tiffany Haddish failed. The comedian and actress took the stage for a sold out New Year’s Eve gig in Miami and she bombed. Badly. Rather than ignore reports of her failure, Haddish posted an article from The Root and tweeted an admission “Yes this happened. I wish it was better Miami. I prayed on it and I have a strong feeling this will never happen again.” That should have been the end of the debacle. Alas, when the comedian involved is both black and a woman failure is rarely an isolated incident but rather evidence they were never worthy or talented in the first place. In 2019, I want to see more black people fail. Especially black women. Pick your jaw off the floor. Here, take my hand friend and allow me to explain why the spectre of failure cripples black women when it should be seen as a necessary part of success.Read More
I have a romcom blind spot. I grew up watching Mission Impossible and The Fifth Element, Interview with a Vampire and Independence Day on repeat. I can more readily quote these films than I can romantic comedies. And yet, despite my glaring romcom illiteracy, even I knew Rebel Wilson’s claim that she was the “first ever plus sized girl to play the lead in a romcom” was incorrect.Read More
Long before Where Hands Touch premiered at Toronto International Film Festival, the film had been plagued by accusations that it’s writer and director, BAFTA winner Amma Asante had “romanticised” Nazis. The film follows Leyna (Amandla Stenberg) as her mother Kerstin (Abbie Cornish) fights to save her daughter from the Nazi’s forced sterilisation plan by moving her family to Berlin. Once in Berlin, Leyna meets and subsequently falls in love with the son of Nazi officer and a member of the Hitler Youth, Lutz (George McKay). The film is powerful, far from kind in its portrayal of Nazis and I say this confidently because I have actually seen it.Read More
Stephanie Yeboah is a leader in the body positivity movement. Her website nerdabouttown.com is a treasure trove of sartorial and intellectual musings from the blogger and body positivity advocate. Far from new to the game, for years Yeboah has done and continues to do the very important necessary work of dismantling societal perceptions of what an acceptable body looks like. Her identity as a dark skinned black woman means her work takes place on two battle fields hostile to fat women and black women.Read More
Diaspora wars are an especially tedious for me. The constant compare and contrast of the African, Caribbean, Black British and African American experiences is tiring because I am a black woman who was born in London and raised in Zimbabwe by Jamaican grandparents before moving back to Britain to be raised by my immigrant mother. I find it impossible to take sides during these mammoth social media debates all while white people are running off with our things in my periphery. Diaspora wars are draining because they offer little room to listen, to apply nuance and activate independent thought lest you be seen as a traitor.Read More
I expected Serena Williams’s 24th Grand Slam win against Haiti and Japan’s Naomi Osaka to be a cake walk. Sure, Osaka had made it to the final but this is Serena Williams we’re talking about; the greatest athlete of all time. Osaka, however, was eerily focussed, calm and determined. Every serve was executed to perfection with one purpose- to rattle Williams. And rattle her she did. Williams began racking up unforced errors like lines of meth at a nitty convention. I was in my house in Catford, South London screaming for her to fix up. Down one set with everything to play for, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou attempted to coach Williams from the stands. Williams did not see Mouratoglou’s motions but the umpire Carlos Ramos did. He penalised her one point. A cluster fuck ensued.Read More
I found an old diary I kept when I was fourteen. To my horror it was entitled Being Overweight. Dated the 7th January 2004, the first page is a lamentation on how much I hated my body. I was fat and I was going to lose weight. I had cut out pictures of bodies I found acceptable, stuck them neatly to pages with captions and detailed what aspects of their bodies I needed to achieve.Read More
The common misconception is the BeyHive are collectively insane. The media would have you believe our support is disproportionate considering the object of our affection is a performer. On Saturday April 14th 2018 at approximately 11:18pm PST (woulda been 11:10 had dry head Post Malone hurried tf up) Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter delivered unto us evidence further justifying the depths of our fandom. The first black woman and only the third woman in the festival’s nineteen year history, Beyoncé took to Coachella’s main stage for a two hour tour de force banging out hit after hit after hit. I don’t know ‘bout you, but she’s left my scalp tender having snatched my edges clean from their roots.Read More
You lot hate black women who you do not find attractive. You will go to any lengths to deny “misbehaved” black women their due. You heard Viola Davis well well when she told you to pay her what her white counterparts are getting. You cried for Octavia Spencer when she told you Jessica Chastain helped her get her things. But Mo’Nique, with her “misbehaved”, non-conforming fat black womanhood, you can’t hear her. You don’t want to hear her. A hearty, soul deep fuck you all to everyone choosing to ignore her calls for equality. She’s fighting for me. Mo’Nique is telling other black women they are worth more than they’ve been offered. She is worth more than she was offered.Read More
Alice Walker coined the term colourism which David Knight on tolerance.org describes as “within-group and between-group prejudice in favor of lighter skin color…” The idea is that people with lighter skin complexion have a closer proximity to whiteness and therefore are more desirable. In old tweets that have resurfaced today, British multi-hyphenate musician Stefflon Don, displayed the kind of colourism that is ingrained in the consciousness of not just those with light skin but is planted in the minds of those with dark skin who in turn learn to believe they are less than. “All you dark-skinned hating on light skin bitches like if God gave you a choice you wouldn’t change your colour lool…” tweeted Stephanie Allen, the singer’s real name in 2013. I believe Stefflon is as much a victim of this societally entrenched prejudice as she is a past perpetrator and should she simply hold her hands up and say “rah, you know what? I said stupid, hurtful, informed shit back in the day. I’ve learned and I’ll do better.” I’d be inclined to say ignore this, but this “I never ever tweeted that” nonsense denial as if we’ve all lost the plot and didn’t see the tweet from her account with our own eyes, before she deleted it, but simply decided to come for her out of the blue is jarring. So, let’s talk about this. Follow me into the kitchen, I’m serving tea.Read More
