Thank You Donald :)
Thank You Donald :)
Authenticity is the journey of figuring out who you are through what you make
- Donald Glover
Thank You Donald :)
Here you will find the playlist for 27
These chosen tracks have had an influence on my life, on my journey and on the writing and creating of 27.
And try to figure out if any tracks partner specific pieces - Just a thought
Hammond Drive Artwork by Brooke Hiscocks
Hammond drive just off Cromwell road
is where my story first got told
Acting bigger than big and dreaming bold
Our ambitions were like currency but never sold
Houses were cold
Mums couldn’t afford gas or electric
So you’d have to chuck on another hoody or another blanket
Days were spent in the big car park
With a group of friends and a football
Motorbikes revving up and down the street
A football with the patches torn off at our feet
No fathers around so all we had was each other
Just us and our single mothers
There were no locked doors in Hammond drive
In and out of each others houses we went
Acting up and playing tough
Childhood dreams drawn out with chalk on concrete
Dreaming of and acting out what we could potentially be
Jaffa having a fire in his back yard
Whilst wannabe gangsters rolled around
Trying to act all hard
On odd days we’d take ourselves to Kemp Park
Surrounded by Basketball hoops, goalposts and fields of grass
We were more than an estate.
We were a family.
My mum would always invite everyone round for tea
Wanting to break free
Of the bullshit stereotypes and adverse poverty
It moulded me into who I’d grow up to be.
That much I now see.
See, Hammond drive is where I grew up
The place everyone said was so rough
The estate was what made me so tough
But the estate was also full of so much love
A lot of shit went down in Hammond drive
The estate it made me strive
Made me dream
Of a better life
There was never a dull moment in hammond drive
Fighting in the street and screaming in the neighbours face
Was all normalised in this place
We’d have front row seats to the drama that would be kicking off
Like we were all living in a modern day checkov
Drug dealers and gangsters were some of the first superheroes to us.
Making more of your life than the stereotypes, was a must
We had more chance of being like them than we did of being legit
Getting a good education, a well-paid job and shit
Making more than the £50 a week on the dole
Or falling into a depressive hole
Where you contemplate selling your soul
That black magic shit
Whilst single mums are in their kitchens
Tightening the band and injecting their latest hit
It’s sad because they won’t quit
And their baby dads won’t commit
to what they created
So, the only escape they got is falling deeper and deeper into that pit
Hammond drive, where you’d walk around with a knife
Not understanding the impact it could have on your life
Too young to process the consequences
Too young to even care
It wasn’t fair
But the cards were already dealt
Many many absences already felt
And others were beaten by belts
Whilst the potency of weed was smelt
I always had a vision that it would be different
I always had a vision I was gifted
That I wouldn’t be another statistic
I would rise way above all of this
All around the Port people love to bitch and moan
But Hammond Drive is more than an estate
Hammond Drive is my home
Miracles Artwork by Ellen Groves
Its funny when I look up to the stars
People always say “Wow, I feel so small”
I’m the opposite
I feel so BIG.
In a world of 7 billion people, within a universe of infinite possibilities, planets, stars and suns.
I. AM. HERE
I AM A PART OF ALL THIS
I feel so big because I’m here living this life.
Amongst billions of other people, who have billions of stories, experiences, love and laughter to give.
I’m among that.
I’m a miracle.
We all are.
Little science lesson quickly….
During sex when the male ejaculates he releases millions of sperm which race like Grand Prix drivers into the female vagina,
through the uterus,
through a series of tunnels called fallopian tubes,
to the finish line of ovaries where the eggs are waiting for the winner and the prize is fertilisation.
(Obviously don’t quote me as I’m not a scientist, but it’s along those lines
And I bet when you started reading this you didn't think you'd be having a science lesson either ....)
That means there’s literally millions of possible outcomes of a life racing towards the finish line to attach to the egg.
I guess if a different sperm attached to my mums egg then maybe a different Connor would’ve been born…
One that wasn’t writing this collection of words, or had an afro, or saw the world the way I do but I’m getting distracted by sex talk and going off my initial point.
It’s all connected though, trust me, so stick with me…
The point I’m making is about miracles and how we are all one.
Every single one of us who walk this earth are beautiful, unique miracles.
There’s no one in the whole world like me.
No one who can bring what I bring
There may be others who share the same name - Connor Allen BUT there is only one me.
There’s no one who can write the way I write or tell the stories the way I tell them
There’s no one who can love as intensely and passionately as me
Who can laugh like me
Affect others like me
Emote like me
Because I’m unique.
