gorilla

It boggles the mind that some people think that you can’t be concerned with more than one cause at time. If you tweet #freethebees someone will inevitably hyperventilate and stammer “How can you be concerned about bees when MILLIPEDES are almost extinct, do you know how important they are to our ecosystem?”

So I’m prefacing this post by reiterating that I understand that one is capable of caring about human lives and animal lives at the same time. I am after all, a vegetarian.

You’ve all heard the news about Harambe the Gorilla. Tragically, he was shot at a zoo after an incident in which a 4 year old managed to climb into the gorilla enclosure. I understand the sympathy extended that an animal, which for all intents and purposes, was minding it’s own business and happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, was shot. Cool. Have your 1 minute of silence before you eat you factory farmed beef burger. (Did you feel the shade? It was intentional)

What I don’t understand (or maybe I do understand, but don’t want to)  is this disproportionate mourning that certain people *cough* will participate in for wild animals in comparison to:

  1. The animals they kill every day for food kept in horrific conditions.
  2. Black and brown people everywhere.

Many were calling for police to investigate the mother and bring charges for the death of the gorilla. Unbelievably, they’ve been successful and the police are now investigating the mum. Never mind the fact that anyone who has looked after a 4 year old should be able to understand that they can skedaddle in the twinkling of an eye. Never mind the fact that zoos should probably have enclosures that are pretty much childproof. Unless this boy was secretly an international athlete, he just shouldn’t have been able to get into a gorilla enclosure.

I wish police officers who killed unarmed black people were investigated that quickly. Isn’t it interesting that many of these same people who are so riled by live video footage of a gorilla being shot, weren’t equally as riled by live video footage of Walter Scott being shot in the back?  Wouldn’t it be nice if it could garner the same level of international outrage?  The only conclusion I can gather from reactions to Harambe the Gorilla and Cecil the Lion (the other animal that made headlines last year), is that for many of these people gorillas lives are more important than black ones. Especially when people are more intent on crying about a gorilla than being thankful that a little boy (who coincidentally happens to be black) was saved from what could have been a horrific death at the hands of an potentially extremely violent animal.

In fact, don’t underestimate the fact that this child was black and that his mother was black in this outrage. Black mothers face tremendous stigma. Black boys are seen as societal deviants and by extension their mothers are tarred with the brush of irresponsibility, regardless of the facts of the situation. Many of you might feel that I’m clutching at straws here, but I honestly believe that the reaction to this would have been slightly different if a blonde hair blue eyed little girl had been trapped in the enclosure and if the mother had been white.

I’m not stating that every person who is concerned about the gorilla is consciously racist.I’m not stating that you shouldn’t care about gorillas, bees or millipedes. I’m not even questioning the hierarchy of concern because I was already aware of the hierarchy. I’m just giving us a short reminder, once again, perhaps like a broken record, of how selective society can be is with it’s empathy. And that we should remember this. And that we should question in our own lives what moves us to mourning.

(We could also have a discussion about zoos and why they’re kind of questionable…but that’s another post)

 

Maybe you saw the title of this blog and felt slightly offended. What’s wrong with going to Southbank University? Or London Met? Or any of the universities where a significant proportion of  young black people attend? To which I reply – absolutely nothing. Congratulations on making a decision to enter higher education and following through with it. I applaud your efforts and achievements.

BUT.

Please allow me to be brutally honest: In the hierarchy of universities in the UK, Southbank, London Met, Kingston, and many of the other universities where you’re likely to find people that look like me flounder at the bottom of the league tables fairly consistently.

If we put our feelings aside for a moment and focus on the needs of our community, this is a problem. Black graduates find it more difficult to find jobs than white graduates. We know that institutional racism, classism and other factors contribute to that and in all honesty there’s little we can do about these things. One factor that maybe we aren’t talking so much about is that many young black people simply choose poorly when it comes to university. Employers look at you university  as well as your degree classification and judge you based on that. That’s the harsh reality.

Choosing a university  partly based on the numbers of black people that attend isn’t entirely stupid. Your emotional well being will actually affect your performance, and community is important to many of us. However, choosing a low ranking university compared to a good or brilliant one based on numbers of black people is shortchanging yourself and your community. (ETA someone pointed out not many people do this, but I’ve heard of enough people who choose London uni’s over non London ones because they feel ‘safe’ in london and part of it is connected to perceptions of diversity. I’m also aware that many people feel they don’t have the grades for better universities and that’s an important factor and another post)

So here’s a guide to choosing. I hope you find it useful.

