Be who you needed when you were younger

Very early on this year, I remember reading a quote which read ‘Be who you needed when you were younger’. After giving it some thought, I realised that being the person you needed when you were younger is such significant characteristic. It also ties in well with setting examples for the younger generation. I’ve somewhat kept the quote close to me when transitioning through many rites of passages this year. Being the person you needed when you were younger can mean many things to different people – in this post I’ll get into the idea of what it means to me as well as what it could mean to you. I solely believe that representation is important when it comes to influencing and inspiring people (especially young people). To link this to myself – as a child, a perfect role model for me in the media or in school never really existed. I was as impressionable as any other younger boy and despite being shy at times, I always wanted to be a successful individual when growing up. Watching TV in the evening was the done thing ten years ago and I remember struggling to find representation of myself as well as relate to a lot of British TV programmes that were popular to watch. This is because of two fundamental things. Most programmes were predominantly white. Therefore, representation of me was minimal in the first place. And… The representation of young black boys that was on television was unbalanced and did not reflect me. (a large amount of the representation was negative) When I saw big shows like ‘Top Boy’, I was able to appreciate the art of the show (because it was a top quality show), but struggled to relate to any of the characters. Similarly, in soaps like EastEnders I noted that gang members were predominantly represented as black. I don’t only have an interest in sport and having interests in things such as sociology, politics, the media etc is difficult to engage in at times when you’re not represented from within. Therefore, I think that it is important to be your true self as well as the person you needed when you were younger so that you build gateways for the next generation. In recent years, I’ve witnessed a gradual change in television with shows like ‘Chewing Gum’ and even the film ‘Black Panther’. However, it does seem as though America is leading the way in the trend towards fairer representation. I also stumbled across a YouTube channel named ‘The Grapevine’ which is a black owned discussion show which delves into topics of representation in race and gender etc. (a show that I might be writing about in the foreseeable future) I think that it’s impressive when I see people being their authentic selves at a young age, especially when they haven’t been represented sufficiently in the outside world. When speaking about how to be a better version of yourself, it may seem like the most cliché thing to say but being yourself is most important. It’s the truth. Being your authentic self is all it takes to be the person you needed when you were younger. This is because a lot of the time in a world filled with consumerism, social media and copycat behaviour. People often become a replica of the people they surround and associate themselves with. Being someone that doesn’t conform to everything in life is something that we should all commemorate especially if you feel as though you have something of worth to give to the world.

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Power

There are many different definitions of power. However, they all run along the lines of explaining that it is as the ability to actualise an idea and make it a reality. Some people view power as being a spectrum. On one side of the spectrum lies people with the most power and the other side represents those with little power.

Throughout time, power has often carried with itself a negative connotation. This is due to power being misused in a way that has lead to negative realities being actualised. An example of this would be Hitler’s Nazi far-right political party or even just a smaller scale example of a teacher using their power to treat students unequally would still fit suit. Nevertheless, we need to remember that power can also be used in positive ways (which tend to actually have longer lasting affects).

In order to find yourself on the side of the ‘spectrum’ that allows you to have a lot of power, it is thought that you need to have a broad and clear understanding of the world. A wide ranged understanding of the society that you find yourself in is important. This understanding needs to include knowledge of social matters, politics and current affairs.  An awareness of reality consequently leads you to the resources that can indeed make you a powerful person. These resources include money, education and social support. This explains why the majority of politicians (that have a considerable amount of power) have such powerful statuses. Their parents often had the money to send them to high performing private educational institutions. At these institutions, they have a huge amount of social support as there tends to be a value consensus status quo.

This theory is evident in everyday situations. When somebody has a wide understanding of a situation, you tend to respect their opinion a lot more. This also happens often when you are aware that somebody has a lot of money, a big educational qualification (a degree for example) and social support. In addition, in today’s society, money tends to be the biggest influence of an individual’s power status as social class is somewhat always determined by monetary success.

