“I Want to Marry a Man from Another Race Because We’ll Have Beautiful Mixed Babies.”

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This piece was originally written for the spectacular blog My Black Matters which aims to be the ‘voice of today’s black women’.

A few months ago, a friend  of mine stated, “I want to marry a man from another race because we’ll have beautiful mixed babies.” As crazy (or maybe familiar) as it sounds, the girl I was two years ago would’ve agreed with her. I would’ve gushed at the thought of marrying a European man so that my children would have curly 3a hair and olive skin. I had these thoughts even though both of my parents are Nigerian, and therefore shared the same ethnicity. Did I not consider myself beautiful as I was not mixed or light skinned?

Of course not. My confidence level was lower than what it is now, but I thought I was pretty okay looking. So, why was I, a dark-skinned girl, denying that girls of my shade are beautiful? Thinking about this answer, I looked back at my situation two years ago. I was a fifteen-year-old girl who would turn to the music channels and see all my favourite male singers dancing with women of a lighter skin tone. Who would see all my lighter counterparts get the most ‘likes’ on Instagram. Who would see the memes directed at dark-skinned women and girls like myself, and laugh with along with them.

I tried to deduce and address the first reason for my unconscious anti-blackness. Lack of representation. It seemed a repeating pattern that my favorite male singers would be serenading a young woman of a lighter shade, or in some cases, the darker complexioned woman would be the antagonist of the video. The opposite portrayals of light and dark skinned women didn’t seem like an issue to me because it felt normal, so I never questioned it.

I previously mentioned my friends who had, and still, receive more recognition from boys than girls of my shade. Some may argue that it was not due to the skin tone, but more of the personality. However, let’s be honest. How many people are attracted to personality first? I can’t say that I didn’t attract some people, but once again, it seemed that the light skinned ‘red bone’ girls would have the boyfriends.

The last reason for my ignorance would have to be the constant jokes and memes targeting dark-skinned girls and women. When countless tweets slandering dark skinned women in a poor attempt to be funny; most, unfortunately made by black men; are available to the public, and for young girls of my shade to see, there’s no surprise that once the shock of seeing portrayals of us in that light has died down, the ignorant fifteen-year-old that I was would begin to laugh along with the same men who protest against racist jokes.

The sad thing about what I went through is the fact that it’s an ongoing cycle and is an issue that is still prevalent today and will continue to occur. Today there are dark skinned fifteen-year-olds who may feel unwanted simply due to how much melanin is present in their skin. It sounds ridiculous, right? If you think about it scientifically, forgetting the history and social issues for a moment, the cells that produce melanin (called Melanocytes) have an effect on the mindset of a whole species. The human species.

I’d like to think that there are young women and girls who love and embrace their dark skinned-ness. Of course, they exist and that feeling of self-love is incredible, believe me. However, realistically, the numbers of dark-skinned young women and girls who have yet to feel confidence and see beauty in their tone outnumbers those who acknowledge their appearance.

The problem is, there’ll always be a lack of representation of dark-skinned women in the media, one may always see light-skinned counterparts being seen as more attractive than darker skinned women (although women, generally, shouldn’t need to rely on the recognition from others to know that they’re beautiful but that’s an article for another day!). Additionally, the meme makers will continue to make memes. So…. A solution? What changed my mindset a year later? At 16, how did I finally see the beauty I held?

I turned to Tumblr. There are many other social media sites and platforms (this online blog being a definite choice to start with), however, that’s just the way ‘path’ I chose. I began to read about the history of my race. Not only slavery but of the success we’ve had as a race also. I finally understood that, as a race, we’ve always had ‘it’ in us – whatever you interpret ‘it’ as.

Following that, I began to come across images of dark-skinned women and girls going about their business. Some were professional photos, and others were selfies. Not only did the images ignite some sort of fire that I needed to recognise the beauty of people like me, but the captions too. “Black girls rock”, “carefree black girl,” were the theme, and I was really beginning to agree.

