My Black Lives Matter post last week was weak; an expansive gesture hiding behind art and it’s many interpretations. Part of the reason is because for me to talk about racism is to hold extra large cartons of organic ducks eggs, one in each hand, whilst attempting to ride a unicycle for the first time; it’s bound to end in a privileged mess. Instead I have watched and listened, and it seems to me, the strongest way forward is through education, re-education, thinking, reading and more listening. Below is a list of available resources, the first three being personal to me – articles and documentaries that first opened my eyes.
Jane Elliott is an American schoolteacher, anti-racism activist, and educator. She is known for her “Blue eyes–Brown eyes” exercise. She first conducted this famous exercise for her class on April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; she wanted her pupils to feel the pain of racism. I don’t know when I first watched this documentary – maybe it was shown in a social science class at my secondary school – I do know I have carried it with me ever since. It wasn’t just the shock of segregation along seemingly inconsequential lines, it was the shock that people (in this case children) would not only go along with it, but it would influence their behaviour outside the classroom. It was a brilliant and brutal showcase of human failing, exposing our ever constant need to conform to a perceived power source and the contagion of group think.
White Privilege, ‘Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack’ by Peggy McIntosh, first written in 1989, is an article I only read in the last couple of years. Again, it had a profound effect. Whilst’s Jane’s exercise was about conscious discrimination, this was about the unconscious discrimination we allow without thinking because we just don’t see it, because to notice has been conditioned out of us. She informed me, the word is not equal and there is no thing as meritocracy.
Notice anything about my education? White and female…
There’s not enough space to fill the books, words and videos of Maya Angelou. But with her brilliance, strength, wit and wonder, she remains a huge influence. My Grandmother gave me my first copy of a book by her – I know why the cages bird sings – and I can see it as I type this.
For the following list, I want to thank the High Low podcast, it is the result of their research combine with others such as the New York Times. Please refer back to this link if any of the links below don’t work:
Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
How To Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
The Good Immigrant compiled by Nikesh Shukla
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Women Race and Class by Angela Davis
White Rage by Carol Anderson
Brit-ish by Afua Hirsch
My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay
Slay In Your Lane by Elizabeth Uviebinené & Yomi Adegoke
A Burst of Light by Audre Lorde
Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri
Taking Up Space: The Black Girls Manifesto For Change by Chelsea Kwakye & Ore Ogunbiyi
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala
Aint I a Woman: Black Women & Feminism by bell hooks
Why You Need To Stop Saying “All Lives Matter” by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle for Harper’s Bazaar https://bit.ly/3gG8rgq
Ibram X. Kendi’s reading list for The New York Times https://nyti.ms/3gKL8lH
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Ordinary People by Diana Evans
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
On Beauty and White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Citizen: An American Life by Claudia Rankine
I know why the caged Bird sings by Maya Angelou
George Floyd’s Memorial Fund
Black Lives Matter
Black Protest Legal Support UK
Stop Hate UK
The Stephen Lawrence Trust
The Innocence Project
Show Racism The Red Card
Black Visions Collective
Girls Out Loud
Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Brad Meltzer’s Ordinary People Can Change The World series on Rosa Parks & Harriet Tubman
A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Petition to update GCSE reading list https://bit.ly/2U6foOl
1619 podcast by The NY Times
With thoughts and positivity, Kate x
It’s a mad old time at the moment – both kids starting new schools, husband working away from home during the week, scaffolding up, decorators in both inside and out. It does mean Bella’s room is finally being decorated – more on that later. But making the final decisions in consultation with her has meant much pinning on Pinterest. First there’s been finding the line between what she wants now versus what I believe would stand the test of time and take her through her teenage years…an interesting discussion. But there’s also been a feeling of walking between a real world and an imaginary one and reaching a point where the two seem to collide into a strange reality. As we’ve both been pinning and sharing inspiration it’s become more and more obvious that what looks good isn’t always practical, and if it isn’t practical, does it deserve it’s title of good? Take the kids room above, an eclectic vision of white pepped with colour and texture. But the ladder..why?
At first glance this is a minimalists wet dream with toys framed beautifully to catch the eye like tempting abstract art. Except how can a child reach them? Stand on the rocking chair? Maybe borrow the ladder from the picture above?
Same problem here. Except don’t you look at all of these and feel sorry for the kids? The toys are so carefully chosen and exceptionally curated, not because they’re fun to play with but because they’ll photograph well, give the right image..this is a sickness that is contagious..
Or else you’ll get the room where there aren’t any toys at all. Because..well..playing is just so overrated isn’t it? Far better for kids to just to suck it up that they’re going adults and get used to it, perception over substance, pretence over truth, the new modern dream…maybe I need to go and live with the Amish..or not! But embracing what is beautiful and what is practical seems a basic, honest step…
Laters, Kate x
Clothes are so ubiquitous it’s easy to take them for granted: fripperies, feathers and function. Except they unconsciously say so much – they are our inner identities reflected back to the world. Those moments when you have nothing to wear? It’s really because there’s nothing to express who you want to be that day.