And so are each and every single one of you.
No one can bring to the world what YOU bring
There may be people who have the same name as you but there’s no one who can do the things you do, react the way you react,
love the way you love,
feel the way you feel and so much more.
BECAUSE YOU ARE YOU
And with that comes our own way of looking at the world and the lives we all live
Each and every single one of us have stories to tell
and each and every one of those stories are a unique view on how we see/react to the world.
If 10 of us were all given the same theme/stimulus - write a story about a bunch of flowers,
we’d have 10 different stories about a bunch of flowers,
all of which would represent the brilliantly beautiful world that we live in
because we are all different and all carry different energies and views.
What am I getting at?
Simply put, welcome who you are and accept that YOU ARE ENOUGH
Just the way you are
You’re a miracle
There’s power in stories
So own it.
Your story holds power and influence and so do you.
John York says in his book ‘Into The Woods’ …
“ We crave stories like a drug -
for it is only through story that we are able to bring our inner selves into line with the external world.
In that process some kind of sense is made, and if we're lucky, some kind of truth discovered.
Stories appear to be both as simple - and complex - as that.”
I decided to go with this.
- Dis membered ode to the ancester of many...
- Stuck within the colonial structures called museums…
- Without cheddar man none of us have history
- Fez Miah
Cheddar Man Image sourced by Fez Miah
When people look at me
Black isn’t always what they see
But black is part of my ethnicity
Black is in my family tree.
From Jamaica to Newport
Black is a part of me.
Black is in the features I got from my father
Black is in the feelings that I harbour
Black is the banter I share with my brother
Black is in the music that’s played by my mother
Black is in the clothes I wear
Black is the way I fix my hair
Black is the heroes I aspire to be
Black is my genetic key
Black is my Cousins
My Aunty, My Uncles, My Nana
Black is in the way I talk and it’s in my grammar
Black is in the influential figures that I look up too
like Stormzy, Kevin Hart, Denzel, Nipsey, Jay Z, Oprah, Skepta, Bron,
Viola, Queen Bey, Will Smith, Ella Mai, George the Poet,
Daniel Kaluuya, Arinze Kene, The Obamas
Black is Tupac singing Dear Mama
Black is in the food I eat
Black is Kobe winning a three peat
Black is generations of bravery
Black is generations of slavery
Black is generations of police brutality
Increasing our communities mortality
Getting away with murder are the cops that patrol our streets
A knee to the neck like we’re just pieces of meat
Like a zebra clutched in the jaws of a lion
Who can’t rattle the system that we live in
Because people can’t see past the colour of our skin.
Black is in my history
Black is the music I love on Kisstory
Black is in my thoughts and fears
Black is in my community of peers
Black is in a lot of what I see
But Black isn’t all of me
Black is in my bones. It’s in my glory.
But black is only half of my story
I’m so much more complex than just black and white
And yeah being mixed race is a nice thing. It has a cool ring
But I’m more than that. I’m a multi-talented king
BLACK performed by Andrew Ogun
I wanna talk about grief
And I’ll try and keep it brief
Because as we speak
About a feeling
that is so universal yet so individual.
that feeling, it’s with us for the long haul.
They say it comes in different stages
If your life is a book
It seems to fill up most of the pages
Starts off with denial
Then anger creeps in
This raging fire from deep within
Like a juggernaut
Consuming your every thought
Then you start arguing
As the stages proceed to bargaining
And you feel yourself hardening
As you’re on the edge of this cliff.
That is grief.
And before you know it you’re falling
Not speaking to health professions
You fall into a deep depression
Because the loss you’ve suffered
has left a giant impression
On your day to day.
On your life.
Thinking why do things have to be this way?
And eventually you find the strength to swim,
through the submerged sea
of your internal thoughts
That you’ve been drowning in
for some time
And as you wade through the sea
and all the way to the shore
You feel it right down in your core
The memories of what was before
And you look up
and you know,
you’ve finally got acceptance.
I was ten when I lost the closest friend to me.
As close as brothers, he was a branch on my family tree
So next I’m going to tell you a story
About what his death did to me
Grief Artwork by Amy Moody
Grief Continued Artwork by Suzanne Hunt
“He’s no longer with us. He died this morning”
With those words, which I can still remember as clear as day all these years later it was real.
He was gone.
I ran from the living room
Up the stairs, my mum in pursuit.
