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Unless you’re on the side of white supremacy, you’re probably not going to win an election in Britain

May 12, 2017

 

It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

I am not saying Labour are perfect. Labour have not been impressive for the past few years. The fact is, JC’s leadership has done nothing to change this. He is pretty left wing. Even I disagree with a few points on the Labour 20 point economic plan (points 2, 3, 4, 10, and 19 if you’re interested).

However, despite my reservations, the Conservatives are there for the taking. They gained power in 2010 and 2015 positioning themselves as stronger on the economy, education and immigration. They promised small government, big society and prosperity for all. They have delivered on nothing.

Their successive governments form a long list of U-turns (1, 2, 3), broken manifesto commitments (4), public spending cuts and unsuccessful welfare reform. They have missed all their economic targets (5) and migration targets (6). Their 24/7 NHS proposals whipped staff into a frenzy unknown to modern British politics. Their education reforms have driven down government spending in schools (7), driven up inequality (8) and been deemed unsuccessful in achieving their objective to raise standards (9).

Council tenants unable to afford private housing are penalised via the bedroom tax. Benefit caps introduced in 2013 have not resulted in claimants moving into work (10) and use of food banks, a service barely in our political lexicon before 2010, escalates every year (11).

This is on top of rises in university tuition fees, VAT, stamp duty, business expenses and income tax for higher earners.

So why is it so hard to win the argument against them?

White supremacy is the one aspect of British life that a Conservative government will never threaten.

Of a population of around 63 million people, only 8-9% of individuals identify as non-white British. This section of the population is then further divided amongst racial, religious and cultural lines that segment it into insignificance. Outside of local and regional elections where concentrations of a BAME population can represent an influential voting bloc, non-white British voices are drowned out by a majority over-represented in media and politics, who can use their vote to express an otherwise suppressed ‘cultural anxiety’ (12).

Othering has worked since 1637 (13) and this principal has been used by every major party since to win elections. Time and time again the British public has proved they will permit personal financial or civil loss if you can make a vote for one party look advantageous for “white Britain” as a whole.

What’s worse, these deluded values are driven by the fear of immigration, not the reality of it. Some of the least diverse areas of the country voted for Brexit. Areas of the country drowning in EU funding voted for Brexit.

Everyone criticised the Brexit campaign for using straight up racism but I don’t recall many Remainers championing migration from people outside of the EU. They were largely silent when it was decided that non-EU immigrants could only settle in the UK if they earned more than £35,000 (14), £8,000 more than the national average. Now the rights of EU (read: white) citizens are under threat and suddenly migration becomes the great cause of the modern age. White supremacy is an issue that affects the left and right.

When the mere thought of the other is considered more harmful than actual economic loss, rational politics don’t cut the English mustard.

It is the privilege of the Labour Party leadership to think the moral high ground is enough. Re-distribution of wealth isn’t attractive to a British population who thinks it’s already in the right hands (the irony being, most of the top 20 richest Britons are immigrants). They don’t care about big business because they have no proximity to these faceless corporations. Besides, big corporations represent the dream – they should exploit the planet and it’s resources, it’s their supreme right. Why should big business pay for the NHS? It’s their money, they worked hard for their money, they’re not the enemy. It’s hard to picture Amazon as the enemy when brown faces and people with unpronounceable surnames are on the high streets of little Britain. Why is it Vodafone’s fault if a person can’t get a GP appointment? People have always been more offended by political correctness than some big company’s tax return.

The truth is, this country is scared. A massive section of the electorate would trade the NHS for the good ol’ days when their needs were prioritised, diversity quotas meant burning corks and playgrounds were death traps.

New Labour won in 1997 by the subtle triggering of ‘cool Britannia’ and fanning the embers of the financial service sector. People could deal with 1/10th of the Spice Girls being Afro-Caribbean because they had 95% mortgages and new cars. The electorate was made comfortable that their perceived superiority would continue unabashed. Now, there is no promise of wealth to distract them, so what do they do? They fall back into neo-conservatism; they would rather have no wealth than wealth that can be shared or taken from billionaires they are more willing to relate to than an immigrant.

