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.

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. 

Brexit: The Aftermath.

So Day One in the Big Brexit House and everything has gone to hell.
The people (52% of them) have spoken and the result is that we are leaving the European Union. In the aftermath of the shock result, our Prime Minister resigned on the steps of 10 Downing Street two hours later and social media went into meltdown. The Chancellor, George Osborne, appears to have gone into hiding. You couldn’t get rid of his face during the campaign- now nobody has seen him for several days.
People who voted to remain in the EU are clinging to a faint hope that they can somehow overturn the decision via petition. They say that the referendum was not legally binding. Now, I wanted to stay in the EU and as much as I disagree with the decision of ‘the people’, we cannot disregard it and stamp our feet like children because we dont like how it turned out.

Some people who voted to leave have regretted their decision since they went to the ballot box, thinking that their vote ‘wouldn’t count’. I’m not sure how these grown people could have such a mind-bogglingly stupid way of thinking but well, you learn something new every day. The world and his wife knew that this vote would be very close and could go either way but you thought this- the most important decision made by the British people for a generation -was one big irrelevance and your vote was the same. Well, you made your bed (a bed we all have to lie in, the most uncomfortable bed possible) and we all have to lie in it. In other words, like those memes you see on social media, we have to deal with it.

The EU want Britain to get out as soon as possible. Boris Johnson said yesterday that there was ‘no rush’ to leave, which is funny considering how much he was urging us to do so with haste before last Thursday. Our European neighbours ‘urgently’ want us to trigger the mysterious-sounding Article 50 so they can kick our backsides to the kerb and get on with their lives and their union. They are not here for sitting and waiting for us to pack our bags and wave us off at the door. They are the person who’s throwing their cheating lover’s clothes out of the window as the whole neighbourhood watches while shouting, ‘I DON’T NEED YOU.’ And rightly so. The arrogance of the Leave campaigners is astonishing. Why should they wait for us to get our shit together? 

The EU powers-that-be are furious with David Cameron because his resignation will not take effect until October. As a result, changes cannot be made until then and naturally, the EU are probably looking for loopholes right now, trying to find a way to get us out immediately.

Nigel Farage has popped up on my TV far too often during this event considering he is not an elected member of parliament. His smug grinning face has annoyed the hell out of me and I hoped- really hoped -that once this was over, he would be too. But no, that would be too simple, wouldn’t it? So get ready for him to be plastered across our screens on Question Time from now til the end of time. 

That said, he and his cronies have started back-pedalling on a number of issues. The £350m a week they will ‘reclaim’ from the EU will not go into the NHS because that amount of money was a barefaced lie. Although it was emblazoned on the side of their bus throughout their campaign, he admitted that it was (and I quote) ‘a big mistake’. 

Immigration will not stop overnight and gates will not rise from the ground at the cliffs of Dover to stop all those pesky immigrants coming in and taking our jobs, our women, etc. It will take a few years for certain things to be implemented and any issues to be smoothed out, but some people seemed to think that this would happen.

I live in London (or as it is now known, the ‘London bubble’) where the majority voted to remain in the EU and it felt like everyone was waiting for the pub to open at 8 o’clock in the morning because they were so downhearted about the result. My friend took the afternoon off work because he was so angry. Seeing people’s reactions to the result was an eye-opener. Some were crying out of sheer disappointment, few were quietly elated, some were stoic, trying to be optimistic and just got on with it…then they got drunk as skunks.

What happens next? Who knows. Not even the winning side know. Everyone is waited on tenterhooks and craning their necks to see. I’m just taking stock and reflecting on what has happened.

Banking on Bad Karma?

Azealia Banks started an almighty Twitter ruckus in the space of 24 hours. She went to town on everyone and for the life of me, I cannot understand why. Banks kicked things off by calling Zayn Malik all manner of disgusting things as she felt that he had stolen ideas and looks from one of her previous videos. One of her tweets was as thus:

“Do you understand that you are a sand nigger who emulates white boys’ renditions of black male hood?”

Sand. Nigger. She actually called him that. I mean…there’s being upset at feeling that someone has (allegedly) taken your style and run with it without giving you a hint of credit, but this was off the scale. To think that this statement came from a woman who freely admitted that she bleaches her skin so…who’s emulating the so-called white people perception of black man/womanhood?

