Melanin Millennials Podcast

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Melanin Millennials

 

#Onisnotenough’s Itunu reached out to one of her favourite podcasts at the moment ‘Melanin Millennials’ hosted by two beautiful Black women Satia and Imrie, to discuss all things race and representation. Check out their podcast here and the interview:

What is Melanin Millennials?

Imrie: It’s a podcast that explores socio-political issues and British pop-culture from the perspective of two black girls living in London.

Satia: Melanin Millennials is a podcast hosted by myself (Satia) and Imrie discussing everything from pop culture, to topical news stories, to the struggles and stresses of being a millennial from a black British woman’s point of view.

Why did you start Melanin Millennials? 

Imrie: For me, the show was born out of frustration. I was consuming a lot of African American media and internalising their issues as if they were my own. Melanin Millennials was my way reclaiming my experiences and focusing on what’s happening in the UK.

Satia: Imrie asked me to start a podcast with her and after my initial reluctance and with  imminent return to the UK, an idea of what we wanted started forming. I think that it all moved much faster as soon as I came up with the name that we both liked, Melanin Millennials,  as it embodied what our podcast was about and who our target audience was. Simply put I hadn’t heard anyone who sounded like us out there, I always tended to look overseas (read: America) to see glimpses of people who looked like me. As fun as that was, it was still glaringly obvious that culturally I was different and as a result I craved something closer to home that I could relate to more. The saying goes ‘be the change you want to see in the world’ so here we are.

Why do you think it’s important to talk about topics that impact Melanin Millennials?

Imrie: We discuss the EU referendum, sex, mental health, feminism and racism. All of which are relevant to our lives here in the UK. It’s important that we understand what is happening in our country and how these issues can impact our lives. It’s a liberating experience to hear people that look like you express themselves so freely.

Satia: Our voices, those of young, black British women especially, aren’t often heard and if they are the subject matters I found to be pretty uninteresting and cliched. Our everyday conversations alone were always extremely varied ranging from the serious to the downright hilarious. We consumed a lot of media and yet we are still underwhelmingly represented in MSM. Our vision and purpose was to create a platform that everyday Melanin Millennials could tune into and more importantly relate to. Our topics are based on what affects us personally as black women, intersectionality is hugely important and that is why we always love reaching out to other black women / PoC in order for them to tell their stories. We are aware that we are not a monolith and we keenly feel the disconnect and distance amongst each other. There are incredible women out there achieving amazing feats and yet, whether deliberate or not, we just don’t hear about them, see them or even feel their presence.

I noticed that Siana Bangura was on your podcast!!! Are there any particular BAME’s that have inspired you that you think more people should know about? 

Imrie: Absolutely! Where do I start, Liv Little at Gal-Dem, Tobi Oredein at Black Ballad, Seyi Newell from TRiBE and Sait Cham at Recovr, just to name a few. Before we started this, it was a struggle to find and locate the amazing work people are doing, but now our audience (affectionately named the Congregation) send us suggestions, and I’m glad people recognise us a place to share their work.

Satia: We have oh so many people that we know are doing brilliant things out there in every type of industry. Siana might as well be a force of nature, that’s how inspiring she is and completely unapologetic about it. Black women for too long seem to have put others before themselves and have forgotten to take up space and demand to be heard. To name a few, women like Cecile Emeke, Michaela Coel and Chimamnda Ngozi are all working extremely hard to increase black women’s visibility and our multifacetedness.

What are your hopes for the future of Melanin Millennials?

Imrie: Our cousins on the ShoutOut Network joined because they heard our show. I hope that we just continue to grow and that we inspire more people from the BAME community to be more vocal and share their opinions and interests.

Satia: I hope that in very near future Melanin Millennials podcast becomes the go to platform to celebrate, support, uplift, commiserate, vent and generally showcase what we already know is magical about us.

Why do you think representation for young British BAME’s is important?

Imrie: Being represented has a profound effect on our self-esteem. If we are portrayed on TV or in Film, it’s rarely positive. Internalising that can be easy. We need to know that we are not an anomaly. That our experiences are normal despite not being ‘mainstream’.

