Stormzy’s Scholarship.

Stormzy continues to excel in his quest for world domination. Earlier today, he announced a new Stormzy Scholarship, a new venture in partnership with Cambridge University which gives two black British students the fully-funded opportunity to study at the esteemed institution.

Wow. First, his publishing project with Penguin Books – called Merky Books – and now this. What an absolutely fantastic opportunity and a boost to black British students, many of whom often feel that, while the road to Oxbridge is an option, it is not exactly open to them.

Of course in this day and age of people who moan for moaning’s sake, there were dunces out there bleating, “Why is Stormzy only doing this scholarship for underprivileged black British students? Why not include underprivileged white students?”

The reason why he is doing this, you ignorant fools, is because even an underprivileged white student has a better chance of getting into Oxbridge than a black British student – thanks to their skin colour they are not subjected to quotas or outright ignored, as everything is geared in their favour. The number of black British students at Cambridge would be laughable if it wasn’t so low – they even asked for help from schools and parents to increase the number of black British students enrolling at the university (because Cambridge ‘could not do it on its own.’)

See, this is what the class system does in Britain – it tries to obstruct certain people from certain backgrounds gaining access to certain institutions. Despite all the talk of diversity, the Oxbridge definition is along the lines of allowing more white women through the doors – a bit like golf clubs (though they still do not want women in the clubhouse). They look down upon those whose looks and image does not fit the general consensus and allow a select number of ethnic minorities within the hallowed walls – and even then, instead of allowing them to flourish, the black British contingent are made to feel like they should be forever grateful that they were allowed to study at Oxbridge. Never mind that they got there on merit by getting the grades and working their backsides off to achieve and succeed – they endured snippy comments from those who looked down at them saying, ‘You can’t sit with us.’

In an ideal world Stormzy should not have had to do this scholarship. It also (in a roundabout way) shamed Cambridge University and highlighted the lack of action with their previous (ahem) ‘efforts’ regarding diversity. However, the fact that he has made this happen demonstrates his greatness, his astute nature and his desire to level the playing field. At the end of the day, an underprivileged white student is still a white person and a part of the mainstream. Black people are a very visible minority so anything that helps raise the number of us within such stiflingly white institutions is a great thing. Education is for all – Stormzy’s scholarship proves so.

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Joshua v Parker: The Verdict.

I was so hyped for this fight. It was an intriguing set-up: Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker: the battle of the unbeaten boxers.

The fight had the potential to be a proper nail-biting dust-up but all that was ruined thanks to one man: the referee, Giuseppe Quartarone.

I don’t know if he was channelling infamous football ref Mike Dean, but he was atrocious. He kept stopping any contact between both fighters, even though that is the actual point of this sport, and on the rare occasions when it looked like an actual fight was going to happen, the ref butted in and parted them both like Moses and the Red Sea. There was one moment in the fifth round where the fight got a bit tasty and the crowd were roaring in approval and Quartarone charged in and separated them. Again.

He also made farcical decisions such as halting a fight in the last ten seconds of one round so that Joshua strapped up his glove properly. Never mind that the glove was like that for the previous two minutes and he did not notice. He could have waited until the bell rang at the end of the round but that would have meant using common sense. No wonder Joshua and Parker were so vexed. All the commentators on TV and radio grew more and more irritated by Quartarone’s atrocious officiating – people paid money to watch that fight, only to see him on a one-man mission to destroy a potentially blockbusting bout.

Joshua looked in control for most of the fight. It was not a thrill-a-minute bout like the classic against Klitschko but he got the job done. Parker was an unknown quantity to most Brits but, considering he was unbeaten, we knew that he had a fair amount of quality. The Kiwi is two years younger than Joshua, but had an issue with his elbow which he said had cleared up before the fight, so he’d be fighting ‘at 100%’. Despite his disadvantage height-wise, he fared well but was swinging wild punches at his opponent’s head and never really succeeding in getting a true connection. Plus, every time he got into a groove, that damn referee put a stop to his flow.

Overall, a fight that could have been a cracker fizzled out with a whimper. A dull bout between two quality fighters and an attention-seeking referee.

What’s next? Joshua v Wilder is on the horizon! Now that is going to be one helluva knock-down-drag-out fight. Joshua called out Wilder after his win (“Let’s go, baby, LET’S GO,” he hollered) and said he is ready to roll whenever, so long as the venue is on British shores. Damn right. What a fight that’ll be!

Let’s hope if it does take place in the near future that tonight’s referee isn’t allowed anywhere near it- not even as a spectator.

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.

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.

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