Today started like any other Monday; a drone trudge towards the office, bones weary of another week and its growing lists of tasks. See, after the terrorist attack at The Ariana Grande concert in Manchester earlier this year, I had thought it wise to turn off my news notifications on my phone. I’d grown tired of the only news alert being bombings, stabbings and mass shootings. It wasn’t until Biz Pears liked tweets we’d sent each other last year that I realised something very important was going on. Prince Harry had proposed to Meghan Markle. The announcement of the impending Royal Wedding was just the grease needed to get my cogs into action. The race was on! Thinking of witty yet nuanced hot takes was a joy and it early enough in the morning our American friends weren’t yet awake to wield their more imposing Twitter presence. The field was open for Black British Twitter™ to stake their claim on news that was both heart-warming and brim-full of meme worthy content.Read More
Yesterday prominent LGBTQIA publications Attitude Magazine and Pink News, exhibiting journalism skills to rival Pulitzer Prize winners, unearthed six-year-old tweets from British rapper Stormzy in which he used homophobic language on several occasions. Fans berated the publications for their targeting of the musician, believing it was a blatant attempt to tarnish not only his image but by extension the image of his partner (super babe) Maya Jama, currently a guest of I’m A Celebrity’s sister programme Extra Camp on ITV2. Reading both articles, they serve no clear purpose other than to expose his past conduct, align Stormzy with YouTube star Zoella, whose old tweets were also recently uncovered, and label him a hypocrite for his criticism of the BBC’s representation of young black men.Read More
The Hollywood Reporter broke news last night that Aurora Perrineau, star of The Carmichael Show, Passengers and four films currently in post production, had filed a report with the West Hollywood Police Department claiming screenwriter Murray Miller had raped her when she was 17 years old. Murray Miller’s screenwriting credits include The Tracy Morgan Show, American Dad! and Lena Dunham’s HBO series Girls, on which he also served as the executive producer for two years. Lena Dunham, the feminist icon you lot keep foisting on us, didn’t miss a beat in condemning Perrineau. Along with Girls’ co-showrunner, Jenni Konner, Dunham issued a statement no one asked for, but one they felt duty bound to deliver. “….during every time of change there are also incidences of the culture, in its enthusiasm and zeal, taking down the wrong targets. We believe, having worked closely with him for more than half a decade, that this is the case with Murray Miller. While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year.” In their statement to The Hollywood Reporter Dunham and Konner use well-chosen words and statistics to call Aurora Perrineau a liar because they have information the public do not and Miller is their friend.Read More
On Wednesday 8th November, BBC Radio announced Logan Sama had been dropped as the host of a new weekly Grime show on BBC Radio 1xtra, the network’s home for Black British music. The decision was made following a public Twitter discussion between Sama and another 1xtra DJ Twin B regarding Sama’s 2013 and 2015 tweets about black women. According to Twin B, the tweets in question “had been floating around the last few weeks more than ever since the show announcement.” I hear you asking, what exactly did the tweets in question say that would warrant being stripped of BBC show?Read More
After years of a concerted effort by news organisations to suppress the truth, The New York Times broke the story that has rocked the entertainment industry for going on weeks now, the man they once called ‘God’ (ha) had been sexually harassing women for decades. Rose McGowan led the charge of women accusing Harvey Weinstein, calling out any and everyone who enabled him and naming names. She didn’t come to play. Women the world over rallied behind her cause because those of us with sense know women have more to lose coming out against their abusers. For her unwavering commitment to ensuring we all understood the pervasively insidious reach of the conspiracy to protect Weinstein from justice or at the bare minimum scrutiny, McGowan was rewarded by being suspended from Twitter. Immediately a hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter started, asking women to down tools for a day in support of McGowan and many prominent black women were not having it. “Calling white women allies to recognise the conflict of #WomenBoycottTwitter for women of colour who haven’t received support on similar issues.” Tweeted the prophet Ava DuVernay In response to the myopia of the hashtag, April Reign, creator of the #OscarsSoWhite movement (which forced The Academy to make sweeping changes to its membership and voting roles) created the hashtag #WOCAppreciation. Its aim was to affirm the efforts of women of colour so often ignored when women’s issues are a part of the zeitgeist- it succeeded and saw the resistance against erasure and silencing trending before the day was over.Read More
I’m cautious to cancel people when they’re problematic.Read More
Saturday morning, I woke up to a timeline full of pictures of angry white people misappropriating Tiki torches during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Organised by white nationalist Jason Kessler, who according to the Sothern Poverty Law Centre “relies on familiar tropes of “white genocide” and “demographic displacement””, the Unite The Right march brought together white men and white women so comfortable with their right to be hateful, they didn’t even don the hoods of their Klu Kulx Klan forefathers. I mean, even tight face skin owner and former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke arrived at the rally and was thankful to you lot’s president as the event fulfilled his election campaign promises. The rally was organised to protest the removal of a statue of confederate civil war leader Robert E Lee. Cos God forbid one of the one thousand confederate monuments, honouring those who fought for the preservation of slavery, in thirty-one states in the United States is torn down.