The current ‘them’ and ‘us’ politics isn’t working for Labour because for Britain, ‘them’ isn’t defined as Starbucks or people who earn more than £80,000 a year. ‘Them’ is always going to imply people who are coming over here and taking jobs.

JC wants people to think like him. But you need an education for that which can’t be learnt in 5 weeks.

The ratings are in plain sight. The Conservatives run a terrible government but they have never been so popular. We need to stop scratching our heads over this. We need to wake up and smell the bigotry.

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9617519/37-coalition-climbdowns-u-turns-and-row-backs.html
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/28/coalition-u-turn-list-full
  3. http://www.lbc.co.uk/politics/parties/conservatives/theresa-may/theresas-u-turns-key-tory-policy-reversals/
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/yvette-cooper/election-promises-broken_b_7949232.html
  5. http://uk.businessinsider.com/this-is-why-george-osborne-misses-his-deficit-targets-over-and-over-again–and-why-he-might-keep-missing-them-2015-6
  6. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/25/we-dont-want-silly-promises-on-immigration-from-theresa-may—we/
  7. https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8027
  8. http://www.smf.co.uk/publications/educational-inequalities-in-england-and-wales/
  9. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-38157811
  10. https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8717
  11. https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/
  12. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/white-working-class-trump-cultural-anxiety/525771/
  13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbados_Slave_Code
  14. http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7264

Symbolism and Meanings in Get Out

May 11, 2017

THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS do not read this if you haven’t seen the movie

Film Title: Get Out

I can’t remember a film that has made me think like Jordan Peele’s Get Out. After seeing it a second time I decided to compile all the hidden meanings  I uncovered. Some might have been intended by the filmmaker, some may be from my interpretation. Some are just interesting little inserts whilst others are more meaningful symbols. I have definitely missed many explanations. But all combine to make one of the most elaborately textured films of the modern era.

  1. Chris Washington

I think he was intentionally named after George Washington. The first president of the United States owned slaves before becoming an abolitionist.

2. Redbone

Our introduction to Chris and Rose is accompanied with Redbone. A song about unfaithfulness, it’s chorus has the lyric ‘stay woke’ – advice to both Chris and the audience who are being advised to watch the film carefully.

  1. Rose stops Chris from being ID’d, and Chris is grateful

It’s been well documented that this was to prevent documentation of Chris’ journey. However, I am more interested in his response to Rose’s chivalry. It’s a warning for Africans to ‘beware Greeks, even though they bring gifts’. Don’t forget, the film starts with Rose bringing coffee and donuts for their breakfast. Is the film saying Africans are too ready to be grateful for the generosity of white people without questioning their motives? Probably.

  1. Rod gets it

Every time Chris explains to Rod the strangeness of his surroundings, Rod explains EXACTLY what is going on, if in his own unique way. However Chris dismisses his interpretations. This is a metaphor for Africans living in the diaspora today – the unfairness, oppression and racism we experience is well documented, as is our participation in it. It’s explained to us over and over again, but we don’t believe it.

It’s also important that the police officers Rod tries to report the crime to all laugh in his face, even though in managing to locate a missing person he actually presents credible evidence.

  1. The deer represents Africans

I have read a few interpretations that the deer represents the ‘buck’ – a term used to refer to enslaved Africans. It also refers to ‘buck breaking’; the process of sodomising enslaved male Africans in front of children and women to chastise, humiliate and dehumanise them.

However, I think the deer is a metaphor for Africans. Firstly, Chris has sympathy for it, whilst Rose doesn’t care. Also, when Chris and Rose explain that they killed a deer to Dean, Dean’s response is to say they did a good thing, that there are too many, that they are taking over the place. His response is a common refrain used by racists when complaining about immigration and specifically, African people.

Dean is eventually killed by Chris using a deer’s head, perhaps a homage to African uprisings throughout history.

