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.

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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.

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

Preference or Prejudice?

I watched a programme today called Is Love Racist?: The Dating Game. As someone who has dabbled with online dating, I knew how this show would turn out the minute I saw the title (i.e.: not very well) and I'm not going to lie, I wanted to slap everyone involved by the first commercial break. 

I didn't really need this documentary to show me that Black and Asian women get a raw deal when it comes to online dating. It seems that if you do not look like one of the babes off Instagram or a supermodel and instead look decent but average- i.e: me -you get nowhere. Believe me, I tried and all it did was crush my self-esteem. The rest of us are fucked… but not literally. 

I get the whole preference issue. Everyone has a particular type regarding what they look for in a lover or partner, whether they prefer blondes, brunettes or redheads. Nobody likes everything- imagine if we did!  What a weird world that would be. 

That said, there were some unbelievable comments during this programme. The stereotypes came thick and fast: the White guy who said he preferred Asian women because 'they're more submissive'. He wants someone who will answer to his beck and call and call him master, right? I hope the woman you find ends up being anything but submissive when she waves your bollocks in your face.


The woman who said she did not like the look of a black guy because 'his nose is flared… he looks angry.' This stereotype is so basic. She is probably the type who clutches her bag close to her chest whenever a Black man (young or old) sits next to her. 
The unconscious, automatic reaction of the participants in visualising someone described as 'classically handsome' as a White man- while the phrase, 'lover, not a fighter' immediately made them think of a Black man.

Not forgetting the man who said that he liked and slept with mixed race women, but would not exactly take them home to mother (though he was an absolute pillock so I disregarded most things he said). 

As I said before, I don't think there's anything wrong with having a preference, per se. It's when it goes to extremes that it's gets problematic, such as fetishism or negative stereotyping. Some people fetishise particular racial groups and that is when problems begin. Black men are seen as 'well-endowed', Asian women are 'submissive', Black women are either 'exotic, like a bird' and/or 'sexually aggressive', apparently in manner and appearance. Like we are a sexual trend to be consumed when we are 'in fashion' and discarded at all other times; seen as trophies to be paraded on the arms of men, instead of being afforded the courtesy to be seen as people. 


Then you have the instances of stereotyping, made worse when it's your own kind criticising you and your fellow women- then proclaiming, 'It's my preference!' when they are called out on it. I have seen and heard men of different races (including Black men) slate Black women about all manner of things and the crass dog-whistle comments and blatant disrespect ('she would be hotter if she wasn't so dark', 'you all are so angry') never ceases to amaze me. I don't care what anyone says- when other races hear Black men dissing their own, it enables and emboldens them to do the same towards us. No wonder Black women are treated shabbily when it comes to dating in general. It is a thin line between preference and prejudice and this programme proved that. 

© 19th July 2017

The WHAT In the Woodpile?!

Have you heard of Anne-Marie Morris? Me neither.

Apparently she is an MP for the Conservatives and she made a very stupid decision. When discussing the ongoing saga that is Brexit with a number of her parliamentary party peers, she referred to Brexit as ‘the nigger in the woodpile’.

There are many other turns of phrase that she could have used- ‘the elephant in the room’, ‘stop burying our heads in the sand’, ‘the fly in the ointment’. Of all the things she could have come up with, she said that. I heard the recording and believe me, it rolled off her tongue with ease.

What’s worse is that none of the people in the room at the time scolded her for her racist language. Not. One. What does that tell you? Clearly it’s a phrase casually thrown about by herself and those that she surrounds herself with day in and day out. And politicians wonder why we call them out of touch.

What’s just as annoying is those who defended her words. These people are living on another planet. This is not the days of slave plantations. She is in public office and freely and consciously uttered it without a care in the world and her peers did not bat an eyelid. These politicians are supposed to be representing me and my fellow Brits and yet- who knows -she might refer to me and others like me as a ‘nigger’ in private without a moment’s hesitation.

