JULY 2020 ISSUE
A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
I shall keep this brief, welcome to Snippets, the online monthly magazine that aims to provide a platform for young creatives. For over year I have been deliberating this concept and if one good thing came out of the pandemic for me, it was Snippets. I wanted to create a space where writers, poets, artists, photographers etc. could publish their work without restrictions. The aim is to feature a little bit of everything, hence our name ‘Snippets’. Each month we hope to provide something a bit different from the previous month, and will feature content from new creatives as well as some familiar faces.
So, without further ado, welcome to our Debut Issue: July 2020. I hope you enjoy it just as much we have enjoyed collaborating with everyone who has contributed.
THE WHOLE PICTURE: REMEMBERING ‘CONTROVERSIAL’ HISTORICAL FIGURES
BY HENRY PARNELL
July 31, 2020
On 7th 2020, Bristol based BLM protestors tore down a statue of 17-18th century slave owner Edward Colston and toppled him into the water at the same docks he helped to build and used to dock his slave ships at. This form of poetic justice sparked both renewed calls for statues representing similar controversial historical figures around the world to be removed, as well as outbreaks of vandalism against them. A figure like Colston shouldn’t be controversial, and neither should the removal of his statue or any other slave owner’s for that matter. This now infamous incident – the vigilante removal of a monument dedicated to a man responsible for the enslavement of over 84,000 people, 12,000 of which were children and 19,000 of which died in-transit alone - has dug up some surprising attitudes.
You might think that such an act might be quite hard to object to; perhaps a call that it is ‘destroying public property’ might rouse a few supporting nods, and that the ‘proper protocols’ such as petitioning should be observed to have it taken down legally – but numerous campaigns have been run, and to no avail. The calls for other such monuments to be removed aren’t new, over the years countless petitions have been written, signed and ultimately rejected for various reasons by local councils and governments alike - it is only with the aid of sudden BLM explosion that these demands, like many others, have had to be taken seriously.
But others have objected to the removal of these racist statues out-right, regardless of how it occurs. In the case of Colston, weak cries of ‘You can’t just erase history’ echoed around social media. Others even tried to point out that the statue was in honour of Colston’s contributions to building the Bristol docklands. To deal with the first point very quickly: statues don’t equate to historical memory. Does Hitler have any statues? No. Is he remembered by history? Yes. The very same people calling for these statues to be pulled down, those who are protesting against racism, are those who are campaigning and petitioning for the history of British slavery and Colonialism to be taught on the national curriculum. Far from wanting to erase history, these acts of tearing down monuments are designed to abolish the glorification of those who committed atrocious acts throughout history, not to try and forget them. A statue is to honour, glorify and to very literally put on a pedestal any figure which it depicts.
With the statue of Colston gone, the imaginations of others around the world were sparked, protestors in the US turned their attention to the countless confederate monuments across the country and graffiti and defacement began to become commonplace. The resistance to this across the US seemed to be stronger than the UK, with Trump even calling former US President Andrew Jackson - a slave-owner - one of his ‘idols’. Among other things, Jackson was responsible for forcibly taking indigenous land from Native Americans – a bizarre ‘idol’ to have.
The confederate flag, and now both confederate monuments and statues, have been a sore and controversial topic for quite some time now. Defendants have made far stronger claims than the ‘erasing history’ argument, and instead have claimed that confederate history is part of their southern United States heritage – whilst objectors point out that this ‘heritage’ is one of slavery and racism. For those who don’t know, the American Civil War was caused by a division between the Northern (Union) states and Southern (Confederate) states over several key issues – one of which being slavery.
These examples may seem rather clean cut to most of us, with little to object to. But what happens when we turn to the statues of figures like Churchill? Renewed calls for Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square to be removed resurfaced in dramatic fashion last month, with right wing ‘counter-protestors’ descending on London to ‘protect’ the statue. I won’t offer an opinion on whether Churchill’s statue should or shouldn’t be removed, rather echo acts of good, and bad, from this man’s life and career. Most notably of course is the winning of the Second World War, a momentous and sustained act of national service over several years – something embedding Churchill as an icon in British history. However, it is what came before in his early life that makes Churchill a divisive figure, and someone hard to fully embrace.
Churchill makes for an interesting case study, with compelling arguments both for and against the celebration of his history – and rightly so, there are things to be celebrated, and those to be heavily condemned. In 2002 he was voted ‘the greatest Briton ever’, edging out the likes of Shakespeare and Darwin and one can only assume (and hope) that the people voting for this were doing so solely on the basis of WWII and were unaware of his rampant misogyny and racism, to quote him in 1937:
"I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place." – Winston Churchill
To dive into the actions behind these troubling words would require several more articles, if not books – and needless to say a quick google search will reveal a rabbit hole of similar attitudes to almost anyone non-white. However, it is Churchill’s instrumental role in the Bengal famine genocide, the shooting of protestors and the overthrowing of a democratically elected Guyanan leader (to name but a few) which serve to highlight that in fact his actions did indeed speak louder than these words. More can be found on Churchill here: https://medium.com/@write_12958/the-crimes-of-winston-churchill-c5e3ecb229b3
Statues are a particularly troubling symbol; they immortalize a glorified version of individuals, often glossing over the atrocities they committed and the morally abhorrent views they harboured. Even with the removal of these statues, these people will still be remembered by history, but the issue of how they are remembered, and what they are remembered for, is still a point of contention. Education needs to follow the removal of these monuments to ensure that lessons from the past are taught and that real change is achieved – something impossible whilst statues remain standing and twisting the letter of history.
Even in contemporary times it is not hard to find figures who divide opinion, for example, how should we remember Michael Jackson? As a musical icon? Or as a paedophile and sexual predator? Can the former be simultaneously be celebrated and his music enjoyed as the latter is heavily condemned? Are the films produced by Harvey Weinstein to be written off now his past as a serial rapist has been fully laid out for the world to see? Sexual crimes ignite a sort of collective hatred on a par with racism, something uncommonly found when discussing other convictions - so why has someone like Jackson not been entirely cast into the ever growing list of ex-communicated paedophilic celebrities like others? The answer to this last question is not something I could even begin to answer.
These examples are still fairly straight forward, yet the scale of bad to good can become extremely murky, and increasingly society is, very rightly, less tolerant of those who stray too far from the straight and narrow. It is hard to say, as we look at examples of people whos crimes are ‘lesser’ – maybe comedians evading tax or rappers serving time for murder - whether the good they produce in the world can still be appreciated. Where do we draw the line? Whatever your opinion, one thing is for sure, historical or contemporary figures with such extreme examples of maleficence – paedophilia, racism, genocide, slave trading - should not be rewarded with statues and their redeeming qualities (if they have any) should be a footnote in their catalogue of evil.
Chloe x Halle - Ungodly Hour (Album)
The sophomore album by the sisters sees them solidify their sound and bring more of a mature vibe with it. Appearances from Swae Lee, Mike WILL Made-It and Disclosure bring much needed variety to the project yet still keeping it consistent.
Ego Ella May – Honey For Wounds (Album)
Signed to John Boyega’s recently formed record label, ‘Honey For Wounds’ sees the South London singer/songwriter produce a stunning Neo-soul/Jazz debut album to listen to. Her soothing voice accompanied by downtempo Neo-soul beats are perfect for quieter moments during the day.
Disclosure ft Amine and Slowthai – My High (Single)
The second single off the upcoming third album ‘ENERGY’, sees the Lawrence brothers team up with rappers Amine and Slowthai to produce an energetic (no pun intended) hip house song. An experiment that seems to have paid off.
Victoria Monet – Experience (Single)
Having been the songwriter for artists such as Arianna Grande, Fifth Harmony and Quavo, Victoria Monet has decided to come out of the shadows. The song ‘Experience’ sees her team up with in demand producer SG Lewis as well as Khalid. A groovy disco track reimagined for 2020. Strong Daft Punk vibes.
