Category Archives: Politics

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!

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.

Exasperation, Frustration, Exhaustion. #BlackLivesMatter

I’m supposed to be having a lie in this morning as my husband gets up with our son and gets ready for the school run.  I have had a horrid cold for the best part of November and I’m trying to rest up as we rapidly approach the festive season.

However, I can’t stay silent on this.  Last night as the UK was going to bed, the news that there would be no indictment for the police officer who performed a choke hold that killed Eric Garner. Another Black man killed by the police without consequence.  It has been barely a week since a jury made the same decision in relation to Mike Brown, a young man who was shot 12 times, 12 times, and killed by a policeman in Ferguson Missouri in August this year.  On the 22nd November 12 year old Tamir Rice was fatally shot in Cleveland.  And let us not forget the 2013 jury’s decision on Trayvon Martin’s death.

In each of these cases, the decision was taken that there would be no consequence for the white person who took the life of a black man.  No consequence at all.  In the case of Eric Garner, the whole thing was recorded.  A medical examiner gave a ruling of homicide.  The choke hold used is deemed illegal. Still, this made no difference.  So tell me, what’s it going to take?

As protests take place across the US, as anger and rage finds voice through social media, I am stunned at the lack of understanding of what these deaths truly signify.  For the past week, I have had many conversations on social media with people who seem to think that if you are involved in crime, if you resist arrest, well, this is just what happens.  I have given up on conversation threads where I have been explaining the significance of institutional and structural racism in these cases and I have been aggressively challenged.  The ignorance present in many of these challenges has been astounding.  One commentor pointed out that Mike Brown was a bully and a criminal, based on the footage of him in the store before he was killed. (I have deliberately used the Fox News edit here.  Interesting to listen to how this is reported and the language used).  ‘He was no angel’; another charge at Mike Brown.

“Well I suppose you think Mark Duggan was an upstanding citizen as well??” went another, referring to the fatal shooting of a UK mixed race man, which sparked riots across the country in August 2011.

What??  Are you serious?? How is this even an argument?  Why is it so hard for people to understand that these men were killed NOT because of criminality but because of a pre-existing bias which led to excessive force being used?  Why is so difficult to understand that, in all probability, if Trayvon, Mike, Eric, Tamir and Mark had been white, the outcomes would have been different?  Why is it not concerning that the white men who took these Black lives walk away free, to resume their own lives as if nothing ever happened?

I am almost lost for words.  America, you are lost.  What is it going to take for positive change?

This will not change until White America stand up with African-Americans to make a stand. To say ‘no more’.  I am heartened by a new Twitter campaign currently trending, in the wake of the Eric Garner verdict; #CrimingWhileWhite.

The campaign aims to shine a light on racial profiling.  Check it out and look closely at the people contributing.  They are overwhelmingly white.  That is so important.  For any real change to happen, White and Black America must stand together in solidarity.

However, it’s going to take more than a social media campaign; it’s going to take more than words from America’s 1st Black President, Barrack Obama.

Enough is enough.

#BlackLivesMatter #icantbreathe #ferguson #EricGarner #mikebrown

 

“Africa” a celebrity must have

I’ve been plugged out of the matrix for a few weeks now so haven’t blogged for a while. However, I am fascinated by the current debate around the re-release of Do They Know It’s Christmas?, this time the cause is the Ebola ‘crisis’ by BandAid 30. I remember the original release, I was 9 in 1984. It still evokes strong emotions from me. However, watching the usual collection of political programmes this morning, I was curious to see the debate raging in the public arena about this kind of celeb charity. I have revisited the lyrics of the original song as well as the updated version. And they are shocking. Shocking in the way they feed into the perception of Africa; a land of fly-ridden, potbellied, starving children. An arid land ‘where no rivers flow’. Without differentiation between its 54 states and diverse cultures. And of course, the West’s need to ‘save’ Africa.
So I have been left pondering Geldof’s words; you don’t have to like us; you don’t have to like the song. Just buy it. Help raise awareness and money.
And the original effort raised 8.4 million pounds. That’s not to be sniffed at. But it worries me that 30 years on, with revised lyrics, there is still this tendency to portray Africa as this land of despair, death and disease.
I can feel a blog coming on but in the meantime, I really liked this and thought I’d share it as I’m gathering my thoughts on the topic. I’d really like to know what you think. Will you be buying the track?
Does the end justify the means?

