Archive | March, 2014

Child’s future foretold…

28 Mar

We’ve all seen that child, the one with domestic problems. That one that’s still playing outside when it has turned dark. The one that teaches your child the swear words in school. The one that has been wearing the same clothes all week, holes in his shoes. The one that can’t afford to buy simple stationary to complete his homework, but Mummy had enough to buy Rizla. The one that is regularly taken out of class to be questioned by social services. Doesn’t concentrate in school, parents have no aspirations for him. He’s only as good as the expectations of him, as good as his parents status. Future drug user on benefits. Future foretold.

How often have people done this, foretold the future of that child based on their circumstances. Put less effort into advising him, less effort pushing him to work harder in school, after all we know what kind of future that child will have, right?

NO!

We don’t all turn out to jobless drug users, our parents and broken homes do not define our future. I was one of these children , one of the children on the child protection register at school, pulled out every so often to be questioned by the social services. Couldn’t afford a nail clipper because there is not enough money, so you steal scissors from school so you can cut your nails, but there was enough money to be spent on alcohol, cigarettes and whatever else. I have a job, a decent job, I went to university, completed all required qualifications to get there. Yes, I wasn’t really heading in the right direction as a child or a teenager, in fact it was a fluke that I even decided to go to college, it was only then did my aspirations change. I’m not trying to toot my own horn or seek sympathy, I am glad for every experience because it defined who I am. I am just frustrated with this stereotype being put on children, they are categorised and put in a box, pushed aside with an expectation that they won’t achieve much. I know I’m not the only person that chose a different lifestyle from that which I was brought up in. We all have the possibility to change our future, even as adults, it’s never too late. Yes, our upbringing does play a big role however children are open to many influence’s, they might have a negative influence at home, but you never know the difference you could make just by believing in them. Make suggestions, advise, let them know you care.

Please do not let statistics make you neglect the ability to change that child’s direction in life.

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Cultural obsession with the white woman

16 Mar

Her beautiful fair skin touched by the glistening rays of the sun, she walks by with the wind drifting through her long, straight, flowing blonde hair. Her beauty is immanent, as you gaze, wishing that a day will arrive when you can stare into her sparkling, crystal blue eyes. Make her cheeks blush with a tint of rose, while you brush her freckled face with your hand. To you, she is the most beautiful woman in the world…

Well not just to you, in fact many cultures would deem this description as the ideal picture of beauty. This description describes the features of a white woman.  I would even go as far to argue that in many cultures there is an obsession with the beauty of the white woman. You’re thinking this is a interracial dating rant aren’t you? No that isn’t the issue at all, the issue is the inferiority complex many cultures have that are linked to the ideals of beauty being defined by the beauty of an Eurocentric image. I’ll begin with what led me to make this post. The other day I was on my way to work when I overheard this conversation between a two black women, one of which had her child with her:

Mothers friend: “She looks exactly like you except she’s got dark skin…where does she get the dark colour from?”
Mother: “Her Dad”
Mothers friend: (Turns to child) “Why are you so dark?  Why couldn’t you be fair like your mum”
(both turn to her with a sigh of disappointment)

I have had friends from Indian Asian backgrounds, and in my youth witnessed them try out all sorts of creams, lotions and potions to lighten their skin, and had always wondered why. Why do they want to be light? What’s wrong with their colour? In particular where did this desire to be light come from? Why were their parents buying it for them? I knew that there was a cultural preference but I had never personally experienced to understand the severity of it. As soon as I heard this conversation, it made sense to me, its the people closest to you who also have this complex, a chain of people feeding their issues to their children.

A day later I was in a shoe shop, there were two little black girls, whom I assumed to be twins as they looked a similar age and had identical features, however one was lighter in complexion than the other. The two little girls were looking at themselves in the mirror, while the lighter skinned child was confident and posing, the darker skin girl was looking at her sister and then at herself, she then said “I look ugly, don’t I?” bare in mind these two 6-7 year olds looked the same with only skin colour differentiating them. This made me think what does she see that makes her feel less beautiful than her sister? Either way I stopped her just to say “No, you are beautiful”. When I walked out, I considered how that may of seemed a bit creepy, a random women telling a child that she’s beautiful, but I needed her to hear it, she was only 6 or 7 years old and she was already believing that she is ugly.

Later that day on the way home, I was sat next to an Indian man on the train, which shortly became evident he was not very well mentally. Amongst the things he was pulling out of his bag were several hand written notes to himself entitled “white women exist” with a further list of steps to take, finished with now you have a white woman. Which just made me think and then led me to this post.

I have always noticed it within Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities I had been around growing up, skin lightening creams, blue or green contact lenses, dying hair blonde and light brown, relaxers and straighteners, weaves and extensions. Risking skin burns, hair loss and all sorts to meet a specific criteria of beauty. The features that people were trying to adapt are features most prominent in white women. Yes there are people within those racial groups who naturally have light hair, light eyes, straighter hair, fair skin and freckles and they are put on pedestals for it. However I perceive this desire to change what we naturally are as an inferiority complex, our world boasts an array of different features that define our heritage and culture, why can’t we embrace our differences? Yes the blonde woman, with the blue eyes and freckles is beautiful, but so are you! Embrace your natural beauty, your deep brown eyes, your wild curly hair, and the many variations of smooth chocolate skin that we come in. Remember that the ideals of beauty are just a cultural mind set, is there only one type of beautiful? Change the mind set, change YOUR mind set! Don’t let your daughter grow up thinking she’s any less than the princess that she is, let her see the beauty in features she has, there is always positives in features we have that others might not.