  1. The significance of implied jealousy

All Rose has to do to silence Chris is to tell him that he’s jealous. At various points in the film he’s accused of being jealous of Rod, Walter and even jokingly, of Georgina. No offence to Rod or Walter but it’s kinda crazy that he would see them as threats. This is a mind technique; it positions Rose as an object of desire – a slave legacy white women benefit from – whilst also making him feel stupid for talking. It’s a way of representing how Africans are made to feel that all our problems are inventions in our heads. It’s a metaphor for how conversations get dumbed down.

  1. Are you dealing with a Jeremy or a Rose?

Jeremy and Rose are the two faces of racism, one loud, barely disguised and aggressive, the other incredibly discrete and calculating. Chris gets very clear signals that he should stay away from Jeremy but is oblivious to the racism of Rose. Even after he sees that she’s lied about having African ex-boyfriends, he insists that they leave the house together.

  1. Toe nails

Jeremy says that Rose used to collect toenails in a box as a child, much like the box Chris finds the photographs in. This isn’t the only derogatory metaphor for Africans, Dean advises Chris to stay out of the basement because of  ‘black mould’.

  1. The significance of Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens races a horse in Cuba, 1936

Jesse Owens was one of America’s greatest Olympians but Roses’ grandfather uses his success to reinforce his own mythology about African physicality. This reflects how his country treated Owens after his achievements in Berlin. In his later years, Owens is reduced to racing horses for money.

  1. The significance of the camera flash

Not only a great plot device, the camera flash that awakens victims from the sunken place symbolises the active use of camera phones in recording police brutality and injustice in America today.

  1. Georgina is the only character who breaks free from the sunken place without a camera flash

The implication here is that African men,  flattered by the adulation of white people, need to be woken up to see their mental enslavement. Georgina has some idea of the prison she is kept in. This is seen during two occasions during the film – when pouring the drink for Chris and when apologising for unplugging his phone. It is also highly likely that Georgina left the cupboard door open for Chris to find Rose’s pictures of all her African ex-boyfriends.

  1. British games are everywhere

The auction is disguised as a game of bingo and the room that Chris is trapped in is filled with games of British invention – including darts, a football table and a table tennis table. Chris also kills the crazy brother with a crochet ball. This must be a nod to racism’s origin as British ideology (Africans were first legislated as ‘slaves’ as part of the Barbados Slave Code) and the British direction of the triangular slave trade – half of all Africans enslaved via this passage were taken via British ships. It also reminds white Americans that they are not native to America. They have become the proverbial deer that Dean describes early on in the movie.

  1. Colour blindness

Initially, Chris likes Jim because he is blind and therefore ‘doesn’t see colour’. Jim turns out to be the man who purchases Chris. Not seeing colour makes Jim the most dangerous man Chris encounters because it means he doesn’t see the shady dealing, is least likely to do anything about it and totally happy to benefit. When asked why they only kidnapped Africans Jim response is non-caring to say the least. Don’t trust people who say they don’t see colour guys! How many times do you need to be told?

  1. The weaponisation of white female tears

This has been seen a lot in popular culture, most recently when Frida Pinta cried because someone asked her what ‘political blackness’ was. Rose uses tears to get Chris to stay in the family home, and then tries to use her tears to stop him from killing her (she succeeds). Moments later, Chris is almost made to pay for letting Rose take advantage of him yet again (FFS WAKE UP CHRIS!!) when flashing lights pull up the drive and she calls for help like she’s the victim.

What did I miss?

Being caught out and brown

September 5, 2016

When I first saw the Keith Vaz  piece I felt the absence of the News of the World keenly for the first time. It has been so long since the last hidden camera scandal. It was a bit like smelling something you used to eat as a child that you hadn’t thought about in years. Gossip! I remember that. It used to taste so good.

Complete with totally irrelevant commentary (though the fact he had paid off the mortgage on his flat was the most obscene part for me),  the blurry pictures of his rotund older body against the younger male’s (fully clothed of course) reminded me of how immovable these stories become once they are sensationalised. Vaz’s name is unlikely to be parted from from this.

For me, the most interesting part is the commentary. I have read mostly sympathy for him. It was not a sting – he had used the sex workers before – they went to the Mirror after recognising him – but he was still set up. He didn’t break the law. He clearly stated he didn’t take drugs. And he more than likely comes from a family and community that would have showed intolerance to his homosexuality, if he is gay.

