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13/05/2014

Can someone be 'sexually racist'?

Although I grew up in England, my family is from Southern Africa, and I'm very proud of my black African heritage. However, when it comes to dating, I've always preferred people from other races to my own. I have a particular preference for Caucasian men.

I've never been in a relationship with somebody from my own race before - I'm just not attracted to people that are the same race as me and choose not to be with a black guy.

 

I like people that contrast me, rather than just being the same. I really enjoy the physical differences between myself and white men.

 

This doesn't mean that I find any Caucasian man attractive. There are other attributes that are important to me like personality and other values.

 

Some have accused me of being sexually racist, but I think that's an unfair accusation. Having a preference in attraction is similar to someone being gay - you just can't help it.

 

I can't pinpoint exactly where this preference comes from, it just feels natural to me. However, I can recall things that may have contributed.

 

Growing up, I went to a nursery that was predominantly white where I was surrounded by kids with blonde hair and blue eyes. I found them incredibly interesting - they were so different to me.

 

I remember the carers telling my mum that I was fascinated with all the white kids from a very young age.

 

The fascination continued as I hit puberty and I think pop culture may have started playing a part.

 

I remember watching shows like Saved by the Bell and Heartbreak High where a lot of the desirable characters were white. For better or worse, this had an impact on those I found attractive.

 

My extended family also had a major influence on me. Some of my aunts had married interracially, and some had very negative views of black men.

 

They would say things like "they're completely rubbish", "they're cheaters" and told me to make "good choices" when I grew up. One of my aunts even said "if you marry a black man you will wear three rings; your engagement, your wedding ring and your suffering''.

 

Also, I had observed a greater sense of patriarchy in the black African community.

 

In my African culture, I witnessed men not treating women well, and there are many cultural expectations about a woman's role so thought I could be on more equal footing if I partnered with a white man.

 

I had heard that white guys didn't expect their women to be in the kitchen and didn't cheat on their wives like black men did. Of course, white guys do that too. But maybe it's the difference of me actually witnessing black guys doing it that made a lasting impact from a young age.

 

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I tried to be attracted to black men and even went on a date with one. But while I could objectively see a black man as good looking, the physical attraction was just never there.

 

I began to dabble in online dating on an interracial dating website. To some it may sound racist to make such a conscious decision to only date other races, but I don't see anything wrong with specifying this preference on such sites.

 

 

There are niche websites for people attracted to those of the same race, so why not inter-racially? Why pretend just for the sake of being politically correct? It's similar to not liking people who are short. You see so many women saying "no one under 5'4" on dating sites - at the end of the day it's just a preference.

 

However, I did encounter people on the site who had fetishes and expectations about black partners they had developed from watching pornography and other stereotypes gained through hip hop music videos. Some people think that because you're black you're going to be dominant or really kinky.

 

I had people coming up to me with sub-human expectations. What a let down when a guy would realise I was just an average person!

 

I eventually met my husband, a white Australian man, whilst on holiday in Australia. He wasn't looking for a particular race; he just wanted someone that he got along with.

 

We've been together for almost nine years now, and I must admit that we've encountered prejudice socially - the type you don't have if you are married to someone of your own race.

 

My husband and l often get strange looks from people. White people will constantly question whether we are together when we buy things, and I've had black men proposition me in front of my husband, saying things like "I'll show you what it's like to be with a real man".

 

Some family members, friends and colleagues in the past have labelled me a 'coconut', or not a proper black woman. People have said I don't love my own race and have hinted that I have self-hatred.

 

It's simply not true. Whatever their race, people should be able to choose who they want to be with without being labelled. I can't help who I'm attracted to, and the beauty of living in a modern society is that you are free to be with whoever you want.

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05:08 Publié dans Blog | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

08/05/2014

Advanced Style: a much more joyous way of ageing

There are some occasions in life that are rather hard to dress for. Take Tuesday night and the European premiere of Ari Seth Cohen's Advanced Style documentary. I hosted a Q&A before the screening, and I changed my mind three times in the space of an afternoon before reverting to my customary black. Twitter advised "mad shoes", so I wore the last great folly of 2013 – the pair of red suede Prada heels I bought for my father's funeral. Those shoes mean business, and wearing them felt a little as though the Aged Parent was there, holding my hand (or my feet). Still, you can see my difficulty given the abundant style promised by the evening.

