Was The Hate U Give, given enough love?

demonstrations, livingroom, politics, protests, review, society

****SPOILER ALERT*****.

This post is really for anyone who has seen the film, read the book or is not planning to do either.

The Hate U Give is a powerful film but has the book’s original message been scarificed for commercial backing. For me, it was the incredible performances,  rather than the writing and direction of the adaptation that stole the show.

I left the cinema teary eyed but with a distinct Pepsi Max after taste and a thirst to read the book.

APR05_LEE_POST02

After a couple of chapters, it was clear that the plot had been dramatically simplified and the core theme of racial injustice played down making gang influence the predominate malfactor to the storyline.

Poverty, race, family and love are not simply black or white, good vs bad affairs.   Even with a teen audience in mind, the simplistic retelling is a missed opportunity to explore the issues that are killing our society.  Considering the choice of screen writer,  best known for writing George of the Jungle, production and distribution companies- I question how deliberate that choice was.

There are always ommissions and changes in film adaptations, but changes should be made for artistic not political reasons.

In the book for example, Uncle Carlos (A black police detective) concludes that HE WOULDN’T have shot the victim, but in the film, he said he WOULD.

I can’t see how this change, which undermines the #blacklivesmatters cause, could ever be justified. Especially thinking about Thomas’s motivation behind writing the book.

In the story, the officer murdered a 17 year old boy based on his perceived fear of a young black man.  These fears have been deliberately cultivated by society to criminalise black identity and are maintained and reinforced by systematic racism. 

By editing out the uglier side of our boys in blue, it’s not just an injustice to the fictional characters of Garden Heights, but the lives of the thousands of innocent people who have had their life stolen by an officer’s foot, fist or barrel.

Many people do hate the police.  But the hate that killed the victim was the hatred and misrepresentation of black people in our society.  A point that I think the film underplayed, particulary with a speech given by the main character.

“…It’s us, we are the ones full of hate!..”

And that’s where the story ends.  The community comes together, “snitching” on the gang leader to see him incarcerated.

Apparently, not wanting to “snitch” is the reason for gangs in communities –  not the lack of employment opportunities, education, access to healthcare or substandard social housing.

The end has no mention of the continued police brutality either.  Another deviation from the book.

This film is being lauded as a bold, policital statement about the Black Lives Matter movement- but that better describes the book than the film.

Screenshot_20181029-202351_Samsung Internet.jpg

Joyfully, the film is a beautiful depiction of a black family and at the very least,  a great starting place for discussion about the more complex issues.

BH xx

 

If you would like to challenge police brutality in the UK, the United Friends and Family Campaign work to challenge, hold to account and end deaths in custody.

http://uffcampaign.org/

 

 

 

THUG LIFE X

 

Why the Government needs PREVENT training.

demonstrations, education, livingroom, london, politics, protests, society, Wednesday writing prompt

Figures released today show that hate crime has risen in the last couple of years.  This comes as no surprise to anyone who has undertaken PREVENT training recently.

PREVENT is part of the Government’s counter terrorism initiatives which aims to prevent people from turning to terrorism.

The hypocracy of the iniative however, is hard to swallow.

Prevent is founded on the idea of protecting “British Values”. But how can the Government talk of mutual respect and tolerance being British Values? The former Foreign Secretary makes derogatory comments about Muslim women, the Home Office issue hostile immigration policies, and the Brexit campaign was based on scapegoating and falsehoods not dissimilar from Zach Goldsmith’s vile campaign for London mayor.

To be taken seriously, British Values should be heralded as HUMAN values- a way of life that we ALL need to follow especially by NOT except for the Government.  Then we could all work towards “protecting” them.

If the Government wants to prevent extremism in this country, perhaps it should explore the underlining issues causing the breakdown of our society, which results in the rise of hate crimes and other forms of terrorism.

Could you imagine the change it would make to “global terrorism” if the UK changed foreign policy away from the colonial dominance and resource grab approach, to a perspective that respects the rights and sovereignty of other (non white) countries and territories.

