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 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.

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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.