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By a jury of my peers

12 people in a carriage.

Two Galatasaray fans, dripping in red and yellow, on their way to watch their team in the Champions League.  Clearly on TV in a Turkish bar, since Gala are playing in Istanbul tonight.

An Asian Brit, knowledgeably talking to them about violence in Turkish football – apparently, it’s all Trabzonspor’s fault.

A very smartly dressed, middle-aged Indian couple. He, in a shiny suit with a hankie poking out of his top pocket. Her, in a white sari and glasses that would have suited Gina Lollobrigida. Take in the scenes on the tube as if observing Dalits during the Raj.

A Canadian sounding young same-sex couple poorly pretends to be just friends. Holding hands, whispering and furtively looking around to gauge the reactions of the rest of the carriage.

A white architect in his 50s. Dressed in the scruffy way that says ‘I’m an intellectual’, buries his head in his impressive looking plans.

A couple of work colleagues, who ‘have been around as long as they have’, gossip about their mutual office hate figure who really doesn’t deserve the easy ride she gets.

And me, looking quite ghetto but wishing the too-cute-to-approach, corporate woman reading this over my shoulder knew that I was a writer.

The ugly underbelly of private renting

When my mum first came to Britain from Jamaica in the 60s, overt racism was just a normal part of her day-to-day experience.

She never tires of telling me about the famous ‘no blacks, no Irish, no dogs’ signs that landlords put up on properties.

pic by Paul Joseph

pic by Paul Joseph

In those pre-equality regulation days, bigotry didn’t need to hide behind plastic smiles, it was allowed to roam free and unashamed.

The  Race Relations Act 1976 was supposed to put an end to all that and the Equalities Act 2010 seemed to reinforce the message that discriminating against someone because of the amount of melanin in their skin was simply not acceptable.

Among other measures, the Act made it:

“unlawful for a person who has the authority to dispose of premises to discriminate against or victimise someone else …by not letting or selling the premises to them.”

An undercover investigation by the BBC’s Inside Out London programme into discrimination in London’s private lettings industry aired last night. It showed that, for some letting agents, these laws are just obstacles to be navigated….

Read the rest of this article on the Guardian, Comment is Free

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Black history gets the Hollywood treatment

Hollywood has a very dubious history when it comes to telling the stories from Black history.
For years America’s guilt at the way it has treated it’s Black population saw Hollywood airbrush Black people out of many of the stories it told.

12-years-a-slave-poster

If Native Americans were vilified in many Westerns, Black people were pretty much ignored. The almost all-white Wild West presented in these films bore little resemblance to the reality in which almost a quarter of cowboys were Black and even more were Hispanic.

Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (2012) was widely credited with giving a more realistic view of the Wild West, and while it was a hugely entertaining and successful film, Django’s tale still had the familiar ring of the poor Black man being liberated by the kindly white man.

The ‘white saviour’ narrative has been repeated over and over again and has allowed stories that America finds difficult to tell seem more palatable.

For a film to work for mainstream audiences the perceived wisdom seemed to be that the stories of ethnic minorities need to be told through the lens of a character white audiences can relate to. Using the white saviour ploy allows a white audience to watch a film about oppression, even with white oppressors, and align themselves with the good white person and Black ‘victims’.

Read the rest of this feature on the TV Collective.

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