1)Identify why you’re going to university.

This sounds simple enough. To get a degree, innit? Not so fast Damilola, not so fast. Do you have an idea about your career path and what you want it to look like? No. That’s no necessarily a problem. But do you have a vague idea about what you want your life to look like in  5 years time? What is your skill set? What are you good at? Are you entrepeneurial? Are you creative? Are you practical? Does what you want to do even require a university degree? Does it require a lot of networking?

University is currently £9000 a year without living expenses. That’s a pretty hefty financial investment. If you have rich parents and can afford to go to university for the sheer joy of learning, then great. If not, think about whether your time and money needs to be invested in this.

I personally think that for a lot of people a university degree from a good university is a sensible choice because it proves to employers you have a skill set. For some people though, it’s a waste of time and a few grand.

It’s not enough to go because you want to be able to say you have. That’s like paying for a ticket to China to see the Great Wall when you actually hate Chinese food, culture and planes. It’s pointless.

2) Choose a sensible course or courses.

Sensible doesn’t necessarily mean traditional – it means a course that aligns with your answers to question 1. If you’re a rich Nigerian who’s Dad has oil money and university is just for intellectual exploration, then Ancient Russian with Events Management joint honours might be the one for you. For the rest of us, we need to think more carefully.

Write down a list of the subject/s you’re interested in. Then write down a list of your  realistic predicted  A level grades in those subjects. If it’s a D and you know in your heart that you’re probably going to get a D, then slap yourself and get a tutor (if you can afford it,  some of us can’t but if you can afford £20 a week on going out or eating takeaway, you can afford it you’re just not prioritising it), or rewrite your list of subjects.

3) Use a university guide and look at the ranking for your course/s.

There are websites where you can check which universities are good for certain subjects. Redbrick universities are older, more prestigious universities. Universities in the Russell group are elite universities known for their research credential. Some universities like Aston are neither of these but have good reputations.  Some universities might be lower in the league table overall, but have a higher ranking for your subject and be well known for it in the field you’re interested in entering. Google around to find out what each university or course is well known for. They might be ranked highly for music, but is that because they’re known for classical and not jazz performance? If you want to do jazz performance, then maybe that’s not for you.

4) Eliminate universities that you know are unsuitable.

Contact the universities, or use their website to check for their requirements. That might be grades, work experience etc. If you know there is absolutely no chance of you attaining even close to this then cross them off your list. (But don’t be pessimistic – if you’re not 100% ideal but determined, sometimes there are ways around this).
Now look at things like, placement opportunities, chances to study abroad and location. Is it an absolute requirement that you have a placement year in France? Are you adamant that you’re not gong to be able to study in Scotland and retain your mental health? Then St Andrews is off the list. Try to keep an open mind though, and remember that new experiences aren’t always bad experiences.

5) Visit the universities.

This is crucial. You cannot choose a university without going there before you apply. I actually applied before going to a couple. In hindsight it’s a bad idea. You need to get the feel of the environment, the city/town and decide whether it’s somewhere you can see yourself. Go to open days. Or even go again on a day where it isn’t an open day. Talk to people who go to the university. If diversity is important to you, spot some black people who go there and ask their honest opinions on living in the area and attending the uni. Research cost of living and house prices.

6) Don’t get mugged off by teachers at your school.

Teachers often have low expectations for black pupils. They will mug you off and tell you that the University of Nonsense is ‘a good uni’ and that your low/mediocre grade is acceptable. Set a standard of excellence for yourself. If you’re starting out your A levels, I think it’s a good idea to get a tutor from the start if you or your parents can afford it. Don’t let teachers get away with giving you low predicted grades – negotiate! This is your future!

7) Find a mentor.

Try and find someone in your field through your social circle who is where you want to be. It doesn’t have to be the exact same career field if that’s not possible – maybe just someone who is successful and might have connections. Use your connections. If you have no one in your social circle be brave and contact someone you respect and see if they are willing to mentor you. Ask your school about alumni who might be interested.

8) Have faith.

You might not get the grades you wanted. You might not get into the university you wanted. But with hard work and determination you I believe you can still achieve great things. Say and prayer and jump – with faith and hard work you’ll land on your feet.