So, as said before, those with power generally have a greater understanding of the world along with the resources of money, education and social support. With all of that being said, there are still people out there who find themselves in powerful positions without the resources that usually enable you to be powerful in the first place. This often leads to power being used in nonconstructive ways. Nevertheless, it isn’t always too late to change that. Jay-Z is an example of a man that arguably didn’t use his powerful status constructively in the beginning of his success. Although, he has now used his power (and money) to educate himself and others on social matters to try and make a positive change to society by having important conversations about politics, social justice and even love. Without his efforts to have a better understanding of the world, it is likely that his power would been misused.

In regards to the main message to this blog post, I wanted to explain why certain people may or may not be seen as powerful. Maybe you could use this information and make yourself more of a valued, powerful individual (for good reasons). You can become someone that has the power to influence or actualise an idea. Educate yourself on social, political and current affairs. Knowledge equates to power. If you aren’t someone who can easily get the resource of money, your knowledge will often outweigh it. A lack of education leads to limitations and you don’t want to find yourself in that situation. Let’s make ourselves able to make the right decisions which impact ourselves and our surroundings in a positive way. As a result, you’ll also be viewed as a much more valued individual in society.

January.

Happy Friday. It’s not often that I post on Fridays but it’s 2018 now. So let’s just say… New year, new me, right?

January. A time for us all to join the gym? Set some new goals? Maybe even start up a new diet plan. I think it’s funny how all of a sudden, once the clock strikes 12 on January 1st, everyone seems to rebrand themselves as if they’re contestants on The X Factor. If it motivates you and makes you a better person then go for it. However, it makes me giggle how some people have been ‘rebranding’ themselves for the past 7 year and are stood in the exact same spot; saying that they’re going to do the exact same things as they were going to do almost a decade ago.

This year, I didn’t set myself any new year resolutions. It sounds ridiculous considering that I’m an athlete and A level student. I even wrote a whole blog post on how goal setting is important (which you can read here). Of course, goal setting is important but it shouldn’t be forced simply because it’s January 1st. A constant and steady flow of goal setting is much more productive. After all, we grow as people everyday and nothing is going to magically happen over night.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this blog post and to be completely honest… I began to think about how January feels like it’s never ending this year. (Hence the title ‘January.’). I was struggling to come up with some ideas to write about. Prior to that, many of my peers wanted me to write about the whole Logan Paul situation. People mentioned the H&M scandal and even Offset’s homophobic song lyrics that caused outrage. They’re all popular culture topics of which I felt I could write confidently about, but I wanted to be unique. Until I saw today (Jan 25th), that Logan Paul has quite literally ‘rebranded’ himself in his new YouTube video which aimed to raise awareness on the topic of suicide. This was after he was globally criticised for essentially mocking suicide earlier this month.

It’s astonishing that within the space of  25 days, Logan Paul went from ignorantly fooling around in a suicide forest, to now being an advocate for suicide prevention. This is a genius move by him. Only in the sense that he has been able to maintain a growing audience with little criticism by ‘rebranding’ himself. The general public were waiting to see what his next online move was going to be after all of the commotion (including myself). To many people, him suddenly becoming an ambassador for suicide prevention comes across as very cynical. In all honesty, people have every reason to believe that it was only done so that he could continue his career on YouTube as a social influencer (with minimal backlash).

Which takes me back to my initial point of ‘rebranding’. Are we really making some of these new goals for the right reasons, or is it to satisfy others and be strategic about situations that we find ourselves in?

How many more times?

After the attack in America last week. A mass shooting, killing dozens of innocent people. I had so many thoughts. So many thoughts about how people react to situations like these. It’s obvious that we need to think about the victims and others effected. But I have a few questions that I’d like to challenge concerning this whole affair whilst it’s still current.

