What are we fighting for?

I had long been a fan of journalist and author Gary Younge but after attending his speech at Canada Water library, my respect for him has grown.

Reading passages from his book, telling us anecdotes and answering the audiences questions with depth left a room of people feeling enlightened.

His book focuses on the ‘most famous speech in the world, that no one really knows’. It covers the myths surrounding that day in August that has gone down in history as the day things changed.

And there the myth begins, that Doctor Martin Luther King abolished centuries of racism with a selection of well delivered words.

But he didn’t and he couldn’t. Because racism is, and will, continue to be an eternal blight on society. His speech merely made bigots realise that their persecution was no longer acceptable in public, so they merely found other ways to keep the non-white population in their place.

Younge discussed the education system in America and the systematic racism that is inbred within that system. Did you know that two thirds of young people in prisons in Chicago were arrested while at school? It is standard procedure for schools – even primary schools – to have armed security guards at the gates. Imagine navigating that entry to your place of education as a innocent five-year-old child.

As Younge said: “As long as you keep people uneducated, you can maintain the story that they are less intelligent.”

It just becomes a self fulfilling prophecy that ingratiates itself so deep that it travels from one generation to another.

Fifty-two years after MLK and 200,000 people stood for freedom  in Washington, racism is still rife although it’s manner has changed.

In the 60’s the aim was clear, non-white Americans simply wanted the same rights. To be able to sit where they wanted, go to a restaurant without being turned away or not be denied a job because of the colour of their skin.

But now, in 2015, what is our fight? Do we have a specific result that we want to see? The systematic racism is so covert now, that it is hard to focus on one particular issue.

Stop killing innocent unarmed black men. Stop the negative propaganda that encourages people to believe the stereotype. Stop abusing beautiful women of colour because their skin is too dark or their hair is too natural. Stop ridiculing our heritage while copying our ways.

Will we ever be able to navigate this maze with our lives intact? The only difference from 50 years ago is that they shoot you instead of hanging you from a tree.
We all know the truth, but we cannot give up the fight. To walk away now would be disrespectful to those who came before us.
But we have to find a new way to overcome the various challenges we face, otherwise there is no point

Emmerdale: Taking its Place at the Top of the Soap Tree

Many viewers have long felt that the soap set in the Yorkshire Dales is underrated and has been floating along quietly in the shadow of its Manchester and London rivals, but the past month has shown that the show has leapt over its rivals to take the crown of Britain’s Best Soap.

The secret to its success is what Coronation Street and EastEnders have struggled to do over the past 18 months, and possibly longer. With a stellar cast, relatable storylines and realistic writing they have found the perfect blend of drama and comedy.

The #SummerFate storyline has shown what can be achieved when you don’t attempt to patronise the audience and keep your characters as real as possible. Last week we saw all the pieces of the last few months come together with the secret affairs of Debbie and Ross, and Robert and Aaron being exposed in spectacular fashion.

But alongside this we had the amusement of the ‘three drunk Grandad’s’ competing to see who could embarrass themselves the most and the sisterly banter of Val and Diane as they tried to find each other in the mirror maze, prior to the crash.

Yet while the helicopter may have been removed from the church halls roof and the memorials are being planned, the characters are all suffering the affects of Debbie and Pete’s dramatic wedding day.

Unlike other soaps – yes I mean you EastEnders – the writers know that viewers don’t want to wait for months or years to see the last domino fall.

Any writer of fiction or scripts will know that finding that blend is often the hardest challenge as you try to engage your audience without patronising or boring them, something that the hugely talented Kate Oates and her team do to perfection. It was something the producer pledged to do when she took over at the soap last year.

With the fallout from the crash still ongoing, I expect to see more great acting from Liam Fox (Dan), Daisy Campbell (Amelia), Jeff Hordley (Cain), Charley Webb (Debbie)  and Chris Chittell (Eric); among several others. While the brooding Michael Parr and Ross’ immaculate  hair will be sorely missed; I expect to see him back on our screens soon; along with the talented Alicya Ayo (Ruby) and the legend that is Charlie Hardwick (Val). Her monologue which included the phrase: “I am HIVal” will go down as one of soaps legendary scenes.

It has reminded us exactly what a soap requires and the rest will have to up their game if Emmerdale – as I expect them to – sweep the board at the Inside Soap Awards later this year. And while other soaps continue to drag out storylines and give parts to wooden pop stars, the ‘Dales looks like it will continue to go from strength to strength.

What’s Love Got to do with it?

I have a confession to make.
I’m a little bit obsessed with the BBC’s Don’t Tell The Bride.

Anyone who follows me on social media will not be surprised by this, as I regularly share my thoughts on the episode I am currently watching.

It’s perfect English reality (or part-scripted) television. Simply because it gives you the chance to shout at the screen. Whether it is to ridicule a decision or to celebrate a job well done; we love to express our opinions loudly from the comfort of our sofas.

Normally it’s at the groom’s complete ignorance of what his bride-to-be wants. Or the Mother-of-the-bride threatening to do him some serious damage if he doesn’t create the wedding of her daughters dreams.

But the majority of the time I find myself screaming at the bride. Most seem to have this infuriating princess complex and it makes me think that if these girls are normal, then I am definitely not.

At the age of 33 I’ve been a bridesmaid twice and been to loads of weddings. I’ve commented on things I like and the stuff I don’t. But never have I planned my wedding – in my head or in a colour co-ordinated folder, and I definitely wasn’t doing it when I was a little girl. I didn’t wrap white sheets over my shoulders or prance around with a doily on my head.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with doing that, but I find it utterly bizarre!

When I was a little girl I was dreaming about being an actress and a lawyer. I was learning all the dance moves and words to Kylie Minogue’s greatest hits. And as I got older I was more concerned with how late I could get my Mum to set my curfew. Not whether the flowers in my bouquet would be pink or purple!

