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#OscarsSoWhite and what else we can do about it

Read my article about #OscarsSoWhite here.

When people talk about #OscarsSoWhite I feel like they are missing a vital point. We need more diverse staff at all levels of the industry i.e in directing, writing, producing and casting as well as acting because without it we miss out on a lot of talent which we the audience could benefit from, but this isn’t the only way we can try and get more diverse actors in the short term. A lot of main and secondary characters are ‘racially neutral’ i.e their race hasn’t been specified and yet for some reason unless we are specifically told otherwise we assume that all these characters are white.

I remember the recent uproar when the part of Hermione Granger in ‘The Cursed Child’ was given to a black woman and a bunch of people  just couldn’t understand why this Hermione was black when the character was meant to be white. But was she meant to be white? Did J.K.Rowling specify her race? As far as I can recall from the books Hermione’s specific skin colour is not mentioned (although we know she has bushy hair) and so we didn’t actually know whether she was meant to be white or not. We just assumed.

The recent talk (however real it actually was) of having a black James Bond is another important point because there really isn’t any reason Bond couldn’t be black. The people who talk about the ‘historical accuracy’ of Bond’s race seem to forget that in the 1950s we didn’t have smart phones, lap tops or tablets. We didn’t have many of the fancy tech gadgets they use for the films now, hell we still haven’t invented some of the things they show in those films. So although it’s perfectly true that a historically accurate James Bond probably couldn’t be black, since when was historical accuracy an issue for the Bond series? James Bond is a timeless character who adapts to the time, fears and current threats the world has. He has no set time, and he needn’t have a set race either.

I believe that true equality in mainstream film won’t just come from hiring more diverse writers and hoping they write about more non-white characters (although that is a big part of it). Real equality can only come when we stop assuming everyone is white unless stated otherwise, when we stop limiting talented actors to specific roles. Real equality can only happen when we stop seeing people as representatives or spokes people for their race, gender, sexuality etc and start seeing them as individuals who can play individual parts. Only when we all have the freedom to play a superhero, a villain and a romantic lead without people focusing on “what our character says about our specific group and what kind of role model we are” will we have full equality.

To read my article on Diversity at the Oscars click here now.

http://uk.blastingnews.com/entertainment/2016/10/we-need-more-diversity-at-the-oscars-but-are-we-thinking-about-it-the-right-way-001174171.html

 

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Amber Rudd’s’Name and shame’ proposal leaves a lot of unanswered questions and a rather irksome feeling.

Despite all claims to the contrary I’ve always tried to avoid the simplistic view that BREXIT was primarily about race and xenophobia. Whilst no one is denying that the ‘breaking point’ campaign and indeed a lot of the leave campaigns rhetoric was focused on immigration (despite EU immigration being limited to Europe these campaigns tried to focus on refugees, which is kind of ironic considering we still have a duty to them with or without our EU membership) there were other factors that would encourage someone to vote leave.

My article on Public Opinion and the Young People Who Voted Leave discusses several of these alternative reasons and shows that many people were influenced by the perceived anti-democratic way the EU was run, they wanted to leave what they saw as a global superpower that was trying to control 28 countries from a remote headquarters, and/or they wanted Britain to have more control over their destiny and economy. It would be very naive to assume that no one voted leave due to racist and/or xenophobic reasons, but the idea that these were the only reasons highlights the remain campaign’s failure to appeal to people in the first place.

Recent events have made me a little disturbed, however.This ‘name and shame’ policy that attempts to look at how many non-British born people work for a particular company does sound quite sinister because the aim appears to be quite clear. This policy seems to have been discontinued due to the backlash it recieved, but the fact that this was an option, the fact that this is what our government wanted to focus on is a little scary and perhaps shows what is to come. According to The Guardian Amber Rudd’s aims were as follows:

“Under her proposals, firms could be forced to disclose what percentage of their workforce is non-British as a way to encourage them to hire more locals. Ms Rudd said she wanted to “flush out” companies abusing existing rules and “nudge them into better behaviour”.

Source http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37561035

Whether they publish their findings or not the goal seems to be to check how many migrants compared to how many British born people work for a particular company and if they are not satisfied that British people are getting first pick at the jobs they may take measures to encourage the company in question to focus on British applicants and give them first choice for employment. I am not sure if these policies will focus on people who weren’t born in the U.K themselves or people whose ancestors were immigrants, nor do I know whether it will focus on a particular group (i.e European immigrants or non-EU immigrants).

