Social Issues, Natural Hair, Poetry

3C

She visualised her 3C natural mane

Modelled that picturesque projection

From innumerable images on the internet

Little did she know that her roots

Would sprout wool rather than waves

Cultivate coils instead of curls

 

The three Cs that her mind sees

Are cute curly and carefree

When finally faced with the

Truth of the texture of her tresses

With time she treasures them

 

Despite the creams coated in colourism

The problematic products purported to

Help us embrace our natural selves

But which have names like Mixed Chicks

 

Despite companies who stab the same backs

Upon which they built their success

Shea Moisture has gentrified our scalps

Reformulated until we were removed

 

But she can 4C the future

And it needs no clear definition

The road is full of kinks and twisty turns

But there is light at the end of the coily tunnel

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Culture, Music, Social Issues

The Dark Truth About Colourism Part 2 – African Music Videos

I’ve been obsessed with African music for years, but unfortunately, I’ve realised that many music videos are laden with colourism and solely feature women who are very light-skinned or non-black. Recently, some of the most notoriously colour-struck artists like Flavour, Davido, and Diamond Platnumz have jumped on the “black girl magic” and “melanin popping” trends. But is their celebration of dark-skinned beauty legitimate and long term or merely opportunistic and fleeting?

Flavour, a Nigerian singer, released a song called “Black is Beautiful” in 2014. However, it’s difficult to take him seriously due to his blatant hypocrisy. He almost exclusively features light-skinned, mixed race or non-black women in his other music videos. Unlike some of the other artists, his colourism may have actually worsened recently. His song “Baby Na Yoka”, released earlier this year, juxtaposed a light-skinned black or mixed-race women with straight long hair and stylish clothes, with her “ghetto” dark-skinned hairdresser who was wearing garish clothes and bright red locs. The message was very clear and unacceptable.

Davido has had hits and misses. He’s had many videos like “The Sound” and “Coolest Kid in Africa” which solely feature very light-skinned and non-black women. His video “Fall” did feature a dark-skinned woman. However, she was portrayed as an argumentative girlfriend who he ditched to find a graceful lighter-skinned dancer.  His video “Dodo” had an appalling message that the only way for a dark-skinned plus-size woman to find love is by using juju on a man. The inclusion of a beautiful dark-skinned women in his latest song “Fia” is positive, but seems tokenistic next to these problematic incidents.

Diamond Platnumz has released “Mdogo Mdogo” which features a white woman as his love interest, and a black woman as her servant. “Number One” has solely non-black and very light-skinned video vixens, as do “Nana” and “Ntampata Wapi”. The release of “Marry You” this year, which features a dark-skinned woman only begins to make up for his blatant colourism over the years.

P Square, the Nigerian twins with mixed race/light-skinned wives, lyrics like “I dey call her mulatto” and videos like “Beautiful Onyinye” have now released with videos like “Away” and “Financial Woman” which feature dark-skinned women. But of course, the only result of a collaboration between Diamond Platnumz and P Square could be a video featuring women who were a million shades lighter than them. Yet they had the nerve to sing the lyric “My African girl so beautiful”.

Wizkid has created colour-struck hits like “Final” and “In My Bed” but has recently celebrated melanin in “Come Closer”. Other artists, including the singer Koker, seem to initially begin their careers featuring dark-skinned women, and move on to lighter and non-black women when their careers begin to blow up.

I see some comments under these videos which complain about the lack of dark-skinned women. Some people reply that the girls are still black and not everyone has to be dark skinned. This is true. But it isn’t acceptable that in a society where many girls are dark-skinned, there is never a single dark-skinned girl given screen time. Why are they considered less beautiful? How are they supposed to see themselves represented?

We’re not asking for every single girl to be dark-skinned. But there should be no reason that a video made by an African artist for a predominantly African audience should solely feature women who don’t look like them.

I’m very thankful for social media like YouTube and Instagram where dark skinned women and taking control and representing themselves. I and some other African girls and women are fortunate enough to see themselves represented, even if they have to look outside traditional media to do it. This may give them the confidence they need to never even consider bleaching, and rock their melanin.

But the same cannot be said for women in some parts of Africa who may not have access to or be aware of these positive representations, but sadly have access to bleaching creams. All they see is the media of their own countries which can be laden with colourism, and all they hear is the words of those around them who may still have colonial attitudes regarding skin tone. This sadly causes many to attempt to reach a ridiculous beauty standard which is undeniably perpetuated by these music videos.

Some people claim that solely or predominantly featuring light-skinned and non-black video vixens is needed to increase the global appeal of African music. However, hits like “Mad Over You” and “Skintight” expose this as a pathetic lie. Also, if this was even the case, why aren’t light-skinned and non-black men disproportionately featured in African music? Because the real reason behind this is phenomenon is colourism, which most harshly affects women.

