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.

Advertisements

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.

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

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.

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. 

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