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.

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

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. 

A Plane Disgrace.

United Airlines are doing their utmost to divide public opinion on them from ‘bad’ to ‘downright despicable’. A thirty-second video emerged yesterday of a male passenger being dragged off one of their flights, kicking and screaming and sporting a bloody nose. 

This incident was in full view of the other passengers and several security personnel carted him off while passengers voiced their anger and horror at such a thing. 

Where do I start with this mess?

Firstly, United overbooked this particular flight and then realised that they needed four seats to accommodate members of their cabin crew because they needed to get to their next flight. Oh, so sod the other passengers who want to get somewhere. The cabin crew asked for four passengers to give up their seats. When they refused, they played ‘eenie meenie miny mo’ and forced them to give up their seats.

United have a lot of nerve. It was their fault that the flight was overbooked and they wanted passengers to pay the price for their cost-and-corner cutting. Why should they? If they are so desperate to get their staff from A to B, use the CEO’s private jet, dammit.

Everyone I know who has seen the video had the same reaction: sheer disbelief. They can’t believe that if they go on a plane, they could go through the same thing and be treated as less than human for something that was not their fault. 

The passenger in question is a doctor- he could have been on his way to perform life saving surgery, plus…HE’S A DOCTOR. I’d rather he stayed on the flight and got to his destination and saw his patients than the airline staff. Couldn’t United have called on other staff members to stand-in? A big old airline like that had no extra cover for four people? Come off it. 


United Airlines gave the go-ahead for security to treat the man lower than a dog- and then had the nerve to defend it! The passenger booked and paid for his seat in good faith, checked in, had his luggage in the hold and was all buckled up and raring to go. His journey ended with him being dragged off a plane and into the world’s spotlight. A paying passenger was treated like a criminal. I could understand if he committed a criminal act but all he did was (rightly) refuse to give up the seat he paid for to accommodate United Airlines’ foolishness. 

In the last few hours, the CEO of United Airlines said sorry for the ‘truly horrific’ incident. It took him long enough. 


This was a disgraceful incident, no matter which way you look at it. I hope the passenger sues United Airlines for every penny because they have behaved in a shockingly callous way and shown that they clearly have no regard for their customers. 

Playing to the Crowd.

So this week’s Friday Fuckery is this man from Atlanta who set up a crowdfunding page to pay for his fiancee’s engagement ring. He aims to raise $15,000 for this purpose. 


Whatever happened to modesty? Why does he (and other people) feel the need to spend such exorbitant amounts on an engagement ring? You’re going to get married at some point so throw all your money on that instead. 

The man- whose name is William Oliver -even had the audacity to write the following sentence on his crowdfunding page: 

This will raise awareness about the difference between the love we share and the love people have for us. 

The cheeky bastard! 
So if someone does not donate to his ’cause’, they are proving that they love them less? He’s a shameless hussy.

He has since stopped accepting donations, which must have been a result of the public furore this has caused. At the close of business- oops! I meant the page, he raised $609.

Is nothing off-limits anymore? Last week, a young woman sold her virginity online to some random rich businessman for £2 million, in conjunction with the escort company that she works for. What the hell? Isn’t the time out lose your virginity supposed to be awkward instead of something resembling a scene out of Indecent Proposal? Everything has a price nowadays and nothing is sacred. 

But back to William Oliver- I’m not here for his reasoning that, by funding the engagement ring, his family and friends will be contributing to their future. That is emotional blackmail. If I were in their shoes, I would rather buy a vase. The engagement ring is the financial responsibility of the groom-to-be and he is showing barefaced cheek to suggest such a method. 
Anyway, shouldn’t he have the engagement ring on him when he proposes to his future wife, or am I missing something? 


If he cannot afford what he feels his wife-to-be deserves, then pick something more modest. It’s not a crime to be modest. As long as it is not a ring made of kitchen foil, I’m sure she would understand.

Pepsi Lost Their Fizz.

The internet has gone bananas about the new Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner...and not in a good way. Naturally, I have to throw in my two cents:

First of all, why is this advert nearly three minutes long? Unless it’s a charity appeal, there’s no need for any advert to have that duration.

Secondly, what was the point? I watched it thrice and still didn’t get it. I thought it was a parody. It was like a stylised, ultra glossy version of an American protest, with extra layers of FA-SHUN added by bringing Ms Jenner to the mix. 


What were Pepsi thinking? I wasted my time watching something that felt like a very colourful Gap ad or a music video than a pointed illustration of modern American life.

The advert was utterly pointless. Even if they were attempting to make a point (and I still don’t know what that was), this was probably the dumbest way to do it. Was there no person of colour at Pepsi HQ (or any person, in fact) who could have said, ‘Are you sure this is a good idea?’ 


Who decided that little ‘Wonder Woman’ bit where Jenner whipped off her wig was a slice of genius? It only succeeded in making me laugh. The fist bump between her and the black guy dancing throughout was cringeworthy, as was the mini-flirting with the violinist who cannot sip properly from a can of Pepsi. But let’s be honest, the entire ad was two minutes and forty-six seconds of cringe and I’m still trying to figure out WHAT THE FRIGGING POINT OF IT WAS. 


So if peaceful protestors of the past such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had a Pepsi on their person, maybe the powers-that-be would have been more sympathetic to their plight? If Black Lives Matter had a Pepsi multipack, things might have been less problematic? If only real life was as simple as handing a fizzy drink to a member of the riot police, eh? Why did Pepsi think they could crowbar themselves into this issue and turn it into something palatable, edgy and trendy (ugh)? It’s as bad as that time Sky Sports turned their Super Sunday credits into WAG Central: an unrecognisable football crowd full of gorgeous model-esque women, suited blokes and happy families all waving their hands to ‘Loving Each Day’ by Ronan Keating, with not a single regular-looking football fan in sight. 

Pepsi released an apology which only apologised to Kendall Jenner rather than those who complained about the ad- why I do not know. Ms Jenner is twenty years old. She is not a child. She can make her own decisions regarding which projects she takes on and those she does not, so why they aimed their apology at her and her alone is weird. 

Seriously Pepsi, stick to what you’re good at. In fact, all big brands should probably do so unless they’re absolutely sure they have got their message right. I’m not looking to you to make a statement on the world today- I want you to carry on making mindless and insanely expensive adverts that I can roll my eyes at and not expect anything other than you selling your cold beverage to me through heavy-handed product placement. Trivialising the protests of recent times into happy vignettes of aesthetically-pleasing young people in technicolor (I saw no diversity in terms of age in that crowd at all) walking through sun-drenched streets clutching cans of your drink is not the one.


© isanynamefree 2017