A Braidy Business.

Young black girls have been wearing braids since the dawn of time. I never thought that such a simple hairstyle would be seen as problematic until I saw this tweet on Twitter last week:

I was so shocked by this because I had no idea that it was an issue. Why should it be? When I was a teenager, I wore braids at secondary school and not one teacher told me that my hair was ‘unsuitable’ or ‘unnatural’. That was in the early to mid-1990s, so how is it a problem now? If anything, schools should be more knowledgeable about this instead of wanting all children to conform to one generic look. Many of them cannot do that because: genetics.

According to this school’s uniform policy (which encourages pupils to adopt a ‘corporate identity’ – I’m guessing this extends to how they look as well), braids fall under the category of an ‘extreme hairstyle’. This is nonsense. Braids are not an extreme hairstyle, they are a protective hairstyle – two very different things. They protect our fragile follicles and strands. Not every black child wants to relax their hair and braids are a convenient and stylish way to maintain their Afro locks. If this teacher did some research, he would have known that.

This situation is scandalous and yet again adds to the policing and demonisation of black hair and the myopic viewpoint that our hair is perceived as ‘unprofessional’, no matter how we style it.

If the girl’s braids were down to her knees, it could be deemed a health and safety issue but this is not the case – it is a cultural issue and that’s not all. First, the head of year said her braids were ‘unnatural’; then he declared that the colour of the braids contravened the uniform policy, so she must remove the blonde bits. Like she can just pull them out quickly as if the hairdresser didn’t spend hours painstakingly braiding her hair. She cannot remove the blonde bits because that would mean SHE WOULD HAVE TO REMOVE ALL HER BRAIDS.

Knowing how much it costs to braid hair – both in price and in time – would mean that the whole process was a waste of time for the poor girl, merely because her teacher viewed her hair negatively and in an ignorant manner.

All this happened on her first day of secondary school. Imagine! The poor girl must have been excited and nervous starting at a new school. Then, she walked in and her new head of year criticised her hair, implying that she did not fit in because of this one aspect. That staff member likely gave that young girl a poor start to her experience at her new school because he’s now provided her with a complex, thanks to his dismissal of her perfectly fine hairstyle.

Also, how can you such a style is unnatural and yet have a young black girl on your homepage wearing – yes, you’ve guessed it – braids? Oh, the irony. But then again, what do you expect from a school that doesn’t even allow their pupils to wear earrings? I understand if they restricted pupils to wearing studs, but no earrings at all? Really?

Their policy states that ‘unnatural hair extensions or dyes are not permitted’. Fair enough, but what if there is a pupil at the school who has, say, a serious illness or alopecia and want to cover up by wearing a wig? Would that be allowed? Or would they make up another excuse on the spot and humiliate the child on their first day?

Fortunately, the school in question saw sense and softened their stance on this, so the young girl did not have to remove her braids. Thank goodness they did. Negatively affecting this young girl’s progress before she’s even begun because she sported braids is ridiculous. Wearing them will not impact her education or how she learns in any way and maybe they will realise that this hairstyle can be a part of her corporate and cultural identities. The two should not be mutually exclusive.

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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.

Get Out of Hair, Man.

Black women are never given the credit we deserve and it’s getting on my last nerve.
Today I listened to a report on Radio 4 on the ‘no poo’ movement. Now before your face screws up like this…

…let me explain.

‘No poo’ is short for ‘no shampoo’. It is also known as co-washing and many black women (especially those sporting natural, non-relaxed hair) follow this method when washing their hair and find it highly beneficial. They see it as a way to stop using sulfate-heavy shampoos and incorporate natural products to help their hair flourish (although sulfate-free shampoos are on the rise nowadays).

This is something that has been a part of black culture for years so imagine my surprise when I saw a radio report entitled ‘Why We’re Dropping Hair Products For the ‘No Poo’ Movement’ on Radio 4. Now imagine my surprise when I heard how incredibly whitewashed it was.

Considering black women started this whole movement years ago, why were none interviewed? Where were the natural-haired women talking about their hair routine? Why was no credit attributed to them for starting this method? Where were the black women??
Instead of hearing their knowledge, I listened to plummy-voiced toffs talking about it like it was their invention. ‘There’s loads about it online,’ the synopsis read. Yes, and most of it is regarding women with Afro hair, but carry on ignoring us.

According to the Radio 4 report, one of the leading ‘no poo’ bloggers is a woman called Lucy Aitkenread.

Seriously, who is she? I have watched countless videos on this method but never seen her name pop up anywhere. Mind you, YouTube aren’t helping because the first batch of videos that come up when you type in ‘no poo method’ are from white women. The way it is framed, you wouldn’t think that it is a staple in the hair routines of black women.

