A look back on our coonery

A rush of old tweets from influencers have once again resurfaced in which they made colourist remarks. Granted many of them have evolved and are sorry for the hurt they maybe didn’t realise they caused seven years ago, but unfortunately the devaluing of black bodies has not been obliterated.

Remember when ‘blick’ was a common slang word to describe very dark skinned people? I used to say it too and it was all fun and games, until one English lesson in year eight. Our white teacher furiously declared that anyone who used that word, no matter the colour, would be punished as it was racist and had roots in the apartheid. That word has mostly gone out of fashion but it did make me think.

I am clearly a dark skinned woman and thankfully I cannot remember a time when I have been directly berated for my colour. Looking back however, I can see where I could have been overlooked. I used to be glad that I wasn’t made a target like some of my darker skinned classmates and that thinking alone is problematic. Worse than that, our ignorance towards each other made it possible for a white boy to be brave enough to embarrass another pupil in front of everyone! Although we didn’t make a lot of noise about this sort of BULLYING in those days, it doesn’t discount that the victims were greatly affected. If I could redo my school years with the person I am today I would confidently call people out. It doesn’t make sense to blame that way of talking on age. A teenager knows what words and phrases have the potential to be horrible, it’s almost a disservice to think you were that dumb. Yes we say stupid and hurtful things in our immaturity, but it’s better we realise that the way we thought was wrong rather than use age and society as an excuse.

Cancel culture and constant rehashing of the past, especially for those who have evolved for the better, isn’t profitable. There is no need to constantly say sorry and be at the mercy of the world. Nevertheless there are always consequences for our actions and human nature will make sure you don’t forget it.


Queenie: Respect isn’t unreasonable

I hadn’t read a book properly for ages, so quarantine is a perfect reason to cram a lot of imagination into my day. Like a novice I had only just finished Malorie Blackman’s ‘Noughts & Crosses’, so reading a book from an author amongst the new wave of female Black British author’s ( who is also from Jamaican descent wood woop!) was a logical step. Thank you Candice Carty-Williams! I’m very glad I took a chance on the rave reviews, Queenie is a great story and one that needed to be told.

On my first introduction to the title character I found her quite agitating, her neediness and limp rationality of life made me want to shake her. However, like everyone else in the world Queenie is a multi-faceted human. Even though we try to portray ourselves as unproblematic beings with only two sides, strong & strong in vulnerability. But what about those awkward edges and our personal ‘-isims?’ Queenie laid hers shockingly bare and although she didn’t want to it does require more strength and gives power to her name. I suppose that’s why she was easy to pick on- guilty. I also grew annoyed when she insisted on being desperate for her ex-boyfriend Tom. Rejection is a painful lesson and its good that she saw her faults however, he could have done more to stand up for her. Not all of her desires were UNREASONABLE.

One of my preferred elements of the book was how the black female characters were recognisable in my own life. My favourite was Kyazike as she is an amalgamation of myself and other friends. I commended her fierceness, authenticity and loyalty. I was ready to back her beef when she wanted to duppy certain man! To the untrained eye (and in my opinion) she is a caricature of a young black female Londoner, but I saw as a woman who was simply herself and we should not be apprehensive of this quality.

Furthermore I appreciated the growth of Queenie’s grandma. Many old Caribbean’s diminish the woes of our generation as they don’t feel it compares to their own traumas. Therefore I was glad she made the step to even believe in mental illness and that our version of suffering is valid.

Simply put, we as readers are put in the mind of a young woman as she combats and embraces her life. I’d need a podcast to scratch the surface of the book but hopefully you understand the reason this story normalises Black women’s lives and the different shades it comes in.