Friday, 10 July 2015

Little Lighty: Short Film-TV Pilot

Media Maffia and Urban Gem Media Presents:

Little Lighty

Blaise Tykal Simmons-Johnson plays Asia James, a 17 year old, mixed race girl who lives with her foster family in London. She is curious, confused and feels isolated from her cultural roots. She often finds herself writing down lines of poetry which reflect her view of life as a mixed-race girl.
Her awareness of the language used by others to describe her makes her feel as if she doesn't belong, as if there is some sort of level of beauty she must achieve to live up to her label. Often looked at as a sex object and expected to have certain character traits, Asia can no longer tell the difference between 'Little Lighty' and herself.
Amber is the most popular girl at school, a confident young black teen and her love for her identity overflows. Asia, wants that, a sense of belonging. Tragically her perspective of beauty warps and her obsession to claim Amber's identity becomes dangerous when she decides to make a toxic skin darkening mixture.
Little Lighty is an emotional teen drama exploring the social issues of colour, identity and race through an unexpected voice. It highlights the important topics of pigmentation manipulation (an abstract on skin bleaching), labels, identity and the unheard voices of Britain's youth.

Why Her Story?

This is an extremely important story to us as we explore issues of identity, race and colour from an unexpected point of view. Although some may feel her story is a little farfetched, Asia's journey is compiled of a range of real life accounts. It applies to every kind of individual and aims to remind us that we are all beautiful, no matter the label.

What We Need & What You Get
Your support is immensely appreciated! With your donations we'll be able to:
  • Pay our cast & crew, 
  • Rent equipment such as camera's and lighting. 
  • Secure locations and supporting artists, 
  • Costume, Art department 
  • Editing and Colourgrading
  • Distribution to film festivals.
We'd like to get this film shown all over the world so even if you can't give a lot, give a little, it all makes a difference.
So as you all know by now we need 10K to make this happen! We've put together a great selection of perks which we think you'll love! But you can donate more if you wish.

Go to website for more info........

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Mixed Race Hair Care


www.welovecurls.com is a new help, advice and e-commerce website for parents of mixed race children which launched on Wednesday July 1st 2015. The site aims to encourage parents to help their children love and celebrate their differences, including their curly hair.

The site has been set up by sisters-in-law Michelle Panchoo (primary school teacher) and Madeka Panchoo (PR professional). Both have children under 10 years old and have seen first-hand that having a positive self-image starts incredibly young.
Growing up in a mixed-heritage family means I know only too well how difficult it can be for mums to look after hair so different to their own.” Michelle said. “There can also be a lot of well-meaning advice that is confusing as it seems so different to caring for straight hair. The world has moved on so much since even I called myself ‘half-caste’ and yet mixed race hair still seems to be an issue for so many parents. I hope that this website will encourage parents and children to embrace their curls; educate parents and children how to look after their natural hair and promote self-esteem.”

We Love Curls had its start in the summer of 2014, with the seed of an idea being planted after Michelle and Madeka were constantly asked for advice on how to look after curly hair from parents with mixed race children. Parents were desperate to look after curly hair but were in the dark as to how and were getting conflicting advice about products. As Madeka and Michelle are both mothers, they wanted to develop a brand not only specifically aimed at caring for children’s hair but more importantly, one that had building self-esteem at its heart. Curly hair is not problem hair. Curly hair rocks!
We Love Curls features advice on how to look after curly hair as well as a curated e-shop of tried and tested products best suited to young children. Contributors include 14-year-old ‘The Girl in the Satin Bonnet’ who tells her tale of growing up mixed race and with curly hair as well as providing tips to parents on how to deal with curly haired children.

If you would like more information, please email hello@welovecurls.com or call Madeka on 07855 696 262.
Notes to Editors:

www.welovecurls.com               Twitter - @welovecurlstoo                Instagram - @welovecurlstoo

Is it ’cause I’m not black?