Headie One – Rose Gold (Single)
After seeing the Tottenham rapper embark on an experimental journey with producer Fred again on ‘GANG’, Headie One has decided to go back to his drill roots and come out with one of his best songs to date in the form of ‘Rose Gold’. An avatar-esque sample drives the track complemented by classic drill 808s, allowing Headie to spit and occasionally bring melodies out on the track produced by Ghosty.
COMPASSION FATIGUE IN AND OUT OF LOCKDOWN
BY DARCEY JOYCE
July 31, 2020
What is it?
You may have seen the memes of the ‘2020 calendar’ which dedicates catastrophic events on a month by month basis, and what disaster this year has in store next - a meteor coming to hit us in August, locusts, frogs, and then take your pick of the ten plagues of Egypt. ‘I can't wait for the next season of Earth’ the captions read. It may feel to many like we’re watching a dystopian Netflix series: bush fires, a global pandemic, protests and killer hornets... whatever happened to them? Not to trivialize the magnitude of these occurrences and movements, the first half of 2020 has been surreal in many ways and brought a lot of conversations to the surface of popular media that were long overdue screen time. With this, and with the extra time experienced by those on furlough or otherwise at home, many have directed their time into educating themselves on, and sharing information or resources around the Black Lives Matter movement, human rights abuses (especially during Pride Month), the famine in the Yemen, and countless other issues that deserve and demand emphatic energy. Online activism is encompassing multiple platforms and is exposed to a larger audience in lockdown than before.
Compassion fatigue, an emotional and/or physical debilitation and apathy for others struggles, as a result of over exhaustion for caring for others, is sometimes called secondary traumatic stress. This can be characterised by feeling as if there's no point in caring, it's all too much to care for others, on top of oneself, an anxiety around facing other’s trauma as if it were our own or just an exhaustion from activism burnout. Symptoms can range from focus-loss to retraction from work, lack of sleep and feelings of futility. Care and aid workers may experience taking on others stress/trauma secondarily in this way, but in lockdown, where huge amounts of social media activism goes on online, it's also important to look into what strains and stress this exerts on individuals. Solutions to these mega-issues aren't quick fixes so the psychological tax the individual may experience when attempting to take on the weight of the world's problems on their shoulders can be enormous. Yet the acceptance of the individual being relatively powerless on its own, can further feelings of apathy towards issues that need engagement, so a nihilistic stance falls short also.
The saturation of ouvert suffering perceivable in advertising, newspapers, even the commercialisation of disaster through film, video games and other media can arguably create a desensitisation to others’ pain – perhaps a compartmentalisation even of the secondary horrors – that one may be fortunate to only observe at a distance as ‘other’ to their daily business; a privilege in itself.
Who suffers really?
Anyone can suffer compassion fatigue; here, however, it is extended to encompass the burnout experienced through online activism – fatigue caused by consistent streams of bad news and being an ear and eye to suffering second-hand. However, it is clear that those primarily impacted by the effects of compassion fatigue are the individuals, groups and movements that need support in the first place: the charities in need of funding, the petitions requiring final signatures, the silenced voices that demand to be listened to and supported. If activists or simply compassionate individuals, which most people (I would like to imagine) identify with, suffer burnout, fatigue from ‘too many horrible things going on in the world’, or secondary traumatic stress to the point of apathy and disengagement with issues that so desperately require consistent engagement – the movements and people who need the most, get the least from the people who are usually core engagers. Compassion fatigue is a lose-lose game for all concerned.
You may have experienced compassion fatigue as a phenomena in a small way in your daily life – if you've donated to a charitable campaign, for example, after a natural disaster, then a few days later you’re advertised another campaign urging you to donate to lessen suffering somewhere else in the world, it may feel easier to blanket ignore all donation campaigns from that point, rather than to take on the task of managing what suffering qualifies as awful enough to merit your emotional investment, time, understanding and finally money. These are, however, clearly privileged problems. To wrestle with the moral dilemma of extending empathetic energy towards a cause outside of one’s own life denotes privilege in the sense of not being directly negatively impacted by the suffering in question, whether natural, political, conflict-based or otherwise.
Is it heightened in lockdown? If so Why?
With more time spent indoors and often online during lockdown, our screens have been permeated with news surrounding Covid-19 – pile on top of this the fact that many people have unwell or immune-comprised family members in need of daily care and the emotional exhaustion mounts. OCD or anxiety may be kicking in for some and self-isolation may have kindled feelings of depression. Personal struggles, domestic tensions and financial issues attached to the lack of work; all contribute to the giant emotional weight of this pandemic. The act of extending our capacity for compassionate action outside of ourselves and our close circles, for some, is quite a taxing thought; hence, fatigue roots itself in our subconscious and quells our desire to help others. Aren’t we having a hard-enough time ourselves after all?
However, with the popularity of sites like Go-Fund-Me, Change.org and Care2, power is placed in the individual’s hands in a way easier than ever before. It's straightforward to set up petitions, easy to share email formats to push political figures to comment on issues, uncomplicated to directly fund families impacted by tragedy online. With this accessibility and ease, one of the biggest obstacles aside from financial to online activism is, therefore, the breakdown of our own empathetic energy.
So, how to prevent or lessen the effects of compassion fatigue...
This may be where the well-known notion of self-care appears. Acknowledging that although your personal fight might seem frivolous compared with the plethora of horrors and corruption existing in our world, like in an airplane, when in an emergency situation, parents are asked to attach their own oxygen mask first in case of emergency and then fix their child’s – we can do the best for others when we’re taking care of ourselves. Everyone's hardship is their own. Belittling our own struggles by comparison to external adversity leads only to guilt complexes and feeling as if we are undeserving of taking our own mental health seriously and seeking help for it. This is neither useful for our own wellbeing, nor provides any practical, positive outcomes for the causes we may compare our struggles to. Comparison is not only a waste of time but detrimental to our capabilities as potential engagers in activism.
Leisure activities, exercise, and meditative breathing practices have been cited in combating symptoms attributed to compassion fatigue and stress reduction in general. Creating an emotional distance while still reckoning with the emotional extremities of issues in some way is a difficult balance to find. Accepting that outcomes are often out of our individual power, but also recognising that this does not exempt us from collective and individual action, can help separate us from a mental dependency on positive outcomes. Self-reflection and self-assessing one's emotional state, potentially through a form of journaling or meditation as a method can be used to destress and recalibrate emotions.
Recognising also, that it may at times be better to, ‘give into’ compassion fatigue in the short term is also a positive step – this type of fatigue functions as a stress response utilised by the body to prevent major burnout and secondary traumatic stress, where engagement and proximity to issues results in an intensely negative mental state. In this case showing compassion to yourself is essential. This may simply look like a short-term social media/news ‘detox’. Temporary disengagement can help realign and configure actionable plans as well as detangle the cluster of polarised opinions forming background noise and undulating emotions that accompany advocacy. Of course, the opposite is possible too, complete disengagement may follow, phrases such as ‘I just fell out of love with politics/activism’ echo agreements in student groupings and beyond. Ignorance is bliss and, re-entering the world of empathy for others holds the possibility of guilt for leaving it in the first place. It may seem simply easier to just not care about anything external to one's own lifeworld, and in many ways it probably is; compassion fatigue is sometimes referred to as the ‘cost of caring’, but there's plenty of time for every ounce of idealism to drain from our bodies. For now, real people and issues need real support and engagement, and this can be done while avoiding burnout if carefully navigated. Investing volunteering time in local, hands-on efforts that present observable, practical results can decrease feelings of uselessness in the face of large-scale problems too overwhelming to face. Being able to witness positive outcomes from direct input is rewarding and becomes addictive rather than fatiguing.
