Had your head in the clouds this week? We’ve got you covered with our weekly round-up. Statues and blackface came down, JK Rowling caused a stir, and Lizzo showed up the fat shamers. By Sarah Bradbury.
The far-reaching impact of the BLM movement showed little signs of abating. This week in the UK, attention was turned to controversial statues, prompted by protestors tearing down one of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol before throwing it in the harbour.
Activists have drawn up a list of further targets while Sadiq Khan has ordered a review of all London statues for slavery links. Debate is rife about what should be done. This video from historian David Olusoga eloquently explains why such monuments belong in museums.
The spotlight also fell on culture, particularly British comedy shows with problematic elements, such as use of blackface or impersonating ethnic minorities.
While Gone with the Wind was temporarily taken from HBO Max, over here, Little Britain was taken off BBC iPlayer and other platforms, with many others set to follow. Heated discussion is also being had over a Fawlty Towers episode removed from UKTV which shows character Major Gowen repeatedly using the N-word…
The profile given to issues of race, and the need everyone to educate themselves better, saw a surge in sales for works by black authors. Booker Prize winning author Bernardine Evaristo became the first black British woman to top the UK paperback fiction chart, with her novel Girl, Woman, Other, and Reni Eddo-Lodge the first black British author to top the paperback non-fiction chart for 2017’s Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race.
However, Eddo-Lodge did highlight that is shouldn’t take the death of one man for black authors to receive recognition: “The fact that it’s 2020 and I’m the first. Let’s be honest. Reader demand aside, that it took this long is a horrible indictment of the publishing industry.”
LBC (finally) cut ties with Nigel Farage after his comments about BLM protestors – including comparing them to the Taliban – simply went too far this time. I actually met him while doing shifts at LBC – while I’ll accept he had a good voice for radio, the problem was always the words that came out his mouth. Good riddance.
He wasn’t the only one to find himself out of a job, as other key figures in the journalism world also were ousted. Refinery 29 Editor-in-chief, Christene Barberich, stood down over accusations of a racist and toxic culture at the publication and New York Times op-ed editor James Bennet resigned after a controversial piece was published written by Senator Tom Cotton. Something tells me that won’t be the last of them to go.
JK Rowling got herself embroiled in a protracted row over her controversial views about sex and gender. An inital tweet implying that women should be defined as someone who menstruates, followed by further follow up tweets explaining her views, caused an online backlash which she sought to quell with a 3,700 rebuttal explaining how she herself had been a victim of abuse.
But that since exploded this further and as the week drew to a close, her abuser popped up on the front page of the Sun saying he had slapped JK but wasn’t sorry. Whichever side you’re on, this one’s turned ugly. Let’s hope for better dialogue on these sensitive issues as we head further into Pride Month.
Remember that face-palm moment celebs tried to connect with all our plight in that Gal-Godot-led disaster of an Imagine rendition? Well if you thought they would have learnt their lesson, you can think again.
Here’s another cringe-worthy offering to the world where celebs, including Sarah Paulson, Julianne Moore and Stanley Tucci, urge people to speak up when witnessing racist comments. The intentions are good but the execution, not so much. It makes you wonder if now is the time for some just to keep their heads down and give other people are chance to have their voices heard…
We totally loved this from Lizzo – she took no prisoners with this retort to body shamers on TikTok. “It may come as a surprise to some of y’all, that I’m not working out to have your ideal body type,” she says in the voice-over. “I’m working out to have my ideal body type. And you know what type that is? None of your fucking business.”
She finishes by saying: “Health is also what happens on the inside, and a lot of y’all need to do a fucking cleanse for your insides. Namaste, have a great day.” All hail.
What else happened?
➡️ The UK economy shrunk by 20.4% in the first full month after coronavirus lockdown. Let’s hope the gradual opening will help it bounce back without putting our health at risk. If you’re looking for advice about jobs, head to our handy guide.
➡️ “Support bubbles” are allowed from today. So if you’re alone or just with kids you can club up with another household.
➡️ Non-essential shops are set to reopen on Monday with social distancing measures in place. Zoos, safaris and drive-in cinemas also can from 15th June.
➡️ An urgent plan to get kids back to school by September was called for after plans to get them back this summer fell through. Bit of a shambles no?
➡️ Stormzy has pledged £10 million to UK organisations racial inequality, justice reform and black empowerment over the next 10 years. What a guy.
➡️ Dizzee Rascal returned to his old neighbourhood to distribute emergency food supplies.
➡️ The no-fault divorce Bill passed its first hurdle. About time!
➡️ A digital London Fashion Week kicked off. It runs till 14th June.
