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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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.

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

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

Doctor What?

The new Doctor Who has been announced- and it is going to be a woman. Jodie Whittaker will be the thirteenth Doctor and the first woman taking on this role. 


The announcement (via a promo broadcast straight after the men's singles final at Wimbledon) polarised the nation. Some people are delighted that those in charge have done this. At the same time, some are outraged that the new Doctor is a woman, as if this is the most outlandish aspect of a programme where the lead character is a time-travelling, shapeshifting alien who regenerates every few years and regularly fights a bunch of dusty bins otherwise known as Daleks. They see it as a risk- tell me, what is 'risky' about hiring an excellent actress in an iconic role?

Let me be the first to admit- I'm not a fan of Doctor Who. I'm not a Whovian, I'm not someone who knows assorted trivia about the show. But I am surprised and pleased about the direction the show has decided to take. If a woman is good enough to be the Doctor's assistant (and all the assistants have been women…so far), then a woman is good enough to take on the big job in the Tardis. Why should she always be there bridesmaid but never the bride? And for once, maybe women can have an assistant we can ogle over, or is that too much to ask?

To those that say, 'A woman as Doctor Who? What next- a man as Wonder Woman??' Sit down, it's completely different. Wonder Woman is clearly defined as being a woman so has to be played by (yes, you've guessed it) a woman. While Doctor Who is assumed by most to be a man (or to be precise, a white man) and has been cast as such, it is not gender-specific. Like in real life, doctors can be a man or a woman. 

As for all the people shouting to anyone that'll listen that they are not going to watch Doctor Who for the next few years…

You will be watching to see how Jodie Whittaker does on her debut- you won't be able to help it, so stop deluding yourselves. Seeing people lose their minds on social media over this is amazing- the level of petulance over something fictional astounds me. So long as the best person is cast for the role, what does their gender matter? Most of the negative reaction is from men who feel their privilege has been threatened by a woman taking on a role that should be played by a white man. It's the same situation as James Bond- apparently, only white men can play him as he is such a legendary character- hence why Idris Elba has not been hired yet. 

But the die is cast and the decision has been made. Some seem to think that if hey kick up enough of a fuss, those in charge will change their mind. It's not gonna happen. Here's hoping Jodie Whittaker does a great job and wows them all.

© 16th 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.