Essentially, the take home message is to take care of yourself in order to extend that self-compassion to others – reflect, and seek local action in your community where small-scale results are observable. Meanwhile keep supporting causes where you can through signatures, donations, emails and more, and let's hope the plagues of Egypt spare the second half of 2020.
My practice is informed mostly by colour palettes. I source the majority of my inspiration from the wilder side of the beauty and fashion industry, drag queens and artists, nature, photography and anything around me that has a colour scheme screaming to be made into some sort of composition. Weird, whimsical worlds and characters are recurrent in my work and I love to make the ridiculous and exaggerated somewhat believable. I am also an animator and infrequent art director which you can find more of on my Instagram at @Isobel.bronwyn or on my website at www.isobelbronwyn.com.
BY GEORGE TOMSETT
The news is on as we drive - we’re pretty far along
now. I say lightly, ‘Can we switch it off?’
Sounds like another man got hold of a kalashnikov.
‘The coastline’s receded.
Or maybe it’s always looked like that.’
But there used to be a green there,
to the left of me, now it’s a stale strip of brand new homes.
The shopping centre’s had
a facelift too. What am I expecting?
New life? It’s as dreary as it was
when I was stuck here
as a teenager.
The TV in the cafe has the news on too.
Forest fires, neofascism, the hottest June on record,
celebrities having babies and babies
dead in wars, rape stats in Sweden and U.S. abortion laws.
‘It’s always looked like that,’ you avow,
sipping lemonade through a paper straw. I try a bit.
Honest, homemade, simple.
That’s what the label reads, anyway.
I get a kick out of it - then my appetite comes back.
‘What were you saying,
‘The coastline - by the cliffs.
I don’t think anything’s really changed.
Maybe just a little, but not enough
for anyone to see a proper difference in our lifetime.’
The news is on as we drive home.
‘Can we switch it off? I just don’t want
You rub a nice hand on my bump, and we listen to jazz instead.
GRADUATING IN 2020
BY DEVON HARVEY
July 31, 2020
For some graduation is the end of the long road called education. For others, it is the start of adulthood; where jobs are applied for, student debts become real and your school years begin to feel like a distant memory. Overall, graduation can be scary and the general feeling from graduates seems to be that they’ve been dealt a bad hand.
Graduating symbolises leaving behind a comfort zone and being thrust into a new world; comprised of financial worry, job applications and responsibility. Paired with a pandemic, some graduates – like the rest of the population – have been left feeling deflated, scared, lonely and frustrated. There have been multiple articles over the past month which have covered the ‘Class of COVID’. Dana Brownlee’s piece ‘The Pandemic’s Unique Toll on 2020 College Graduates’, published on the 4th April, breaks down the impact of the pandemic on this year’s graduates into five categories: ‘Academic Impact’, ‘Graduation Ceremony Cancellation Disappointment’, ‘Lost Career Services Opportunities/Job Uncertainty’, ‘Immediate Financial Concerns’, and ‘Physical Health Concerns’.
Through her analysis, Brownlee covers important concerns such as: anxieties over grades that determine job possibilities or Masters applications, the impact of losing jobs on already struggling students, a sense of emptiness at this milestone which was meant to acknowledge a life of academic achievement, missing graduation ceremonies and finally, the mounting uncertainty over what to do next. Having asked some of the Class of 2020 over social media about their feelings towards their current situation, one graduate told Snippets that they were “scared but excited”, whilst another told us that they were “disappointed that [they] didn’t get to graduate this summer.”
The widespread cancellation of graduation ceremonies disheartened many. As a member of the class of 2020 myself, the cancellation of graduation emphasised the severity of the pandemic. My ceremony was cancelled in the middle of March, and whilst I had gotten comfortable with the idea of isolating for a few months, I hadn’t quite appreciated the longevity of lockdown. Of course, I understood the severity of the situation, however, it was not until I had this milestone cancelled that it hit home. Across the UK, graduation ceremonies have been postponed and rescheduled. Now, with the release of degree qualifications, the realisation for most that this would have been a time of celebration, has forced feelings of unsatisfaction and disappointment to resurface.
Not only was the end of our academic careers cut short, but so too was saying goodbye to the people we had just spent the past three or so years with. Most students missed their final months of University, specifically the final weeks, when exams were finished, and celebrations could commence. Some students may have stayed on campus in their student houses during the pandemic, meaning they could spend time with their close friends – others had to move home, and some had to find new places to live. For those returning home, the struggle of being under your parents roof again might have been a difficult adjustment – a juxtaposition to the freedom experienced at University. Matched with the current climate, home may have felt a little crowded and overwhelming. Of course, most who those have isolated during the pandemic have experienced this, from working from home to schools being closed and various other scenarios. The pandemic has been responsible for a lot of change and adjustment.
The next step
Joe Pinsker also discusses graduating in 2020 – in his article ‘The Misfortune of Graduating in 2020’, published on the 22nd May – which adopts an alternative approach; quoting statistics and discussing the Great Recession of 2008. He argues that those who graduated during the Great Recession are “still struggling overall.” Pinsker then follows on to quote statistics from the Pew Research Centre, claiming that forty percent of Millennials in the US have lost their jobs or source of income due to the pandemic, stating that “Graduating right now is a particular form of bad luck, but those who finished school and joined the workforce in recent years aren’t lucky either. Young people, as a group, seem to be taking a harder hit economically than those in older generations.” Overall, he highlights that it is not only those who have graduated that are struggling during this pandemic, but the younger generation as a whole have taken a hit.
The Financial Times on the 4th May published an article titled ‘What are the job prospects for the class of 2020’. This article states that twenty-eight per cent of graduates in the UK have had jobs offers ‘rescinded or delayed starts’ and in the US four per cent of employers have withdrawn offers, whilst twenty per cent of employers are contemplating doing the same and twenty-one per cent have cancelled their internships altogether. The process of applying for jobs after graduation is already stressful, it can sometimes take hundreds of failed applications before a graduate finds work. On top of this, employers, especially during this time, are providing little to no feedback on rejected applications, leaving the applicant with an unsuccessful attempt and no constructive criticism. Graduates may now be battling with what career path to take, whether one should only apply for jobs that are of great interest, simply be applying to any job – by reasoning that any work is better than no work – or questioning if sticking to higher education is the answer.
What to do next?
For those looking to enter the professional world, be sure to consider the following points: keep on top of your LinkedIn profile; try not to fixate on your dream career so much so that it begins to take a negative toll on your mental health; and unsuccessful job applications are okay and common.
The ‘panic masters’ is a term that has been circulating social media platforms recently. Some students had already applied for their Masters before the lockdown, whilst others have chosen to apply as they have released staying at University is the best path for them, as graduate jobs are scarce, and a Masters is better than unemployment. Staying in education in the current climate, for some, seems the best option and will hopefully work for them. However, it is not suited to everyone, and those who aren’t staying on have various paths they can take. Whether it is finding part-time work whilst you figure things out, going into full-time employment straight away, travelling (if and where possible), working until your Masters, or simply taking a step back and thinking about the next stage in your life, this is a difficult time and any path or emotion is valid.
Graduating in a pandemic is scary and uncertain. It is important to remember that even without the pandemic this milestone would’ve felt intimidating, so try your best to keep yourself afloat, set goals and don’t’ be too hard on yourself.
Some Graduate Job Websites you might find helpful:
Born in South Africa and residing in London, Julia Church is a singer/songwriter that thrives under the pop-ballad umbrella. She evokes similar emotions Hannah Reid of London Grammar was famous for during the band’s emergence. Having featured in several successful electronic tracks for the likes of Goldfish and Ted Cadey, she has begun to embark on her own journey by releasing an EP called ‘To Have, Not Just To Hold’. ‘Shiloh’ and Let Me Down (Easy) are standout tracks. She is one to watch both on features and solo work for sure.
