I’m a warrior because I have the strength of 10 lions in me
I’m a warrior despite my energy levels are down and my crises occur regularly
I’m a warrior simply because I was destined to be
More meets the eye than “I’m tired”
Just like the angry boss who yells you’re fired to underperforming employees
My body is a machine with the daily battles I have to face
No need to see my battle scars
You see it in my race
Hit by a disease that is genetic
No need for phonetics
No need for you to be apologetic and sympathetic
I fight because I want to win
I fight because I don’t need the accolades of fighting this lifelong battle
This battle can sometimes be long,
Sometimes mankind is wrong
For not doing enough in easing my suffering
But I’ve got the strength to keep hovering
With radiance from the Most High
I will continue to fly
As the warrior he made me
Even when times it can be the end for me
I will not let sickle cell defeat me
Sickle Cell disease is the name for the group of genetic blood disorders. Our red blood cells contain a protein called haemoglobin which carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of the body, as well as transporting CO2 and hydrogen ions back to the lungs.
Sickle cell is inherited from both parents who carry the trait, and comes in many forms:
Haemoglobin SB (beta) thalassemia
Haemoglobin SB+ Beta Thalassaemia
Haemoglobin Beta-Zero Thalassaemia
Sickle Cell is pre-dominantly found in African and Caribbean people. Other people affected are Asian, Arab and Mediterranean. The most common form is Sickle Cell Anaemia. People with this have Sickle haemoglobin (HbS). This means that the red blood cells are devoid of oxygen and are unable to move around like normal blood cells (Hba), which are donut shaped.
Because the cells are unable to move, they stick together and end up blocking blood vessels which causes tissue and organ damage, as well as severe bouts of pain. Such episodes of pain are known as a ‘Sickle Cell Crisis’ or a ‘Vaso-Occlusive Crisis.’
A crisis can be triggered by:
A sudden change in temperature
A crisis can last anywhere from a few minutes to a number of days or months.
So what causes Sickle Cell Anaemia?
A mutation in the gene that instructs the body to produce haemoglobin.
What are the health problems Sickle Cell Anaemia can lead to?
Permeant damage resulting in the removal of the spleen
Reduced bone density
Priapism (painful swollen and lumpy penis which can cause erectile dysfunction)
Weakened immune system
How is it inherited?
You will have sickle cell when you inherit the ‘defective’ gene from both parents. If you only inherit the gene from one parent then you have the sickle cell trait. It is likely that your blood will contain some sickle cells, but you will still be able to produce normal haemoglobin, and you won’t usually experience any symptoms.
However, inheriting the trait means you are a carrier. This means that you could pass the gene on to your children – but not the sickle cell diseases, unless your partner also has the trait. This is why it is important we test our blood to see if we have the trait or not.
Sickle Cell Anaemia is a very serious genetic condition, which is why it is essential that we understand, empathise and advocate for our people who are living in their thousands in the UK, with this disease. And let’s not forget our Melenated brothers and sisters in parts of Africa and also in America too. Sickle Cell is real and it needs to be acknowledged individually and globally.
We are now media correspondents and advocates for the Sickle Cell Cause support group based at St Ann’s Hospital, George Marsh centre, in Tottenham, London. We will also be taking part in the Community Mile for Sickle Cell charity walk on Sunday July 23, 2017.
To get involved and to find out more about sickle cell, please click here.
If you would like to sponsor us, please contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Jus’ Caribbean Festival 2017 is an official sponsor for the Sickle Cell Cause support group. The event will take place Saturday 19 – Sunday 20. Come and enjoy authentic tastes of the Caribbean, and support our own, food-wise and health-wise!
With just a few days away until Europe’s biggest event dedicated to afro hair, beauty and lifestyle, keep note of the following three brands which will be present on the day!
Looking to refresh your hair regime? Or could you do with a trusted introduction to botanical skincare? Or, maybe you’re in need of new and glam makeup brushes? If you’ve answered yes to any of those questions, then have a look at what could be your next best natural based product yet!
Launched in 2014, Mielle Organics is a US based hair and skin brand, which uses a unique blend of herbs, amino acids and minerals to support healthy hair, skin, nails and your immune system too!
Hair products range from an Avocado Hair Milk Moisturizer, Babassu Oil Conditioning Shampoo, Babassu Oil & Mint Deep Conditioner, as well as Detangling Co-washes and a Peony Leave-In Conditioner. Products also include Mint Almond Oil which is said to be a ‘scalp sensation’, and a great stimulant for hair growth.