What do you think? Was this helpful? What advice would you add? Please share this with as many people as possible!

 

 

bearded man.jpg

There are very few things that superficially warm my heart than the sight of a man with a good beard and a good shape up. There’s something about the clean line of a level one perfectly orchestrated, partnered with a full  chin of hair that makes my heart skip a little beat. I’ve convinced myself that not only are beards physically attractive, they’re actually a signifier of a higher level of being.

Disclaimer: Just because something isn’t logical, doesn’t mean it’s not true. Think about that. It’s deep. 

1) Men with beards are more spiritually enlightened.

According to every painting  I’ve ever seen, Jesus had a beard. In fact, every famous religious figure worth mentioning had a beard. Now, I’m team Jesus, but Mohammed, Buddha, Confuscious, and all the Egyptian Pharoahs (who they thought were also gods) had beards. Basically, despite my opinions on their varying theologies they all got one thing right – a good beard makes a man more at peace with himself and the world around him.

2) Men with beards have more time to spend with you

If it takes a man 5 minutes to shave in the morning, that’s 5 minutes every day he can’t spend giving you attention. That’s 5 minutes less breakfast in bed, foot rubs, phone conversations, asking  for the 10th time his opinion on whether you should go natural,  helping you choose hairstyles for when you go natural, arguing about George Osbourne’s budget (just me?), or telling you that you’re beautiful. Unless he has one of those beards that needs daily grroming. In which case, refer to point number 1. View Post

kim kanye interacial

 

“Can’t turn a hoe into a housewife”, is a well known phrase. Essentially it encapsulates the idea that once a woman has a past of being sexually promiscuous, she can never become ‘respectable’ enough to become a good wife. The cumulative effect of her past sexual experiences have forever tainted her and rendered her value at zilch in the marriage economy. I’ve made a couple of posts about sexual double standards before and I hate to to beat on the same drum with a similar rhythm, but unfortunately, this message just hasn’t travelled through to the all the intended villages yet  -so I’m going to keep playing.

Funnily enough, men who are well on their way to being able to run their own brothel with themselves as the primary service giver, are the same men who tend to use this phrase without any sense of coyness.  Yes, you’ve read correctly – JimBob who has slept with a different woman every month for the past 5 years, wishes to marry Felicity Neverkissed. It doesn’t strike them as ironic that they’ve treated women as  mere semen receptacles since puberty but still claim that the many women they’ve slept with aren’t worthy of their hand in marriage. This should be side splittingly hilarious to the majority of sensible people, but it always strikes me as strange how so many otherwise intelligent and emotionally sensitive men have for some reason still not rejected the idea that women’s sexual expression has far more moral consequences than theirs. Practically, I would agree it does – we can get pregnant. Morally I’m not sure why my past promiscuity would make me completely ineligible to get pregnant, use a spatula and be a source of emotional support to someone, but a man’s promiscuity has absolutely no bearing on his ability to function as my life partner. View Post

miniskirthijab

 

I love learning about different religions. I’ve always been fascinated by faith and non-faith, from the colourful polytheism of Hinduism to the strict monotheism of Islam, right down to the secular humanism that rejects both. R.E was one of my favourite subjects at school and I distinctly remember one of my best grades was a project I had to do on Judaism in year 9. I remember working particularly hard on it simply because I found Jewish culture fascinating – maybe even attractive. I admired their pride in their cultural traditions, I loved the beauty of the language of the Torah and the Talmud, and I so badly wanted to experience Shabbat at a synagogue.(It’s still on my bucket list).

I would never date a Jewish man.

Strange? While I love learning about different faiths, I am adamant that the faith I believe in is the truth. Arrogant,some would say. But not only do I assert that what i believe is the truth, I fully expect other people who have different faith backgrounds to assert the same thing, and I have no problem with that. After all, what is the point of faith if it is half hearted? How can something shape the entire fabric of your life, right down to the clothes you wear and the food you eat, and be a ambiguous wandering in the direction of a possible certainty. No one’s giving up bacon based on a vague inkling. And I’m certainly not refraining from sex before marriage because of a hunch I got a few years ago that it could possibly be a good idea, sorta, depending on what cereal I ate yesterday. Erm, no. There’s got to be certainty on that one. View Post