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Election Fraud: The Barking Dog in a Media Vacuum

Excellent piece here drawing out the significance of the recent local elections particularly the London and Bristol new mayors, Rees and Khan, and also very real and important issues around #ElectionExpenses that has so far been played down by most of our media.

Media Diversified

by Kiri Kankhwende 

There seemed to be something for every party to take away from what political pundits tried to brand Super Thursday (but which stubbornly remained simply Thursday for most people).

As the country went to the polls for the first local and mayoral elections since the General Election last year, only one result made international news: the London Mayoral election. And rightly so; after such a bitter, Islamophobic campaign from the Conservatives, the world was watching to see how London would react.

London responded by handing Khan one of the biggest personal political mandates in Europe with a resounding victory, making him an historic figure as London’s first Muslim Mayor (check out our columnist Chimene Suleyman’s brilliant analysis on that point).

_85501706_a19dea0f-299c-416d-a371-a85656203306But Khan wasn’t the only one to make history; the new Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, is the first Mayor in Europe from an Afro-Caribbean background. This…

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We Fought and Died For You

It’s been a very long time since I’e posted anything on this blog. 2015 has proven to be a very busy year. I changed jobs and also started to freelance as a consultant. Most of my spare time has now become time when I’m working and when I haven’t been working, I’ve been spending time with my family. But I often think to myself ‘I must get back to writing my blog’.

I’ve found some time this morning and I have something I’d like to share so here goes….

I few weeks ago I responded to a Facebook post on the Voice newspapers thread.  Here is it below:

We died and fought for you

I posted in the comments beneath the picture as the paper asked for an opinion; do you agree with the sentiment? Here was my response:

All you have to think is when you hear there’s been a stabbing somewhere in London, who comes into your mind as both victim and perpetrator? It’s a sad thing to say and I think ‘black on black’ crime is a completely reductive tag line to stir up hostility BUT I see a total lack of respect for the lives of our brothers and sisters replaced by so called status, street rep and nonsense that our kids have bought into. More to be said for (systemic) poverty, indoctrination and the destruction of our families than so called ‘black on black’ crime.

This was posted on October 21st.  Since then, the post has picked up quite a bit of interest with 53 likes and 15 comments.  The discussion on this thread has really inspired me to post a blog today and it felt appropriate because of the time of year (it being Remembrance Sunday). The comments have been thoughtful, diverse and constructive.  Not always in complete agreement but really thought-provoking. I wanted to share the thread and see what others think.  This is a topic close to my heart, this blog has mostly been concerned with ideas of identity and race. So my question to you is the same; ‘do you agree?’ 

What are you thoughts on the picture? Feel free to share, challenge (constructively!) and provoke.

Black Beauty

Loving this series, brought to my attention by Ms Afropolitan. Awesome to hear from this collection of Black women talking about our wonderful city of London and Black beauty.  So many things resonate with me on a personal level; particularly what Minna has to say on Black beauty in a political context, in contrast to the visual or aesthetic. Check out the London edition but the whole series is worth a look.

What say you, is there such a thing as Black Beauty?

Colourism; will we ever see the end of it??

I’ve read 2 articles about colourism this week.  It’s not a subject I’ve discussed in any depth on this blog but it’s one that I often discuss with my girlfriends.  Here I’ve added a link to an article which is written as a response to the other article I read earlier in the week, The Problem with Black Women.  The title alone slaps you in the face, right??

I’m not going to put my own opinion in here; I’m interested to hear what you think so please comment.  I’m up for a healthy debate on this one!

Black History Month Reading List

Welcome to February! It’s slightly warmer, a whole lot lighter and 2015 is getting to a flying start.

Having changed my working patterns to part time free lance, part time employed, I’m still finding my feet in this new phase of my life. A. It busy and distracted to blog right now but I thought I’d share a list to some great Black History Month reading.

I’ll be back soon but until then…..


Wrong and Strong??

So, I’ve written about many things so far that I feel pertinent to me and my experience of being an African woman in, and of, the diaspora. So many topics to tackle and I’m sure I’ll get to them all at some point or another. But the one I’m finally feeling ready to tackle is hair. Black hair. Thousands of words dedicated to the topic and I’m about to add a few hundred of my own.

I’ve mentioned black hair in my other blogs; not in any great detail but I have made reference to it when I’ve described some of the elements that bond and cement friendships amongst some of us. The shared experiences of the all day hair appointment; the burnt scalps; the growing out headaches; the Sunday night hair plait session with a tired, tetchy, head-conking mum.
These experiences do not define but they are certainly part of my personal story of black womanhood.

So I’ve decided to write a series on Black hair. I will gather a group of girlfriends to share our stories and experiences which will be as diverse as we are. Together we’ll cover issues around beauty norms, identity, the politics of black hair and the journey to knowing and loving your hair.

Hopefully some of them will resonate with you.

But for now let me start with a rant and an experience.

