Precedent for the President.

A few things about Trump and his state visit to Britain, which has been put off ‘indefinitely’.

Following the lunacy of the current President of the United States retweeting not one, but three videos from the Twitter account of extreme British right-wing party Britain First, the calls for Trump to be banned from entering the UK grow louder every day. Now, if he was plain old Donald Trump, loudmouth billionaire extraordinaire, I’m sure it would be easy for the powers that be (namely, one Theresa May) to ban him from our shores because he would be deemed as not a very important person. An insignificant blustering billionaire aiming to build yet another golf course.

But- whether you like it or not -Trump is the President of the United States. Things have changed. His status has changed. His power and reach have changed (and have far-reaching consequences). If he were to be banned from Britain, the precedent set for the President would not bode well for the future.

Also, we cannot pick and choose democracy as and when we feel like it. I disagree with pretty much everything he has said and done since his inauguration, but I feel like banning him from the country would defeat the object and purpose of democracy. He is not some random reality TV wannabe anymore, he is the supposed President of the Free World (whatever that means). He also has some support in this country from those who like his bullish approach and the values he claims to stand for. So banning him is not as simple as it sounds.

It is also a major headache for our Prime Minister Theresa May, because the Brexit deadline is fast approaching (March 2019 will come round sooner than you think) and the government are keen to seal those trade deals with America once we commit hari-kari and separate from the European Union.

I believe Trump should come to Britain for his state visit. He should step off Air Force One and be greeted at Heathrow airport or some unidentified airfield somewhere in the shires. He should be chauffeured through the streets in London. But we should not close all the roads for him and literally give him an easy ride, oh no. If he deigns to grace us with his presence, Trump should be given a first-hand experience of exactly what the majority of the British public really think of him, protests and all. Let him see how most of the British public are not hoodwinked by his bullshit, bluster and bravado. Let him see how vexed and angry we are at his actions and his terrible hair. Stick him on Question Time and put him up against some of the big guns in politics and beyond on the panel. I’ll bring the popcorn as we watch him be bombarded with questions.

There is a possibility that he will love all the attention- after all, there is no such thing as bad publicity in his eyes, and him being heckled and hollered at by members of the British public would be seized upon by his people as a sign of how badly he had been treated or demonised. But no matter- let the state visit go ahead (whenever that will be) and let the games begin.

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So Late and So Awkward.

Time for some praise.

I finally got round to watching The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. I have been meaning to for some time but I’m terrible with most television unless it’s Line of Duty (I always watch that shit live because it is amazing). Family and friends recommend boxsets to me and I never get round to watching them. I still have an unopened DVD of the first series of Mad Men on my shelf- that’s how bad I am.

So I thought I would watch Awkward Black Girl and see what it’s like, especially as I like Issa Rae and I haven’t started watching Insecure yet (See? I’m rubbish at this).

It is absolutely brilliant. I devoured the first series in a few hours; the second one in an evening- it’s that good.

Awkward Black Girl is about a woman called Jay and how she navigates through life with her awkward self. There are many hiccups along the way (some self-inflicted, others not) but the sheer brilliance of the writing and acting resulted in one of the funniest programmes I have ever watched. I also discovered to my detriment how difficult it is to watch this show at work. The episode where Jay is at a party and everyone on the dancefloor is abruptly stopped by the DJ so they can sing ‘Happy Birthday’ had me sitting at my desk unable to laugh as hysterically as I wanted to for fear of embarrassing myself, so I ended up convulsing with laughter instead.

Not only is Awkward Black Girl incredibly funny, it resonated with me because I am definitely one of them. I thought I was the only one who felt like this but apparently not, judging by the number of comments left after each video. Most people seem so self-assured and composed, while I’m usually the muppet who stumbles and trips over her words and is constantly trying to please other people instead of myself.

Her passive-aggressive behaviour struck a chord as well. That desire to tell someone to fuck off but instead you bite your tongue and repress that feeling? That’s me every single day.

