Alexandre Dumas: An Original Writer of Colour

Media Diversified

by Glen Chisholm

A new generation of viewers are being introduced to the swashbuckling adventures of D’Artagnan and his friends and brothers in arms Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Many will know their motto,

“All for one, One for all”

as their adventures are played out in the BBC’s new Sunday night family drama series. The Three Musketeers has been produced on screen in film and TV numerous times. even in the form of a cartoon,Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds in the early 80’s.

For me it’s great that once again these works are getting exposure as I’ve felt a love for stories of adventure ever since I was a child. I remember my father had a collection of classic books, bound in faux leather with gold leaf print. This of course caught my attention and when I started reading them they captured my imagination. As I got…

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What does a “Mental Patient” look like ?

What does a ‘Mental Patient’ look like ? For Asda it looks like a grotesque figure with a hideous face blood stained clothes brandishing a meat clever. For me my image of a ‘Mental Patient’ is something different and if I want to see what one looks like I just look at my reflection. I had struggled for years and undergone treatment for Depression I had suffered from a mental health problem but I’m not unique in that. As many as 1 in 4 will suffer from a form of mental illness.

So in case you have not heard Asda and Tesco decided that an ideal Halloween costume would be the grotesque figure complete with blooded shirt and meat cleaver. They then decided to label it ‘Mental Patent’ “so what’s wrong with that” some said “its only a harmless bit of fun” some declared. Unfortunately it is not just a harmless bit of fun. Imagery can be very important and what this costume did was reinforce stereotypes and help enforce the stigma that surrounds mental health. We already have people facing discrimination and fear of coming forward, this outfit just feeds the misconceptions and myths around mental health. Now everyone can make mistakes with imagery. I myself have used the “Headclutcher” image in a blog before something I regret as it does not truly represent who people with mental health problems are.

What happened next was an example of people power. As the image from Asda’s website went viral the angry reaction on Twitter forced the Asda to withdraw the outfit. The Supermarket chain apologized and explained they would make a donation to Mind. This showed that people can make a difference and also that people where not prepared to sit back and let this happen.

But this was not the story ended, twitter not only forced Asda to drop the outfit it then had the inspired #Mentalpatient hashtag, turning something positive from the incident. Thousands of people posted pictures of then self’s in their ‘mental patient’ costumes and these pictures consisted of normal people doing normal things. Because that is what a ‘mental patient’ looks like we are all individuals from all walks of life, we need to work together to end the stigma. And like I said at the start if I want to see what a mental patient looks like I just need to look in the mirror.

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Being Mixed Race: Am I A Human Rorschach Test?

Media Diversified

byGlen Chisholm

Just last week I was standing at a bus stop when a gentleman; a complete stranger came and joined me. Nothing unusual about that, we then politely nodded at each other and a conversation started up.

Me: “Evening”
Stranger: “Evening”
Me: “it’s still quite warm isn’t it”
Stranger: “yes it is”; pause; “excuse me mate, but were do you come from?”
Me: “Ipswich”
Stranger: “no, you know, were do you originate from”
Me: “I originate from Ipswich, my mum is English and my dad is Jamaican”
Stranger, sounding surprised: “Really I wouldn’t have thought you were Black, I’d have thought you were Italian or Spanish or something”
Me, politely smiles: “yeah, I sometimes get that”

Now I wasn’t offended by this and this wasn’t the first time or probably won’t be the last time that I’ll have this conversation. I am a light skinned mixed race person…

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My blog’s back and normal(ish) service will resume

When I started writing this blog my intention was to share my thoughts on local politics and inform on other areas of interest. My hope was to regularly update my blog and keep people informed.

Now there has been gaps in the time between my posts and I have not been able to update as frequently as I would like to.

So I thought I’d write a post to offer a brief explanation.

Firstly as a ward councilor I have a responsibility to my residents. Even though the past month sees a reduction in council meetings I have been busy with aspects of case work for my residents.

As a councilor I also have the opportunity to work with other organizations. My work has included attending meetings and helping out with ISCRE and the North West Big Local Trust. I have also started writing for a ‘Writers of Colour’ a collective of writers looking to increase diversity in the media, I’m proud to have had some pieces published and have been involved in debate and conversation with people from as far flung as America,Canada and Japan.