Satia: “Seeing is believing”. I cannot stress enough the importance of diversity and seeing your narrative acknowledged and validated. How many little black girls watching TV, reading books, going to the theatre, thinking of their dream careers see themselves positively represented? There has been progress but more is needed. In the meantime we, sadly,  become accustomed to not being at the centre of diverse narratives, the consequences being that we then have to work very hard in deprogramming our minds about what is normal. Black women are hardly ever portrayed as the standard. Fortunately with the rise of social media, globalisation and the internet that no longer has to be the case. We can build our own platforms and people will gravitate towards it, at the end of the day we all just want a little bit of confirmation that there are many more people out there, like us, than meets the literal eye. It’s important that we feel empowered to tell our own stories to quote Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche “power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person … if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, “secondly.” We must not let this happen!” Indeed we must not let that happen anymore.

If you would like us to promote your movement, campaign, podcast, project or whatever creative wonderfulness you’re doing email us at oneisnotenough16@gmail.com.

Bless x

#Oneisnotenough TEAM

Twitter: @1isnotenough

“We have to make sure our kids have the unalienable right to feel beautiful in their own skin, no matter what shade it is.”

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THE MEDIA – – >  

When you think back to the TV shows you watched as a kid, you’ll probably remember waking up early on a Saturday to watch your favourite cartoon; laughing hysterically over the practical joke your favourite character pulled pretty much every single episode. It’s unlikely that you’ll remember how you responded to the media, how you absorbed it and it absorbed you. Who was your favourite character on TV growing up, and what was it about them that made you aspire to be everything they were? For me, those characters were pretty, white slim girls that were probably head of the cheerleading squad. Even the misfits, who we were supposed to identify with, were white- at best, with glasses and a “geeky” persona to show that they were indeed, “different.” Speaking of, you may recall the cast of High School Musical breaking out into song “stick to the status quo.” Dig your old soundtrack out if you have to, but the film hardly broke the status quo; pretty white (with a dash of Latino) girl gets together with a pretty white (with a dash of chiseled abs) guy. And the black kids, Chad and Taylor? (yeah, I had to google their names,) they were forever the sidekicks, unlucky in love and with nothing to offer but a skill for spinning a basketball on one finger and a sassy one liner about weaves. How boring. How tragic. How boring and tragic that this same narrative is repeated, where the black kids are always left behind, and never represented as beautiful or worthy of love. This is the language that became part of my cultural dialect. White was clever. White was beautiful. And if you were anything but, you only had a choice of stereotypes A and B to choose from, and growing up racially ambiguous, I had no clue which box to tick.

THE CURRICULUM – – > 

The stereotypes of coloured people in the media are essentially just a continuation of the way they have been represented throughout history, and the state of the curriculum today doesn’t show any signs of straying off the beaten track. My two favourite subjects in school were History and English. In hindsight, I should have taken a comfort in a more uncontroversial subject like math; maybe then I wouldn’t have been so damn frustrated by everything that was handed to me on a comic sans font worksheet.

I’m actually horrified that I never studied a non-white writer in English Literature. Race was reduced to a theme that was being mediated to me through a white tinted lens, and that was extremely damaging. It makes me feel sick to think of the amount of times we were expected to write “In this novel, black people are represented as inferior.” History was one in the same, in which historical events are seen as a story of heroes and victims. In this sense, unsurprisingly, black people were always treated as the victims. Slavery was mentioned in whispers yes, and I always remember feeling uncomfortable as the whole class turned around to look at me in silent pity. It felt like I was being made to feel ashamed of my own heritage, my own history. I knew all about Abraham Lincoln, but knew nothing about the likes of Fredrick Douglass. I was taught that Carol Ann Duffy was the ultimate “feminist poet” but knew nothing of Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Gwendolyn Brooks, or the dozens of other black female writers I’ve come to know and love in my awakening to a more colourful world.

The world I learnt about in school was black and white, it was dangerous. The white curriculum that I and so many other ethnic minority students were dragged through epitomises what feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called “the danger of a single story*,” that is, that having a secular perspective is dangerous because it cuts you off intellectually from the world around you, no matter how often you travel to Spain or like to eat Indian food. The proportion of ethnic minority pupils in state funded schools has increased dramatically since 2014, and in order for them to succeed in an inclusive learning environment, the curriculum should aim to teach a broader, universal history in an increasingly globalised world.