Monique's Blog
Years of mistaken identity and assumed whiteness have understandably left me with a miniature chip on my shoulder, and what better way to deal with that chip than writing to the world about it? In case you were not aware I am mixed race. Yes, half and half, not a quarter, not a distant relative, not ‘a bit of a tan’, not ‘maybe Mediterranean’, not white, not black, but actually mixed race. My mother was born in the United Kingdom and is English, my father was born in the United Kingdom too but my grandmother on my dad’s side traveled over to the UK with my great-grandmother- who we called Mama – from Trinidad to the UK, and prior to that Mama had migrated from Grenada to Trinidad. So I am half Caribbean and half English.

Ethnic identity shapes part of one’s human identity as well as the influence of one’s primary and secondary socialisation. Human identity is also shaped by how you are perceived by others; if everyone told me I was a tomato, I’d likely start believing I was indeed a giant walking talking tomato, a bit like the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson. My experience as a child was quite different to that of my peers. I grew up in an affluent predominantly White town in the Home Counties but I grew up in a far from nuclear family. Even though I regularly spent time with my dad, we were one of a few single-parent families in the town and my mum had to receive state support too. My older sister and I are different colours; in case you weren’t aware mixed race people come in a range of beautiful colours! And yes, some of us look white, some of us look black, caramel, toffee, vanilla and everything in between. This blew the shit off the heads of people in my town and even now one of the first assumptions is that we’re half sisters. Ironically, I am actually a closer skin colour to my half brother and sister who are my dads other children.

I remember at school learning about the West Indies and being really confused because I didn’t think I was half Indian… why was the Caribbean referred to as the West Indies? It’s true that the school curriculum has been white-washed and its inadequacies have a huge impact on the education attainment level of those from ethnic minority groups. Well I fit that statistic perfectly and truly fucked up my GCSE’s. Anyway, my learning of culture and ethnicity from school in a nut shell was: Black people were slaves, the Caribbean is strangely called the ‘West Indies’, White Europeans are heroes who have gone around saving savage cultures from their own fate, Britain is so ‘multi-cultural’ and ‘accepting of others’ yada-yada. Mix that up with having my white family and my black family but not feeling that I completely identify with either, I was a little confused. So if I don’t identify with my white side more or my black side more and I haven’t come across another family like mine, who the hell am i?! I went through the classic confused identity phases at school including straightening my hair to look more white all the way through to cane rows, hair gelled to my face and kissing my teeth, Yes, shamefully all those phases have happened but are now dead and buried.

Kids are brutally honest and most adults will have vivid memories of things that were said to them as a child. I remember being so confused about the difference of mine and my older sisters skin colour that I shamefully even said racist comments to her that I picked up in the playground. My mum obviously dealt with it immediately but the comments from other kids didn’t stop. Kids used to ask me if my dad smoked weed or if he was a rasta because he had dreadlocks. Later in life my dad actually got rid of his dreads as he believed it would improve his job prospects – what a shitty world we live in. Everyday racism was so casual at school you might even put it down to innocent curiosity. After all, the other kids are only victims of their own education and are easily influenced by the portrayal of ethnic minorities in the media. I am certain these days most Asian kids get asked if they are terrorists as the media sabotage Asian and Muslim identity every day.

Nightclubs are like an extension of the school playground as people feel comfortable to say pretty much whatever comes to their head. I just love love love to dance when I’m in the club but was once taken aback when a Black girl tried to have some weird dance-off with me once then afterwards said to me, “you dance alright for a White girl” and when I said I was mixed race she laughed in my face and walked off. More recently, I went to a club at Halloween, admittedly ‘whited-up’ as a mime artist but after having what I thought was a nice conversation with someone outside about mine and my sisters matching fancy dress, he screwed up his face when I said we were sisters and laid into me laughing whilst hurling abuse that I was “begging Black”. When I politely explained to him that I’m not telling him I’m Black, I’m mixed race he told me he was from South London and had a mixed race niece and that I’m still lying. He then spoke to my sister about how she’s “on a level” as she has darker skin than me. I totally get that the experiences of my sister and I are completely different and she has without a doubt experienced racism that I have not, but does that mean that I can be treated like a piece of shit because of how someone perceives my ethnicity just because my skin is lighter?

