November 30, 2021No Comments

Redefining the Lions: How British Football needs to Change

Honestly, I’m not an avid football watcher or even a regular football watcher. But every now and then the England football team gains momentum in a tournament (recently the Euros). I get swept up in frenzy along with half the country. The new success of a team brings a certain atmosphere to ' We’re told ‘it’s coming home.' While ‘it’ didn’t quite make it home during Euro 2020, something much more negative made its way through the country. Aimed at several players in the team, as well as members of the public. Racism has made its home in the football community and continues to be a defining factor. The growing anti-racism movements that have been taking place both inside and outside the football community have yet to make a real impact. 

A Brief History Lesson On The Three Lions Symbol 

The Lions first became a symbol of England as a flag in the 12th century. The flag was used on the battlefield in Britain as well as across Europe and the Middle East. While any lions that may have lived in Britain had died out by the creation of the flag, the lion was and still is a symbol of strength and bravery. If we then fast forward to 1872 when the first international football game is held between England and Scotland (BBC Home).

The English Football Association need to find an emblem that represents true ‘Britishness’ and decide on the three lions. The football logo also bears ten roses, reminiscent of the Tudor rose, another statement of British history. The use of British symbols in the England teams’ logo isn’t something unique to the team in football, or sport in general. Most sports teams use something unique to their place of origin for their logo. Several other teams in football alone also use a lion in their team logo, such as the Dutch national football team. 

Euro 2020

The England football team made it to the final of an international tournament for the first time in sixty years. This drew comparisons to the 1996 tournament when the team made it to the semi-finals of the Euros. Then, it was Gareth Southgate who missed the penalty, blinding England's place in the final. While Southgate received criticism in ‘96, many were concerned about his mental health and how he would surpass the mistake.

The year when England lost the championship due to penalties, the hate that Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and other members of the team received was explicitly racist and cruel. The incredible racism that these players faced may have only been from a minority of football fans, but the hate almost drowned out the support the team received and thanks to social media. It felt like the barrage of hateful criticism was spiralling.

For Gen Zedders (my generation), the three lions don't hold much significance. Personally, I knew the logo of the English football team was three lions. International championships aren't exactly the English football teams forte. It wasn’t until the team began to have some success that I began to have an interest in the team or the sport.

While the world was battling a global pandemic, Marcus Rashford took on the challenge of providing three million British children with free meals after the government voted against it. Rashford’s campaign raised £20 million by June of 2020, and the government soon repealed their decision. Other players such as Jack Grealish and Jordan Pickford also grew in popularity over the pandemic on social media during the Euros but did not receive the same amount of backlash as other members of the team.

The Issue

Racism has become more overt in the football community and the famous crest has become a staple of extreme nationalism. Many players who are people of colour have experienced racial harassment online. Data shows that 10% of football games in the 2019-2020 season had a reported racist hate crime (Sky Sports)

Racism isn’t only directed at the players, but football fans too. In 2015, a black passenger was pushed off a train in Paris by white fans. Who were chanting ‘we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it’ (Chrisafis, 2017). This was one of the first times I saw and understood how much racism existed in the football community. It’s because of actions such as these that the three lions have taken on a new meaning, In particular, younger people are being put off supporting football due to its hateful actions (Sky Sports, 2021).

Looking at social media after Euro 2020 games, I’d see a mix of offensive messages. And support posts teaching tactics to protect from racially motivated attacks. It’s no surprise considering we’ve seen other English symbols become connected with racism and extremism, such as the English flag. The historic red cross on a white background, was adopted by the English Defence League, a group based on islamophobia. The meaning of these symbols have negatively evolved, but it may be too late for the three lions to revert.

Culture Shifting

Culture Shift asked readers what the three lions mean for them. For David Chambers, the three lions has always been a hostile image. To the point that he hasn’t wanted to own an England football shirt. He felt as though footballers haven’t always helped prevent negative behaviour. ‘Footballers have been notorious for skirting their responsibility, socially’ David told us.

Some readers find the logo less linked to sport, it’s still ‘just a logo’, says Hiren Mehta (2021), wherever the three lions and similar symbols are seen in sports. If the logo was on a shirt, Hiren said he ‘wouldn’t feel a particular way about it.’ This new team along with Gareth Southgate have been stepping up to fight against racism in the sport. And small actions are beginning to evolve the meaning of the three lions as we see it. For Jamie Baker (2021), the symbol used to represent coming together in the football world - ‘we join under one force’ when players come from different teams across the UK and other cities.

