Remembering the life of Kobe Bryant

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On Sunday 26th January, it was announced that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash. Bryant was one of nine people who died when the helicopter he was in crashed on a hillside in Calabasas, California. The victims included Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter and rising basketball star Gianna as well as John Altobelli, his wife Keri and his daughter Alyssa.

Let me take a breath because I’m struggling not to cry as I write this. This is so horrifying and upsetting. Basketball fans, the Black community, friends and people who just knew of the brilliance of Kobe Bryant are devastated. How can we not be? He was one of the great athletes to ever live and he inspired an entire generation of athletes. Who else remembers trying the throw a paper ball into a bin yelling “Kobe”? If we are devastated, then I cannot begin to imagine what Kobe’s wife Vanessa is going through. To lose your husband tragically at the age of 41 is one thing but to lose your child too… I can only imagine it is as though one’s worst nightmare has come to life.

A lot of the press coverage surrounding the death of Bryant has been questionable at best and deplorable at worst. From TMZ reporting of Bryant’s death on social media before the family was informed or the BBC using Lebron James’ image in the tribute instead of the deceased is beyond incompetent.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51259479

I am expecting lawsuits for TMZ and heads to roll at the BBC. Can you imagine finding out about the death of your loved one on Twitter and then having one of the reputable news sources prove that their staff doesn’t know how to Google search? I am willing to bet that if David Beckham were to tragically pass, the BBC would not use three video clips of Steven Gerrard.

Despite the nonsense of the press coverage, it does not take away that Kobe Bryant was a hero to many and will never be forgotten. Fans have been paying tribute to him throughout LA, basketball players current and retired and there were several tributes to him at the Grammys awards. These included songs by Alicia Keys & Boys II Men and him being included in the tribute to Nipsey Hustle. Even the Empire State Building lit up in the Lakers colours of purple & yellow in Bryant’s honour.

Here is my tribute to Black Mamba:

I remember the first time I saw Kobe Bryant. It must have been in 2000/2001. I was watching the music channels and Destiny’s Child’s video for Bug A Boo came on. I loved Destiny’s Child so I sat and watched it. I was drawn in as the then DC4 hid in a men’s locker room to escape their “bug a boo” boyfriends and in that locker room was Kobe Bryant. I thought he was gorgeous. At that moment he came more important to me than Beyoncé & Kelly. I later found out that he wasn’t an actor for the video but the famous Lakers player, Kobe Bryant. So, I became a Lakers fan of the strength of his cameo on Bug A Boo. I used to stay up until the early hours of the morning to watch the Lakers play. Kobe was the reason I became invested in basketball. I even bought the official Kobe jersey when I was 15 in Hamburg, Germany. He is the reason I love Basketball and used to table official games for extra money at University.

The death of Kobe Bryant is a painful reminder that life is not guaranteed, and death is not a respecter of person. All I can say is that we should live life to the full, fulfill our purpose, be kind to everyone and tell the people who mean something to us how much we love them.

Please remember the Bryant and Altobelli family in your prayers. They will need them.

Mamba Out

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Meghan & Harry’s Long Walk To Freedom, BTS Performing at the Grammys & Love Island Is Boring This Year

Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex visit to Canada House, London, UK - 07 Jan 2020

In case you have been living under a rock, I’m sure that you know by now that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have decided to leave the Royal Family. At this point aliens on Jupiter have heard the news given the amount of noise the British media have made about it. The Duke & Duchess of Sussex have decided to give up being senior members of the Royal Family and will be splitting their time between North America and the UK. What made me chuckle was the fact that the other members of the Royal household found out about it the same way that the rest of us did, via their website. How very Beyoncé of them.

This begs the questions, why would they do such a thing? Well those of us who are Black British would say that the answer is incredibly obvious. There has been a smear campaign against Meghan Markle since she was rumoured to be dating Prince Harry and things because considerably worse when she became pregnant. All of this has been steeped in the language of ‘dog-whistle politics’ with articles criticising Meghan for guest editing Vogue, eating avocados and holding her pregnant belly.  Now I am not going to argue whether Meghan Markle has been experiencing racism from the British media because it the answer is clear. Buzzfeed news put together a wonderful article where they compared news articles of situations whether Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle would be the exact same thing but where Kate would receive praise, Meghan would receive scathing remarks.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ellievhall/meghan-markle-kate-middleton-double-standards-royal

Not to mention her son was compared to a  “chimp in a suit” by BBC 5 Live presenter. Prince Harry has also written two letters calling out the press’s racism, so the debate of whether their decision to leave was based upon racism is null & void.

What Meghan and Harry have done by publicly deciding to step away from the Royal Family is declare to the world that there façade of England being a racially safe haven is a lie and now several media publications have been falling on their swords to declare that they are not racist. There is just “something about Meghan they don’t like.” Would anyone like to take a wild guess as to what that ‘something’ is?