Which for me is the most interesting part. Whatever he identifies as, he obviously had an urge to have sex with men that he felt the need to satisfy with sex workers. That doesn’t necessarily mean he loves his wife any less, nor has any less desire to engage in a hetero-normative family life. Let’s face it, you can’t get more hetero-normative than Stanmore. Incidentally, why does the MP for Leicester East have a main home in Stanmore?

In any case, I would suggest the picture of the long suffering, closeted Asian male may not be applicable here. Let’s not jump to culture bashing because we voted for equal marriage. In Vaz’s formative and adult years, British society would not have encouraged coming out either.

When I heard the audio, I heard a man who wouldn’t change a thing. He was having a great time! A high profile, a good salary, two properties, two cars, two children and, crucially, two lives. All enabled by his privilege.

I am reluctant to position him as a victim. Some people genuinely  want to go out, engage in same-sex activity, then come home to their wife or husband to watch prime-time television and read stories at bed time. Why should living as an ‘out’ gay or bisexual man be his choice just because it was more available to him in a Western country? Is it not acceptable to decide you like both paradigms and create a life that allows you to engage in the two? The ‘undercover brother’ phenomenon is consistent with this.

The familiarity and charm with which Vaz handled the encounter makes it sound like he may be in that camp. I am not saying there are no victims of cultural prejudice – people forced into heterosexual unions because of the pressures of faith or family. But let’s not immediately place him as a victim because he’s brown. Our cultures are not that far behind western ones which are hardly trail-blazing on gay rights. I think he was a perfectly happy man in both worlds. We might call others liberated, why not Keith? His only crime was secrecy. And who isn’t secretive, on some level, about sex?  I bet he is tormented only by the fact he has been caught.

Tips for people who say things that are a little bit racist

May 15, 2016

Ken Livingstone, Azealia Banks, Boris Johnson and no doubt more people nobody was listening to, said words that were interpreted as racist recently. Disaster! What are the protocols? I’ve identified a glaring lack of them. Keep this guide handy in case your tongue slips. Stay out of the “I’m not racist…” quagmire of the damned that will inevitably haunt your twitter mentions for a day or so.

TIP 1: Listen

If your comment has generated a hashtag, a Comment is Free article and/or an appearance from Dizzee Rascal on Newsnight, you are in deep trouble! Do not panic and for goodness sake do not respond. Not just yet. The first thing to do is listen. Who is cricitising you? Why? Do they have a point? Keep your eyes and mind open to the idea that you might have made a mistake. If, after doing this, you think “yeah, maybe ‘sand ni**a’ is a racist thing to say”, proceed to tip number two…

TIP 2: Do not try to “prove” you are not racist

There is no evidence you can submit to prove you are not racist. I don’t care if your best friend is Chinese, your boyfriend is black or your dentist is Bengali. You might still think people from Pakistan smell funny. Your personal relationships do not say anything about your beliefs; your black boyfriend might hate black people as much as you do. We are still working through 400 years of extremely well taught self hate, dontchaknow?

Putting the brown people in your life up as ‘racism insurance’ is actually the next step up on the ‘racist behaviour ladder of dumbness’ followed only by telling me how you only sleep with [insert race here] men/women and how you buy your lentils from the ethnic food aisle and not the whole foods section. The former makes you sound like you have a fetish. The latter makes you thrifty, not open-minded.

You can only be judged on what you do and how you act at any particular time. Having a few black friends on your Snapchat won’t change or excuse the fact that you dropped the N-bomb instead of asking for nuggets. So if you do that, or something similar…

TIP 3: Own up

Saying something racist and being racist are two different things. Owning up isn’t a confession you’re a bigot. It’s an acknowledgement we live in a tricky world that was designed by racists in the purest form; where the privileged are dripping with the rewards of colonialism and the rest are trying to get to Lesbos. We absorb the inequalities of this world whether we like it or not. And sometimes those inequalities pop out of our mouths like spit spray.