BEAUTY – – > 

In an increasingly globalised world, you would think that our society, with a constant overlapping of cultures, races, religions, we would have a greater, more compassionate understanding of each other. If you are not blessed with the gift of optimism however, you will notice how life is moving so fast that often, someone’s appearance is the most convenient way in which to form a judgement of someone. Picture this; there’s a black guy walking down the street, he has a bunch of other black guys behind him. You saw a sitcom on CBS once refer to such people as “homies” before. They laugh loudly and seem to constantly be pulling their trousers up. You assume they must be selling drugs, so you walk to the other side of the road. Of course, there’s nothing hereditary in the human psyche that causes you to make these assumptions, so where did you get them from? If you guessed the media, you get a gold star. Any other answer renders you incapable of understanding what I have to say next. Just how the media paints all black dudes such as my aforementioned imaginary friend with the same brush, the media likes to paint white people with a brush that just happens to make you prettier. Remember the public outcry that accused L’Oreal of lightening Beyoncé’s skin for an ad? How about more recently, when a Japanese advert for washing powder showed a black man being thrown into the washer and coming out as a whiter than white Asian? Or, if you want to bring colourism into it, the fact that the light skinned Zoe Saldana used black face to play Nina Simone? These examples all boil down to the fact that historically, particularly during the colonial period, there has been a white European hegemonic ideal (I know; who knew right.) Thus, the closer to white you are, in this instance, the better, prettier, or more attractive you are made to seem.

I am mixed race, light skinned, or hey, just feel free to stick whatever label you want to my forehead and be done with it. Anyway, from the day I was old enough to say “NO YOU CANNOT TOUCH MY HAIR,” my visual appearance has been fetishized by everyone from grandmas to perverts in nightclubs. A girl behind me in a queue for a club said my hair was “fascinating” so many times I wanted to drown her in a vat of Smirnoff ice. I’m the poster girl for school prospectuses, and my mother and father are commended on countless occasions for the “beautiful” brown children they’ve managed to produce. My best friend and I are told that we “really should” be a couple on the basis that we are both mixed race, which, in other situation, would be a completely bizarre concept to base a relationship on. I’m not ignorant towards the tribulations of dark skinned women, but I can’t speak for them either. White people fetishize light skinned people because they represent an exotic ideal, the aesthetics of being black in the absence of its sociological burdens.

WHAT WE CAN DO; 

You may have notice how I’ve used arrows at the end of every sub heading in this article. It’s not because I’m trying to be original or outrageously indie, but because it represents how all these things; the media, the curriculum, how we define beauty, are undeniably linked. And this is where my degree in English Lit comes in handy. In the first instance, the fact that these issues are all connected is good, because it means we can discuss them much easier. However, when issues like these are so integrated, it makes them difficult to break apart; instead we just end up with a cycle of what we’ve become used to as the norm, a concept that makes us so dizzy that we can’t see what’s right in front of us- and that is that something has GOT to change.

We have to make sure the next generation of BAME students have access to an educational environment that supports others’ and their own understandings of themselves and their history.

We have to make sure the media uses its power for good and that the images it produces are just as colourful as the realities of the people it is trying to portray.

We have to make sure our kids have the unalienable right to feel beautiful in their own skin, no matter what shade it is.

I don’t have all the answers, but together, by just talking to one another about race and diversity, we have the power to change the world we live in. If you’re not sure where to go from here, you can start by waking up- look at the world around you, educate yourselves, watch the news- and then notice what’s missing from it. And then start to wake everyone else up, until we make so much noise that the people at the top of the pyramid can no longer sleep in peace.

There’s a semi colon at the end of this subheading. People often don’t know what to do with semi colons, or where to put them in a sentence. But semi colons are used by an author when they could have finished a sentence with a full stop, but have chosen not to. So don’t let this be the end of your story, because we’re not even halfway through it yet.

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Did you relate to this? Do you have any questions? If so, write them in the comment section below- we would love to hear from you 🙂

If you would like to share your stories, experiences and opinions email us at oneisnotenough16@gmail.com.

Bless x

#Oneisnotenough TEAM

Twitter: @1isnotenough