As a father of a teenage son this also keeps me very busy as well. I hope keep updating my blog on a more regular basis.

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Online Abuse and Bullying

There has been a lot said over the last few days about Twitter Trolls, freedom of speech and bullying. I’m not going to dwell on that side of it just to say that making rape threats is unacceptable. Surely it would be better to treat people with the respect you would wish to be treated. I also don’t think silence is the answer in the words. A great man “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”~ Dr Martin King.

The internet and social media opens so many opportunities and chances to engage and speak to people from all over the world. But at times it has a darkside and this became apparent with the truly tragic death of 14yr old Hannah Smith. In the weeks leading up to Hannah’s death she received messages criticized her appearance and telling her to kill herself she tragically took her own life.

As a father my heart goes out to Hannah’s family and what they are going though, but another reason this touched me is my teenage son had recently suffered from online abuse on facebook. My teenage son was in the process of going though his exams and studying and preparing for his future he and his peers were under an enormous amount of stress and pressure and seemed to lead to some of his so called group of friends targeting him. At first me and his mother were unaware but it came to a head when a friend of mine called me and told me to look and my sons facebook page. I could not see anything, my ex wife called me after one of her friends had contacted her for the same reason and she could not see anything. It transpired that a so called friend had got my sons phone and tampered with the settings so me and his mother could not see what they were putting on my sons facebook page. And what they had put on in one afternoon was over 70 messages which had shocked and concerned mine and my ex wife friends into calling us.

After speaking to my son we found out this was only part of it. As I’ve said my son was going though a very intense time with exams and the bullying was having an effect on him. We sat in his room talking my son has been though and experienced a lot in his young life, the death of two grandparents his parents divorce amongst other things but as we sat there together my son was hurt like I’d never seen him heart before. He felt betrayed and that his life was ruined. I held my son and tried to reassure him to share my perspective but I’d never felt so helpless in my life.

It seems to me its harder now to be a teenager then it was in my youth. To do the comparative activities that some of the trolls do in my day they would of had to run to the phone box with a bag of 10p’s or send a hell of a lot of letters. But now they can sit behind a keyboard or phones and feel and inflated sense of bravery or even detachment. Also at times there seems to be a teenage survive instinct that leads to pack mentality. They feel that if someone else is being targeted its better them then me attitude.

I dont know the answers but what I do know is that something needs to change

If you or anyone you know feels emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or email jo@samaritans.org

And BeatBullying.org can offer advice and support

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Why BME people need to get on the NHS Organ Donor Register

I suppose I should disclosure an interest, I have an ongoing heart problem and because of the medication I’m on I have to have continual check ups to make sure my kidneys are ok.

As I was sitting in a Doctors surgery recently I read some pretty worrying figures that may not only effect me but other members of my community.

Black people are three times more likely to need an organ transplant but less than 1% of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register are from our community.

A transplant is more likely to be successful if the donor and recipient have the same ethnic origin.

Currently over 760 people from Black communities are waiting for a transplant

This has lead to an acute shortage of suitable organs means Black people wait nearly twice as long for a kidney transplant

On average 3 people who need a transplant die every day in the UK, if more people registered as donors more lives could be saved.

For more information http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk
Or Text REGISTER to 84880

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Horrible history for grown ups

One of Ipswich’s most popular guided walks of the year, the “Horrible History of Ipswich for Grown Ups”, takes place on Wednesday 7th August at 7pm.

The walk is being led by the Ipswich Tourist Guides and starts from the Borough Council’s Tourist Information Centre.

Inspired by the popular children’s books and TV series, this is history with the boring bits taken out and the gory bits left in – and given a local twist.

Discover the darker side of Ipswich’s history – hangings, burning at the stake, the plague, bear baiting, grave robbers and worse. Hear about the worst job in town (the “night soil man”) and the Town Executioner, who used to strangle his condemned customers before setting fire to them. Learn the origins of everyday phrases like “The graveyard shift” and “Saved by the bell” and why locals kicked up a stink when the Corporation wanted to install the town’s first sewage system.

The cost is just £3 per person and places should be booked in advance at the Ipswich Tourist Information Centre, St Stephen’s Church, St Stephen’s Lane – telephone 01473 258070, email tourist@ipswich.gov.uk

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