What is frustrating is how black scholars, broadcasters and lecturers, such as Afua Hirsch and Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu are being carted out onto programs such as This Morning and Channel 4 news to explain the racism that was so glaringly obvious. It is an insult to our intelligence. It is bad enough that in the UK Black and Brown people are subjected to racism and are to navigate our way through it in silence. Then when incidents like this happen, we have to explain what racism is and defend ourselves when people on the other side refuse to believe that anything outside of saying the N-word isn’t racism. It’s draining and if it is taking a toll on the average Black Briton then one can only imagine the mental turmoil that Meghan Markle has been under. Yet she is expected to take the abuse and bullying in silence.

Maybe we should not be surprised that a country where an overwhelming majority was given to Boris Johnson, a man who openly and unapologetically used racist and Islamophobic language, would harass the first biracial woman who married into the Royal Family. I should add that the excuse that Meghan is ‘arrogant, manipulative and an American’ is hardly a defense against the slander she is receiving. Aside from the fact that many of the people, like Eamonn Holmes, are making comments about the Duchess’s character have not had a conversation with her or even been invited to be in the same room as her. Why are people acting as though the fact that Meghan Markle is a United States citizen is a reason to berate her? So, racism is bad but casual xenophobia is fine? This country baffles me. The latest news is that Meghan and Harry will be stripped of their title of Duke & Duchess but if losing their Royal titles ensures the stability and mental health of their family then I am with them until the end.

BTS Are Performing At The Grammy

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It has been confirmed that BTS will be gracing the Grammys with their presence for the second year in a row. Only this time, they will not be attending as presenters but as performers. RM did warn you that they would be back.

In a feature article written about Lil Nas X,  Variety confirmed that BTS would be joining him on stage alongside Diplo, Young Thug, Mason Ramsey, Billy Ray Cyrus, and the OG Nas. Do I for one think that BTS deserves their own stage, absolutely. However, I am grateful to Lil Nas X to opening his platform to share with the sensational seven. Old Town Road beat Mariah Carey’s record for the longest standing single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart so he is under no obligation to share his stage with anyone.

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Fans are certainly excited to see what the outcome of this performance will be.  Ariane Grande posted a picture of herself and BTS at the Grammy rehearsals.

None of this negates the scandal that has broken out about the Grammys with their voting irregularities stemming from the board, who don’t promote a transparent nomination process, and the Recording Academy president Deborah Dugan being put on administrative leave. It’s no secret that the Grammys have a history of racism and homophobia which likely plays a huge part in why BTS was not nominated this year. That being said, fans know it has been a dream of BTS to perform at the Grammys so if they like it, we love it.

Love Island

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I don’t know what everyone else is thinking about this season of Winter Love Island but I am getting a little bored and I need them to inject some drama. All I have seen so major insecurity red flags on the part of Small Connor and Shaughna (although she is hilarious), pathological lies from Sophie and delusions of grandeur from Siannise. There is not a single couple that makes sense. I don’t know what Sophie & Small Connor are doing and Shaughna has practically strongarmed Callum into a relationship. At this point in the game, I am backing Nas to win. He has taken so many Ls but he sweet and is the least dramatic person on the show.

Please comment on your thoughts on the Meghan and Harry situation

Are you looking forward to seeing BTS perform at the Grammys?

Is this season of Love Island boring or do you think it will get better?

Please also listen to asoulfulstorm podcast which is available on Spotify

Rep Your Flag: BTS At the Grammys

61st Annual Grammy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 10 Feb 2019

A lot can be said about the Grammy this weekend. From the surprise appearance of my forever First Lady, Michelle Obama. Alicia Keys reminding us of her incomparable piano playing skills, the wins & snubs, as well as the lackluster of a tribute to Motown by Jennifer Lopez. However, all I care about is the fact that BTS graced the staged of the Grammys by being the first Korean Artists to be nominated and present a Grammy award.

Now I am not here to talk about whether BTS should have won the award that they were nominated for (they should have). Nor am I here to talk about whether they ought to have performed (they really should have). I am here to talk about the fact that the band arrived onto the Grammy Red carpet looking dapper in classic tuxedos. They were looking more delicious than a buffet at an African wedding. Why am I so concerned with their red-carpet look? Other than the fact that they looked like any one of them could have been the next James Bond, I love that they chose to wear Korean designers Kim Seo Ryong and JayBaek Couture.

Presently, BTS are the biggest boy band in the world. For millions of fans, they were the highlight of the night, even though they were on stage for no more than one minute. Having an artist wear your clothes is free promotion and more money for the designer. Which is why I am sure that many designers were ready and willing to dress all seven of these modelesque men. On the day of the Grammys, BTS had taken a picture with Kim Jones which had lead many to believe that the guys were going to be wearing Dior to the big event.

From everything I know about BTS, they are not disillusioned about their influence or the power their fans possess. Anyone else remembers the time that Jungkook let the fans know what fabric softener he uses and the next day it was sold out in the whole of South Korea? What better way for BTS to use their platform than to spotlight designers from their own country? Let’s be honest, how many South Korean designers can you name? I’ll be more generous, how many Asian designers can you name other than Jimmy Choo?

