9/09/2014

It's Okay To Not Be Okay

And so comes to an end my semester long exploration outside of education, and I'm using education in the loosest of ways, as I feel I've learned more in these 8 months than I have in 2 and a half years of university attendance.

I'm feeling nauseous, stressed, excited, and countless adjectives to try to pin down a sensation that resembles restlessness, but also total inertia.

It might be the fact that I have a week to sum up my summer “vacation” into a presentation for my peers in a language that I am not yet comfortable expressing myself in.

It might be the fact that a strange woman moved into the house and proceeded to violate everyone's personal space in under an hour.

It might be the fact that I think I'm falling in love with bright eyes that reside forever away from me.

It might be the fact that for the first time, one of my siblings has left the nest and is existing as an individual. A black individual of age, swimming in a sea of both subtle and overt racism that could at any given point turn on him and end him, just for being.

It might be the fact that I am once more forced to make decisions about my future when I'm barely old enough to have a past.


In other words, I'm freaking the fuck out.

me, hungover in Copenhagen at Troels' apartment, he's behind the camera

However, I'm dealing with everything, to a great soundtrack too^^ 

i draw lazy comics now

4/04/2014

Life Rant

Lately I've been sucked into the professional world, and it hasn't been very pretty, which has taken time away from this blog.

I was writing for a digital magazine who in the end decided not to publish any of my articles because I  confessed that my interest in Fashion is minimal (non existant even) and that I did not feel comfortable writing about "Top 90s Hairstyles" and "Fashion Week Highlights" (I didn't even know Fashion Week was on!).

The point is that even after I attempted to submit content, trying to push my own feminist agenda and to put an interesting spin on otherwise non engaging content, I simply could not sell out and write about subjects which I find utterly pointless - I think clothing and fashion design is fascinating, I have nothing but respect for the work of designers, however, my issue is with a mass imposed dictation of what is okay to wear, and what is so last season. The concept baffles me, but what baffles me even more is the fact that people actually refer to a surreal magazine who's aim is to push merchandise as a beacon of how to cover their own bodies... I simply cannot be a part of that dictatorship - because in the end, that is what it is. If I'm asked to list the "Top Spring/Summer Trends of 2014", my research is to be made through other articles that have already stated what said trends are, and they usually all descend from some sort of overlord magazine such as Vogue or Nylon. Smaller writers all feed off them, and each other, so the trends aren't really trends, they're just a conversation between two self appointed fashion lords, and the rest of us are just spectators.

Needless to say I got "fired" which is a big word considering I wasn't even getting paid. However, I did not get an email saying so, I simply didn't receive the last group message before publication, but was included in the group message of the published magazine, only to have it rubbed in my face that my articles aren't in there - real world shit. Oh well, I think I'll survive, I'm not sure how much exposure I would have had from my articles, but I am glad that my name will not be associated to the sort of content that makes me cringe/made me cringe when I was assigned to it.

On the side of things where I do get paid, I'm having to chase my employers for payment, so I've decided to simply not show up until they pay me, which on one end is terribly immature, but on the other, is what they deserve. I have to travel one hour in and one hour out to teach a 40 minute class to a group which I was told would be 10 to 11 year old, but is actually 4 to 11 year old, which those of you who teach dance (or anything) will know how difficult it can be. Having to wait around making sure they all get home safely (including having to walk a couple home once) was not part of the deal, yet I ended up doing it, and they still don't think it necessary to pay me on time, so I think what I am doing is completely justified.

There is a bright side to the professional life, and literally so, as the weather is warming up in this region, more dance gigs are coming in, and therefore I'm doing shows and video shoots and it's all lovely and exciting, and what I actually enjoy doing for work, so despite unpleasant experiences, dancing has been good to me, and I have been good to it^^ I'm also still enjoying posing for life drawing classes and individual painters, which not only pays well, but has helped me greatly with self esteem and learning how to feel comfortable in my skin. So, in short, I'm okay :D

For those of you who miss my face as much as my writing, here is a selfie with my cat that I took before I had to give him away.


