Look beyond the label.

Labels are everywhere, right? You have Gucci, you have Autistic, you have Terrorist, Millionaire, Gluten-Free, Smart, Tourist, Organic, Quiet, the list goes on. How positive and how useful are labels though? We have them in society for convenience of categorisation. It’s easier to classify someone or something as a label as it seeks to identify and associate an idea or a schema to that label. But I find it so damaging. 

You have White, Black, Asian, Latina, Poor, Rich. And you have a lot of stereotypes. 

This really annoys me. 

It annoys me because people are lazy or perhaps don’t have the time to look beyond the label to see who or what it is that they are dealing with.

Black: We all associate the term Black with negativity. And the ‘black race’ (i.e. people of African descent) with negativity. At least refer to people as Brown. That would be more logical. And it’s even more odd when people assume that I must be mixed race because I don’t look ‘black black’. What’s that even supposed to mean? “Oh right, you’re not in the ‘Black’ club so I’m not going to respect your ancestors?” It’s an issue that many people of Ethiopian and Eritrean descent face including me, as we have features very much similar to that of Arabs or European. 

Ethiopia geographically and genetically is at the birthplace of the Homosapien whether people care to recognise or appreciate it, or not. We are about as ‘black’ as you can get – if you were to refer to that scale. As a continent, Africa is the most genetically diverse in the entire world and Africa is pretty huge. People forget. It’s bound to be genetically diverse. What people are really referring to when they mean ‘black’ is people from west African societies as there are probably more descents of West African/Bantu origin outside of Africa then the other ethnic societies in Africa ( although Ethiopians are everywhere, especially in Washington D.C.). And don’t get me started on those Ethnicity Monitoring Forms which get you to label yourself into a nice little box. For me, ‘Black British African’ or sometimes I don’t even state it. 

Labels are damaging and it needs to stop or at least people need to look beyond the label  a bit more. That goes the same for clothing labels. Kanye loves him some Louis V. and they sure love his money and advertising! I personally don’t always buy into labels, both economically and psychologically. I’m not going to spend £2,000 on a designer handbag just because it’s popular or a status of wealth. Especially if I know I’ve got bills to pay and food to buy. I’ll buy a handbag because it looks cute and is functional and I actually like it for what it is. Not the label.

Living that Art life

I have a very vivid memory of me sprawled out on my uncle’s living room floor, with the sun beaming in, and a colouring pencil in my hand, creating away on a piece of paper. My uncle then asks attentively, “So Meron, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m assuming to confirm actions of the joyous but relaxed mood I was in.

“Hmm, either an artist or a doctor”

He then asked which one I would choose if I had no choice but to pick one. I hesitated for a bit, but I confidently said artist. I was about 9 or 10 years old at the time so I was pretty aware about different occupational roles. I always remember that memory because I feel like it’s what I am meant to be. And the more I think about it, the more it resonates with me. Usually the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ is often ignored in later adult life. But lately, I’ve been trying to listen to what my intuition tells me. I think the reason I said both options of an artist or a doctor, is because I want to help people, but I love art and have received more compliments about it then anything else I do.

And it’s so funny because I literally am drawn towards art therapy as a career change! I love psychology and eventually I want to blend the two worlds – art and psychology – together into a nice little world of my  own.

But that art life though!

I’ve only JUST started exposing my art work on social media and online. I’m so bloody defensive of my work, as predictably by my artistic nature, I’m a sensitive soul. Don’t get me wrong, sensitivity is a great thing to have but if your skin isn’t that thick, it’s painful. Luckily, my skin is growing ever more thicker, which is great but I still have some way to go. There’s so many doubts niggling at you like an itchy nose – ‘But I can’t do this!’, ‘I’m not a real artist’, ‘Who’s going to be interested in what I have to show?’, and the classic ‘I’m not good enough’.  Aye aye aye!

I am good, I am kind, I am enough.

I am good, I am kind, I am enough.

I am good, I am kind, I am enough.