I also don’t know if ‘British born’ is going to be based on race or residential status and how that’s going to be qualified (will Amber Rudd count you as a British citizen if you weren’t born in Britain but have British citizenship? Will a recent immigrant with a better application be turned away in favour of someone who has no relevent experience but is a Britis citizen?) but either way this seems very contradictory to our apparent commitment to inclusion and the need to encourage a more representative, diverse workforce not only so our workforce reflects the country we actually live in but so we don’t end up with stale ideas and we don’t miss out on talent.

We already know that we have a problem with diversity in British industries, and even though we have schemes and quota systems in place to encourage a more diverse workforce they don’t always seem that effective. We know, for example, that around 8% of the Creative sector (i.e media, film and art-based jobs) are nonwhite, and when we consider that a lot of these jobs are based in London where the demographic is roughly around 40-60% this is quite shocking. (source here: http://www.gold.ac.uk/news/the-creative-industries-and-meritocracy/)

From a quick Google search on the subject I found the following statistics:

  • Black workers with degrees earn 23.1% less on average than white employees with the qualifications
  • Ethnic minority people were more likely to live in poverty than white people
  • Ethnic minorities are still “hugely under-represented” in positions of power – such as judges and police chiefs (info found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37114418)When they are talking about hiring more locals, what jobs do they mean? Do they mean the NHS where a significant portion of the workforce is made up of Non-British born staff? Do they mean the jobs many British people simply don’t want to do or don’t have the skills for? Do they mean the more competitive industries where diversity is still a real issue? And what do they mean by foreigners? Is this based on your race, where you were born, or is it simply how soon it was that you moved to the UK? If you were brought up here and lived most of your life here but you happened to be born in another country how do you fit in? How do you qualify a British person and how do you qualify a non-British person?

    It is hard to get a job in the U.K and a lot of this is because there is too much competition for certain jobs, not enough jobs to go around and a real preference for free labour under the guise of ‘internships’. How we could sort that out is a whole other issue, but the solution isn’t to close off all opportunities to people who ‘aren’t British enough’ if they have the skills that the particular job needs. Surely if companies are encouraged to hire as many ‘British’ workers as possible it will exasperate inequalities. Surely changing hiring policies so ‘the British come first’ would increase racial profiling? Surely ‘British Jobs for British workers’ is quite an open statement which doesn’t really mean anything,  because who is British and who isn’t? What are you basing that on?

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The dark side of Australia’s history

Slightly darker reflections on Australia posted on my travel blog.

theflyingvegetarian

I’m staying in a place with a TV! Not wifi mind you, but a TV which has around 20 ever repeating  channels. I hadn’t seen any TV programmes since being here until the day before yesterday, and whilst it’s been nice for the evenings I miss Netflix and the internet like hell. When did TV get so terrible? When they realised no one watches it anymore? Who knows.

Anyway, last night I did see a good programme. It was a televised debate on ‘whether racism is destroying the Australian dream’, and as an English person who doesn’t know a lot about how it is here, it was really interesting. We have similar debates, although with different wording, in the UK.

I’ve always kind of assumed Australia was a pretty racist place. I guess coming from London, which is thankfully quite diverse and mostly cohesive, and the fact that when I’ve…

View original post 811 more words

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I’m in Australia! I have a separate travel blog, so if you’re interested and like the pictures below take a look at https://theflyingvegetarian.wordpress.com

Nimbin

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Murwillumbah

Brisbane

Gold coast

More coming soon. Just to think two weeks ago I was working in my office

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Donald Trump and the banning debate

A section of British MPs have debated whether the controversial republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has caused worldwide outrage for his comments regarding Muslims including the call for Muslims to be banned from the US, should be banned from visiting the UK. This is a result of an online partition calling for Trump to be banned from the UK which currently has 576, 447 signatures SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh claimed that the ban could be justified on ground of ‘religious harmony’, but others have said that the ban could actually create more support for Trump because it may give him ‘martyr’ status, and even those who would usually abhor his claims would support his right to free speech.