-Let Me Down (Easy)
Jasper Atlee (musically known as Ted Japer) is an electronic producer from Cornwall. Having burst onto the electronic scene via his first EP ‘One Day’ played on BBC Radio 1, Jasper has consistently released left field electronic music much to the awe of a growing fan base. His early work fused mild African percussion and deep house to create an intriguing mix of music that would develop into several different Eps of indie electronica. As of late, he has decided to sing more on his own records too. One to keep a close eye on if electronic music floats your boat.
-Back For More
London songstress, RADA is very new to the game but has big potential. Her song ‘Above it’ is a dreamy R&B number with beautiful pads and a guitar solo towards the end. It features her alluring yet moody voice that is captivating. A semi rap verse in the ‘Captain Nemo’ remix by Kish! shows she can adapt in different genres. One to keep an eye on.
A FEELING OF CHANGE IN 2020: A POTENTIAL REVOLUTION?
BY MOLLY SAXBY
July 31, 2020
Without doubt, 2020 has been a testing and surprising year so far. Markedly, the Coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by storm, turning our typical, everyday lives upside down. The pandemic, whilst devastatingly costly to human life, has seen the world unified by a cause for the first time in my lifetime. This is because, whilst it has been politicised and dealt with differently across nations, the pandemic has reified a notion that is often lost in our modern world: one which reminds humans of their fragility and destructibility, as a species. The pandemic halted many aspects of life as we know it, removing powers and freedoms we have come to know as normal and expected, and has taught us many things: community, perseverance, patience; shifting mindsets globally to remind us of our relative powerlessness, despite our dominance on this planet.
It seems, alike many times in history, this shift in our status quo, the removal of normality, has coincided with momentum for greater change. It is with great shifts, such as wars, economic crashes, and political changes, that revolution is often born. In 2020 however, this desire for new systems and changes, a mood for revolution so to speak, has grown alongside the pandemic. In recent months, the Black Lives Matter movement swept the western world following the murder of George Floyd. The movement, most prominent in the USA, but resilient across the world over, demands equality of life, opportunity, rights, and freedoms for black people. This movement, with its countless examples of injustice, murder, and discrimination demands true equality and justice.
BLM has reminded us of the presence of institutionalised racism, racism within ourselves, within our societies and in the foundations of the world’s workings. This movement, whilst fighting for specific results, also fights a long-term goal for true equality, for the reconstruction of the barriers against black people which are inherently built and maintained by the world we live in. Alongside BLM, in 2020 movements have grown across the world and have seen people fight for their liberties and freedoms with persistence and integrity. Amongst these have been the Hong Kong protests, beginning towards the start of the year and continuing even now, fighting for the protection of democratic politics, separate from the over-bearing influence of the Chinese government. Also, notable have been the Chilean protests which rose against increased costs of living, including subway fares, as well as privatisation and inequality in Chile. These protests, from 2019 to 2020 have seen over one million citizens demand change and the resignation of President Piñera. Movements such as those mentioned are not necessarily a rarity in modern times as people often turn to civil disobedience and riots as method for change. However, it is without doubt, that movements such as these, seen in combination with the pandemic, have raised feelings and demands for change, provoking attention towards the potential for ‘revolution’.
This requires us to unimagine the idea that past revolutions have been led by conscious revolutionaries and instead asks us to remind ourselves of the world’s revolutionary past. Such moments of change, of political, social, and economic upheaval have often been led by grassroots social actors who came together from separate strands to fight for a common cause of change. As mentioned, it is in times of uncertainty and upheaval that these movements have been born and seen the greatest success. Without doubt, we are living in a time which provides great opportunity for revolution. The pandemic has uprooted normality, bringing into question everything we have accepted as a part of everyday life. If we think deeply enough, here we can see a potential for great change, a climate where many things previously thought of as impossible, have the potential to become possible. We have seen the rejection of injustice, the protection of freedoms and rights, importantly led with passion, resilience, and fervour. Arguably, this resistance and its demands suggest that the world cannot continue to function as it does for much longer.
Younger generations are becoming more conscious, of our planet, its institutions, and its evils; they possess a passion I have seen so many times even in my own circles, which demands a better life, for everyone, for ourselves and for our futures. The world must adjust and redesign itself, as it has done so many times, to meet the demands and mentalities of its inhabitants. Whilst the future is unwritten, the potential for revolution is present and undeniable. Revolution here does not necessarily reflect our typical understandings of the term, but implies the favour of a new system, on many scales, with a multitude of demands and of different levels worldwide. I, therefore, encourage you to think about your opinions, the changes you would like to see in the world, whether they correlate to a pre-existing movement or if they demand something else. There is a great potential for change, something we should welcome as part of the progress of society, and something I encourage you to participate in to shape the world in which you live.
RED BLAZER PRODUCTIONS
Written & Directed by @will_and_film
Co-directed by @hugoandre_media
Produced by @redblazerproductions
A short film written, directed & staring Will Masheter. Initially intended as a “do in your bedroom” showreel piece, Will & his production crew @redblazerproductions turned it into a cinematic piece shot in one straight 18-hour shoot day & night. The story is about 7 suspects, all played by Will, who have been arrested in suspicion of a triple homicide that took place that evening. Each character being interviewed is miles apart from the next, for a low budget, 1 day shoot this piece looks and feels the part. Theatrical trailer will be out soon on @redblazerproductions & @will_and_film
Written & Directed by @hugoandre_media
Co-written by @will_and_film
Produced by @redblazerproductions
A short film written & directed by Hugo Andre, currently circulating the world at various film festivals, follows the story of 4 people that wake up in the ‘Forest’ with no recollection of how they got there or why they have been put there. They soon find out that they are part of a twisted game which has been orchestrated by one of them! While it takes you down a path of questions, confusion and lack of trust, the ending will certainly leave you in shock as the dystopian aspect of the narrative reveals itself.
Plot aside, the cinematography is A grade, and it was mostly shot on a DSLR camera. This crew really are raw talent and it is exciting to see what they will produce in the future.
The film is due for release later this year once it has completed its rounds, it has done extremely well so far and it is very exciting to see what other recognition is will get.
WHY “EDUCATED” BY TARA WESTOVER IS THE ONLY BOOK YOU NEED TO READ THIS SUMMER
BY JANE MULLANEY
July 31, 2020
If it wasn’t so fraught with sadness, you could almost call Tara Westover’s “Educated” a modern fairy-tale.
Westover is a thirty-three-year-old American, who was born and raised in rural Idaho by survivalist parents who, not believing in public education, did not send her to school. Spending her childhood in the 1990s and early 2000s working in the family junkyard rather than learning in the classroom, her book is a true story of the heart-warming way that she educated herself.
It is difficult to believe that what Westover has achieved is possible. Despite never having taken an exam before in her life, she passed the ACT examination to enrol at Brigham Young University (BYU) as a teenager, after having taught herself Mathematics, English and Science without the help of a schoolteacher or the internet.
From here, she excelled in her studies, and within ten years, had graduated from BYU, completed a visiting fellowship at Harvard University, and had earnt a masters and a P.H.D in History from the University of Cambridge in 2014. Self-made and plucky, her book appears to be the emblem of the ‘American Dream’ - itself selling four million copies since being published in 2018.
Yet, underpinning this academic success lies a profound sadness. Westover’s desire to learn ultimately resulted in estrangement from her family, whose beliefs made her choice very difficult to accept.
