What a crazy couple of weeks! Just when I thought I was easing into this big therapeutic stretch, shit went into over drive.
Between moving in, filming, taking on extra classes, editing, WrestleMania and then the stir my last entry ‘Healing‘ incited, I’ve shifted back into 10th gear.
Now let’s talk about this Jagged Lil Pill stir and by that I mean it was that next level Alanis Morrisette having 10,000 spoons when all she needed was a knife IRONIC type shit.
I was taken by surprise at how widely ‘Healing’ got shared. Everybody I know was talking about it [whether or not they commented publicly is another story]. I’ve been known to be polarising where you either love me or you hate me – but with this, people who don’t always relate to me as a person could relate to my experiences.
When I noticed that 99% of the people who were spreading it around were brown, I initially thought to myself “this is great but it’s like preaching to the choir – it’s not us who needs to read it. It’s THEM!” But as more and more comments started coming through, the more I realised that my people did in fact need to read it. It validated what many of us feel as a community and it raised an awareness that we don’t have to put up with this crap. This isn’t where the irony lies though.
Grab some gloves to hold ya mugs cuz this tea is coming in HAWT.
I was approached by Junkee Media to write something up in the same vein as ‘Healing’ with instructions to cut the length by about half. I have to say I was pretty pleased to see an ally take the initiative to increase some awareness on a mainstream publication. Instead of re-jigging it, I thought I’d pitch more of a follow up call-to-action that could compliment what I had already put out there. Everything was cool.
So what happened? A higher up said “it needs to be more positive”. She ordered that it be softened by shuffling parts around, fluffing up the intro and cutting out the harder hitting points.
It changed the tone completely. Why? To make it more palatable for a white audience. “Speak Out. Make Noise”? This is what you call silencing. The very f.cken thing the article was against. To have my experiences and my expression of them policed to appease your comfort levels – why even bother? Another exhibit of how white privilege operates. Overall I guess it’s something that part of the message is being circulated but this is still bullshit.
A podcast called The Bridge describes itself as “bridging the gap between social activism, Hip Hop, international affairs and good ol funny shit”.
After discussing how ‘Healing’ resonated with them, the two hosts throw out “I kinda wish he had said something while he was here…the longer we bite our tongues and don’t address people, they’re gonna keep doing that shit.”
First of all, if you’re going to describe yourselves as a bridge for social activism and be taken seriously, you need to do some research on what you say. Your assumption was uninformed and insulting. My employment was on the line for speaking up every time I did and given that you opened your episode commenting on the importance of maintaining relationships, you should know better than to say some dumb shit like that. My eventual outpouring was only inspired when I had the time and mental space to really reflect and write about it. Do not mistake that for me being passive during any stage of my professional career.
Second of all, the contradictions and stereotypes you let run loose on your show are problematic for me. You want to call out racism but in the same breath refer to women as bitches and make a joke out of sexualities that differ to yours? What exactly are you standing for? There’s intelligent humour [which punches up by the way] and then there’s just the sloppy behaviour that you exhibited. All oppression is connected. If you want to help create this “bridge”, how about educating yourselves on what that actually takes and that’s unity. As per my message to you, call me up any time. I make myself very available.
Speaking of availability, out of the woodworks came this guy. In ‘Healing’, without naming him, I mentioned how when I first arrived in Australia in 2014, I reached out to the one Pacific person in tv I knew of:
Started nice enough right? But then I never heard from him again…
…until 3 years later when out of absolutely nowhere he decided to pipe up with this comment on my page [we’re not friends on Facebook but he managed to find it] when I posted the Junkee article:
Not so sure he even read beyond the headline. My response:
We gotta stop this fake support. It’s a shame that it’s so common. There’s room for all of us to succeed but there needs to be solidarity among us in order to make that happen. We don’t stand a chance divided. Hit me up when that registers.
You Have To Be Twice As Good
With everything getting so twisted, I feel like I need to clarify this point. It doesn’t quite flow in the diluted version on Junkee. We, as people of colour, have to be EXCELLENT in this world to get even a whiff of an opportunity a white person will get while being mediocre. I feel like I’ve talked about my experiences enough. Let me show you someone else’s.
The beautiful Aaradhna. She has an insane amount of talent and she’s stunning. She shines wherever she goes. I respect and value her and hold her in such a high regard as a woman, as an artist, as a friend and as family. The music she makes has become more magical with time and the heat she brought on “Treble & Reverb” was INCREDIBLE. This was an album that was met with critical acclaim. For the limited audience outside of New Zealand who heard it.
And then there’s this…
Notice anything? Sound. Aesthetic. Language. Themes. After Meghan Trainor’s release she’s had every bit of exposure you could hope for and a Grammy to go with it. I’m not denying she has talent but if you have to put these two records next to each other, one is of a very high quality and the other pales in comparison. But you know what? Look up the timeline on releases and if you dig a little deeper you might be able to connect a few other dots. It’s a small world and this industry is even smaller.
You gotta know what you’re up against and that’s a rigged game. From athletes to accountants. It’s not a level playing field out there. Do not be fooled by the few who make it through – they are exceptions to the rule and used as examples of “anything is possible if you just work hard” to justify what’s really going down. We are slept on, we are disrespected and what little we have is stolen from us yet we still find ways to prosper. That’s amazing to me. We have to be twice as good as them to get half as far and it’s completely unfair but this is what makes our achievements that much more meaningful.
Regardless of the ironic shit Junkee pulled, it still highlights the importance of speaking out and I want to reiterate that. We have the power to demand change. The reaction to my last piece was confirmation for me that I have a voice and a platform that has the ability to move people and I’m thankful for that. We all have that. We just gotta push ourselves to use them. These outdated standards that have been imposed upon us can be smashed if we all work together. X