October 24, 2008

Interviewing the former editor of Pride Magazine Sherry Dixon

Posted in Black History Month '08 tagged , , , , at 8:23 pm by poison ivyyy

Exclusive Sherry Dixon talks to poison ivyyy

Strong, independent, funny, smart and warm are just a couple of qualities often used to describe the complex personality of one of the most recognised faces within the black community.

Sherry Dixon is an established brand in the publishing world and an exceptional role model for every women of colour, in Britain and abroad.

Until recently, she was the editor-in-chief of Pride Magazine and She Carribean, as well as a consultant for ITV’s LK-Today, a freelance journalist, a broadcaster and a lecturer.

She runs her own workshops for beauty conscious men and women, Sherry is also  the proud winner of the ‘European Federation of Black Women Business Owners‘ (EFBWBO) Training Award.

And a mother to two grown successful sons, one of whom was appointed head of Mathew Knowles (Beyoncé’s father) Music World Europe.

The beginning

Guyana-born Sherry who considers Britain to be her home has a lot more to offer than initially meets the eye.

Amazingly, she is not a trained journalist and started out working at PR firm, Shandwick Consultancy, but they did not manage to keep this energetic woman under wraps for long.

She soon realised that she wanted to make fashion and beauty her profession.

Business woman Sherry Dixon

Business woman Sherry Dixon

“When I was leaving (the PR firm) they gave me a gift and when I opened it I found they had paid for my beauty course, which was at that time was quite a lot of money.

Because they paid for it I felt the need to pass it and I remember the course was quite heavy, but in the end it turned out good for me.”

Using the foundation of the beauty course, she did not take long to make a name for herself and become a make-up artist to the rich and the famous.

After stumbling over an article in the Daily Mail giving tips on make-up for light skinned people, she decided to ring up the editor of The Voice and pitch an idea similar to one of the Mail.

Knowing Sherry’s background The Voice’s editor told her to write the article herself, and so she did.

From there she was given a monthly column in The Voice, in Black Hair & Beauty and she also contributed to various national as well as international newspapers like The Guardian.

“It was embarrassing at one point, because I was writing all these articles for all these different press and they were all coming out around the same time, it was nice and exciting but also embarrassing.

It seemed that I was taking over the whole place as I was doing the professional make-up pictures as well.”

Pride Magazine

Within months of arriving at Pride she moved from being a beauty writer to being the beauty editor.

From there she was made the beauty, health and lifestyle editor. At the same time she was also managing her own beauty shop/studio.

Eight years into the job was named editor-in-chief of Pride.

Sherry has been with Pride for more than ten years and, looking back she realises that the face of the magazine has changed tremendously in the years she’s been the editor.

“Amina’s (the previous editor) style of editorship was more music-led and my remake was to make it more about self-awareness, being a stronger person and putting you back into the magazine. I made it about the whole person.”

Sherry has long left Pride, became the editor of She Caribbean in St. Lucia and has returned to England to face new challenges and in her words “live life on the edge”.

October 21, 2008

Changing Sex-the story of Donna Gee

Posted in Social Issues tagged , , , , at 9:51 pm by poison ivyyy

Exclusive Donna Gee told poison ivyyy her story

“For the first 50 years of my life I hid the real ‘me’ from the world. I was a married father of two, but secretly I’d wanted to be a woman. When I was growing up in the 60s I presumed I was a transvestite. I’d secretly dress in my stepmother’s clothes and it felt wonderful, I wanted the feeling to last forever.”

Gerry Greenberg made his way into sports journalism at a time when Sir John Junor was the editor of the Sunday Express in London’s Fleet Street.

He began his career at the age of 16, back in 1961, and has been able to build up an impressive resume since then.

Up to this day Gerry has worked for the Pontypridd Observer in South Wales, the Sunday Express, the Daily Express, Daily Star, the Sun, the Daily Mirror, the People and the Metro.

Gerry in his element as sports reporter with boxer Chris Eubank

Gerry in his element as sports reporter with boxer Chris Eubank

Even though he had a steadily progressing career and a very fulfilling home and family life, not everything was as golden as it appeared.

Gerry Greenberg, was living a secret double life!

The new me

Gerry, or now, Donna Gee came to terms with her transsexuality in 1997, said that she was always very keen on sports.