I ran straight to my bedroom and moved my wardrobe in front of the bedroom door
then I moved the bed behind the wardrobe and then the chest of drawers in-between the bed and the furthest wall.
I barricaded myself in my bedroom.
No light, my mum banging on the door and pleading to be let in.
But I just sat in the corner
For 2 days
And cried and cried.
Didn’t go school.
Just sat there in the dark.
That’s all I can really remember about that period of those 2 days.
Just crying and grieving in a way.
Processing the information as Lloyd, my best friend at the time, was the first person of mine to be taken.
This feeling of loss and grief. And later guilt.
Well this was the first time for me see.
It’s like falling in love at a young age, you have all these emotions inside of you,
they are all new and you don’t know what to do because they are all new.
That was my grief.
All these new feelings, thoughts and emotions like uncontrollably crying
and trying to figure out how to go forward without a brother or a best friend.
Two days later I emerged from my bedroom
went to school and it was as if nothing had changed.
Even at Lloyds funeral I looked around,
saw my mum and my aunty and many other parents and pupils all crying
but no tears left my eyes and I felt bad for that.
Like I should be crying right now.
But I had done all my crying whilst I was locked away.
I had no more tears left to give in a way.
So Lloyd, my best friend at the time died of a brain tumour.
That was untreatable.
And I should have saw the signs but at aged 10/11 how are you meant to know what a brain tumour is?
What chemo is?
What death is?
All those questions I can look back now and answer but at the time I had no idea
All I had was fear.
Fear of what the future would bring because everything in my life was changing
And even if I couldn’t articulate how or why, I knew.
Lloyd was losing his hair
And being pushed around in a wheel chair.
But I remained hopeful that he was going to get better,
Death hadn’t even entered the equation.
Naively, I thought that when mum told me “he’s gone” I thought he would be coming back.
Death is a complex thing at any age,
But try explaining it to kids at an early stage
No grasp on what it means
in its true complexities.
THAT was my grief.
Not knowing what it meant
That I’d no longer be playing K’nex
Or going to swimming lessons without my fellow swimmer friend
That he wouldn’t be coming back
And I’d have to go forward in life without him.
Picturing a life without someone you were so close with.
That’s where the guilt crept in and stayed for years.
Just subtly at the back of my mind
Guilt that he was taken and I wasn’t.
As silly as that was
But that’s what I thought
- Out of the two of us he wouldn’t say boo to a goose,
was the kindest, politest kid ever and I was this “problem” child
constantly getting in trouble and being a pain in everyone’s ass.
I should’ve been taken as he clearly had a better chance of success in life.
I had guilt that I was going to experience life in its fullest and he now wouldn’t.
Guilt that I got to go to university
Guilt that I traveled the country pursuing my passion of acting
Guilt that I got to fall in love
Guilt that I got to experience teenage relationships and teenage love and all that comes with that
Guilt that I got to lose my virginity
Guilt that one day I’ll have kids
Guilt that one day I’ll get married
Guilt that I get to laugh and joke with my nearest and dearest
Guilt that I can see my mothers pride in me
Guilt that I can see my nieces and nephews growth
Guilt that I was here and he wasn’t.
That guilt was part of my grief.
Manifested over years and years.
As I write this and you read this, I now know that’s what I had to go through to get to this place.
I just am so lucky to be here and to be potentially effecting people with my experiences and stories.
I can’t carry the weight and burdens of my lost loved ones.
I know that now.
All I can do is be the best version of myself that I can be.
Try to make them proud.
And yes I’m not perfect, none of us are.
There will be days when I’m not at my best, I’m only human after all BUT I’ll learn from that and do better.
I’ll be better.
And that’s what I say to each and every one of you.
Guilt will consume you
Freedom will release you
There’s no timeframe to grief
So be kind to yourself and those around you going through it
Because it takes time
Be free to make mistakes and learn from them
Be free to know that the people you loved and lost are looking down on you keeping you safe
Be free to know you’re a miracle and have the potential to change so much in the world.
Be free to just be YOU, Flaws and all because they make you who you are.
FUCK YOUR MICROAGGRESSIONS
Fuck your microaggressions and the way you look at me different
Fuck your microaggressions and your subtle dig at my light skinned complexion
Fuck your microaggressions and your judgements at my parentage
Fuck your microaggressions and your “you’re not really black though”
Fuck your microaggressions and your “where are you from…Like really from”
Fuck your microaggressions and comparing skin tones because I’m light
Fuck your microaggressions and your perceptions of who I am because I “look white”
Fuck your microaggressions and clutching your bag tighter when I enter a lift
Fuck your microaggressions and thinking I’m going to shoplift, following me around Morrisons your whole shift
Fuck your microaggressions and thinking I’m just being sensitive for calling it out
Fuck your microaggressions and what comes outta your mouth
CHANGING THE NARRATIVE
Growing up I always remember sporadically watching casualty on a Saturday night with my mum.