Media Diversified

by Samira Sawlani

In recent weeks Israel – Palestine has probably taken up more column inches worldwide than it has in years. In fact the ‘conflict’ has enjoyed a showbiz makeover, gaining a place in every Hollywood rag and becoming a topic of conversation on daytime talk shows.

It’s entry and new found status is not however because the gossip pages have become conflict conscious or felt the humanitarian need  to report on the everyday life of Palestinians under occupation. It’s because Palestine has caused much trauma in the life of one celebrity starlet.

Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson, like any ‘star’ worth their weight in gold added to her repertoire of bombshell, beauty queen and leading lady, the must have title of Oxfam Ambassador.

Global ambassador Global ambassador

Since 2007 Ms Johansson has been seen talking to refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab Refugee Camp, spent time at an Oxfam funded girls school…

View original post 2,039 more words

My African City-The Ghanaian Friend

I have been looking forward to my Ghanaian Friend returning from her trip to her homeland.  We have been discussing a guest blog for months and her trip home seemed like the perfect opportunity to put this to the test.  And she did not disappoint!  I hope you enjoy her blog.  It is a rich and vibrant offering, highlighting some of the issues from my previous blog posts; mainly identity as a African born in the diaspora and the impact when one returns home.  I’d like to thank Ghanaian Friend and say that she will definitely be invited to come back!

I was actually introduced to the YouTube show ‘An African City’ by the ‘Diasporan Newbie’ herself some months back.  I knew instantly after my first viewing of the 15 minute first episode, that I would have a field day discussing this with her as soon as we next met.  Cue the excitable chinwag that followed: “But is this REALLY Africa?”, “Are these ‘bougie’ girls meant to represent today’s African woman?”, “Seriously? An episode that centers on retrieving a vibrator from customs?”  And of course: “Oooh the fashion is outta this world!  Carrie Bradshaw – eat your heart out!!”

Yet for all my conflicted and indecisive opinion on Nicole Amarteifio’s

YouTube hit, when I finally touched down in Accra, Ghana a few weeks ago, this is strangely what I had in the back of mind.  In my defense, I hadn’t been back to Ghana since 1995 when I performed the Krobo tradition of dipo in respect of my mother’s tribe.  Hence my vision of the county now as a 29 year old woman had been moderately shaped by friends and colleagues who were born there but now lived in the UK, and travelled back frequently, or family members who had disturbingly polarized views on the former ‘Gold Coast’ – ranging from charming Utopia where one might find the sweetest pineapple and mangoes to enjoy all day, to a deep societal inertia that continued to be glossed over by the Wests’ obsession with labeling Ghana’s relatively stable economic and political governance as West Africa’s ‘beacon of hope’.

I wouldn’t exactly say that I was on a mission to penetrate these opinions or theories.  I was, lest not I forget there to unwind, further discover my roots and heritage, and enjoy myself!  Incidentally, I had the time of my life, seeing parts of the country I had never experienced before and adopting ‘YO-LO’ (‘you only live once’ for those who haven’t watch enough episodes of  KUWTK!) as the official holiday mantra – an indication it’s going to be a crazy one!

But I’m not writing to give a blow-by-blow account of my phenomenal experiences (which by the way included riding horseback across the sandy white beaches of Labadi, climbing 40 metres high to cross less than sturdy planks in the rainforest (YO-LO!!), and surviving two marriage proposals in 2 weeks!).  I’m writing because I want to salute the Ghana I met for teaching me an important lesson about identity.  There were a million and one observations that I made about Ghana (or more accurately the snapshot that I saw), but Ill keep to identity for now (and maybe chip in on another blog about other stimulating and provocative topics).

Identity is was and is extremely real for me in Ghana, particularly as I was conscious that I might be received as a foreigner or that they would call me ‘obroni’ meaning white person.  Surprisingly, that never happened.  Perhaps it was my insistence on speaking ‘Twi’ as much as possible and being quite clear that I was a Ghanaian who just happened to be born and raised in the UK.  Instead I was accepted and ushered in a way that I have never felt in my 29 years in good ole’ Great Britain.  Instead what I heard was;

“Sister/Maame, you must come back soon, this is your home”.

I couldn’t help but compare, but what I noted was, from the Ghanaians that I met (some “bougies” that could have stepped right out of an episode of ‘An African City’, some extremely wealthy, and others leading a very humble lifestyle indeed)

Nobody merely exists in the way that I see Brits bitterly do.  Ghanaians are so proud of their cultures, they love their country (many still acknowledging deep social, economic, and political blockages) and as one Ghanaian friend said: “we don’t envy the white man!”

