Jhene Aiko ‘Trip’ is Sweet as Sugar

http://lonelystar.co.uk/reviews/jhene-aikos-trip-sweet-sugar/

Describe Jhene Aiko in 3 words? Eclectic. Experimental. Exceptional.

Her new album, “Trip” dropped in September and proves her versatility as an artist and as a uniquely styled RnB singer who cannot be ignored. Since her earliest albums ‘Sail Out’ which dropped in 2013 and ‘Souled Out’ which came out in 2014, Aiko has been redefining modern RnB with funk, jazzy and cool atypical musical influences. Aiko follows this pattern with Trip, her latest album and also her first solo album in 3 years, with 22 songs clocking at 1 hour and 30 minutes in length and also involving several veteran features such as; Swae Lee of ‘Unforgettable’ fame, Big Sean, the classic Brandy and even her own daughter Namiko who is extra cute on Sing To Me.

In the same way that a ‘trip’ on drugs can be a soul-searching, mind-bending experience, Jhene Aiko’s ‘Trip’ is a cathartic journey through love, hate, despair and ultimately, Joy. Many themes are present in this body of work, with concepts such as motherhood, justice and morality lurking beneath the surface of the album.

jheneaiko_trip_cover_digital_finalclean

Though a formidable challenge to a packed field of blossoming and established RnB artists such as Kali Uchis, The Internet, Daniel Caesar, Sza and Frank Ocean, my criticism of the album would be that the length was unnecessarily long and many of the mixtapes whilst adding character and personality to the album as a deeply personal release, were unimaginative and not pleasing to the ear. Jhene Aiko is a talented vocalist who has the ability to vibe on tracks ranging from ‘Maniac’, to her classic ‘The Worst’ and even her obscure masterpieces, e.g Growing Apart (To Get Closer) with Kendrick Lamar; that is why I was disappointed that Aiko seemingly prioritised quantity over quality with only a few stand-out tracks like Frequency, While We’re Young, Sing to Me, Ascension and Never Call Me.

“Yes your mama did, she raised a fool” Never Call Me was unapologetic and uncensored in tone, with the syrupy sweet vocals that Aiko delivers easily, atop an upbeat tune with interjections of electric vibes throughout. Aiko remarks upon her very public break-up with ex-husband, producer Dot The Genius and states “you should have called me…” Keeping it simple.

jhene aiko

Frequency was produced by Mali Music, who Aiko has described as “anointed”. This was a mesmerising track with hymn-like vocals, with a slow beat and simple repetition. This is no traditional song structure but it doesn’t need one. Creating instant classics is a talent that is “never far” for Aiko.

This album was a powerful project that proved that Jhene Aiko owns her lane and is probably coming for yours too. Managing to be intimate, sweet and genuine whilst also showing a new meaning to love. I do feel that this brilliant project was diluted by quantity and a blurring effect of similar vocals/production, but from the few stand-out tracks on the album, it is clear that there can be no critique of her vocal talent. Trip was the album that 2017 needed.

http://lonelystar.co.uk/reviews/jhene-aikos-trip-sweet-sugar/

 

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Black Americans are Taking A Knee. Black Britons should do the Same

Black Americans are Taking a Knee. Black Britons should do the Same

Colin Kaepernick is a hero. Not only because he decided to raise awareness as to the systematic murder and brutality that black people face from the racist American state; but because he placed his own unflinching convictions before the potential enormous profits and social capital he could gain as a National Football League star. From afar, across the ocean, it is oh so easy to admire the heroism while complicit, ourselves, in systems of oppression.

