The following are articles I’ve recently written but which were published elsewhere.
My paternal family live in the small African nation of Swaziland. I wrote a piece for the Guardian suggesting that Coca-Cola, which makes up 40% of the nation’s GDP, has the power to pressure the King to improve the lives of his subjects. Swaziland is one of the last absolute monarchies in the world and its people are among the poorest on the planet. I argue that public pressure is the key to making Coca-Cola act.
Following a Runnymede Report and BBC investigation into discrimination against black people in the private rental market, I wrote a comment piece for the Guardian. I lamented that this sort of bigotry is not, as hoped, a thing of the past, and highlighted fears that Theresa May’s Immigration Bill might make the situation worse by providing a tool for discriminating landlords and the agents who facilitate their bigotry.
I wrote a feature for the TV Collective looking at how black history is covered by Hollywood. I argue that although this years spate of black films directed by black film makers represents a move away from the ‘white saviour’ films of recent years, there still seems to be desire to present the Civil Rights struggle as a thing of past.
I wrote a review of Lee Daniel’s The Butler for Writers of Colour. The film tells the story of Cecile Gaines, a black butler who served under seven presidents at the White House while the battle for Civil Rights engulfed the US. I feared I was in for another sanitised view of the this tumultuous period of US history with black ‘victims’ nobly shouldering various insults with dignity and honour.
What I got was in fact a nuanced look at the civil rights era through the eyes of Gaines, tenderly played by Forest Whitaker.
I’m proud to be a member of Writers of Colour, a collective of writers trying to bring more diversity to mainstream media.
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.
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.
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.
One in ten charities report being the victims of fraud each year. The challenging funding environment the voluntary sector is going through means organisations should do all they can to minimise the impact of fraud which ultimately reduces the services the charity can offer its beneficiaries.
I’ve lived in my council flat for over 20 years. I want to stay and don’t believe that council houses should be sold off but increases in the discounts offered to help tenants become owners is making my principles increasingly harder to stick to. The article was based on one I wrote at the time of the budget called Osborne and My Right to Buy
Riots broke out all over the UK in the Summer of 2011. I went down to Clapham Junction and wrote a first person view of the troubles for the Spectator. I compared the disturbances with the ones that swept the inner cities in my teenage years and wrote a longer piece here When the Underbelly Roars which looked at some of the causes.