Black Lives DO Matter

I am white. I have never faced any prejudice over my skin colour. I do have problems, but none of them relate to me being the race that I am. I have watched the news, watched as people around the world erupt into protest.

On the 25th May, just a matter of days ago, a deli owner in Minneapolis (Minnesota, US) phoned the police after they suspected a customer had tried to use a fake $20 to pay for some cigarettes. The man was George Floyd. Police arrived and the way they restrained and treated him, lead to his death. George Floyd was unarmed. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, a police officer held his knee against George’s throat, and continued to do so even after George lost consciousness. It is awful.

How many people must die so horrifically?

James Corden asked ‘how can black people dismantle a system they didn’t create’? And it’s true. So white people shouldn’t be silent. We should educate those around us, and speak out. It is not enough to be simply not racist any more, we must stand as anti-racist. We must use our voice, use our privilege in a way that helps our neighbours, our friends, our colleagues, our families.

Retweet and repost true accounts on social media. Read articles from black writers, listen to their voices. Understand our own history, understand that a lot of this comes back to colonialism. Learn the history that the schools conveniently missed out. Understand where the privilege of being white came from, and understand the damage it does. Understand the anger, and demand change.

Click here for resources

May Challenge: Stars

The world of celebrity seems to have become massive business. Everywhere you look there are updates on people from the latest reality TV show. It masquerades as ’real news’, frequently reaching the headlines of daily news broadcasts and papers.

I think it serves as a distraction. The world feels like it is getting more violent and that we should be scared. Global warming, nuclear weapons and political nightmares, can really affect a person’s well-being. The news has become something that runs constant, we get information on social media and there are constant updates on TV and radio too. Sometimes it feels that every time you look at your phone or TV, you are reminded that the world is falling apart, and there is very little we can do about it.

So, I can see why celebrity culture has become more popular. It’s easier to focus on the ins and outs of the Kardashian clan, than the continuing fallout over Brexit. It’s easier to plot on who a certain Youtuber is dating, than plot on how you are going to reduce your carbon footprint. It’s all distraction.

But this area of distraction is worth millions to the right people. And it feels so obtainable, something that anyone can do. You no longer need a particular talent, just the right personality. The worlds of podcasts, YouTube and Instagram, making fame almost in reach for millions. People want to make videos for a living, something that wasn’t even a thing when I was a kid. It’s great, that people are yearning to be creative, but that’s not why a lot of people do it. They want the red carpet events, the campaign parties and the top-of-the-range cars.

The thing is, celebrities make what they do look easy. It’s not. People like to think that life would be easier without their standard normal job. The work you do, would still be there, but you couldn’t just clock out and forget everything. You would have to work almost 24/7. And that would be super hard. I said earlier that people can find the news can effect their well-being. Well, that will all still be there too.

Life is hard. Maybe a little distraction can be a good thing.

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This post is part of a May prompt which is explained here, feel free to join in or pick one or two topics, to get your own creativity flowing. 

If It’s Real, Then I Don’t Want To Know

Life is full of ups and downs. And it is strange, because whether you decieve a particular moment as either ‘up’ or ‘down’ comes from what is going on inside your own head. If you are having a bad day, very little will overcome that feeling, and you will focus on the bad stuff. However, if you are in a good mood, you pick the more positive things, and can swipe the negative to the side.

I think it is very strange that our belief on what is going on in the world, is based on our own perception, which is based on our own emotions. I obviously am not in any way a psychologist, but I sometimes think about that stuff. It obviously is something that happens when I am feeling a little reflective and more positive. When I am down, I tend to feel like that everything is collapsing on top of me, so I don’t really tend to think about anything else.

Sometimes, thinking about anything is a bit hard, to be honest. Which is why it is so easy to lose yourself in a book, movie or TV series. It can feel better to live through a fictional life, than living your own. That is something that is really sad, but it is true. These fictional worlds become a way of coping, even escaping from your own life for a short time. And, that respite, may be all a person needs to get back on form.

Heavy

There isn’t very much to say today. In the last half hour or so I learnt the news that Chester Bennington, from Linkin Park, killed himself. I rarely get super upset over famous people dying, but this seems to hit home really hard.

Linkin Park were a bit like Blink 182, where they opened a door to other music. I have memories of having my personal CD player in my school bag with Hybrid Theory in it. Complaining that it jumped when I tried to walk anywhere. I bought every album by Linkin Park. Throughout their 7 studio albums, the band became chameleons, doing the music that made them happy. A big part of the music I now listen to, and the kind of person I am comes from Linkin Park. Chester was a hero to millions around the world, but that doesn’t stop mental health problems.