Saying something racist and being racist are two different things. Owning up isn’t a confession you’re ignorant. It suggests you don’t want to be.

TIP 4: Apologise

Tips 1, 2 and 3 make sense? The word is ‘sorry’.

TIP 5:

If all of the above fails, try to be right wing and definitely become a politician. You can say what you like because people will expect you to be a little bit racist. It doesn’t matter if you want to build a wall around Mexico, ban Muslims from your country or suggest the President of the United States is and always will be Kenyan. That’s just you, ‘doing you’. As you please.

On hair.

August 3, 2015

Ever since that white woman in America decided to ‘identify as black’ there has been a slow trickle of a once unthinkable admission; that some women who are not black would like to try out afro hair. I think it is a fascinating trend; the appropriation of cornrows, dreadlocks and the sticking of hair to ones’ forehead. I personally welcome it. Especially as black women have emulated white hair for centuries. However, the question we have to ask is: is there a difference?

afro

‘even if you have straight hair’ LMAO

Yes. There is. And it is important that before Cosmopolitan interlocks Kiera Knightly’s barnet into a hot dready mess, this new found love of afrocentricity is tempered with consideration of the travails that afro hair, and the people who own it, have had to negotiate.

Hair straightening is not the preserve of black women; white women have sought to eliminate their curls with all matter of tools and products for centuries; straight tresses have been desirable for as long as irons have been heated. Neither are the use of extensions and wigs; it is a spurious and tiresome myth to think only black women wear hair that is not their own.

However, what white women do to their hair connotes social, historical and political realities far trivial in comparison to the realities that black women traverse. For centuries black women have altered their hair for pretty deep reasons. Sometimes to deny African heritage, sometimes to win respectability. Grooming that subdues afro hair has been handed down by generations of women denied knowledge of afro hairstyles in the same way they were denied knowledge of their names, languages and religion.

Today, when a black woman adopts a natural afro hairstyle, knowingly or unknowingly, it is done in defiance of such offenses. When a Kardashian does, it means nothing. It just looks cool. There is nothing like appropriation to disempower an act of pride or cultural dissent.

Appropriation is the ultimate cultural amnesia. Labeling trends as unremarkable when black but extraordinary when anything else is a perfect way of denying a problem ever existed in the first place; of denying that afros were ever politically charged, that dreadlocks where ever a symbol of faith, or that kids with canerows were ever marginalised.

Black women have had big arses since humanity began (seeing as humanity began in Africa), but they only became fashionable when Kanye West married one. I remember Alicia Keys’ cornrows. But even her brown hair and light skin failed to initiate the imitation that Kylie Jenner does.

When we wear Brazilian 33 inch wavy, we are trying, in some way, to lose ourselves and gain acceptance in a world that is not controlled by us. When a white person wears a canerow, they are already accepted so it is not through the same lack of confidence. It is through possession of far too much.

Which perhaps is the most galling aspect of this movement. Why do white influencers have to adopt something before industries cajole the public into wanting more? And why do we as black people require white endorsement in the first place? It’s a circle. We don’t see ourselves in popular discourse (“if you want to make a human being into a monster[…] deny them any reflection of themselves”). But when we do we see ourselves, it is diluted. Other people play our parts and wear our features. We are celebrated in bits and pieces, and never in whole.

From birth we are surrounded by messages that tell us that our looks are inferior, and the pursuit of a white European aesthetic is not only encouraged, but overly catered for. I can relax my hair in 100s of salons in London, but I have to wait four weeks to get an appointment at a good loctician. I can buy Dark and Lovely in my local Tesco Express, but when I asked for shea butter they thought I was sneezing. In many ways it is as challenging for a black woman to obtain and maintain an afro hair style as it would be for a woman of any other race.

So the journey a black woman takes towards embracing hair as it grows from her scalp is a journey that in reality, is centuries old. It’s a story of how we lost, lived without, then started to embrace what is our own again. Slowly but surely, we are rejecting colonial ideas of what we should look like. And, in the diaspora at least, we are doing it without role models. Yes, we had Lauryn Hills and Lupita Nyong’os, but they never told us what to do. The natural hair movement has happened as naturally as a child learns to walk.