The memoir is not simply a case of good versus bad. Westover is compassionate and clear that her parents’ opposition to public education came from a place of love, because they genuinely believed that it would be harmful to her spiritual well-being. Now living between New York and London, she is able to recall happy childhood memories of life in rural Idaho, which almost seems more painful for her to recount than the unhappy ones in the book. One wonders whether the process of writing the memoir would have been cathartic, or troubling for her, and what sort of psychological function it may have served for her as she faces a future without her birth family.
I have never read a fictional story, let alone a true one, that filled me with quite such a sense of conflict of emotion and dashed hopes. As I journeyed through each academic milestone, I felt that I was Westover’s only confidant. I felt proud of her achievements but dreaded the price that they would cost her, as the chance of a reconciliation between her education and upbringing appeared less and less likely.
The book is a lesson in empathy, that each of us can learn from.
The way that Westover tells her story really encourages one to see both sides of the clash over education between her and her parents. Understanding that Westover’s parents thought they were doing the best for their child, according to the way that they viewed the world, results in the reader feeling their pain and worry as they watch their daughter reject the values they lived by. Yet, balanced with this is the respect I felt for her decision to follow her dreams and plunge herself into a new world of learning.
After reading the book, I listened to a brilliant podcast with Tara Westover, that was part of Elizabeth Day’s ‘How to Fail’ series. In it, Westover said that one of the most important lessons she has learnt in life is to “judge the idea, not the person”. By this, she was referring to the way that, whilst at Cambridge, she learnt the importance of not allowing scholarly debates to become personal attacks, and this reinforced how ideas are the products of a complex combination of our social, economic and religious backgrounds, life-experiences, insecurities, and much more.
The balance in judgement with which Westover writes is brave. She does not hide from expressing the grief that her actions caused to her parents, who felt that their daughter was turning away from them, and this challenges one’s own perspective about the way that people act.
Whether or not she intended to, Westover emerges from the book as an inspirational role model for the aspiring mind, and she is able to transcend societal gaps.
In her story, she is the architect of her own future. She pursues a future in higher education that is so important to her, despite the immense difficulties that it would cause for her personal life. This path took her from her home at the base of the Buck’s Peak Mountain in Idaho, where she lived in an isolated community, to the modern hub of London and New York, where she lives now. In doing so, she is a compound of old and new, country and city, disconnected and connected, and, one would imagine, pride and sorrow – her story is truly unique.
A comment she made during an interview that “you can love someone, and still choose to say goodbye”, which was reiterated during her appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show last year, may refer to her own extraordinary story, but it has everyday applications; whether it be a friendship, or a romantic or familial relationship, “Educated” reminded me that doing what we feel to be the right thing for ourselves sometimes involves difficult decisions, but that we should be brave, and not be deterred from our goals by fear.
Ultimately, this is a story of how freedom can be found in different places, and a powerful motivation for you to go and find yours.
I know that I am not the only one to be moved by “Educated”. Barack Obama himself was so touched by Tara Westover’s book, that, upon reading it, he felt compelled to personally call her to discuss it further and recommended it as part of his annual book list.
It is no exaggeration to say that this story, which encapsulates the entire range of human emotion in less than four hundred pages, has transformed the way that I think. If you read the book this summer, I am willing to bet that it will challenge your outlook on life too.
Hi, my name's Mari. I would probably call myself an amateur photographer, if that means carrying a camera around and shooting wherever I go. I have always been a creative person and love anything that involves expressing that, hence studying Interior Architecture at uni. I think growing up, everything being ‘techy’ and online, and living in a society of instant gratification, I probably never quite understood as a youngster the timely process behind creating a piece of art or project, which has changed now as I grow in a creative field. But picking up a camera and simply clicking, has always been a very quick way for me to fulfil a need to paint a virtual picture, especially if I'm in a new place and are able to capture a different culture or an interesting interaction. I hope you enjoy flicking through some of my stuff.
TW: NAVIGATING THE REALISATION THAT YOU HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED HITTING YOU YEARS LATER.
BY ELLIE STREET
July 31, 2020
It can be unanimously accepted that many prevalent issues in society are not addressed enough or taken as seriously as they need to be, both by the law and among public attitudes. An issue that severely lacks action is sexual assault and harassment, which devastatingly distorts the lives of people of all genders, sexualities, ages, ethnicities and races. Generating a sense of urgency to tackle sexual assault, rape and oversexualisation of women in society can truly feel like a lost cause when the president of America is celebrated, regardless of his disregard of consent and general misogyny, and the #metoo movement is met with a flurry of rejection; including comments that survivors opening up are “hopping on the bandwagon” and the assertion that many heterosexual men are now afraid of dating as they “can’t do anything right”. This is not forgetting the fact that conviction rates are far lower than other crimes; out of every 1000 sexual assaults, 995 perpetrators walk free (rain.org).
I graduated last year after spending 3 years immersed in university culture, a culture inextricably associated with both lad culture and hypersexuality discourses. But, even before this exposure to an environment where, so frequently, the importance of consent wasn’t respected, I’d still say I had a pretty vast range of exposure to a significant amount of sexual harassment. This ranged from unsolicited dick picks, being catcalled in my school uniform whilst with my mum (yes, this is incomprehensibly gross alas, common), to then being unnecessarily held by the hips and brushed by a sweaty strangers crotch as they passed me in a bar – all of this occurring before I entered this new university bubble.
A friend I lived with, who is Asian, educated me on her experiences of how women of ethnic minorities are fetishized so frequently and severely; there are dimensions to the topic of sexualisation of women that I am fortunate enough to not have to live and directly experience, but the silencing of the issue of fetishization of different cultures, races and ethnicities is even more silenced. BAME people suffer incomprehensible levels of cumulative structural violence. My approach was always to try to push the anger and embarrassment down so I could attempt to carry on and enjoy my day afterwards. After all, why should I dwell and let it affect me? Women must be graceful, right? The “bigger” person, and men who are harmed by sexual violence are shamed into silence in a similar way, but through another whole system of shaming and isolation which *shock* also isn’t addressed.
The issue is embedded in people’s lives that, if I mentioned the word ‘harassment’ to my 4 female housemates, the chances are they would mention a time where they experienced similar in the last week; one time another housemate and I were inappropriately propositioned over and over by our letting agent who had access to keys to all of our bedrooms, and we thought best to make a joke of it to mask the genuine sense of unsettlement, a response so many women feel they must resort to. One experience of sexual assault I faced, however, was particularly devastating for me: one I had completely buried in the deepest crevices of my memory which took place over 7 years ago when I was 15.
It is very common, yet unfortunately, very unaddressed, for survivors of sexual assault to not begin the process of what has happened to them until much later, even decades after. When the penny dropped for me about what happened to my 15-year-old self, I found this to be an exceedingly confusing, isolating and traumatising thing to have to start processing so late. It left me confused as to why I hadn’t really unpacked this and made matters worse for me. The complications of not being the same person I was all that time ago, in such a transitional age, but still having this enormous load of emotional labour from the violation to my body and soul dumped in my hands all of a sudden which was overwhelmingly bewildering. Obviously as well as the invasive certain feeling that if I did speak out so late no one would care, “people move on”. Not to mention, the added voice in your head that tells you that perhaps your abuser was younger and reckless, that they may have turned a new leaf since then, all contributing to what often becomes an incredibly draining and isolating rabbit hole of thoughts, feelings and alienation.
It is also worth mentioning that to many people’s surprise, most cases of sexual assault and rape is perpetrated and conducted by what is known in victimology as ‘intimates’, meaning those trusted by and close to the survivor: friends, colleagues, relatives, carers, etc. In fact, 90% of cases are carried out by a known perpetrator (rapecrisis.org). So clearly the myth that most of the predators are the strangers in alleyways and that people are always safe in their own communities needs debunking. As my abuser was a close male friend at the time, this complicated my feelings enormously…
What if he just liked me in that way and I had led him on without realising?