Before anyone says it’s a bit late for a review considering that it came out in 2011 and Issa Rae and Tracy Oliver have moved onto bigger and brighter things… yes, I am late to the party and nobody is more annoyed about this than myself but well, better late than never. Awkward Black Girl is fantastic, relatable and reflects my life far more than I imagined. If you have not watched it, make it a priority to do so.

Don’t Say That Word.

Over in YouTube Land, a well-known user called PewDiePie (nope, me neither) used the word ‘nigger’ during a live online gaming broadcast on his channel. He then apologised saying he ‘didn’t mean it in a bad way,’ then started laughing.

I am not a fan of people using that word and it should certainly not be a part of any white person’s vocabulary. They know it’s derogatory and a racial slur, so why use it? If you do, then you know it is because you deliberately intend to cause offence, so shut up with your nonsensical excuses.

Why this dunderhead decided it was ok for him to say it on his social media platform and then come out with the most trifling automatic apology baffles me.

Even worse are those who are defending him. Since when has he been given a pass?

‘He didn’t mean it that way,’

‘It was in the heat of the moment,’

‘It’s just a word.’

Don’t talk about what you don’t know. Some of these people are the same type who would happily describe themselves as liberal and against racism and other ‘-isms’, but they cannot see the problem with a white man with vast media influence (he was the highest-paid YouTuber in 2016) shouting the word ‘nigger’ like it is an everyday term and want to tell black people that we are over-reacting?

This man did not use it as a term of endearment or empowerment, he used it as a derogatory term and he knew that the minute he said it. The fact that it rolled off his tongue like saliva tells me he has done this before.

This incident will probably make a minor dent in the amount of money he makes. People forget certain misdemeanours by certain people nowadays. There was a video of a young girl the other day showing off her strong drumming skills on Twitter. I retweeted it, then noticed her username had the ‘n-word’ in the title (she was not black). I was taken aback by this and many replies to her video brought attention to her username. Meanwhile, I pressed ‘undo retweet’ and forgot she existed. See, stupid things like this make people think twice in supporting you…or at least it should.

This trend of pretending that the n-word is no longer offensive, hurtful, abusive and anyone can use it ‘because black people say it to each other’ needs to stop. Not all black people say it- surprising, I know but we have other words in our vocabulary that we can use instead.

Getting back to this idiot, he issued another apology stating that he has, indeed, been an idiot. “I’m really sorry if I offended, hurt or disappointed anyone…I should know better.” Yes, you should. As I stated before in a previous post, I hate those shitty, almost unapologetic apologies like this one, with ‘if’ used in a way that says ‘honestly, you shouldn’t be offended’.

The problem is- as the old saying goes -there is no such thing as bad publicity. As seen by the mixed reaction to his outburst, this will probably be swept under the carpet, never to be spoken about again… until the next time.

Grateful.

I was sitting on the train this morning in a bit of a mood. The same old feeling of comparing myself to other people plus not getting enough sleep combined to put me in a funk. But then I suddenly thought that this is bullshit and started thinking about all the things that I should grateful for. I must admit, I’ve seen those ‘gratitude list’ ideas and was sceptical about them as I would make a list and be pissed off about something else ten minutes later- so bang goes my gratitude. But I might as well give it another go and see if it snaps me out of this funk I’m in…so here goes:

I’m alive.

It’s a beautiful sunny day- a little chilly but glorious.

It’s Friday!

I’m wearing my bright pink nail polish and red lipstick. Now this made me wonder- does this fall under the category of being ‘grateful’? Then I thought, yes it does. In some countries or in the past, I wouldn’t be allowed to rock my red lipstick or such fluorescent fingernails- I’d be branded a Jezebel or worse, so thank goodness I live in a country and a city where I could wear glitter on my lips if I wanted to…just not necessarily to work.

I got a seat on the train. Always got to be grateful for such a thing. I’ve seen people fight for a seat and it’s not pretty. Now I’ve got one, I can have a nap or read a book or observe other passengers and imagine what kind of lives they lead once they step off the train.

I’ve got a job (and a decent one at that).

