Monthly Archives: October 2017

Still I Rise

For Black History Month, I wrote about Maya Angelou and what her work means to me for Migrant Voice.

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Patients not passports

When the government talks about British values, think about deliberate cruelty of Universal Credit:

“Already the evidence from Citizens Advice is that UC is pushing people further into debt. The National Landlords Association has just reported that four out of five landlords are now reluctant to let to tenants in receipt of housing benefit or UC. Food banks are buckling under the strain. Child Poverty Action Group has estimated that if all the cuts made to UC since it was first mooted were reversed, up to 1 million children could be kept out of poverty. As it is, they calculate lone parent families will lose a huge £2,380 a year on average by 2020. “

Then consider the hostile environment.

Today the government introduced up front charging for foreign nationals using the NHS. They already pay a £200 surcharge on top of taxes. And they already pay for hospital treatment. Now, this extends to NHS community services and will have to be paid in full before treatment is given.

And who is likely to be targeted, in a country where we don’t routinely carry ID documents? Those with foreign names, accents and anyone who “looks foreign” – whether they are British or not.

Doctors are protesting because they quite rightly want to focus on providing care, not checking people’s immigration status. But Theresa May’s endless border continues to encroach on community life – and what started as a regime primarly targeted at non-EU migrants continues to suck ever more Europeans and Britons into its net.

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I speak Navajo

I will say it again: I love BBC World Service. The programming is of such a high calibre. I still think their coverage of the Ebola crisis was second to none – they stayed with the story months after the headlines had moved on, letting Africans tell our own stories, with dignity.

This morning I caught the beginning of another great programme: I speak Navajo. It starts with the story of a young woman who discovered that her grandfather and great grandfather’s voices were being held in recordings at her university library, the journey she goes on to get them back, and the story of her tribe and that of others.

These are voices you don’t often get to hear, languages I have never heard before, stories and myths from a culture that survived deliberate attempts to obliterate it. It’s a haunting, mesmerising listen.

Black Panther

My first reactions to the trailer, in no particular order:

  1. ……(speechless in a good way)
  2. There are going to be so many inside jokes in this movie.
  3. The visuals are stunning.
  4. Come through, ladies!
  5. Please let the accents make sense.
  6. At least Wakanda is fictional, so if it pulls from a lot of different African cultures, I can consider it a “Greatest Hits”-type homage to the continent.
  7. Please let there be some coherence in spite of #6, so don’t go full Afropunk.
  8. AFROFUTURISM.
  9. I could watch Danai Gurira twirl weapons all day long.
  10. From opening waterfall to glistening final title credit, this is so damn satisfying.

In Praise of Fish Mooney

The TV show Gotham is not without its problems, especially concerning its treatment of women.

Poison Ivy and her accelerated maturity, which seems to have been done to usher in the sexpot aspect of the comic book character at the expense of her intelligence, is just one example. It was entirely unnecessary and the result has a Lolita-esque quality that is uncomfortable viewing, especially in the year of our Lord 2017, with the pussy-grabber-in-chief and Weinstein story swirling.

Poison Ivy is meant to be sexy but also smart – and the latter has yet to manifest. Watching the Selena Kyle character unfold, who will one day become Cat Woman, however, is a nuanced and layered affair that firmly lays the groundwork for who she will become, in a neat parallel of Bruce Wayne’s journey. There are other women, and unusually for a television show, most of them get a chance to be real heel, even if it’s temporarily (and wear some amazing outfits/makeup in the process. I have to say, being bad comes with some great eye shadow and dark outfits with brilliant textures).

But the star, for me, is Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney.

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She isn’t canon – she was created for the show, one of the many villains of the Gotham underworld, not one that comes with any comic book mythology, and the show’s resistance to exploring her back story was a bit annoying -but she instantly becomes one of the most memorable.

She is one of my favourite TV characters of all time. Fish Mooney, as played by Jada with a relish that reminds me of Jada earlier in her career, is wily, witty, strong but nurturing. It’s a reminder that although Will Smith gets most of the shine, there are two acting powerhouses in that marriage and quite frankly, I think Jada has more range.

So often, the strong woman in a TV show can be a bit one-note, but Fish is like a jewel turning in the sun that captivates as it catches the light. It’s great writing, of course, but Jada plays the part with ferocity and tenderness that makes her an utter scene stealer whenever she is on screen.

Fish is a survivor in a world where the supernatural rubs shoulder with reality all the time – in fact the one time she does get superpowers briefly, it almost seemed lazy.

It’s no surprise that the character’s constant resurrections are the result of popular demand. My favourite one is at the hands of Dr Strange in a process that robs previous characters of their memory, allowing the Dr to craft a persona for them. Fish, however, comes back to life and instantly knows who she is. She will not be told, owned or controlled.

Her unapologetic realness is a #Blackgirlmagic all day long.

New Tings

This has not been a good year for blogging. But I haven’t been dormant; far from it. I have done some great panel events at Universities, I have written some new work coming at politics from a slightly different angle and I have been working on (supervising the building of) a new website.

So, here is my new (est) ting:

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I will keep working out my thoughts on here, like a newsletter into the ether, but I will start collating my work on the new site and hopefully showing my portfolio in a more holistic way.

 

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