In contrast to this, I have had friends who drop things like, “oh yeah, you’ll know, cause you’re Black” or “Monique loves Black music… Monique’s into Black guys because she’s half Black”. WHAT THE FUCK GUYS. I am not anything because of my ethnicity, I am me, please do not put me in a box. This is a classic symptom of growing up in a White town. It’s as if my Whiteness is my foundation and my Blackness is an add-on that can be seen through my taste in food, the arts, music and my body shape – FYI.. My dad does not have a giant bum that comes out an at unnecessary 45 degree angle. Further to this, I have also heard casual racist comments dropped when it is assumed I’m White. I once sat with a friends extended family whose elderly relative, upon hearing a Black actor talk in a film said, “what did that God damn Nigga just say?!”. The rest of the family swung their heads towards me with widened eyes and mimed, ‘sorry’. But I just had to sit there and hear that. Shut your mouth like the good light-skinned girl you are and put up with it. I also sat in an office at an old job and heard another colleague state that her ex-daughter-in-law had “gone down hill” because her new boyfriend was Black.

During my revisit to education I studied African & Caribbean studies and this gave me a much better insight and more accurate picture of African & Caribbean history and culture. I could sympathise with the stories of light-skinned mixed race kids being born and forced to live a life pretending to be White. It makes me think that in another life my older sister and I would have been separated and raised completely differently. That makes me really sad and angry with the world, especially as even now we have different experiences and she has stories of blatantly being treated differently because of her skin colour.

I’m not sure if society will ever feel satisfied with my identity and why should I give a fuck anyway? I truly feel mixed race – because I am – and that involves both sides of my family’s cultures’ colliding. That is something my mum and dad wanted. In the 80s they were a rarity and even now I’m living in London I haven’t come across a family like mine, so I like to think I am sui generis – but maybe that’s just me being big-headed. So for anyone that cares, talking about identity is important to me and I believe space for open dialogue should be encouraged. But ask questions and be open to the answers you will get. Do not assume and do not put each other in boxes. Most importantly do not make a value judgment based on appearance because that usually ends in racism. Each one, teach one.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Mixed Race Portraits



Published on 25 Jan 2015
Josh describes his experiences growing up as a mixed race person in Britain; touching upon skin colour, ethnicity sections on forms and whether there's a need to categorise ourselves by race anyway.


Sunday, 21 June 2015

‘Lightskin Guys Be Like…’

By bilalupnorth“Lightskin boys be so moist”