Some people have said that she needs help or an intervention of some kind, but I doubt that will help. Banks is so bull-headed and there is an air of defiance about her taking on what appeared to be the whole world. Malik, Disney star Skai Jackson (who destroyed her in a series of wounding tweets), the entire UK rap/hip hop industry…the list grew bigger as the night wore on. By the time I woke up this morning, she was still at it and while I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it, I found it depressing.

I really liked Banks’ 1991 EP and despite numerous Twitter beefs and public spats, I was rooting for her to come through and let her talent do the talking. Unfortunately, she is not allowing that to happen. Previous rows have not gone down well (T.I, Iggy Azalea, Lily Allen, the Stone Roses) but this one- which Malik, to his credit, barely responded to -could prove to be her downfall.

Anyone who says that what she is saying is just her being ‘honest’ needs their head checked. Calling Malik a ‘curry scented bitch’ and a ‘Paki’ makes her sound like a member of the National Front. To call herself a proud Black woman and then make such disgraceful slurs baffles me. Then to go after a teenage actress who didn’t even @ her on Twitter and criticise her skin colour (THE SAME SKIN COLOUR AS HER) and tell her to start her menses and get a boob and bum job is beyond words. Any other fourteen-year-old would have taken that to heart, but not Miss Jackson. She clapped back and then some and it was richly deserved.

I’m disturbed at how someone who is ‘pro-Black’ and always talking about how Black women get a raw deal in the music industry and life in general, thought it would be a good idea to make derogatory remarks about the looks of another Black woman in a public arena. DJ Jamz Supernova, a black British DJ, was on the receiving end of Banks’ tongue when she dared to tell her about herself. How on earth can you be on the side of black women one minute, then roast them about their features the next? You bleach your skin, therefore you have no right to talk about any woman’s appearance. To top it all off, she also went on Periscope and ranted about all the above topics without a hint of remorse. 

How can Banks (who, remember, claims to be ‘pro-Black’) possibly be so when she made such astounding comments towards her own people? Some claim she has a mental illness or are saying that her troubled background is the reason for her behaviour, but nope, I’m not having it. She was very aware of what she was saying. To say such things to women of the same race as you, as well as people from other ethnic minorities, makes you a nasty piece of work. Furthermore, to type those words before posting them online suggests that she must have been thinking lucidly as she did so. So that argument cuts no ice.

As for her saying British rap artists are crap, she collaborated and was friends with Shystie for years until they- unsurprisingly -fell out (with Banks throwing nasty comments towards her as well). After all, this is her modus operandi so we should not be that surprised.

The powers-that-be at Twitter headquarters itself stayed remarkably quiet during her tirade. At what point did they think they should have stepped in? Or did it not cross their mind at all? 

Regardless of the fact that Banks has now issued an apology of sorts, let’s be honest. Her management should be deleting her Twitter account, never mind allowing her just to delete those vicious messages. 

Banks can spin this any way she likes and however she tries to spin her tweets as showing concern for Skai Jackson and derision for Zayn Malik, she has burned her bridges. There won’t be any Drake-like collaborations with British grime and rap artists, that’s for sure.

Reservation and Rationality.

Maria Sharapova called a press conference yesterday and surprised everyone by announcing that she had failed a drug test. She has been taking a banned substance called meldonium for nearly a decade, apparently to ward off any possibility of her becoming diabetic (there is a history of the disease in her family).

Most people thought she was about to announce her retirement so this was quite a bombshell. Except…it does not feel like much of a scandal, judging by the reaction. The second best tennis player in the world made a huge confession and yet there are so many excuses flying about in Sharapova’s defence it is laughable. 

‘Oh, she didn’t mean to take it.’ How do you know? Were you there?                                                                           

‘I hope she avoids a lengthy ban.’ She failed a drug test. What part of that sentence do you not understand?

People say that we should keep this news in perspective and see it in context because we do not have all the facts. Have you ever heard such nonsense greet a professional athlete damaging themselves and their sport? She announced this to the world and you want us to keep it in perspective and show sympathy like she is the victim? 