We cannot afford the celebration of dark-skinned beauty to be a mere trend. African women and girls cannot take their skin off when the hashtag “flexin’ in my complexion” is no longer trending on Instagram. Their melanin has always existed, always been beautiful, and will always deserve acknowledgement.

Culture, Literature

Thoughts on Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair

Cannibal is an amazing book of poems by Safiya Sinclair which was published in 2016. Her poems explore subjects ranging from “Jamaican childhood and history, race relations in America, womanhood, otherness, and exile”. Her imagery is amazing and her writing is raw. I enjoyed it so much that I rated it 5/5 stars. These are some of my favourite poems from the book, which revolve around colourism, black hair and womanism.

IMG_0072IMG_0073IMG_0074IMG_0075IMG_0076IMG_0077IMG_0078IMG_0079IMG_0080

Social Issues

Insensitive Incidents, Concerning Comments and Sexist Statements

Here’s a catalogue of comments from several un-woke folks at my university. Quite naively, I was surprised to hear them at the time. However, I have come to realise that sadly a lot of people share these disturbingly ignorant viewpoints. I call these four individuals (who happen to be non-black males of various nationalities) “A”, “B”, “C” and “D”.

On the Disproportionately Low Representation of Women in Parliament:

Me: There’s no reason why Parliament should not represent the population

A: More women should run for PM then

Me: Not being able to enter higher positions of power disadvantages women in Australia. Having only men making decisions about women’s health, childcare etc. is not okay

A: Why not? Cause men hate women?

A: It’s like you’re saying it’s men v women. What the heck

Me: Nope because they don’t understand what it’s like to be a woman. I think that having a diverse range of opinions is always best.

 

A: Because there are better male candidates

B: Yes

Me: Not this proportion

D: I would say so otherwise there is gender inequality in the society

B: You just can’t become a leader because ur a female

A: Perhaps they are not good enough?

B: They can’t handle it or something

A: That’s society’s opinion

B: Too much pressure

A: Too much stress. Too much work

B: Not everybody wants to become prime minister

D: Having a baby would be too much per [sic]

B: If u don’t take an education that helps u achieve a leadership position and the males are then why would anybody be surprised that females aren’t getting a leadership position

 

Me: Which women do you think would make good leaders?

B: I don’t know of any right now

 

On Saying the N word:

Me: Why do you say it? What meaning does it have to you?

A: It doesn’t, I don’t really know why tbh and I’m not saying I say it often but I’ve said it

 

C: [to B] U mad nig

C: B is almost black

B: Hahahhahaha. Both of us r

Me: So you call black people ni**as?!

B: So it is acceptable

C: Only black people are able to say ni**er word. Ane me and B are almost black so we can say nig

B: LMAO. I see the logic

B: He wrote it

 

C: Africa-India relations refers to the historical, political, economic, military, helper and cultural connections between the India and the African continen [sic]. So we have some connection. Therefore we can say nig.

C: So I can say u are a ni**er

 

And finishing off with this misogynistic masterpiece:

C: U should take advantage of _. Since he’s the only man u will ever get.

 

These microaggressions are just too much, and they are honestly just the tip of the iceberg. From oversexualising women to literally laughing at the horrific Harvey Weinstein incidents, I am more than done with these people. All of this from four 17-18 year old boys, three of whom are people of colour. What are your thoughts on this? Have you had any similar experiences?

 

Natural Hair, Poetry, Social Issues

Cotton Crowns

The only women forced to question

Whether their hair is too hair-raising

Whether the coils are too coarse

For the caucus of conventionality

The kinks too unKonventional unless

Appropriated on Kardashian Kraniums

The spirals too savage unless straightened

 

Wool is wrapped with wigs and weaves

Shielded from stares and snarky statements

But their ancestors endured too many centuries

Of colonisation and cotton-picking

For them to be unable to wear their cotton crowns

Social Issues

Press in the Palm of Hanson’s Hand

The redhead is back in the political ring thanks to the media writes mikiashanti.

For Pauline Hanson there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Her image as a so-called ‘Aussie Battler’, has been popularised by negative media coverage, allowing her to make her political resurrection. The constant sensationalising of Hanson’s bigotry must stop as it has only garnered her more support and given her celebrity status.

Hanson’s allure for journalists is obvious. They just add water to her controversial statements to get instant headlines which the pubic feasts upon. When Pauline Hanson made her political debut in 1996, journalists constructed ‘Hansonism’, which symbolised “political myopia, outback bigotry and small-minded racism.” (Louw & Loo, January 1997) In a nutshell, they gave Hanson her own brand of bigotry on a silver platter.

Since then, ‘Hansonism’ hasn’t changed much. Hanson now warns that are being “swamped by Muslims” instead of Asians, and headlines like ‘Pauline Hanson’s First Press Conference as A Senator Was INSANE’, (Huffington Post, July 2016) are spewed on the front pages of every newspaper. A new decade, a new minority group being further marginalised and a new political slogan being popularised by the media.