Some of the earliest conversations about life and the complexities around that came from the sofa of our living room watching casualty.
Little did I know how these conversations would shape my future and allow me to question the world and the many things about it in an open and honest way.
Watching the episodes play out I always remember naively thinking that these people (the actors) must have amazing houses and materialistic things and lots of money because they are on TV.
They’re famous after all and famous people are in a different stratosphere of society right?
(Oh how the world changes when we grow up)
For a kid in the cheap seats of a council estate the TV opened up a pathway to a world far different from the one I grew up in.
Imagine being on TV I would say to myself.
Like those people are proper famous and again they are on TV.
Like it was this sort of gold standard of societal triumph by making it onto TV.
You could afford a better life
A better life than the one I was experiencing.
Think how big their houses must be.
Like I bet they have big posh gates at the front because most famous people have gates at the front surely?
The voice of my prepubescent self is hugely naive and still so innocent to the fact that’s just not how it all works.
The reason I write this is because many months ago I was walking back through my estate
and a group of youngsters screamed over excitedly to me
“oh Con you were on TV ini” “I saw you the other night on TV on BBC”
And I just nodded,
replied “yeah, safe” and carried on to my mums.
It didn’t occur to me what that meant for them at that time.
It didn’t occur to me that I was once one of those youngsters,
fascinating over the magic of TV and what that meant for the people experiencing it.
To me nowadays it’s just part of the great job and adventure I get to take part of as an actor.
Naively I saw my first black barbie and first disabled barbie whilst working a shift in Argos recently.
It bought so much joy to me in the fact knowing that there are so many young children who will grow up playing with them and feel like they are accepted and represented and have a place for their imagination to run wild.
They’ll grow up feeling like they belong and that is more powerful and appealing that you can begin to imagine.
That’s changing the narrative.
That’s changing children’s futures.
Growing up I loved my action men.
Mum bought me loads and I’d spend hours creating elaborate storylines
where action man climbed through the deadly jungle of my bedroom to defeat Dr X.
I never grew up with a black action man though or even a brown action man.
And at the time of course it wasn’t a massive deal because I didn’t fully understand the deep deep significance of my ethnicity and skin colour.
But looking back .. I would have loved a black action man.
An action man that represented a part of me that I loved and longed to be more like.
It may seem silly and like they’re just toys but never underestimate the power of toys
and the power of children’s imaginations.
They’re two of the most powerful things on earth.
And when you can see yourself in the toys you play with,
you can start to imagine stories where you’re accepted in the narrative.
That shit can change your life.
It’s such a big deal for children everywhere knowing that they can see themselves in what they play with
and the stories they create.
For them on my estate it meant more than just seeing my face on TV.
It meant another route was possible.
It meant that there was a route away from all this that didn’t involve crime or drugs.
I’m now living proof of that.
It meant they could achieve and aspire to be more than what they know.
It was changing the narrative for them.
A narrative that has been dominated by drugs and the dole for so many years
And we don’t need to become the stereotypes that society perpetuates on us.
We can change the narrative.
I remember being at the front of the pyramid stage, watching Stormzy headline Glasto.
The whole thing was truly out of this world and one that changed the narrative for me personally.
Not only what it meant for me but what it meant for so many others all over the world.
Our representation was there for the world to see.
Grime music was on show
Black culture was on show
Black energy was on show
This attitude and energy that I carried from a youth on the streets back in the early 00s was there.
That moment was progress.
That moment was beautiful.
Because future generations can look back to that moment
and see passion, determination and celebration all there on that stage.
It was all there in a black man breaking barriers and creating history.
And as I was there amongst hundreds of thousands of souls,
with my partner, singing along to COLD
and thinking one day this will be a positive inspirational story to tell our daughter
(when she’s eventually here - we really want a baby girl)
I can look back to that moment and tell my child that their father was part of the energy crew.
He was part of a culture that many youths of his day identified with.
The lyrics, The beats, the clothes. It all represented us and gave us a voice.
And that representation was their when Stormzy became the first grime artist to headline the pyramid stage.
