Dispelling Racism - The Choice Is Yours

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

    Growing up in Central London up until the age of eleven, I went to a school with children from over 75 different nationalities. 
I was wholly fortunate to be brought up within a family and community where race was introduced to me no differently to being told that some people have blue eyes and others have green, I studied Martin Luther King's speech aged seven and wrote extensive school projects about Mary Seacole, part of my 11+ entrance exam was to plan a campaign to abolish racism within young football clubs.
Nearly 50 years into laws against public racial discrimination within the UK being put into practice, this should be a natural and obvious common place, in the same way I was given extensive knowledge on white political leaders and white iconic figures through history.

Moving out of London in my early teens left me faced with an absurd amount of discovery into how ignorant and futile other people of my age were towards those who differed in colour and heritage to them. 
It seemed as utterly ludicrous to me then as it does now and whilst some might ignorantly claim the innocent naivety of youth upon those I encountered, you most certainly can't do that with what we're facing now.

Earlier today the news in Ferguson broke out that the white police offer that shot a young innocent black male dead was not to be charged.
Whilst I, like everyone else bar the two people involved, have no real understanding of what actually occurred, it's the lack of knowledge surrounding the case that is both insulting to the loss of a life and the misrepresentation of racial violence. 
Michael Brown's death is not a social anomaly and doesn't out lie statistically. 

It's received an incredible call for justice, citizens of war torn countries and international protestors took a moment out of their own issues to send messages of support and solidarity across all forms of press and social media. 
Where as for the most part, white people have been noticeably more reluctant to make a statement. 
This is obviously hugely generalised, I am by no means suggesting that whites have been silent, but it only took me a few moments to scan my Twitter and Facebook feeds to notice that over 85% of the posts put out weren't by my white counterparts. 
I truly believe this is because a large majority are scared.

I tend to write most of my blog posts in twenty minutes and press publish as soon as I've thrown my eyes over it half heartedly for spelling mistakes, but this one has had me push for extreme care and concern over all of my vocabulary and phrasing in fear of saying something remotely offensive even though I know in its genuine core and indeed my own, I'm not capable of doing so because my intentions are by no means to do so nor would I really know how to.
But the thought has still left my fingertips wavering over each key a little terrified.

This is the issue. 
A lot of people are worried they might offend others with their phrasing, they struggle to see the opening for meaningful conversation upon the issue because they themselves have not been directly involved with racial offence. 
Nor do they see an opportunity to speak out and for it to make a positive impact or any impact whatsoever. 
The majority probably also struggle to see their role in the fight of racism because they themselves aren't racist, they worry that addressing race in the first place might even make the situation worse and more uncomfortable. 
These fears are real and I understand them, but by accepting and not pushing through them, essentially results in the justification of white silence and inaction making the oppression and death of black people a serious real world issue. 

We need to start taking an active role as white people to fight and dispel racism as it's something that is destroying our communities and our brothers and sisters. 
Whilst it wasn't you or I who personally created it, we have a huge part in undoing racism because our heritage did and a large portion of our people support and maintain a serially racist system that benefits white people to the extreme detriment of those of colour. 

We should be using words that speak the truth about the disempowerment, oppression, disinvestment and racism that are rampant in our communities. 
Janee Woods recently wrote - 

'Black people are dying and it’s not your personal fault that black people are dying because you’re  white but if you don’t make a purposeful choice to become a white ally and actively work to dismantle the racist system running America for the benefit of white people then it becomes your shame because you are white and black lives matter. And if you live your whole life and then die without making a purposeful choice to become a white ally then American racism becomes your legacy.   
The choice is yours.' 

Lost and Found

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

It's not a new concept that this world is an odd one to find yourself in, I'm well aware.
But for the last few months I've struggled to come to terms with why.
Ever infuriated by what I don't know and don't understand, consumed with a fear of being consumed (?!) I couldn't stand it anymore.
I felt this heavy pelting force in my chest most mornings, missing meetings bleary eyed smelling of immitation smirnoff and regret but with a grin so wide on my face that it was almost hard to believe I was battling a half hearted identity crisis and the mother of all hangovers.
I'd had the best night previous with the most glorious breakfast of Sour Creme and Onion Pringles on the tube home having curled up laughing and content in someones bed who washed me of insecurities.
All fine here, right?