Got a roof over my head. My heart breaks think for all the people in Texas and Louisiana who are battling Hurricane Harvey as I type, wading in horrific levels of water just to find shelter. People who have lost everything and have nothing but the clothes on their backs. Or closer to home, those people who are homeless in this country, so I’ll be forever grateful for such small mercies.

My family and friends. They’re all here and present, as mad as ever but that’s how I like it.

Once my bleary-eyed self has fully woken up in the morning, I usually do feel a sense of gratitude. I’m not the type who awakens with a spring in their step singing ‘Joy to the World’ but being vexed on a beautiful morning like this when there is no need to be is something that needs to be nipped in the bud. So here’s to trying to be more grateful for all the good things in my life.

Sympathy For the Devil.

Anyone expecting Donald Trump to properly condemn the Nazis and fascists that descended upon Charlottesville over the weekend is bonkers. Forget his previous robotic condemnation speech read off an autocue, he said what he really thought last night at Trump Tower.

He won’t condemn them outright because they make up a significant proportion of his supporters. But then, why would he denounce so-called white supremacy when he is one of the very people it benefits? He’s white, filthy stinking rich and (somehow) the President of the United States. But even if he wasn’t POTUS, white supremacy would still be a good thing for him because he fits the mould so how can he lose?

This man spoke as if nobody should tackle the Nazis and fascists for their intimidation and bare-faced, tiki torch-wielding hatred. Even though the ‘alt-left’ (as he called them) held a peaceful counter-protest, he actually said this at Trump Tower:

“What about the alt-left that came charging… at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? (…) There are two sides to a story.”

“There were other people in that group [the white supremacy group] apart from neo-Nazis and the press have treated them unfairly.”

What on Earth must normal, decent law-abiding American citizens think when they see their president defending far-right protesters? It sounds like he’s saying ‘yes, the far-right started it, but if it wasn’t for the lefties this would not have escalated. Why can’t you let them be great?’

Why would anyone say that? Why would you trash the fact that the ‘left’ counter-protesters were peaceful? The far-right organised and held their ‘white supremacy’ protest, intimidating and fighting as they went and Trump, the President, defended them like they were the victims.

Trump has always been a loose cannon but surely there is no way back from this dangerous rhetoric. He even described some of them as ‘nice people’. There is no such thing as a nice Nazi, you fool.

By saying this, he has given the green light to those Nazis and fascists to carry on with their reprehensible behaviour. Far-right publications have happily clung onto his words since his infamous ‘on many sides’ quote. They will be in white supremacist dreamland after this. His speech was along the lines of ‘the far right would have got away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling, left-leaning kids’ and was exactly what they wanted to hear.

What Trump said should be unbelievable but well, it’s Trump. I shouldn’t be surprised but I am genuinely shocked at what he said and the manner in which he said it. He was unrepentant and said it with feeling, the total opposite of his robotic script-reading the other day. Everyone saw how easily it rolled off the tongue for him to condemn the left and portray the far-right as wonderful people.

Oh, and to Paul Ryan and the rest of you Republicans slating Trump: you may condemn and criticise him for what he said and the whole notion of white supremacy, but he’s still president and we all know you’re not going to get rid of him when you have near-absolute power in the Senate. Until he leaves office- and I cannot see that happening anytime soon -your words are just a load of hot air.

Bolt Gone In A Flash.

Well, that was awkward.

Usain Bolt lost the 100 metres final at the World Championships to the one man everybody did not want to beat him: Justin Gatlin.

The American and two-time drug cheat won the race in 9.94 seconds, while Bolt came third behind Christian Coleman. Bolt settling for bronze- when was the last time that happened?

And of course, the world was shooketh.