3/05/2014

Lately

I've been expanding my writing horizons by using my leave of absence at university to get some writing experience for my portfolio and CV, which is why I have not been as consistent with the blog posts. However, things are starting to settle and I'll soon be able to have a timetable that makes more sense. I have also found work as a dance tutor for primary schools and as a life model. I'm spending my gap semester doing what I love most, dancing and writing. I hope that lasts.

These are the websites I'm writing for, look out for my posts (:

OFF THE HOOK - I'm having to learn about fashion for this one, but any writing experience is experience, and though I don't understand the fashion industry and its standards, I'm trying to sneak in my feminist values every chance I get, as well as being a culture contributor to the site blog every Wednesday.

Makerble - Charity facilitation website, it's designed to provide people with the ability to donate to charities based on their interests and income. I am a "lifestyle" writer for it, whatever that means ;)

On one hand, I'm ecstatic that people take me on board with so many projects, but on the other, I didn't expect so many things to do at once in such a short amount of time, so I have been struggling to keep up with it all, even though needing a break was part of the reason I went into leave of absence in the first place. It's a process, and I know I'll get there eventually, specially since I have the support of all my friends and family, who are nothing short of extraordinary.

Thank you for all the support with the blog so far, its really fun/interesting to write knowing a number of you will definitely read, much appreciated^^ I leave you with a photo of a painting from the life drawing class I model for.



2/25/2014

Rich White People Movies

I'm over them, really.

Lately, Hollywood has been spewing out a number of films about white people reaching wealth through dishonest means and then conning other white people. Why does this still sell? Is this what people enjoy seeing? A multimillion dollar industry with the tools at their disposition to make insightful films, and tackle the misrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities, but instead it's remake and rich white people movies galore.
  • American Hustle
  • The Wolf of Wallstreet
  • The Counselor
People seem to eat these up, and by people, I mean men. It seems like these are the people we glorify, these men who are presented from the beginning as being out of control maniacs with nothing but thirst for money and drugs. The fact that these films consistently work so well should raise a few alarms.

Do you realize that you are paying rich white men to make a movie (employing rich white men) about rich white men who got rich by conning rich men (here is where the token minorities are introduced)? Most of the men here are likely to have a drug problem. There are of course, the pretty women who get to be a part of it because they fuck one or more of those men. 

People will remake the same things (unnecessarily) about 4 times before they even consider to throw some color on the screen. Did we need another Carrie? Robocop? The Delivery Man? The last one came ONE year after the original Canadian version. ONE year.

Done with this. IF I watch any of it, I'll stream it, because f*ck bleach.

At the beginning of the year, I promised myself that I would not pay to go see another film starring a white guy. That probably means I'll go to the cinema about 6 times in 2014, oh well.

2/18/2014

(More) Singing WoC III

THEESatisfaction  [RnB/Hip Hop]
U.S.A



Jennifer Chung [Soul/Pop]
Korea/U.S.A


Kina Grannis [Acoustic/Pop]
U.S.A


Bat For Lashes [Indie Pop/Electronic]
UK


Alisa Xayalith (of The Naked and Famous) [Indie Rock/Post Punk/Indie Pop]
New Zealand


Sy Smith [Jazz/RnB/Soul/Funk/Electronica]
U.S.A


N'dambi [Jazz/Soul]
U.S.A


Ruby Ibarra [Rap/Spoken word]
U.S.A


Laura Mvula [Soul/Jazz/Pop]
UK



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2/12/2014

How Not To Cabaret

[Content Note: sexual assault, drug abuse]

I went to see a cabaret show, and for the most part, I had fun. There was a charismatic burlesque dancer, some queer spoken word, an amazing music trio, and cheery hula hoop performers. However, this serving of cheeky entertainment came with a side of offensive material.