I watched an interview where a woman had actually witnessed the attack. She said that we need to focus on people’s mental health problems to stop these attacks from happening. She was right. However when questioned about gun control in America, she was quick to be defensive and point out that she wasn’t a ‘politician’. She said that individuals are to blame for attacks like this instead of guns. Which made me think, everyone is so stubborn and caught up in these silly debates. People are worrying about what label they will get given instead of tackling the problem head on. In this instance, she was opposed to the thought of being labelled as a politician. Maybe things aren’t as black and white as we think. Maybe we need to tackle both sides of the problem. Mental health problems need to be tackled, yes. It is also very clear that the law concerning guns in America also needs to be re assessed. America has had so many mass shootings because guns are so easily available for people to  legally buy. It’s not a matter of which problem needs to be sorted. We need to look at the bigger picture. Sorting out only one of the two problems is like plugging your phone in to charge it without turning the switch on. It simply won’t do it’s job.

I also thought about the way that the media portrayed the murderer to be ‘Grandad’ or ‘lone wolf’ instead of simply just a ‘mass murderer’. It seems wrong that when a Asian, Muslim man has done something similar in support of extremism, there seems to be a whole different narrative that is sent out to the public. The acts of this mass murderer aren’t any less deviant than any other terrorist. So I wondered why the mainstream media almost sympathised with the man by saying that he’s never committed a crime before or that he was a Grandfather. They also jumped to the conclusion that he might have had mental health problems. Likely. But when similar Asian, Muslim suicide bombers kill others in the name of what they call their ‘religion’, the media don’t mention anything about that individuals mental health problems. They don’t mention their family or lack of previous criminal activity. They’re just named as ‘evil’. White American men are a bigger domestic terrorist threat than Muslim foreigners, perusing more attacks (And that’s a fact, there are statistics so support it) . Can we not just admit that Asian, Muslim and White men are all able to have mental health problems, they are all able too kill maliciously? And more importantly, they need help.

And finally, you hear people say “another attack” or “pray for _____” so many times. Too many times. Attacks like these seem to be normal now and it’s not right. We are so used to seeing terrorist attacks happen in Western society and it doesn’t make any sense. It’s clear that something needs to change. The government, people in power need to change laws and crack down on this wave of terrorism. Gun laws in America. The freedom of use on the internet. Everything needs to be analysed. We’re tired of praying for the world.

As for the title of this post. How many more times do terrorist attacks need to happen before they are normalised? How many more times will people get murdered by white men with guns before the media realise that not only Muslim extremists are a threat to society? How many more times do people need to get killed by guns before the laws in America change?

A Short Summary of the Colorism in the Media

I always feel that people will be reading my posts which are similar to this and be thinking, “Wow, he’s brave for speaking about this topic” or something along those lines. And when you think about it, it’s kind of true. But, i’m not writing about nonsense. What I’m writing about, isn’t just me waffling on about rubbish. Let’s be open minded.

Colorism sounds like a silly little thing. Unfortunately not. It’s a big problem in society that most are blind to. Colorism has certainly effected me in my short lifetime so far. I was unaware of it too. Problems like this tend to effect people without them even noticing it.

So, what  is colorism? Colorism is a form of prejudice or discrimination in which people are treated differently based on skin tone or shade. Racism is a different mater so let’s not get the two confused. It’s definitely not about disliking black people. A lot of it is actually about black people discriminating against other black people.

I think that today in 2017, colorism is demonstrated the most in the media so that’s what I’m going to talk about. The media influences the ways that we think about each other. Whether that be about race, gender or religion.

In the matter of colorism, I think that it’s fair to say that people of colour are increasingly being represented more in the media which is great. However, the majority of coloured people being used in advertisement are light skinned. They might be black, but they’re of a lighter shade compared to the average black person. It happens a lot in modelling for be clothes or makeup.

The message that the media sends to us is that, us dark skinned kids aren’t pretty enough to be the face of a clothing line or makeup brand. The light skinned kids are the pretty ones.

