Tag Archives: race

Super Sunday

5 Jun

1. I have spent this week in London, working at the office of the Institute for Public Policy Research, helping them out with the report on the San Francisco green jobs trip I went on in April. I have also spent a lot of time catching up with London-based friends and somehow that has gone hand in hand with some a-may-zing mexican food. Mestizo near Warren St tube and Lupita near Embankment to be exact.

2. This is my favourite.

3. A while ago I featured the blog Of Another Fashion, that charts the fashion histories of U.S women of color. Well, here is its parent blog Threadbared that discusses the politics of fashion and is great. I really enjoyed this recent post on The Racial Construction of Preppiness.

4. Louis Theroux’s recent 2-part Miami Mega Jail series really affected me. I spent most of the last part crying, which admittedly isn’t super, but it is enlightening. Watch it on iPlayer.

5. Big super shout out to my friend Jo and her lovely housemates for letting me stay for a week! Thanks Jo!

6. Great post on Racialicious on the challenges facing multiracial actors like Keanu Reeves, which I found particularly interesting since a few years ago I was all about the acting. Also, what a great excuse to post a picture of Keanu Reeves. You’re welcome.

7. Heart-warming to see UK Feminista out in force last night to protest the re-opening of the Playboy club in London. Photo care of @MaeveMckeown who also tweeted this “The london playboy club closed 30 years ago cos it was anachronistic. Why reopen it now? We don’t want this. #effoffhef

hanna ♥



Of Another Fashion

24 Mar

Of Another Fashion is an amazing blog I came across a few weeks ago that documents the “not-quite-hidden but too often ignored fashion histories of U.S. women of color”. You can see some beautiful, beautiful pictures on the site, as well as fascinating glimpses of social history. I could stare at it all day long. (I do).

hanna ♥

Call out for contributions!

4 Mar

I am SO excited to be posting this up! Nothing would make me happier than if you wanted to be involved this project. Please forward this call-out to anyone else you think might be interested! Thank you!


We are creating a zine and fully-fledged, comprehensive resource list around the themes of anti-oppression and privilege.

We are calling out for two types of information:

1. We’re looking for submissions for the zine on privilege and oppression – articles, theory, personal stories, resources, poetry, artwork, film, music, recipes… however you want to tackle the subject. We’re looking for any and all contributions you want to write in response to this call out as well as existing work/articles you know of. Some submissions we receive may not be suitable this time round, but we hope the experience of trying to tackle these issues will be worthwhile for everyone.

2. ALL articles/books/film/music/websites/authors/activists that you know of that deal with these topics – literally anything and everything. Theory or practice. Specific forms of privilege (for example, able bodied, white, class, age, gender, sexuality, cis gender) through to theory of oppression. Examples would include (authors) Bell Hooks, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Tim Wise, Eli Clare, (websites) anarcha.org, rantcollective.net, racialicious.com etc etc etc! Obviously some people will overlap different categories, as will articles and websites.

If all goes well, we will be scaling up this project into a fully-fledged, comprehensive edited handbook, so if you want to be involved, now is the time!

Deadline for submissions is 17th April. Please send submissions, addressed to Hanna and Nim, to antioppressionproject@gmail.com. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. If you’re interested in working with us to take this project further, please get in touch and tell us a little more about yourself. We’d love to hear from you.

Hanna is an anti-oppression practitioner who has worked with the UK Youth Climate Coalition and The Otesha Project UK. She is currently working with the East London Green Jobs Alliance, a coalition of trade unions, NGOs, community based organisations and green businesses working together to create green and decent jobs for East London citizens.

Nim is an anti-oppression practitioner who works with MOSAIC Black and Mixed Parentage family group, LGBT young people and coordinates So We Stand, a UK based group which recognises the integral links between anti-racist struggle, social justice and environmental injustices. SWS works with frontline communities fighting environmental injustices on their terms.

Music Monday

21 Feb

On this Music Monday, I am going to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about Lady Gaga and her new song Born This Way. Because it is irking me a little.

A couple of gay friends of mine have got very misty-eyed over this song, with its message of pride and acceptance. I like that message too, of course. Except, it’s quite hard to hum along to a song that asks you to accept yourself when the lyrics are… kind of racist.

No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made
I’m on the right track baby
I was born to be brave

This great article explains why the terms “oriental” and “chola” are probably not the most appropriate terms for Gaga to have chosen:

“Oriental” is a word referring to anything “Eastern.” Note that I said “anyTHING.” Calling someone oriental is dehumanizing because you are basically saying that they are akin to oriental rugs and other “Eastern” merchandise. Oriental should refer to objects, not people. Not only that, Orient is also an antiquated insult because of its connotations with white imperialism and oppressive European rule over many Asian countries.To call someone Oriental is to recall years of white colonialism and commodification of Asian culture.