If I can expect this sort of behaviour from a trusted friend is this just what I should be expecting from men in my life?
What if he lies to our friends and acts as if I wanted this?
What if he’s serious when he told me he was sorry, and I should let this go for my sake?
Wouldn’t it be more convenient for me to just act cool with him since I’m going to be seeing him around all the time?
People get assaulted by strangers which must be scarier, I should feel sorrier for people like that than myself?
Was the whole friendship just laying the foundation for what he did that night?
I could go on.
These questions reared their ugly heads almost immediately each time I would start to contemplate what happened to me, which I suppose restricted me from reaching any sort of stable feeling towards what happened; I shut myself up with the questions that devil’s advocate players in society love to ask survivors before society could ask me them. This self-silencing repeated and repeated before I could take the first step in understanding my pain, extending my inability to land on a stable emotion for long enough for me to make sense of anything. Eventually I decided to drop it and stay in his life as a friend for most of a decade.
It wasn’t until 7 years later when I was having a conversation with a guy I was seeing about a sexual assault victimology seminar I had been to earlier that day (who knew no one from my home circle in a new city having a new conversation) that I really put two and two together and began my process. My victimology lecturer had mentioned the intricacy and prolonged nature of trauma and how certain triggers you could never imagine, can and do impact survivors’ average day and ultimately their healing. She used the example:
“If someone had been sexually assaulted by their uncle one Christmas, and that uncle has previously given them a bauble as a gift, Christmas may forever be an immensely difficult time for that person and simple things such as Christmas decorations may make them experience unbearable memories and feelings.”
As ridiculous as this may or may not sound, reader, this got me to understand my ongoing nauseating hatred of condensation and rain on running down windows, because as I was being assaulted, I locked my head to the side to fixate on my view of the rain on windows because I wanted to relieve my mind and, I suppose, escape. The severity of impacts this happening all those years ago suddenly hit me when the guy I was dating in final year told me, simply, that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t even know this at the time or at all since the event, but I so badly needed to hear this. However, these findings shook the world inside my head for months. I cried in a heap, felt nothing, then felt everything and felt numb again in every order, on and on in a relentless loop. I suffered severe shame, sleepless nights, and even dissociation; I felt imprisoned in my body, disgusted by my body and sometimes, horrifyingly like I wasn’t attached to my body. I also began to think perhaps the reason I was hypersexual at university at times and generally since this event may have a lot to do with this whole shitstorm; perhaps I was obsessed with reclaiming the control of my body as an autonomous sexual agent, linking sex to power, that sense of control and stability I was robbed of. I know what some of you may think, maybe I was just having fun and fulfilling the university student stereotype and maybe it wasn’t so deep which definitely could be the case too, but please hear me when I say it’s hard to distinguish the deep from the normal when your mind is in what-the-fuck-is-going-on mode.
Slowly, I began to inform my home mates what happened, and I came to discover from them that I wasn’t the only one significantly impacted by my abuser’s actions (I heard of about 3 others). I let myself cut him off at last. Inevitably, part of me wondered… is it a bit late or dramatic to do this? If mutual friends notice I am cold with him suddenly, would they think its dumb, turn against me? Why did I choose to do this now? The truth is, when you realise your abuser isn’t a friend or a person who didn’t know any better, but an accountable agent who disregarded someone’s lack of consent, its truly not your place to “be the bigger person” and forgive; it’s your responsibility to yourself to exercise self-love and self-compassion and let yourself heal, not to worry about anybody who may disagree with your choice to not tolerate what happened to you. Being honest, I wish I knew that anyone who might disagree with someone for cutting off an abuser is not someone I needed around years ago.
Talking about it helps, and as saddening as it is, you aren’t as alone in your experience as you feel; so many survivors are out there seeking a person who understands the pain they’ve felt. Some people who have experienced similar won’t want to discuss it, you may not either, and that is okay; there is not a “one size fits all” method to healing, but knowing you deserve the chance to heal is a good place to start. Trust the process and know that feeling better isn’t linear and back-to-square-one moments often are just bad days and that you will feel like you again sooner than you may believe. I would say also, there were times after the penny dropping for me that I certainly wished that it never did drop, and I resented myself for what felt like subscribing to an endless membership of emotional work and unpacking. Now, however, I no longer wish to go back my years of subconscious denial of what happened because during that time I put my own needs and emotional rights on the backburner.
You are not what happened to you.
You are not to blame.
You aren’t failing if you do not heal perfectly.
It is never too late to seek help, and there is strength in seeking help.
Healing isn’t a simple task you can just finish but starting is always something your future self will be glad you did.
It is never too late to begin healing.
And yes, it gets better. Read that again.
For BAME people:
BAATN The black, African and Asian Therapy Network: https://www.baatn.org.uk/free-services/
For mental health support for anyone:
Rape Crisis Helpline: 0808 802 9999 (12-2:30 and 7-9:30) rapecrisis.org.uk
Victim Support Supportline: 0333 300 6389
Counselling for women: https://www.mayacentre.org.uk/
Women's Aid Federation National Domestic Violence Helpline (24hrs): 0808 2000 247 womensaid.org.uk
Survivors UK – Male Rape and Sexual Abuse Support survivorsuk.org
Rape Crisis Network Europe www.rcne.com
Supporting loved ones who are survivors:
BY DAVID LARBI
July 31, 2020
This week, I saw a video of a man who was irate at what he believed to be the policing of language in today’s society. One of his examples was: “You can’t even ask for black coffee anymore because you get told that it’s offensive!!” He was utterly serious and produced several other equally ridiculous arguments. This kind of thing used to bother me but recently, my perspective has changed. Attempts such as these to trivialise real issues by using fake and ridiculous arguments to undermine a genuine cause is common and utterly typical, in fact that is has its own Latin name – ‘Reduction ad absurdum’, meaning ‘to reduce to the absurd.’ If people are struggling to keep up with the things that they’re being told they should no longer say or do, then I am extremely pleased and entirely unsympathetic for very good reasons.
A lot of the things people are used to saying and doing are being highlighted as harmful and it’s easy to understand that people are finding difficulty in being told that what they’re used to is no longer okay. It’s tiring having to think about the things one does and feeling like you might get in trouble for unwittingly offending without meaning offence. Although I understand this fatigue, I have no sympathy, because the well-being of those affected by our learned harmful behaviours takes precedence over this temporary minor discomfort. We are all culpable of doing and saying the wrong things when we lack the relevant education and information, but once you are in possession of this, there’s no excuse and no level of personal discomfort that justifies continued harmful behaviour. Having to evolve and grow can be uncomfortable but it’s painfully necessary, more so now than ever.
The level of discomfort we are witnessing is ultimately a positive thing, I know it’s in response to the sheer volume of correction that is going on. People who have been discriminated against are finding their voices and confidence in the great swell of social justice of the moment, and as more stories are shared, more issues will be talked about and the more positive change will occur.
Inclusivity is not pie in the sky, it’s a real and tangible objective and the uncomfortable adjustment period that we are going to go through will be so very rewarding – we cannot arrest our efforts to satisfy reactionary anger and petulance.
Let people be uncomfortable. It’s going to happen. We have to persevere through the uncomfortable nature of berating ourselves and hold ourselves to higher standards. I won’t be told that I’m being sensitive by those who have tantrums when they’re told to treat people more respectfully. Growing pains are worth the final product.
MY FAVOURITE SONGS RIGHT NOW FOR DIFFERENT MOODS
BY MOLLY SAXBY
Stressed: Blue Dream, Jhene Aiko
This is quite possibly my favourite song in the world. Jhene Aiko creates beautiful, peaceful music and this song instantly relaxes me whenever I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Late night vibes – Too Deep, DVSN
DVSN have mastered late night, sultry music, the entire SEPT 5TH album is perfect late-night vibes, and honourable mention to PARTYNEXTDOOR for this category.