#TakeAKnee is so powerful because it reignites the power of political celebrity once harnessed by Muhammad Ali and other civil rights/black power legends. That Kaepernick’s kneeling, the most respectful and elegant form of protest one could say, is perceived as an attack on the military, democracy/capitalism, and America itself, must lead to the simple conclusion that racism is also perceived as inherent to America. And that one cannot protest one, without simultaneously attacking the other. No, that is not specific to the States, it was in Britain where Munroe Bergdorf, a black transgender lady critiqued white supremacy and was promptly dropped by her “diversity” championing beauty company. And it is Britain, where student activists of colour are routinely dragged by the press for their work.

colin k

It is not only America where black men and women are being murdered, brutalised, imprisoned, and marginalised. Being black in Britain means we exist at the heart of an empire which once grasped most of the globe under its domination and exploitation; it means we are supposed to forgive and forget the culture and wealth that was stolen from our countries to make Buckingham Palace so grandiose. And when we try to forgive and forget that 3 million enslaved black bodies passed through the port of Southampton creating modern industrial capitalism, we might still be fired upon by police who see the same black skin and judge us criminal without any actions nor words to prove their prejudice. Cheer up though, slavery was so long ago and besides Britain abolished it first. Right?…. And when your Afro-textured hair begins to bristle and your melanin-infused body rises to protest the injustice that killed Rashan Charles or Costa or Duggan… Wait.

Relax. At least ‘we’re not as bad as the Americans’ is how White Britain consoles you.

Often, as black people, our political or social perspectives must be watered down or even denied due to the risk of criticism and punishment by a predominantly white and socially conservative press and establishment. These manifest in the nervous chuckle in response to a racist joke or the awkward silence when your white friend says they didn’t think “racism was still a thing”, or the tacit acceptance for Black Americans that when you enter the public eye, you must stand and sing along to a national anthem of which the second verse openly states “No refuge could save the hireling and slave, from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” That the second verse is simply omitted reflects the conversation around race in both the USA and the UK. Why discuss a legacy of horrifying cruelty when it is much easier to talk about Kelly Gender’s latest pregnancy? Especially when all the kerfuffle could be solved with a Pepsi and some lovely Obama tweets. Let no one mention that white privilege is a factual reality that we have known forever, and that the marginalisation of black people in education, the justice system and in the workplace is literally an everyday reality. Forget that we are told, our indignation is actually just “excuses” and we should just “work harder”.

Cassius Marcellus Clay (Muhammad Ali) with Black Muslim lead

But, they’re right. We should work harder. We must redouble our efforts in deconstructing patriarchal, capitalist, white supremacist Great Britain so that all can find equality and justice served. And we must look upon the symbols of imperialism and injustice that we are expected to idly coexist with and destroy them.

Poppies symbolise the blood shed by British soldiers. Now one can respect the self-sacrifice of the young men and women who give their lives for their country. But I can never respect the rape, murder, genocide and theft that colonies suffered under the boot of British soldiers. Much less commemorate the blood of the oppressors. Boycott them.

Winston Churchill was an avowed white supremacist who advocated the gassing of native American villages and presided over famine in India which he justified because they “breed like rabbits”. In the same way, that Hitler made the trains run on time but is an irredeemably hideous figure of history, we should never love a figure who hated us.

The Queen is literally the symbol with which, white supremacy and conquest ventured around the globe crushing and destroying all who tried to resist. That she cares so little for black people and people of colour generally, that she continues to wear her stolen jewels is reason enough she should be abolished.

The British Museum is a grand collection of stolen wealth, cultural artefacts, and prized national icons. Benin City, capital of the West African Benin Empire was a masterpiece of the world, with earthworks and structures more advanced than the Great Wall of China and a mathematical layout incomparable with British cities at the time. Britain blew up and looted the city in 1897. Now, the only recollection of such African technique and skill lies in the British Museum. Return the treasures Theresa May, return the racism, and white supremacist structures that pervade our country to the mud from where it came.

And let us, never return to the time where conversations about race were taboo, because the only future where there is equality and harmony requires daily, unfailing activism.

KOJEY RADICAL IS THE POET FOR OUR TIMES

Fully available at http://spiceukonline.com/titomowillz/kojey-radical-is-the-poet-for-our-times/

The UK music scene is so many different things but nothing of the style that Kojey Radical created by dropping In Gods Body.

The album is a 13-piece composition of a new body of work clocking at just 46 minutes, making for a succinct project. Radical continues to play within the intersection of spoken word, grime, jazz, funk and auto-tune as he has since previous album 23Winters. But ‘In God’s Body’ is different, not only does it show that this 24-year-old Hackney, East London native has matured in his skills, it shows experimentation and innovation, it’s London through and through, distinctly human and yet political.