Imagine if the Government chose to invest in education, NHS, housing: restored workers rights, legal aid, scrapped employment tribunal fees and improved work conditions. The Far Right grooming cries of “They’re takin’ all ‘r jobs and hosital beds..” just wouldn’t have the same gravitas.

Imagine if the Government didn’t propagate and pander to media scapegoating and properganda about immigrants.

What a simple way to reduce the isolation and abuse that members of our society face due to their religion, skin colour or immigration status.  A way to build unity and community rather than fraction society.

But that is all very John Lennon. (Imagine)

But scapegoats are always useful.  So rather than irradicating the causes of fear and anger – we have PREVENT.

PREVENT with an approximate annual budget of £46 million.

That money partly used to “train” professionals like doctors, nurses, teachers etc to report any “vulnerable individuals” to local Government.  All the training in the world though, still leaves the system highly susceptible to personal bias.  Especially in a scapegoat saturated society.

Ask the average person to describe a “terrorist”.  You could probably accurately guess the description…

brown skin

beard

Very few would describe:

white skin

football shirt

and a pint of beer in hand…

So it is no surprise that in the PREVENT system there is a huge discrepancy between reports of Islamist terrorism concerns compared with Far Right reports. (Please note that every individual deemed requiring support is investigated by the police…)

Which is particularly condemning when you look at the current hate crimes statics which show a 50% increase in the rise hate crimes towards Muslims. Yet Muslim individuals are by far the largest group indentified and investigated under PREVENT. Something just isn’t working.

So yes of course I will continue to safeguard and prevent any harm to the upmost of my ability.  I only hope we elect a new government that will do the same.

If you want to help prevent the rise of The Far Right join the protest Saturday 17th November 2018 in central London.

 

 

 

 

The Mirror Cracked Black Mirror Series 4 Review

livingroom, reviews

I have to set the scene properly for this review.  We have to go back to the age of terrestrial television. No Uber, or swiping left for love, no Netflix n chillin, pre Facebook was your friend, Barack Obama was still POTUS and Trump was just a capitalist thug with power, time and money on his hands.  This was 2011, the year first series of Black Mirror aired and tramatised us all.  After watching the first episode (and then having to wait each week for the next episode- imagine) I remember having that back of the haunting feeling I experienced after first reading 1984.

Daniel Kaluuya plays the lead in 15 Million Merits Episode

Daniel Kaluuya plays the lead in 15 Million Merits Episode

The White Bear episode stalked my thoughts for months.  I was left questioning, society, my behaviour and how on earth Charlie Brooker could see and predict society with such clarity.

black-mirror-twists-white-bear

Jump forward a couple of seasons and a president and I hardly recognise the programme.  The excellent acting and diverse casting are still there but the morality tales have become more like fairy tales.  The brilliance of the previous series was the inability to be judgemental: Black Mirror was in the grey area of morality –

You asked questions that had no clear cut answers.

You wondered how many steps away you were from making the same choices.

You compared your behaviour to that of the characters.

But the most recent series posed none of these questions.  It has become Black Mirror’s insta account- it wanted to be liked.  The series has gone from a thought provoking self reflection of modern society to a piece of entertainment that we can easily distance ourselves as post reaction clips to youtube. #didyouseeblackmirror

San junipero

Gugu Mbatha- Raw and Mackenzie Davis in San Junipero

However, that’s not to say that I haven’t generally enjoyed watching the more recent episodes.  Even excluding season three classics like Nosedive and San Junipero there are still some stand out moments in season 4.

 

The Hang the DJ episode, a spin on online dating, left me with a warm fuzzy feeling inside after watching… Which is probably my point, we should look into the Black Mirror and be unnerved by the reflection.

Maybe we just live in such strange times that our reality really is more terrifying the TV.

