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Thanks for coming back for more. I thought maybe I might have scared you off. This will be a series of blog updates relating to the Black Lives Matter civil movement, journalling my self-education, and sharing with you my resources in case they can be of help to you if you are daunted by the momentous task at hand.
So… Where to even begin?
It turns out that I’ve been following a diversity agenda for quite some time. I’m not sure when it began, but I know that even my husband noticed it, commented on it, and has since been aware of it long enough to stop protesting against my biased choices. So, let’s start with…
A Recommended Reading List
The first thing I did once the 2020 #BLM civil rights movement began was buy books that had been sitting in my wish list for too long already. I’ve listed the 3 books I decided to start with in the order that I will be reading (listening) to them:
- Why I’m no longer talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
- Brit(ish) – Afua Hirsch
- Me and White Supremacy – Layla F Saad
Thoughts I had while doing this:
- I’m glad I’ve chosen authors with female experiences.
- Why are there no recommendations for Chinese voices speaking about race and white privilege?
- Will these books reflect my experience as a British born Chinese person?
- Will these books even cover any history of the Chinese people in the British Empire?
- Will I feel complicit in oppression once I’ve read these books?
- Maybe I shouldn’t be contributing to Jeff Bezos’ billionaire fortunes by buying through Amazon – but oh wait Audible is free…
- Guilt, from not paying for the audio books
My TV & Streaming Agenda
I’ve had a very clear #BlackLivesMatter viewing agenda for a few years. It was simple: If there was a black narrative in the show, I would prioritise it in my watchlist. Any other show would be the second choice unless there was an Asian lead or narrative, then everything is off the table (this happened a handful of times). Here are some of the things I’ve watched over the years. I’ll try to add a single line summary/review/thought for each one….
- 13th (Netflix) – Ava DuVernay. Powerful documentary covering the history of Black lives in the US since the 13th amendment. Compulsory viewing (and the full feature is on YouTube for FREE – WOW – I’ll embed it for you up there ^^^)
- When They See Us (Netflix) – Ava DuVernay. Based on a true story. Utterly heart-aching and traumatic. I had to only watch the first & last episode
- Oprah Winfrey presents: When They See Us Now (Netflix). Oprah hosts a special conversation with the actors from When They See Us, along with the real men who were exonerated. Watch this first if you need to emotionally prepare
- Trigger Warning with Killer Mike (Netflix). I chose this just for fun. I ended up having my eyes opened. This seemingly casual street show was not what I was expecting.
- The Innocence Files (Netflix) – Watched with my husband to further my agenda of highlighting racial injustice. The eye witness testimony episode is a whole education
- Iron Fists & Kung Fu Kicks (Netflix) – A lighthearted commentary on the links between Kung Fu movies and Black culture. I learned new interesting things.
- Cloak & Dagger (Prime Video) – A lot of episodes. It’s a Marvel series. But you only need the scene from S1 Ep9
- Noughts & Crosses (BBC iPlayer) – Based on a novel by Majorie Blackman about a world where the Crosses are the ruling class, and the Noughts are the oppressed. Notice how jarring it feels to see roles reversed.
- Just Mercy (Cinema) – I love anything with Michael B. Jordan for his ability to bring vulnerability, sensitivity, and emotion to his roles (Creed, anyone?). He’s perhaps not the best casting for this role, but it’s an important story
- Marshall (Netflix – no longer streaming UK) – Stars Chadwick Boseman as the man who became the first Black Supreme Court Judge in the US. Astounding what he had to go through.
- Dear White People (Netflix) – Billed as a Comedy/Drama. There are Chinese and Korean people in this! Very beautiful young things. Covering the drama of activism on campus, and the difficulty of living a mixed-race experience. Disappointing season finale. I’m still grumpy about it.
- Black Panther (Disney+) – Yes, it’s an action movie. A part of the Marvel Universe franchise, but as a cinematic/storytelling moment this moving picture [for me] ignited a new dream narrative for a better [albeit a fantasy comic book] existence for Black lives. I have never been so moved by a comic book story – and I doubt I ever will again.
