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I never saw my dad cry. Or my brother as an adult. I never saw my boyfriend shed a tear for over ten years. And I wish I could talk to them about so much – but for two out of three, it’s too late. Through bereavements, break-ups and break-downs, they didn’t ever seem to have emotions apart from joy and anger. And their anger was fierce, often leading to altercations with the police; jeopardising their relationships, their freedom and their futures. But these black men weren’t fools; they were educated, smart, successful and likeable. Over the last few months, reflecting on my relationships with the black men in my life, I started to wonder: are the restrictions of black male masculinity so narrow, that…

As I heard Hugh Hefner passed away this week, I had a horrible memory. I was a fan of Playboy once. Well, ish. Bare with me; it was 2005 and ‘The Girls Next Door’, then called ‘The Girls of the Playboy Mansion’, premiered on Channel ‘E!’. It was still the relative beginnings of the reality TV era, and unlike the over saturation of it all today, being invited into glamorous peoples’ lives, trying to guess what was real and what was scripted, was still pretty fun and appealing. I immediately found Holly, Kendra and Bridget – the three live-in girlfriends of Hugh Hefner – fascinating. At first I couldn’t work out if these girls were even real or not. The painted smiles, the high pitched…

Earlier in the week, BBC3’s Mockumentary ‘People Just Do Nothing’ premiered it’s 4th season. The failed pirate radio Garage MCs have a found a place in mine – and the nation’s heart. Written, created and performed by group of real friends: Allan Mustafa, Steve Stamp, Asim Chaudhry and Hugo Chegwin, the former real life Garage DJs and MCs have portrayed the scene with humour and integrity. And with some of the cast doing real life Garage sets across the UK over the last few summers, I can’t help but wonder why the nostalgia of the late 90’s UK Garage scene remains so popular with audiences like myself today. Why for example, earlier this month, did approximately fifteen thousand people attend Garage music festival 51st State…

Hungover and hungry and I sat on my Victoria Line train last Saturday afternoon, on my way to meet up with a girl from Instagram. She had messaged me to say she liked my blogs, had seen some of my acting work and wanted a little guidance on her career. She had asked would I meet for a coffee. I messaged back and disclaimered that I might not be the best person to advise as I’m still working it all out, but of course, I would be happy to meet her. It turns out arranging a meet on Saturday afternoon after a heavy Friday night at Hackney’s Oslo was not the best idea. As I came out of the station, more than slightly headachy, I…

The image circulating across the media of four French policeman with guns, forcing a Muslim woman on a French beach to undress, disturbed me. The intolerance of culture disturbed me. The unspoken force disturbed me. The bystanders disturbed me. In fact the more I kept seeing the image, it began to outrage me. This blog post isn’t a simple discussion about women’s choice here. You can argue that it was the Muslim woman’s informed choice to cover, and these Police men took that deeply personal choice away from her by force. You can also argue on the other hand that it was her choice to live in a western society that is comfortable with exposing female bodies and so she should therefore simply adapt to…

Pull Tag Knot is a short film I star in, that has just gone live on the Channel 4 Random Acts website. Directed by Ayesha Ramsey, a young mixed race woman, who wanted to explore the complex and ultimately negative relationship a lot of black and mixed race women have with their hair – particularly the desire to confirm to western ideals of beauty. The short film, which is beautifully and artistically shot, is poignantly told through a short spoken word poem. As a lover of poetry – and as an issue close to my heart (see my article To Weave Or Not To Weave), this was an absolute pleasure to work on. Please watch below and enjoy. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pfHToOOI_Bc Pull Tag Knot

Let’s start with this: I LOVE Bell Hooks. Ever since I wrote my dissertation of the representation of black women in music back in the mid 2000s, I suddenly found writing which explained everything I was feeling as a young woman. She articulated why sexism and racism never seemed to be able to co-exist as it should, the history and reasons behind black male sexism. I read my borrowed copy of ‘Aint I a woman: Black Women and Feminism ’ cover to cover and was ecstatic when my grandmother bought it for me that Christmas. To this day it still sits the coffee table in my apartment. So when Hooks responded to Beyoncé’s Lemonade visual album, I read her critique carefully. I must say, I fell…

When I was 14 I grew big breasts. As they were developing, I hated them. I hated how my T shirt was starting to look. I’d actually avoid looking at them in the bath. They were alien like things on me and I detested them. That was, until I was 14. Suddenly they were bigger than most. Although I was always covered up, adult males would routinely try to talk to me in the street; I had male admirers for the first time in my life; teenage boys would stare at my breasts instead of my face. I realised at this point, that they were powerful and I kinda liked that. But when one summer’s afternoon that year, a teenage friend that I had grown…

Last night I watched Lady Gaga dedicate her Oscar performance to victims of sexual abuse, in solidarity with pop singer and alleged sexual abuse victim Kesha, and the performance made me cry. After I finished watching the Oscar highlights – Chris Rock’s funny (and at times not so funny) navigation around the issue of racist Hollywood, to Leonardo Dicaprio’s passionate speech about global warming – it got got me thinking: As society becomes more and more focused on celeb culture, and more and more politically apathetic, do celebrities have a responsibility now to speak up on important issues? More and more stars seem to be taking up the challenge to address important issues with their platform. Both Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce recently gave amazingly brave…

“Oh” the hairdresser paused “Your hair is very curly”. “Yes” I gritted my teeth, water dripping down my neck “I said it was”. The consultation earlier that week, it seemed, had meant nothing. “It’s OK” she went on “I’m sure we’ll be able to manage”. Trapped in the chair, too far in this to go back, I feigned a tight smile. “So where are you from?” She went on “You look…different…” And so it started. Questions about my heritage; questions about Africa, then of course Jamaica; “Can I tell the where people are from by their appearance?” Comments on my hair “It’s actually quite nice”, “Do I ever wear an Afro?” comments on my features “Your lips are black but your nose is more white…”…