Representation of darker skinned black women is getting better with examples of Beyoncé’s Ivy Park collection and Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty release. Both include models from all shades and colours from white to black, Asian to European and so on. But let’s not be dependant on black businesswomen to include a fair representation of coloured people in advertisement. Especially those who’s profession is to actually sing. We need representation to happen across the board

As a summary, colorism basically makes dark skinned people feel alienated and not worthy and the media fuels this ideology massively.

Beyoncé, the conscientious social activist.

Let’s put it out there, I’m a huge Beyoncé fan. However, her music is only a small factor as to why I am in awe of her. Of course, I was initially gripped by her music but that’s not a good enough reason to really respect her for who she is. An artist can make amazing music but still be a complete idiot. Chris Brown, Miley Cyrus and Azalea Banks are only a few examples. Even, Ed Sheeran has had his moments.

Beyoncé is a hard working independent woman who is always actively reaching out for equality. Mrs Carter is a true feminist and she has proven that to us by making songs like ‘If I Were A Boy’ and ‘Flawless’. She was a supporter of the Women’s March back in January and is an organiser for the Chime For Change campaign.

Other charity work includes her BeyGood organisation. This month, Beyoncé has demonstrated how she can raise money through this organisation for those effected by the hurricane in her home town, Houston. This is on top of donating a mass amount of money herself. Beyoncé simply has a heart of gold and does so much for the black community too.

Lemonade was a whole visual album that helped appreciate black women’s beauty, talent and achievements. Black excellence was shown throughout the whole of the visuals incorporated in the album film. In her Ivy Park clothing collection, she includes women and men of many ethnic minority backgrounds and which sends an inclusive message to all.

Beyoncé also openly supports the LGBT community. I’m not sure that I know of any other artist that is determined to make an overall social change as much as her. As well as being a social activist that uses her power and status to channel her messages. Beyoncé is hard working. Someone that I feel all young women should look up to. The way in which she has carried herself throughout her 20 year old career has been magnificent. From managing herself, to now owning her own entertainment company, Parkwood Entertainment. The work ethic of Beyoncé is something that is rare in the music industry today.

Whilst having so many great personality traits, Beyoncé really is a legend. Not many artists can say that they have 6 solo platinum albums, 22 Grammy’s and a net worth of $350M. Beyoncé is a perfectionist and arguable the best performer of all time. Consequently, that is why I love Beyoncé.

Please feel free to read my other blog posts here 🙂

Understanding others

I’m just going to spill some thoughts on understanding others actions. This post has no planned direction by the way.

We often hear about underachieving children in working class areas, those people that have awful opinions on serious matters or those who make awfully wrong decisions at the worst times.

We know that everyone is different. However, we need to understand why everyone is different. I think that people struggle to understand the factors that influence other opinions, choice and actions in life. People’s opinions on matters will vary due to many different things such as life experiences. Think about the way that you have been brought up in your family. Your parents are likely to be your biggest influences in life along with your peers.

People often do the wrong things in life because of bad life experience or because of the information that their parents have drilled into them from a young age. That’s not to say that bad decisions and intolerable opinions are acceptable. We just need to challenge things at the root to avoid problems in the future. It’s all a learning curve.

We have to take into consideration people’s backgrounds, where they’ve grown up. Their struggles life, whether that be mental health, financial problems or living in society as a minority.

Being able to acknowledge wrong is easy. But being able to understand the reasons why is difficult. It’s a skill. Some people are too stuck in their ways and others too sympathetic. Everyone is different.

Be open minded. People change right? Never judge a person from one of their Facebook status’ in 2008. (well, unless they’re a Neo-Nazi)

Everything that you experience in life moulds you into the person that you are today.

(Don’t look into this post too deeply and miss the main message. Let’s take the worst case scenario, murder. I know that murder is unacceptable. I think that it’s interesting to find out the reasons why someone might have committed a murder and understand others without jumping to conclusions.)