“Those guys are bare in their feelings”
“Drake behaviour”
I was standing in this Jamaican takeaway place the other day in Willesden (Curry Goat, Rice & Peas and one niiiice dumpling if you were wondering, and let’s be real, you’re now salivating) when the woman who was serving me, I say serving but she had gone off into the kitchen, quite casually turned to her co-worker and said ‘The Lightskin bwoy did order di dumpling deh, pass him it nuh’.(If you’re slightly lost with the translation, then all I can really recommend is you phone a friend.) ‘Lightskin Boy.’ I thought to myself. As I stood there looking at the back of my own beige hands having a moment that I can only liken to that bit in Lion King where Simba stares into the murky pond in the jungle with Rafiki telling him to ‘Look deeper’ the woman was back, shoving my food into my hand and so I walked off. Wandering along the street, now even more hungry because the food was within a minute away from being eaten (why does that always happen!?) I found myself quite lost thinking about the many times in the last 23 and whatnot years I’ve been referred to by my complexion, and it got me thinking, why? Why is it that I’m called a Lightskin Boy? What is even tied up in the meaning of this delineation, and indeed – what does society in Britain today think about males of a lighter complexion?
Often I hear it or, rather, see it thrown around on the TimeLine in memes, ‘banter’ etc. that Black or Mixed-Race men of a lighter complexion are in some way ‘less masculine’ than those society has termed ‘darkskinned’ – indeed something which begs me to ask what being ‘masculine’ even means today! So it got me thinking, what do other people think about this? I mean surely there’s a point where things stop being banter and start having real-world effects, so I thought I’d ask a few people what they thought, and it’s their words that shape this next bit of writing and hopefully, our understanding moving forwards…
“Before I talk about my personal experiences, I’ll say that I do believe some of the stereotypes surrounding “lightskin” are weakness, femininity, vulnerability and narcissism, in which lighter skinned women are viewed as the more “feminine” and “prettier” variant of the black peoples and lighter skinned men are deemed inferior and “soft’“
 “Lightskin guys are effeminate” – obviously there is misogyny and homophobia in this absolutely ludicrous statement. But it makes you think about how the notion of black hyper-masculinity is centred around darkskin men. See the marketing of hip-hop for a largely white audience – I don’t know much about hip-hop but there seems to be few lightskin male artists. Drake seems to be characterised as “emotional”.
Right, so supposedly I’m ‘soft’, ‘emotional’ or ‘inferior’ because of my complexion and therefore one can only assume that the opposite is true of ‘darker’ males. Indeed the pigeonholing and fetishizing of black masculinity turns a new leaf when we think about how this plays out when complexion is lighter and ideas of being ‘prettier’ or ‘narcissistic’ are ones that can again, be damaging within the community.  I find it difficult to make sense of such a binary dichotomy where the shade of a person’s skin can reflect upon their masculinity…
“I personally wouldn’t even call myself “lightskin”, however, it has been a label assigned to me from school and is kinda a British thing amongst European black folk (in my experience – living in Belgium and Holland”
 “I find that being called anything but black is more or less an insult, like Carlton in that one Fresh Prince episode where he’s called “not black” because of the way he acts. It’s degrading and worse when it comes from other black people. Then there are those who glorify the negative aspects of this situation. Its nonsensical.”
 I found a similar thing when I asked the question of what people think of the word ‘lighty’ when attributed to females, that the words are often perpetuated by black communities themselves in a way that can be damaging to ones own perceptions of their identity by alienating people of a light complexion in a way that can separate them from the ‘Black British community’. Whilst there are those who embrace the terms and choose to take on such labels and self-attribute, there are those for whom experience of these labels mean something much more divisive.
“I attended a pan-African event here in London with my cousin in 2013 (it was my very first one) and I noticed that we stood out, well, they made it very clear that we stood out – I could feel nothing but daggers and evils. Shortly after the event finished and everyone was socialising —- but ignoring our presence, we approached this black American woman just for chit chat & she started telling me I should focus on mulatto issues because she doesn’t think I’m “black-black” and basically said her fight isn’t my fight, my cousin was denied an Afro-hair goodie bag because she wasn’t “black enough”
 “…the idea of light skin privilege/colourism that people sometime perceive us to have Light-skin may be a “privilege”, but getting to grips with your identity as a mixed-race man is incredibly complicated in many cases our black community doesn’t have the language to welcome mixed-race people yet…”
“I think a lot of people also assume that if you’re light skinned and “black” you must therefore be mixed race with one half most likely white British. I do think in my experience people sometimes view you differently because of that, for better or worse. I’ve literally had people at secondary school tell me I’m not properly “black” because I don’t fit their narrow stereotype of what “black” is…”
The idea that there is a proto-typical ‘blackness’ that having lighter, or mixed complexion skin does not fit into appears not to be one too alien to black people within our community, indeed if there’s anything I learnt from my Jamaican takeaway experience (still hungry?) it’s that skin tone can be used as a label for ones identity.
In all, (already? More of a conversation starter I know…) I’d like to leave you with more questions than answers (them only child problems). So here’s a couple: What can we learn (and, don’t lie to yourself, we can learn something) from some of the experiences written above? Where do we go in terms of our understanding of black-masculinity from here? I’d like to think that at the very least there’s those couple cogs turning in the back of your mind; that you too can be staring into that pond just like Simba… But if not, actually, even if there are – I’ll leave you with the reflections of the people I heard from:
 “Lightskin guys are not really black” – I grew up in a close extended family with lots of cousins where the only white person was my dad (he’s an only child). Yet when I tell people I identify as a “black, mixed race” person the “black” identity has been questioned. A few shades darker and I doubt it would.”
“I do think that light-skinned black men are seen as less of a “threat” to Eurocentric cultures/institutions and that they benefit from this (although this evidently is a result of racism). Looking at figures like Obama, Lewis Hamilton, Drake, Chukka Umunna etc it seems that society embraces light skinned black men much faster than their darker brothers due to the idea that they are less “other” and because their existence promotes the popular idea that we are now in a post-racial society and that in the end all our children will be “mixed” like them”
“I’ll end with this: problematic stereotypes of lighter skinned people or black folk with (perceived) “non-black” features only causes nothing but confusion, it’s very damaging”
Now go grab your Jamaican takeaway in peace *sips tea*

