• Why I have donated my Jhalak Prize winnings to the 4Front Project



    Last month, I was honoured to win the £1000 Jhalak Prize for my debut book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.

    Like every other Londoner, I’ve been disturbed by the recent spate of violent youth crime. I’ve spent most of my life in north east London, so I’m sad to say that I’m not a stranger to youth violence. I spent my teenage years hearing stories about friends of friends being slain on the streets of London, and it is simply pure luck that it hasn’t affected anyone close to me.

    I am in awe of the work of Temi Mwale and her youth-led advocacy project 4Front. Too often initiatives to tackle youth crime are led by men with punitive and paternalistic solutions. My heart lifts when I hear Temi talking about public health, mental health, trauma counselling, empathy and combating alienation.  I believe that only a truly caring society can combat systemic violence.

    The 4Front Project’s work should be funded by the government. In the meantime, since I have received some unexpected cash, I wanted contribute financially.

  • Running, revolutions, and undercover

    Happy spring! After a cold and long winter, here’s a round up of some of the online work I’ve done over the last few months:

    After women organised a protest run in Manchester in the wake of a series of assaults against women joggers, I spoke to the organiser for the Telegraph.

    I wrote a piece on the BBC’s new drama focusing on the secrets and lies of an extraordinary black family for Refinery 29 UK

    Here’s something for Grazia magazine on afro hair making it into the mainstream

    When Stanley Nelson’s documentary on the Black Panthers was released, I had the opportunity to speak to an original Black Panther for Broadly.

    And finally- a slight deviation from my usual output, I spoke to beauty website Brown Beauty Talk about one of the unending loves of my life- skincare.


  • Crashing the red carpet, reparations and period problems

    Hello! I’m back to work, considerably healthier than I was when I last wrote here. Here’s a round up of what I’ve been writing recently:

    I joined direct action group Sisters Uncut in the run up to them crashing the red carpet at the Suffragette premiere

    I wrote about the illness that kept me sofa bound to for two months.

    In light of David Cameron’s visit to Jamaica, I discussed whether Britain’s government should pay reparations for Slavery.

    Video of the panel event I chaired at Glastonbury 2015 – Feminism Without Borders– is now online.

    Also! I found this interview that I did with Oxford’s student newspaper, Cherwell, earlier this year.




  • A note on work, health and productivity

    I feel like I have lost the entire month of July. Things had ground to a halt. I have been so tired, so sluggish, that during the past month, mustering up the energy to respond to a few emails felt like an insurmountable task.  We all have those odd days that we need to take to recharge, to lie on the sofa, watch Netflix, and be very still; so we can wake up refreshed the next day feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. My problem was that those days took up the majority of the month of July, and the much anticipated recharged feeling the next day never arrived. Instead I was struck with dizziness and headaches as soon as I woke up. If I stood up too quickly, I’d end up floored, exhausted for the next half an hour. I was so tired that every day felt like swimming through treacle, and I was seriously struggling with keeping up with the demands that people were making of me.

    I’m self-employed so I don’t have one boss to apologise to, more like dozens of separate people with whom I make commitments with.  As a self-employed person, your income is tied to your productivity. Over the past month I’ve not been good at responding to requests for my work or labour. I’ve done radio and TV appearances this month which weren’t my best. I have barely done any work, and the work I have done has been completed through a process of forcing and dragging myself, fighting myself from slipping into unscheduled sleeps and battling the overwhelming need to lie on the sofa and give up. There have been Sundays where I’ve looked at a busy schedule for the upcoming week and wondered how I would be able to get through it.

    Underlying this all was a vague sense of personal failure, especially living under a well-established political rhetoric of strivers vs skivers. In July I spent far too much time pushing myself further than was advisable health wise, whilst chastising myself for being lazy. Generic supplements gave me some good days though, days where I had enough energy to get stuff done, and to go out and socialise rather than lie around the house feeling exhausted.