If you feel alone, or just a bit lost, please speak to someone. I write this blog as a way to get my issues out of my head, but I have also relied on others. I find it hard speaking to friends, so services came into mind. There is always someone willing to listen, you are not alone.

Service that helped me was the Samaritans.

UK & Ireland: The Samaritans call free on 116 123

(If anyone reading this has services which helped them in their country, please comment below and I’ll add to this post.)

Guilty of feeling bad

Right now, it feels like every time you read the paper or watch a news broadcast, something else horrible is happening in the world. Innocent people are dying every day. And it is awful.

It can be difficult to relate to. I,for example, feel unbelievably guilty. I have my fair share of physical and mental health issues, and a lot of times it is hard to even hard to get dressed, never mind do something productive. But I watch the news, see the suffering of others who are much worse off than me. It starts the internal berating of myself, where I feel inadequate that I seem to have a lot, but I can’t deal. People have it worse. Someone said that at work today, to me. I didn’t offer a reply, but in my head, it reinforced the belief I was building up about myself.

It doesn’t make for a happy life. It makes every day feel like it’s double the length. My anxiety flares because i feel so guilty and unworthy, it causes my stomach to become unsettled so that every meal I eat, ends up in the sewerage system. It stops me from sleeping, I feel that if I can’t appreciate and enjoy my life, then maybe I shouldn’t wake up in the morning.

But, when in a calmer state, I realise everything I do is completely irrelevant to whatever disaster is in the news. Now, that sounds awful. But bear with me. My anxiety comes in different flavours. Sometimes my brain makes me feel unimportant, and sometimes it makes me feel responsible for EVERYTHING. So, the days where I feel hopeless, I try to break tasks down, like if I don’t process this task, a customer won’t get their refund. It is a small thing, but makes me feel I have a purpose.

When I am a bit more calm, like I am now, I can be logical. I can think of a way round my issues. But when anxiety hits, logic is furthest from my mind. I have donated to charities for the Manchester attack, the Grenfell Tower fire, and many others. Sometimes, feeling like I tried to give something helps calm my anxiety. But if you are struggling with current affairs and are feeling guilty or just questioning your place in the world, sometimes the best thing to do is to not constantly watch the news. I watch half an hour a day, and that’s it.

Don’t allow your mental health to bully you into feeling guilty for something you have nothing to do with. Which is hard, I know. You can also try to speak (or ramble online, like I do) about what you are feeling. If you are having a hard time health-wise, nothing should be-little what you are going through. And if someone tries to, ignore them. Look after yourself and those close to you.

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If you need mental health help visit The Samaritans

Donate to the Grenfell Tower fire fund, this situation is still ongoing, and the death toll is expected to rise. red cross appeal

It’s A Very, Very Mad World

The world is a wide and varied place. It is filled with people, trying to make things better for their fellow man. However, there is also a lot of utter bastards to counter the good. Sometimes, it feels like all we see is the bad.

Sometimes it’s easy to be overwhelmed in the tragedies that unfold every day around the world. Innocent people dying in the cruelest ways. School buses blown up in Syria, a music concert in the UK, hospitals in Indonesia, lone women in India, gay people in Chechnya… The list is endless. Most of this hatred is brought on by a sense of entitlement and an intolerance of others. And it is horrible. What is a normal person to do? How are we supposed to feel when others act so horrifically?

I don’t think there is an answer. A lot of the time all we can do is watch the news reports and read articles online. You may sign a petition, or donate to a foundation just to help. To get a sense you are doing something. Anything.

You may be unable to do anything about events in any of the headlines you will read today, tomorrow or any day to come. The world feels cold and dark. But, you can try and take that darkness away. Even just for those around you. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Introduce yourself to your next door neighbour, or invite a lonely neighbour round for tea. Go visit relatives. Use social media to send good wishes to those who you might not talk to very much. Smile at the person who serves you your morning coffee.

As clawing as negativity can be, positivity is contagious. I know not everything will be sunshine and rainbows, but a lot of people are emotionally struggling in life. It shouldn’t take tragedy to bring people together, but it also doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Terrorism is something which wants to tear people apart. To split society into fractions, fractions that disagree and fight amongst themselves.

Let’s not let that happen. Let’s share love and togetherness instead of hate and intolerance. ❤️

Lost In It All

Just looking at the Internet today, not searching for anything in particular, just looking. Something that I don’t do very often. I am good at commenting on everything, and putting in my two cents on whatever is going on. 

Sometimes, I think we get too much information thrown at us, mostly by the Internet. It gets a bit hard to process it all. It is also hard to distinguish what is important, particularly on social media. Twitter and Facebook have a habit of promoting the useless twaddle that fills up the gossip sites. If you like that kind of thing, it’s okay, nothing wrong with it. But how can you tell what’s important when the going-ones in I’m A Celebrity is given more promotion than the story about Parliment voting to bomb Syria? 