In fact I remarked to my Mum the other day that maybe I haven’t dreamt of my wedding because I haven’t met the man I want to marry. Because surely that is the most important thing, finding THAT special person to marry.

At times it feels like that is the last thing on the brides minds. There are moments when the venue and the dress appear to be more important.

And I’ll admit it does scare me a little, because it shows what so many women value. The show, the attention and the thoughts of others.

When really the only thing they should value is the love.

Akala: Always creating debate

Now not everyone will agree with the points made in this article published in the Guardian, but I personally feel there are some valid topics raised.

Either way; Akala continues to break the stereotypical perception of a rapper by discussing subjects that many avoid and creating debate about things that affect him, his family and his fans.

You cannot deny that he is an intelligent young man who chooses to fight the injustices he witnesses in the world. Whether you agree or not, you have to admit that is a noble act in these self-obsessed times.

Hollyoaks: On its way back to its best.

For a long while Hollyoaks was the go-to programme when it came to stories that involved teenagers, and recently there has been a worry that it had lost its way. In the past it got critical acclaim for it’s portrayal of eating disorders and male rape. And with its recent tale of the incessant and cruel bullying of Esther Bloom, it has claimed some redemption from me for the story-lines about who Mercedes is sleeping with this week.

As someone who was bullied in primary school – though not to the extent of Esther’s situation – I think it’s a vital way to open the story to many. In a time where we are regularly seeing stories of children taking their own lives after persecution and discrimination, it is clearly something that is happening outside the imaginary village located in Chester.

As in many cases, Esther’s situation started off in a way that many would deem as nothing more than immature childhood pranks. But since the bus crash that claimed the lives of three classmates – which she is being blamed for – it has taken a darker and more unsettling term. There has been the use of social media, small actions of violence and lies told about the victim to discredit her.

This week in the show, Esther attempted to commit suicide and failed. But even after something like that, the bullies cannot see the error of their ways and one of them continues to abuse her while she is laid in a hospital bed.

The saddest thing is how much ‘Esther’s’ world is like so many of those who are bullied. The continual feeling of fear, the belief that no one will believe you and those around you not realising what is going on. 

As with any story we watch on television, it will come to an end. Hopefully one that sees the bullies getting their comeuppance; and the character of Esther finding some strength at the end of her ordeal.

Unfortunately, bullying in real life is not that simple.

But if this storyline has given anyone the strength to open up about their situation, or a bully to rethink their actions then it can only be a good thing.

Esther could be Claire Smith who plays on your hockey team, it could be Sarah Green who lives down the road, it could be the brunette who sits at the back of the bus.

My point is, it could be anyone.

But whoever it is, they need to be given the support to know that bullying is NEVER okay. And they need to know that there are people who can and want to help.

Before it’s too late.

To find out more about the storyline, click here

Or for help or advice on bullying, click here

Review: Nokia 920

So I’ve been lucky enough to get hold of the latest Windows phone on a trial basis, and so far I must say I’m pretty impressed.

The first thing I noticed was how big it is. It feels huge compared to my current phone which is a Samsung Europa. Or as my mate calls it: the smallest phone in the world.

But sometimes size doesn’t matter!

Before you can get started with the phone you HAVE to set up a Windows Live email, which is a pain when you already have two accounts to maintain. But after that, you’re pretty much good to go.

Much like an Android, there are a lot of free apps to download and so far I’ve got my newspapers and sports sites to keep me occupied. I’ve also grabbed a couple of notebooks to help me as I try to keep myself organised.

But my favourite things so far are the fact that it has word, and the fact that I can open the many attachments I get sent in emails. Although, I haven’t yet figured out how to attach a word document to an email!

I also like the fact that you can take pictures from either side, so you don’t have to do that awkward mirror stance.

The larger screen also makes it pretty cool for watching videos, although I found the youtube videos weren’t the best quality. Though they were more than acceptable.

Other good features are the fit to page settings and the ability to zoom in and out – much like you can on the iPhone.

So that’s my thoughts so far. I’m sure there’s loads more it can do, so as I find out I’ll keep you updated.

Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone

Fans modelling themselves on the wrong roles.

Rihanna is one of the biggest stars in the world at the moment.

Personally I’m not a big fan, but millions are. And while I respect her obvious work ethic, she’s just not my cup of tea.

But last week, the Bajan singer decided to post a picture of a piece of weed on her Instagram account.

In my opinion, posting that picture was both naive and dangerous. To many, Rihanna is a role model. She cuts her hair and hairdressers are booked up requesting copies of her style. She wears a dress from asos and it’s sold out the next day. That’s the power she has.

So when she’s posting pictures of drugs, what does she think her legions of fans will do? How many of then will think that because Rihanna is doing it, it must be cool?

I have no issue if Riri – as the fans call her – wants to have a spliff in her spare time. Really, it’s none of my business. What she does in the privacy of her own home has no affect on my life.

But it can affect the lives of the young impressionable fans who follow her every move. Young girls and boys who aspire to be like her and live the life she leads. They copy every aspect of her life that she shares with them.

Rihanna is not the first pop star to partake in drugs, and she won’t be the last. But by publicising it, she will undoubtedly open herself up to criticism.

And I’d find it hard to disagree with any parent suggesting she is seeing a bad example. Yet, I readily admit she should not be the person settings examples for their child.

The interest in Rihanna’s actions are just another sign of the celebrity obsessed media and society that surrounds us. She is merely a pawn in what I perceive to be a larger problem. But we’ll discuss that in another blog!

But whether she likes it or not, Rihanna is a role model. And with that comes a certain amount of responsibility.

So the next time the good girl wants to go bad, maybe she should just keep it to herself.