    This Friday it all came to a head. I’ve been diagnosed as severely anaemic, having been discharged yesterday from my local hospital, pumped with three bags of blood and a ziplock bag bursting full with various boxes of medication. After the blood transfusion, I feel much better and full of gratitude towards anyone I know who’d ever donated pints of theirs at a blood bank. Cumulatively, you’ve all saved my life. I’m feeling ten times more alive thanks to the new blood coursing through my veins at the mercy of lots of generous strangers. In about 12 hours I should be feeling the full effects of the transfusion and will be back to my normal, productive self. And though I’m quietly resentful that I have to take a fistful of pills three times a day for the foreseeable, there’s still a whole month of summer left that I’m determined to enjoy, emails to catch up on, and a book to get stuck into.

    Thanks for bearing with me.

  • Against equality talk, Tottenham, and the beauty industry

    Here’s some highlights of my recent work:


    I went back to my home town of Tottenham to look at the regeneration plans that are dividing a community, for Inside Housing (registration required)


    Took a broad look at the beauty industry’s continued problem with women of colour for Stylist Magazine


    Branched out into video for the Guardian’s comment is free- explaining why I don’t believe in equality


  • This is a sick game.

    Sometimes I feel that I’m not cut out for this. I look back to the days when I desperately wanted to build a platform. Now I feel like I would get on better if I had some distance from what I talk and write about. Some folks have that distance advantage. They pick a topic that they’re vaguely interested in yet not effected by, and write about it. But I’ve got skin in the game. When I talk and write about race and structural disadvantage, I talk and write from the perspective of someone who is state & former poly educated, from the fifth most deprived borough in London, from a place where black people earn much less than their white counterparts, where their life expectancy is 9 years less, where your race drastically impacts your access to housing, employment and education.

    This makes me legitimately furious. It makes me so angry and upset. But I also recognise that I am the exception. People from where I’m from don’t end up as journalists. They don’t get book deals.

    And I have godforsakenly found myself in a career where I find myself up against people who aren’t affected by any of this but feel confident enough to assert their dominance over every conversation about it any way. It feels like a sick and twisted game that I will have to reluctantly play forever. For them it’s a thought exercise, little more than what they indulged in in their university debating societies. For me it keeps me up at night. When I hear about another black person dying in police custody I think about the world that my future children will have to grow up in and it makes me genuinely terrified.

    I’m not Oxbridge educated so I’ve not had that training of learning to defend your argument from all angles. But in a way this doesn’t feel like an argument. It’s the reality I see every time I go home to visit my family. I’ve got skin in the game because when I write about ending racism, I’m talking about my brother’s life chances and my sister’s life chances.

    In a week where the press coalesced around a student officer who didn’t invite white people to their event, another news story was getting barely any attention. Sheku Bayoh’s family have been given five different accounts of the cause his death from police who had arrested him near his home shortly before he died, and they still don’t have answers.

    I hope one day that the former news story is considered trivial and the latter fucking scandalous, instead of the other way around.

  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race: the book

    Just over a year ago, I wrote a blog post that seemed to resonate with thousands of people across the internet.

    Today, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve signed a deal with Bloomsbury Publishing to write my first book! Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race will critically tackle politics, pop culture and a thousand received wisdoms about race and racism in the UK. Writing a book has always been a lifelong dream of mine. But most importantly, I’m passionate about changing the conversation on this topic amidst popular rhetoric on race and immigration swinging dangerously to the right.

    Though the book isn’t out for a while yet (early 2017 to be precise) I’m so excited to take my writing about race, equality and liberation to the next level. A special thanks to those of you who have supported my work over the past few years. I hope to do it justice.


  • Fear and Ferguson

    I’ve written a piece on fear and the Ferguson protests for the Telegraph, and a piece on the narratives around sexual abuse in Rotherham, for openDemocracy.

  • A piece in the New York Times, and the battle for reproductive rights

    Recent work: On London’s housing boom, for the New York Times, and why curbing access to sex selective abortions is an attack on reproductive rights, for the Telegraph.

  • October update: recent work in the Guardian, Telegraph and Vice