Tag: racism

Get The Inside Scoop

Nothing like getting inside information. And that is just what I did to produce UIO’s fifth podcast in this second series, which will be released next week. On Being A Teen Girl Now features 16-year-old Leah from Hertfordshire and 15-year-old Divaina from Kent.

Not only do we have a timely conversation about their greatest challenges and opportunities, it got me thinking about my teen years a bit more specifically. But before reminiscing, I can’t say enough about the potential of both Divaina and Leah, not only in the space they are each in but also looking to the future.

What I remember most about our interview together is their individual and collective fresh approach to life, their willingness to speak out, to correct something if it was wrong, such as the pronunciation of their names. Yep, I got both names wrong. Not to mention their consideration, concern and respect for each other and their peers, and the awareness and interest they both showed in the world around them.

Gosh, I thought, as my mind travelled back into time, was I that tuned in? What was happening in the world when I was a teenager? Have teen girls always faced as many pressures and have they always been expected, willing and able to express their trials and tribulations as I asked both girls to do. Could I have articulated my concerns so eloquently at such a young age?

While no clear-cut answers spring to mind on any of the questions, I have a good memory of the American Bicentennial Celebration in 1976. I was the ripe old age of fourteen. Two hundred years ago today was a theme that still lives in my head. Beyond that and who was President, I had to take a quick refresher to see what was happening on the world stage.

Closer to home, however, I do recall who my closest friends were, the importance I placed on friendships, as if the air I breathed depending on them, as well as the need to be perfect. Of course, the times are different and social media, for example, turns the heat right up on the importance of self-image, being a success and so on, but the concept of being on trend, being popular, and being smart seeped into my teenage brain all the same.

Also, there was the pink elephant in the room—racism. Though there was a collegial relationship between the races, we were certainly not a close-knit group or a group with desires to diversify. The first three years of our school life had been spent in desegregation, so here we were as teenagers, trying to make sense of the world together but on different sides of the aisle. One example of this is the fact that we had separate proms.

It was with this weight that I journeyed through my teen years, often times reasoning that the teen years didn’t matter, that they were more or less a dress rehearsal for the rest of life. Over my should now, I see how wrong I was. Hence my desire to support teen girls right where they are. Life is now. And the good news about today’s teen girls is their willingness to start where they are tackling issues like sexualisation, sexism, colourism and so on. And though it is a heavy load, it’s lightened in the power of togetherness.

Onwards and upwards for both our guests and all teen girls. Get the inside scoop on UIO: On Being A Teen Girl Now, out Wednesday, November 7th. Listen on iTunes, Soundcloud, TuneIn, Stitcher or subscribe to our RSS feed to have the podcast delivered to your device.

Returning to the Peace of Discovery

Around this time last year while on a Nordic tour, I beamed photos and features from my smart devices to social media, not only excited to discover new worlds but also pleased to share with supporters, friends and family, too.

Thinking back, I recall a sort of peacefulness about that holiday, about how I felt wandering around that part of the world, a place that is often portrayed as insular. So when friends and family alike cautioned that I should take care, I rather thought they were being overly cautious. In my travel experiences, even if a destination’s reputation has been called into question, particularly over xenophobia, I tend to give it the benefit of the doubt, unless there is clear and present danger.

But post the Brexit vote, the racial unrest in the US, the insane politics there too,  and the terrorism in France, this year’s holiday on Spain’s south coast felt uneasy. Not that there were any incidents there, none that can compare to the conditions mentioned, but nowadays all destinations seem questionable as a result of chaos in the world.

As an American expat living in Britain, I am acutely aware that the metaphorical band aid that once covered the deep wound of xenophobia has come unstuck. Of course, Brexit is about a lot things and some insist that prejudice is not one of them, even in the face of increased hate misconduct here. In the aftermath of the vote in London, there was a steady stream of graffiti against some European nationals and choice words to others from places as far away as Africa and Jamaica.

For everyone, however, one thing has become clear and that is that the world is overrun with an intense fear, which salts the xenophobic wound, now weeping of hate for some and a disturbing uneasiness for others.

In the latter camp, I find even the coolest of places uncomfortably hot. Sadly, worry has a way of wandering with me, wherever I go, often to the upset of physical and mental health. But that’s another blog. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, let’s get back to Malaga, Marbella, Estepona, Ronda, etc. my trail on the Costa del Sol. Admittedly, it was not an escapist holiday, not the fault of the pretty, bustling region, but it was a reasonably enjoyable one.

Per the guidebooks and reviews on and off social media, it is a fun place for sun seekers, though it was windier than anticipated and it rained on the day we left. Never mind, London ceased being rainy for our return. The folks are friendlier than in the average place and even welcoming to those who don’t speak a lick of Spanish. And the food of Andalusia isn’t bad at all, depending on where you go. One place worth mentioning is Las Brasas de Alberto in Estepona. If not for the Iberian Pork, then go for the house wine. You’ll be glad you did.

Also, sadly for me, there wasn’t much emphasis on food intolerances such as gluten, though organic everything was abundant. Never mind, I needed the comfort food to manage the slower pace of life and to try to catch a bit of the carefree reigning spirit there, which was much needed while navigating the narrow streets of Ronda in our little rental car.

Gee whiz, glad that is over, the bumpy ride that is. As for the holiday, it’s over too, but the desire to discover new worlds remains deep within. May acceptance and assurance as a way of life return with a force, one that sweeps the world, bringing many peaceful holidays for years to come. Now that’s cool.