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Volume 284

It’s been a sobering week. George Floyd’s murder is proof racism is still very alive and very real. We believe we all have a responsibility to challenge and change those ideologies that still believe the colour of your skin makes you less worthy, less deserving of basic human rights. But it’s also been a week of unity and solidarity: we’ve been amazed by the incredible things people are capable of even in the most dire circumstances. So in this week’s coolsh*t, we’re celebrating some of the most creative, inspiring and uplifting responses that humanity has had to offer over the last 7 days. #BLACKLIVESMATTER.

RIP George Floyd.

We all know why this more serious edition of coolsh*t was sadly necessary. George Floyd was murdered on May 25th, and the world has decided that enough is enough. People are angry. But the determination that has been shown in refusing to let his name be forgotten has been uplifting. This collection of murals epitomise that sentiment, as each is emblazoned with George’s face and name, demonstrating the unwillingness of people everywhere to let an innocent man die in vain. And when I say people everywhere, I really do mean everywhere. What’s so remarkable about this collection – and this movement as a whole – is just how global it has become. From Minneapolis to Manchester all the way to Syria, George Floyd’s face has become a symbol of long-overdue social justice.

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Picture a bird watcher. Chances are you’re thinking of a pale, binocular-donning, beige-wearing pensioner. And for the most part you’d probably be right. But it’s #BlackBirdersWeek this week, so young black naturalists have been sharing their pictures and stories to dispel the myth that all birdwatchers are 70+ years old and named something like Doris or Colin. The movement was planned earlier this month in response to the viral video of that absolute Karen in Central Park calling the police on a black man who was supposedly ‘threatening to murder her’ by politely asking her to put her dog on a leash. Funnily enough, it turns out that doesn’t quite qualify as a threat of imminent mortal peril. Who knew? But it is true that birding is an overwhelmingly white hobby, so black birders can feel left out or even unsafe and as a consequence are often put off. So I guess this is a reminder that all sorts of people are interested in all sorts of mad sh*t, and that it’s not a big deal if somebody doesn’t quite match the image you have in your head of what they ‘should’ look like. And yes I’m aware that that’s probably the first time anyone has ever referred to bird-watching as ‘mad sh*t’. Bill Oddie will be thrilled.

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Big Up Ben & Jerry’s.

There’s an episode of Family Guy where Lois runs for Mayor, and her campaign speech consisted of her just emotionlessly stating ‘9/11 was bad’, which was then greeted by rapturous applause from a crowd of adoring supporters. A lot of recent brand responses have reminded me of that episode, as many have essentially just shouted “Racism is bad!” into a void and expected a pat on the back in return. But in reality all they’ve got back is a sigh and a collective ‘no sh*t’. But there are some brands that have been really spot on with their messages, and none more so than Ben and Jerry’s. ‘WE MUST DISMANTLE WHITE SUPREMACY’. Simple, clear, powerful – and most importantly, sincere. And their accompanying statement reads more like an activist group’s manifesto than a note from the makers of Chunky Monkey. In an era of opportunistic woke-washing and shameless virtue-signalling, it’s nice to see a top-tier brand go beyond the meaningless platitudes and typical BS ‘we stand by our black employees’ statements. This playful, formerly hippie-owned brand is coming out fighting – and others will be expected to do the same.

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American Ideal.

I stumbled across this article and had planned on choosing just one of the kids to include and write about. But after watching them all, it didn’t seem quite right to play Simon Cowell and decide which ones were and weren’t worth going through to boot camp. This was partly because playing Simon Cowell would mean hoisting my trousers up to my nipples and getting some dodgy botox, which I wasn’t willing to do. But it was mainly because all the videos are worth watching, plus they seemed more powerful all together. They’re not exactly an easy watch though. Hearing a 12-year-old boy pleadingly sing ‘I just want to live’ is pretty sobering. And that’s just the start. 16-year-old Chloe Nixon also shares her original song ‘I Can’t Breathe’, and 15-year-old rapper Ray Emmanuel questions why merely being born black renders him a wanted man. To be honest, it’s genuinely quite upsetting stuff. And it’s something that, as an alabaster-white male from the Home Counties, I’ll probably never really understand. But this is the generation that must change the world. So hopefully in the not-so-distant future, it’ll be something that nobody can understand.

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Free Donations.

You don’t have to look very hard at the moment to find a cause worth supporting. But a lot of people currently fall in to the category of wanting to help out but lacking the means to do so. Crafty YouTuber Zoe Amira recognised this and came up with a clever way of allowing anyone to contribute, no matter how skint they are. She uploaded this video to her 60k subscriber channel and has pledged to donate all of the ad revenue to a number of worthwhile causes, primarily those devoted to helping protestors and vulnerable members of the black community. So far it’s been viewed by over 8 million brassic benefactors – which works out to about $28,000. Admittedly, my first thought was ‘wow, I really wish I tried to become a YouTuber when I was younger’, but that’s a thought to be revisited another day. The video itself is a celebration of some of the many exceptionally talented black artists, musicians and poets that you may not have heard of, so it’s definitely worth a watch. But if you don’t have the time to watch the whole thing, just chuck it on in the background anyway if you want to raise a bit of dosh for some people who need it.

Realsh*t: Protest Special.

When this realsh*t series began at the start of lockdown about 10 weeks ago, I don’t know if even we expected sh*t to get this real this soon. In this week’s episode, we spoke to our SELFHOOD network to take a closer look at the protests across the US, the responses to them, and what they mean to real people. If you missed it, check it out here.




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