So what’s the deal, Radio 4?

How can you have a report on this trend that was created by black people and completely and blatantly omit us from it? Not one mention, not a hint of recognition, you just ignore us. You mean to tell me that you looked through various social media sites such as YouTube and Twitter and somehow managed to ignore the daily stream of videos from black women both in Britain and beyond discussing and demonstrating their co-washing routines? If that was the case then your research methods were very… lightweight. It’s ridiculous that black women were airbrushed out of this, but then I should not be surprised. Cornrows (or canerows) were re-branded for the mainstream as ‘boxer braids’, jewellery such as bamboo earrings which were once dismissed as ‘ghetto’, are now deemed ‘edgy’ and ‘trendy’ because white women are wearing them.

I’m tired of us not being involved in conversations or reports where we should be first in line. Give us the credit when it is (long) overdue instead of keeping our contribution quiet. It’s not that difficult.

© 3rd August 2017

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

In (Self Imposed) Exile.

Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. The holy trinity of social media. I scrolled through them everyday looking at updates, funny gifs and random shit because let’s be honest, that what we all love: the lack of thought that goes into reading these things. It was a bit of escapism.

I was going to give up Twitter for Lent because over the past few months, it appears that the lunatics have taken over the asylum. Even though I try to stay away from all the nonsense swirling around the Twittersphere (especially since Brexit and Trump becoming President), it feels like it has been hijacked by the alt-right and leftists slating and baiting each other online.


It is full of trolls and jackasses who need little invitation to act that way. There have been times where a picture of a beautiful black woman is posted with a caption along the lines of, ‘she’s too dark’ next to it. It’s usually followed up by the tweeter gloating about how much attention he got from those who took the bait and snapped. It’s unbelievable and mind-numbingly stupid. I started muting and blocking people who were getting on my nerves or receiving too much attention for their trolling. And still I scrolled through my timeline everyday, reading about various events (or non-events) in people’s lives, various arguments unfolding before my eyes, constantly refreshing the page to see if anything new came up even though the last update was five seconds ago. It got to the point where it became exhausting to look at yet I couldn’t turn away, almost like I was rubber-necking an accident. Also, I realised the amount of time I spent reading tweets was time that I could have been doing something productive, which annoyed me even more.

This was also the case with Facebook, where I scrolled down the list of friends posting about their lives or some random video that they wanted a reaction from. As for Instagram, that just made me feel like I was wasting my life or I was inferior. All these people posting selfies with their X-Pro and Mayfair filters and pouting like models when I don’t even know how to pout like that (and when I try I look like I’ve been punched in the gob), talking about how amazing their lives are. I know 98% of the time it is a picture that is not a genuine reflection of their life at the time, but sometimes it made me feel like crap and was not what I wanted to see when I was in a mood.

Before this sounds like an ‘I hate social media’ rant, let me say that there are positives to all these apps. I found some of the funniest things I have ever read or watched in my life on Twitter, tweets that made me howl with laughter while thinking ‘I’m going to hell’ at the same time. Not everybody is a troll- there are decent people behind some of the usernames, it’s just that so many of them get caught up in the madness. 

Facebook is a good way to keep in touch with people from your past, whether it be former classmates or colleagues. Also (like most social media) you control who sees your life- I have friends who have 400, 500, even a thousand ‘friends’. I’ve barely got eighty. A few years ago that actually bothered me for some stupid reason, then I quickly realised that I didn’t give a shit. At least the people who are on my timeline are people I don’t mind reading my business. 

Anyway, I was going to give up Twitter for Lent but decided to do it sooner rather than later. When you’re talking to your family or friends and only half-listening to what they’re saying because you’re reading some nonsense on social media, you need to make a change. Or you’re bored and end up absent-mindedly scrolling through a shedload of tweets before moving onto see who’s saying what on Facebook then rolling onto Instagram where everything makes you feel inferior. It was like some weird form of punishment/self-flagellation. I was addicted to it (especially Twitter) and found that social media became a habit that I could not kick. Well, not this time. It’s been seven hours and fifteen days (not really, more like twelve hours and six days) and it’s going well. The first couple of days were a bit odd- I found myself opening my phone looking for those apps and realising they were not there. But since then, it’s a case of so far, so good. 

Social media can be like a drug if you’re not careful. The need for validation from (mainly) strangers…the constant pressure to post the perfect selfie…or tweet something funny…or look like you’re doing something amazing for fear of looking like you live a boring life. Honestly, who gives a toss? It was addictive to me for various reasons and it became unhealthy for me. So I’m in self-imposed exile for a while, bar posting some of my articles on Facebook. Wish me luck. 