(repeat until less stressed)

…That’s better.

It’s my new mantra thing. It isn’t a permanent solution but it’s a good way to centre my emotions. I know I can do this. Live a life more dedicated to practising art and using it to help others. Essentially that’s my life goal. To help others using art. I’m still not sure how exactly but I think along the art therapy route. One thing is for sure – I just to keep creating, stop the self judgement and do it for me. Not to prove anything or to show off but for me.

And in honour of this post, I’ve featured my latest painting/selfie. What do you think is going on?

Uncertain times: the Brexit decision. Keep Calm and Carry On?

Friday 8.15 am, 24th June 2016 (GMT – London time)

Big history was made.

I heard wailing in the living room of mother’s house where I stayed over for the night. Be sure to to believe I  voted remain. I crossed that box with assertion and speed, in hope others would do the same at the polling station.

‘No!’ my sister screamed.

I snuck into the living room and realised the future of our nation: ‘Great’ Britain had apparently decided that it wanted to leave the European Union. Face palm. This is my reaction on Facebook:

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And some hilarious reactions:

Twitter 1

 

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48.1% voted to remain, 51.9% voted to leave. Only about 1 million or so votes difference.

I discovered that most of the votes made from London were to remain, as opposed to the majority of communities outside of London, predominately England and Wales. Scotland however, decided to remain!

Now, hear this. I DO NOT believe people actually knew what they were voting for. The media, as per usual, has and still sensationalises the Brexit debate and other topics of British concern.

Immigration. Immigration, Islamic terrorists, Immigration.

Like a wave of chants uttered by the misguided. I admit I may not have a meticulous knowledge of the pros and cons of the debate. But one thing that DOES make sense: the world is better when we are connected. Having an ideology that separating the UK from the rest of the world, or what Nigel Farrage calls it with delight, “Independence Day”, will bring more prosperity and a ‘Greater’ Britain, is to me bollocks. It’s clear that many British people are disturbed by people who come to the Britain to work and get a better life for themselves and their families. There are two main types of immigrants; economic and political. The hustlers and the freedom fighters (in other terms). Yes, there are people who come to the UK to abuse the welfare system, but there are also those who are British and abuse it anyway. The welfare system is corrupt and broken. So is housing. So for people who want to chant religiously to the rest of the world about how people are taking their jobs; please, hustle a little. If you are going to blame anyone, blame this suits in the banks, sitting on the their piles of gold whilst they laugh at you and make all your decisions for you. As ‘the people’, the members of public, we are stronger as a large community, than smaller communities with hate and angst at each other. Living in the UK can have a lot of benefits (not only the welfare kind), but it also isn’t easy, for anyone.

As a second generation Londoner, in my opinion, we are a divided nation. Scotland wants out, London wants out. The referendum just displays a mirror of the cracks which actually can be a good thing. The reality will sink in.

I know this post sounds very pessimistic, and quite uncharacteristic of me, personally, sometimes I feel I do need to point out the realities as it is very concerning! Although processes wont take full effect until around 2018, I feel very uncertain and cautious about the state of the the UK.

Although that being said, I’m not totally pessimistic. London does have such potential and is a melting pot of cultures, which I love. And to be fair, things probably will still feel the same, so I’m not in total panic mode.

Still, plans are in place to move abroad, ha! Maybe just temporarily.

“What’s that Los Angeles… you say you’re wanting to get more young, creative Londoners in the area? Sure! I’ll be there in a jiffy! Oh wait, is Donald Trump going to be your next president? I see! Hmm.” The grass does seem greener on the other side…

Decisions, decisions.

 

 

 

My next holiday adventure awaits! 

I’ve just booked a short vacation to Florence for 3nights in August with a dear friend of mine. 

I’ve never been to Italy but I’m hoping some of you out there might help me with some trip ideas! Yes (as pictured) I have my paper back travel guide but it’s so much better to have people’s experiences. 