Violence erupted at regular intervals throughout the two-day rally between anti-fascist protestors and those decrying imagined oppression and escalated until James Fields rammed his car into peaceful protestors, killing an, as of writing, unidentified 32 year-old woman and injuring nineteen others. News organisations floundered, failing to call the atrocity what it is, an act of white, Christian terrorism and somehow documented simpleton Melania Trump was quicker off the mark to denounce the violence than the meat filled balloon she married who has clearly forgotten the divisive campaign he ran to get elected calling for everyone to be united.
Right on time like her collaboration with R Kelly no one asked for and was taken to task for, here comes Lady Gaga claiming what’s happening in Charlottesville is “Anti-American” , encouraging her followers to use the hashtag #ThisIsNotUs. Lady Gaga is not uneducated about the mechanisms of racism and how it manifests as her fans remind those critiquing her about the star’s relationship with Black Lives Matter and the song she wrote for Trayvon Martin so I’m going to address this with unfettered passion- you’re wrong, sis and your hashtag is the very reason white supremacy is able to live and breathe out in the open.
#ThisIsNotUs is a lie. It is the same as the lie Toupee Fiasco told in his press conference when he claimed there was “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” Akwugo Emejulu’s side by side of the pictures of Elizabth Eckford walking into the first desegregated high school in 1957 pursued by a hateful mob and Charlottesville’s white supremacists proves this is you, everything that happened in Virginia is a representation of who American has is established itself as in the world. And let’s stretch imagination to its outer limits and pretend it isn’t you, who is it then?
According to senior fuck-head Julian Assange James Fields “is a suspected white supremacist picking up terrorism tips from ISIS (crowd ramming).” To claim #ThisIsNotUs is to co-sign the deception that white supremacy, white nationalism and neo-nazis are a fringe element of American life and not occupying key positions in the current White House administration. To entertain #ThisIsNotUs works to deflect accountability for the fact the people participating freely in that rally are everyday people, with families, neighbours and co-workers, who have been radicalised into believing the lies of white supremacy, that America belongs to white people and white people alone. #ThisIsNotUs stops white people doing the work of dismantling white supremacy in their homes, in their schools and allows white people fearful of the prospect of the labour and heavy lifting necessary to engage with the people they love and know who harbour hatefulness, expecting to leave this very real, very hard work to black and brown people.
You lot’s favourite trope in times of violence Dr Martin Luther King Jnr warned against lukewarm responses in times of racial crisis. In ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ on April 16th 1963, Dr King wrote “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"…” I propose, along with many others on Twitter, white people finally reconcile with the reality every single act of violence that took place in Charlottesville is American. Denial will only allow the hatefulness to thrive. To continue to ease your collective consciousness with empty hashtags instead of actively combatting white supremacist beliefs your loved ones hold dear will see California’s food crops rot in perpetuity because your president’s hate speech and immigration policies alienate the migrant workers you need to farm your land. Be honest about the history of racialised violence in America; it’s as old as the birth of your nation.
Why am I so passionate about #ThisIsNotUs when I live in Britain? As Kelechi said on Twitter early Saturday morning “to all the white Brits watching what's happening in Charlottesville and saying "at least we're not that bad!" Spoiler alert: you are.” Fifty-two percent of Britain voted to leave the European Union after a campaign based on fear, racism and xenophobia. According to the Independent “The number of hate crimes recorded by regional police forces rose by up to 100 per cent in the months following the Brexit vote…” And guess who the victims were? That’s right folks, brown and black people. So, excuse me Lady Gaga I cannot afford to be complacent, blindly retweeting #ThisIsNotUs. And I get it, I really do, Holy books speak of covering hatred with love but in this instance, you are inadvertently disallowing your nation room to dig up the this rotting tree, investigate the roots in order to locate the issue and genuinely pursue the effective combination of solutions you so desperately seek. There is hope for the rehabilitation of those with these racist mind-sets. Shazia Awan of the BBC interviewed Arno Michaelis, a former white supremacist who now works to change those who, like him, bought into the lie. Do not stand in the way of the de-radicalisation and re-education work that needs to take place in order for this cycle to end.
Own it. Then pass the mic and use your platform to boost the voices of those equipped with the solutions.
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