Some have bleated that the reaction has been over the top. Or worse, the supposed overreaction is ‘political correctness gone mad’ to ‘a good strong phrase’.

These are the same fools who still think there’s nothing wrong with calling a black person a golliwog. As for those saying that she’s ‘a product of how society used to be’- girl, please. Do not make excuses for the crap that came out of her mouth. She’s not some woman from ye olde Victorian times- she’s old enough to know better and know more suitable phrases to use. There is no way she can turn this around and say it was misquoted or out of context. She has no excuse.

Her apology was an even bigger pile of excrement as, according to her, the comment was “totally unintentional.” Of course it was. I mean, the way it literally rolled off your tongue like butter showed a huge lack of intent.

She apologised “unreservedly”, which makes a change from the current trend of indulging in the shitty trend of people issuing apologies with an almost sarcastic undertone of ‘I apologise to anyone who felt offended’ – as if I’m the one who should feel guilty for being upset.)

How can someone- especially a person in public office -think it’s ok to utter that outdated and offensive phrase in 2017?  She has now been suspended and rightly so. If she was in any other job she’d have been sacked, so why should she be given a reprieve? At least the Tories didn’t wait until two or three days later to act. She never thought twice about using that remark. She’ll certainly do so in future but her peers will carry on using such expressions until they are pulled up on it themselves.

Grenfell Tower and the Dignity Debate.

It is almost two weeks since the Grenfell Tower tragedy occurred, a horrific incident that shocked the nation and dominated the news headlines. But ever since this disaster happened, a weird kind of narrative has begun to rear its ugly head. The narrative of ‘respectability politics.’

Some people started commenting on the behaviour of the survivors and the families of those affected, saying that they were not showing enough ‘dignity’. Oh, where do I begin with this…

This is not a time for people to engage in the social and political football of respectability politics. These people are angry, in shock and devastated beyond belief. They have lost their families (entire generations in some cases), their friends, neighbours, everything that they worked for, everything they own including their identities because their passports or ID were destroyed in the blaze. I heard people say that the people affected should ‘think logically’. I have never heard such nonsense in my life. All these people judging the survivors and demanding that they show dignity and be rational while they watch sitting on their sofas is downright insulting. 

Not everything in life requires a dignified response

People use the word ‘dignity’ as a way to patronise and guilt-trip others so that they tone down their reaction, as if they are less worthy of notice if they shout. Dignity is a good thing in certain circumstances, but who are these armchair commentators to tell those who have lost loved ones and everything they know and care about how to exercise self-control? 

The desire to be dignified causes people to react in different ways. It often hinders their natural response because they feel like they have to show that they calm and collected, almost professional. There seems to be a shift over recent years where you cannot show anger about something (even when that reaction is more than justified) as it demonstrates a lack of self-control. Since when did we become robots? 

Furthermore, people from certain backgrounds or demographics have to be careful as anger might get them killed- look at what happened to Eric Garner or Philando Castile. 

I’m tired of the opinion that, in order to be heard or taken seriously, you have to look and behave a certain way. Sometimes, people approach situations with dignity and respect and still get patronised and ignored in equal measure. When the community around Grenfell Tower marched down to Kensington Town Hall the Friday after the fire, some commentators muttered disapprovingly at their actions. Those people need their heads checked to see where their empathy disappeared to (up their backsides, maybe?).

Imagine seeing your whole life reduced to a smoking shell. All your family and friends gone. All you own are the clothes on your back. You look at what used to be your home and are haunted by the events that preceded it. You’re suffering from ‘survivor’s guilt’, traumatised and weary and wanting to burst into tears at any moment but you can’t because you need to keep hoping that all is not lost. And in the aftermath, not one council member came to visit or provide assistance until much, much later. Everything is being done through voluntary and community outlets, not the actual council that hoovers up their council tax every month without fail. Communication is key. Talk to those directly affected face-to-face, not via a carefully-worded statement on BBC News. Don’t do what Theresa May did. 