Finally, I tried to dive into a deeper reason as to why dark skinned women received such ridicule in society. I have no intention of turning this into a history lesson, but to summarise: Lighter-skinned slaves were deemed more desirable since they resembled white women the most. One could almost see the parallel between the ignorant white people over a century ago and the ignorant society we live in today. I certainly noticed it.

With all this new information I had racing in my head, I felt a sense of purpose. My dark skin was a part of me, therefore, I had to accept and cherish what, I believe, God had blessed me with. Yes, we aren’t represented in the media. But I know we exist! Yes, we don’t attract enough men or boys, but I love myself and that’s all that matters to me! Yes, we are ridiculed, but I have enough confidence in myself to brush off the nonsense, and concentrate on loving and bettering myself.

As I prepare to enter university, I tend to wonder whether the colourism I witness now will carry on into my further education. And the answer is yes. Am I okay with that? No. But I’m good with myself, and I have hope that I will continue to speak out against colourism faced against dark skinned women and girls because I recognize my beauty and strength, and I believe that others ought to feel the same.

So back to my acquaintance who wants mixed babies because they’re so beautiful.The seventeen-year-old me has a response.

“All skin tones are beautiful, and I will see the beauty in whatever shade of black my babies will be in. I will continue to encourage my children to recognize their beauty, talent and worth because Black. is. Beautiful.”

By @kgenevieve98

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
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‘Growing up a White British Female has allowed me to grow up privileged’

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Growing up a white British female has allowed me to grow up privileged.  Privileged because I am always able to see people like me represented by the media.  Privileged because I am not treated negatively due to the colour of my skin.  Whilst I am obviously grateful for this, this privilege that I have experienced should never have occurred.  Seeing people of the same ethnicity as me in the media should not be treated as an honour; and instead people from all different cultures and backgrounds should be represented by the media and society in general.

Due to my background, I ashamedly say that I grew up blinded by this privilege.  My mother always taught me about issues such as racism; meaning that I was not completely ignorant, although I was blinded nonetheless.  I was very fortunate in the sense that mum made sure that I was aware of what the issues surrounding racism were, as well as how we need to work together to ensure that everyone is loved for their personality rather than their ethnicity and background.  For this reason, I grew up not understanding why some people chose to be ignorant and racist.  However, because of the British education system and lack of representation in the media I was unaware of just how bad this level of ignorance still was- how people were STILL being judged merely on the colour of their skin.  I learnt very little in school about other cultures; and was seemingly blissfully unaware of any racism that was going on in the World around me.  I was also fortunate as my peers in school were accepting and loving of people; meaning that I had never been exposed to such levels of hate and ignorance before.

I grew up not knowing much about other cultures.  Although, this was something that I was never happy about.  I take great interest in each of my friends’ cultures, as it is important to me that I have an understanding as to their races and religions.  Each of the stories I have heard have greatly interested me; but it saddens me that I would never have known the stories and my knowledge would not be anywhere near as rich if I had not befriended these people.  I would never have known, for instance, about the Golden Temple and the massacre of the Sikh’s if I had not spoken to one of my friends (who actually co-founded this blog).

I would never have known about colourism if it weren’t for another friend of mine (again, who co-founded this blog).  As she explained colourism to me, I couldn’t help but feel upset and emotional.  It hurts me to know that people that I love (and who deserve to be loved) are not represented in the media.  It had never really occurred to me that colourism is a thing.  I guess this is because it doesn’t affect me; but that doesn’t make my ignorance acceptable.  It is so important that we utilise our education system (and others across the World) in order to help everyone understand that they are beautiful regardless of characteristics such as: race, gender, sex, sexuality, disability, appearance etc.  I cannot even emphasise how important I feel this is.  Everyone deserves to be confident, to feel loved, and to see people like themselves represented in the media.