In truth, I was slowly dancing myself into a wrap of creative procrastination, writing heart wrenchingly cringe poems on the back of train tickets and waiters notepads about things I probably only felt devestated by because I was exhausted and a bit confused as to where I should be heading next.
Ignorantly flipping my middle finger like a pubescent teenager at growing up I relished in my new found inner care free.
It just so turned out that care actually was worth a lot more than I was insuring it for.
As well as being a general giant teenage cliche, I was putting all of these strained adult pressures on myself that not even my twenties would be able to battle through and I became temporarily paralysed in a fear of letting myself and people around me down.
It's truly wonderful having successful friends but it's also incredibly terrifying particularly when there are so many of them doing such brilliantly impressive things.
Equally, when their lives look so fantastic you just want to punch anyone that says 'just be happy! just take control!' because 'THAT'S BLOODY EASY FOR YOU TO SAY!!!!!!'
What if I'm not doing enough for the world? What if that dress in Topshop sells out? What if I don't become as successful as everyone else? What if that Snickers bar is the final straw between a size 12 and a size 14?
Relatively, it's all menial and quite laughable when put down on paper. Don't worry, I can see it now.
But for the last two months instead of facing real issues I sort of succumbed to these tiny insignificant intangible ones that I knew I couldn't win or change or answer because bizarrely that's a lot easier.
We're part of a generation where we feel as though we all have to run so hard and fast towards something and a good majority of us have no idea what it is.
We're left hanging from this empty rafter of insecurity and worry that splinters into a horrible dull sensation of being a bit helpless.

Drowning a plate of bacon and pancakes in thick sticky maple syrup over breakfast the other day I caught sight of a real emotion that hadn't been masked and inebriated.
I was lost.
I did this sad god awful little cry that just thinking about makes me want to punch myself for but I genuinely had no idea who I was.
I made a few weepy phone calls, I ate some more overpriced breakfast and I gave myself two weeks to work it out.
Who am I to me and who am I to other people?
What the hell am I doing with my life?
Had I just been listening to too much Taylor Swift?
Gross. Probably.

I agreed to take a step back from some people and a step closer to the ones I'd pushed away, it's incredibly difficult admitting you're wrong or even behaving recklessly but it gave me a strength and a relief that pride was never going to attain.
I've also written myself a managable list of things I want to achieve in the next two weeks and surprisingly I'm already half way through five days in.
Imagine if we did that EVERY fortnight?
Hello, my name's Charly Cox and I've made a lot of mistakes in the last eight weeks.
Hello, my name's Charly Cox and I've also done a lot of really fantastic things that I often let myself forget.

It's okay to be lost and it's okay to flit and wander through paths that sometimes aren't of best fit or of best interest, as long as you know that sooner rather than later you have to allow yourself to find sight of you again.

This Months Cosmetics Picks

Monday, 3 November 2014

 I am all manners of rubbish at looking after myself.
I scrape last nights make up off with cheap wet wipes and throw my poor afro hair under enough heat that chemically straightening it probably sounds as though it would be a kinder treat.
I stepped up my game, threw down my horrible habits and have called to the cosmetic gods to see if they could cuddle my appearance and make me feel and look a little less haggard.
These are the ones that came out on top.
 Origins GinZing Energy Boosting Moisturiser 
It smells like an orgy of oranges having a great time in a pot.
It's surprisingly done absolute wonders for my Rosacea and paints a massive smile over my now smooth face every morning.

 Topshop Face Glitter and Glue
You always used to know if I was having a crisis because I'd wear red lipstick to distract myself.
Now, I paint big messy glittery splodges along the sides of my eyes.
Like a Sugar Plum Fairy, but dosed up on Sertraline.

 Oribe god Lust Nourishing Hair Oil
Harry Styles' hair stylist swears by it.
If it's good enough for him, it's sure as hell probably too good for me, but it smells divine and has given a new lease of life to my dyed and unloved hair.
 Mane 'n Tail Shampoo and Conditioner
It was originally developed for Horses.
It's now made for humans.
Thank Jesus Christ and the well groomed Donkey that carried him, they smell a bit like carpet cleaner but get all the gross residue of London out of your hair.
 L'Oreal Lumi Magique Highlighter in Shade 2
My YSL Touche Eclait brushed its last stroke the other day and I panic bought this.
A really great high street highlighter, does exactly what it says on the tin.
Aesop Parsley Seed Face Mask
Erases all of my make up wipe sins, all of the weird ugly alcohol induced blemishes and wind torn flakey face skin.
I was a bit apprehensive of spending so much money on what looks like such a small tube, but you only need a tiny teeny bit to do a bit of a Beyonce glow.
It smells like a really good salad dressing, don't be tempted.