I’ve probably risked invites to social gatherings for writing this.. but I dedicate the post to anyway who noticed it too but had no safe spaces to say it..😉

#WhatDoYouMeanYouDidn’tLike

Breaking Bad

BH xx

 

 

the United State of mental health in the UK

society, Urban Living

Last month the UK government announced an increase in mental health funding by 1.3 billion.  This should be welcomed news, but I have my doubts.  The total disregard and intentional underfunding of the NHS means I can’t help but wonder whether this is just another tactic to stop us thinking about Grenfell or DUP rather then a true calling of the Conservative government…but on the positive, London  (Feel free to insert your town name here.) needs every extra penny it can get to tackle mental health issues.

You see London (Feel free to insert your town name here.) is a hotbed of insanity.  The fast pace, isolation, exhilaration, inequality, anonymity, poverty and riches make it a head fuck prime location.  Behind closed doors and touch screens people are falling apart.

If in any doubt, take an early morning stroll along Brixton High Street.  You’ll see that full blown, in your face, well recognised “madness”.    At the lights you’ll see Rough Looking Guy shouting at the top of his voice in the middle of the road, daring drivers to go on and kill him then.  Look to your left and see White Laydee (sic) a women in her fifties, with a white emulsion painted face perfectly colour matched to her white lace ballgown.  Hanging out on the corner you’ll see a lady I call “Elsa”, who, regardless of the weather, wears a bikini and so for most of the year must be frozen.

But when I think of the people above, I wonder whether there actions are a result of a clinical mental illness?  I don’t know their stories, or diagnosis’ but would there behaviour be classified in the DSM?  Or is it just that the pressures of life have been so traumatic that they just snapped and no longer wanted to play the game by the conventional rules?   The stresses and strains of living in London; (Feel free to insert your town name here.) with its austerity cuts, institutionalised racism, housing crisis, £7:00 coffees and food banks are immense.  With many Londoners struggling to “keep their heads above water”, are we always just one job restructure away from losing it?

So perhaps if the government is really dedicated to improving the mental health of the London and the nation as a whole,  it should look to healing a broken society crippled by uncertainty, fear, rising financial difficulties and debt.

 

 

 

 

 

Land of the free

politics, society, Uncategorized

Our world feels unstable at the moment. Brexit. Trump. Backstabbing. Resignations. Scapegoats. Uturns. New Laws. Innocents murdered. Victims villianised. Cognitive dissonance.

I can’t keep watching the news and hearing people talk of not being racist then proceeding to find excuses for condoning the murder of a black person by an officer sworn to uphold the law.

IMG_2440

But I’m not racist…

… the KKK hood wearing, Confederate flag waving, violent thug who loves nothing more than to hang out with his/her mates burning crosses, and killing black people- type of racist.

The extremely overt type of racist that frees society from the guilt of ignoring and benefitting from the inequalities and discrimination in our society, whilst proudly proclaiming..

I’m not a racist!

But unless you are actively making a stand against racism – you are supporting the institutionally racist society in which we all live.

I know I’m not saying anything new (and many have said it far more eloquantly than I ever could) but I will not stand at the side quietly: We must not stand at the side quietly.  We must bring about the change, we are change.

IMG_2444

BH xx

Links to articles who have said this far better than I:

 

http://occupywallstreet.net/story/explaining-white-privilege-broke-white-person

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/11-things-white-people-can-do-be-real-anti-racist-allies

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/07/oscar-pistorius-sentence-an-homage-to-celebrity-and-white-privilege

http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/

https://aeon.co/essays/unconscious-racism-is-pervasive-starts-early-and-can-be-deadly

https://www.buzzfeed.com/michaelblackmon/17-harrowing-examples-of-white-privilege-9hu9?utm_term=.trlEZvWzX#.hkM27NkwZ

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/06/alton-sterling-address-police-violence

 

http://jezebel.com/a-black-woman-police-officer-calls-out-racist-cops-in-h-1783271684

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15796700-americanah

https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/08/27/the-racial-empathy-gap/

Scapegoat Britain

politics, society, Urban Living, zerotohero

Utter disbelief.

The results of the London mayoral elections lulled me into a false sense of security.   A belief that the British could not be fooled by racial propaganda or scapegoating.

I was fooled by common consensus in social and wider circles and the general sense of bewilderment at the hypothetical nature of the Brexit “political” arguments…and well common sense.