His performance was a statement and wasn’t apologetic for anything.
It embraced everything with both hands
and showed so many black and mixed race youths that we can aspire to be on that stage one day,
We can aspire to be ballerinas with ballet shoes that match our own skin tone.
And thats what i’ll instill in my offspring.
That confidence that they can achieve whatever they want because the leaders and role models before them have paved the way.
Stormzy showed me that at Glasto.
And thats invaluable.
Thats truly changing my outlook and approach.
Thats changing the narrative.
I pride myself on the fact I went to university and not drama school as I’m living proof
that through hard work and determination you can make it in this industry.
I also pride myself on the fact I come from a council estate because with that pride, I bring hope.
Hope that a better life is achievable.
And I’m proof of that.
So remain hopeful and don’t let nothing dim your dreams and ambitions because it’s those that will propel you beyond the stars.
Anything is possible
And your background, environment and where you come from are NOT barriers if you believe!
Its your dreams and ambitions that will change the narrative.
Changing The Narrative Photography by Andrew Rogers
“The reason I have chosen this image is because of its pathway into the light.
The pathway to light may sometimes be dark but it always leads to the light.”
- Andrew Rogers
Failure is growth.
Making mistakes is growth.
Truly… Simple as that.
Because to grow and evolve you have to learn from past mistakes.
I know I have.
I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for the adversity and failure that I've gone through in the past.
If it wasn’t for the mistakes I made.
I learnt from my past.
I grew from my mistakes.
And I don’t believe that you get a free pass for toxic and destructive behaviour
We all have choices to make and a result of the choices that we make is taking accountability and responsibility for our actions.
Thats real growth, in owning the mistakes of our past and wanting to do better.
In saying “I fucked up and thats on me, and i’ll do better.
I’ll be better”
Theres strength in that.
Because its easy to put the blame on others
But you live for you, not for others.
Thats true growth and I believe thats what it means to be alive
From the mistakes of our past selves.
Thats what this is about .
It’s about making you see your own value,
Your own worth.
Because we only get one shot at this gorgeous adventure called life.
If someone can read my experience or listen to my lessons and not make the same mistakes that I did then I’ve made a difference and thats what I ultimately want.
Like I said in Miracles, we are all soooooo big and thats beautiful because we are all unique and once we embrace that then we can start to tell stories and relay experiences that others can relate too, or take something from and that allows a lived, shared experience to be felt and understood.
By growing and evolving you are basically saying “I’m not perfect, and thats ok” I've made mistakes in my past but i’m human and I've learnt from them, and thats accepting your flaws and embracing your fuck ups.
Own them! because they are part of you and your story and journey.
Every day is a school day.
It’s about passing on those lessons and helping the people after us - The next generation.
To pass to others the knowledge, wisdom, power and education that will inform their lives and the lives of people after them as well.
I truly believe in education.
Because if I can educate someone then they are in a position to have their opinion changed or to see things in a different way
Hatred and negativity are easy and ultimately don’t and won’t win.
Negativity and hate tells you more about the person spewing it than it does about you.
All you need to do is just continue to be yourself and you’ll attract the right people that will help you learn and grow.
All my life and experience have built me into this man who lives by positivity.
And I want to share that positivity with you and if you're reading this then have some of that positivity too!
Look in the mirror and be ok with who’s looking back at you.
Because they are fucking beautiful too.
They are alive.
They are strong.
They are knowledge and power.
They are YOU
And there’s no one in this world like YOU!
Can we talk?
I feel like we ain’t spoken in ages
And even though we still haven’t met I can picture you in my head.
But doing that, at times
Fills me from head to toe with dread.
You’ll travel there one day is what was said
Even though if I’m honest I feel like a fraud
And years and years have passed since then
I’m starting to think maybe it’s too late.
I picture my heritage,
All there on your back.
You’ve carried them for generations
And I guess I just want to say
Because if it wasn’t for you
I guess I wouldn’t be here.
Shedding these tears
Because the fears of acceptance are real
And the lack of identity is what I used to feel.
And I thought maybe, well, hopefully, you could give me some answers.
I got told stories of you when I was younger
They made me smile.
And occupied my thoughts for a while.
Smiling at the hope that one day I could set foot on your back and we could finally meet.
One story was that many people buried newborns’ umbilical cords beneath trees, as it’s said to give the baby a permanent connection with their homeland.
If so what does that mean for me?
I mean I want a piece of that freedom
Some part of that connection.