The same friend recently said that I was ‘woke’.  If you are unaware as to what this means, it basically means that an individual is aware of social injustice and that they are actively sharing information concerning issues regardless of whether they affect them themselves.  In one sense being called woke is obviously a huge compliment.  It is good to know that my efforts to share information to do with any sort of social injustice problem do not go unnoticed.  It is also good to know that people are aware of how strongly I feel about these topics.  However, in another sense the term makes me a little sad.  It makes me sad because ‘woke people’ as a separate group should not be a thing.  In other words, there should be no such thing as people who are not woke.  Everyone should be fighting for equality and justice, regardless of whether they are personally affected or not, as it is the correct thing to do.  It is no use saying that you are upset by something without actively trying to spread the word about it.

Recently, I was hit by the realisation that if people had not actively campaigned against issues such as racism and homophobia in the past, I would not have been allowed to meet my friends.  I would only have been allowed to talk to one of my friends.  One.  This is understandably insane to me, and upsets me as it shows how people in the past were prevented from meeting wonderful people.  They were prevented from making such lovely friends- friends that I know I couldn’t go a day without today.  This just shows that although the World still has such a long way to go, we have already come so far; proving that change is possible.  Admittedly, we should never have needed to campaign against things because they should never have existed in the first place.  All I can say is I am so grateful for all of those who fought for greater equality, and I will continue to be thankful as I have met my best friends because of them.  Having said that, I will continue to do my best to enforce greater equality, as I am more than aware that we need to improve a hell of a lot more.

Overall, I guess we have to work together.  It is no good letting people who are affected by the ignorance fight alone.  We must all work together- white people and people of colour alike, as this is the only way that ignorant hate will truly be eradicated.  I am so sorry for ignorant people and for the lack of representation in the media.  I am hoping that the education systems and media will be improved so that we can all learn to love and accept people for who they are; as well as learning about different cultures as a whole.  Keep on being the Kings/Queens that you are, as you all deserve to feel like it.

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

#Oneisnotenough in conversation with: The I’m Tired Project

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The One is not Enough Team had the privilege of interviewing one half of UK based The I’m Tired Project, Paula Akpan, to discuss the project that has delved into the  world of micro-agggressions, assumptions and stereotypes. Using art, creativity and personal stories, The I’m Tired Project aims to provide ‘a safe and honest platform (for participants) to be both vulnerable and empowered’.

What is The I’m Tired Project?

The “I’m Tired” Project is a campaign which uses the human body, photography and written word to highlight and increase awareness around the impact of stereotyping, assumptions and micro-aggressions. While it started out as a strictly social media project, it slowly turning into a community outreach project as we’ve conducted workshops in schools and universities as well as two exhibitions so far.
The I'm Tired Proj
Why did you start The I’m Tired Project?
Harriet is a white woman and I am a black queer woman so we’ve both experienced our fair share of micro-aggressions and stereotyping and last year, we reached a point of frustration with the lack of representation and awareness around such issues – which was paired with the fact that we were graduating and suddenly had a lot of free time on our hands – and decided we wanted to channel the frustration into some sort of creative project. We also found that a lot of feminist groups we were a part of were just not intersectional.
What are the biggest lessons you have learnt from doing the project, either in the organisation of it or the messages that people have shared?
Despite considering ourselves to be fairly socially engaged, I think one of the biggest lessons has been that there is always so much more to learn and be made aware of. I know it sounds relatively basic but I think it can be quite easy to lose sight of that. There have been so many times when a statement has been sent through and I’ve thought to myself “Why has that never occurred to me?” For example, a trans man once wrote about their difficulty finding men’s shoes in small sizes and despite the fact that it is so simple, it really took stuck with me as one of those minute and powerful details that can be so easily overlooked.
Are there any race related ‘I’m Tired’ contributions that you related you?
A black woman did a statement that read “I’m tired of self-policing in order to avoid stereotypes” and spoke about the difficulty of trying to avoid being labelled “ratchet” or how it feels to be singled out simply on an account of your race i.e. being asked if you can twerk because you’re a black woman. It completely resonated with me personally because I’ve spent much of my life juggling with my blackness, sometimes not wanting to appear “too black” or “uncouth”.
What are your hopes for the future of The I’m Tired Project?
We plan to continue sharing pictures and stories on our page as well as continue to travel with our exhibitions and workshops and represent as many people as possible!
The I’m Tired Project covers race issues and the One is not Enough campaign is all about representation of British BAMEs in the media and school curriculum. Why do you think representation is important in the British media and school curriculum?
Representation in the school curriculum is important because I can tell you all about white writers and white people who contributed to history but, bar slavery and the civil rights movement, you’re not taught about the contributions of black people. You’re taught about black oppression and little else. For many years, I had no idea that there were so many black inventors because they’re simply not acknowledged. This is reflected in media. You rarely see diversity unless it is somehow related to oppression or the black individual somehow being made the villain, no matter what. Representation is important because, black people, particularly black youth, need to be able to see that it is possible to be black and to succeed; it’s important for us to know that the two are not mutually exclusive.
How can people get involved with The I’m Tired Project?
People can email us at theimtiredproject@gmail.com or message us through our Facebook page and we can send through submission guidelines and help them with the process.
Make sure you follow the The I’m Tired Project on their various social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram 🙂