But what if the freedom we believe in is really a myth? What if society has conditioned our thinking so much we no longer notice the rules, the divisions and the assumptions they lead to?
And there are many of them: Blue for a boy, pink for a girl, pretty dresses for girls that look sweet but don’t take into consideration climbing trees and protection against skinned knees, trousers for boys that metaphorically take on another meaning, T-bars for primary school girls, running shoes for boys, Pedestal high heels for women: the literal presentation of an object of desire: Look sexy, feel sexy they shout. Taxi shoes! We laugh, the truth covered by humour, falling for the fantasy rather than admit they’re restrictive, tortuous and totally lacking function.
What about sizing? It’s another hidden form of segregation: There’s the designer labels who don’t make anything above a size 14 – what’s the message they’re giving? That only the rich are perfect? Or that designers only want to hang their clothes on hangers, not real bodies, real people? But we still let them, maybe one day hoping that person will be us, another part of our insidious cultural brainwashing. What about the clothes store that allegedly offer larger sizes except they never have any in stock? Is it because they can’t understand why someone with that body would want to wear it? Is that really their choice to make? When what’s available for one body isn’t available for another it’s limitation, restriction, and control.
Gender is another straitjacket demanding clothing conformity, every store with racks of clothes marked out for one type of person only, the changing rooms following suit. Who has decided these divisions?
Certainly not Phluid. Phluid is the first gender neutral store that’s just opened in New York as a place without judgement or fear where it’s the clothes that do the talking, not our mental labels. Phluid says we have the ability to imagine a world without ‘because we do’ traditions and outdated rituals that don’t work. They say it’s up to us to open our eyes and fix it: Acceptance, balance, integrity, intention are so much more appealing.
(All pics Phluid)
Personally, it’s such a relief to see a store that celebrates what makes us different whilst cherishing what makes us the same: We think choice is freedom, but it only is if that choice is available to everyone.
Laters, Kate x
‘Wow. I don’t really know where to get started on this “Jennifer Lawrence wearing a revealing dress in the cold” controversy. This is not only utterly ridiculous, I am extremely offended. That Versace dress was fabulous, you think I’m going to cover that gorgeous dress up with a coat and a scarf? I was outside for 5 minutes. I would have stood in the snow for that dress because I love fashion and that was my choice.
This is sexist, this is ridiculous, this is not feminism. Over- reacting about everything someone says or does, creating controversy over silly innocuous things such as what I choose to wear or not wear, is not moving us forward. It’s creating silly distractions from real issues. Get a grip people. Everything you see me wear is my choice. And if I want to be cold THATS MY CHOICE TOO!’
To Jennifer I say, many of us don’t realise the level of sexism we have internalised. We are conditioned by it, educated in it and live out our lives in it. You wore this dress because of an insidious undercurrent of rules that dictates female Hollywood stars should wear such dresses, full stop, regardless of the expense, the quality, the label, the fashion statement, the weather, or even what the men are wearing. You were expected to dress like this, you knew this and unquestioningly fulfilled that obligation. Where the ongoing problem lies is that you don’t see your behaviour as influenced and that’s where the sadness lies, because every time our daughters see a women, particularly a women proud to hold herself up as a female icon, refuse to acknowledge such an event or puts her well being second, or does something that reinforces the idea that being object of desire/cleaning/childcare is a woman’s primary role, we let them down. In the words of Charles Boudelaire:
The loveliest trick of the devil is to persuade you he doesn’t exist.
Open your eyes. The truth is, there should have been five human beings standing there, not four men and a beautifully packaged piece of tempting meat.
Laters, Kate x
Greta Gerwig is only the fifth woman ever to be nominated for best director at the Oscars.
Marie Curie – honoured twice with the Nobel Prize, in 1903 for physics and 1911 for chemistry. Between the years 1901 – 2017 only 48 women in total have been awarded the prize.
1984 was the first year women were allowed to run the marathon at the Olympic games. The gold medal was won by Joan Benoit Samuelson.
The Oxford and Cambridge boat race. First rowed by women in 1927 and then annually since 1964. The women’s race was only televised in 2015.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of women in the UK getting the vote – but don’t be fooled into thinking this was all women – we’re talking women over 30 with ‘property’..the real equality would take another eleven years.
100 years later discrimination is still rife. Except it’s not talked about, because it doesn’t happen. In fact there are so many people convinced of their good intentions towards women that they don’t even notice their glaring disrespect for them: Grid girls? Equal number of grid boys please, along with female racing drivers, women mechanics, female engineers, women running F1 teams – and lets add heading up the car companies as well because we still need an explosion of the myth that cars are just for boys. Time to grow up.