I kissed a girl and I liked it...and then felt really awful.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Having spun myself into a new (yet again) all male friend group, my Tuesday nights have been changed forever.
Usually I'd be tucked up behind my laptop, crossing and curling my legs over the duvet as I desperately search for the illegal download of some new American series, being spritely and somewhat alive on a Wednesday has been a priority for all too long. It is, with reason, a school night after all. 
But no longer. 

Life as a freelance internet someone, throwing yourself between the halves and in-betweens of impoverished bank statements and squandered cash on all day travel cards and expensive new pop-up restaurants gets a bit bloody boring. 
Don't get me wrong, I realise how many of you will want to smack me for complaining, I'd love no other working lifestyle and I'm in no way complacent- but the stress of managing five active email accounts, three shoot days, two demanding clients and a neglected blog all in a short week whilst trying to make a vague attempt at a failing love life means whilst one half of your brain is screaming for sleep, all the other half wants is wine. 
And gin.
And Jagerbombs. 
And a laugh.

Welcome G-A-Y Late. 
The floors are sticky, the music is awful, the queue to get in suggests they're handing out cheques at the door, but you can buy a round for £8 and no one bats an eyelid if you launch yourself across the floor to do a well earned Dirty Dancing lift with a stranger. Which in my books, makes it ironically, heaven. 
Last Tuesday was no exception, scrambling from a party in Leicester Square with my fill of free wine I met the boys inside ready to sing away my spreadsheet woes to some one-hit-wonder from some good looking 90's boy band. 
Flailing my limbs around like a ten year old playing musical bumps, I spotted one of my friends failing to chat up a girl in the corner. 
Off I popped to give him a hand and innocently sprinkle my wing-woman charm and then instead of keeping tight lipped over his unsuccessful efforts my lips ended up on hers.

In true British fashion, I didn't want to seem rude or ungrateful to her advances and just sort of went along with it.
Much to the applaud of the group of guys I was with, I stood and kissed this girl in the fluoro lights of a central London gay club and actually really enjoyed it. 
It was liberating and completely unlike me, sense and conscience left at the cloakroom.
It didn't matter whether or not it was a declaration of me exploring my sexuality or if it were me just misted by the last four mystery shots I'd had at the bar, it was deemed as a perfectly accepted act on a Tuesday night out. 
I am a straight female, I have no confusion there, vaginas terrify me too much to think otherwise, so what the hell was I doing with a girls tongue in my mouth?

Instead of waking up the next day with the promised taste of cherry chapstick, I felt a bit sick with questions. 
Was what I'd done insulting?  In a generation where 'faux-lesbianism' is actually a thing, this idea where it's just as fashionable to eat kale as it is to eat er...the same sex, in the vague and vain hope of inciting straight men whilst (allegedly) showing solidarity for Lesbian women alike. 
Was I just an advocate for the ignorance so many of us are adopting for the sake of finding a win-win promise land of being sexy AND humanitarian?
To be fair, I'd not put that much thought into it. I was literally just kissing someone in a club, the same way I might drunkenly and regrettably get off with a guy who buys me a drink. 
I'm by no means promising him my true devotion or feeling, it's just a physical act taking place on a Tuesday night where we're all trying to forget about someone or something. 
But because I was kissing a girl, I lay ridden with a guilty conscience. 

I don't stand alone in my Tuesday fumble, 35-40% of women report same sex encounters or arousal, up from only 2% in 1992. Is this because society is ticking it off as more acceptable to be gay and as a generation we're more intelligent towards sexuality or simply because famed women like Miley Cyrus and Cara Delevingne are advocating sapphism style?

After I'd told myself repeatedly over half a kilo of mango slices on the kitchen floor of my friend the day after that what I'd done was absolutely fine, I then almost felt sympathetic for him. 
Society wouldn't let him do what I did. 
As a straight male, the ridicule and disgust that would be shun upon him if he were to kiss another male in a club would be catastrophic as opposed to erotic. 
He'd never live it down where as I got nothing short of a round of applause.
I, as a straight female can kiss whoever the hell I like without having to give an explanation. 
Which seems completely and utterly bizarre and ironic when that almost suggests a glimmer of equality whilst trashing the other.