“I became a sports desk executive, reporter and columnist, covering football and rugby for a string of top selling tabloids, I couldn’t have chosen a more macho environment.

I grew a beard, but it was just a desperate attempt to hide my desire to change sex.”

Donna’s gender change obviously didn’t go unnoticed and although her family including her wife of 37 years, her children and her grandchildren were standing 100% behind her and always supported her in every possible way, not everyone was as keen to see what happened to ‘Gerry‘.

“At the time of my transition I was a deputy editor of a weekly group of newspapers in Manchester, I would say that half a dozen of my colleges made my changeover difficult.

Fighting for acceptance

One or two would not look me in the face, while one woman objected to my using the ladies’ loo- she actually walked out of the office for that.

It was very difficult for people to adapt to seeing me, someone they have known for years, suddenly appearing in a different gender.”

Donna now the woman she always wanted to be

Donna now the woman she always wanted to be

Donna, who still works for The People as a Saturday sports sub and page editor and freelances for the London Metro, made it her task to help those transsexuals who are less fortunate than her.

“For many male-to-female transsexuals, making the change is a compulsion.

It‘s a choice of becoming a woman or not living at all, and more than a few lives have ended tragically because of the non-acceptance.”

She runs a 24/7 e-mail support service, for those who have no one to talk to or are ashamed by what is happening to them.

“In my eyes, those who survive such a torment are the bravest of the bravest. I admire them profusely and if by being open I can help them achieve the same respect from society as anyone else, I count my blessings, I feel my life change has been a success.”

If you want more information, or are looking for support email Donna at Donna773@aol.com

 

October 17, 2008

Make-up for men and men girdles-the way forward

Posted in Fashion trends tagged , , , , at 11:32 pm by poison ivyyy

Metrosexual was the word of the early 2000s. Footballers and fashion icons such as David Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg were the spiritual inspiration behind the biggest revolution mankind has seen in heterosexual circles since ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ has hit our TV screens.

The days were all a man needed was a bar of soap, 10 minutes in the bathroom and some clothes from the bedroom floor are in the past.

These days almost every man has more than one beauty product hidden away in his cabinet, but of course there are always exceptions to the rules and those men that think brushing their teeth in the morning and leaving the house with uncombed hair is enough to impress the ladies.

The male beauty industry is booming and it seems that things that were once intended to enhance the beauty of females is about to swap gender.

Trendsetter Hollywood

Hollywood has set the tone and proved that a little nip and tuck isn’t that uncommon amongst men, we have all seen the pictures of Michael Douglas and John Travolta.

But fear not, there are plenty of products on the shelves for people that don’t want to go that far, but are in search of the fountain of ever lasting youth.

Manscara, guyliner, foundation, face scrubs, manicure and pedicures were always highly thought of by beauty conscious gay fashionistas, but has slowly made its way into the everyday man’s life.

Even Bad Boy for Life, Mr. P. Diddy has recently admitted to being “well groomed”, everywhere.

Don’t we all know at least one guy that is obsessed with his appearance, who spends hours in the bathroom and looks into every reflection of himself just to make sure his hair is still in place.

The one that puts every women on this planet to shame because he always looks like he just stepped out of a beauty salon.

The one that dares to make you look like ‘Ugly Betty’ even though you spent a lot f time getting ready and the one that gets all the attention of the opposite sex when you hit town.

Yeah, I think we all know at least one of those guys.

If you thought that facial masks, hair gel and moisturiser were the tip of the iceberg you are in for a surprise.

The latest unstoppable male trend comes from Japan and has nothing to do with the latest gadget every technology fan should have.

Oh no, the one thing Japanese and more and more American men swear on is the male girdle.

That’s right the male girdle!

The secret weapon women have used for centuries to make themselves look slimmer and shapelier is no longer such a secret.

The men girdle comes in two varieties the shorts and a vest, they can either be worn separate or together to double the effect.

It is a great way to disguised love handles, the beer belly and/ or shape a great chest. Both can be easily purchased over the world wide web.

Simon, 23 from Scotland, has only good things to say about the rising trend. “I am not surprised at all that the girdle or make-up for men have finally made their way into mainstream society. And if I can let you in on a secret we wear male corsets too.”

If you want to learn a little more about make- up for men just watch this.