I couldn’t help but feel that I and my fellow inspired Ghanaians, with our strong (and in my case renewed) sense of identity could be part of the solution to shaking up the inertia I mentioned.  So what started out with an interest in ‘An African City’ and its ability to ‘keep it real’ ended with a truly amazing experience of my own African City.  On both fronts, I have no doubt there is plenty more to come.

Lauryn Hill, a Night Bus and a Feminist Struggle

Last Thursday, I went to see Lauryn Hill at the Manchester Apollo with my Nerdy Friend. By the way, we have discovered so many other similarities between us, I’m starting to think we are the same person living in a different time space/time continuum. We both cite Salavdor, Bahia as our favourite places on Earth, we found out that we were both in the hair dressers, on the same day, at the same time, having red kinky twists put in(!) and last week I sent her an email while on a journey to Preston and she sent me this picture!

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Spooky.

Anyway,  we went to see Ms Lauryn Hill. The last time I saw her was at a Brixton Academy, in the 90s as Fugee mania was just about to peak. It was a great concert.  Obviously since then, life has happened to Ms Hill. And it’s not necessarily been kind.

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Many column inches has been written about her incarceration for non payment of taxes, her relationship with Stephen Marley and her (alleged) subsequent drug use and mental breakdown. Not to mention her racist comments a few years back.

I’m not here to talk about that.

The concert was a shocker but also amazing. She was over an hour late coming on stage. I thought at one point that there was going to be an announcement that Ms Hill would not be performing at all.  We were prepared for this because the reviews for this tour so far have been awful, quite frankly. By the time she did actually arrive on stage, the goodwill and atmosphere that her warm up DJ had managed to create had all but disappeared (he’d been playing for 45 mins, hyping the crowd for Ms Hill to come on but each time she seemed to miss her cue). The boos had started when she eventually walked on stage.

Her voice was amazing. She looked amazing. But she had chosen to perform drastically rearranged versions of her most loved songs and the crowd was NOT happy. To be fair, as an artist she is totally entitled to do what she wants with her material BUT, given she has a tiny back catoulouge, given she was over an hour late on stage (with no apology), given that the reviews have been bad, you would think that she would’ve worked harder to get the audience on side. She might have made more effort to understand her audience and give them just a little but more of what they wanted after waiting so long for her.

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She turned things around after singing Black Rage, though. Haunting lyrics. The second half was pretty much phenomenal and it seemed that she was all but forgiven for her tardiness, her lack of empathy with her audience and a very ill judged ‘Q&A’ where she asked the audience why they were booing her.

In many ways, me and Nerdy Friend felt let down by Lauryn last night, even though we danced our arses off to Doo Woop (That Thing).

But I’m not even here to talk about THAT!

On the night bus home, we had an interesting conversation about Lauryn and Beyoncé. I have a bug bear about Beyoncé. I admit it. Mostly, this is because it would seem the media seem to believe that she invented feminism and we should now be following her lead. A byline in the Huffington  Post recently made me seethe with anger, as they took Chimimanda’s definition, which Bey sampled, and basically said ‘ Bey has given us a definition of feminism, now go forth and practice it”!

feminist

WHAT?! Please let us not forget that she only sampled this. It is borrowed from Chimamanda!

Anyway, my friend said if Bey’s spike heels and leotards have got 13 year old girls talking about feminism then that can’t be a bad thing. And I do agree with this. To an extent. The balance between a woman owning her sexuality and doing what she pleases with it, which might be using it as a feminist platform VS the fact that more often that not our voices are not heard unless it’s wrapped up in a hyper sexual package….I’m not comfortable with a lot of how Beyoncé chooses to present herself as seriously talented woman. But I will fight to the death for her right…..

So we started talking about this some more and in my head I saw Ms Hill and Bey side by side. And as disappointed as I felt by how Lauryn had behaved, I would still see her any day of the week over Beyoncé, who I consider to be so talented, so professional and in many ways a role model. She works hard for what she has. And she will also give the fans what they want and then some.

lauryn_hill_1383073909239       BeyonceKnowles

However. In these 2 women I see a stark representation of feminism and black womanhood.

Beyoncé is a mega star. She has worked hard, played the game, married another mega star and become a celebrity juganaut. All the while, there’s been a lot of flesh, a lot of swishy weaves and crowd pleasing. She is the acceptable face of African American womanhood, living the ‘American Dream’.  Her moniker ‘Queen Bey’ says it all.