Yes, they could have been sorting accommodation- but then these are the same people who still have not put together a list of residents who lived in Grenfell Tower. Nearly a fortnight after the fire and the official word is that 79 people died- but there is still no definitive residents list. Despite being told there are no more survivors, people are still desperately hoping to find their loved ones alive. But it is highly unlikely and what’s worse, it is like they never existed. Ironically, they are given no dignity in death because the powers that be are not acknowledging their existence. But some armchair commentators will continue to carry on telling people how to grieve and how to behave. It needs to stop. 

Pear Sh(e)aped.

Shea Moisture. You bunch of doughnuts.

Your brand catered for black people’s hair, mainly natural hair. Black women with thick, coarse, natural non-relaxed hair buy 99.9% of your products. So why did you bring out a new advert (now deleted but I’m sure it can be found floating in the internet ether) with absolutely no representation of this group of people?

I saw Shea Moisture trending on social media last night so I checked it out and this advert popped up. By the end of the 60 second promo I was surprised by how unrepresentative it was.

As usual, with products out there that initially catered to black women (Sleek Makeup, anyone?) the brand owners decided that the Black Pound is not enough and are now targeting white women for their custom. Then your ad comes out and you have not one, but two white women in your advert (along with a light skinned, possibly mixed race woman), all talking about ‘hair hate’. Talking about how they have so many issues with their hair. What the hell?

The hair issues of women like the ones in your advert (which usually consists of ‘Shall I wear my hair back or loose today?’ or ‘Which shampoo shall I buy from the supermarket out of the hundreds I can use?’) are considerably different to those of black women with thick natural hair, for whom just deciding what to do with their hair is often a struggle. Where were the women with 4a/4b/4c hair? You know- the ones that actually use your products? Most times, they can’t just put it all back in a ponytail. Most times they need a shitload of products to ensure their hair doesn’t dry out an hour after they moisturised it. Most times they do not have the breadth of choice that women with Caucasian hair have when it comes to choosing products because a lot of the mainstream stores do not stock many products for our type of hair. 
Also, when they go to the nearest Boots, Superdrug or supermarket, white women have 1,001 products to choose from because most of the hair products sold are for Caucasian hair. They don’t have to worry and search high and low for a product that works with their hair. They don’t have to go to specific hair stores to buy their items. They don’t have to spend ages everyday sorting or ‘taming’ their hair for fear of their hair (and hair texture) being called ‘unprofessional’ or ‘unsuitable for the workplace’. Even something as simple as hair gel is a problem for women with natural (and relaxed) hair because everyday gels don’t do much. 

As for those who think it’s great that Shea Moisure are being more inclusive and that black women are whining over nothing because apparently that’s what we’re good at… 

You know what happens when a product that was specifically made for black women becomes a product for everybody? Do you know who gets left out? That’s right: black women. The very people who parted with hard-earned cash and through word of mouth made the brand what it is today. But clearly our money and our opinion and our needs don’t mean shit. 

The majority of white women (or those with Caucasian hair) cannot handle Shea butter and certain thick oils in their hair follicles as it’s too heavy. So the product formulas that worked well for the naturalistas will no longer be as effective as they will be diluted (and you can count on that). Because, fuck effectiveness for those that supported you from the start if you can cater for everyone, right?


As you can tell by my writing, I think this entire situation is pure fuckery. The worst thing is that the owners of Shea Moisture were lacking in self-awareness as they didn’t realise there was a problem until they saw the big backlash on social media. They even started their Facebook post with ‘Wow. Okay…’ What were they expecting? Black women to give them a standing ovation? Yet again, we’ve seen black-owned products catering for black-ass people (but not promoting this aspect, funnily enough), but as soon as they get a whiff of mainstream attention or a shout-out in Cosmopolitan or Grazia, they shout from the rooftops that they cater for ‘EVERYONE’. 

Shea Moisture deserve every bit of negative publicity that they get from this. Here’s hoping they learn from this, but I doubt it.