I cannot wait to hit the beach this summer and Sundays are always a great day to chill out and browse online shopping spaces, aren’t they? You know what I’m talkin’ about! ;-) So if you too are looking for sexy, chic bikinis this summer for a honeymoon, beach party, or maybe just to hang out in, you should check out these very fresh styles put together by Black Girl Long Hair. Get ready for a lot of creative natural-hair styles, African-inspired prints and some must – have accessories. All designs are from black owned swimwear lines and many feature plus-size models, so in addition to getting a very cute beach or pool-side outfit, you’ll be supporting the community and breaking down oppressive body-size/beauty norms. That’s a win, win, win ladies!!! So enjoy and let me know you’re favourite style.
I think it’s safe to say that the shock waves are slowly dying down following the recent UK general election, which has seen the Conservatives return to majority rule for the first time since the mid-1990s. We live in sad times – indeed – but things have the potential to get worse, so we rather than taking our eyes off the prize, those of us who did not vote Tory need to continue to look alive. Apart of recovering from this unwanted outcome is also coming to terms with the reality of what it will mean. Alongside increased pressure for privatised home ownership, the cutting of public funds, additional surveillance of Muslim communities AND the prospect of the loss of the Human Rights Act (1998) in favour of a British Bill of Rights (which the Tories have been pushing hard for since at least 2009), there has been much discussion and anxiety expressed over the forthcoming referendum over whether or not the UK will remain in the EU.
There will be a lot of discussion between now and the vote and while some of it will be articulate and educational, much of it will be ill informed and ignorant. We can of course count of the present government to add to the latter discourse. They have already begun with their phrasing of the matter in question, using the most confusing wording for such a simple question as if the hope that many will be puzzled, fuck up and we’ll end up out of the EU after all. Those of us in the know have a duty not to let that be the reason people vote “No” when the moment comes, if they choose to. The government have already made an aggressive attempt to ensure the result of the vote falls in their favour by barring the right to vote of EU citizens resident in the UK as well as some UK citizens living abroad, in line with general election rules.
I of course have very selfish reasons for wishing for the UK to remain in the EU; my situation is incredibly uncomplicated with things being as they currently are. However, I also feel more than a little uneasy with how the framing of this debate fits into wider and frankly more alarming anti-immigrant narratives taking form and gaining ground in the UK. From the horrific rise of Ukip, to the over-the-top profiling of Muslim communities, to the recent unwillingness of the UK to accept refugees crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa and the Middle East, regardless of the fact that it British money buys the weapons fueling much of the conflict that the refugees flee from in the first place. But let’s face it, the UK isn’t the best at taking responsibility for its actions, which is how we have a Prime Minister (for a second term!!!) whose family made their wealth through the slave trade. I could now continue the rest of this post addressing the irony of Britain’s current anti-immigrant stance given their imperial legacy, however the result of this legacy (sun-burnt, racist British retirees in Spain; the ongoing consequences of the scramble for Africa; the displaced and dispossessed indigenous communities in Australia…) would make such comments a hollow punctuation to this debate.
Moreover, we do not have the time or the luxury to sit around making cute remarks. We are at crisis point. We have been for a while. We need to get wise and fast!
Therefore, I will continue to comment on the ongoing EU referendum discourses and will share useful information and resources as I come across them to help aid others in navigating the Yes vs. No campaigns. In case you were wondering though, the campaign you need to get behind is “Yes” – we want to remain part of the EU. In the meantime, check out some really useful links that I’ve been using so far and keep in touch on your thoughts between now and 2017:
– Get a concise and comprehensive overview of the campaign(s) here.
– Living in the EU and want to know how you’ll be affected? Check out this article.
-The BBC’s take on the forthcoming referendum can be viewed here.
– Not registered to vote yet? You can register here and also set up your postal vote abilities too!
So as I’ve done before, I’m treating you to a Juneteenth-Keti Koti Must Have Books special, in order to commemorate both festivals. Juneteenth is the annual celebration of the end of slavery in the USA (19th June – this year marks 150 years!!!), while Keti Koti acknowledges the end of slavery in Suriname on the 1st July.
This year’s pick is a book I read for GCSE English, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. The tale, written by Mildred D. Taylor and originally published in 1976, follows the trials and tribulations of the Logan family, centering in on Cassie Logan as she begins to encounter the institutional racism that gripped early 20th century Mississippi. This of course is not to say that racism does not still rage throughout the USA and many other parts of the world, which is why festivals such as Juneteenth and Keti Koti are such important moments to not only reflect on “how far we’ve come” but also how much further we still have to go.