The album title begins a conversation about the innate divinity in each man and woman. Rather than God existing as some celestial being, is it that everyone who raises his or her voice is a deity of their own? Kojey Radical is unapologetically black and his convictions tear through the noise of mainstream UK sound. Being a black man in Britain, the heart of a once global empire and in which, conversations about blackness are often derailed by ‘at least we’re not as bad as the Americans’ is a challenging position but Radical revels in rebellion declaring “all I want is 40 acres, a mule and my respect” on After Winter, referencing the reparations owed to the freed slaves. These reparations never materialised and as such Radical, in his After Winter video, takes up arms. He manages to combine very ‘Welcome to the Terrordome’ aesthetics of black militancy and mischief with a soundtrack of revolution of “taking it all back for the ends.”

Radical is not always sounding the revolutionary battle cry, he shows versatility by switching up the vibe on Nostrand Avenue. The song remarks humorously of his travels in New York in which Nostrand Avenue is actually a major street, and an encounter with some apparently very interested ladies who liked his music, particularly “the chorus, the song didn’t have one.” An attribute I rate really highly in artists is the willingness to innovate. Just as Stormzy’s album Gang Signs and Prayer was widely lauded for its own brilliant combination of gospel with grime. Radical manages to prove that far from being limited to the fierce lyricism he does so well, he’s also able to keep it chill and rap on a calm jazzy beat about girls trying to finesse. ‘Calm and collected, we all have to eat, I respect it.’ Clearly, he doesn’t mind……

Fully available at http://spiceukonline.com/titomowillz/kojey-radical-is-the-poet-for-our-times/

FROM BLONDE TO BLONDIE, FRANK OCEAN’S NEW SONG ‘PROVIDER’ IS AS WAVY AS EVER

Available at Lonelystar.co.uk – http://lonelystar.co.uk/reviews/blonde-blondie-frank-oceans-new-provider-wavy-ever/

It actually wasn’t that long ago when social media was buried in memes and jokes about Frank Ocean. I for one was, ready to wait until my old age for a follow-up album to the impressive Channel Orange. I mean the complete radio silence aside from cryptic hints and the excruciatingly short ‘Franks Track’ on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, made Frank fans, myself included, very agitated. That’s now a distant memory, the two masterpiece albums Blonde, Endless and songs and features ranging from Lens, Chanel, Biking and collabs with the Asap Mob, Tyler the Creator and Calvin Harris to his very own Apple Music Segment Blonded Radio have proved that. Provider is just the newest release and it maintains the clever wordplay, interwoven talk-singing voice and tactical autotune that Ocean does so well.

The music video for Provider, which dropped simultaneously with the song on Ocean’s website, was a surreal, uncanny experience that showed Frank Ocean’s unique ability to meld a childish sense of humour with abstract concepts to create tongue-in-cheek art. The video displayed the visual artist Tom Sachs in his workshop obtaining an old-school boombox and curiously making a few modifications, one of which was the additions of a machete of all things and the attaching of enormous speakers. The DIY effect had an Endless feel, the visual album that Ocean released, and was topped off to comical effect with a Hello Kitty avatar bouncing across the lyrics displayed on the bottom of the screen.

frank

Provider isn’t a regular Frank Ocean track, while incorporating elements of familiar musical territory I found there was yet some aspects of innovation and progress as an artist. One point of difference with usual, if that term can ever be applied to Ocean’s music, was the use of the trap beat in background for some of its duration gave it an interesting vibe alongside the soft slow repetitive chorus of ‘feelings you provide, feelings you provide I know it, I know it, the feelings…’ Also, the track uses a lot of pitch-correction to create a new distinctly inhuman sound. If I’m honest, much in the way that Lens, his previous release, had many features going on at the same time, I do think it does spoil a bit of Frank’s appeal as his raw vocals are extraordinary……..

