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Jas delivers some real talk!

THE PANEL: (l-r) Michael Peters, Jasmine, host Trish Adudu, Kim Mazelle and Tremayne Gilling

AS EVER, it’s been a busy week, which began with me being attending OH TV’s live debate show Real Talk. A bit like the BBC’s Question Time but without a live audience, the show allows viewers to call-in throughout the programme.

I also recently featured in the line-up for OH TV’s show Black Women In Media, and whilst I am not visually what you expect to see when you talk about a black woman, I am a woman of colour. I had mentioned this concern to the show’s producers when they first asked me to be part of the line-up and they assured me they considered me a black woman!

My father’s side of the family are all from Kenya and so I consider myself half African with African roots. A few online haters – funnily enough, the same ones as usual – had a problem with this.

Ironically, I don’t claim to ‘belong’ anywhere. The Asian community doesn’t accept me either as, apparently, I’m not a real enough Asian for them.

I’ve shown plenty of support to the ethnic minority community throughout my career and I don’t ask for credit. But I won’t justify my ethnicity to anyone that doesn’t know better. It’s okay though; I do my job and let the haters do theirs. Haters have always loved me and I embrace them as they help me persevere against ignorance.

For OH TV’s Real Talk, I was asked to be one of the guest speakers as their theme that week was role models and I have very strong views on this subject. The show’s presenter Trish Adudu kept us all in line as we passionately debated back and forth.

My fellow panellists were American singing legend Kim Mazelle, Michael Peters of UK organisation 100 Black Men of London and 21-year-old Olympic 100m hopeful Tremayne Gilling.

I know that for many young people, music stars and celebrities are role models, but I think that role models often start closer to home. If a young person sees the local bad boy on the street running around with a flash car, flash clothing, a good looking lady and wads of cash – and the young person doesn’t have strong parental figures – clearly, the bad boy’s lifestyle will appear attractive. And if the parents’ eyes are off the ball, the bad boy will swoop in and engage with the youth. Its not rocket science.

In addition, it frustrates me that some people assume that all youths that are bad are black. This is a media stereotype that mainstream press love to fixate upon. It’s the reason many media outlets focus on 50 Cent’s ‘gangster rap’ side, and describe an act like Lethal B as a violent rapper because he had a hit song titled Pow.

I have a theory that the mainstream media is often afraid of articulate black people. Take British MC Akala. Acts like him who are intelligent and articulate scare media to the bone. Many of these media folks don’t know what to make of him or how to handle an intellectual, well-studied, positive black male, so they’d rather avoid him.
People talk about the fact that there aren’t any decent, young, black male role models. What? Have you heard of actor, director, writer and BAFTA Award winner Noel Clarke? How about Hollywood-embraced British actor and writer Aml Ameen?

Or what about prize-winning artist Phillip Butah? When Phillip was 15, the Prince’s Trust ran a competition for young artists to coincide with Prince Charles’ 50th birthday. Philip’s schoolteacher told her pupil about the competition so Philip drew a self-portrait and entered the competition. After that, he was invited to the palace for a reception and got to speak to Prince Charles himself.

ART ATTACK: Jasmine and Phillip Butah

He went on to study fine art at university and, having already had one encounter with royalty, he wrote a letter to Prince Charles’ office, asking if he could create a portrait of the future King.

The reply came – a year later – with the office calling Phillip to give him dates that he should make himself available for his second encounter with royalty! So, between 2008-2009, Prince Charles sat for Philip, with each of the six sessions being 45 minutes to an hour long.

Of all the portraits of Prince Charles that Philip has drawn, the Prince has one in his collection, and Philip has the rest. Philip added: “Prince Charles has always taken an interest in my career and my studio situation’’.

As if that wasn’t enough great synergy, through the Prince’s Trust competition, Phillip formed a friendship with a youngster who was around his age. Said youngster went on to become a music star, namely singing sensation Ed Sheeran. The two remained friends throughout the years – which is why Ed’s album cover (left) features an image of his face, which was drawn by Phillip!

Philip enjoyed his time making Ed’s album cover so much that he wants to stay connected to the music scene. Specifically, he would love to draw a lot of the grime acts, Wiley and Tinie Tempah in particular because of “what they've accomplished and what they mean to me. I’d love to have a grime artists exhibition.”

I have no doubt that he will. Follow your dreams son. Onwards and upwards!

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