These were the acts I had a problem with:
  • A poem called "Ugly girls" trashing women who don't adhere to the Western standards of beauty, by a man who's previous poem (or written exercise) was about a  person with a mental disorder who stalks a girl, going as far as breaking into her home and tattooing her face on his body - a poem meant to be funny.
  • Freestyle Fictionary hip hop group played a game of "versus", which consists of having a 2 a side rap battle, and one of the subjects was cocaine vs. acid - an unnecessary glorification of drug abuse.
  • A member of said hip hop group made a gang rape joke, and when the hostess attempted to comedically protest this by pretending to whack him with her heel, he said "yeah hit me with your heel, i like that" - he couldn't have sounded more like a rapist if he had tried.
Bar the above, I enjoyed the show, it was a nice showcase of Northern talent. However, the few acts that had me sitting uncomfortable in the audience stuck with me more than any other, and I can say that I am glad I got my tickets for free, and I don't intend to pay for any coming shows. I will not post the name of the Cabaret because I have no intention of advertising them, but I will warn about Freestyle Fictionary's member SchizaFlow.

I have also sent said group a message expressing my discontent at their inappropriate material:


Hi, I was at your show last night, and I just wanted to say that I found the usage of the line "after you'd reject me, i'd get my mates and gang bang you" absolutely vile. It was out of order, and the fact that the reaction to Penella's somewhat attempt at a comedic deflection was met with "yeah baby hit me with your heel i like that" or some similar comment made it even worse. Rape jokes are never okay.
Furthermore, the glorification of drug abuse - particularly a lifestyle drug with devastating consequences such as cocaine - in your rap battle seemed highly unnecessary. Were there genuinely no other subjects that you found more engaging?
I would have found the act worthwhile if those elements hadn't been present, but all you made me think about was how glad I was that I got my tickets to the show for free, I wouldn't have paid to feel uncomfortable in my seat while hearing such things. I sincerely hope that was the first and last time you tried to make a joke out of sexual assault and drug addiction.

To which they replied:

Hi Naomi,

We are sorry to see you were offended enough to message us. We try very hard to keep our show fun and unoffensive, but due to the nature of improvisation and a charged atmosphere, this is not always possible.

The tone of the night was edgy and adult-orientated, and our performers took their cue from this, but after receiving your message we checked the publicity from [venue] and noticed there was no content disclaimer, so have fed this back to them for future events.
We work on improving our output and content and thank you for airing your feelings. Regards, Fictionary

To which I couldn't help but answer:

There is nothing adult oriented or edgy about a gang rape joke. It's simply crude and cheap. If you genuinely believe that sexual assault is a laughing matter, don't hide yourself behind "it's the venue's fault". It's not, it's your performer, and since you insist on deflecting blame, your collective mentality as well it seems. This will be the last you hear from me.

which was met with:

I’m sorry you feel this way, we stand by what we said, please feel free to complain to the venue.

Bitch ass wangsters who claim they can rap But all they do is sink to lows to get a clap They make a rape joke, then blame it on the venue Congratulations assholes, what else is on the menu? Murder? Harassment? Assault and Battery? That's why I'm cool with saying Fuck Freestyle Fictionary Bitch.

I stand by what I said.


2/08/2014

(More) Interesting Photography III


Photographs showing both cultural appropriators and the ones they have appropriated from.

Personal gallery by David Uzochukwu
Images focused primarily on showing males in a vulnerable light.Black Venus Project by Maxim Vakhovskiy
Celebrating the beauty of black women.Illusions of the Body by Gracie Hagen
The way posture alters images of the body.Substitutes by Ellen Jacob
Racial divides exposed through a series picturing black nannies and the children they take care of.

2/01/2014

American Apparel's Hairy Situation

This article comes in a couple of weeks late, but I thought I'd write it anyway, because I can.


There was a lot of talk about American Apparel's unveiling of mannequins that feature prominent pubic hair. The reactions seemed to be divided between revulsion (how dare they show a woman with pubic hair, hair does not belong on a woman!) or celebration (they've broken the taboo! Finally, real women!). My reaction was f*ck that brand. American Apparel's stunt had nothing to do with women's natural body hair, or natural body in general. It was purely for shock value.

