Guest Post: Insight into Culture Through Spoken Word

We’ll be talking culture next Tuesday at The Kickback, so in the lead up to our conversation, I wanted to have another voice outside of mine to have their say on culture.  Usaama Minhas has performed a number of spoken word pieces and related to culture.  Below is a selection of some of those pieces with his own commentary to tie them all together.

“You Don’t Always Have To Know Your Favourite Colour” offers an amusing insight into pursuing the Arts as a young person that comes from an immigrant background, where a career in theatre, music, poetry, photography and other mediums is not always encouraged.

 

Departing from that introspection, in “Renaissance”, Usaama tackles the culture of Hip Hop and the art of Emceein’, drawing parallels at many points between moments of turmoil in his personal life with his analysis of the game and the industry.

 

“What I Am Not” demolishes various minority stereotypes in a post-Brexit, post-Trump, increasingly Islamophobic and racist world. The poem offers humour, insight and hard-hitting truths.

 

On the other hand, in his first song release in four years, in “Why” Usaama departs from humour, conjecture, absurd lyricism, and speaks his mind in the most simple words and melodies, reflecting on Islamophobia, racism and police brutality.

And the new name is…

As you probably know, one of the key changes I have wanted to make to Young People Insight is the name of the YP Insight Forums.

I think that the term forum can come across as quite formal to some young people, which is not the impression I want you to have – these are relaxed, informal conversations giving you the chance to speak your mind.  I also get a little confused when I see the term forum myself, as it can mean a number of different things or take various forms, so it is definitely time for a change.

After asking for your name suggestions, I shortlisted four of my favourites, which I also believed would have an impact when marketing these events.  The four I chose were:

  • Woke Nights
  • The Kickback
  • The Chat Room
  • Free Your Mind

Once I’d made my choices, it was of the utmost importance that the final decision be made by you, so I started a Twitter poll that would give you the chance to vote for your favourites over the course of a week.

It was interesting to watch the changing trends, with Woke Nights starting out in front before Free Your Mind crept up to take the lead, which then had to fight it out with The Kickback.  Weirdly enough tough, Woke Nights finished with the lowest votes, even behind The Chat Room, which never led once.

However, I am happy to announce The Kickback as the winner, which will be the newest addition to our repertoire of names that of course includes Poetic Insight, Come Out to Play and Get Together.

Thank you to everyone who suggested names and also to everyone who voted – it would also be great to know whoever it was who suggested The Kickback in the first place, so send us a DM or email shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk

Now all there is to say is see you at The Kickback on October 24th when we’ll be talking all about Culture.  I for one can’t wait.

What’s Coming Up in October

I want to start off by saying ‘Happy Black History Month’ to all of you and I hope you’ve been enjoying the beginning of Autumn.  After taking time out and enjoying some much-needed reflection time, which you can read a little about here, I’m back and ready to go with more Young People Insight activities.

October is shaping up to be a busy month for me personally, with the start of a protest poetry course at the Roundhouse, getting involved in a knife crime campaign with Croydon Council and also a projection project for the festive season, alongside some of the amazing poets from Poetic Insight.

I’m also humbled and excited to have been selected as a finalist in the 2017 Mayor of Croydon Civic Awards in the category of Young Achiever of the Year.  The awards ceremony will take place on October 17th when the winners will be announced, so I’ll keep you updated on how I do.

Of course, the regular YP Insight events are coming up too, which you definitely will not want to miss out on.  The Civic Awards ceremony falling on the 17th has meant that I’ve pushed back our conversation about culture to October 24th, so make a note of the change in your diaries.

The topic of Culture – when we’ll be joined by a guest speaker – is set to be an incredibly interesting one and I’m sure that it will be a conversation that will take a number of twists and turn.  As you can see on the flyer above, the name for our forums is still a mystery, because I want the final choice to be yours.