Unnecessary Poise.

Over the past few days, actress Leslie Jones has been on the receiving end of a shedload of abuse from anonymous keyboard warriors because of her starring role in the new Ghostbusters movie. The movie has attracted a lot of attention as the main characters are all female (the original characters were all men). As she is both black and female, she has been subjected to what’s known as ‘misogynoir’ because of this.

Many have come out in support and to defend her against the unwarranted abuse she has endured, but naturally, she was very upset- she even had someone create an account that looked like hers and sending homophobic tweets. 

But among all the vicious content sent to her, one tweet caught my eye. It was from someone (a woman no less) who decided that Jones’ natural reaction was unbecoming of a woman and tweeted that to her instead of, y’know, support: 

‘More poise’? I beg your pardon? 

So she’s getting dogs abuse hurled at her from various people/trolls and you expect to be demure and ladylike in her responses? Because she cannot possibly react like a normal human being and be allowed to give back what these people deserve. 

As the line in the legendary Pharcyde song ‘Runnin” goes: ‘There comes a time in every man’s life when they’ve gotta handle shit…’ There is a time and place for rapier wit and pithy one-liners and some situations call for exactly that. But when you are called a nigger, an ape and countless other disgusting slurs just for doing your job, sometimes the only way to respond is to fight back. If she has to swear and cuss, so be it- it is an absolutely understandable reaction. 

As for this woman telling her- a black woman -to act with more poise when confronted with such offensive comments: how unbelievably patronising. How dare you tell her how she should behave and react to such unrelenting abuse? I am not one of those people who thinks that people should turn the other cheek every time something horrible happens or is said to them. Even then, we- and others -can be so taken aback that we don’t respond in the necessary way. She was subjected to all this purely because of her race and gender and you want her to reply like she’s meek and mild. Various other women with an online presence have to deal with disgusting, inflammatory, rude and hateful comments on a daily basis, simply because of their race and gender or because they do not act in the ‘way a woman should’. So for this silly girl to tweet this nonsense is insulting and buys into the BS regarding how women should behave.

Leslie Jones tweeted a reply to her and (though it took a while), eventually this girl realised the extent of the situation and how traumatic it was for Jones and how she managed to feed into it by making it sound like Jones was making a mountain out of a molehill. 

I’m not even going to get into the whole situation regarding certain persons on Twitter and how they appeared to fuel the fire for others to aim their vitriol at Leslie Jones- I’m looking at this from a different angle. Despite Twitter banning some of those who sent abusive tweets to Jones, she has unsurprisingly taken a break from social media as a result. Will she be back? Who knows.  

Banking on Bad Karma?

Azealia Banks started an almighty Twitter ruckus in the past 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 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 really emulating the so-called white people perception of black man/womanhood?

Some people 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. When 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 loved Banks’ 1991 EP and despite numerous Twitter beefs and public spats, I was rooting for her to come through and let her obvious 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 said was her being honest needs to get their head checked. Calling Malik a ‘curry scented bitch’ and a ‘Paki’ made her sound like a member of the National Front. To call herself a proud Black woman and then make such nasty slurs towards another person from an ethnic minority baffled me. Then, going after a teenage actress who didn’t even @ her on Twitter and then go on to criticise her skin colour (the same skin colour as hers – before bleaching) and tell her to start her menses and get a boob and bum job is beyond words. Any other fourteen-year-old black girl 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 claims to be ‘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 a young Black girl in a public arena. Jamz Supernova, a black British DJ, was also on the receiving end of Banks’ tongue when she dared to tell her about herself. To top it all off, she went on Periscope and ranted about all the above topics without a hint of remorse.

How on earth can she be on the side of black women one minute, then roast us about our features the next? By cussing them, you are cussing yourself because (in case you forgot) you are also black. By bleaching your skin, she’s allowing her insecurities and letting those who judge her win because she changed her appearance to appease them.

How can Banks – who, remember, claims to be ‘pro-black’ – possibly be so when she made such astoundingly insulting comments towards her own people? Some people claimed that she has a mental illness, or said that her troubled background is the reason for her behaviour, but I’m not having that. She was very aware of what she was saying. To say such things to women of the same race (and bear in mind Skai Jackson is merely a child), as well as people from other ethnic minorities, makes her 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 – well, she collaborated and was friends with British MC Shystie for years until they fell out. Banks did the same thing to her, spewing nasty comments about her to anyone who would listen.

The powers-that-be at Twitter headquarters 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 have deleted her Twitter account instead of allowing of deleting those vicious messages.

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