I love it when people from different ethnic groups go out of their way to give exposure to people from their country or race. It is important because the reality of life is that no one will have your back like your own. I personally believe that when one of us manages to break down the door, we should make an effort to allow others to come through. Just so you know, BTS are not the only ones who have been representing their country on the fashion front lines. Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians) has been wearing Asian designers (such as Jason Wu) most of this award season.

Beyoncé also gave a spotlight on her Instagram to all the African designers that she wore while she was in South Africa for The Global Citizen Festival (such as Ivorian label Yhebe Design, Peulh Vagabond & Senegalese Sarah Diouf’s line Tongoro Studio)

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Most of us know how hard it is to get a seat at the table regardless of our field of expertise. Hell, most of us will probably never be able to get a seat unless we already know someone who already has a spot at the table. Why do you think networking events were created? The point that I am making is, we should never be satisfied being the sole representative for your race, gender, religion etc. The top can be lonely and it ain’t no fun if the homies can’t get none.

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Murder, Baby Bumps & BTS at the Grammy Awards

I’m trying something new here guys. You will let me know if you like it.

Let’s discuss what happened in the world of pop culture this week.

British Media Hates Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex

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All hell broke through the streets of England when there were mere rumors that Prince Harry was dating Meghan Markle. Why? Because Meghan is a divorced, older, biracial woman. It didn’t matter that Meghan Markle is so light skinned that most people would not be able to tell that there is an ounce of black blood flowing through her veins. However, the media storm that ascended upon the now Duchess of Sussex was so ferocious that Kensington Palace had to send out an official statement. They basically told the British media in not many words, “we see your racism, Prince Harry is disgusted, shut the hell up.” Which is what happened, but as soon as that wedding was over… they came back with the fire of a thousand suns.

Has Meghan been able to do anything right in the eyes of the media since? Apparently, Kate and Meghan have a feud. Now she’s been berated for holding her own baby bump, as if the woman isn’t 7 months pregnant. She is also being blamed for Prince Harry balding. As if everyone male in Prince Charles’s bloodline hasn’t suffered from hair recession once they hit the tender age of 30. In fact, Black British Twitter was begging Meghan to introduce Harry to coconut & caster oil to combat his unfortunate genetic disposition.

This is the complete opposite of how Kate Middleton was treated all of the times she was pregnant.Three guesses as to why. I just want you to know that we see your micro aggressions towards Meghan in these headlines. They are racist and unfair. Let that woman grow her baby in peace.

Is Liam Neeson a Racist?

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I don’t even know where to begin with this story. Liam Neeson decided to inform Al Gore’s internet that after someone close to him was allegedly raped by a black man. These were his words

“But my immediate reaction was… I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.

“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [uses air quotes with fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”

Let me get this straight. He didn’t go looking for the criminal who did this to his loved one. He wanted to harm ANY black man that so much as gave him a bit of lip in an act of revenge. Do you have any idea how dangerous this kind of thinking is? This is how we get deaths of unharmed black men and boys like Trayvon Martin. If all Black people exact revenge on white people who have wronged us, white people would be extinct. Furthermore, I don’t understand the logic of telling us this? Where is his PR team? This story was far from necessary.

Remember, Liam Neeson did not tell this story at Hollywood Race Panel sitting between Ava Duvernay & Oprah talking about dangers of racism and how he once had these thoughts. He told this story in mere promotion of a film. Ask yourself, if his friend had been raped by a white person, what was the likelihood of him wanting to assault any random white that he had met on the street? Unlikely. It is one thing to acknowledge that these thoughts were horrible but real growth is acknowledging that they were racially based. Making them racist.

I’m annoyed because I still haven’t watched Widows and I now I have watch him in the same film with Aunty Viola Davis. Thanks a lot Liam, how am I meant to watch Love Actually and Taken now?

BTS Will Be Presenting At the Grammys

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It was confirmed this morning that BTS will be presenting at the Grammys this coming Sunday. As some of you may know, they are the first Korean Artists to be nominated for a Grammy in the Academy’s history. Now I am not impressed by the category they have been nominated in (Best Recording Package). I think they should have been nominated for Best New Artist or Best Album. This is a group that had 2 number 1 albums on Billboards last year alone. However, it is no secret that the Grammys have a prejudice towards people of colour and boy groups.

Anyway, I acknowledge that they are breaking down barriers for other Korean Artists who are trying to achieve success in the Western Music Market. I understand that the magnitude of this nomination, and even being asked to present an award is a huge honour for the BTS. Plus Suga (one of the rappers in BTS) had expressed in 2018 his desire to go to the Grammys. It seemed like a dream to both the group and the fandom (ARMY), now look at where we are. The power of speaking things into existence.

Let me know if you think the British Media has it out for Meghan Markle?

Should Liam Neeson have kept that story to himself?

Will you be staying up to watch BTS at the Grammys?

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