Full Article Available at Lonelystar.co.uk – http://lonelystar.co.uk/reviews/blonde-blondie-frank-oceans-new-provider-wavy-ever/

 

XXXTENTACION’S ‘17’ IS A DECLARATION OF WAR ON CONFORMITY

*Full Piece Available at SpiceUKOnline* – http://spiceukonline.com/titomowillz/xxxtentacions-17-is-a-declaration-of-war-on-conformity/

XXXTentacion is a multi-faceted artist. All at once, he manages to be a provocateur yet also a talented maverick, a profound poet whilst brash and brutish; X is a 19-year-old troubled soul but he is also an unexpected beacon of light. Controversy sticks to him like glue and in all honesty, he courts the infamy. Yet 17 is different, it is not the same mischievous fun as that which inhabits his hit ‘Look at Me’ that guides this album. No, 17 according to ‘The Explanation’, the album intro, is designed to “cure or at least, numb your depression.”

This 11-track composition is an entirely new creation of X’s and touches on various elements of vulnerability, anger, depression and unlikely as it may seem, hope. And it is that which distinguishes 17 as an album and by extension, XXXTentacion from the SoundCloud generation of rappers he emerged from.  His authenticity is unquestioned.

From his abundance of Soundcloud tracks to his EP Revenge and now 17, X uses experimentation to highlight his uniqueness as an artist. The album length is far from the norm, only 21 minutes long in total. The harsher stereotypical trap beats of his contemporaries, Kodak Black, Lil Pump, Playboi Carti and Ski Mask The Slump God are present on one song. But even so, F**k Love (Feat.Trippie Redd) is far from the usual capitalistic adoration of money or having sex with various women or even drugs, none of said staples of trap music even appear on the track. Instead, this is a love song of sorts with an alternative rock tone, ‘Please bae, don’t go switchin’ sides, switchin’ sides’ is Trippie Redd’s contribution with X following with “Lost it, riots, Gunfire inside my head.”

With the whirlwind of a rough bringing and now allegations against XXXTentacion of domestic abuse, violence, and robbery, though all would vehemently condemn this behaviour, this song does provide some insight into the trauma such an experience creates.

The album cover is much like the music within, a clutter of various sheets of paper defined with a black and bold scrawl of writing. Symbolising the whole aura of the project is the quote ‘There is no end to the pain. You must be numb,’ capitalised while polaroids of X trapped in his own embrace adorn the cover. There exists a lonely respite from the melancholy, ‘You are not alone’ written in the corner…..

*Full Piece Available at SpiceUKOnline* – http://spiceukonline.com/titomowillz/xxxtentacions-17-is-a-declaration-of-war-on-conformity/

Daniel Caesar is Redefining Love for Our Generation

 

A snippet of my music review for Spice Uk Online – http://spiceukonline.com/titomowillz/daniel-caesar-is-redefining-love-for-our-generation/

Will humankind ever find the meaning of love?

That’s a difficult question but listening to ‘Freudian’, Daniel Caesar’s spectacular debut album must be a part of the answer. Freudian is a beautiful insight into our deepest, most fundamental feelings and is the latest project of the rather active Caesar. Fusing together tracks such as: Get You (feat Kali Uchis), Blessed and We Find Love that were released earlier in year to much acclaim as well as an entirely new body of work cement this 22-year-old Toronto native as a vibrant voice of new-school alternative RNB. 2017 has seen an explosion of alternative RNB, soul, funk and jazz, and what Caesar has done is much like his namesake, conquer the field for himself.

It’s hard to believe that he hasn’t seen his fair share of romance and heartbreak for his lyrics strike a chord far too loud to be just be a vapid commercial try. I just don’t hear that hunger for fame and fortune in Caesar’s voice, rather his smooth tones and beautiful crooning are an authentic insight with one’s innermost thoughts on love, religion, and the mind. There has been much growth from his previous EP Pilgrim’s Paradise and a new direction contrasted with the religious tone previously explored.

freudian

Encompassing romance, lust, break-ups and fights, sex and eroticism, flirtation and sorrow, could it be that the various elements of love are what Daniel Caesar is portraying? The album redefines love for a new generation, and much like the album cover art which displays Caesar climbing uphill a steep, metallic structure, highlights the difficulties in finding that wholesomeness you can only achieve in someone else in crazy 2017.