#Oneisnotenough TEAM

Twitter: @1isnotenough

The Black Woman is Angry

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Note: This was originally written on blog ramsaywithana.wordpress.com by One is not enough contributor Georgina Ramsay

First, let me begin by stating the obvious in order to clarify the meaning of this post: the ‘angry black woman stereotype’, like all racial stereotypes, is incredibly dehumanising because not only does it assume all black women are the same but it is also a means of silencing our individual voices by discarding our thoughts and feelings as just ‘anger’. It suggests that the full spectrum of human emotions is a luxury not afforded to black women.

It’s funny, and by funny I mean not funny at all, that the same people who are so quick to use the ‘angry black woman’ stereotype are not so quick when it comes to questioning why it is we might be angry. Unless you have been living under a rock (or are just embarrassingly ignorant) you will be aware of the tragedies that have occurred in the USA over the past few days: the police killing of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, within two days followed by the death of five police officers in a sniper attack during a peaceful protest in response to police violence.

As a result, it has been near-impossible to go on any form of social media without being forced to see the murder of black men at the hands of police as the last moments of their lives are constantly posted, shared and retweeted.  Consequently, on Thursday night and in the early hours of Friday morning I found myself unable to sleep as these videos replayed themselves in my head. That’s when I started writing  ‘This Black Woman is Angry . Not because that is the only emotion black women are capable of, but because this world gives us plenty of reasons to be.

I was angry that it is now commonplace to see the murder of black people online; angry that Diamond Reynolds, Philando Castile’s girlfriend, had to live stream the murder of her boyfriend because she couldn’t rely on the justice system; angry that her four-year-old daughter saw things no adult should ever have to see, let alone a child; that she was forced to comfort her mother in the back of a police car moments after her father figure lay dying in the seat in front of her. I was angry that black bodies aren’t treated with dignity or respect except when they are used to make a profit; that there are people grieving for their loved ones all because being black is a crime punishable by death and angry that other people were not angry too.

So I ended up writing this poem entitled ‘This Black Woman is Angry’ because I was, I am and I have every right to be.

This Black Woman is Angry

This black woman is angry.
Yes, this black woman is angry as hell.
In a world where the colour of one’s skin,
Their melanin,
Is reason enough to kill
You should be angry as well.

This black woman is frustrated.
Her brothers and sisters are unjustly incarcerated
So they can be falsely painted as thugs,
Dangerous villains,
Who drink,
Can’t think.
Do drugs.

