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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Drugs and the aggravating circumstance of being black

Following the release of figures showing huge disparities in the way drug laws impact black and white people, I wrote an article for Independent Voices thanks to Writers of Colour. I argued that not only is the war on drugs a flawed concept, it’s not even working well. Although black communities are the collateral damage in this war, the shrapnel hits everyone.

Drugs and the aggravating circumstance of being black

Indydrugs

Despite taking fewer illegal drugs than their white peers, black people are six times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs in the UK, according to a report by Release and the London School for Economics (LSE) this month.

This is just a national average though and in some areas the discrepancy is much higher. If you live in Dorset, for example, you are 17 times more likely to stopped in the street and searched for drugs if you happen to be black.

The inequality doesn’t stop there, because if found with drugs, black people are then twice as likely to be charged as white offenders.

You might hope that once you are in court, justice will be blind and treat you equally, but black people are jailed at six times the rate of white offenders.

While it might be over-egging the pudding to say being black in the UK is a criminal offence, it seems it is at least an aggravating circumstance…

Read the entire article on IndyVoices

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I am proud to be part of Writers of Colour, – a collective of black and Asian writers challenging the lack of diversity in Britain’s mainstream media.

Twerking Miley Cyrus and ‘acting black’

When Miley Cyrus appeared writhing around the VMA stage one of the main criticisms levelled at her was that she was stealing from black culture. I argued that culture is there to be shared and appropriated but lamented that Miley chose to mimic a 2D stereotyped form of black culture and that she didn’t even do it well.

miley guardian

Former Hannah Montana sweetheart Miley Cyrus’s gyrating bikini-clad performance at last night’s MTV VMA awards left watching celebrities open-mouthed and set Twitter ablaze.

Miley, the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, the wholesome country and western singer with the ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, has been raising eyebrows for the last four years  as she moves further and further away from the teenage Disney channel character that set her on the way to becoming a $150m star at just 20.

Her hyper-sexualised set, which included rubbing her butt into Robin Thicke’s crotch and getting extremely personal with an oversized foam finger, drew criticism from feminists for degrading her sex and from some pundits for ‘picking the pocket of black culture’… (more…)

The Esigcaweni Nazarene Primary School – Swaziland

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The Esigcaweni Nazarene primary primary school is in rural Swaziland near the southern border with South Africa.

The school educates over 300 children from the Lumbombo region of the country.

Swaziland is one of the poorest countries on earth. More than a quarter of the population (26%) are HIV positive, the world’s highest adult prevalence rate and Global Age Watch says life expectancy there is just 49 years, the fifth worse in the world.

Many of the children who attend the Esigcaweni school have lost either one or both parents to HIV or other illnesses and for many, the meal provided by the school is the only one they will eat all day. (more…)

Oprah Winfrey and travelling while black

Oprah Winfrey is one of the world’s richest women but it didn’t stop a Zurich shop assistant from assuming she couldn’t afford the bag she wanted to buy. I talk about the real risks of travelling when black and sadly, they are more troublesome than having trouble buying a £24,000 bag.

Oprah Guardian

Oprah Guardian

 

There was a depressing familiarity to Oprah Winfrey’s tale of racism in an upmarket Swiss boutique.

Billionaire TV presenter Oprah is a household name around the world but this didn’t stop the staff in an Zurich handbag shop from assuming she couldn’t afford the expensive bag she wanted to buy.

In Oprah’s case, she decided not to make a scene or to play the ‘do you know who I am?’ card, instead choosing to leave the shop and spend her money elsewhere.

Oprah knew just mentioning her experience would be pay back enough and already the owner of the boutique has apologised and tried to explain away the incident as a ‘misunderstanding’.

While £25k handbags are not normally on my shopping list, being made acutely aware of your race when you leave the safety of home is all too familiar…

Read the Guardian article

This article was originally published in the Guardian with thanks to Writers of Colour

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Serve me up a Frankenburger but go easy on the branding

Yesterday’s announcement that scientists have created the first fully lab-grown burger left many feeling nauseous.
We have an emotional connection to what we put in our bodies and the idea of a burger made on a Petri dish leaves many people cold.

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I don’t share this revulsion.
Even when the rules are followed and our food isn’t bulked out with horse or fed its own dead, the way our meat is produced is already pretty vile. (more…)