The album starts in familiar territory with the earlier released track, Get You (feat. Kali Uchis). This collaboration combines the talents of the eccentric beauty and tone of Kali Uchis with Caesar’s idiosyncratic soulful yet almost country-esque voice and in this song, his full-throated desire for his imaginary lover. The chorus lyrics of ‘Who might have thought I’d get you?’ were especially touching for me. When you are victorious in your battle to secure the girl (or guy) you want, the feeling is inimitable, and in Caesar’s words we hear that happiness over what he has accomplished. A touch of reality sobers the ecstasy of the song as Uchis slides in and states ‘before it winds down into the memories, it’s all just memories…’. Does love ever truly last? Or is the real beauty in that single, fleeting moment of unparalleled joy?

The rest is only available on Spice UK Online – http://spiceukonline.com/titomowillz/daniel-caesar-is-redefining-love-for-our-generation/

Is the Death Penalty only for Black People? The Myth of Black Guilt

rash

Whenever I attempt to exit a store, I carry the receipt from my purchase. I fear that simply my blackness will mean that security guard that eyes me up and down will ensure that I am searched. This is a routine occurrence for both myself and the innumerable black males and females in my situation. In 21st century Britain I fear the death penalty. Though it is not present in any legal framework, in any law or in any conversation of our politicians, the death penalty exists whenever a policeman deems himself judge, jury and executioner of black lives. No police officer has been prosecuted for deaths in police custody since 1969, likewise the Crown Prosecution Office is an infrequent ally of people of colour where the unlawful killing by a police officer is in question. Both factors are derived from the concept of black guilt, a twisted and racist logic that white Britain remains unable to cast aside, casting our voices to the wind and many young men and women to prison or a coffin.

The presumption of black guilt is the inability to emphasise or understand the position of a person of colour, particularly a black person; it is the immediate rationalisation that whatsoever the context, the POC is to blame or in some way at fault. Black guilt is intersectional, it appears in an array of social, economic, and gendered contexts. It is the hyper-sexualisation of black women’s bodies, seen as a lustful, raunchy beings with little in the way of intelligence or self-control, our society makes it easy to objectify and blame these women for sexual assault. It is the poisonous logic that black poverty is somehow tied to the very character and morals of black people as a community, and that we are lazy, uneducated, lacking in aspiration, violent and ‘thuggish’. Or that drug usage and the notorious ‘black on black’ crime is someway endemic to blackness. The reality is that years of socio-economic marginalisation in employment, housing, low-wages even within employment, barriers in education and health, combined with the political oppression of institutional racism has created hideous inequality in Britain.

The most obviously hideous face of racism and the black guilt fallacy is within the context of policing and criminal justice in the UK. In a system where blackness is deemed to be synonymous with criminality and inherent violence, even in situations where evidence is not available immediately like the controversy after Rashan Charles, Edson da Costa in Britain or the giant number of police shootings and custody deaths in the U.S with Tamir Race, Mike Brown and Sandra Bland as notable injustices, the common refrain from white liberals and racists alike is always ‘wait for the evidence’, ‘he deserved what he got’, ‘to be expected’, ‘just don’t resist arrest’, ‘simply obey the law and nothing will happen to you’ amidst the usual racist drudge. The dead are blamed for their deaths. Never questioned is they who murdered with impunity, no, their actions are infallible it would seem.

It doesn’t matter how innocent you are or whether you even swallowed the drugs that provided the rationale to brutally choke you to death, that bystander was always going to presume you criminal and defend the attacker. That one should be murdered even if they are is another question that should be answered, drugs are, at the end of the day, a non-violent crime. If one was a drug consumer or dealer, does this warrant death? For in the UK I live in, rapists, paedophiles, corrupt government ministers and war criminals either spend their lives in prison or enjoy liberty. For nothing more than his skin colour, Rashan does not have that option.

No matter how much I use Twitter, I will never understand how ignorant one must be to take pleasure in the death of young black souls. Only an agenda of white supremacy benefits from our powerlessness.

And only persistent, political and powerful resistance can change that.

#blacklivesmatter

Why do we still have a Queen? I’m not a Peasant

queen rich af

The United Kingdom is the opposite of the United States. Think about it. Briefly disregard the fact that we share the same noxious economic system of enriching the already rich and growing inequality and poverty. Also forget the shared legacy of military adventures in warm, sunny places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc.