This is why it is exhausting to see the celebration of afro hair on the pages of the same magazines that have been telling us to straighten them out for all these years. They should be celebrating the people from which the hair grows. The about turn smarts because the efficacy of their propaganda embarrasses us. All those products that polluted our pillows, all the scalp burning and all those hours spent in a dingy salon in Peckham, it was all because we bought into a principles that the oppressor doesn’t even believe anymore.

Now they are changing their minds like we hadn’t changed ours already. Put frankly, it’s annoying. Mostly, it is yet another example of our invisibility. It is not afro hair that is desirable in these pieces. It is the mimicry of it. One gym session and Kylie Jenner’s cornrows will return to their European state. As black women, we never just mimicked Eurocentric styles. We assumed them. We made them so much a part of our self-image it is possible Beyonce to advertise shampoo. We describe hair that looks like Tina Turner’s hair as Tina Turner hair. But it was never hers.*

We are not our hair, but we are our history and we for too long enforced definitions of what is and is not acceptable that were invented by Eurocentric powers. Until it is natural for us to see a newsreader with dreadlocks, a business man with a canerow or a president with a fade, afro hair, and the things we do with it, will be viewed through the prism of our oppression. What white people do, will be viewed with nothing more vacuous than piqued interest. So we are copied, as we copied them. But it is not the same.

afro2
*disclaimer: I love Tina and wouldn’t have her 80s phase take place with any other look. She’s just a good example for this piece.

On sugar.

July 17, 2015

We don’t eat too much sugar because we are idiots, we eat too much sugar because the food and drink industry is greedy. It loads food with sugar to make low grade ingredients taste good, something especially necessary as fat is removed from so many things.

Three things have annoyed me about the sugar bashing today. Firstly, the implied severity of a sugar free diet. The anti-sugar fanatics paraded on the news at ten are off-putting; mothers in hemp cardigans feeding their traumatised children rye bread and spinach are not going to reach us normal folk. There are easier ways to reduce sugar than becoming a food bore.

Secondly, there has been no explanation as to why sugar is bad. This is unhelpful too. If we can understand why something is bad, we can better motivate ourselves to find ‘good’ alternatives.

Finally, the way to encourage people to avoid sugar is to understand how the food industry has corrupted our food (and therefore palettes) by using too much sugar, and then using that education to help people make better food decisions. No responsibility in the reporting today was placed on manufacturers. There is a good reason for this; the food lobby is powerful and has an easy ride from parliament and the public. Life is easy if your products don’t give people lung cancer or hangovers. Put simply, apathy, lack of knowledge and the fear of the nanny state means mud does not stick.

Avoiding sugar is not hard work. He is some information that wasn’t really reported today. Which annoyed me. Hence this post.

Reducing sugar is easier than you think.

  • Cook your main meals from scratch and try not to use convenience sauces like Ragu or Uncle Ben (but if you must use one, use Uncle Ben and support a brother). These sauces normally have added sugar to hide their blandness. Your food does not have to look like the below. There is only a tiny amount of sugar in a curry and roti and curry and roti is amazing.
horriblefood copy

Is this life?

  • Read nutrition labels as much as you can. This is a chore, but we automatically place food into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories based on perception and not fact. So, we think a bag of Haribo is ‘bad’ and a fruit smoothie is ‘good’. Actually, they are as bad as each other.

We need to start basing our categorisations on fact and that comes with being informed. Look for ‘carbohydrates which sugar’, divide the number by 5, and bingo, you have the number of teaspoons of sugar you are about to consume/change your mind about consuming.