Of course there is TripAdvisor but still, I would love some comments on the best places to eat, have ice cream, photo ops etc. I’ll be sure to let you guys know come August how it went 🙂 

Ciao x

“Go get a job!”

My friend and I were in central London, enjoying our ice creams. We turned to a road leading to Tottenham court road,  at which point I saw a BIG ISSUE seller already approaching a woman eating outside the restaurant. If you’re a Londoner, you almost always see a Big Issue representative outside stations, tourist attractions, public facilities. I see one at my local train station. I’ve even started conversations with one more mature lady to find out why she was there and given money. And most of the time you know why they’re there. Even if you’re not  from London, the person usually doesn’t look well groomed so you can assume their begging for money (the Big Issue foundation is a homelessness organisation giving jobs to homeless people selling Big Issue magazines on the streets, as well as other things)

“GO GET A JOB!” she screams, angrily and annoyed at this young BIG issue man trying to sell her a magazine.

He’s shocked. And so am I.

He walks off muttering to himself in amazement at how rude this woman is. “Go get a job, pfff!’

…How can she say that? That’s my first reaction. I mean she’s sitting there eating her gourmet food, telling him to go find a job. RAS CLAAAATT. REALLY???? He’s got a job selling magazines! It may not be her ideal job but it’s honest hard graft- he’s making a positive step to reclaiming his life, regardless of what happened to him, whether he became addicted to drugs, or stole or whatever would make you homeless. He’s seeking steps to help himself. And no one should knock a person down for that. NO ONE. Woman need to check herself.

Even if he was being persistent and being annoying, there’s no need to speak to a human being like that. Just keep saying no. Ignore him even if you have to. I was vexed to be honest, and I had afterthoughts of how I would have gone up to that lady and given her a piece of my mind. Told her how ugly her attitude is. How she shouldn’t be angry at him, she should be angry at the government for not doing more to support homeless, unemployed people. For not doing more to help people with mental health concerns, young people with low self esteem as well as other issues. The government has let us down with its dodgy political, social and financial infrastructure. A person can abuse the welfare system so easily, and live like a king or queen by not working and claiming benefits, but then you have people struggling for their lives not getting a penny or a pound in welfare. The system is screwed. Shouting at homeless people to get a job does not help that person. We don’t know what that person is going through, emotionally, socially, psychologically, physically. So how are you gunna just shout at this person! Serious!

I walked off before the aftermath (or maybe there wasn’t?), but I hope she can think about her actions. And I hope the seller doesn’t get too disheartened by her words, but gives him more of a desire to succeed. Life isn’t easy no matter what background you come from, so we need to help each other. So please, be mindful of other and mind the gap.

Rant over.

Detours can be productive…

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‘Blended’ 2010, Mixed Media

A delightful discovery whilst roaming the social media fields, a detour actually.

Introducing April Harrison
I really like the energy that she’s used in this painting- peaceful, solemn, warm and humble. What looks like a  mother almost falling asleep due to the hardships of raising two children, is comforting her children as they are enrapped in their mother’s love in her arms. To me she’s using the term ‘blended’ in the way she has used pattern and texture and the relationship between all of them:intimate. They all seem to have their eyes closed as in the way a person would meditate or pray or just embrace the moment for a few seconds. Or it could be they’re all tired. Either way for me, it’s really humbling to see.

 

 

 

L.A. inspiration

The Californian African American Museum (CAAM) recently had an exhibition called Hard Edged: Geometrical Abstraction and Beyond, which was quite successful in my opinion and probably not highly advertised.  There was a mixed media piece by April Bey which used hair relaxer as part of the narrative closely related to Chris Rock’s ‘Good Hair’ Documentary, which I thought was clever and controversial.

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But some of the artists and art work that I took with me (metaphorically speaking) is that by MICHELLE ROBINSON.