No. Briefly disregard those ugly similarities and come to the same sudden realisation that I did. Only in the United Kingdom can one be both a Republican and a Democrat simultaneously. Taken in the American context, both are polar opposites, one party is led by a racist, sexist, extremist ignoramus and the other party somehow lost to that individual.

In Britain, one can believe in a system wherein government derives its legitimacy and authority from the people and whether through referenda or elections, at the end of the day the government is ‘of the people, by the people and for the people.’ A (small-d) democrat. Likewise, that same believer can also believe in the necessity of a republic, a system where there is no unelected or hereditary head of state. A (small-R) republican.

Any reasonable person who doesn’t believe in unaccountable and undeserved power, privilege and wealth should be both republican and democrat. Here are 4, and 1 bonus one, reasons why we need referendum on the abolition of the British Royal Family Now.

1: Fairness and Equity

I’m already biased. I admit to being disgusted when I see extravagance and ridiculous wealth, especially in these times where homelessness has risen by 134% since 2010, with 60% of people in poverty in work, and millions STILL using foodbanks even with our ‘growing economy’. Now, I won’t blame the Conservative government for their failed austerity economic project, but I will blame the Queen for picking these troublesome times for young, poor and brown/black communities, to receive a ‘jackpot’ revenue of £19.2m from the Duchy of Lancaster (the monarch’s ancestral estate and private income source) in 2016-17, which is an increase of 7.9% from the previous year. Let’s accept for a moment the premise that she benefits the taxpayer through tourism yada yada. Is this just?

During a time when Brexit and crazy house prices mean normal, working people will be much poorer in the near future, why on Earth should the person who no one decided should rule the country be enjoying wealth so effortlessly attained? What happened to the idea that we’re all in this together, are we a ‘United Kingdom’ or a divided one where the younger royals can pretend they’re Kardashians, the Queen can buy a cheeky helicopter for £8m and Princes Andrew and Edward can live lavish on the people’s money. Revolting

2: Symbolism

Modern Britain espouses the values of democracy, equality under the law, justice and openness. That is incompatible with an unelected head of state. Why? Simply because in a country where these values are held in high esteem by our leaders and institutions is incompatible with a someone holding power and influence over society through bloodline and hereditary privilege.

What does it symbolise in a modern society that our Queen cannot be prosecuted for any crime on her part, that unlike us peasants she can drive out and about without a driving license and when she’s taking one of fancy trips to some hot country ‘cos Britain’s pissing with rain she needs no passport, she does all of this with taxpayers’ money and even though we subsidise her lavish lifestyle her income is not transparent nor accountable. She could very well spend millions on calling and voting on Love Island Couples. No one knows but her. In one of 775 rooms in Buckingham Palace she might have been laughing at Kem with the rest of us.

3. The Cost!

I won’t fault you for believing the monarchy is financially viable, I mean love her or hate her, Lizzy does bring the tourists and their valuable money in…Right? Wrong. The stats usually point to the Sovereign Grant to calculate the expenditure on the Queen, that is 25% surplus revenue from the Crown Estate, a publicly owned property portfolio, and this added up to £76m for her in 2016. The real cost of the Queen and the Monarchy more generally is £350 million annually, with just £106m spent on security.

Since Boris Johnson isn’t going to whip out the £350 million he promised our NHS from Brexit, let’s spend Lizzy’s money instead. Bad enough we pay for the lavish lifestyle of her cousins and kids who are rich enough to pay for their own mansions, we must also pay for the repairs of Buckingham Palace. Unlike the White House and Parliament, Buckingham Palace is only open 2 months a year when taxpayers could make a much larger profit by kicking the royals out and letting its impressive art collection become an accessible national museum.

4. Traditions are Pointless

In 21st Century Britain, we are a nation trapped by dead (and living) relics of the past. Whether it is the collapsing Houses of Parliament who require urgent renovations but cannot due to tradition, the Lords within them who are unelected and unaccountable to the people of the country or even the fact that our MPs do not even swear an oath to democracy or their constituents but instead proclaim their allegiance to the Queen.