This black woman is confused
Because the same people who paint this picture,
Will post a picture
Wearing our hair,
Our features,
Our skin

Like costumes,
Turning a blind eye to what’s within.
You cannot,
You will not,
Discard our hearts.
We are not a sum of parts
To be disposed of at your refusal.
We are not objects for your perusal.
Not here for your approval,
You do not own us.

This black woman is tired
Of people policing our feelings
When the police can’t even police their feelings.
So stop with your ifs, buts and excuses,
Enough is enough.
You cannot justify injustice.

This black woman has questions:
Who made you this violent?
Tell me what did they do?
Is someone going around
Killing your people too?

This black woman is scared
Because they shout “slavery’s over”
As the streets flood
With the blood from strange fruit.
If slavery’s over,
Tell me,
Why can I still feel this noose around my neck?
Reminding me my life hangs on a thread,
That it just takes one racist
To shoot me dead.

A wise man once said:
“Just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we’re not real”,
So you can’t kill us
Then expect us not to feel
Angry,
Tired,
Frustrated,
Confused
Scared.

This black woman is angry,
Her brothers and sisters are being beaten,
Until their black is black and blue.
This black woman is angry,
The question is:
Why aren’t you?

G.J.Ramsay

 

“We are blessed and we have a rich history filled with guardians of our peoples and excellence within our races individually”

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While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?

Growing up in media people who looked like me: Reggie Yates, Angelica Bell, Jamelia, Trevor McDonald, La Reid, Ainsley Harriott, Lenny Henry, Oprah Michelle and Barack Obama off the top of my head
In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you? 
I learned briefly about Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Trevor McDonald, Clarence Thomas, Jews (in terms of similar experience to the black historical struggle)
Why do you think diversity and representation is important? 
Diversity and representation is so important because in a society and world (today) that isn’t created for minorities; that is western-centric, that is built off of the back of man made structures and historical tariffs such as the slave trade and  Jim Crow laws, exploitation of coloured people in general and genocide of anything that is different to whiteness it is important to remember that we are great, we are blessed and we have a rich history filled with guardians of our peoples and excellence within our races individually, we need to be filled with euphoria and awareness that there are people of colour and different religions living in greatness, and being just as good as white people.
We need an affinity to our race and culture driven by associations to both being attached with leading figures and constant repetition that we can be amazing too. In a world where representation for “minorities” is scarce it is crucial that we build and continue to expand for ourselves so that our future generations can know that they are special and have potential.

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

“I feel like in our society, if you want to be cultured you have to get on with it by yourself, and find a way

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While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?
I didn’t grow up in the UK, I actually grew up in France. At the time, I don’t actually recall seeing many people in the media who looked like me and if I did they didn’t particularly resemble me aside from having darker than average skin (white skin); in other words I didn’t see my young self in them, I just saw characters who were not white and that automatically gave me a point of similarity with them. Sometimes I’d see some black characters but with distinctively altered Caucasian features; they had straight hair, not kinky hair like me. They had thin noses, not wide ones like me. For this reason I’d say I was always very surprised and delighted to see anyone who wasn’t white on TV or in the media in general, whether that be in cartoons or movies. Undeniably though, this didn’t happen very often.

Having said this, I wouldn’t say that at the time this was an issue that I particularly deemed important or offensive, I just accepted it as the norm. Unlike many minorities or coloured people I’ve spoken to, I can confidently say that never in my life have I wished to be white or any other race. I think that’s largely due to the fact that from a young age, I was taught about my African culture so I accepted myself and my family for what we were: black. I had a lot of white friends, as well as Arab friends. I was never, to the best of my knowledge, discriminated against or made fun of for my race. But my parents were, and they did not hesitate to tell my sister and I about their experiences, highlighting that despite the fact that we were blessed to be in such an accepting and welcoming society, we were nonetheless the minority and had to work twice as hard to get to where the white people were.