You make up so many branches in my life
From your food to your music
To my actual family relations
The ones who aren’t caucasian.
If we ever met would you accept me?
Even though my mum’s white and you only make up half of me?
If I flew to the tiny island in the sea
Would some part of my identity finally be free?
Would you love me?
Like I was one of your children
Because you’re the motherland to many of my family tree
So surely that makes you part motherland to me?
I guess deep down I’m just scared
Because that’s not what a lot of people will see.
I’m scared of what it’ll actually mean
I really do hope we get the chance to meet one day
I mean that
Because I’ve got so much that I want to say
And it just can’t all be articulated in a letter
But when we do finally meet, it’ll make me feel better
About where I fit in the world
my place among it all.
Because being mixed race has been a rollercoaster
A confusion of identity and not fitting in
And you may not have all the answers
to the questions that I want to ask
But be patient with me, please
Because I’m only now taking off my mask.
Dear Jamaica Artwork by Delyth Evans
MY THOUGHTS AND FEARS
For anyone who remembers the original 1994 Lion King there’s a scene that I’m sure you’ll all remember
Mufasa: Simba, I'm very disappointed in you.
Simba: I know.
Mufasa: You could have been killed. You deliberately disobeyed me. And what's worse, - you put Nala in danger!
Simba: I was just trying to be brave like you.
Mufasa: I'm only brave when I have to be. Simba ... being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble.
Simba: But you're not scared of anything. Mufasa: I was today.
Simba: You were?
Mufasa: Yes ... I thought I might lose you.
Simba: Oh. I guess even kings get scared, huh?
Not so long ago I was on the train to Cardiff with my best friend Jace and as we were playing our usual silly, made up games that make no sense to anyone bar us.
We had our own lion king moment on the train to Cardiff….
He turned to me and said “Con you’re not scared of anything are you” and I laughed and said “what makes you say that”
He just shrugged
I said “Everyone scared of something at some point in their lives”
And we continued to play our game as the train approached Cardiff Central.
But It really got me thinking.
Like I do get scared
Of course I do
At times I’m a hypocrite too.
I have loads of these thoughts and fears.
For example, the older I’ve got the more I understand grief and death but also the less I understand too.
I’m scared of death.
Well, Like more specifically dying.
I’m scared of dying.
And I know that’s generic and many people, if not most people are afraid of dying.
But its deeper than that.
For me anyway.
Its deeper than just simply dying.
That happens to us all eventually. It’s inevitable.
Like breathing in a way.
Inhaling life through our nostrils to fill our lungs with the breath of air that is so crucial to our survival.
Something that is beyond tribal.
The clock of time runs down for us all.
Like a shadow we can’t escape no matter how far we travel, or how much wealth we accumulate.
And I get that.
I guess I just don’t want to die before I achieve all I want to achieve.
All I’m capable of achieving.
Whatever that is
In my life.
Before my potential is realised, I don’t want my flame to simmer.
My candle to go out.
Because I’ve had loved ones in my lifetime who have had their candles blown out too soon
R.I.P Chloe & Lloyd to name a few
They never got to reach and we never got to see the heights their potential could reach.
I want to reach my full potential of what I can achieve in this life. Good or bad.
To make a difference and have an impact in some capacity.
I want my life to mean something to the people in it.
I want the experiences of me and my being to mean something.
To those experiencing it.
I want the love I hold to be felt in every way possible.
In my jokes
In my banter
In my anger
If I’m a pebble, I want my ripples on the river face to last forever.
To continue rippling
The thoughts and feelings of those in my life.
All this is, is a universe of my thoughts swimming around in my brain
Articulating them on paper before they get flushed down a drain
But along with that flush of thoughts would go my pain.
I'm scared of the struggles the next generation will have to endure.
The benefits, the poverty, the selling drugs that are so pure
Anything for a little extra cash
To try to get by
When the world around you cuts you off
The struggles of grief because no doubt they’ll lose brothers too soon
To the streets, to the game or of a brain tumor one afternoon.
But it’s those struggles that make us who we are
That mould and bend us into who we are to become.
In this life.
But with that struggle comes fear.
I’m scared of becoming my father
And never being around
I look in the mirror and see him
in my reflections of new and old.
And that scares me because I want to be the opposite
But is it in my DNA to be just like him.
We share the same chromosomes some might say
Like chromosomes, we are 2 dots connected by a line.
A life line.
A birth dot and a death dot and the line connecting the two is our life.