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‘Moon Guardian 2’, 2015, Acrylic & Gold leaf on Canvas by Michelle Robinson

I love the dialogue of colour, texture and references towards the female form, natural hair and all! It really just emanates a wave of positive and deep, powerful, spiritual energies that really appealing to me. It’s very inspiring as it is a style similar to how I work with paints. I would definitely add it to a collection, if I could afford it….one day 🙂

 

 

The city of angels and burgers

Having come from sunny L.A. a few weeks ago, my eyes have definitely been opened up. I went as a leisurely holiday with my partner and stayed in Hollywood through an Airbnb apartment. (Good old Airbnb!) We were welcomed by a raccoon as we arrived exhausted at around 9 pm. That was certainly a unique experience! Luckily it was just hanging out on the roof, cautiously observing our movements, because boy I was scared. I’ve never encountered one before but they look mean. Those white-masked bandits!!

One of the things that struck me the most was the amount of overt homeless people. I mean, we have a lot of homeless people in London, unfortunately, but in Hollywood especially, they’re all examples that chasing the dream ain’t easy!

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Beautiful ‘Birds of Paradise’ dotted all around the neighbourhood

I’ve heard how Hollywood was a little dirty and capital of superficiality – YUP that’s definitely true. The only reason we were staying there is because it was affordable, local and we weren’t planning on staying at home all day everyday! Also, I have to add, there were so much fast food outlets around us! I’m sorry but you American people can get seriously big, like super big and I can see why!

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Tensions in the city – captured outside an LAPD station, ironically.

However, if you’re ever near Little Armenia, there’s a great food truck called Armando’s Hot Food and they sell the usual Mexican food and burgers. This SAVED us when we first arrived in the area as it was already late and we were starving! We did try In-n-out burgers later on our trip, but no, THIS burger was epic. And only $5 with a combo including drink and fries. Mmmmmmmm. I also tried the chicken quesadillas which was tasty! It came with guacamole and ketchup but you can also order a combo.

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Armando’s Hot Food Truck, located at 1277 N Western Ave

Runyon canyon was probably one of my most enjoyable experiences believe it or not! Looking up from below, it looks really intimidating as you see the march of ant-like people following the path. All decked out in their gear, carrying dogs. Getting to the top…OH yes. It was all worth it 🙂

 

Oh yes and a dairy free Pinkberry treat for our trek 🙂

Did I mention the Minions and Hogwarts???!!

I went to Universal Studios of course! My partner and I went on the first day of the Harry Potter world opening. 1 hr and 20 mins to wait for the Harry Potter ride, but it was fun! YAY 🙂

Would I go back, yes for sure! But probably not in Hollywood. The hype isn’t worth it for me. And plus there’s still parts of L.A. I haven’t explored…

Thoughts for tomorrow

It’s the first day of 2016 and I’ve watched a couple of reflective vids on Youtube that are just so inspiring.

There was a key quote that David Isay stated in the a TedTalk vid that really touched my heart and it was a simple sentence but has the depth and breadth of our universe:

 

“Every  single life matters equally and infinitely”

 

And I thought about it, and its counter arguments like what about the paedophiles and murderers and people who have committed grave acts beyond our moral scope, and even then I thought (not to justify ANY of those behaviours) as a society we have let those, once innocent, people down by not giving the support they needed in the beginning. And you may disagree with me, that’s okay, but the statement still resonates deeply within me (and perhaps a topic of discussion that I could take up at another time).

There’s been much more media coverage on the #BlackLivesMatter campaign as a result of the continuous justice occuring which cannot be tolerated anymore, and it’s not a case of Black people are better, but more so we need to continually prove our worth.

But essentially, spiritually, biologically, technically:

EVERY SINGE LIFE MATTERS EQUALLY AND INIFNIETLY.

If we, as a community, as a society, a family, a couple, a government or however we identify ourselves as, if we don’t actualise that or realise that quickly and internalise that so we can accept and move on and overrule the majority of the hate and despise people have for one another, then we need to start planning for action. ‘Cause this **** ain’t gon’ last forever.

Just saying.