It just gets a bit overwhelming at times. Like information overload. The press has always had the finger pointed at it for over-hyping one story, to mask over another one. A way of attempting to pull the wool over the public’s eyes. And that made a lot of people bored with the press, and turn to sides like Twitter and Reddit for more direct news. But when companies can pay for an allocated number of retweets, how honest is what we actually see? 

That’s what I sometimes think about, and to be honest it freaks me out sometimes. There are so many different ways to get information these days, and a lot of the time, every take is slightly different. So what has been added for effect. Is that ‘first hand source’ really telling a true story. You never know. 

As good as the Internet is for finding out information about the world we live in, sometimes I think it would be easier if all the web was used for was Netflix.

Hide From Headlines

Living in a world where the news is available 24 hours a days. A lot of the news reported is depressing. Now whilst this sounds quite selfish, I can only speak from personal experience. When I was younger I feel that what happened in the news had more impact, that I thought about things more. I was able to read through the newspaper once a day, or watch the 10 o’clock news. Get a review of the daily news, and then if you wanted, you could look into it more. Research what has happened.

Now, the news channels constantly roll the same news. Finding different angles, different specialists, but still repeating the news stories continuously. This makes the news become flat. It can sometimes become a bit monotonous, and the news that would have caught ones attention years ago, just all blends into one another.

As people become more apathetic with the news, networks and publications do more to make themselves stand out, to retain their audience. They want to be the first to break news, whether the ‘news’ be true or not. American news network, Fox News, recently responded to the Paris terrorist attack by saying Islamic extremism was accepted in areas in Europe. To try and prove a point, the commentator stated that cities like Birmingham exist, where the city is a no-go for non-Muslims. This is entirely wrong, as it estimated that 21% of Birmingham is actually Muslim. This is Islamophobic fear mongering. It is just nonsense, but shows how far agencies are willing to go to try and gain an audience.

Personally, anyone who uses a genuine story where people have died, to make up lies to reinforce the ‘fear factor’ shouldn’t be reporting news. How can people judge what they do see on these networks and in the papers, if some use it to back people into a corner? To make them fear for their lives?

So maybe, it’s a good idea not to absorb the constant news coverage. Yes, educate yourself on what is happening in the world, but don’t let yourself becoming overwhelmed. Because the stuff that is happening in the world is scary, it is big, but you should know the truth. So read from varied sources, small bits, so you can get the facts, and not get beaten down by a specific parties lies and exaggerations.
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Hope that made a little sense. I don’t trust the news I watch, with papers having political alliances and ‘specialists’ reporting lies. And I don’t know if other people find the same issue.

Hello Kitty, Kitty

Music sites across the internet are awash with criticism towards, Canadian pop rocker, Avril Lavigne’s latest video Hello Kitty. As a fan of Avril’s previous music, I thought I’d take a wee look. Have a look for yourself, below.

First thing I’d say, is that it is dang catchy, very cutesy pop music. Which is fine. But, I feel that there is a section of the music buying public, who liked the Avril who sang Sk8tr Boy, not this perky, girly nonsense. Those people need to understand that a music artist, be it Cradle of Filth or One Direction, they will not recycle the same music album after album. They will progress, change their sound to get more sales or keep with their own tastes. Music is something artistic, and art is influenced by what goes on around you. As a result, as a person’s life changes, the music that they wish to create may also change. You can argue about it being marketed as the Hello Kitty song, and being appealing to young children. Sitting here on a Hello Kitty bed, with a Hello Kitty plush beside me, actually makes me think this song is marketed at me, actually. Yeah. Awesome.

The video is set in Japan, with cute Japanese girls as backing dancers, as Avril sings about a pre-teen slumber party. Or that is what it sounds like to me. There have been cries that this video is racist, particularly to the blank expressions and dance routine of the backing dancers.

“I love Japanese culture and I spend half of my time in Japan. I flew to Tokyo to shoot this video specifically for my Japanese fans, WITH my Japanese label, Japanese choreographers AND a Japanese director IN Japan.”-Avril Lavigne

Fair enough comment to make, right? Except, it feels a bit like when a racist person says they have a ‘black friend’ as if that proves they aren’t racist. I don’t think that is the intention at all, but I can’t help shake that thought out of my head. But, what she is saying is true. Avril is very popular in Japan, so has ended up doing a video that may appear similar to other Japanese pop videos, in a manner of it’s styling. Possibly paying homage to the music scene that has made her feel accepted. Looking back at Qwen Steffani’s LAMB dancers, I find that more offensive. Love, Angel, Music and Baby were 4 Japanese dancers that followed Gwen around like puppies, in many music videos and tours. These people didn’t have a voice, but became a big part of Gwen’s act. Maybe I wasn’t aware of it, but I didn’t see such a negative reaction for that. And that act actually did make me feel strange seeing it.

