Black Lives Matter.

Sunday. Oxford Circus. London. 9:30am. 

I stood waiting outside the station with a group of friends and a large crowd of strangers. Not much gets me out of bed that early on a Sunday morning- especially in central London -but there I was. Everybody was there for one reason: the Black Lives Matter march. The one held last Friday was a resounding success and now it was our turn. Forty minutes later, we set off down Oxford Street towards the American embassy, back down Oxford Street then onto Marble Arch and Hyde Park.

As the day went on the crowd grew bigger and bigger, almost like people dumped their shopping to join us. It was amazing to see. We were loud, we were proud, we held up traffic on Oxford Street (not something I thought I’d ever say) and we were peaceful. People of all backgrounds, ages, races and cultures- people who might not speak to each other at any other time were marching side by side on that rainy Sunday.

Bus drivers beeped their horns in solidarity (though I’m sure some of them wanted us to just get out of the way). An old woman gave everybody two thumbs-up while sitting upstairs on the bus. Some people we walked past gave us approving nods- very British.

Eventually we left after four hours with the several-thousand strong crowd still chanting and protesting as they walked down Park Lane, past The Dorchester hotel- again, not something I thought I would ever see! Instead of heading home, I had a little wander around London for an hour or two and saw that the protesters had made it to the Houses of Parliament. No rain or terrible British summer (because this is definitely the worst summer this country has ever had) could put them off as they stood there, while bewildered tourists wondered what was going on. 

The next day I discussed the march with a couple of friends. They wanted to attend but could not make it, then one of them declared, ‘I don’t see the point of protesting. What’s the point? Nothing is gonna change anyway.’ I was disappointed by his reaction but also unsurprised. If he had that attitude throughout life, I argued, then what’s the point of getting out of bed in the morning? What’s the point of going to work to pay for your car? You might as well give up. The point of the protest was to show solidarity in the aftermath of the terrible deaths/unlawful killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in America, as well as highlight the injustices towards black people in this country and worldwide. It was to show that any injustices perpetrated in future will not be taken lying down. It was also to (literally) demonstrate that we are here and we are as important as everyone else. 

There is a long-standing debate concerning the tagline ‘All Lives Matter’. Some people feel that by having the Black Lives Matter movement, it is encouraging a new kind of segregation and racism, to which I reply: No. As one placard said at Sunday’s march: ‘Pro-Black does NOT mean anti-White’. I wish some people would realise this because it’s not that hard to understand. I have friends and family of various races and religions and I am very proud of that fact. Of course all lives matter- that is obvious. Everybody matters on this planet. But I am also proud of my colour and my heritage and there is nothing wrong with showing that. 

The problem is sometimes, underneath the banner of All Lives Matter, black people can tend to be forgotten, unheard or even misrepresented. This may be due to certain people being pushed forward as the voice of our community who, let’s face it, have nothing to do with us. People who think they know everything about us and our culture because they’ve been around us for longer than 10 minutes. Too many times we have seen people represent us who are not of the same colour or, even worse, those who describe themselves as ‘politically black’. Where on earth did this nonsense come from? You CANNOT (and never can be) politically black- you either are or you are not. Being black is not a piece of clothing that you can throw on or off whenever you feel like it. 

It was fantastic to see so many people come together in London and across other cities in Britain (Birmingham and Manchester respectively) to show solidarity, love, peace and positivity while also shining a light on the issues that black people have to face here and around the world. 

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Life’s A Beach.

So 43,000 people have now complained about this beach body advert plastered all over the London Underground:

image

I have three words for the moaners:
Get over yourselves.   

I have seen this advert everyday on my commute and am baffled by the fuss- a slim woman in an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow non-polka-dot bikini is standing tall and supposedly ‘beach body-ready’ and some people are boohoo-ing about it. I have heard that it is ‘fat shaming and offensive to larger sized women’. In my humble opinion, that is bollocks.

I have a big wobbly stomach, bingo wings and thighs that could start a fire when they rub together, but this ad has absolutely no effect on me. I just see a woman looking nice on a poster…and that’s it. I certainly don’t feel ashamed for being curvy because everybody is different. Besides, I wouldn’t wear a bikini.

I am astonished at how such an innocuous poster could cause such a mad reaction. Plenty of ads like this have been plastered on the tube and various other places for years and nobody cried foul over them. Everyone is bleating over the smallest thing nowadays and it’s so tiresome. I thought we were better than this.

People say it makes them feel ‘physically inferior’ and even asking for it to be banned. Give me a break! I am all for women (of all shapes and sizes) feeling confident and looking their best but seriously, this moaning needs to stop. I look nothing like this woman. I’m self-conscious and had my fair share of body issues but this poster does not make me feel inferior and you should not feel that way either. In fact, the more people are kicking up a fuss, the more I want it to stay. Be more offended by the numerous posters plastered around telling you how you can get a loan with 2000% APR.

Crass Journalism.

Over the weekend, a young 15 year old girl was shot dead in East London. Her name is Shereka Marsh and I don’t know her or her family, but it’s such a shame when a young life is taken in a brutal way.

So imagine how surprised I was when my eyes locked onto a distasteful picture of the deceased girl splashed on the front page of a certain newspaper (I refuse to name it but expected better from them). Considering she was a teenager and teens take endless selfies and photos of their every move, are this publication telling me and the rest of the general public that the only ‘decent’ photo they could find was of her pouting while wearing a necklace emblazoned with a crude statement? We have been told that the young girl was a straight-A model pupil who was also a prefect at her secondary school. Good natured. Popular. Showed the Jamaican High Commissioner round her school only recently. And yet, with your sources and social media being so widely available, that was the best you could do? Really??

It’s not a flattering photo of her at all due to its content and because of what happened to her, but that’s precisely why it should never have been used. We all have photographs of ourselves that we regret taking afterwards but the picture in question is inflammatory because people judge and trust me, when commuters saw it on the train this morning, some looked at her in a very negative light even though she was the victim.

Whatever happened to using a simple picture of a girl smiling in her school uniform? Or one of her larking around with her mates? Were they not dramatic enough or not suggestive enough to paint a particular picture? I was taken aback to see such crass journalism (because that’s what it is)- who knows if they’ll print an apology to her grieving family? I doubt it.