The brand also makes products which cater towards children, including a cleansing shampoo, detangling conditioner, and a curling cream all of which contain the key and main ingredient, sacha inchi oil – a South American superfood rich in vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, vitamins and antioxidants.
To aid hair growth for you child, you can also get an edible daily multi-vitamin, chewable gummy, great for kids, even as young as 2. With a combination of Vitamin A, folic acid, and biotin, starting a journey of healthy hair just got easier. Don’t worry, there’s an adult formula too!
Based in the UK, Phytobotanicals is a botanic skin care range for beautifying your skin and relaxing your mind. What better way to treat yourself inside and out, using nature’s charms! Products include soaps, deep cleansing face balms, shea butter, natural beauty oils, body polishes and botanic face oil blends. Ingredients, which can be found on the site’s glossary, are a basket a nature’s goods. Here are some of the ingredients used across the products:
Apricot kernel oil
Black cumin seed
Borage seed oil
Broccoli seed oil – yes broccoli. Who’d have thought it eh.
If you’re in need of new and beautiful makeup brushes then set your eyes on these gorgeous gems from UK based brand, Peach and Pearl. Slay all day with these brushes, fit for all beauty Queen which are conveniently designed for all abilities. Whether you are a beginner, the seasonal pro or a professional makeup artist, you can work your magic with ease. An added bonus is that Peach and Purl brushes are vegan so you needn’t worry if you have super sensitive skin or suffer from skin allergies Peach and Pearl is beauty made simple and glamorous. What more could we want?
Start or reboot your 100%natural hair and skin journey with Afro Hair and Beauty Live 2017 The event kicks off at 10:30am and will end at 18:00pm. Get your tickets now while you still can, and grab any of the brands featured. Enjoy!
To see what else is going on in the Black community, see our Black Events page.
Self-love is key to self awareness, self-consciousness and self-esteem. When our children are growing up in a society which chooses not to represent them in the toys they play with, or the books they read, this is the beginning of sef-destruction. Let us take control and plant the seeds of self-worth so our children will look at a black doll and say – I want one just like me.
Take your daughters down to the 9th Black Doll Expo!
Saturday May 13, 2017 at 13:30 – 17:30pm.Maa Maat Centre – Community Bookshop, Tottenham. Tickets £0 – £8.03
Operation Sankofa presents the 9th Black Dolls Expo – a platform for discussion, making and buying all things black dolls from around the world! A panel of experts will be on hand to share information about creating, manufacturing, distrusting, selling, collecting, and most important of all, celebrating and promoting BLACK DOLLS. So, come along and join in the discussoion, sign up for a doll making workshop, choose a special Black Doll from a wide selection, and look out for some bargains!
The expo will feature the first Jamaican Patois speaking doll, rom the Zuree Dolls range!
Having kicked off on Friday May 5, 2017, the Women in Activism Film Festival is set to be an inspiring and invigorating watch. Re-discover a history the system will not teach us. Who better to teach us then ourselves?
Bought to you by Black History Studies, the Women in Activism Film Festival is a programme of screenings celebrating Black Women in Activism, highlighting the efforts, experiences and excellence of our Melanated Queens around the world and throughout history.
The film festival will feature a mixture of feature films and documentaries, along with presentations and post film discussions with audience members.
The programme of events are as follows:
Mama Africa (15)
Friday May 12, 2017 at 19:00 – 21:00pm. Bernie Arts Grant theatre, Tottenham. Doors open 19:00pm. Film begins 19:30pm.
Mama Africa is the biography of the South African singer Miriam Makeba, who was the first black, African musician to win international stardom. Her music influenced artists across the globe, although her style stayed anchored in her South African roots. She sang for John F. Kennedy and Marlon Brando, performed with Harry Belafonte, Nina Simone and Dizzie Gillespie.
Makeba was also a vocal campaigner against apartheid, and always stood for truth and justice. After her involvement with the 1959 documentary Come Back Africa (one of the first films to expose the harsh realities of apartheid) she was forced into a life in exile from her homeland.
This documentary traces her life and music through more than fifty years of performing. Friends and colleagues, some who knew her from the beginning, in the dance halls of South Africa (remember Pata Pata), together with her grandchildren, allow us to know the remarkable journey of Mama Africa.
Friday May 26, 2017 at 19:00 – 22:30pm. Bernie Arts Grant theatre, Tottenham. Doors open 19:00pm. Film begins 19:30pm.