Please take a second to choose your favourite name by answering our Twitter poll or let me know your choice on the comment section below.  I want this to be a collective decision, so your vote is essential.

The name may be different, but the time and location will be the same, so join us on October 24th from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B when we’ll be talking all about Culture.  You can register for the event here: http://bit.ly/letstalkaboutculture

Poetic Insight returns too and I cannot wait!  Since it is Black History Month, the theme for the night will be Black-Ish, so if you’re a young poet or spoken word artist, get ready to make a statement and speak out on any ‘ish’ related to being black.  If you want to perform, send a message to 07910092565 or get in touch with us on social media.

We’re at the usual location of Project B from 7-9pm, so make a note and don’t miss it.  It is gonna be a beautiful, powerful night.  Register for your free tickets here: http://bit.ly/poeticinsight-black-ish

As you can probably tell, I’m excited to be back and immersing myself in everything that is coming up.  I’m looking forward to connecting with all of the familiar faces and new faces too, because you are at the centre of all I do and you make it worthwhile.  See you soon.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

What influence does music have?

We sat down in Project B on July 18th to talk all about the influence of music, which was a conversation that took off into numerous directions that I was never expecting.  Nevertheless, it made the night incredibly interesting.

To get everyone warmed up, I asked them to share what music means to them.  Responses included:

  • “An inspiration.”  You can be inspired by the career of others in music. – Andrae
  • “Music is parallel universes.  I can see other versions of myself in music.” – Alana
  • “Music is my pain, and then my happiness.”  All the bad from the past influences the happiness that I have.” – Unorthodox
  • “Music is a lot.” – Hakeem
  • “The point where you can appreciate music and you’re in the zone.  Music can take you to a happy place and a sad place.” – Pekz

Pekz also added a personal anecdote to his explanation, telling us that he’s been doing music for a very long time – “Music’s like that one woman I keep going back to.”

Pekz later delved right into the influence of music, saying that “there are people that influence it in the wrong way” and that music influences our younger generation.  He also expressed that music has a lot of power in decisions that we make in life, but as human beings we have some common sense to recognise the good from the bad.

Unorthodox backed up this point, saying, “The music is the problem…There’s people under 16 doing things they’ve seen in the videos and heard in the songs.”

I then posed the question, what effects have music had on you?  Hakeem said that music helps him when he’s stressed out, and Alana told us that the music she listens to that relaxes her is Disney and Barbie – “I feel I can jump into them and in a different world.”

Pekz made the point that a lot of music is for the female base – “I can go to a bashment rave and see 70% females.”  He also added, “Women support music more than mandem” and that women buy into music more.

Women would be a recurring theme during our conversation, as we spent time speaking about interacting and dancing with women in clubs.  We also spoke about general interactions between males and females – “Everything that’s good looking is not always the good thing,” said Pekz.

As you know, we love individuals sharing their stories and personal experiences at YPI.  One of the most special moments of the night was Pekz and Unorthodox sharing how music was the base of their friendship.  “Music can bring people together,” said Pekz.

I later asked: What are your thoughts on the link between music and misogyny towards women?  Andrae thinks that music’s behind it, while Unorthodox told us, “This is why I respect old music, because they were bigging up women.”

Pekz went a little deeper, using another personal experience – “I said something in one of my songs, because a lot of women are referring to themselves in that way.”  He later added that “a lot of women today are idolising 67.”

This also led on to us talking about the differences between hip hop, rap and grime, as well as how hip hop has changed over the years.  “Back in the day, people had something to say,” expressed Andrae.

My final question of the night was, what would you say to someone who is living out negative stereotypes that stem from music?

  • “I’m doing it now through my music.” – Unorthodox
  • “We can still appreciate music without listening to all the negative stuff.  You shouldn’t be afraid to hear new stuff.” – Pekz
  • “Explore many different types of lyrics… Research into what you listen to and don’t just listen to it.” – Alana

I’ll leave you with a final point from Pekz, who said, “Everything is a live and learn situation… Music can influence you to do positive things, because it depends on the types of lyrics.”