Recently, I watched the Black-ish episode ‘Martin Luther Skiing Day.’ The episode effortlessly highlights the ongoing importance for black families to make their children aware of the injustices in the world by maintaining a tangible link to our roots, either with proper acknowledgement of days of commemoration such as Martin Luther King Day, or just with good education. I was raised with a wide array of resources around me from which I could learn about slavery, colonialism and the civil rights movement. Not all kids are so lucky and for most of my (white) classmates, Roll of Thunder was the first time they had been confronted with the brutal realities of the South for black families after slavery had ended.
If you’re a parent or teacher looking for an informative and yet fictional book for your kids (age range 12+) to read, I’d really recommend this one. You can find some didactic resources here to help you discuss the book with your kids too.
If you’ve already read the book as a kid as I did and want to remind yourself of the storyline, check out this made-for-tv film below:
Enjoy be blessed this Juneteenth and/or Keti Koti.
On the look out for something a little different for your wedding? You should check out the city-chic and Afro-French designs of Natacha Baco. Not only does this brand make use of models of colour – thus being a pioneer in diversifying the fashion industry – the design celebrates a global, retro style that is usually either ignored or re-appropriated by mainstream designers. This alone is reason enough to support this brand in particular. Add to this the gorgeous kaleidoscopic designs, made-to-measure service and the accessories and we officially have our new favourite designer!
If wearing a long, white dress was never your thing, but you still want to look sophisticated on your big day, check out Natacha Baco RIGHT NOW!!! You’re welcome <3
OK, that’s a little dramatic! I just recently re-entered the world of 9 to 5-ing and sharing desks and taking “lunch breaks”, which means I have had to give up gloriously sunny afternoons musing on the balcony and miserably rainy afternoons people-watching from my couch at the other end of the house. Returning to an office environment presents the challenge of reintegration into a structured world that I cannot entirely control or always understand as well as forcing my everyday negotiations with others. On the other hand, this opportunity offers fresh challenges and brand new adventures that I am really looking forward to exploring, even as I miss the cocoon of the little world I created for myself as I took an employment break over the last few months.
Since January, when I confined myself to the routine of the stay-at-homes I discovered many things about my immediate environment – the Orchids – that I either hadn’t noticed before or had forgotten about after finding a job two years ago. Not everything that I (re)discovered has been pleasant though. For instance, on multiple occasions I have been confronted with the never ending selfishness and individualism that is core to the Dutch psyche, employed even in the most unnecessary of situations (see below). With more time on my hands and an increasing amount of it spent literally hanging out, I was reintroduced to the realities and complexities of being a black woman within “white” spaces. This includes the very recent experience (and involuntary co-option) of the cultural voyeurism that is foisted upon people of colour by the white Dutch (more on that later!) who go on to complain about how their country is being invaded by foreigners.
All the same, I will continue to remember the flowers I planted with my own hands, the sunshine, the mint tea, the somewhat aimless writing… with fondness in the moments of extreme stress and pressure that are to come. I suppose the reason I became so attached to this particular moment of my life is that I realise if I seriously intend to build a career of any kind, I will probably never have four months of total “me time” again. During this self imposed sabbatical, I became aware of so many hidden insecurities I had – and continue to have – about myself, my future and my abilities. I’d never properly dealt with these insular uncertainties as I’d previously been able to busy myself with other priorities, such as my degree, voluntary postings, my PhD and eventually my last job. However, when it was just me, my note book and the balcony, I couldn’t hide from myself anymore.
The most important realisation that I came to this year has been as much as I’ve been internally beating myself up for not having a clue what to do with my life, hardly any of my peers have a better idea. In fact, while I’ve been side-eying them for having their shit together, as I continued to attempt to mask my own water treading, they’ve been doing the same thing. We’ve all been bullshitting each other. The irony of it all is, as long as we’ve given each other the impression that we know what we’re each doing and where we’re heading to, we’ve been inspiring and challenging each other to keep up.
I wish I’d known how much so many of my friends are just as confused as I am so that we could have confided in and supported each other much sooner. It doesn’t change how brilliant, creative or wonderful any of them are underneath their uncertainties and it doesn’t mean that their lives are not and/or will not be successful or meaningful. I finally realised that the exact same can be said for me – even though I absolutely do not have all of the answers just now. I also realise how fortunate I have been to be able to quit my job in January and steal myself away to the safety of my balcony or the vibrancy of Slick’s shop – or any number of spaces – to collect my thoughts and to a certain degree, myself.
I hope that given these new insights of the world around me I can remain clued up as I return to a life of meetings, reports and commuting. I’ll keep you posted on that and promise to let you know if I ever figure life out. A part of me hopes that I don’t…