Another thing that crossed my mind is why was Sharapova allowed to announce this and not the Word Anti Doping Agency (WADA)? Why was she given the power to do things her way? When other athletes from various sports have been shown to have failed a drugs test, it is usually announced by WADA or splashed across the media as an exclusive before the Agency have time to think, so what happened here? She was in this year’s Australian Open final, which she lost to Serena Williams. She failed the test immediately after the final. Now we all know damn well that if Serena had failed a test, all this reservation and rationality would be in very short supply. In fact, many commentators, pundits and members of the public would be rubbing their hands with glee if this had happened to her, but I digress.

I didn’t see or hear all this sympathy for other players in similar circumstances. Sharapova has been criticised for her actions, but 98% of people have ended their sentences with ‘but she made an honest mistake.’ Yes, an honest mistake that carried on for ten years. At what point does something still qualify as a ‘mistake’? Enlighten me. 

She hopes to be allowed to return to tennis one day and I have no doubt she will. Although some of her sponsors such as Nike and Tag Heuer have ceased supporting her in the wake of this bombshell, Sharapova will come back. After all, the benefit of the doubt has been afforded to her so much in the past 24 hours that I am sure she will be welcomed back with open arms and this ‘honest mistake’ will be swept under the carpet. How depressing. 

Sixteen Stops.

I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine
One each of rosé and white combined,
I’m feeling tired and slightly drowsy
On the train but won’t get rowdy
‘Cos that is indefensible,
And acting that way isn’t sensible
My stomach is empty, for I didn’t eat
What was I thinking? Must not repeat
This foolish idea, don’t be so bold,
Lord have mercy I’m so damn cold
I want my bed and I want some food
Sex would be nice, but I’m not in the mood.
I’m still far from home, another sixteen stops
Maybe they’ll fly by- fingers crossed.
The train driver can’t drive well at all,
Sends us flying and down we fall
As he slams on the brakes for no good reason,
Leaves on the line? Well, it’s the season.
It’s getting late but I’m almost there
Trying to be patient but I’m going spare
Come on! Get me home, no time to waste,
Got things to do and food to taste,
I’m trying to fight the sleepyness
So let me get home and eat and rest.

Bond Song Gone Wrong.

Alas and alack, the new Bond theme has premiered- Writing’s On the Wall by Sam Smith. All I can say is I have no desire to listen to it again. Why? I hear you ask.

It is DULL. Seriously dull. How on earth was such a boring song chosen to be a Bond theme? Now, I have no problem with Smith himself- I know for some people, his voice is like Marmite (you love him or hate him), but this song is a dirge. Where is the fire, the passion, the sass? Damn it, where is the sexiness and sensuality that were in abundance in the majestic previous Bond theme, Skyfall? In fact, after I managed to listen to Writing’s On the Wall in its entirety, I put Skyfall on and was amazed at how brilliant it still is and how marvellous Adele sounded and how much it craps all over the new song (in case you wondered, it’s all over it like a bunch of pigeons on Trafalgar Square).      

I am so disappointed because when the one minute snippet of Skyfall was released the day before its world premiere, I was curious to hear it but wasn’t expecting it to be a classic.How wrong was I? I found myself listening to it on a loop for a day and a half until the full song came out. I thought it was- and still is -utterly magnificent and one of the best Bond themes ever.

I’m not a Bond film aficionado but I know my Bond theme songs and there are few which I would consider to be classics. Goldfinger (of course), Goldeneye, A View To A Kill, Licence To Kill. I adored Tomorrow Never Dies by Sheryl Crow. I liked Chris Cornell’s You Know My Name because it sounded different and in-your-face compared to the usual Bond themes, yet it worked. I also have a soft spot for Madonna’s Die Another Day, an underrated song lambasted by people who were snobbish about how a Bond theme should sound, although let’s not discuss Another Way To Die because that song was a mistake.

This is how dire the situation is: I have  found myself wondering how the song will fit in with the opening title sequence and I never do that.
Writing’s On the Wall is similar to Smith’s old song Stay With Me- it starts off promisingly then peters out into nothingness, plodding along when instead, it should reach a triumphant and satisfying ending. 

According to Smith’s tweet, the song is already number one on the iTunes charts. I’m not sure why because it really does not deserve it. Skyfall only reached number two (you FOOLS!), so for this blandness to get all the credit that its predecessor should have got would be wrong in my eyes. It looks like social media sees the song the way that I do: a Bond theme that is as flat as a pancake and not up to scratch.