Our next forum won’t be until October, as we’re bringing The Complete Freedom of Truth to Croydon on August 20th and in September we’re taking a well-earned break.  You can ‘Get Together’ with us at our next social event on August 6th, but for now, save the date of October 17th when we’ll be talking Culture.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

What’s Your Idea of Dating?

Our youth forum returned with a loud voice on February 21st, as we sat down to talk about dating and romance in Project B.  However, the focus of the conversation stayed on the many aspects of dating, not giving us a chance to get on to romance.

It was a lively and diverse discussion, which went in a number of different directions that took me by surprise.  That is why I love holding these forums though, because the conversation can start one place and end up right on the other end of the spectrum.

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We started by responding to the question, what is dating?  Andrae said that it was getting to know a person, which most of us agreed with, but he also added the element of “having that chemistry and connection” – “I wouldn’t date someone I haven’t spoken to.”

Rianna thinks that it is “when both of you get to spend time together”, while Alana believes that it is a filtering process.  I got into the mix and revealed that I think dating is a courting process, to which Alana’s response was, “I love that”.  Rianna also agreed, saying that “it’s a bit quick now”.

This then moved on to the subject of whether we would date someone again if they didn’t pay for the first date.  Alana said no – “If he says no, I’m gonna say bye, see you later.”  On the other hand, Rhi, Sh’kira and Rianna said yes – “I don’t watch people and their money,” Rianna added.  Randy added a male perspective, saying, “If a girl really wants to pay, I’m not gonna stop her… [but]… on the first date, I’d say no.”

Later, Rianna asked a great question: Do you think it’s okay to date more than one person at the same time?  This led to some interesting responses on the complexity of feelings and physicality while dating.

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Alana and Princess gave a definite yes – “The more people you date, the more value you have,” says Alana – while Rebecca said, “Yeah, as long as there’s a limit.”  Andrae’s yes was a little unsure, as his response was, “Yes, to a degree; to find out what a person’s like.”

“Me personally, I would feel bad,” Rhi expressed, but she also added that if the person simply asked her out and she didn’t really know them or the other person, then she wouldn’t feel bad.  Princess responded by saying, “You don’t owe that person anything.  You haven’t made a commitment to each other,” as she believes that getting to know someone takes a long time, and that you’re exploring your options through dating.

In response to her own question, Rianna said she thought it was fine, “but if you get close and physical, you’re taking it to another level.”  Princess added, “If you’re newly dating someone, that don’t mean nothing.  But if you’ve been dating for months, that’s different.”  Rhi also made the point of dating getting complicated when there’s no clarity.

My next question was, do you think the concept of dating has changed?  We agreed that it had changed vastly over the years from when our parents or grandparents used to date, but Princess made the interesting point that the concept of dating has always been the same for our generation, so we haven’t seen it change.

When Rhi expressed that some people think sex is part of the package when it comes to dating, Princess’ response was that it has always been the case for our generation.  “I think that’s why I’m so strict on the sexual part,” said Alana.

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The conversation took a different turn, as we spoke about the oldest and youngest age we consider dating, and whether we would date outside of our race.  Most of us would date individuals younger than us, with the strong exception of Rhi, as we understood that age does not always mean maturity.

I added that there are a lot of guys out there not acting their age – some guys in their early twenties have the wisdom and maturity of someone older, while there are guys in their thirties acting and talking like they are in their late teens.

All of us had different preferences when it came to dating, with some of us happy to date individuals outside our race, and others having a preference for those of the same race.  However, we agreed that preferences are not set in stone – “You love who you love,” said Princess.”