In this world, where cultural appropriation is becoming a majorly debated topic, people call foul of any person seen not respecting other cultures. Some people don’t have the capacity to believe that they could disrespect something just by wearing an item of clothing, for example. If something looks cool and interesting, some people want to be a part of it. They maybe don’t know the intricacies of the culture, but that doesn’t mean they disrespect it. However, if someone from the culture, which you are borrowing from, does get offended, they should be listened to. If what you are wearing is from another culture, it is not your voice that matters when someone from that culture is offended. There is a belief that is instilled in some ‘white’ people, that they have the right to anything. This is not true, and people should respect one another, no matter their colour or heritage.

Do I think the video is offensive? It’s more rubbish, than racist, in my opinion. BUT, racism isn’t something that I have experience in, so I don’t feel qualified to base a decision on it. Qwen Steffani’s Japanese phase made me feel a lot more uncomfortable than Avril Lavigne’s one. The crass advertising of a children’s product is what turns my stomach more than the Japanese theming.

Come On DA

I really enjoy watching sport, and can sit through most, but football is my favourite. Soccer to some, football to most, it is the sport that I grew up watching. So when my local, and favourite, team Dunfermline Athletic started having financial problems last season, I became concerned. Then when the club was given a wind-up order over an unpaid tax bill, and entered administration, it would not be melodramatic to say that my heart broke. This big feature of my hometown could be gone, 128 years of history gone because a few people mis-managed the club.

Over the last few months, a consortium of Pars fans and local business professionals formed a group called Pars United. The aim of this group was to bring the club back into the care of the community, so that the club could be run open and honestly, instead of directors and chairmen hiding behind closed doors. Pars United raised funds from local businesses, Pars fans and the community of West Fife, to help run the club, and try to gather a bid to take over. At the start of the summer, Dunfermline’s administrator, BDO, announced Pars United as the preferred bidder for the club. The next thing to do was to make an arrangement to who the club owed moneys of around £10 million to.

To do this a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) was to be created, and pitched to the clubs creditors. This would be an agreement that the club would pay a certain amount of the money back, rather than the full amount ( such as 1p in the £). For the CVA to pass, and for Pars United to start managing the club, 75% of the creditors had to agree to the CVA on Tuesday 30th July 2013.

Now whilst the actual voting is not been made public, the vote in agreement for the CVA was ‘overwhelming’. Meaning the club won’t get liquidated, and that the players and the club has a way forward, and are a step closer to being out of administration. Whilst it is great news for the club, it has been a big action by all the business effected by the clubs debt. A lot of local businesses lost out on a lot of money. But they agreed that the possible income brought about by having a football club in Dunfermline was of greater importance. And I, and every other Dunfermline fan, do not have the words to say how grateful we are that these people helped our club secure a future.

A lot of things had been put on hold whilst the CVA was sorted out. Namely the squad line-up and pictures, seemingly menial things the club would have normally done over the summer break. So Tuesday afternoon, after the CVA vote announcement, the squad had a picture day, and the offical squad list was released.  The picture of the squad is below, and you can sense the joy of the boys that have a season to look forward to.

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The 2013/14 squad are Alex Whittle (Midfielder)
Allan Smith (Striker)
Andrew Geggan (Midfielder)
Blair Henderson (Striker)
Callum Morris (Defender)
Christopher Kane (Midfielder)
Craig Dargo (Striker)
Declan O’Kane
Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Striker)
Ivan D’Angelo (Midfielder)
John Potter (Defender)
Joshua Falkingham (Midfielder)
Kerr Young (Defender)
Lewis Spence (Midfielder)
Lewis Martin (Defender)
Michal Hrivnak (Goalkeeper)
Ross Drummond (Defender)
Ross Millen (Defender)
Ryan Goodfellow (Goalkeeper)
Ryan Ferguson
Ryan Scully (Goalkeeper)–on loan from Partick Thistle
Ryan Thomson (Midfielder)
Ryan Wallace (Midfielder)
Ryan Williamson
Shaun Byrne (Midfielder)
Stephen Husband (Midfielder)
*Now the clubs future is secured, there are reports of players getting added via loans from other clubs*

If you can’t tell, I am over the moon. It has been the hardest year I have ever had as a sports fan, and would not wish this on anyone. Dunfermline would not be the same without the Pars, so thank you to everyone who helped this club work towards its 129th year.