Tradition is a vital link to a rich heritage and appreciation of the past, but it cannot be allowed to control the future.

The monarchy is trash and when it is cancelled, perhaps finally the opportunity for wholesale constitutional reform will be on the table. An elected house of lords? True federalisation of the ‘United Republic’? A democratic nation where the privileged by birth need not also be privileged in wealth?

That’s what is at stake in abolishing the monarchy.

For People of Colour

The same monarchy that oversaw imperialism, genocide, grand thievery and conquest in their name, still hold their title in Britain. It does no justice to Britain’s victims that the instigators of empire are still dishing out OBEs like it’s the 1740s. If Britain is truly the multi-cultural, modern, diverse and just country it claims, then no Queen whose stolen crown jewels and wealth are abhorrent to Asian, far eastern, indigenous and aboriginal and black people worldwide should sleep content.

 

 

 

 

 

If your reaction to being called racist, is racism, then the accusation was correct.

Cambridge-ACS-1

Cambridge African-Caribbean Society

 

The most ironic aspect of calling out white supremacy and racism is always the reaction. No matter how polite and logically articulated, or brash and vengeful the Black person voices their discontent, the reaction seems to follow the same lines.

Disbelief, denial, disrespect and racism itself. There’s nothing so guaranteed to ignite accusations of ‘race-baiting’ whatever that is, and unleash abuse and intolerance from the usual suspects of Twitter trolls and the Daily Mail, and even white liberals and ‘allies’ as just calling it out. The story of 20-year-old, Black Cambridge student Jason Osamede exemplifies this. Rashan Charles, a black man, was murdered by the police last week, whether he was a drug dealer or a drug user, a criminal or a law-abiding citizen, like Edson Da Costa, a few weeks earlier, all the Metropolitan police saw was their blackness and exercised an illegal role of judge, jury and executioner that does not exist in any British legal framework that I know about. While I don’t know Jason’s thought process, I know his rage too well, tweeting “ALL white people are racist. White middle class, white working class, white men, white women, white gays, white children they can ALL geddit”.  When the news and social media are a constant stream of anti-immigrant vitriol and videos of police brutality against black men and women have a sickening regularity, when the political climate has both major parties committing to the harshest possible Brexit and tearing from Europe in a xenophobic, isolationist political project, when racist acid attacks are scarring people of colour and the culprits are not being apprehended immediately and when racial tensions are rising so quickly, it is easy to understand and accept the premise of the controversial tweet without condoning it’s message.

Jason Osamede is not a bad person, and given racism requires both power and prejudice, he is not racist either. Rather in a fit of rage, he has uttered a fundamental truth in this country, that white supremacy still exists in Britain and that this is undeniable.

Let’s look at recent events. Protesters in Dalston, fighting their own cathartic battle for justice against police brutality and unaccountability have been painted as the villains, the ‘rioters’ and ‘looters’ in their own neighbourhoods. Whilst the police who stand across the road from them are the white knights of law and order, and gentrifying middle-class visitors plaster their shock and horror on social media that ‘they never knew it was so bad here’. Why is the media, which is overwhelmingly white and middle-class so quick to attack the protestors but never to address the institutional racism and brutality of the police. Once again, one need not condone the violent actions of protestors in damaging their own neighbourhoods and businesses to accept and understand the causes of their behavior. Likewise, when one looks at the reaction to Jason’s tweet, it is hard to find any sympathy or support for the same white people he blanketed as racists. Apparently, Jason is a ‘cunt’, a ‘racist’, an ‘illiterate’ it doesn’t matter that he attained 4 A*s at A level, his enrolment was a ‘quota’, and his presence was somehow a politically correct conspiracy. Never mind, that bias does exist in higher education, and this is towards aristocrats, royals, white applicants and those with white sounding-names, privileged backgrounds and connections; Cambridge is hardly a hotspot of black and underprivileged students. But also, where said positive discrimination exists, it is entirely justified to redress the imbalance of black students and voices in academia. Those were the less overtly anti-black comments I saw.