“Only in America could Donald Trump be taken seriously”

Cue terribly British laugh, smug face and amused shake of the head.

donald-trump-30

Only now we are leaving the EU.

Nigel Farage has successfully convinced millions of ordinary people that it is best for Britain to leave the European Union.

nfarage

We were all  in total shock in the staff room this morning; but this isn’t reflective of the situation across England.  I live and work in London and London like most other major cities is cosmopolitan. Immigrants (pronounced average human beings) of all skin colours and origins call London their home, living and working side by side us true Brits.

It is impossible to convince me that my “immigrant” colleagues are the reason that this government is dismantling the NHS, selling off our school system or destroying the Unions.  But to that slim majority that voted #brexit, that shadowy figure of the “immigrant”, who they have never met, is the perfect scape goat. A voiceless devil who is the reason for any misery and discomfort in their lives.  No need to look within (figuratively and literally), it’s much easier to blame the illusive immigrant.

meme

Except

Now we have left the EU, who will have to blame? Maybe, just maybe #teambrexit will begin to see the bigger picture and start to ask questions like: Who really is at fault for the state of our economy and public sector?

(Maybe this is why Cameron resigned?)

Or

Once #teambrexit realise that the dream of returning to the Glory Days was a lie, (Or as Farage declared on morning television a simple printing error) they will have to accept that the true fault lies much closer to home.

Or perhaps

We will just find the next shadowy figure to blame..

Anyway

Welcome one and all to Scapegoat Britain!

What would you do if you had two homeless people living inside your gas cupboard?

bedroom

What would you do if you had two homeless people living in your gas cupboard? 

Stepping outside of my front door this morning, I was greeted by a shiny Maserati sparkling in the early morning light.  As I drifted off, wondering which “new Brixton” resident was trying to muscle in on parking this time, the stench of rotting food and sweat dragged me back to reality.

It was the two men in their early twenties who are living in the external gas cupboard infront of our house.  It sounds like fiction, but this isn’t Harry Potter. 

It’s the daily co-habiting extremes of New Brixton…  New Peckham – Wilesdon    -Walthamstow.  New London.  

Many articles talk of the social cleansing of London: but neglect to mention those left behind or over looked.   This is what the growing disparities between rich and poor looks and smells like when you live in it.  

Ignoring the mice, rotting food, urine filled plastic bottles and beer cans – the stench will tell you that the two men live in squalor.  A lifestyle a million miles away from the owner’s of the car worth in the region of £60,000 which is parked less than 1 metre away from the makeshift bed of the homeless men. 

Although I’ve never been inside the cupboard, I know that it mirrors that of the one inside our home.  Maximum, 150cm wide possibly 300cm long.  Not big enough for the discarded mattress that they managed to fit in there, let alone two grown men.  One person’s closet is another person’s home.  Literally.  Again the disparities of London.  

But if only it was just a financial disparity.  When researching how to help the two men,  I stumbled across a homeless forum.  Battling opinions greeted me.   A homeless person was either seen as a victim or villian.

 “I’d just call the police and your building management company. The doorway is almost certainly private property.”

“I wouldn’t even feel bad. If he is sleeping in a doorway (of all places) he is knowingly antagonising the building’s occupants. My guess is that he is hoping for someone to give him a big bag of charity beddings and food (like has been suggested in this thread many times now), in exchange for leaving. DO NOT GIVE HIM ANYTHING. He will just move to another building. Contact a charity for him if you feel bad – but don’t enable what he is doing either.”

 The lack of empathy was astounding.   It seemed to contradict the public outcry condemning poor doors, homeless spikes and other designs aiming to segregate poor and wealthy residents in new housing developments across London.  I remember reading articles heralding “hipsters”* turning anti homeless spikes into libraries with comfy seating.

Hoorah for Hipsters!

But where did the “hipsters” involved actually live?  Would they have made such a stand on their own door step?