  • There is no underarm hair.
  • The usage of the cat eye glasses and hairstyle suggests that it is reflecting a stereotype/trend as opposed to  simply naturally occurring hair.
  • The mannequins are still confined to the body standards of the fashion industry.

American Apparel has zero interest in fairly representing women. They have a history of sexist marketing, and ads built around sex, even to sell socks.

Furthermore, I don't respect this brand at all due to the fact that their entire premise is that it is "Made in USA", with prices far above the norm, which is a reflection of what the West thinks of foreign work- When it is made in the US, you pay top dollar, when it is made in Indonesia, Mexico, or anywhere else in the world where corporations have no problem exploiting workers, the prices drop considerably.

Again, f*ck that brand, and every other like it. I leave you with this photo of myself not giving a gosh darn about a narrative where women's body hair is a trend.

1/28/2014

(More) Singing WoC II

Blush [Pop]
Philippines/India/Hong Kong/Japan/South Korea


NRG Rising [Reggae]
New Zealand


Alexis Brown (of Straight Line Stitch) [Metalcore]
U.S.A



Judith Hill [Pop/Soul/RnB]
U.S.A


Girl In A Coma [Indie Rock]
U.S.A


Maria Mena [Folk/Pop/Rock]
Norway


DOLL$BOXX [Rock/Metal]
Japan



Condola Rashad ["Storytelling"]
U.S.A


FKA Twigs [Trip Hop]
UK







1/25/2014

War Witch




War Witch is a 2012 war drama directed by Canadian director Kim Nguyen, starring Rachel Mwanza, Serge Kanyinda and Alain Bastien.

It centers around 12 year old Komona, who is abducted from her village to become a child soldier during a civil war in Africa (it is not stated exactly where, but there are strong suggestions that it is set in the Democratic Republic of Congo). As is tradition, she is initiated by being forced to kill her parents, and the movie follows her experience after this traumatic event.

All the facets of being a child soldier are presented, from the new found friendships to the physical abuse, from the drug induced hallucinations to the psychological trauma. This deep insight into the life of a child soldier is what makes the film worthwhile. There is no glamorization, and it is a challenging watch, often cringe inducing. More than crying about the situation of the protagonists, we are invited to celebrate their strength and to root for their liberation. The camera doesn't allow for a pitiful gaze, mainly because the people the characters reflect don't pity themselves, they do with what they have and strive to push forward.

Personally, I found this a refreshing film. It is a contrast to the "white savior" films we often see, the likes of "Machine Gun Preacher", where we are presented with helpless children in need of foreign help, with no agency of their own - a portrayal of child soldiers from the point of view of everyone but the child soldiers. War Witch is narrated by a girl, it is a story from her point of view about herself, from start to finish. The film prompts deep reflection on current events, but also laughter during those few moments where the protagonists attempt to pursue friendship, love, and happiness in the face of chaos and despair. 


It was nominated for an Oscar (Best Foreign Language Film 2013). For a full list of the awards it won and was nominated for, click here.




1/23/2014

"Black Hair" Magazine

While grocery shopping the other day, I decided to check out the magazine section for a peek at what the sexist industry had in store for me this month. Rather than weight attacks that tell me I should spend more on clothes but love myself the way I am, I was drawn to an issue of "Black Hair" magazine.

I think Fake Hair magazine would describe it better.

The purpose of having magazines dedicated purely to hair of women of color is that other magazines do not cater to it, implying that this will, but it doesn't. It just sells us weaves and wigs that look like what the other magazines sell us anyway. Though, if you look at the top right, you'll see that there is a "mini magazine" included for us curly hair sisters. Why, thank you! A lifetime searching for relatable hair care information, and you dedicate a whole entire mini magazine to us! ¬¬

No wonder things like this are happening:


To give you a better perspective on the significance of this article, here is an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel Americanah:
“So three Black women in maybe two thousand pages of women’s magazines and all of them biracial or racially ambiguous, so they could be Indian or Puerto Rican or something. Not one of them is dark. Not one of them looks like me, so I can’t get clues for makeup from these magazines. Look, this article tells you to pinch your cheeks for color because all their readers are supposed to have cheeks you can pinch for color. This tells you about different hair products for everyone—and everyone means blondes, brunettes, and redheads. I am none of those. And this tells you about the best conditioners—for straight, wavy and curly. No kinky. See what they mean by curly? My hair could never do that. This tells you about matching your eye color and eye shadow—blue, green, and hazel eyes. But my eyes are black so I can’t know what shadow works for me. This says that this pink lipstick is universal, but they mean universal if you are white because I would look like a golliwog if I tried that shade of pink. Oh look, here is some progress. An advertisement for foundation. There are seven different shades for white skin and one generic chocolate shade, but that is progress. Now let’s talk about what is racially skewed. Do you see why a magazine like Essence exists?”
A discourse all too familiar to me. Unfortunately, these black only spaces are becoming increasingly bleached, and our real visibility is becoming lost. White washing is not a myth, I see it all the time. I already have so few relatable content and now spaces that claim to cater to me are shrinking and alienating me.

Also, here is an old photo of Ciara

 vs

Just putting that out there.

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1/20/2014

12 Years A Slave

[Content Note: spoilers, sexual assault]

It might as well have been called "White People Talking To Slaves".

In film about slavery, only 3 high profile black actors were hired: 
    1. Chiwetel Ejiofor
    2. Quevanzhané Wallis (no lines)
    3. Alfre Woodard
Compared to 8 high profile white actors
    1. Paul Giamatti
    2. Benedict Cumberbatch
    3. Michael Fassbender
    4. Paul Dano
    5. Taran Killam
    6. Sarah Paulson
    7. Garret Dillahunt
    8. Brad Pitt
Would it have been so hard to have a cast of slaves with more familiar faces? Ultimately, the fact that the stars are mostly white once more white washes a theme which is supposed be a critical and realistic portrayal of the time, not a perpetuation of today's institutional racism.

Most relevant lines in the film were delivered by the white actors. The worst part (for me) was Brad Pitt's tirade on slavery and how wrong it was, directed at the slave master portrayed by Fassbender. They couldn't have an entire film without the "good white guy" coming in and showing that hey, not all white people were evil. In my opinion, there could have been discussion about slavery among the slaves, who's only moments of complicity are when they are singing on the plantation - a one dimensional portrayal of slavery, one we have already seen over and over and over. 

I wasn't surprised at Steve McQueen's near obsession with Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Shame). His character was developed far beyond any other - in a movie about slavery. It became more about his fetichization and repeated rape of Patsey, as opposed to Patsey's actual struggle. We only see her suffering in a scene where she begs Solomon to kill her, and when she is being whipped by both Mr Epps and Solomon, the much talked about scene that yells "Oscar fodder". There is no depth to her character, she is presented as the "little innocent slave" who is abused by her master... a waste of Ms. Nyong'o's high caliber acting (because despite this, she is an amazing performer).

Great acting, terrible adaptation. In the book, Solomon Northup is able to send a letter to his family informing them of his kidnapping, but they are unable to find him - this belongs in the film more than repeated scenes of slaves singing. Solomon was also made an overseer during his 10 years working for Mr Epps, and had to punish other slaves - this belongs in the film more than the repeated scenes of white people dancing.

Verdict: Nothing new. I lost interest about half an hour into the film then woke up at the whipping scene. After it, I had no interest in staying to the end, but my lover had paid for the movie tickets and it would have been rude to walk out. This is once again a Hollywood treatment for mass appeal as opposed to a challenging film about a harsh subject still relevant today.

The only good that came from it was the fact that it brought Lupita Nyong'o to the front and center of the Hollywood world, you go girl.