 But beyond that, I am slightly surprised and really disappointed, just as the seemingly friendly guy who appears nice to pull a girl and then calls her a ‘slut’, ‘ugly’ or a ‘hoe’ after he is rejected reveals his true misogynist colours. White Britain has revealed that being called racist is a license to question our intelligence, to abuse, ridicule and hate us and to plaster our face on the Daily Mail with the intent of destroying one of Britain’s best minds for his sin of unapologetic blackness.

Contrary to Popular Belief, White is not always Right.

I have always tried to call out racism where I have seen it, I am a black man and these negative experiences have not spared me either, despite my relative privilege in terms of British citizenship and being articulate, defying much of the stereotypes and fodder used to demean black men by media and society. Of recent, Britain has developed a climate of racism, xenophobia, fear and tension. This is not to purport that racism was non-existent during the last decade, but the overwhelming narrative was to pretend that it was, that multi-culturalism and tolerance of diversity had succeeded. That immigration was accepted for its social and economic benefits. That movement/parties like the BNP or Ukip or the EDL, were anomalies and that the great majority of British people, of white people were on our side at the end of the day.

But I cannot say with confidence, that this is still the case. Whether, it was Brexit, racial hate crimes, Trump, and the hard-right narrative on immigration as some sort of social ill, I was still willing to believe in the pleasant illusion until I was impudent enough to lay a comment on the Stormzy-Lukaku debacle. This was a stupid incident where two iconic, successful and most importantly distinctive black men were muddled in The Herald, a national Irish paper. This is entirely not uncommon, wherein black people or people of colour more generally are seen as the same person. Despite our height, weight, accent, shade or all of our respective individual features, somehow to the average white man or women, we all look the same. That was what annoyed me and seemingly Stormzy too, who tweeted ‘I don’t find none of this funny btw don’t wanna sound like the party pooper who missed the joke’.  He’s right it’s not funny, it’s racist.

I can’t list the backlash against my tweet, there were far too many older white men enraged (not confined to just that demographic though) but all were along the lines of typical white-privileged ignorance, being told that ‘my ignorant cries of racism is pathetic, not to mention wrong’ and I was exacerbating ‘problems with your victimhood’. Is there a genuine belief that the people who challenge racism or call it out, aggravate the situation? Would slavery, segregation, police brutality and hate crimes be better tackled by a pact of silence? Obviously not.

Whiteness does not like to be corrected. Just as with all forms of privilege, be it male, wealth or straightness, it rues the day that one of its victims raises a challenge. The defensiveness of tone and aggression exemplify a feeling of victimhood when said privilege is called out. Despite the fact that Grime emerges from a very much black British experience, contextualised in the poverty and marginalised communities in this country, it has achieved against all odds, mainstream appeal. Whilst this isn’t necessarily  negative, it does however raise the issue of whether the new white, middle-class who flock to see Skepta at wireless, and who bust out the lyrics to Stormzy’s ‘Shut Up’ are our allies, or do they see black culture for a trend and the people themselves as the enemy.

I don’t know, I do know however, that politicians are individuals entrusted with the fate of our country, and that they rise from our communities with a duty of responsibility to defend the interests of all segments of society. That’s why the words of the Conservative MP for Newton Abbott, Anne Marie Morris hurt so much, on the same day as the Stormzy issue. Words carry great weight, and ‘Nigger’ with such a history of malice, pain and wretchedness has no place in the mouths of our parliamentarians. Particularly, if those parliamentarians look the same as their forefathers who brought such misery to black people. But I am not annoyed so much by Anne. Rather I do not blame her as an individual, racism in Britain is insidious and polite, it brings with itself tea and scones and delights itself in creating a climate of fear and intimidation through covert means. Did the Tory MPs who sat beside her, John Redwood for example, not know the inappropriate nature of the word? Or did they resign themselves to knowing that no matter the hurtfulness, this scandal would blow over, it was simply an accident and no harm intended. Same as with Stormzy.

Whiteness is not always rightness. It is also not always wrongness mind you. But as a society, as a country and as a nation, we must come together and that means a conversation about the troubled direction Britain is going down. It also means, the voices of colour and the voices of whiteness must be heard and justice served for all communities.