Journalism jobs wanted

Posted in Social Issues tagged , , , , at 9:27 pm by poison ivyyy

Every year hundreds of journalism students graduate from university in the hope of working as a sport journalist, but does the industry really have the capacity to accommodate everyone?

Sport has never been as important to modern society as it is today; athletes are seen as the new heroes and ‘kings’ of our generation.

The journalism industry seems to have picked up on that fact and is trying hard to keep up with the pace.

New sports magazines and publications are launched on a daily basis, but the lack of job opportunities for new ‘arrivals‘ on the scene within the industry is alarming.

Sport journalism is not only one of the most chosen fields to work in, in the industry, it is also one of the most competitive.

‘Survival of the fittest’ is a theory drawn by the scientist Charles Darwin to describe behaviour amongst animals, but in connection with the current situation on the market it seems that his theory is getting a whole new meaning.

Jon Crampin, a freelance journalist from London, describes the difficulty with journalism in general, but especially with sport journalism, as follows: “People think because it is sport it isn’t serious journalism so anyone can do it.”

He continued: “I also think that too many ex-sportsmen and women get highly paid media jobs too easily, which is wrong.”

So students do not only have to compete with other students, they also have to compete against well-known sport ‘stars’, who are blocking the few availablepositions.

Although it has become harder to enter the sport business compared to 20 years ago, there is still hope for those who are willing to fight.

Donna Gee, who worked her way successfully into sport journalism in the mid 1960s, says: “There are three things involved in getting to the top in sport journalism. One is talent, two is luck and three is contacts.”

She continued: ” I know it is unfair, but it does help to know people with ‘clout’ who can help you on your way. But if you have no talent, you are still not going to get very far.”

October 15, 2008

Mayor’s Question Time- under fire

Posted in Politics tagged , , , , at 9:30 pm by poison ivyyy

A group of demonstrators interrupted today’s (15/10/2008) Mayor’s Question Time twice to highlight the poor working conditions cleaners are facing at Transport for London.

The activists, who sat in the public gallery were equipped with banners and accused the mayor, Boris Johnson, of not sticking to his promise and allowing underground cleaners to be exploited.

The first outburst came just minutes into the formal proceedings at City Hall and one of the campaigners described the unfit working environment as “modern day slavery”.

The mayor refused to give a statement to any allegations that were brought forward and turned his back on the frustrated demonstrators.

The meeting was adjourned until the intruders were removed.

Round two

But their fight was far from over with another three jumping up in the ranks trying to shout their messages across.

One heard that workers on the Piccadilly line are being paid under national standard and that their wages are simply not enough to afford a decent life. And that workers demand holiday and sick pay, like customary in other companies.

The most serious of allegations, though, was that they are being victimised due to their status of immigration, race and that people are being deported to their country of origin.

A comment made by on of the assembly members telling the protestors to get a life caused an un colourful counter attack.

“We will come back until you do something” was the last thing heard by the group before they were dragged out of the conference room for good.
The police was later called to the scene, but the intruders had already been escorted off the premises by security guards.

Johnson trying to dodge the question again

More drama

This was not the only incident of the day former mayor, Ken Livingston, who had witnessed all the proceedings and seemed rather amused by the spectacle, was later verbally attacked on his way out.

Livingstone’s incident, though, was not linked to the previous one and the gentleman who hailed the attack was later seen shouting “liar, liar, liar” outside City Hall.

The confrontations of the day did not take away from the fact that Mr Johnson was intensively quizzed by the assembly members and was in some cases lost for words or simply refused to answer the questions.

One assembly member expressed her views by saying: “Mayor Johnson you don’t seemed to be on top of your chairs (Metropolitan Police and Transport for London)”.

And at one point Mayor Johnson seemed more concerned with his mobile phone than giving satisfactory answerers, when asked by an assembly member to put his phone down he apologised in the friendliest way possible.

Who ever said politics was boring- has never attended Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall.

October 12, 2008

Drugs at University

Posted in Social Issues tagged , , , , at 9:20 pm by poison ivyyy

Hooray it is done – the prison called school is finally over!

The dull days where pupils just sit in a classroom chewing on their pencils, staring at the clock on the wall and waiting for the big bell to ring and rescue them are no more.

But believe it or not, after just about managing to pull through the last seven to eight-odd years of school a lot of us sign up for the next torture. University.