  • Sugar isn’t causing obesity. Sugar and inactivity is. The problem is that sugar turns to fat very quickly if it is not expended. If you really can’t cut back on sugar, change the times at which you consciously eat it. More sugar in the morning is great because you will spend your day (hopefully) walking up escalators, running for buses and sending emails, all useful ways to burn off that energy. Drink a can of Cola at night and you are asking for a cavities and high blood pressure.
  • Look for reasonable alternatives. Instead of full sugar soft drinks, consume limited amounts of the diet versions. Drink more water. Boring, I know, but if the fluid that gave this planet life isn’t exciting enough, add some fruit cordial. Coconut water is brilliant. Dilute fruit juice with fizzy water (my personal trick). Swap confectionary for nuts, or popcorn (unsweetened of course). I am a big fan of rice cakes and peanut butter, (crunchy, not smooth). I eat this instead of Snickers and such like. Pretzels make for a good snacking alternative. I like nothing better than a Tupperware box full of carrot sticks. Join me.
  • Understand how the food industry works. There is no legislation to control how manufacturers promote their products; a product can be marketed as ‘light’ based on colour and not on nutritional content! Again, the food lobby has a big hand in this.

Beware of the following versions of any food product:

Light

Diet

0% fat

Fat free

Reduced fat

Reduced calorie

Fat is almost always replaced with sugar which means you would be better off with the fatty version, which is more likely to be satiating and tasty, both qualities food used to have before profit got in the way. Don’t think for a second Amanda Holden eats pots of ‘greek style’ yoghurt with an inch of jam at the bottom. She’s just paid to make you think she does.

The bottom line is that the industry has got us addicted to sugar because the government lets them do what they like. Now the government is in a muddle because it wants us to be healthier, but not at the expense  their industry mates’ margins. Then we get think tanks telling us we should be eating no more than 1.4. Kit Kat Chunkies a day if we want to stay alive, with no context and crucially, no practical information and advice.

Sugar, in excess, is not a good thing. But, positioning a reduced sugar diet as drastic and unattractive is misleading and unhelpful. Understand how corrupt the industry is, read the labels on food and slowly build alternatives for the sugary things you consume every day. Don’t forget to break into a sweat every now and again. And stay away from hemp cardigans. You can avoid sugar and still be cool.

All My Sons, Richmond Theatre

April 4, 2015

dir: Michael Buffong

Upon finding my seat in Richmond Theatre I remembered the last play I had seen was A Season in the Congo at The Young Vic. Prior to that I recalled going to watch the all black production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Before this, I watched The Mountaintop with David Harewood. I started to realise that all black casts were fast becoming a prerequisite for me to consider watching a play. To satisfy the equality and diversity champion within, I made a mental note to myself to book tickets for Wicked. Or perhaps The Bodyguard, as a compromise.

Notwithstanding, there is nothing more satisfying than watching words, passively understood to belong to white people, emerge from the mouths of African and Afro-Caribbean counterparts. To enable a full reconsideration of narrative, history and culture through a simple change in casting is a worthwhile exercise. It helps to reverse inequalities of the times in which such plays were written, and the current times in which they are performed.

This Arthur Miller play is about hope, which turns into denial, love, which turns into truth and justice, which turns into tragedy. It’s about the choice between being practical and winning, and being honest and losing. Multi-faceted and complex, I can think of no better piece to contribute to the idea that the black American experience is more than one of civil rights and slavery – All My Sons is an American story, and a narrative, however damning, that belongs to African Americans too.

Kate Keller (Dona Croll) steals the show – a quick witted matriarch perfectly pitched so even in her attempts to manipulate and her more manic moments, she is still a loveable figure deserving of sympathy. The rest of the cast support powerfully, emitting the presence of unrequited love, disappointment and compromise in their lives with enough subtlety to no doubt remind the audience of the presence of the same in their own.

Watching black men play the roles of a successful tycoon, an astrologist, a lawyer, a doctor alongside women who are young, old, optimistic and fatigued is just the fresh air the diverse audience needed to breathe in. These were not black actors playing black roles, they were accomplished actors playing world famous roles. In an art world where whiteness is presumed if no other race is specified, productions like this are so important.

The play is about a family that moves towards the realisation of a wicked, horrid truth at the heart of it’s success. I’d argue All My Sons is about honesty and an all black cast cements the practicality at the heart of the play’s message. People of colour are ordinarily positioned on the right side of American history; as powerless, as victims. In reality, we also occupy positions that seat us on the wrong; side by side with our white counterparts too.

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