Friday, 12 June 2015

Loving Day 12th June 2015

Loving Day commemorates a date in history when the Supreme Court of America ruled to disband all anti-miscegenation laws in 1967 (laws that made mixed race marriages illegal).

Loving vs Virginia was an important Supreme Court case, but it was also the story of a real couple’s love. Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving grew up in Virginia, USA. They fell in love and decided to get married.

Regrettably, getting married was not that simple in 1958. Mildred was a young black woman and Richard a respectable white male. The law forbade people of different races to marry each other, and this was true in many states – including Virginia. However interracial marriages were legal in Washington, DC at that time. Therefore, they decided to go to DC, get married, and return to Virginia to begin their life together.

This, however, was only a short term solution. The law in Virginia not only forbade interracial marriage ceremonies, but it also forbade interracial couples from getting married elsewhere and then returning to their home state. Not long after their return to Virginia, the newly-married Loving couple were awakened by the police and taken to jail for the crime of having an interracial marriage.

Richard and Mildred went to trial and the judge found them guilty and sentenced them to jail term three years. However, the Judge said that he would suspend the sentence if they agreed to leave Virginia for twenty five years. Given the choice between imprisonment and banishment, they chose banishment, and the Lovings moved to Washington, DC to live out their married life.

Though the Lovings were able to live together legally in Washington, they did not have an easy time; they faced discrimination everywhere. They were facing the emotional hardship with the separation from their families. Life was both difficult and horrible for the Lovings. In extreme anxiety, Mildred sent a letter to Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General of the United States, explaining their life and difficulties that they were facing as a interracial couple in Washington.

Mildred’s letter was sent on to the offices of the American Civil Liberties Union in New York City. They took interest in the case and helped the Lovings find an attorney for their case. Two lawyers, Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop, also felt that not only the Lovings, but all Americans were entitled to be married and to live in the state of their choice. Due to the difficulties that they faced they agreed to take on the case for free.

After a long and hard legal battle the Lovings’ case eventually appeared before the United States Supreme Court. The Court decided after hearing the hardship that the Lovings faced and hearing about the many people that were unable to get married the Court voted unanimously in their favor.

Ultimately, after nine years of struggle, the Lovings won the right to live together as husband and wife in their home state of Virginia. In the words of Chief Justice Earl Warren, “Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides within the individual and cannot be infringed on by the State.”

Not only did the case win them their freedom to love each other, but it also granted the same freedom to every interracial couple in every state in the USA. At the time of the Loving case, sixteen states had laws prohibiting interracial couples to marry.

Loving v. Virginia (1967) made it illegal for any state to enforce those laws which stop interracial marriage. These laws did not only apply to black and white people; in many states restriction on relationships with Asians, Native Americans, Indians, Hispanics, and other ethnic groups were abolished.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Mixed Couple Wedding Cake Toppers, Gay, Black, Interracial


At UK Wedding Cake Toppers you can expect quality, handmade, hand painted wedding cake toppers, personalised with the colours you require to match your very special day. 

At UK Wedding Cake Toppers we specialise in Diverse Wedding Cake Toppers. We believe that you should be able to bespoke the colours that you require for your very special day. We make personalised Gay Wedding Cake Toppers for your Civil Partnership and Mixed Interracial Couples for your Wedding Day. 

Make your day special by ordering a Wedding Cake Topper that is personalised with the colours that you will wear on your special day. You will not see these wedding cake toppers/souvenirs anywhere else, they have been designed by UK Wedding Cake Toppers, exclusively for you. Click the images below to take you to each product or visit our shop.