I’m gonna start this story 15 years ago with my decision to go natural. I had relaxed hair and one christmas (you know the pre-Christmas appointment, right?) I had one of those all day, half the night appointments which had me in a hairdresser in Finsbury Park (it’s still there) from about 2.00pm to about 9.00pm. I decided to locs up that night.

So I wore my dreads for 10 years which I loved. I cut them off about 5 years ago and have been growing my hair out ever since. And I’ve loved that too.

Today I had a hair appointment at 10.00 to put some kinky twists in. I have a party tonight, a photo shoot on Monday and an event of Thursday so I thought I’d mix it up a bit, get a new do and keep my head warm. These twist out dos are great but COLD. Any way, I arrive just after 10.00. There are 3 women in front of me and 2 stylists on. Now, when I book an appointment for 10, I expect to book a stylist who will be waiting for me when I arrive. I do not expect to share or wait for one.

The owner assures me that I will be seen shortly. I am sceptical because the woman getting small cane rows is only half done; the owner is putting two big side plaits with extensions into another woman’s hair and she has another woman waiting for a weave.

I am now contemplating leaving because I am on a tight time frame; I have to be out of this place for 2.30 because me and Husband are driving to Sheffield for a party he’s DJIing at. I cannot rock up at home 2 hours cos he will lose his mind. If I commit to starting the twists, I’m committed for however long it takes. I’m also thinking now:

I’m not paying full price for this, I’m getting me a discount today

At 11.00, I’ve been waiting for pretty much an hour. The owner has called a colleague to do it for me, as long as I’m happy to go to another salon. A pain in the butt, but I’m still wanting to get this hair done so I’ll go with this woman. I ask how much she’s gonna charge me. The woman quotes me a price higher than I normally pay. I say no, this is what I normally pay. Before I have a chance to say anything else, she negotiates with her colleague. Turns back to me and I tell her I am not paying the regular price as I have been waiting for an hour. The colleague walks out the shop, clearly unprepared to be paid any less than her quoted price.

I tell the owner that she should be offering me a discount for keeping me waiting so long and putting me an hour behind schedule. She starts arguing with me. I get up, out my hat on, put my coat on and prepare to leave. She starts trying to tell me that she got me someone to do my hair, etc. I am not having this. I have been a semi-regular customer of this woman for 3 years. I had my scalp burned in there before (I should never have gone back after that). I had my wedding hair done in there. If you keep me waiting for an hour, you offer a discount. So this woman is trying to ‘wrong and strong. And I leave.


I have never walked out of a hairdresser before but I am sick to the back teeth of this kind of service and the presumption that my time is not valuable; you can keep me waiting an hour, not offer a discount and expect me to be happy with that.

That is not happening.

There are many things I could say about this experience. I’m angry because I do not want to be forced to go through this every time I visit a hair salon. I’m angry because, as a paying customer, I expect to be treated professionally and reasonably. I am angry that my time is being valued so little that it is deemed perfectly ok to keep me waiting for an hour and not offer an apology or compensation.

I am angry because this, unfortunately, is not an isolated experience.

So, I’ve decided that I’m gonna locs up again. I’ve come full circle.

Here’s a pic of me with my solution for hair nightmares and another with my trusty twist out style.

Look out for the next blog in my hair series. I’m looking forward to hearing your stories and opinions so please leave me your comments.



Say Hello, Wave Goodbye-Part 2

Well, a happy new year to y’all, lovely readers.  I’ve been itching to blog for the past week or so but haven’t quite found the time.  I find myself in-between jobs (a glorious thing!) but I am sooo busy that I’m struggling to fit the things that I want to do but don’t have to do.  I don’t make hard and fast resolutions any more but I always have a sense of the things that I want to achieve in the coming year.  One of these things has to be to say ‘no’ more and leave space for those ‘want to do’ things. Any way,  when I wrote Say Hello, Wave Goodbye-Part 1, I was aware of wanting to finish 2014 on a positive note so I wanted to share the things that had brought me pleasure; that I felt proud of.  However, there’s always a flip side, right?  So I made a commitment to write a Part 2 which would talk about some of the things that have been a challenge or that I have struggled with.  So here goes, in no particular order: 5 challenges I faced in 2014 (and as it goes, beyond that as well!)

  • The murders to Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice

In December 2014 I wrote a blog which was triggered by the decision of a grand jury not to indict the police officer who preformed an illegal choke-hold  Eric Garner, which killed him. I struggled to watch video footage of this man’s last moment will, they are so upsetting. This came in a succession of almost unbelievable news stories of Black men being killed by the US police, where the officers responsible would walk away from any responsibility for their actions.  This hurt.  Really badly. As I watched what appears to be open season on Black men in the US, I have struggled to comprehend how we live in a world where this is acceptable.  I have struggled as the parent to a son who, although born in the UK, will probably experience more than his fair share of hardships due to being male and the colour of his skin.  I am struggling to  comprehend what appears to be obvious; that black lives don’t matter.

