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. 

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. 

A Princely Phenomenon.

Like most people, I was shocked when I heard the news that Prince had died. Although I haven’t listened to his music much in the past few years, his music remained fresh in my mind. If I heard a song of his, the lyrics would instantly come back as quickly as a click of the finger. 

I grew up with his music, listening to U Got the Look or Sign o’ the Times, or dancing as a teenager to the Cream video, wondering how I could become a dancer and wear one of those gorgeous black and white leotards that the women wore. 

I remember when he released Sexy MF and the outrage and clutching of pearls it sparked when it premiered on Top of the Pops. Oh, how I laughed when they faded out ‘MF’ with his trademark scream. 

Gett Off was absolute filth and I played it at full-blast while listening to lyrics such as ‘There’s a rumour going all around that you ain’t been getting served.’ Being the naive young girl that I was, I wondered exactly what it was that the dancer was not being, ahem, “served”. (Don’t worry, I learned soon enough).

Prince was much mocked and ridiculed by the press and the public while he was alive (particularly during the ‘Slave/Symbol/The Artist Formerly Known as Prince’ era), but you realise that he had the last laugh on them because he lived life exactly the way he wanted: being creative to the fullest, making music he loved and to hell with what anyone else thought. 

The way he genuinely did not care what people thought of him was a sight to behold and something to aspire to. He just turned up, made and played music, showed love, threw shade and walked out, leaving everyone wanting more. When he played at the O2 in London a few years ago, the tickets were priced at £21 (as he was playing 21 nights at the arena) and I have never seen so many people get to work early with the sole intention of getting those gold dust tickets. 

He gave us food for thought and a lot of downright sexiness, then would metaphorically drop the mic. He was a whirlwind of creativity, none more so than on his debut which he wrote, produced, sang all vocals and played all instruments. He was the epitomé of a one-man band.

He influenced people without them even realising. Flamboyant, sexy, almost other-worldly. It is only now in his untimely passing that I realise how much reminded me of the legendary James Brown. He was one of Prince’s idols but they were very similar: the genius, the brilliance, the perfectionism, the flair and flamboyance and risk-taking, the way in which they both were absolute game-changers in the music industry. Simply phenomenal.

Prince also had a wicked sense of humour. Who can forget Dave Chapelle’s epic impersonation of him in a hilarious sketch for Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories? Prince loved it so much, he used Chapelle’s image of him as a front cover for one of his singles (if you have not seen the sketch, stop what you’re doing and watch it right now. It is a classic). 

Prince was a legend in every sense of the word and his reach spread far and wide. It is a shame how, from my perspective, it is only once an artist like him is gone forever that we truly comprehend their legacy. Songs such as Purple Rain, When Doves Cry and Diamonds and Pearls will always be a part of the musical and cultural landscapes. 

Same Shit, Different Team.

In my last post I spoke about my World Cup Fever. Well, that has dwindled somewhat as England are pretty much out of the tournament at the group stage. We lost 2-1 to an average Uruguay side who were no better than us, but they had an amazing player in their ranks- one Luis Suarez. Knee injury, my arse: he seemed perfectly alright when he scored two brilliant goals tonight.

Where did it all go wrong? Let me count the ways: we can’t pass, can’t defend (my word, our defence was appalling), can’t pass or cross or even keep the ball- we could not string two passes together, what an absolute joke. There was no urgency, no oomph. Although Wayne Rooney finally broke his World Cup duck tonight, our attack was mediocre. Italy bossed the pitch when we played them last weekend; we could not get the ball off them. And to think I rushed home to watch that shite.

I was so close to giving up and doing something more productive but I stayed because I had hope, people. How I wish I hadn’t because we were abject. Apart from Rooney’s goal- and I turned into a bit of a banshee when he equalised, punching the air, shouting like a lunatic and tweeting ‘YEEEEEEEEEEEEEES! Hallelujah!!’ -there wasn’t much to shout about.

Of course, social media was full of furious England supporters, all highly vexed with such an incredibly underwhelming performance. Even my mum was pissed off as she could not believe how bad our passing was. Four years ago, I saw England give arguably their worst-ever performance in South Africa: the debacle against Algeria where we stank the place out. And that sums up one thing about us when we play, particularly in the last 2 tournaments: everytime the players put on that shirt, they seem to play with fear and their feet turn to clay. As much as I cannot stand John Terry and Ashley Cole and understand Hodgson’s decision to not pick them and mainly opt for youth, we really could have done with their experience over the past couple of matches.

Tonight was just so depressing; same shit, different team. I had faith in this bunch and even though it’s mathematically possible for us to still get out of our group, let’s be honest we won’t. Besides, let’s bow out with a win against Costa Rica because I’d rather that happen than see us get embarrassed by Chile or Holland or Argentina. Can you imagine? It would probably be worse than the shite we played against Germany in 2010.

Severe Lack of Texture.

Sooooo… five and a half months after ‘going natural’, I gave in and texturized my hair last weekend. Three days on, I can confirm that I will NEVER use texturizer ever again.

My aim was for it to loosen my curls so my thick hair wouldn’t resemble a curly carpet. So I pin-curled my hair every night, hoping that come the next morning my wet-set would have been successful. Instead on day one post-texturizer, I looked like I was dragged through a bush. Yesterday- despite putting copious amounts of moisturizer in my hair the night before -it was like tumbleweed. Considering that I also had a client visit to deal with, the presentation of both work and hair did not go well. So I pin-curled again and using a far better moisturizer,  left it to sink into my hair overnight. Cut to early this morning and I looked like Todd Flanders. Took me ages to get my hair looking remotely decent enough to walk out of the house with. And of course as I write this, there’s a guy sitting opposite with a lovely afro-cloud of hair, just nonchalantly picking at his curls. Bastard. 

Texturizer is a con, an absolute joke of a product (as I have learned at my expense). It dries the daylights out of your hair and fools you into believing its bullshit. You’re better off either relaxing your hair or going natural because both are concrete choices rather than this wishy-washy go-between nonsense that texturizer peddles. I regret using the stuff and this rant is designed to warn any of my fellow black ladies out there not to go near it, and for me in case I decide to conveniently forget this experience and use texturizer in future. Never forget.

No More Miss Nicey Nice.

No more people pleasing
Must be more concise,
Always empathising
Stop being so polite.
Fuck other people’s feelings
They never consider your own,
Don’t stutter or mutter any words that  you utter,
Verbally cut them down to the bone.
Knock down that wall that says that you
Should think before you speak,
You’re intelligent and coherent enough
So forget about acting meek,
If your brain freezes and speech seizes
It’s time to cut out that shite
Especially when someone questions you
And you damn well know you’re right.
Sleep on it and wake up tomorrow
With a brand new state of mind,
No more Miss Nicey Nice
Time to kick some behind.