Deemed “a lion in literature’s forest” by poet Maya Angelou and winner of major literary awards including the American Book Award, 81 year old Sonia Sanchez is best known for 17 books of poetry that explore a wide range of global and humanist themes, particularly the struggles and triumphs of women and people of color.
In BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, Sanchez’s life unfolds in a documentary rich with readings and jazz-accompanied performances of her work. With appearances by Questlove, Talib Kweli, Ursula Rucker, Amiri Baraka, Haki Madhubuti, Jessica Care Moore, Ruby Dee, Yasiin Bey, Ayana Mathis, Imani Uzuri and Bryonn Bain, the documentary examines Sanchez’s contribution to the world of poetry, her singular place in the Black Arts Movement and her leadership role in African American culture over the last half century.
If you didn’t go last year then you have to go this time round and experience the biggest show in Europe dedicated to black hair, beauty and lifestyle! Aiming to provide the most inspiring and exciting show experience, Afro Hair and Beauty Live returns to London for the 36th edition of what is sure to be an amazing event!
This year, the event will be welcoming a new brand built for the men. Introducing Afro Man – the destination for male grooming, hair and lifestyle products, so ladies you won’t have to worry about dragging your men to join you.
Afro Hair and Beauty Live are looking for the ultimate beard and styling barber. Tell your men to sign-up and get their clippers ready for Lusters SCurlBattle of the Barbers! And if that isn’t enough, skincare by Bump Patrol and S-Curls beard grooming range by Lusters will be present at the show. For men suffering from hair loss, be amongst the first in the UK to see My Hair Bar’s exclusive live demonstration of The Man Weave technique, the non-surgical hair unit for men.
Now, back to the ladies. Could you be the next #NewFaceofPink?Lusters Face of Pink, in collaboration with Black Beauty & Hair Magazine, is giving you the chance to represent the brand. Head over to their stand to enter. The Lusters Education team will also be on hand, demonstrating styling techniques, hair analysis and sharing tips on how to keep your hair happy and healthy.
FEED YOUR SKIN
Does your skin feel like it needs a re-boot? Look out for Phyto Botanicals – a premium hair and skin care range of oils, balms, soaps and body scrubs. DivaWorld will also be at the show with tips on how to achieve flawless beautiful skin, free from artificial, colourings and perfumes. Mature skin will love Aviela, so visit their stand and experience the nourishing, softening and anti-aging powers of Shea butter!
For beauty at your fingertips, the glam squadess’ will be on hand with make-up and brushes for your kit. Brand NEW to #AHBLIVE black|Up Paris for women of colour, be sure to get in line for free makeovers, goody bags and make-up masterclasses.
Keep an eye out for Peaches & Pearl, straight from the pages of Harper’s Bazaar UK, who will be showcasing their beautiful range of rose gold vegan make-up brushes. Hit Congolese make up brand Kitoko, will be showing you how it’s done, with their matt liquid lipsticks. Try before you buy and take home the perfect shade for your skin tone.
STYLE + BOOTIQUE
The Afro Chic Boutique and catwalk will be gracing the stage once again, with clothing and accessories from U.K, European and African designers. Sponsored by Palmer’s, this year’s show will be edgy with creative street style looks styled by Chi-Chi Chinakwe, with hair by award winning My Hair Bar and make up looks by Kitoko. Look out for your favourites Afrocentric850, Aso-Global, Eldimaa and more!
Afro Hair & Beauty LIVE will also be hosting free seminars presented by trusted experts and professionals. Whether you are looking to change your routine but you are not sure where to start, or you are looking to address a hair issue, this is the place to be. Be inspired, empowered and embrace the ‘fro!`
If you didn’t already know, New Beacon Books was founded by John La Rose and Sarah White in 1966, and it became the first independent publisher of African and Caribbean books, before becoming a book shop. Today, having recently faced a closure scare, it needs your help to remain open and to give back to the local black community in Finsbury park, north London.
The mini market will give a select number of entrepreneurs and small business owners, a platform to sell their goods and services, and to network with the community! If you have a business in arts, crafts, jewellery, fashion, skincare, haircare, DVD’s or toys, get in touch and register with New Beacon Books! If you know someone who owns a business in these areas, tell them too! We must get in formation and keep the UK’s first black book shop open for business!
