Thursday, May 29, 2008

Finding Solutions - Young People and Violence

Violent crime is on the increase in inner London and other UK urban centres. African Caribbean young people are being overrepresented amongst both the victims and those perpetrating the crimes (so what else is new?).

The government is making the usual noises about increasing the police on the streets, and the police are wanting to use their stop-and-search powers more frequently and more widely (again I ask, what else is new?).

This situation is very frightening and, should we experience a hot summer this year, I expect to see a lot more bloodshed.

I am setting up workshops in the Black community using Nonviolent Communication (NVC), a method which is used in many parts of the world including places of extreme violence such as Israel and Palestine, Rwanda and Burundi, Sierra Leone and, increasingly, inner-city UK.

Parents need support, and there needs to be increased, and better-quality, communication between parents and young people, many of whom now feel the need to carry knives for their own protection. We need positive solutions.

I am looking to hold these workshops in partnership with community organisations and churches, so that we can offer them free of charge or for a low fee.

I will be talking about this on my new radio show Tuesday evening, 3rd June, 8 p.m. GMT (you need to check the time zones if you are outside of the UK). Please join us.

Fore more details, click here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Black Hair Care - From Korea to Your Neighbourhood

I read an article in this month's Ebony about the use of products sourced from Korea. Although I was aware of this, what I did not realise was that many of the shops that supply Black haircare products in the States are also Korean-owned. These are the little neighbourhood shops selling in Black communities.

The article cited a video about this - I list several YouTube videos below. Most of them were made by Aron Ranen, a white man. I know Spike Lee dealth with this issue of Korean-owned shops in "Do the Right Thing", and also dealt with the self-hatred issue in "School Daze".

In the UK, this was certainly a problem in the past. Many of the shops were owned by Asian business people (from Bangladesh, Pakistan or East Africa). One of the videos, subtitled "Report from London", states that this is still an issue. However, in my experience, many of these shops are African-owned.

Asian grocers still often supply the food products we enjoy, such as sweet potatoes, plaintains, mangoes and other tropical fruits.

I am wondering (just wondering, folks) whether it would be in our best interests to partner with Asian businesses in order to gain the opportunity to supply people in our own communities. This could potentially be a step towards economic self-sufficiency.

The article quoted Ranen as saying that African Americans should go to Korea to source the hair themselves, rather than buying through a third party.

This is a sound business principle - know your suppliers and deal with them directly.

Of course, the article did not address the basic problem of why African and African Diasporic women feel the need to buy hair from Korean people to disguise the natural texture of their hair. And why we are still allowing European sensibilities to define our concepts of beauty.

The way I see it, this is part of the legacy of slavery - what is sometimes called "Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome".

We need to learn to love ourselves, inside and out. We need to love ourselves enough that we are willing to buy from Black businesses - to prosper those who look like us and with whom we share a common cultural identity and heritage. That way, our Black businesses and communities will thrive, for the benefit of everyone.

To read more about Black haircare and the need for self-love, read "What They Don't Want Us to Know".

Aron Ramnn’s Black Haircare Documentary Part One
Black Hair Documentary Part Four
Aron Ranen's Black Hair Documentary- Report from London
"My Nappy ROOTS" Award winning documentary on Black hair