Reminiscing – Used To, Nbdy
A perfect, reflective “in your feels” song. The Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy album is also faultless for this mood.
Confident – I See You Shining, Nines
Nines will bring you right out of your feels and feeling confident in no time with this song.
Happy – Collateral Damage, Burna Boy
This song and the African Giant album are such happy vibes and get you dancing even in the worst moods.
Hype – Reseaux, Niska
If you haven’t listened to French rap or hip hop, check out Niska right now. For calmer vibes give Sundance by Nepal a listen. Another shoutout to Break That by Octavian and Suspect for more hyped vibes.
In love – Speechless, Cadet
Had to add in some of the Underrated Legend in here, can’t relate but I’m sure if I had a sweet one, I’d like to listen to this song when in love.
Honourable Mention – What You Know Bout Love, Pop Smoke
Our last of Pop Smoke’s music, from his newest album Shoot For The Stars Aim For the Moon, RIP Woo.
‘this is a revolution my dear’
open your eyes
this is a revolution!
knowledge is bitter
but ignorance is poison
this is a revolution!
Liberty do you hear me?
Do you hear the people outside?
this is a revolution!
open your eyes
this is a revolution my dear
‘i refuse to be afraid of change any longer’
what would the Earth be
if Winter’s bitter touch
refused to leave?
i refuse to be afraid of change
‘is it selfish to never forget you?’
your abandoned perfume bottle
is the only reminder of your past presence,
haunting and bitter.
i have doused myself in its scent
i am more flammable than
a lover’s regret.
is it selfish to never forget you?
we built a home together
mine in your heart
and yours in mine.
the summer’s sun spat
in our faces
and thunderstorms rained down on us.
the rain smelt like gasoline
and i saw your smile
as you threw a match
inside my beating home;
you let me burn
and i watched
you walk away
'DREAMS MONEY CAN BUY'
BY DAVID LARBI
In this series, I hope to explore early tracks from my favourite artists and why they resonate even later into these artists’ careers each month.
First up is Drake – Dreams Money Can Buy.
Released in 2011 as one of four build up tracks before the album ‘Take Care’ truly launched him into the stratosphere, ‘Dreams Money Can Buy’ contains within it all the seeds of the artist Drake will become in their earliest form. The song begins with a brag, ‘I got car money, fresh start money’ and is followed by a statement of ambition, ‘I want Saudi money, I want art money.’ In his nascent career, Drake is serious to the point of earnestness about the things he wants and where he wants to go. It seems almost funny in retrospect, but it’s a reminder that none of these things are promised.
The instrumental, produced by OVO’s resident producer and Drake’s close personal friend Noah ‘40’ Shebib, features a sample of Jai Paul’s ‘BTSTU’ and sets the melancholy tone that would become synonymous with Drake after the album’s release. In fact, the track ‘Marvin’s Room’ was meant to be released in the same manner as ‘Dreams Money Can Buy’, but after gaining a lot of radio play, it was put on the album. This song feels like it could fit seamlessly onto the ‘Take Care’ tracklist and it’s somewhat of a travesty that fans had to wait until 2019 for it to be available on streaming services as part of Drake’s ‘Care Package’ mixtape of throwaways.
This song also has one of my favourite hooks of all time. It’s a simple repeat; ‘don’t f*ck with me, don’t f*ck with me’. The way it hits me depends on where I am in life – at my best, it’s a warning, a challenge, a caution to leave me alone cause “you don’t wanna mess with me!” What I’ve always felt to be the truth of the line, and how I hear it most, is as a plea, a betrayal of underlying insecurity and it’s that vulnerability that truly endears an artist to us.
Drake is now planning to release his sixth studio album later this year. As the global superstar that he is now, it’s nice to reflect on his humble beginnings – to a time when he didn’t know for sure the heights he would reach.
Hi, my name is Sam Terry. I’m a 21-year old photographer and creative currently based in Brighton. My approach to photography is probably my most developed facet of my creative endeavours. People and the world around me - That’s my focus. I wish to capture these scenes with as much reality and candour as possible, while still producing thoughtfully composed photographs. In this collection, I have included shots from a trip up into the misty tea hills of Munnar, and a singular photograph captured on Marari Beach, both in Kerala, India.
CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
BY ZAHRA AWAN
July 31, 2020
Issues that have been buried under years of work sessions with Adam’s and nights out with Eve’s have been exhumed by Covid-19. Uncovering health issues, friendships or a four-year hidden affair; the same has been done with the issue of race. The eruption following George Floyds murder filled my household and woke even my dormant parents, extracting from them a rage towards the injustice. People rose and united, forming hope and inspiration. Books were read, protests were organised, social media was shut down in the light of #blackouttuesday and opinions changed. Personally, I learnt how prejudice was scattered throughout our society – particularly in places we would not usually look.
With the BLM movement spreading across the world, I felt a barrier towards fully comprehending and understanding the pain the black community felt. I understood that there was injustice taking place every day and the absurdity of the world putting others down for having a slightly higher percentage of melanin, but I could not see how one issue was more urgent than my fight against Islamophobia. But by asking questions born from my ignorance came change; I finally realised there was no air free of the injustices they face for them to breathe.
It was not these current protests that sparked the epiphany that racism had seeped its way into everyday conversations, it was rather the sudden realisation that the injustice was constant and most likely involving everyone in the world indirectly; that no matter how small or indirect, the injustice always includes the black race. The issue of racism is so deeply rooted that it has become integrated into other injustices, meaning the black community not only suffer from clear cut shaming and exclusion, but also sly and sinister prejudice every day; both in the workplaces and in their own homes. My Pakistani mum is able to go into Tesco and get the outcome she wants without thought of any repercussions posed by potential arguments with the staff; I doubt that would be the same outcome for a black mother of four.
Those who know me know of the game new people play: ‘guess my ethnicity’ - for me this was a fascination, that is until someone said, ‘you should relax your hair to look like other Pakistanis’. This was not a new insult; I have often been told by my community that my natural hair looks ‘unkept’ and my tan in summer is ‘a little too much’, but I brushed them off. My parents are from Pakistan which means I have been caught in a strange space, where my race is both a victim, and shamefully a user of racism. It is something with which I am personally not unfamiliar with, and yet something I have realised is more complex than hate towards a single group or person.
It clicked that these are the comments that are also hurtled at the black community, that in fact the reason the insults are given to me is because it’s a warning. It was the sudden understanding that society has become so tightly moulded around hate for one another that people chose to isolate from communities in order to save themselves; an attempt to prevent myself from looking like a beautiful race, for fear I may be mistaken as ‘one of them’. The insult was directed at me, but the deeper meaning was against the black race; we may all suffer from poverty, but there are occasions where racism becomes an added injustice against black community making it harder for them to escape it.
I know I still don’t fully understand (and may never fully understand) but by asking questions I am learning, and it is the only way I can every truly understand. Yet here was a second barrier. We ask questions to improve and yes there are occasions where people will not listen, but there are also those who do not want to answer. This is a sensitive issue and it is a right to not speak. People do not have to be teachers, as there are endless resources. Personal experiences are key to a deeper understanding, but not everyone is willing to set free their darkest encounters. Yet, there are also those who are afraid, perhaps where their questions are just as needed.
The morning of #BlackOutTuesday, I awoke ignorant to what was going on, and the first thing I did was open the story of a friend who had posted a black image. Thinking, I was a good friend, I asked whether he meant to put it there or if it was an accident. A very poor tasted judgement, but innocent in intent. I got no reply, I had no explanation until I saw strangers’ posts on Instagram explaining. I texted him back asking whether he thought to explain and again was ignored. Perhaps I was wrong. But surely it should be ok for those who do not understand to ask questions to those close to them? Reading a book and looking online is necessary, but could it be asked that being able that being together with those you love and have relations with is perhaps more important? This encounter ultimately only made me question my right to asking questions – something necessary to learn and grow.