There are other shows I’ve watched that were based around a Black narrative, but they were less education, more fictional and in some cases just didn’t inspire much thinking. I enjoy thought provoking entertainment. Plus frequent rom-com/chick flicks to switch off (hey, don’t judge).
A Diversified Social Media feed
Another slow process that’s taken me several years. I follow most of these inspiring accounts on my private and personal instagram account (and not my “work” account where I need to keep my head in check and focussed on specific tasks). These accounts have inspired me, moved me or educated me:
- @cosmicgirlie – Jay Emme. She and I have been twitter friends since I was a new mum, so that’s anywhere up to 10 years at least if you factor in the haze of newborn-ness. Our key moment of friendship was when we tag-teamed to get MC Hammer’s attention on Twitter. I can’t explain the elation we felt when he replied: “I see you.” Jay is a fellow creative entrepreneur. She’s multi-talented in that she can do pretty much anything she chooses to set her mind to which you will see for yourself on her socials. She as a creative entrepreneur coach was the most instrumental voice in my decision to go full time with my henna business. We have yet to meet IRL.
- @thekarenarthur – Karen Arthur and I also “met” on twitter. I still kinda think of her as ‘reddskingyal’. She was a teacher and bag designer/maker outside of her day job. Now she’s a full-time bespoke designer of the most beautiful creations. My goal is to own my own piece one day. She’s been through a beautiful metamorphosis and I look to her for normalising mature self-discovery. I look to her for inspiration on learning that I am the only person who can legitimise my credibility as an artist. I look to her for reassurance and comfort that this midlife transition is real and legit. I think of her #wearyourhappy movement when I choose my outfit for the day. I’m so awestruck when I see her booked to speak for inspiring talks at inspiring platforms.
- @Humilta_1 – This is my friend Abigail. We’ve been friends IRL since our initiation into motherhood. We met at a mother and baby group, blindly navigating the path of keeping a tiny human alive. Abigail can frustrate me something rotten. She also makes me laugh so, so hard. She has the best laugh. She’s a writer. As her friend, I think she is much better than she credits herself for, and I long to push her into self-publishing more of her work so that the world can see it. But these things are part of her personal journey. Abigail has taught me that we all need friends who teach us how to accept different outlooks, yet still love each other dearly.
- @jessicainthekitchen – Jessica Hylton-Leckie‘s vegan recipe book was the first vege/vegan cookbook I ever bought. It’s still the only one I repeatedly refer to. She was the first ‘influencer’ that made me feel that the transition to a vegetarian (and eventually one day vegan) diet was a flexible and attainable journey on my own terms. Her approach is inclusive and non-judgemental. Her recipes are delicious. My favourite is the coconut chickpea curry – a solid dish every single time. And her work ethic is clear to see from the beautiful website, socials, photography and print products. Thank you, Jessica, for making my personal dietary journey choices so much easier.
- @colormecourtney – Courtney Quinn. I came across her early in 2019 when I was planning our first family holiday ever, to Disney World. She was frequently featured on Disney socials as one to follow. I started following her for her Disney content on @colormemagic, but I’ve stayed for her remarkably open approach to her influencer business. She hides nothing. She is legit clever (both in the commonsense definition and also the academic definition). She is hard-working. She has no delusions about who she is. She is not like me at all, which is not to say that we are opposites or that I feel inferior but more to say that she shows me that someone who identifies as A-sensitive (i.e. not insensitive, not highly sensitive – but something neutral in the middle of that spectrum) doesn’t create a narcissist (yes, that’s my trauma showing). Courtney shares SO MUCH valuable social media business content for FREE – it is clear that she understands that by helping everyone to raise their bar, she raises us all
- @willdabeast – Incredible choreographer for an entire generation and movement in the dance and performance industry. Head of his own brand and business at a remarkably young age. When Will started to use his platform to draw attention to racism, and express his personal opinions I remember feeling it was raw and jarring. I ended up staying because he held his voice and his views steady, strong, unwavering and honestly.