“Chola” and “cholo” originated in describing people of Hispanic and Native American descent. After a couple hundred years, some white Americans used cholo interchangeably with people of Hispanic descent as a derogatory term. But more recently, “cholo” and “chola” is often used to refer to Latino people in gangs and drug culture, who wear certain types of gang attire and prescribe to certain types of gang behavior. So, when Gaga says “chola descent,” that is basically what she is unknowingly referring to. Not a very appropriate way to give a shout-out to Latino people, is it?

My problem with Born This Way, and with Lady Gaga in general, is that she consistently claims to represent the “freaks” and “misfits” of society. She pushes this point by turning up to awards shows incubating in an egg, wearing dresses made of meat, and pointy prosthetic shoulders in her performances. But at the end of the day, she goes home, takes off her make-up, hangs her meat dress in the fridge and goes to bed. She can take off all the artifice and be a small, blonde, straight, white girl who has (presumably) never experienced homophobia or racism.

I myself don’t know what it’s like to experience homophobia, but I think I can say with some certainty that it’s not like waking up in the morning and deciding to live in an egg. Ditto with race – she can take off her wacky costumes that set her apart, but those who experience racism are judged on the outward appearance they were born with – you can’t “take off” your race if you get tired of other people’s assumptions.

I am sure that Lady Gaga is just ignorant – she doesn’t understand the nuances of the offensive phrases she has just put in a hit single. She obviously means well, but so do so many people who think they can speak on behalf of others and get it right.

Super Sunday

20 Feb

1. I went for a scrumptious afternoon tea with my friend Nick on Friday at Metro Deco. It’s like a cafe and an antique shop met and had a baby. My kind of place.

2. Nick and I also went to see Sleigh Bells play this week! I’ve seen them before and they were just as good the second time. However, I think it’s grossly unfair that Alexis Krauss gets to be Alexis Krauss and I don’t get to be Alexis Krauss. I think I am obsessed with her.

3. I have bought a ukelele! And for my first challenge, I am going to learn Umbrella by Rihanna. After I learn how to tune it, that is.

4. It was my Grandma’s birthday this week and I bought her a tub of this Lucas’ Papaw Ointment. I’ve been using it on my lips overnight and it has transformed them from a chapped mess into actual, normal, human lips.

5. I think these are getting close to my perfect beds. I like the idea of having a bed island. Both designed by Jimmy Schonning. I also very much like the idea of living in Sleepless in Seattle. Adorable.

6. I saw two plays this week – Greenland at the National and Phantom of the Opera! Both quite traumatic, yet uplifting in their own way. Highly recommended!

7. Read a great article from New York Magazine – Why Fashion Keeps Tripping Over Race.

What is it like being the only black editor, designer, publicist in the room? I recall walking into a luncheon at the Joseph Abboud showroom some years ago. I was the first to arrive, and a white valet waited in anticipation of the guests. I said hello. He nodded but said nothing, and did not offer to take my coat. Within moments, however, a group of white male colleagues arrived, and I watched as the valet immediately jumped into action, checking their coats and bags. I waited, and when it seemed he had no plans to come to my aid, I finally said, “You can take my coat now.” Without comment, he did. Did he think I was a delivery person? The help? Or was he just hopelessly distracted and unprofessional?”

Worth a read.

hanna ♥


Harmless costumes or cultural appropriation?

7 Nov

On Friday night I went to the famous bonfire celebrations in Lewes, just outside Brighton. The town has a really old and strange tradition of marching fire processions every 5th November, in memory of Guy Fawkes’ failed gunpowder plot. It was like being in a crazy, drunken war zone, with firecrackers going off everywhere and people dragging barrels of fire and tar down the streets. It is basically one of the weirdest and most fascinating things I have ever been to, in terms of social observation. One of the reasons for that is the costumes that each “bonfire society” chose to wear for the processions. There were pirates, medieval monks, regency figures, pearly kings and queens… and then there were zulus (blurry pictures above), native americans and even societies in blackface.

I had been warned that Lewes was quite – how shall I put it – “insular” before I went, so I wasn’t that shocked, but this incredibly open and unapologetic racism did make me uncomfortable. Other people have written on the subject of cultural appropriation much better than I ever could, so if you’re interested, please read this excellent post and this excellent post from truly awesome blog a l’allure garconniere. Also, good article on blackface here.

I would like to blog more about racism over the coming months, but I might have to work up to it, since I find it harder to talk about. But I’d really like to thank all of my readers so far who have been stopping by to peruse my posts! If there is any one particular topic or feature you would like to see more of, let me know! I am going to work on lining up some more Girl Swoons soon…

Thanks again and have a great week!

hanna ♥