I am not saying all people have this attitude to not answering questions, I have many friends who have helped me understand. What I recognise is that being brown gives me the ability and confidence to ask the questions that the majority of my white friends can’t. They too have opinions and want to help, as they see the injustice that I do, but have no confidence. Yes, mistakes will be made, like I have made… but questions are needed. You have to speak in order to learn, you have to listen to in order correct yourself. We are family, we want equality, and like family we need to know our history.
I recognise there is injustice targeting perhaps every race, religion, gender, class etc. and perhaps you can think back to everyday situations where you have seen, had or given indirect racism. There will be those who don’t listen, but there are always those who do. As a TikTok once told me, ‘why would we ignore the house that is on fire when the fire will spread’. This is our current fire. Our mission is to put it out together.
MEET THE SOUTHAMPTON-BASED SHOESTRING ENTREPRENEUR STIMULATING SUSTAINABILITY
Get to know Tom White - owner of staple shoelace supplier BBoyLaces - as he discusses the company, consumerism and the current climate.
BY BRUIN WHITE
31 July, 2020
Following a business endeavour in selling sneakers under the moniker of MrShoeShotta, Tom White set up BBoyLaces in 2011 in a mission/with the hope to supply the UK with shoelaces. Now, he’s joining the effort to save the world.
Tom White begun manufacturing and selling unbranded laces in 2007 and has been so successful that he has managed to reach all corners of the world. He regularly exports premium shoelaces worldwide – from New Zealand, to Colombia, to South Africa. BBoylaces has become a prestigious accessories outlet amongst sneakerheads globally. The Jam Master Jay-inspired entrepreneur humbly comments that “the BBoy movement is a real global culture.” When asked about his goals for Southampton, Tom affirms “the goal was achieved early on – simply to provide higher quality fat laces at affordable prices.” A line on the company website states, BBoyLaces was started ‘when a sneaker collector decided he’d had enough of lacing hi-grade kicks with lo-grade laces.’ He also adds that “it’s always been a product-led venture.”
Since opening the business nearly 9 years ago, the world has changed dramatically. Consumerism is at an all-time high - with 1,130,000 metric tonnes of clothing being purchased in the UK in 2016 alone, and 20 billion pairs of shoes being manufactured worldwide every year.
“Over-consumption is a massive issue”, the shoelace visionary observes. “The amount of people with far more shoes than they’ll ever need is pretty obscene, particularly when there are plenty of people surviving with no shoes at all”.
Speculative, he continues: “But this is the result of the capitalist system - we are brainwashed into thinking we need to consume as much as possible and compete amongst our fellow peers, bigger is always better, we always need more, et cetera, et cetera. I think it will always be the way unless there are massive changes to the way we live and care for humanity as a whole”.
Providing one tonne of t-shirts for direct re-use - for example, by donation to charity shops or resale online - can accumulate to a net greenhouse gas saving of 13 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to a 2011 report by wrap.org.uk. It is also becoming greatly popular is to donate homeware like old vacuum cleaners, speakers, as well as shoes, clothes and children’s toys to charity shops. Tom White evaluates this and explains that by “donating old shoes to those in need and using recycled materials is a big step. But unless the demand reduces then there will always be brands producing more and more items. This obviously applies to all markets, not just sneakers, so I wouldn’t say it is a bigger concern than other areas and, of course, people should be free to collect [and] wear what they choose - it is the mindset that needs changing. With more education on the environmental impact of mass production and less pushy [or] exploitative marketing and promotion maybe people can learn to realise when enough is enough!”
Over-consumption and over-production is not only causing problems when discarding of products, but also during production. Pesticides and genetically modified cotton seeds produced in the US are poisoning farmers in India and corporatism has allowed for the same conglomerates to monopolise from the appropriate medications. In addition to this, it is now believed that up to a fifth of all industrial water pollution is caused by the dyeing and treatment of textiles (according to chinawaterrisk.org.) When asked about the part his business plays in the sustainability effort, White replied: “I’ve sold natural hemp and cotton laces for many years, alongside the BBoy Laces Earth Positive T-shirts. These are made by climate neutral manufacturing processes with environmentally-friendly ink prints and packaged in a paper bag”. The brown paper-wrapped hemp laces are created from a renewable source in hemp. Hemp plants have a high energy yield which is ‘similar or superior’ to most energy crops in Northern Europe (as stated in a 2011 journal published by Elsevier). According to hemptrade.ca, hemp products are 100% biodegradable.
Another severely negative culmination of industrial humankind’s negligent behaviours that Tom comments on is the dangerously high level of ocean pollution caused by plastics. Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide, which now counts for 80% of marine litter – with microplastics now residing within the ice of the Arctic. We know Tom White speaks for a lot of up-and-coming and underground retailers when he says, “I’m also committed to reducing plastic in packaging as much as possible, although this is proving difficult with such a limited budget”. With things such as recycled paper finally beginning to find an equilibrium in price with their ‘conventional’ counterpart, it would be good to also see alternatives to single-use plastics be as sustainably priced for independent outlets, as they are sustainably manufactured for mother nature. A lack of education on the topic in low income countries (LICs) leads to the most inexpensive suppliers in developing countries around S.E. Asia still favouring non-biodegradable plastics. “It’s real frustrating that sustainable options are much more expensive”.
Certain larger retailers, however, have no trouble covering the cost. Adidas have been collaborating with Parley for the Oceans, an organisation dedicated to addressing and reducing the threat imposed by plastic pollution to our oceans. Creating a range of clothes and shoes - including their popular ‘Ultraboost’ model using recycled plastic ocean waste - Adidas and Parley have found a way to promote the cause in an extremely high-profile manner. The BBoyLaces founder comments on the collection critically, stating that he’s “a bit sceptical”. He explains that “normally when you see big brands doing things like this it is because they are looking to capture new markets and give the impression they care, rather than actually addressing the real issues and their own manufacturing processes and morals. But taking it at face value it is a very good idea and anything that helps clear up the ocean plastic and reuse those resources is a positive step. I hope things like this do become a norm rather than a gimmick in the future.
“I’m not a fan of the shoes themselves,” he adds. “I like old school style models, and perhaps this is the hardest bit: convincing people that the environment is more important than fashion. Again, that is a long-term major overhaul in the way we live. I used to sell sneakers and stocked the Adidas Originals Grun - ‘green’ in German - range a while back, 2008-10. They used recycled materials to re-produce their traditional designs, which seemed to work well in my opinion, although it died out fairly quickly so perhaps it wasn’t the commercial success they’d hoped.”
So how could the sneakerhead community work together to decrease the negative impacts the industry is having on the environment? “I think if huge sneaker collections become socially unacceptable, rather than revered, then it could help us move forward positively. Perhaps a bigger emphasis could be put on quality rather than quantity. Maybe a completely carbon-neutral collection could become the new holy grail!”
The United Nations released a report in October warning that there’s just 12 years to take the necessary actions to limit global warming at just 1.5° in order to avoid global catastrophe - a report that’s accelerated efforts discussed in the Paris Agreement of 2016. By 2030, at the current rate we’re going, the world will have only 60% of the necessary natural resources to sustain the lifestyle we’re comfortable with.
White finishes by commenting that: “At present there is a big conflict between profit and morals. Big corporations are always going to put money first, so I think legislation will play the biggest part in making the major changes required. If companies and consumers are physically restricted from buying [and] producing environmentally damaging products, along with social changes and evolution regarding what’s acceptable, then I hope we can find a happy medium where we can look fresh and protect the natural world too!”