Finally, I asked: What advice would you give to anyone dating?  The responses were:

  • Ask the right questions.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. – Princess
  • Be straight up.  Know what you want. – Rebecca
  • Don’t sell dreams. – Randy
  • Choose a guy that has a firm financial foundation. – Alana

Dating is a complicated concept with our generation, but it is necessary for you to get to know someone you want to get into a relationship with.  I’ll leave you with two gems from Princess:

  • “The important thing to remember is that we all want love.”
  • “You have you, I have me, and we have we.”

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Our next forum will be on March 21st from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B, when we’ll be talking Freedom of Speech.  It’s going to be another great discussion, so don’t forget to tell a friend to tell a friend.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, and liking Young People Insight on Facebook .

Discussing Social Media at the YP Insight Forum

Social media can be a lot of fun, just like our discussion on social media during the latest Young People Insight forum on November 15th.

We began by talking about our favourite aspects of social, which social media platforms we use and why we use them.  All of us used a combination of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, with some being users of all of these platforms.  However, Chantelle said that she doesn’t really use social media unless it’s for work purposes.

Andrae and Alana both use social media to promote their products – Alana also added that “it’s about sharing my mind with the world.”  This then led on to a good point being made by Andrae, who believes that other people use social media for validation, while Chantelle thinks that it’s a rate of success for some people.

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Being asked to describe social media proved to be a slightly difficult question, but resulted in some thought-provoking and unusual answers.  The first thing Andrae thought was DJ Khaled, but on the other end of the spectrum, Alana first thought of Dante’s Inferno.  Kyle would call it  a network, and Alana would call it an “encyclopedia of the world.”  However, Hakeem also thinks that people set themselves up on social media and share too much personal info.

Randy made the point that it has positives and negatives, which led on to the question of what we thought the positives of social media are.  Responses included:

  • News
  • The opportunity to talk to people in other countries
  • Self-expression
  • Knowledge
  • Marketing
  • Making money
  • Motivation
  • Escapism.

We then discussed what we thought the negatives were.  They included:

  • Weird people
  • Superficiality
  • Pedophiles
  • Destroying people’s lives
  • Child shaming
  • A false sense of bravado.

Andrae then asked if you think it’s okay to share your opinion on social media.  We all agreed that it was, because as Chantelle says, “It’s just an opinion.”  We also agreed that sharing an opinion is different to bashing others, which can often become the case on social media platforms.  “You can’t control what someone thinks,” said Rhianna.

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I then asked why social media has become so cruel and why cyber bullying is so common.  Jason believes that it is because social media is an extension of real life, and there’s bullying in real life.  Kyle thinks that it’s easy for people to hide, while Alana reckons that it is because people think the more heartless they are, the more cool they are.

However, Chantelle made a brilliant point, saying that she thinks we are cruel in our heads, but we simply wouldn’t say what we’re thinking out loud.  It just happens that people express those thoughts on social media.

It was interesting for me to hear the views of others on why they think so many people have created fake social media lives.  The answers I got back were:

  • To make them feel better, as they have self-esteem issues
  • People being afraid to show who they are
  • Lack of self-awareness and perhaps not knowing who they are
  • Wanting to be a social media celeb
  • Wanting attention
  • Money
  • It is the only way they know how to express themselves
  • Insecurities.

This resulted in catfishing being brought up by Alana, who thinks that it might be about freedom.  Rhianna disagreed, as she thinks it comes from a creepy place and believes that it’s more about escapism.

We also touched on the negative effect that social media has had on physical communication – “It’s causing physical communication systems to shut down,” expressed Alana.  Yet Kyle reckons that “it’s only if you allow it to consume you… it’s all about balance at the end of the day.”

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Kyle also added that it’s about the upbringing you’ve had, which may have had an effect on developing how you communicate.  However, Chantelle rounded up this point by saying, “Society ends up growing you and that’s when it takes you off the road you should have been on.”