Laters, Kate x
One of the truly great things about living in the IT revolution is how it has brought down the cost of printing, whether it be on paper or fabric.
There are now companies out there that for a small sum are ready to take your designs and turn them into usable art – we’re talking fabric, wallpaper and wrapping paper..and you don’t even need a large print run…one roll or 1 metre will do it. What’s more, if it’s good, you can earn money from other people buying your design…win, win.
It’s something I’m keen to explore and play with. I’ve found this website that gives a clear, basic tutorial. about pattern repeating.
And Spoonflower seem to be the biggest/best website for printing…and they also have lots of ‘how to’ videos.
Now to pin down the design…
Laters, Kate x
The temperature is rising, the bluebells are out! And like the instinct of an awakening hibernating beast, the brain is coming alive with illicit thoughts of cloudless skies and barmy evenings and how best to harness those precious summer months.
More and more I’m dreaming of hammocks and swing beds.
That primitive allure of quiet self-indulgence: Peace, tranquility, old soft cotton and a damn fine book.
If our garden was huuuuge I’d go for one of these…beds on top..potential den beneath…broken bones a given…but just think of the fun!
This is probably more realistic – and I like the pagoda style..a bit more secretive and tucked away. Maybe with a curtain to block out nosey neighbours…and with a back support – I hate reading completely flat. It would eat the space…but in a rather wonderful way. The truth is we have an urban life: Our garden will never be a football pitch…so why pretend?
Laters Kate x
Anyone else heading to Greece on holiday this summer? Worried about the economic crisis? Don’t be…if I hadn’t seen the media reports before we left, I wouldn’t know there was a problem. Whilst the political events may have been whipped up into a fury in the papers, day to day life, at least for tourists, remains unchanged – ATMs still work, there’s petrol in the pumps and food on the supermarket shelves.
We were wary before we left and quickly bought cash belts and locks for the suitcases, but, like the dew in the morn, those feelings have long since gone.
Fundamentally, this is a cash based society – which has been part of the problem – that and corrupt politicians. Ultimately, if you have cash or a foreign credit card, you are fine and rather than seeing poverty some Greeks are still very wealthy…which are the ones we’re more likely to see on holiday, particularly in a place like Spetses. I will confess to some Marie Antoinette twinges, an openning gulf between those with and those without – a low slung banana yellow Lamborghini roared past us on a mountain road, there was a wedding on Spetses reportedly costing millions for a single day of celebrations, the beach turned into a dance floor with enough lights to resemble an alien landing. Is it enough for potential civil unrest? Only time will tell. I asked a friend married to a Greek whether there was a growing awareness of this discrepancy, she said no, Greeks didn’t see it as a flaunting of wealth but rather admired it as a show of success, she said I was viewing the situation through envy driven British eyes that like to attack the successful.
Who knows..but it does feel like this country is in the grips of the sovereign equivalent to a Company takeover….where the majority of the employees have been forgotten.
Personally, I would have like the no vote to mean no, for Greece to take Europe by the cojones and leave the Euro and for Germany to be proudly presented with wheel barrowfuls of freshly printed drachma, which would’ve promptly devalued. Yes, it would cause huge problem….but it would leave Greece in control of Greece.
But then I’m seeing this through privileged English eyes….
Laters, Kate x
Favourite Colour: Blue..denim, navy, the sea, the sky..it rocks.
Best trait: I value the simple things in life..but truthfully, what I hold truly dear doesn’t a lot, but is ultimately priceless.
Worst trait: I like to think I’m tidy, but I fear I’m not – things just get discarded like the feathers from a plucked chicken so there’s a perpetual circle of chaos around me. I’m also surprisingly crap with technology – I’m not an obsessive checker and regularly lose my phone. I see the internet as something wonderful but inherently dangerous and I suspect losing my phone is a Freudian way of trying to keep a distance from it’s pull.
Oldest item in wardrobe: Hard to say – there’s a fair amount of vintage with unknown heritage, but I do have a cream cape that used to belong to my Grandmother. It’s a treasure.
Newest item: Vintage silk dress bought on Ebay and dyed black, otherwise it’s my Miss Hellfire stripey shoes..certainly different and surprisingly comfortable..
Favourite piece of music: Schubert Lieder sung by Ian Bostridge which shouldn’t work because he’s a light, English tenor, but does..maybe because it’s such intelligent singing.
The last time I laughed: Charlie was asking me about the world’s tallest animal. I said ‘Giraffe’..he looked at me in surprise, and said ‘But what about the Decondra lizard Mummy? It’s at least 2 metres taller, lives in South African and has the ability to make anything you need – if you’re in the Arctic and you need a coat, the Decondra will just make one for you..it can also make plastic..and toys..basically it’s the best pet ever to have..just a big shame it’s so tall’..deep sigh…..
Laters, Kate x