I do not think Trump should be banned from the UK. This is not because I agree with Trump; frankly I still can’t quite believe the guy exists, let alone that anyone would consider letting him run a country. However, the worst thing you can do with a bigot like this is deny them their right to speak. If you do this it gives them ammunition. It gives someone whose views are normally ridiculous a genuinely valid argument, because we are denying them the free speech we often fight so hard to protect. And we would also be denying ourselves a golden opportunity to ridicule this man and show his ideas for what they are.
We should not ban him, rather we should try and set up a televised talk with a live audience and panel who would be given the opportunity to challenge Trump, to put him on the spot and to make him squirm. I remember years ago the UK wanted to stop Nick Griffin participated in a BBC debate. The debate went ahead anyway, and Nick Griffin was put on the spot and he showed himself for what he was, which gave him opponents even more ammunition to criticize and challenge his views.
This is precisely what we need to do with Trump. Rather then deny him free speech, we should use free speech against him. Clearly no matter what we do we won’t change his or his more hardcore supporters beliefs, but we can try to trip him up on his logic enough that maybe the more intelligent potential supporters will question him. This is not guaranteed, but it can’t hurt. We shouldn’t be scared of these people, we should show that rather then just try to hide from them and pretend they don’t exist we can and we should challenge them, not just from behind a keyboard but in real life. The call to ban him was a valid form of protest, and is good because it shows that a large number of UK citizens disagree venomously with his assertions, but we need to go beyond that. We can’t just say we disagree because we don’t like what he says, we need to take that and then show why  what he says is wrong. To simply disagree isn’t enough, we need to engage with these kind of views in so much that we can break them apart, ridicule them and prove them wrong. That is the only way we can even hope of defeating someone like that.

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A place for vegetarians: Diwana Indian Vegetarian Restaurant in Euston, London

A place for vegetarians: South India in London!

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Diwana Bhel Puri House is one of my favorite restaurants of all time. Located close to Euston train station in the Camden borough of London, this authentic Southern Indian restaurant is cheap (the daily buffet is £6.95, and most meals are under £10), it’s BYOB so you save a lot on alcohol (restaurants normally have ridiculously over-priced beer) and best of all it’s all vegetarian! The buffet only runs during lunch time Mon-Fri and slightly longer on the weekend, but if you miss it don’t be too upset as you can have one of the many menu dishes at a very good price (please see below).

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This isn’t your regular curry house, and you won’t find things like Korma or Masala on the menu. This is Southern Indian food, which includes dosa’s, thali’s and poori’s as well as the more well known dal and bombay aloo. Although I do love a good korma, I personally prefer south indian as a: there is far more choice for vegetarians (in fact it tends to all be vegetarian!) and b: I find there is more variety in dishes and flavor.

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I’ve been going to this restaurant for over 16 years now (I was very young), and I really recommend that all London based vegetarians (or carnivorous that won’t run screaming at the idea of a meatless meal) give it a try. This place will prove that a purely vegetarian diet can be far from boring, and will make you want to visit South India so you can eat this delicious street food every day. The seats are a little cramped and some people have complained about the sparse setting, but the food more than makes up for any complaints.

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The waiters are friendly, the setting is understated but has an authentic feel with Indian music and decorations, and even though whilst you are there you will probably eat so much food you won’t feel human for a few hours, you won’t regret it. This restaurant proves that vegetarian food is far from boring, that there are many things you can do with beans, and it sells delicious dosa’s and thali’s that are unfortunately quite hard to find in most British Indian restaurants.

Image-3This is a deluxe Dosa priced at only £7.05! Dosa’s are rice pancakes which can either be eaten by themselves with an array of sauces or with a potato filling. I remember when I was in Singapoor around 8 years ago we went to this fast food place which, rather than burgers and chips, had dosas and other Indian dishes. I was in heaven! I’ve been meaning to try and make a dosa for some time and even bought a packet batter thing for the pancake, but in the mean time I will make do with these bad boys.

Image-9Thali’s are a set meal with rice, chipatti’s or poori’s, dahl, vegetarian curry and desert. £8.95!

Check them out at http://www.diwanabph.com/ or wonder down Drummond Street in Euston sometime, it has this and at least two other authentic Indian Vegetarian restaurants at delicious prices and authentic quality.

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Happy new year!

Happy new year to all you bloggers, followers and random passers by. I for one am psyched for 2016, but was not in any particular hurry to leave 2015 behind. 2015 was a good year for me; I went to Rome (first time I had been abroad for 7 years!), started this blog (which now has 529 followers!), became far better at cooking and finally started to develop some sort of ‘plan’ for the immediate and not so immediate future. I have a lot of plans, many resolutions (cutting down on Netflix is pretty high on the list) and some anxieties about the coming year, but I am really excited for this year and I hope you are too!
Stay tuned for more lazy vegetarian meal ideas, more reviews, more articles and hopefully far more travel blogging and photography, but for now I would like to wish you all good luck with your hangovers (have some juice) and a very happy new year. Bring on 2016!

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Disclaimer: Sadly the picture does not belong to me, but isn’t it pretty?