My final question to everyone was whether they think social media is good or bad overall.  Many of us thought that it was both good and bad – “I think that it’s 40% good and 60% bad,” said Alana.  A few thought that it was good – “You can find out a lot of stuff on social media,” says Darnell.  And there were some who thought it was neither – “It’s too complex.  There’s a lot of good and lots of bad, but at the end of the day its social media,” said Rhianna.

It also led to a point being raised by Jason, which really made a lot of us think.  He said, “I think we’re getting confused between social media and social networking,” which we hadn’t stopped to consider.  Would you say that confusion is where some of the problems lie?

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After so many great discussions, we’re going to be doing a round-up of Young People Insight in 2016 and discussing how we can take the platform further during next month’s forum.  Join us on December 20th from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B for the forum, which will be followed by our first games night that will be going on till late.  Don’t forget to tell a friend to tell a friend.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following@youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, and liking Young People Insight on Facebook.

How do you think we can make our society more peaceful?

September 21st is The International Day of Peace and it was highlighted on Croydon Radio‘s ‘Inside Story Radio Show’ on September 16th.  I feature on the ‘Inside Story Radio Show’ every month to give updates on Young People Insight and this month, it was requested that I ask young people the question, “How do you think we can make our society more peaceful”, to feed back some their answers on the show.

I got a number of great responses, most of which couldn’t be read out on the show earlier today, so I thought I’d share some more of them with you on the blog.  Hopefully it will inspire you and you’ll see something you can put into practice to make our society a more peaceful one.

  •  “By finding peace within ourselves first” – Jason, 24
  • “Educating people on issues creates less confusion and assumptions” – Dena
  • “Change your perceptions and beliefs about it; then the universe will mold reality to fit your perception.” – Alana, 21
  • “Within communities, having intentional gatherings and functions that integrate the members.  That can possibly create a care and empathy among community members” – Sh’kira, 22
  • “Have more social activities within a society.  Continue to raise awareness of issues going on.  Help understand and respect differences between individuals within the society.” – Simeon, 18
  • “Society having a good and concrete moral standard which can be supported in all spheres: the home, schools, workplace to create unity.  I believe God gave this to us in His counsel as to how we should live and also in the purpose He has given us in being created to commune with Him and one day be restored into His image.  While we could try to make adjustments to society, it is the hearts and attitudes of men which is the root cause of the issues we face — the fixing of this is what will one day result in true and lasting peace.” – Lauren, 21
  • “I think by engaging more with people, as in when you engage with people through activity or community projects, opportunities are created and people get to do something and feel happy or valued and I think that can bring peace; and acceptance” – Si-Ann, 23
  • “A lot of music artists today portray a negative energy and everybody follows and picks up on the energy.  The UK scene is on a high at the moment so every little thing the artists do is followed.  If our artists can portray how they made it to the millions etc, it would motivate our youth and general society to achieve likewise” – Elliott, 19
  • “Being helpful – when you see someone in trouble, whether they’re lost or confused, don’t act like you didn’t see them.  Speak out against prejudice and discrimination when you see it.  If ever you feel angry – take deep breaths before speaking… For me, the most significant things, which is honestly the simplest, is to smile at people on the street or even better yet, say hello.” – Nahed, 24
  • “As individuals we need to be more aware and considerate of others.  Show empathy.  If we thought of others more and less of ourselves, fewer conflicts and issues would arise, resulting in a more peaceful society.  And if people got to know Jesus through the Bible but most importantly build a relationship with Him and be changed by Him, our world could be transformed.  Not just ‘I got to Church Christians’ but real ‘I’m striving every day to be like Christ Christians’.  He’s the perfect example of peace” – Sophia, 22
  • “I don’t think there is such a thing as peace.  Between violence, politics and domestic abuse and everything in between, I don’t think it’s something that exists.  We need to work on equality.  The sooner everyone learns how to live together equally, the sooner the world becomes a better place.” – Daisy, 24
Photo by Alexas_Fotos and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo by Alexas_Fotos and used under Creative Commons License.