In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you? 
In school, both in France and in the UK I do not ever recall being taught any history about me or my people, or any issues that really touched us. But once again; I accepted this as the norm because for one I did not know any different, but also because I assumed that being in a largely white society, I just had to comply. Any history concerning me or my culture was taught to me by my parents, or by my own research, and this started around the age of 8. In France, I’d say the curriculum is more balanced despite the fact that I didn’t learn a lot about Africa, so I’d say although it was predominantly White history, it wasn’t really noticeable because we learnt about other cultures as well. I’d go as far as to say that the first (and only time) I was remotely taught about my ancestors in a school environment was when we learnt about the KKK in history… in year 10. I won’t lie to you, it was so uncomfortable seeing all the white people cringing every time we came over the N word, as if it was an issue that just needed to be ignored. When discussing our curriculum with elder members of society they’re often very shocked to hear that contrary to popular belief it is not in fact very broad in its knowledge and richness.  It wasn’t until I looked in some African textbooks and saw pictures of black girls just like me that I realised that there was a real underlying issue that needed to be addressed.
Why do you think diversity and representation is important? 
In my opinion one of the main reasons why representation and diversity is important in our society is not directly because of us, it’s more about how others view us and our struggle. Unfortunately, many white people with whom I’ve spoken to, refuse to accept the fact that to this day, in our society, black people and other minorities are still not represented very well in the media. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve come a long way! But I think because they’re so used to seeing and being in a largely white society, they can’t imagine what it’s like to be on the other end of the spectrum, and weirdly enough that’s both for white people but also for some minorities. I don’t blame them though, I guess that’s how society conditions us. I even find that often if we dare to mention such subjects publicly, we’re ridiculed and made to believe that we’re exaggerating our situation and I feel like for this reason many youths in minority groups just go along with it and accept it as their fate.Another reason why I think representation is important is because it promotes tolerance, acceptance and celebrates the heritage of a wide range of people. I would not only love to see more of my history being taught in the school curriculum, but also more of my Asian friends’ history too, for example! I feel like in our society, if you want to be cultured you have to get on with it by yourself, and find a way. If I’m blessed enough to have children one day, I will not hesitate to teach them about our history but I’d love to be supported by the school curriculum too. And I’d love for them to come home and teach me about the history of South Indonesia! Why not? Finally, I’d say diversity and representation is important in order to crush the ridiculous stereotypes that plague our society.

Representation is important so my little nieces and nephews and cousins can see themselves in characters such as Princess Tiana, and don’t have to feel excluded during such a crucial time in their childhood. Unfortunately, it’s deeply rooted issues like this that breed future racial tensions between ethnicity groups. We need to do better as a society.

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

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.

*

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

“Our generation is so much better than older generations, we are more accepting of ‘different’ people”

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While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?

It was never something that I thought about growing up but looking back there really was no female asian that I saw in any kind of media. Which is sad and disappointing! I understand there could be various reasons as to why that might be the case because not many asian girls aspire to be actresses etc. But sometimes I think it’s because there is no one us asians can aspire to be like. There are no asian supermodels, hardly any really successful asian actresses or asian singers so who do we aspire to be like? I always grew up thinking that it would be impossible to be a really famous actress or singer or something along those lines just because we aren’t the norm in the society we live in. I wish it wasn’t like that. I was told growing up that working in those kind of industries that i wouldn’t do well because of the colour of my skin so I guess that’s why most of us end up following the educational routes where your grades matter more than your looks.

I also think the Asian characters shown in media follow these ‘negative’ stereotypes, they’re often seen as the nerd in movies or the Asians are the doctors. For example in Angus, thongs and perfect snogging the Asian girl that was the weird one who found it harder to get the guys. Other examples I can name are pitch perfect and mean girls. The majority of the time i do find it quite funny but sometimes i’m like why can’t the Asian person be normal and be the main gal for once. Even the black people are often portrayed as more aggressive but yet the white people are always the loveable characters that everyone wants to be.
I’m not saying that a white person can’t be my role model but it would be great to see an Asian person doing just as well and be able to relate to them.