The great gift of Cohen's film, funded largely by Kickstarter, and directed by Lina Plioplyte is that you gain an insight into a much more joyous way of ageing. An intimate illustration of how six uniquely stylish women live their lives, it's not all pretty hats and fripperies, nor is it a propaganda flick for the senior citizen. It is a celebration of life at its later stage. From my perspective, it was interesting to watch the audience watching the film and to hear the laughter when Ilona Royce Smithkin (93) quips that she no longer buys green bananas; or when Zelda Kaplan admits she no longer dances as much as she would like to because most of her partners are dead. There was a hoot of relief that someone mentioned death and wasn't immediately walloped with a biblical smiting. Alas, for Kaplan, 95, that came later, during New York fashion week 2012, although as Tziporah points out, she went doing something that she loved, and wouldn't we all want to do that?

 

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I've seen the film six times now and could happily watch it six more because it truly is that much-abused term life-affirming. It's true there is a similarity with last year's homegrown Fabulous Fashionistas in that both films profile older women creating a fashionable life beyond what society maps out for them, but the New York senior way of life is beautifully observed here. Cohen told me that he found Londoners much less receptive to being style-snapped in the street - why aren't we having as much fun as our Big Apple sisters? Of the women who appear in Cohen's film and who sat alongside me on stage on Tuesday night, there was only one in black (apart from yours truly) – Joyce Carpati who uses it as a background for long strings of pearls and colourful wraps. With her thick silvery plait (last night studded with tiny gold flowers), black snood and luminous skin she was astonishingly elegant. Tziporah Salamon was wearing a lot of black, but had iced it with scarlet. From the platform shoes – "see, they're made like an ice-cream sandwich!" – to the razor-sharp bob and beautiful lacquered button hat topped with crimson peonies and long scarlet tassels, she was a walking work of art. Debra Rapoport, makes, or should that be "sculpts" her own hats and many of her clothes herself, but much is sourced from "thrifting". Lynn Dell, the self-described "countess of glamour", was dressed from head to toe in beautiful azure blue silk complemented with the biggest costume pearls I've ever seen.

What each of these women has in common is that they insist that style has nothing to do with money – "fashion says 'me too', style says 'only me'" says Dell – this is about creativity and looking good to feel good. As Iris Apfel says, "everything I've got two of, one hurts". We all need something to soothe the frazzled spirit. Jacquie "Tajah" Murdock (82), elegant in powder-blue vintage Courrèges, is almost blind with glaucoma but didn't let it to stop her being photographed for Lanvin and nor will it stop her dancing at a charity benefit later this week in New York. I think we can all take a lesson from that. Go and see the film and be educated

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05/05/2014

Mother-of-two convinced she had pancreatic cancer after googling her symptom died from the disease after ten months of being dismissed by doctors

A mother-of-two convinced she had pancreatic cancer died from the disease after 10 months of having her fears dismissed by doctors.

Andrea Charlesworth, 43, from Ilkeston in Derbyshire began suffering from stomach pains in April last year.

 

When she researched her symptoms on Google and began to believe that she had either ovarian or pancreatic cancer and went straight to her doctor.

 

But after tests for ovarian cancer were negative and she was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, her family thought there was nothing too serious to worry about.

 

When Andrea's health deteriorated doctors dealt with the two blood clots on her lungs but never managed to diagnose the underlying problem.

 

And just a week before she died in January when she was bed-bound, an NHS helpline adviser suggested she get up and do some exercise.

 

Far from being able to get out of bed, within six days her mother Glynis, 61, and sister Amy Charlesworth, 26, had found her dead at her home.

 

Amy said: 'It's a heart-breaking situation thinking she knew what it was for all that time.

 

'We are just trying to make something positive out of a terrible situation.'

 

Andrea didn't open the door when Glynis and Amy went to pick her up for a scheduled hospital appointment to treat her blood clot.

 

When they finally got a spare set of keys and made it in Andrea was in her bed and not breathing.

 

Screaming in horror, Amy ran into the street for help and called an ambulance but it was too late and neither CPR from a neighbour nor paramedics could save her.

 

Devastatingly, her post-mortem revealed she had been right all along. She had died from heart failure caused by pancreatic cancer.

 

Now her mother and sister are desperately raising awareness in the hope that the same tragedy will not strike another family.

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Andrea leaves behind a daughter Leah, 16, a son Luke, 23, and a one-year-old grandson Lucas, as well as a large family including her two brothers Adrian 41, and Aaron, 31.

 

Amy, who is doing a sponsored 10k next week to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer Action, said: 'People aren't educated well enough about pancreatic cancer.

 

'Although it's more common in older people, it can strike young women and we want to help people realise that.

 

'No-one else should have to go through what Andrea did.

 

'A test suggested there was a high chance of cancer and Andrea became hysterical.

 

'But an emergency ultrasound revealed she didn't have ovarian cancer and ultimately she was never diagnosed with any kind of cancer.

 

'Her laugh was unmistakable and she was well-known and well-liked by everyone.

 

'But most of all she was a kind and loving mum and grandma and that's been taken away now.'

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