Fresh Meat Dissected

Having been suggested the UK series Fresh Meat by several people, I decided to watch the first episode. It is a show about 6 first year university students living in a house together. 5 minutes into it and I was already bored. Pilots are supposed to captivate the viewer in order to sell the rest of the season, but it had no such effect on me. Its blatant bigotry was an instant turn off, but I watched the entire thing for the sake of a critique, and here it is. This show feeds off stereotypes of English university culture, and makes no attempt to challenge them whatsoever. It sells ideas commonly thought to be the norm, which succeeds to alienate those who don't fit into them. There were too many examples of this, so I'll only refer to the few that spoke the loudest (SPOILERS AHEAD)
  • The character presented as the "weirdo" is Scottish - "Sorry, I've just got used to wearing trousers of the mind" is one of the few gems spoken by him. This is a gratuitous "otherization" of a character that could have easily been made English.
  • The character presented as "tough", sarcastic, and generally dark is black.. shocker. She has spent the last 6 months working in a fish factory, which suggests an underprivileged background. We also find out that she has come in contact with every possible drug you can think of, doesn't want to do work and also has no problem presenting someone else's work as her own. She is contrasted with the passionate white girl who tries to downplay her privilege around her and puts a lot of hard work into her writing.
  • Kingsley and Josie (two other housemates) who seem to have a crush on each other both get lucky with their respective one night stands. Josie lies about hers (stating it never happened) while JP's immediate reaction once Josie is out of the room is to phone his mate to tell him what happened. As per usual, the boy is proud to have sex, the girl ashamed - must be hard to cram that many stereotypes in 40 minutes, yet they make it look so easy. Also mention worthy - Josie only had sex because she was jealous that Kingsley was hitting it off with the girl at the bar, she even states that she didn't really like JP, but he looked "clean".
  • Josie and Kingsley's one night stand are pitted against each other, mainly because Josie is jealous that the other one is "hot" - of course, all of us see all other girls as rivalry to our perceived beauty *eye roll*. Both of them are conventionally beautiful blonde white girls, obviously.
  • The phrase "If you don't like it, you can fuck off to China" is used by a housemate against Kingsley when he is protesting a deal that just happened to switch room. This is from one white boy to another. That is all I will say about it because if you cannot see why the line is problematic, you need to sit down and re-evaluate your life.
  • When Kinglsey finds out that Josie did have sex with JP, he has a self indulgent moment during which emotional music is played, so as for us to sympathize with this "betrayal" - even though he himself not only had sex with another girl, but all the while pretending he was into religion, as she was Christian. Seriously?
  • Less than 10 minutes into the episode, and binge drinking is happening - evidently it's not normal to be at university and not drown in a puddle of alcohol.
  • Jack Whitehall's character - he is an exaggeration of heavily problematic "lad" behavior. The exaggeration is an issue because it gives a chance to viewers who engage in similar behavior to dissociate themselves from him and laugh as well, because they think they aren't AS problematic as he is, even though they actually are. It makes people around them perceive them as being alright because their behavior is not as "messed up" as JPs, though it is, it's just re-packaged for television. It also derives a lot of laughter from him coming from a privileged background, perpetuating the myth that privileged=asshole.
There was a lot more going on, but I suggest you watch the episode yourself to catch them out, I have no interest in re-watching. 

In conclusion, I won't be giving this show the time of day, it seems like an absolute waste of time. All it does is perpetuate myths and archetypes, sells the "university experience" as the shallow awkward, drunken experience that it has been constructed to be for capitalistic purposes (it sells alcohol, it sells nightclub nights - which sell alcohol, it sells clothing, it sells music, etc.). It's lazy script writing for mass entertainment, what's new.

1/19/2014

(More) Singing WoC

Lianne La Havas [Folk/Soul]
UK




Lucrecia Perez Saez [Mambo/Latin]
Cuba


Omawumi [Afropop]
Nigeria


U.S.A


Maisey Rika [Folk/Acoustic/Soul]
New Zealand


Andy Allo [Funk/Soul/Blues]
Cameroon/U.S.A


Shingai Shoniwa (of The Noisettes) [Post Punk/Indie Rock/Blues]
UK


Madame Pepper [Experimental/Hip Hop]
UK


Nadia and Bev (from The Tuts) [Punk/Ska/Indie]
UK


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