Journalists have abandoned unbiased and professional reporting in favour of mockery and sensationalism. In their mission to construct Hanson as Australia’s answer to Donald Trump they have stopped lower than imaginable. In 2009 the media salivated over Hanson’s ‘nude photo scandal’. But the photos were of another woman. Now we see childish headlines like engorged with exaggeration like “Nostalgic Queensland: The murder of Pauline Hanson” (The Courier-Mail, September 2016). This distortion of the truth is absolutely deplorable.

The media asks us the ludicrous question “Marriage equality plebiscite a good idea? How about one on redheads” (Sydney Morning Herald, September 2016). But laughing at Hanson’s most notorious statements does not help our dire situation. Yes, she has ridiculous opinions. But it’s not enough to simply state that. None of these articles actually debunk her beliefs. They just provide more free publicity for Pauline.

Even more sickeningly, some journalists have taken a sycophantic approach to reporting Hanson.  Recently, the Courier Mail absurdly dedicated an entire article to a One Nation supporter who likened Hanson to Nelson Mandela. The Today Show got in on the disgusting act by circulating a meme which echoed this comparison.

“Incredibly, Hanson has become a quasi-celebrity and cult figure in our debased culture where she has featured for years on many TV shows. In this campaign she was the beneficiary of truckloads of soft free media time and interviews based on the fraudulent excuse that she says what many people think.” (The Australian, July 2016)

In fact, Pauline’s 2004 appearance on Dancing with the Stars made her an instant celebrity and was “so ripe for attention that if I ran The Sydney Morning Herald over the course of her appearance, I would have changed the paper’s name to The Sydney Morning Hanson.” (SBS, July 2016)

Hanson’s several appearances on the morning show Sunrise also made her a household name. We can all personally thank Sam and Kochie for providing her with a mainstream platform to spread her radical “Hansonism” and paying her for the privilege.

But we’re the ones who truly paid the price. Pauline Hanson’s party, One Nation, managed to snatch 4.3% of Australian votes in the recent election (New Matilda, September 2016), miraculously transforming her from a figure of public ridicule to a figure of public ridicule who secured four seats in the senate.

The amount of people who find Hanson’s political snack pack palatable is unsettling.  62% of the country agrees that “she speaks for a lot of ordinary Australians” (New Matilda, September 2016). This ‘Australian Battler’ persona was created when Hanson identified herself as “a mother of four children, a sole parent and a businesswoman running a fish and chip shop”. (Ustinoff, November 2005) and negative media coverage only fed into it.

In the 90s Hanson was treated to her very own tribute drag queen called ‘Pauline Pantsdown’. Her impersonator, Australian satirist Simon Hunt, released the outrageous song ‘I don’t like it’, named after Hanson’s infamous catchphrase. You would expect this ridicule to make people see Hanson as a joke. However, it made the public view her as a martyr who would sacrifice political correctness for the sake of the ‘average’ Australian.

As said by former Prime Minister John Howard, “To sort of put her in a special corner is stupid and all it does is enhance her position. I mean, I watched this debate back in 1998 and 1999 and the more she was attacked, the more popular she became, because those attacks enhanced her Australian battler image” (Sky News, 7 July 2016)

It was recently exposed by the media that sections “of her party’s policies on Halal certification, sustainable development and medical cannabis have been copied off Wikipedia” (ABC, July 2016). She once asked an interviewer to “please explain” what xenophobia meant. Her incompetency and lack of articulation should discredit her as a serious politician.

But they don’t.

Instead, all of these inadequacies enhance her ‘realness’ and ‘relatability’ in the eyes of those disillusioned with the major political parties. Thanks to her image as a straight-talker and crusader for the everyday man, Pauline has amassed a cult following of Australians who desperate for ‘a fair go’. They have been brainwashed by the media to see her as a viable alternative to the Coles and Woolworths of politics.

The woman herself said, “It’s the media, it’s like they see me as a punching bag. ‘Let’s have a swipe at her, let’s have a go. Oh, let’s sensationalise the story. We’ll use Pauline Hanson, all the tags that are associated with it.’ “Well guys, I’ll tell you something: I’m not interested and neither is the public.” (Sydney Morning Herald, July 2016)

And for once, she’s right.

The media circus must stop. Her bigotry isn’t funny and we can’t keep joking about it. All this will do is provide her with more publicity and reinforce her repugnant beliefs. The constant rhetoric of the racist redneck is unhelpful. Journalists must voice their opinions in a reasoned manner and present logical arguments against her. They cannot treat simply Hanson as a freak show. Hilarious headlines make us laugh for a few seconds, but Pauline and her supporters will be the ones laughing when ‘Hansonism’ gets even bigger.

So the next time you see an overly sensationalised article or interview, say “I don’t like it” and ask the media to “please explain”. Journalists must be held accountable for their reporting. We cannot jeopardise the future of our nation.

Do you want Pauline as your Prime Minister?