Despite this coming together of players under the three lions, the logo now has a darker meaning for Jamie. Sports fans and the rest of society can’t unite on social issues such as Black Lives Matter meaning discrimination continues. Questions arise such as the fact Harry Kane and Harry Maguire, who both scored their penalties, are white men. As usual, the three men of colour who missed: Damon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, and Marcus Rashford faced more criticism. What would the responses have been like if it was the other way round?’ Jamie knew what social media would look like after the game even before looking.

What Needs To Be Done?

During the Euro 2020 tournament, we could see how football has the potential to be an inclusive and diverse community for a wide range of people. Both the male and female teams depend on people of colour, those from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.

As well as anti-racism campaigns that we have seen in the past year, there has also been a ‘Three Lions Pride’ campaign (Sky Sports) in support of players and fans in the LGBTQ community. The campaign gained support and many football players have worn rainbow laces to support the players and fans.

These are important steps forward for football but the fans must stand up and start challenging themselves. Those fans who continue to partake in racist or homophobic behaviour turn the game sour for all. It will take time, but following in this direction there is potential that the football community will change its tune.

Image Credits: Sky Sports

The racism we see in the football community mirrors that in everyday life. Although it is easier for everyday racism to be hidden in ‘jokes’ and offhand comments and not just blatant acts. Conversations and protests have forced many to confront how systemic racism benefits some people, while negatively impacting many others. Unfortunately, the fact that these conversations are now taking place doesn’t mean that much has changed anywhere.

Footballs Potential

Despite how it may seem, there is still the potential for the football community to turn a corner. Since Euro 2020, some fans who racially abused players online are facing charges, others face bans from football games. But there are still groups of fans who continue to commit racist and abusive actions against players and other fans of the sport.

This group may be small but still manage to steal the attention from those fans who act appropriately and even deter people like me who don’t watch football as regularly. However, football doesn’t have to be doomed to remaining a hostile community. We can make changes by standing up to the racist and hateful messages pedalled by a minority within football fandom. As the climate outside football changes, there’s hope that the culture within the football community will follow suit.

November 11, 2021No Comments

Past fallouts & future of the war in Afghanistan

The war in Afghanistan finally came to an end this summer in August. It took a few weeks for the Taliban to take control of the country.

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October 27, 2021No Comments

The Problem With Music Festivals: Vibes Of Appropriation

History, culture and art surround us daily but it isn't every day we’re at a music festival. It's been the topic of discussion for years and boundaries are still being crossed. So why is rich history and culture still being appropriated at music festivals? 

Drinks, check. Ticket, check. Outfit made from stolen culture, check. With the festival season coming to a close the topics of discussions are the same as it's been for years. No change and certainly not much improvement. It's easy to put on an outfit and follow trends without thinking about where its origin. This is where it's easy to be a villain of cultural appropriation.

Cultural Appropriation vs Cultural Appreciation

There's a fine line between appropriation and appreciation but where the defining point belongs is respect, education and acceptance. If you are wearing a bindi to a music festival you are taking a style with cultural significance and placing it in your culture without ode or respect for its original cultural reference/placement. If you are to wear a bindi to an Asian friend's wedding you are taking their culture, using it in cultural respect and placement and taking part in the culture. It's a simple question: Am I wearing this with respect to its original culture? And am I wearing this in a culturally appropriate scenario? If you’re ever unsure if your fashion choices are culturally appropriate simply don't wear it at all, you have to do the hard work, it's not about asking permission but having a conversation that informs you about your choice and the roots.

Fashion & Festivals

Fashion has been the culprit of appropriation for years. We’ve seen it on the catwalk, within music videos and now on the high street. And despite the harsh call-out culture of the 21st century, fashion seems to be making daily mistakes. It isn't just companies to blame, it's the consumer too. Some things weren’t meant for YOU to buy and wear and that's okay. So to make it easier Culture Shift has made a list of what not to wear and what to wear instead!

NOPE, TAKE THAT OFF!

Native Indian Headdresses:

Image Credits: I Use To Be A Highschool Feminist

Yes, they’re colourful and full of culture, which is beautiful in itself but definitely not meant to be part of your festival outfit. Worn by most natives of North America, these spectacular headpieces are often made from horsehair, porcupine and animal feathers. They were popular on the battlefields and most tribes have speciality colours, shapes and materials. And besides, I’m not sure native ancestors would appreciate yesterday's cheeseburger and fries all over their culture headdress.