 

The thing that sucks the most is that growing up I always thought you had to be white to be pretty and now i know that is ridiculous but it’s the sad truth! But I love that there are now more role models of other ethnicities because it gives me hope and someone to look up to that has done well despite the colour of their skin. Like look at Beyonce and Rihanna, they both are just so fab.


In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you?

Again, honestly no one that I can remember from the top of my head. Where are all the asian poets and book writers at? Where is all the asian history at? To be honest I only did history up until year 9 so i can’t really argue that point. I think it would have been great for us to learn about the history of other countries that’s not Britain.



Why do you think diversity and representation is important? 


I think diversity and representation makes people so much more open minded. WE SHOULD REPRESENT EVERYONE. If you teach kids from a young age about religion, race, sexuality etc. It will give them a better understanding and they can form their own opinions and views from what they learn rather than the views inflicted on them by society. I’m not going to say it will get rid of discrimination but I think it will help. It will give the kids that have no idea about the outside world what it really is like to be in other people’s situations. Till this day I will never understand why people discriminate. Like what joy do you get out of it?!?! What joy do you get telling a person who isn’t white to leave your country?! If you were educated you would know that you don’t own this planet (soz if you didn’t know you were just a product of evolution that has a particular colour of skin) and you would know that if it wasn’t for the action of your ‘own people’, a lot of people would have stayed where they came from.

I will never understand why people discriminate against those who are bisexual or homosexual – why does it matter who you fancy?!?!?! Really what difference does it make! We all just want to be happy! In school i think these issues aren’t spoken about because these topics are taboo subjects – so if we know they are taboo why don’t we talk about them more. I love talking to my friends about race and stuff because it gives me a better understanding of other people. Our generation is so much better than older generations, we are more accepting of ‘different’ people but there is still that minority that need to learn that their skin colour does not in any way make them better than anyone else. I don’t know if racism will ever go away because i think there will always be the minority who will discriminate and people who don’t mix with other ethnicities without realising but school and media are a great way of representing the ethnic minorities to help change views.

When minority groups are not represented, in a way they begin to feel isolated. I was watching a coming out video of a famous youtuber where we he was talking about how he came out and the struggles. Reading through the comments section honestly made me tear up there were so many young people who felt like they were the only one struggling with coming out, they felt isolated and so many of them had suicidal thoughts. The comments section was a community where they were all able to relate to one another, they had gone through the same struggle but videos of their role models made them feel more comfortable and happy – it broke my heart. It goes to show how representation is so important because we all rely on knowing we’re not the only one and I honestly think it can help the mental health of so many people to know they’re not alone.

We live in a great world with so many different people – different races, cultures, religions – why not learn about them? It’s great and so interesting! So many great stories just being lost because not everyone is equally represented. It’s really all about educating people! School and media are things that help to shape people so why not use it?

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

“If it was not during Black History Month, I didn’t learn about anyone that looked like me”

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While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?
I grew up in South East London which is very culturally diverse and as far as I remember growing up, the person I can think of who resembled me in the media was Kelly Rowland. At the time, I was a big fan of the Destiny’s Child and Kelly Rowland was the only dark skinned black woman I would see on TV and even aspire to look like when growing up.
In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you? 
In primary school, if it was not during Black History Month, I didn’t learn about anyone that looked like me but then when I moved to Ghana I started learning about Ghanaian history so it was more relevant to me personally. I think that the fact that I lived in Africa for 6 years ( 2 years in Ghana and 4 years in the Republic of Benin) made me learn more about people that were more like me and had similar experiences to me, and I don’t know if I would have been exposed to such information if I had stayed in the UK for most of my secondary school life.
Why do you think diversity and representation is important? 
I think diversity and representation is important because we live in a world where we are all different, we all come from different places in the world and I think it is important to acknowledge that. Refusing to be diverse is in my opinion refusing to accept what the world is like. Representation is even more important I believe because even if we are all aware of diversity, it is not accurately shown and that is in my opinion a shame.

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