The bookstore is in desperate need of a make-over. With our help, the faded appearance and leaky roof can be transformed, a children’s book corner can be created, and a space for book signings too! Let’s make some noise with coins and make this beacon shine bright like a diamond!
It was the last week of term before reading week and I was dragged to the pub by my course mates. I’m not a pub person (I’m a bar or night club lady), but after three hours of data journalism, I thought – actually I could do with a drink.. It was at the pub where I was asked a familiar question: “You’re in a long distance relationship three years running – how?” How do you do it? Seriously, I feel like I’ve been asked this question more times than I’ve eaten jollof during the whole of 2016. Sometimes I wonder if I should write a book… I’m no relationships expert though – I only ever dated two boys during my college days, and college is for two years so you can tell those relationships didn’t last long, so I’ll start on here, for now.
After the two years with my current partner, I was asked the question more and more, and I began to think deeply about how we have been going strong. At first. I told people it’s because we established an emotional connection, during the early days of our relationship, and we had the super communication skills needed when it became long distance. Looking back now, I realise that there was more to it.
We first met in London, in June 2012. At the time my beautiful black king, born in Birmingham, was studying a BA in Digital Content Development in London, while I was studying a BA in English Literature. I never thought I would say this so adamantly but, I really was in the right place at the right time, and I still believe that the Most High Yah, planned for us to cross paths, not just so we could fall in love, but to fall in love with our blackness and what it means to re-build the black family unit.
I was at the 02 arena in north Greenwich, south London, with two friends from University. I remember going to the cinema there, to see the Amazing Spider-Man movie, and going to eat at Frankie’s & Bennie’s afterwards.
As I leave with friends. my future partner also leaves his university, which is literally next to the 02. One of my friends lights a cigarette as we walk towards the train station. He walks past, notices and approaches us, with a cigarette in his hand. He asks if he can borrow my friend’s lighter, and he talks to us for a bit. In my mind I’m thinking: “Hmmm he’s got a beautiful smile – but why is he talking to us? What does he want?” (I was 20 years young, and cautious of all men). He gave us his facebook details and said we could add him and meet up sometime. I added him, spoke to him during the summer holiday then when it was time for my second year of University, I completely forgot about him.
Yet, a year later in May 2013 I’m asked if I’d like to go on a date. After deliberating with the same two friends I was with when we first met, I accepted and soon, it became clear what he wanted – he was ready to settle long term and to settle meant to build and grow, to be open emotionally and to share our goals and dreams. This is what we’ve been focusing on since the beginning, before he left to go back to Birmingham only three months later. In fact, it wasn’t until we were separated that we both realised we had fallen for each other. The conversations we had about past relationships, our childhood, our self evaluations and life journey so far, really helped to reveal our characters and our mind-sets too each other. I felt like he knew me, and I knew him.
I remember telling him a month later, how I didn’t understand why he wanted to date a dark skinned black woman like me, (he has a caramel complexion, and I was very self-conscious and not exactly confident about my skin.). This surprised him. He told me: “I liked the way the light bounces off your skin. It glows.” It was at that point when we started talking about colourism, the willie lynch letter and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was at that point that we openly spoke about the trauma black people carry – something which we need to do more of, especially as a couple, otherwise how else can we heal as a unit if we don’t talk about it? We are carrying our ancestors trauma whether we want to acknowledge it or not. They are us, and we are them, and we need to realise the healing power of black love.
The 2 hours and 20 minutes or 1 hour 20 minutes – depending on the cheap slow train or the expensive fast train (with a discount rail card for students of course), which seperates us has been a challenge and will continue to be, until we decide where to live… but we’ve leant to embrace it, based on the foundations we built when we were in the same city. Despite the distance, we found our truth, and we walk on a spiritual path together, and it is this spiritual connection which has elevated our relationship. This is why having an emotional connection and super communication skills are so important. You can’t connect spiritually unless you are emotionaly connected, and you know each other’s mind-sets, and you can’t connect emotionally if you don’t communicate that emotion in the first place. Not everyone will feel comfortable being open from the start, but if you feel the melanin vibes like we did, then don’t be afraid, share your mind. You’ll be amazed at what you learn about each other and what it means to be in a meaningful relationship with a black man or woman.
When you’re a black and a spiritually conscious couple, you are powerful. You have the power to heal your spirit, to remember who you are and the greatness you came from. You have the power to heal the brokenness in the black community and to heal the black family unit. Black love is real, beautiful and powerful. Find your foundation and build a black nation.