Black Hairstyles

Image Credits: Adele Instagram

After years of appropriation, black hairstyles are finally getting the appreciation they deserve. We’re nearly there in wiping out appropriation of black culture but at this year's festivals many attended with braids, hair jewels and certain hairstyles only to be worn by the black community. We’ve seen appropriation on runways, high street brands and all across social media in the past century so by now it should be clear what to wear and what to avoid. But let's make it clear: No cornrows, no box braids and no Bantu knots. These hairstyles do however have exceptions (for appreciation purposes only). Take Adele for example. Her IG post of missing the days of Carnival and posing in her Bantu knots got some backlash but her intention was appreciation rather than appropriation. She was knee-deep in Jamaican culture, got her Knots done by a local hairstylist and danced the night away, and this is where the difference is clear.

Bindis

Image Credits: Junkee

A historical and cultural symbol of India and Southeastern Asia. The bindi is jewels, make-up and studs of the face often used for wedding ceremonies and religious holidays. Over the years, wearing jewels and face tattoos to festivals have become more and more popular. With high street brands such as ASOS, Newlook and Boots selling sets and marketing them around the festival season it's no surprise that the bindi is now an overused sight of summer days. With no cultural recognition whatsoever the bindi is the latest and most popular trend and continues to become a huge victim of appropriation.

Bucket Hats, Print Shirts & Side Pouches

We saw it from Alex at Glasto and pretty much the entire 2019 and 2021 festival season. The Air Max, baggy and grimey style is an ode to early Grime and Garage days, a little controversial when you’re at a techno festival. With the popularity of the BAFTA-winning show “People Just Do Nothing'', particular to the mockumentary style of comedy you'll see people taking on their own parody of this style. Smart wear like Patterned Moschino was the uniform that came out of 2Step and Garage - strangely enough, loafers, smart trousers and even a sports jacket were the go-to ensembles. As this evolved into Grime the footwear became more comfortable and as the tempo increased you would ditch loafers for Nike TNs, the smart trousers for shorts, especially in clubs abroad (think Spain, Cyprus etc).

Add in the styles of 90s rave Bucket hats, from EDM culture and baggies in bum bags it's no wonder we have the style we do today that resembles our friend Alex. The difference between Alex and general festival-goers is the love for the culture and the music - to literally know bar-for-bar and go absolutely ape shit when your favourite riddim is played. This is the art of posing, you’re either a real one or just a manakin. We all know a charlatan when we see one. 

OKAY, THIS WILL BE BETTER 

Hair Accessories 

Okay, hear us out... We know you probably wore this to a 2011 One Direction concert but pick the right hairstyle and glitter colour to fit your outfit and away we go. It's cheap, easy to do and looks great all day. Yes, it might take out 3-4 washes to get out but a minor inconvenience at best. Pair with french braids, space buns or a simple down style, will the glitter look take over the festivals of 2022?

French Braids

If you didn't sit around your whole lunchtime in secondary school braiding people's hair like this then you simply weren’t ‘cool.’ They stay out all day, good with all lengths of hair and most importantly belong to white and European culture! Add glitter for that extra sparkle or add some hair jewels if you please. 10/10 for comfort and creativity.

Face Glitter 

Photo Credits: IStock

A fan of the 2015 Tumblr rainbow or not, face glitter has been used since the birth of festivals and goes back to the peace & love movement of the ’60s. Yet again the perfect colour match for any outfit, the only downside is you may have to apply every few hours but definitely worth the attraction. Pair with a colour-contrasting eyeshadow, neon top and some matching trainers. A definite summer looks for next year. 

Power Suits 

Now I know what you’re thinking, straight leg polycotton trousers and a tightly fitted blazer. No Clark Kent shit but definitely his alter ego Superman. Your Thor hammer may not make it through security but you can jump the queue with those drunken superpowers and by the time you make it to the stage you'll get a rush of power. So why not make your outfit a little more fun and wear your Spiderman, Tinker Bell and Aquaman outfit and even reuse it at Halloween?

What needs to be done: 

We know things need to change but ultimately the chance is you, me and us. Cultural appropriation doesn’t seem to be sailing off anytime soon but to make its stay shorter we can start by making conscious fashion decisions. Ask yourself those key questions, leave room for education and think twice before leaving the house. We have a whole cold winter ahead of us and plenty of time to plan next year's festival fits. Let's make sure it's one that feels right and belongs to YOU.

September 24, 2021No Comments

ESEA Culture: a reminder for conscious consumption

For decades, the Western world has been consuming ESEA (East and Southeast Asian) Culture, but do we truly appreciate its origin? 

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March 17, 2021No Comments

How Yeezys Pivoted From Cult Drop To Commercial Darling

Now that everyone can buy one of the most-googled shoes on the planet…will anyone actually want to?

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