The atmosphere was like a morgue at London's Olympic Stadium, a marked contrast to the hype and noise beforehand, with pyrotechnics accompanying each athlete as they stepped out onto the main stage. Bolt was cheered to the rafters, Gatlin booed like George Osborne hilariously was at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

I was so busy paying attention to Bolt and Coleman that I did not notice Gatlin storming through to win. I can't say I'm surprised Bolt lost because he's looked rusty in the run-up to the final. He came second to Coleman in his semi-final and had a shocking start in the final, almost lumbering out of the blocks. Normally he has sluggish starts but makes up the pace and eats up the track, but not tonight. Plus, announcing that this would be his last individual race ever must have heaped a shedload of pressure on his shoulders. He wasn't the world beater we know and love. Everyone saw him as immortal and unbeatable (or as close as). He is a Legend of the track- yes, with a capital L -so to see him lose was a deflating way to end his incredible career.

If Bolt lost to Coleman I would not have minded because Coleman is a talent, but Gatlin is always looked at with suspicion because of his past misdemeanours. He had to be Scar to Bolt's Mufasa, didn't he.

But even as Gatlin wallowed in his victory and commentators openly seethed over his win, who was the man on everyone's lips? Bolt. The man was on the mic immediately after the race discussing what happened, what went wrong and what is next after he retires. He was the only one anyone gave a damn about, which was unfair to Gatlin because he ran a brilliant race but nobody was checking for him in the aftermath.

We all know athletics will be poorer without Bolt- the man who single-handedly transformed and saved the sport after it was (and still is) tarnished by endless drug cheats and doping allegations. He may run for Jamaica but let's be honest, every West Indian claimed him as their own whenever he competed. It was as if he represented the entire West Indies because he is such a huge name, a one-man walking billboard, a phenomenon. Everyone was willing him on.

Whatever he does next, I wish him well. It's a shame he did not get the fairytale ending we all hoped for, but at least he didn't have a false start. And we will be waiting and watching for his next move.

© 5th August 2017

Get Out of Hair, Man.

Black women are never given the credit we deserve and it's getting on my last nerve.
Today I listened to a report on Radio 4 on the 'no poo' movement. Now before your face screws up like this…

…let me explain.

'No poo' is short for 'no shampoo'. It is also known as co-washing and many black women (especially those sporting natural, non-relaxed hair) follow this method when washing their hair and find it highly beneficial. They see it as a way to stop using sulfate-heavy shampoos and incorporate natural products to help their hair flourish (although sulfate-free shampoos are on the rise nowadays).

This is something that has been a part of black culture for years so imagine my surprise when I saw a radio report entitled 'Why We're Dropping Hair Products For the 'No Poo' Movement' on Radio 4. Now imagine my surprise when I heard how incredibly whitewashed it was.

Considering black women started this whole movement years ago, why were none interviewed? Where were the natural-haired women talking about their hair routine? Why was no credit attributed to them for starting this method? Where were the black women??
Instead of hearing their knowledge, I listened to plummy-voiced toffs talking about it like it was their invention. 'There's loads about it online,' the synopsis read. Yes, and most of it is regarding women with Afro hair, but carry on ignoring us.

According to the Radio 4 report, one of the leading 'no poo' bloggers is a woman called Lucy Aitkenread.

Seriously, who is she? I have watched countless videos on this method but never seen her name pop up anywhere. Mind you, YouTube aren't helping because the first batch of videos that come up when you type in 'no poo method' are from white women. The way it is framed, you wouldn't think that it is a staple in the hair routines of black women.

So what's the deal, Radio 4?

How can you have a report on this trend that was created by black people and completely and blatantly omit us from it? Not one mention, not a hint of recognition, you just ignore us. You mean to tell me that you looked through various social media sites such as YouTube and Twitter and somehow managed to ignore the daily stream of videos from black women both in Britain and beyond discussing and demonstrating their co-washing routines? If that was the case then your research methods were very… lightweight. It's ridiculous that black women were airbrushed out of this, but then I should not be surprised. Cornrows (or canerows) were re-branded for the mainstream as 'boxer braids', jewellery such as bamboo earrings which were once dismissed as 'ghetto', are now deemed 'edgy' and 'trendy' because white women are wearing them.

I'm tired of us not being involved in conversations or reports where we should be first in line. Give us the credit when it is (long) overdue instead of keeping our contribution quiet. It's not that difficult.

© 3rd August 2017