Monthly Archives: February 2016

P.S. to Sam and Jah’s childhood. “Black British Style”, attending the Boys’ Brigade. Playing Football and Basketball.

I do not know anything about the numbers of children who attend organisations today, like the Brownies, Girl Guides, Woodcraft, Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades and Youth Clubs.

scouts

Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I fear that many of these organisations are in decline, especially Youth Clubs. Probably the youth of today still have as great a need as before for role models and useful activities, but with cuts in funding and other considerations, I am sure that there are far fewer Youth Clubs around.

Maybe today many  girls and boys prefer to sit in their bedrooms with “virtual” friends via social media?

social media

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am sure that there are good things about social media. (I myself have kept in touch with many friends that way.) However there is also great benefit in a well-run Youth Club. Maybe the unfortunate rise of gangs shows that young people do feel the need to ‘belong’ to a group?

In the 1980s we took both our boys to Boys’ Brigade (BB) a church based youth organisation for boys. There is also a Girls’ Brigade for girls.

BB book

Sam began very young as a sort of ‘mascot’ to the BB in Gateshead. All the boys were friendly towards him and let him march alongside the band when he was quite small. Later he joined as a full member.

Jah joined the BB in Leicester as an Anchor Boy, the younger boys’ branch, prior to being in the real Company. They had many interesting activities, including marching, playing the drums and pipes and taking part in various sports. It made sense for Sam and Jah to carry on with the BB when we moved to London.

Black British Style?

When he was quite senior in the company, Sam took part in a mass BB rally at the Albert Hall. One problem was that he had an aversion to wearing black shoes. He was a pretty reasonable, teenager on other matters, but he could be obstinate about what clothes to wear. For the Parade, he was required to wear black shoes, but he said he HATED black shoes! The BB Captain offered to find him a pair that he could borrow. I suppose if considered vital, we could have bought him a pair, except that he would never have worn them after that one occasion. Eventually he took part in the whole smart event – a line up of hundreds of boys, and he was the only boy not wearing black shoes. He even reported back to us quite shamelessly that someone had complained. “Did you see that black kid in brown shoes”!

Many years later, in 2004 D and I attended an exhibition at the V&A entitled “Black British Style”. It featured black youngsters growing up in Britain. This exhibition emphasised how important their hairstyles and clothes were to their self-image. This is true for most teenagers, but I gather that it was especially important for the youngsters who wanted to project themselves as young black people in British society.

The BB Company was held in a church in Paddington. Reaching there involved a long bus ride. On the occasions when I took the boys, I remember sitting for hours waiting for them to bring them home. I would spend the two hours in a delightful café, surrounded by tempting cakes.

 tea+cakes

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

The other activities that Sam and Jah enjoyed were football and especially in Sam’s case BASKETBALL. He really loved that game and played for the school.

basketball player
Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When Sam was in the Sixth Form he was chosen to coach the girls’ basketball team. Initially, when he was given this post he was disappointed, but he was popular with the girls and he quickly realised that this was a really responsible and enjoyable task, with many added benefits!

girls at play

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A diverse society. Girls, dolls, skin tone and self-image.

“Girls and self-image” may not appear to be relevant for the upbringing of two boys from a Caribbean background, but this is certainly relevant for their daughters – the next generation.

We have four granddaughters. So far, only one of them has shown much interest in dolls. On  29th January 2016, I read that Mattel,  the manufacturers and designers of Barbie dolls have announced that they are going to produce dolls of different body shapes. And I say “About Time Too!”

The fact that our granddaughters have not taken much interest in dolls only shows that all children are different and one cannot pontificate on what they will really like! Children will go their own way. For example, our granddaughter ‘Mia’ has been given quite a few black dolls through the years by her thoughtful aunties, but the dolls usually remain stuffed in a cupboard, whereas, the black and white tiger, the cuddly dog, and all the cuddly animals are highly favoured, played with and loved.

I am glad at least that Mia enjoys the film ‘The Princess and the Frog, which features Tiana a beautiful black girl.

Tiana (1)

However, to return to the matter of DOLLS, I am pleased to hear the news from Mattel. There has been too much pressure on thin body-shapes for far too long.

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I’ll quote from the Guardian (29th January 2016)

 “With her tiny waist, stick thin legs and petite frame, the Barbie doll has been accused of promoting an unhealthy body image for over five decades. But now, in her biggest update since 1959, it’s out with the skeletal frame and thigh gap, and in with the curvy hips and thighs as the company has revealed three new body types for the dolls to reflect a “broader view of beauty”.

 Mattel says it has ‘a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty’.

 Mattel, the creator of the toys, said the new range – which also boasts seven different skin tones – was designed to promote a healthy and realistic body image and would better reflect the diversity of those who play with the dolls.

 Evelyn Mazzocco, senior vice-president and Barbie’s global general manager, said: “We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand – these new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them. We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty.”

 The new dolls will also boast 24 new hairstyles, including an afro, curly red hair and even long blue hair, a long way from the bright blonde locks traditionally associated with Barbie.”

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Our youngest granddaughter is only 18 months old. Time will tell whether she will eventually like dolls. At least she should be able to choose one that she likes the look of.

Aurora 006

For any readers who would like to read more about dolls for a multicultural society, here is a useful link.http://mixedracefamilies.blogspot.co.uk/ Search for post dated Sunday June 23rd 2013