Lauryn refused to play the game. Dark skinned, dreadlocked Lauryn, full of attitude and consciousness. Lauryn, who looked amazing with barely an inch of flesh on show. Lauryn, who consciously fought against playing the game, having her image manipulated in order to be more ‘ consumer-friendly’.  A woman who fought the law and the law won.

Her fight to be herself in all her Black womanhood, with all her flaws, without the industry (society) manipulating that; she lost that fight. They out her in jail. Essentially, they showed her that if you ain’t gonna play the game, we’re gonna squash you.  This is not to say that Lauryn is a complete innocent.  She carries her share of responsibility.

There is a tension between assimilation and disruption.  The message is if you assimilate, you can be a winner, you can be one of us, you can be a Queen if you want. But on the terms we set.
But if you try to disrupt those terms, we will shut you down. We will make it hard for you to even be heard. We don’t want your kind of black womanhood here.

Despite still feeling disappointed with Lauryn’s apparent disregard for her fans, I see her her defiance and fight to represent her authentic self as a political act.  As a feminist act.  And I admire her for that.  Beyonce ‘s doing her part; don’t get me wrong.  She has the right to self identify however she pleases.  And Nerdy Friend is right; there are girls growing up out there who will feel empowered by Bey’s brand of feminism.  I’m not the feminism police, neither do I want to be.

For me, these two women represent an interesting narrative about Black womanhood, feminism and the struggle to be our authentic selves.

A couple of interesting reads for you.  Different perspectives but both are interesting commentary on Ms Hill, her fans and what creative licence means.  Enjoy!

http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2014/10/hurts-bad-cost-lauryn-hill-fan/https://medium.com/cuepoint/in-defense-of-ms-hill-6fa84ba81d63

 

Fighting to Reclaim My Space

Once again, I’m in the midst of a busy week. I’m pretty sure I can start all my blogs with that sentence! I’ve been meaning to blog for days but just haven’t found the time. I’ve been prompted by an article I read yesterday which I sent to Ghanainan Friend (thanks for the blog title, btw!).  I knew it would be right up her street, being a pro-Black, pro-women no-nonsense kinda gal. She sent me a squealy email message this morning IN CAPITALS, (such was her excitement and identification with the words in the piece) saying;

“Surely this is blog material??’

So I’ll share it with you. The piece was written by Kim Foster who is the Founder and Editor of For Harriet, a on-line magazine with the tagline ‘celebrating the fullness of black womanhood’.  

Note that the italics in that sentence are directly from the tagline and not myself.

The piece is called On the Politics of Inclusion and Protecting the Sanctity of Black Women’s Spaces; already a provocative title.    I have been enjoying For Harriet.  Although it is written from the  African-American perspective, many of the articles resonate, as a woman and as a Black woman.  I love the humour that I find in some of the articles and they are frequently a discussion piece with one friend of the other.

So.  A couple of things sprang to mind when I read and reread this article.  Firstly, in starting this blog, I am in my own way fighting to reclaim my space.  A space that is sometimes unfamiliar and partially obscured due to the  history of my ancestors.  It resonated because I took a while to start this blog even though my journey started a while ago.  The reasons for the procrastination are many but probably the most significant one was the concern with how others (and by others I mean non-Black friends and colleagues) will perceive what I write and what I say.  I could say more but this extract says it all;

When we create movements, sites or spaces or choose to have these discussions, we’re pursuing a project to throw off centuries of baggage that have been heaped on our shoulders. We are reclaiming and refashioning our identities in our own terms. We have to do this work because we are living in a society that tells us we are not enough. That we should be silent and ashamed. It’s just not in our best interest of black women to pat the well-intentioned on the back and pretend like all of our issues are the same.

My interpretation is that Kim is responding to those who feel that the issues represented in For Harriet are not exclusive to Black women and therefore minimise that experience by claiming that is it universal.   And then there are those who feel that they can relate because they understand the issues, often taking a ‘seat at the table’ when one hasn’t even been offered.

Our experiences are not the same.  And whilst I welcome robust and vigorous debate, I also reserve the right to speak out on issues that are exclusive to me without having to justify or appease others.  And no matter how ‘down’ you are, please do not equate that with first-hand experience.  Not only is that offensive, it also becomes part of a system that seeks to silence or minimise more relevant voices.

So the decision I made was to write firstly and foremost for myself, as this is about my personal journey.  Along the way, I may cause offence and will cross that bridge when I come to it.