Well, you know what they say, uni life is suppose to be the best time of our lives, before stepping out into the big big world.

Being a student is all about enjoying yourself, partying, having fun and maybe learn a thing or two while you’re at it.

Turning up for lectures should be the exception and not the rule.

Student/Druggie

Lately though, it seems that more and more students are pushing their luck and turn the alleged study time into one massive illegal orgy.

Alcohol, Cannabis, Cocaine and Ecstasy are just some of the regular guests at many university campuses across the United Kingdom.

In a long lost time, getting the chance to study at university and start the career of an academic used to be something special, something only rich and privileged people would enjoy.

What happened to the days where being a university graduate was valuable and respected?

For most people going into higher education meant responsibility, the next step to adulthood and finding yourself.

These days, people envision university with the complete opposite.

Expensive habit

Booze Britain 2 is a television programme that depicts the alcoholic society Britain has transformed into.

They say that students apparently spend £930m a year on alcohol alone, that is three times the amount students across the country spend on stationery.

Ever since Eve took a bite of the apple of knowledge men and women have fought over who is the best on earth.

Female activists tried hard to raise women’s integrity, to be seen equal to men and to prove that they are just as good if not better than their male counterparts.

And finally after fighting for centuries women have managed the unmanageable, every feminist will be glad and thrilled to hear that they have overtaken men.

Even if it is just in consuming illegal drugs and alcohol at university.

Education

DrugScope, is the UK’s leading centre of expertise on drugs and their ambition is to educate people across the country on the dangers of drugs and make drug use history.

They claim: “Campaigns are useful if targeted properly. For instance campaigns that draw attention to dangerous injecting techniques can give useful information or help change people’s drug using behaviour.

Trying to determine whether people have changed their drug taking because they saw a campaign is near impossible to measure.”

Not “bothered”, “too high to care”, “sociable” these are statements made by future University graduates, some of them are supposed to run this country in the near future.

You should think that students with their background and their ambitions to make something out of their lives would know better and have the common sense to stay clear of drugs, as they cause more harm than good-but I had to find out that a lot of them don’t.

Students should have the right to embrace being a student and make the most of their time at university, but officials should be encouraged to take more drastic measures against students who step out of line and turn the campus into a drug house.

October 10, 2008

Save the mountain gorilla

Posted in Environment tagged , , , , at 11:04 pm by poison ivyyy

July 22, 2007 marked the day four members of the Rugendo family were slaughtered to death, to be more specific they were brutally executed by armed assassins and given no chance to defend their lives.

A few days after the incident it emerged that another unknown female of the family was found dead in connection with the killings and that her missing infant is also believed to be dead.

This reads like an extract of a story that would usually appear in a local/national news paper, but instead this story made it into the evening edition of almost every news station in the world.

Why?

Because the victims are a rare species of gorillas that were placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1994.

Endangered species

The majestic silver-backs were held in the Virunga National Park in Congo, home to an estimated 380 of the remaining 700 gorillas in the world.

The killings of the gorillas are just the peak of a string of slayings that occurred during the past year, as seven gorillas had already been killed in the park, and are regarded by many conservations experts as the worst incident in the past 30 years.

Russell Mittermeier, chairman of the Primate Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Species Survival Commission told the Environment News Service online: “The loss of six of the group’s 12 members means it is likely to disintegrate as a social group.”

He continued: “If we can’t stop these attacks, our closest living relatives will disappear from the planet.”

20070810_gorillaskilled

The beringei beringei (mountain) gorilla cannot survive in captivity, yet there are no gorillas to be found in ‘strict’ wildness.

The world’s remaining mountain gorillas live within four national parks, split in two regions that are 45 kilometres apart.

One half of gorillas are situated and inhabit the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

Did you know?

Humans and gorillas share 97-98% genetically identical and they are considered to be highly intelligent.

Gorillas spend most their day eating consuming mostly herbs, stems and roots but they hardly drink any water.

The gorillas use up to 25 different sounds, grunts and barks to communicate with each other.

(Facts taken from wikipedia)

Making a difference

Fauna and Flora International, the UNESCO and the IUCN are just a few major organisations that have wide spreading programmes across the globe to ensure the beringei beringei gorilla has a future.

If you want to adopt a mountain gorilla or just help keep them alive there are a lot of organisations like the ‘Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’ that would appreciate your effort, so please get active.