I did what I did because I was under the influence of a ridiculous notion that I was trying to escape something. Which by no means is excusable, nor does it need to be excusable. 
But when you do it just for a giggle, to heighten their attractiveness to the opposite sex, is it just feeding into the horrific and perpetual notion that being gay is or can be just a phase?

A postcard from Will D

Sunday, 19 October 2014

I know it's cruel to think I'm breaking, so selfish and fickle to suggest my youth has run its course on love/luck(?),

                              even if only for those few moments I sat awake on the corner of your bed.

Your eyes glint and
shatter           all
of the prewritten unrhymed poems I'll scribble on the backs of receipts on the train home that tell me
It is whatever,
but whatever it was certainly wasn't.
You are too kind to notice and I am too kind to care,
it's always the same and I struggle to be that kind

Even still, I wish I could change your mind.

McArthurGlen New Denim Icons

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Levi Jeans - (c/o) McArthur Glen // Fred Perry Shirt - (c/o) McArthur Glen // Khaki Cape - Zara // Scarf - Zara // Chelsea Boots - River Island // Necklace - Topshop

As the winter months draw in my smile draws wide.
ATLAST, a season I know how to dress in.
Throw me the thermals, unleash the wool and most importantly bring me some denim.
The wonderful people at McArthur Glen sent me on an adventure around their Ashford outlet (literally like Oxford Street on crack...and better) to re-fall-in-love with the perfect pair of jeans as part of their #NewDenimIcons campaign.
Generally speaking, you can't physically go wrong with Levi's and these are a dream.
The pockets on the back don't make my arse look terrifyingly massive (RARE!!!) and they're tapered down to the ankle so I don't have to roll them up at the ends like a school boy in the summer. 
With a crisp white roll neck shirt and some burgundy Chelsea boots, I think I might be able to get away with turning up to a meeting or three in jeans...

Letters to people I love - Shannon Saunders

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Letters To People I Love - Shannon Saunders

Dear Shannon,

I write this to you and also to the 100,000 other people that will stumble upon this.
If I had a soap box to stand on and read this to you and the world I would, but this little spot on the internet will have to suffice.

I've never understood love at first sight. I still don't.
I know it's bullshit.
But when I went to interview you two years ago in that kitsch tea room in East London, it was as close as that feeling is ever going to get.
Instead of formalities, we found ourselves shuffling towards a common ground that most don't discover until the third dinner or the sixth introduction, we took the piss out of each other and deliberated conquests, scrapping the interview to go shopping and drink cocktails in my secret hiding place in Chelsea.

On the Overground train with someone I'd known for two or so hours I bashfuslly uttered under my breath "I feel like we're going to be that new group of people."
I knew what I meant, you knew what I meant, but I felt embarrassed.
It's only now that I can admit exactly what that sentiment was to myself and it's -
"You and I get it. That's really fucking cool. Let's keep doing really fucking cool things and see if other people like it."

Little did I know at the time you so soon after my vague statement would go on to do the things I wanted people to talk about. You were 'it'. You epitomised 'it'.
The months I spent rallying around the country to gigs proudly with your dad, waiting in the wings documenting it with my battered DSLR, fuelled me on my own quest to smash it as much as you.

We enjoyed each other drunk and we tolerated each other tired- but we loved each other hungover with make up down our chins in Bristol or Berkshire the next day after 10 hours of working and endless hours of catching up and that's what really made it.
We were burnt out and exhausted, we were pursued by our passions and we were the corpse of a creative. Perhaps a vague personality lay within us, but to most it was imperceptible.
But between us - it was great.
The silence. The fact we could sit infront of one and other in silence and feel comfortable.
To know that the inner workings of our brain were finally left to sleep or functioning ten to the dozen and not question it- that's what meant it was real.

I dont have many female friends, I can literally count them on one hand, but meeting you made me want an army more - even if just you would've been enough. 
Never, ever, have I met someone with such untapped talent and charisma that I've wanted to tell everyone I know or dont know about.

You got signed to Universal this year and I've waded through four freelance jobs which has meant our gin fuelled nights haven't been as often. I really miss the 5am trains home and the three hour phone calls, but it's never meant you're not still there.

Shannon Saunders, thank you for all that you've taught me, the friends that you've brought me and the memories I'll never forget. 

C x

If you've got a friend that you know you absolutely adore, stop right now (thank you very much), call them, open up What's App, leave a long ass voicemail.
It's not often you meet incredible people and when you do, in whatever capacity, appreciate them. 

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