➡️ We all looked on with jealousy as New Zealand marked three weeks sinces its last coronavirus case. Though they’ve had to face a new menace: feral chickens who multiplied during lockdown!
➡️ Tanzania also declared themselves “coronavirus free”, Mexico is reopening its economy as it Jakarta, Indonesia.
➡️ 9 countries had a 100% recovery rate incluing Eritrea, Laos, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Seychelles.
➡️ The UN warned of an impending food crisis if global recession was not averted.
This week, the TMIK team were reflecting on lockdown….
SOCIAL DISTANCING IN A FAST FADING SUMMER – Sarah
It was the news we had all been waiting for. As long as we were outside, in a park or now even a private garden, and two metres apart, we could meet six other people.
Six other people?! After two solid months spent predominately with my partner, you might as well call that a party. No doubt Whatsapp messages began to fly among friends and family across the country. Plans for BBQs, picnics and garden cocktails in the sunshine were made. My family chat quickly assembled around a plan to congregate in my mum’s garden in Reading.
Saturday arrives and off we pop masked-up in a mini-cab. I could be travelling halfway across for the world for the level of excitement I feel on this adventure outside the few square miles of Bermondsey we’ve occupied of late.
When I first see my mum I feel so overwhelmed I want to cry. She takes one look at me and says, “you look so…pregnant!” Apparently having only seen each other on Zoom calls since early Feb, my enlarged belly comes as a shock. I don’t take offence.
We sidle into the garden for lunch with my sisters. But there’s one problem. It’s starts to piss it down. A gazebo goes up. A rusty chimenea is stubbornly lit. Damp chairs are toweled down and we take it in turns to hover around the conservatory door as we nibble on tapas.
Hey, I’m not really complaining. Seeing my family in any real life capacity was well worth the hassle. But my word, is that the best definition of sod’s law there ever was. Months of inexplicably perpetual sunshine we all spent weeks on end staring at out the window. And now, as freedom beckons, the good ol’ British weather decides to make a return.
As we sat shivering on mum’s patio, I couldn’t help think of how our exact situation was being replicated for millions of others across the country. Were other gangs of friends and family also bracing the cold? Did many just have to make the heart-breaking decision to cancel? Did others just give up and bend the rules by heading on inside? Fingers crossed either lockdown lifts further or the sun makes a return, because socially distanced socialising in the rain well and truly sucks.
LOCKDOWN WITH YOUR BOYFRIEND’S FAMILY – Emma
We all know not to overstay our welcome, right? Particularly not by nine weeks. And yet that’s exactly what I found myself doing at the start of lockdown while staying with (and here’s where it gets really intense) my inlaws.
My boyfriend’s big, boisterous family are wonderful and I know them very well, but that didn’t stop it being fairly awkward when we worked out that I was stuck with them indefinitely (my family are from an island off Scotland and the ferries were stopped, making it impossible for me to get home).
Nine weeks is a long time to spend in other people’s space, no matter how much you like them. I didn’t really relax the whole time I was there – I’d get paranoid I’d left a dirty mug out after I’d gone to bed and sneak downstairs to clean it because I didn’t want to seem rude or ungrateful.
I felt it brought us closer and it was really special feeling like I was part of the family, but my god I’m relishing leaving dirty mugs all over the shop since regaining some independence.
MY BOYFRIEND DECIDED TO QUIT HIS JOB DURING LOCKDOWN – Marta
Lockdown for me has been ok, the usual ups and downs when you can’t really step too much outside of a tiny 1 bedroom flat, but nothing to complain about, really. The only “important” thing that happened is that Pedro decided to quit his job. “During lockdown?! He’s crazy!”, I can hear you say. Well, his decision has actually been postponed for months that seemed on end, and the moment to put term to this energy-consuming-drama of a toxic work environment ended up falling on lockdown.
The idea of leaving a job when so many people have been put on furlough or were made redundant can also sound insensitive, but we’ve been trying to focus on the positives rather than the negatives lately.
Of course, we’re worried as we don’t know how long it can take to find another job, but at the same time we don’t have children or no one else to take care of, so we owe this freedom to ourselves. If there is one thing I’ve learned from this situation is that lockdown shouldn’t really condition our life that much and when it’s time to leave a toxic situation we might find ourselves in, we should do it, regardless of the negative headlines we see everywhere. Because our mental health and wellbeing are worth more.
I, myself, have also left a toxic job without any other thing lined up. I remember it took me 6 months to make a decision and it was my own manager at the time who told me I “deserved better”. Looking back now, I only regret having stayed for so long. So, on this one here I’m all supportive. It can go terribly wrong, but it can also go amazingly well. I believe in the last one.
What was your top story of the week?