Have you ever walked into a “hipster” bar as a non-hipster? The inconvenience your presence causes stabs at your dignity almost as deeply as the bill for buzz word bar food hits your wallet.  But why does the presence of some make others feel so uncomfortable?  Because it is a reminder of the other side of London.

The side of London that is replaced every time a new luxury apartment development is built on hardcore made of the social housing which once stood on the same spot.  If you have purchased a new “luxury apartment” in inner London recently, it is very likely that your new pad displaced a low income family.   It is an uncomfortable truth.  A truth which taints the aspirational image sold with the luxury apartment purchase.  A truth preferably ignored and forgotten by wealthy residents and developers alike.

How would you feel if a homeless person slept in your door way?

BH xx

 

 

 *After researching the piece further I discovered the “hipsters” were actually a group of artists, who have also been priced out of housing in London.  So not actual “hipsters”but people who face and understand the financial pressures of housing in London.

ishare. weshare. YOUSHARE.

Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink

I was delighted to receive an email today to say that my post The N word had been featured on the YouShare Project.

youshare-website-logo-sept-16-20151

 

The stories that shape us…

The N word is definitely a story that has shaped me.

What stories have shaped you?

Find many more inspirational and thought provoking stories from across the globe..and maybe even the odd one from a small corner in Brixton.

http://www.youshareproject.com/the-n-word/

xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amen for JC (Jeremy Corbyn)

Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink

It’s been almost a year since my last post and it’s not really a coincidence that my little, no longer a baby, baby has just turned one. But I cannot put the blame for my lethargic state solely on the babe.

Wading through the daily sludge of fad humanism (I think we are still on only welcoming a la mode refugees?) and the brutal everyday reminders of the social cleansing of London, I’ve been a devoted follower of the Church of Escapism.  Spending sacred down time scouring the property pages, I became an extremist addicted to all More 4 house porn programming. Escape to the country. Another country. Escape.

But something enticed me to change the channel.

The results of the labour leader election was a very welcome surprise. A break from the political monotony which has plagued our country since Blair proclaimed This Is New Labour.

Certainly to early to say it has restored my faith in our political system, it has at least offered me a glimmer of a hope for the future. A society who recognises and nurtures the human side of our nature.

#TeamCorbyn all the way
 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DgMl9qBTBq0

 

 

Vote For Me and other stories

Nursery

The story is based around two children Alex and Evie. Alex’s parents support the Stripy Party and Evie’s the Spotty Party.  No spoilers however, you’ll simply have to read the book to find out who wins..  The story uses simple  language and child friendly illustrations to introduce key aspects of the election process including canvassing, voting and results night.  The Election is a great conversation starter for parents and teachers to introduce political concepts to the future rulers of the world.

#BringBackOurGirls 100 days later

livingroom

Over the past 100 days I have:

pottered in my garden.

tweeted.

helped my husband lay new flooring.

written school reports.

protested for Palestine.

bitched with friends.

received flowers.

been overdrawn.

attended a street festival.

laid in the sunshine.

argued with loved ones.

bought new artwork.

laughed.

witnessed the dashed hopes and dreams of a nation.

taught Zumba to my class.

cried.

received callaloo and cabbage seeds from a stranger.

hoovered (ok I’m not fooling anyone) hoovered.

listened to my unborn baby’s heartbeat.

felt fat.

stalked on Facebook.

watched a human chess match.

daydreamed.

found it impossible to sleep.

eaten Nandos.

watched TV.

participated in a treasure hunt.

joined the TEDx Brixton event team.

had a pedicure.

rushed to hospital.

attended a beautiful wedding.

Over the past 100 days the Chibok girls have:

?

How quickly the world forgets. ©Sarah Peace

How quickly the world forgets. Photograph S Peace ©

Yesterday marked 100 days since the girls were kidnapped from Chibok Girls Secondary School in Nigeria by the group Boko Haram.  In the 100 days since the kidnapping the people of Chibok have continued to face daily assaults from the terrorist group; 11 parents of the kidnapped girls have since died in the fighting.  

 

 

We have no idea if their daughters know of their death.

We have no idea if their daughters are still alive.  

We have no idea.