My Thoughts and Fears Artwork by Jasmin Allen
And that scares me because what am I meant to do during this line?
What is anyone meant to do?
I’m scared of not being a great role model to my little brother
I’m scared I’ll never get forgiveness from my mother
I want my mum to hold my kids
I want my nan to be around to see my kids.
To see their growth
See their maturity too
I’m optimistic about the future
Because I want my kids to see her.
I’m scared of losing my mum
Because of the journey we’ve been on.
From birthing me to now
I take a second and think wow.
That woman has raised me and taught me to care
Even when my dad wasn’t there
To show me how to fix my hair.
And all through my life to lead me she’s built me this chariot
Always asking now “have you married her yet”
When talking about my Rach
Because all she wants is to see me happy
And I guess pass on that responsibility.
Of being my friend and being there for me
But she’s my mum
So I know she always will be.
There for me.
I have all this emotion bursting inside of me
Inside of my mind playing hide and seek
Spontaneous tears bubble on my eyelids
Listening to music and taking me back to being that kid.
I have all this emotion inside of me
It’s making my heart feel heavy
Like it’s tryna test me
Making me care
And it’s not fair.
I have all this emotion inside of me and I don’t even know why
But I have to try
To make sense of it
Even for just a little bit.
I feel heavy when I look up to the stars and see my sister
Because damn I miss her
Even though I never met her
And I know mum does too
And that ain’t cool.
I feel heavy when I carry the weight of the loved ones I’ve lost
And I look up too the stars and know they’re looking down too
Its true when I say I have all these fears
But man am I grateful to still be here!
White Privilege is quite simply an absence.
White Privilege is an absence of questionable looks aimed in your direction because you’re considered to be in the wrong place (at the wrong time)
White Privilege is an absence of cultural expectations.
White Privilege is an absence of the damaging mental and physical effects of racism.
White Privilege is an absence of systemic and constitutional discrimination.
White Privilege is an absence of organizational prejudice.
White Privilege is an absence of your race/ethnicity being looked upon as troublesome.
White Privilege is an absence of being less likely to succeed because of your race.
White Privilege is an absence of a continuation of subtle marginalisation.
Describing and defining what this is is hard.
And difficult to talk about.
White Privilege is walking into Tesco without worrying you’re being followed around because you’re thought to be stealing.
White Privilege is not having a gun pulled on you for drinking with your friends in the street in Barcelona.
White Privilege is walking into a club and not having your hair groped like you're some sort of attraction.
White Privilege is people not assuming you’re part of some gang or faction.
White Privilege is not being suspended from school because your hair is a “disruption” to the class.
NOT YOUR DAD
I guess I can laugh and joke now because I’m in a place in my life where that is behind me
But that’s after years of trauma of not having a father around when I really wanted and needed that growing up.
People who have followed my writing and my story will know how much not having a father around growing up affected me.
It’s so so many chapters of my story.
It’s all I longed for when I was growing up.
Some guidance in a world that was so confusing for me anyway.
A sense of belonging where I felt like I didn’t belong.
I remember wishing that I wasn’t light skinned mixed race
and that my skin was darker because maybe then I’d fit in more.
It would make more sense.
And at that point in my childhood I needed my father, to tell me that I am who I am, skin colour, ethnicity, parentage and all.
I’m beautiful and brave just the way I am
But I didn’t have that
Growing up some people called me a monkey
All because I’m a light skinned nigga
And they couldn’t comprehend what that meant
To have a white mum and a black dad.
To have light skin, big lips and a fat nose
As if that’s what I chose.
But even if I could have had a choice, I’d still choose this
Because this journey and exploration has been fucking bliss
And a lot of times I did take the piss
And people in my life wanted to call it quits
But if I didn’t go through all that
All the hit and miss
I wouldn’t be the man I am, writing this.
Like take Half Caste for example,
Half Caste was a term used when growing up
And I was fine with that and the usage
I didn’t know any different.
But it’s the word caste that brings up the biggest issues
Caste comes from the Latin word ‘castus’, meaning pure,
So 'half-caste' means half pure or impure.
Meaning white is pure and anything else just dirties the blood.
And I didn’t have anyone around to tell me that.
To educate me on that when I was growing up.
And that’s hard!
But that’s the past and lately I’ve been looking to the future
To when I am eventually a father.
To a child of my own.
And as silly as it sounds I guess I have ONE thing and one thing only
to thank my father’s absence for…
And that’s for building me into the best dad a child can ask for.