- @jenybsg – A fantastic Congolese choreographer working in Belgium with her dance foundation helping talented children around the world.
- @breesherbalteas – Wife and Husband business team, locally based in Bingley creating and trading delicious and therapeutic herbal teas, and natural cordials. I’m addicted. I need to bulk buy.
- @luminoussoullove – Sharr. I follow her for her work supporting empaths in business, because there is not a lot of good content covering this niche area imho. And as a person with anxiety in a creative business, I find her content reassuring that I’m not alone – and It Can Be Done.
- @btravelcreators – @mybreakingviews – Have you ever needed to consider a country’s historic attitude to your skin colour before you travel? Check your privilege.
- @thecurlycloset – Mary. I came across her IG because I went on a crusade searching for UK based curly hair bloggers for my friend who was lamenting her struggles managing her daughter’s mixed-race hair, which highlighted an existence I simply couldn’t fathom. So in an attempt to be helpful, I researched like crazy. I realised that I take for granted that I can wash my hair and just leave it. I sometimes complain that I need to style it (which takes roughly 20 minutes). Yet Black women very often cover their natural hair with wigs or weaves – non-Black people sometimes don’t even realise this – and then natural hair is criticised for being “inappropriate” – What?! Curly hair life is something I will never truly comprehend but I can try to learn more and I can amplify voices of those who do.
- @ogorchukwuu – Ogor. Designer. Author of ‘The Geometry of being Black‘
- @nedratawwab – Nedra Glover Tawwab, Therapist. Fantastic informative content
- @kelechnekoff – Kelechi Okafor. Actor/Director. Strong, powerful and mother. Listen to her podcast
- @ihartericka – Ericka Hart M.Ed. Black, queer, non-binary femme. Sex educator. Racial/Social/Gender justice disruptor. Breast Cancer survivor.
- @shinebrightkaleyce – Kaleyce (pronounced Kah-lease). She is a teen Instagrammer – a shining beacon representing the future we need to nurture
- @zozitunzi – Miss Universe, Miss Zimbabwe.
- @chikalogy – Chika. Rapper. Artist. Just SO much talent. And so driven by the energy of that talent with an innate confidence that I wish we saw more in young Black women.
- @fisayofosudo – I came across Fisayo’s IG when I was searching for reviews on the Samsung Galaxy Fold. It was on his socials that I came face to face with my own entrenched racism when I was shocked to see his footage from his surveying the public on the streets of Nigeria, to see if the public would be able to guess the price of the innovative folding handset. I then hopped over to his YouTube channel to find his slick content, his comprehensive tech reviews and the best hashtag ever #FoDaAdu.
- @thefathersbook – When it finally dawned on me the difference in the race conversation that I have with my children, versus the one that parents give to their Black children. Buy the book.
- @afrostylemagz – Stunning high fashion magazine
- @in.hair.itance – An anachronistic celebration of the diversity, complexity & creativity of people of colour and how we choose to style, decorate & care for our hair
- @osramba_media – Kwame Akoto.Educator/Cultural Activist. Work on #nkyinkyiminstallation. A powerful and moving evolving installation
- @uhuru_mosiah_malcolm – Ancient Black and African History
- Harmonia Rosales @honeiee – Stunning oil artist, employing Renaissance techniques to create empowering pieces reflecting and honouring the African diaspora
- @marsaimartin – At 13 years old she became Hollywood’s youngest ever producer. Now 15 years old. And to finish…
- @tinukebernard – Tinuke has compiled a flipping fantastic directory of 250 UK based Black influencers.
If you have made it to the end of this blog post, please feel free to give yourself a privileged pat on the back. Well done! (I mean it!) I hope you have found inspiration here; a place to donate to; a show to watch; and a book to read.
Please. Take mental breaks and emotional rest when you need to. And then Keep Doing the Work. It’s tiring. It’s relentless. But it is a privilege to learn about racism and oppression, and not experience it.