#BringBackOurGirls

We must keep the pressure up and continue to ask questions and demand that they #BringBackOurGirls.

To find out about how you can show your support visit: https://www.facebook.com/bringbackourgirls?

As I open a bag of treats that my mother has brought over, I can’t help but smile… Amongst gardening books and baby grows, a goddess gazes up at me.

Has the sun set on the domestic goddess?

Has the sun set on the domestic goddess?

The Original Housewife…  Recent problems aside, this women has shaped how many British women view their role in society….

Domestic Goddess: noun, informal

A woman with exceptional domestic skills, especially one who excels at cookery and preparing meals.

…I am not one of them, yet I admire any person who is highly skilled, motivated and passionate about what they do.

And the self titled Domestic Goddess, Nigella, is not alone in her passion for domestic supremacy.  We are in a time when classic DG skills like baking, knitting, gardening, sewing, and cooking are all making a revival – Dare I say it they are “#trendy”. Just look at BBC programming for examples.

It seems that everybody wants a slice (or at least an amuse bouche) of that old Domestic Goddess life.

Pushing nostalgia and 1950s fashion lusts aside, that life was due to necessity and not as glamorous as many companies, the BBC or Mad Men would have us believe.  Fortunately, as society changed, gender roles became more undefined and technology adapted to suit, freeing DGs to step through the Stepford gates onto the world stage.  As society and technology progressed so did the Domestic Goddess.  Her skill set diversified; baking alongside banking, motherhood alongside management, all to achieve the relentless goal of finding a balance between her responsibilities, aspirations, commitments and dreams.

In this blog I salute  a couple of the domestic Goddesses that have inspired me.

1) My Mother  This I’m sure is no surprise.  Studies show that it is the mothers achievements that play the most significant role in determining the aspirations of offspring.  From as early as I can remember my mother has worked, and I mean worked hard, yet still found time and energy to be spontaneous and caring.  She has shown me how to be determined and focused yet still find the work/life balance.

2) Boudicca Boudicca was queen of the Iceni people of Eastern England and led a major uprising against occupying Roman forces, and I had an absolute fixation with her when I was 6.  I think she was officially my first girl crush.  Obsessed, I pleaded with my mum to call me Boadicea, slightly different from the name change requests I receive from my students now… Although before I get all “the youth of today” my love of Boudicca originally spawned from a children’s television programme called Bill the Minder, in which the main character’s little sister was called Boadicea.

3) Josephine Baker To a fifteen year old girl, the autobiography of Josephine Baker read like a film script; a poor girl finds fame and becomes America’s first African American millionaire, moves to France, joins the resistance, becomes a spy, then in later life aims to overcome racism by becoming mother to her Rainbow Tribe of adopted children from around the world… Maybe Ms Jolie is also a fan.

4) Minna Salami In a small, sweaty dance studio in 2008, I met Minna shaking her thang to the Brazilian beat.  I couldn’t believe this beautiful, intelligent women was so humble… And brave.. Quitting her successful profession as a graphic designer, she declared her passion to become a writer and within a year Ms Afropolitan was born.

5) Benazir Bhutto Hearing my mothers childhood reminisces of how it was normal for her mother to pace “respectfully” behind her Pakistani husband along the cold East London streets, I knew that a women becoming the prime minister of Pakistani was an incredible feat.

6) Margaret Thatcher (Ok so I would not call her a goddess but…) A while ago I was asked whether I thought Barack Obama would really make a difference to the lives of young black boys, which lead me to the rather uncomfortable conclusion that the milk snatcher had inadvertently empowered and inspired a young mixed race girl from Peckham. Now I’m sure this was never her aim.  But she knocked down barriers for me that I never even knew existed. Growing up I never thought it was particularly impressive to have a lady as prime minister, in fact it was my norm.  If I wanted to become prime minister when I grew up, no big deal.  What I have learnt from this is that you never know who you inspire just by doing your job, also never assume that you have nothing to gain from somebody you despise.

With a couple more to add, the question I pose to you is..

Who has inspired you?

BH xx

 

livingroom