(When I eventually get there)
I’ll be the best dad because I know what it’s like to hold so many insecurities and questions like:
What did I do?
Why am I not good enough?
Why am I different?
What is wrong with me?
Why am I feeling this way?
Why am I not loved?
Why am I not wanted?
Why doesn’t he want me?
Why am I like this?
What have I got to do?
Who’s going to pick me up when i’m low?
How do I grow?
Why am I different?
Why aren’t I accepted?
Why do I feel like this?
I don’t want to be different
How do I become as man?
Who’s going to show me who I’m meant to be?
How do I understand that I’m different?
How do I understand why iIm different?
How do I make this go away?
Where do I fit in?
And these insecurities and questions manifested themselves in behaviour
that was both toxic and destructive.
Be that physically, Mentally or a combination of both.
And I’ll never let my child feel the way I felt as a kid.
I will be there to educate them, to love them, to play with them,
to be childish with them, to teach them, to cherish them
and so much more, so they won’t be confused.
They’ll feel accepted
(or as accepted as I can make them feel)
They’ll understand their place in the world
and that will be so important and necessary to their growth and maturity.
When I eventually have children they will feel Love, Patience, Affection,
Encouragement, Nurture, Laughter, Joy
and so much more.
It’s weird to me because I question… Would I be who I am now IF my father was around?
Was him being absent what made me into potentially a great dad?
Only time will tell I guess
I’m not discarding the trauma I went through
and what I put others through
but I know that’s what I had to go through
to understand my thoughts, feelings, insecurities and my place in the world.
To understand my identity and what that ACTUALLY means.
There are so many other Connors going through the same as me
and haven’t got that guidance and love they need and I guess in a weird way
I don’t want my children to be another Connor.
To turn out the way I was through puberty.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that through our biggest adversity our biggest growth happens.
All the anger, tears, frustrations and more that I went through
built me into the man I am today.
The insecurities are part of me and part of my journey.
They built me into a beacon of positivity,
They had a helping hand in forging me into the young man I have grown to be.
So embrace your flaws and fuck ups because they will mould you into who you become later on in life.
Don't shy away from them
Own them and do better.
Hair Is a big factor in anyone’s identity Im sure you can agree
But what we are constantly presented with is a great question of what that
What that actually means.
On the wider scale
It is so easy nowadays for people to dismiss conversations about hair as
something foolish or silly
without really or truly understanding the deep, deep
significance of hair for many, many people.
The prevalence of racism and micro-aggressions centred around BLACK
hair can indeed be confusing and alienating at times
and does indicate that we are
maybe not as progressive as we like to think we are in 2020.
Stick with me though.
A little history lesson this time
I want to take you back centuries to early African civilisations.
See, back then just about everything about a person's identity
could be learned by looking at their hair.
Hairstyles could indicate a person's family background, tribe and social status.
Hair Artwork by Alexandra Roberts
BLACK hair has been an integral feature of BLACK history and Identity for decades
with the likes of Dreadlocks and The Afro to name a few.
The Afro for example being a symbol in the 60’s of rebellion, pride and empowerment
Most famously rocked by one Angela Davis.
As BLACK people took to protest against oppression and segregation during this period,
The Afro became an assertion of BLACK Identity in contrast to
previous trends that were inspired predominantly by fashions that just weren’t BLACK
It was a symbol of who they were as human beings.
It was a symbol of self empowerment.
It was a symbol of BLACK identity.
So, BLACK hair and BLACK identity are intrinsically linked together
And what I’m posing is that If BLACK hair and BLACK Identity are intrinsically linked,
What happens in many cases like mine?
It’s so hard to forge an identity when the BLACK Identifier isn’t there
Like you’re missing a piece of who you are
What makes you YOU, I guess.
In a life that is confusing enough as it is
Where you’re too white for your black friends but too black for your white friends
And you’re constantly asking yourself ‘where do I fit’?
Your hair shouldn't be another confusing factor.
Your hair is part of who you are and part of your DNA that makes you, YOU.
It’s part of your identity and part of a complex thread of multi-cultural parentage
and building blocks that should be welcomed
Embrace that beauty.
Because people’s opinions and judgements need to change
You and your hair don't.
As I said in Miracles, There is no one like you
And to quote E.E Cummings -
“The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world
that is trying to make you like everyone else”
"Flowers are universally seen as beautiful, but also a sign of resilience and nature"
- Alexandra Roberts
LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF
Letter to my Younger Self Artwork by Danny Carter