October 8, 2008

Forgetting where we come from?

Posted in Black History Month '08 tagged , , , at 10:25 pm by poison ivyyy

Our ancestors came to and settled in Britain a long time ago. Black people have been present in this country for over 2,000 years now and make up an impressive total of about 2.2 per cent in England, but does that rally give us the right to consider ourselves one of ‘them’?

The fact that black people in this country are called Black British and not Black English, or simple just English like the rest of the population, speaks louder than the every attempt by us to fit in.

It is a natural process that everyone who arrived second will never be seen as equal to the ones that governed the country at the arrival of the second.

So instead of trying to ‘imitate’ someone else’s heritage and striving to be that someone we should rather concentrate on finding a base were we can all live together side by side, without falling into the trap of loosing our ways, or creating a culture that has less to nothing in common with the original one.

It is comforting to see that black people in this country and around the globe have come a long way and moved on from the days where we were deprived of all our human rights that were given to us at birth.

Embracing different cultures

We are different by nature and there is nothing wrong with being different, because that is what makes this glob spin and it would be a shame if we would forget altogether where we came from, Africa.

hpim1389

Integration is a word that gets used a lot by the government, schemes are run to get people to fit in and to make them adapt to be British lifestyle.

I am a huge supporter of integration and getting people to accustomed to their new ‘world’, because I don’t think that it is right for anyone to live in a country without so much as trying to pick up the spoken language, get used to the rules and culture, and only live in a surrounding full of ‘their own people’.

Sometimes it feels, though, as if we have overdone it.

We have tried so hard to fit in that we have completely given up our culture and on the things that define us.

There is a fine line between fitting in and obeying the customs of a country and loosing your own ethnic identity, black people in this country appear to have crossed that line.

October 4, 2008

Show your heritage some respect!

Posted in Black History Month '08 tagged , , , , at 10:05 pm by poison ivyyy

We call ourselves black, we say that we are black and proud, we embrace the word black-power and celebrate black history month every year.

But how much do we really know about being black?

Africa, is the one continent we all originated from, but it seems that the more we try to prove that we are still Africans, and proud of it, the more we drift away from actually being it.

The symbol of Black Power

The symbol of Black Power

If you ask young black people on the streets where they are originally from, most of them would be quick to point out that they are from various countries in Africa, despite being born right here in Britain.

If you then ask the same people if they have ever been to ‘their’ country and/or speak their mother tongue, the answer is no.

Cultural Changes

How can our culture live on if we reluctantly deny our offspring the simple pleasure of learning the language of our ancestors and let them experience for themselves, the place our families came from.

Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame is an internationally acclaimed stage musical that returned to Britain, for a couple of shows in 2007.

This spectacular production created by Flip Fraser, is a moving and dramatic tribute to over 5,000 years of black history.

It highlights the contributions and achievements made by great black men and women towards creating world peace, prosperity and freedom – as well as acknowledging their accomplishments in the world of science, sports and entertainment.

Some of the most famous names in the play are Rosa Parks, Mohamed Ali, Bob Marley, 2 Pac Shakur and the Williams sisters.

Knowing your past

But how much do we, the ones that call ourselves proud Africans, really know about our history, the struggles our people had to go through and most of all about all the good that has come out of the black continent.

Unfortunately, most of us know next to nothing, apart from slavery, about our cultural
background.

One of the core scenes of the Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame is a debate between Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and the great Nelson Mandela.

And Mr. Garvey said something in the lines of: “An Indian born in China is still considered an Indian, how come that we are the only nation that doesn’t see how important it is to take pride in their roots and past.”

Our whole history in one show

Our whole history in one show

Natural look

We look, we talk and we dress differently from what we used to.

I am not suggesting that we should go back and start dressing in traditional clothes, but if we don’t start showing our heritage more respect then soon there will be nothing left to distinguish us as Africans, with the exception of the colour of our skin.

We need to stop pretending that we are trapped in the wrong body, ladies this goes out to you.

When it comes to hair black people fatefully got the wrong end of the barging, but denying the real you by wearing wigs, chemically straighten, weaving your hair away, or even more shockingly bleach the beautiful, god given, brown skin can not be the answer.

Instead of seeing everything that might not work in our favour as a bad thing, we should show some gratitude, stand up tall and say this is who and more importantly how we are.