As 2015 comes to a close, we reflect on the hundreds of brilliant articles authored by writers of colour this year on sites founded and run by people of colour such as Gal Dem, Coming of Faith, Ain’t I A Woman Collective, Black Ballad, Blavity, For Harriet and more. Below we have selected the ten most popular we published this year.
From media outlets gaining access to our experts directory, to the #TheTrashies Awards, our joint event with ESI Media and the London Press Club on sports journalism and finally the launch of Bare Lit Festival, debuting in February 2016, it’s been a busy year for Media Diversified.
Thank you to our resident columnists, Chimene, Maya and Shane (a new columnist to be announced on New Years Day!), all the wonderful writers who chose to publish with us this year and to our brilliant team behind the scenes, Kelly, Samira, Mend, Yasmin, Henna, Kiri, Maurice, Afroze, Maurice, Desiree, Lola, Adefemi, Melanie and Louisa.
Some changes coming in 2016: we are looking for a new experienced managing editor to take the site’s direction forward and a project manager for the experts directory. We’ll be launching a Patreon fundraiser because in today’s media landscape, writers of colour are seldom valued as much as they should be and we want to be able to fully value the work and voices of writers and editors of colour. As an organisation dedicated to championing the voices and experiences of people of colour across the globe, we want to counteract this harmful treatment by compensating our writers for their work.
Thanks for all your support in 2015 and wishing you the best for 2016!
p.s. Don’t forget to checkout our new MENA section launched in September!
Here are our most popular articles published in 2015:
No we’re not, but if anything broke the Internet this year it was Rihanna’s video and the ensuing online critiques and arguments. Film scholar and novelist Sunny Singh gives some much-needed context missing from other analyses. ‘BBHMM is different from most videos in that the violence is perpetrated BY women and with Rihanna in the lead, specifically by women of colour. In doing so, BBHMM becomes probably one of the most sophisticated pop culture takes on the complexity of how white and non-white women interact, in equal parts warning, nightmare, catharsis, and horror.’
Excited to have this in the top ten! It’s the 2nd year in a row Carolyn’s writing has appeared in this list and it’s much deserved. She gives a personal insight and tackles the issues at play that make this an underreported area. ‘We have grown so accustomed to seeing dramatic scenes where lovers yell, argue, throw things or get physical with each other that we think nothing of the harm that it does. We are all familiar with the “dating game” and how it sometimes works in the context of emotional abuse without realizing what it actually is. It can begin subtly with mental or emotional abuse. Once the abuser is certain that they are in the position of power, they are able to start making more and more demands on your life and, in the worst cases, they maintain their control by physical abuse.’
I must admit I was totally incredulous about Rachel Dolezal’s story at first. Have we ever figured out who the man was she got to pose as her father?! She was in DEEP. Nevertheless it did bring to the fore an issue very rarely talked about Transracial adoptees. Not sure what that is? Read this beautiful piece by Ellie Freeman. ‘Transracial is a term to describe interracial adoptees and is commonly used in organisational and academic contexts. Simply put, a transracial person is someone raised in a culture or race different from their own. Having been raised by her white parents and choosing to identify as a person of another race, Dolezal does not get to use this term.’
Good question eh? Remember that week or so when the British press loved Syrian refugees? No? Well It didn’t last long. ‘On the same day as Aylan’s death, 200 refugees were pulled from a train by Czech police and, in scenes horrifyingly reminiscent of Nazi practice, were marked with numbers on their arms. It is not the first time comparisons have been made between current-day European treatment of Muslims and the rhetoric that surrounded Jews in the 1930s. Name-calling, such as bugs and rats (the language of extermination) circulates beside caricatures of long and hooked nose Arabs within a Europe that deeply resents those travelling to safety from persecution elsewhere. A worrying template is being followed.’
Another good question. This year has seen a stream of white male tears to rival any countryside river. In May we covered the disproportionate media attention given to Bahar Mustafa’s story compared to actual issues of structural racism and discrimination in the UK. At the time we never thought that a hashtag could be reported to the police, let alone that it would be taken to court summons. Chimene gracefully takes apart why Mustafa’s case got this far.
‘The racist and sexist abuse she experienced was itself an example of the kind of violence minority communities encounter when they seek to define their own spaces without white or male authority. Toys were thrown out of the pram and in all of the chaos it was easier to make one woman of colour a scapegoat than interrogate the structures she was challenging.’
Not often that our articles are quoted in the Telegraph, but Ananya’s article ignited a firestorm that has had more and more people investigate the VERY controversial BRIT program. It also started a chilling trend as more stories were revealed of children as young as seven being unfairly targeted by teachers and school administrators. And seriously, the trolley test for ten year olds? This story isn’t over.
‘If signifiers of difference, including visual symbols of Islamic religiosity such as the hijab, are assumed to be indicators of ‘extremism’, we are essentially forcing Muslim children to conform to mainstream ‘British values‘ that demonise their religion and its followers. In other words, counter-extremism measures dictate that those who do not hold mainstream religious or political beliefs need to be monitored, where the consequence of non-compliance is being labelled a ‘radical’ or even, a ‘terrorist’. Taking this type of state-sanctioned violence into schools by instructing teachers to monitor their students creates a hostile atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion, subsequently resulting in the alienation and bullying of Muslim children in schools by staff and fellow pupils.’
Taking to task members of your own community isn’t always easy. Taking to task those with high visibility and a massive fan base is often near impossible. So kudos to Nashwa Khan for her nuanced piece on The Mindy Project. ‘Using anti-blackness as a tool, the show’s brand of comedy works by centring Lahiri in proximity to whiteness. In any one episode of The Mindy Project I feel myself go through a roller coaster of emotions: amusement, pride, offense and humiliation.’ Sometimes these things can be done with love and sensitivity.
A late contender for one of the most read of the year but this piece seemed to have struck a chord with many. Plainly speaking and with no holds barred Claire called it as many of us see it. ‘Material designed to provoke a white audience is also liable to alienate a Black audience. By using slavery as a tool to promote vegan values, vegan activists make clear that vegan spaces are frequently racist spaces.‘ As one person tweeted us ‘Finally someone said it’. We’re picturing some of the white members of the vegan community with smoke still puffing out of their ears. The others vented in the comments…
Much credit to Shane for leading the way with this dissection of London clubs’ racist door policies. Further exposes appeared at the BBC, the Guardian and elsewhere. He rightly noted, ‘You may be of the mindset that this issue can be rectified by eschewing going to these venues, or maybe you’re an introverted person, and would never dream of spending your weekend in a bar or club. But the problem remains that these clubs are a symptom of the systemic racism in this country, that far too many like to tell themselves doesn’t exist’.
1)#LoveSerenaHateRacism A Discourse On Western Attitudes Towards Serena Williams
In a rousing polemic, Ahmed takes apart the disingenuous narratives used to undermine one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Tracing back the history of racialised arguments used to attack black women from colonialism to now and charting her numerous successes: ‘Tennis, like swimming, rugby, golf and cricket is a sport dominated by white people. Prior to the arrival of the Williams sisters, there had only been three black Grand Slam tennis champions, since the first Grand Slam took place at Wimbledon in 1877. A look at the images on the Wimbledon Champions Hall of Fame from 1877 reveals that, pre 2000, the only black face among the ladies champions was that of Althea Gibson, the 1957 and 1958 Champion’. He puts her critics in a context they either haven’t educated themselves on or are in willful denial of.
Sneaking in at no. 11, one of my favourites from this year: “Tricking Africa”? by Joseph Guthrie
You can find out more and support Bare Lit Festival 2016, giving authors and poets of colour the platform and visibility they deserve here