Which brings me neatly on to the other thing that sprang to mind.  The politics of inclusion are also the politics of exclusion.  And this is a tricky area.  When you are claiming exclusive rights to your experience as……(fill in the blank), what happens when YOU are the person being excluded??

Well, I think that depends of the context and the reasons for that exclusion.  And that is so much of what this is (some of which comes under the banner of intersectionality) is about context. 

More on this in my next blog.

Minna Salami: An Interview with the Creator of Ms. Afropolitan

Another woman and blog I have found inspiring. This is a great interview, I love how clear and authoritative Minna is in her view of African feminism. For me, this is an important part of my own journey into identity. My Africanness and womanhood and two things intertwined. This also resonated with me:
“And yes, being a feminist is subconscious, in fact being a feminist and being a woman are synonymous to me; I would not know how to be a woman who is not a feminist. ”
Enjoy.

‘That difficult 2nd album….’

It’s been an insane week.  Pretty much the norm and if I’m honest, just how I like it.

The week has been heavily influenced by the 1st post of the blog, published in the small hours of Tuesday morning.It’s been in the making for a while so it was a big deal to take action and get it started!  I’ve been thinking of ways to keep writing regularly, how to get into the habit of storing experiences to write about.

I messaged my 4 friends, who inspired the blog, to share it with them and acknowledge their roles in my journey so far.  The feedback and support has been great and I hope they’ll be dropping in to comment and challenge and provoke, hint, hint!

As well as these women, there have been others who have inspired this journey and I want to share a few with you.  Like many women, particularly Black women, the emergence of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been incredible.  I have been following her work for many years and was really excited when Half of a Yellow Sun premièred earlier this year, on my birthday (!) in Croydon.  I managed to get tickets and went along with a gaggle of girls who helped me chase down Chimamanda at the end for a fan photo (for which I am forever grateful, ladies!).

I admit to being a bit starstruck.  She is absolutely my idol at the moment.  A talented, forthright, intelligent, articulate, compassionate woman who is just getting into her stride.  Every time I read an article, interview or see her on in discussion, I am struck by how poised and humble she is yet fiercely African, a feminist and stunning, all on her own terms.  Check her out in action here with Zadie Smith.

Chimamanda

We need more role models like her for our daughters, sisters, mothers, sons and fathers.

I recently finished Americanah and loved it (obviously!).  I particularly loved Ifemelu’s character, as stubborn, left-field young woman who writes.  I loved her blog about race identity and politics as a ‘non-American’ Black.  Honest and funny, challenging and unapologetic.  I have to say, this is what I will model my own blog on.  Some of the topics raised in that blog I’m sure will find a way into my own posts as so many resonated with me.

Other sources of inspiration are maybe obvious; Michelle Obama.  Now I know she causes much upset amongst American feminists because of her seemingly passive ‘mom-in-chief’ role.  I don’t know about that.  I think this is a woman who is managing to walk a very difficult path as the 1st Black First Lady.  The American right have tried to discredit her, calling her unpatriotic; accusing her of cosying up to celebrity;  being an ‘angry Black woman (I’ll talk about this perception at some point, I guarantee it!).

Hers is a complex path with numerous pitfalls to avoid.  She does it with poise and grace, keeping her family grounded in what must be a cyclone of madness.  When she is on a stage, people listen.  When someone tries to do her down, she calls out that rudeness.  Infuriatingly, if you put her name into a Google search ‘Michelle Obama is a man’ is the 3rd most searched for category!

Michelle

Let’s take a minute to remember just how powerful this women is, in her own right.  Whilst the fictional character of Claire Huxable is the African American ‘Mom’ everyone wanted to have, let’s show some appreciation for Mrs Obama who REAL and will continue to inspire generations of women, of all hues.

I have a saying with a couple of good friends of mine ‘WWMD?’ which means, What Would Michelle Do?’  I have this pinned on my fridge, by the way.

Last but not least, Lupita.  What can I say?  Well actually lots but I’m not going to because again, the Lupita effect will be the topic of another blog.    These woman are helping to redefine how we are perceived and how we perceive ourselves.  I love the fact that Lupita has just landed her 1st Vogue cover and that her short natural hair, dark skinned African features are part of the fashion and beauty landscape.

Lupita

I can look at these women and see a reflection of myself that I do not see in other high profile Black women .  Not because they are not role models (I’m not here to do anyone a disservice) but they’re not my role models.  So this blog in part, also celebrates these women and the joy they have brought to many lives including my own!

Are you on a similar journey? What or who inspires you?