  • Terrorism

This sounds broad, right?  How can I talk about this in a couple of paragraphs?  My caveat with this one is that I I recognise that there are many socio-political points to be made around the rise of these kinds of event.  And maybe I will try to have that discussion as some point.  But not today. So that being said, the murders by ISIS of journalist James FoleyUK aid worker David Haine and the US aid worker Peter Kassig were brutal and shocking, as they were meant to be.  There are many more than have been killed by this extremist group but these are the particular deaths that drew my attention to the horrors being committed by this group. The kidnap of over 2000 Nigerian school girls by another extremist group, Boko Harem, in April of 2014 is simply terrifying.  The parents of those girls still don’t have their children back, let alone know where they are; if they’re alive or dead. There are many angles I could go down here but simply put, I have despaired and continue to despair over the way human beings treat each other.  It is terrifying that anyone can have such disregard for another human life.  Being human and feeling empathy, it is hard to get my head around how this is even possible. And as anti-Muslim, anti-Islam rhetoric continues to build, I am concerned at the inability of many to separate the actions of a few individuals with the peaceful Muslim communities with share our lives with. And it would appear there are no easy answers to end this massacre of innocents.

  • Saying goodbye

In Part 1, I talked about this from the other side of the mirror, the positive side of ‘letting go’ but in letting go, there are always goodbyes.  As I rapidly approach 40 (a spring baby, I will be saying goodbye to my 30s in April), there has been a  sense of things shifting over the past 18 months.  A shift in perspective; a shift in relationships, in shift in my place in the universe.  I don’t mind this. It’s a process and I’m happy to be in it, but it is interesting to be in a process whilst reflecting and observing it at the same time.   It almost feels like clearing space for the next phase, whatever that will be. So there is an awareness of having made and continuing to make conscious decisions as I say ‘goodbye’ to some things.  But I know there are other things that I am in the process of saying goodbye to that I haven’t even got a clue about! And it is a challenge. It is difficult to accept change; that things are no longer what they were, especially if those things are much-loved and in perfectly decent working order! But change is inevitable, so bring it on.  I will continue to struggle with some of those goodbyes, I also know this is growing and learning and being.

  • Sitting with things

I am naturally ‘push’ kinda person.  I always have been.  I am a 1st born child, only girl and I am used to striding forth into the great unknown to do whatever I think needs doing at any particular moment in time.  This has (nearly always!) served me well.  Up until recently, I would never have really considered doing things any other way.  That is my way.  I accept it. Except I’ve had to question ‘my way’. Not in a ‘have I got this all wrong??’ kinda way.  It’s been more of an experiential thing.  I have agonised over making important decisions about career and family that, at the time, it felt crucial that I make a decision; that I knew what I was going to do and then I could get on with it.  And then life happened.  Having time to reflect on those events, I have come up with a few things that seem to be a constant:

  1. I am capable and resilient.  Even when I find myself in ridiculous situations (usually created by me), I will find a way of making it work.  It will work out fine.
  2. I have an incredibly supportive network of friends, family and colleagues around me.  This network will always offer at least part of a solution.  Trust it.
  3. Sometimes doing nothing is ok.

All that adds up to a ‘me’ that is trying to push less.  Or at least understand when I should push and when I should just sit.  Something that my neglected yoga practice always teaches me.

  • Accepting that accepting time is not elastic

This one makes me grumpy.  I admit, I have a problem with the concept of time.  I like to think that it bends and can manipulated by my wants and needs. I tend to fill my time up, constantly.  I have an interest in lots of things and I like to be engaged in the world around me.  This leads to a number of things:

  1. Over-committing myself
  2. Lateness
  3. Stress
  4. Me and the 5-year-old falling out in the morning due to nearly lateness

Now, on one hand my approach to time means that I get LOADS done.  I am able to juggle lots of things fairly competently and for me, this means I get to satisfy my many interests.  When I shuffle on this ball, I don’t want to regret the things I haven;t done. In the other hand, I do too much.  And time is not elastic.  It does not expand to allow for the one last thing I tend to do before rushing out the door.  It just means I am gonna be late or very nearly late. So, those are the things I struggled with in 2014 and am still struggling with.  Some of the big, depressing topics that I could only touch one.  Some of them very personal to me, little bit funny but very much part of my ongoing struggle to find balance. So, a hugely long post, which I don’t have time to edit down any more else I will be late for yoga.  And today, I am not going to be late.

Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950s – 1990s

Media Diversified

by Black Cultural Archives

Following their first exhibition Re-imagine: Black Women in Britain, the Black Cultural Archives present Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950-1990s from Thursday 15 January – Tuesday 30 June 2015. Thisnew exhibition is the culmination of a seven year collaborative project between Black Cultural Archives and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to acquire a collection of photographs that increases the representation of Black photographers and subjects within the V&A’s photographs collection and to develop broader audiences for arts and heritage. The V&A will also present an exhibition of the same title drawn from the new collection of photographs from Monday 16 February – Sunday 24 May 2015.

Staying Power explores the work of a selection of photographers who were documenting Black experience from mass migration following the arrival of the Windrush in 1948 to the late 1990s…

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