Monday, 4 May 2015

General Election Special- Which Party Packs the Punch on Prejudice?

At FYFT we recognize that the right to vote is something which empowers us as political and social beings and allows us to be heard and have our part in making change happen.  We think that everyone who can should inform themselves and use this precious right to vote.

This right has been hard fought for; until 1832 only men who owned property could vote while women denied the right to vote until 1928.

As the campaign for the General Election is coming to a close with polling day happening on Thursday 7th May, we decided to ask the main parties what they have to say about prejudice and what they plan to do about it. 

We have put together a summary of what they told us they plan to do with political power to combat inequality, discrimination and prejudice.



Conservatives


Our spokesperson from the Scottish Conservatives told us that the party are "committed to listening to disabled people in order to better understand how government can effectively support them and ensure they are able to play a full role in society." 

By 2020 the Conservatives want 20% of new recruits in the police to be from Black, minority and ethnic backgrounds, and in the armed forces at least 10%, with a view to increase this number to 20%. They also want to increase BME representation by 20% in jobs, apprenticeships, education and owning businesses as well as having greater representation within the Conservative Party itself.  

The development of Personal Independence Payments is according to the party, "grounded in a more modern understanding of disability, including mental health conditions and fluctuating conditions."

In terms of promoting gender equality in the workplace, Scottish Conservatives have made the commitment to implement a childcare voucher to improve the choice and flexibility over the funded childcare hours to which parents are entitled.

Labour


The Labour Party told us that their "aim is to make sure our national institutions, including our Parliament, the police, judiciary, civil service and the boardrooms of our companies, are more representative of the diversity of our country."

Labour promise to abolish the bedroom tax, acknowledging that over two thirds of those affected it are disabled or have a disabled family member. The party also pledge reforms to the Work Capability Assessment; focusing instead on the support disabled people need to get into work and having an independent panel of disabled people monitor it.

In terms of tackling gender equality,  Labour would require large companies to publish their gender pay gap and would strengthen the law against maternity discrimination and  would enforce the relevant provisions within the Equality Act. Scottish Labour claim that they will also continue to work towards our goal of a 50:50 Scottish Parliament.

Liberal Democrats


The Liberal Democrats "believe nobody should be treated differently because of their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or beliefs."  

The party's key promises in the fight against prejudice include the promise to work with schools to stamp out homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. The party also promise legislation to make homophobic and transgender phobic chanting at football matches illegal.

To tackle the gender pay gap, the LibDems propose that companies with over 250 employees will have to publish information on the difference between the pay of men and women in their company. 

The LibDems claim that they will commission a full review of discrimination in the criminal justice system and work with police forces to ensure more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic police officers are recruited.

SNP


Our spokesperson for the SNP said that addressing "the unacceptable levels of inequality in Scottish society" is at the heart of the party's manifesto.

The party are concerned with the need to have more equal representation of men and women in public life. In the event of further devolution the SNP propose to ensure 50% female representation on public boards and pledge to press for the same step to be taken for UK wide public bodies, whilst encouraging the new UK government to work with the private sector to increase the number of women represented at the most senior levels in major companies.With powers over equalities devolved, the SNP would bring forward an Equal Pay (Scotland) Bill to finally deliver equal pay law that works for women in Scotland.

The party claim they will seek to maintain the protections provided by the Equality Act 2010 and will ask the government to "engage with key stakeholders on potential improvements" as well as  supporting calls to establish a Race Committee to advise the work of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.


Green Party


According to the party’s principles: “Disability is something imposed on people’s impairments by the way they are unnecessarily isolated and excluded from full participation in society. Disabled people are therefore an oppressed group in society.” Recognising the social nature of disability, and therefore its relation to poverty, the Green Party commit to furthering policies directed towards the social, political as well as economical empowerment of disabled people.

The party aims to gradually transfer the rights and responsibilities deriving from nationality to residence. In this spirit, their revision of the nationality law would certify among others that all children born in the UK will be in receipt of it automatically.

The party  holds the belief that migration policies should not discriminate on grounds of race, colour, religion, political belief, disability, sex or sexual orientation, and intend to revise the current immigration law to ensure this reflecting thus their opposition to exclusionary policies against non-Europeans in Europe. The Greens also want to combat prejudice and discrimination against Gypsies and other travelers by increasing legal protection. 

The party views the enforcement of heterosexuality as a violation of human rights and is committed to repeal the ban on same-sex civil marriage. All legislation on equality and diversity should namely address LGBT and transgender people so they are given explicit protection against discrimination.



Hailey Maxwell

Monday, 9 March 2015

Visions of Prejudice: Synagoga


Politics is not the only stage upon which instances of prejudice are enacted; culture has been host to prejudices and biases throughout human history. We can easily recall examples of discriminatory and propagandist imagery in modern and contemporary history, however this phenomenon stretches back centuries.

A prevalent example of anti-Semitic iconography used throughout the Middle Ages is the figure of Synagoga. A notable appearance of the figure is upon the façade of the south transept of  Strasbourg Cathedral, built from 1015-1439. 

Ecckesia and Synagoga

Synagoga is the feminine personification of Judaism; she stands opposite to Ecclesia who in contrast, represents the collective body of Christianity. The two female figures flank a statue of Solomon. The juxtaposition of the two female figures symbolizes the transition from the Old Law (Judaism) to the birth of the New (Christianity) announced by the incarnation of Christ.

The significance of Synagoga is from the very start dependent on her correlation and contrast with Ecclesia. From a Christian theological perspective, the confrontation of the two women marks the displacement of the Jews from their place as God’s chosen people and their replacement by Christians: the triumphant birth of Christianity through the overcoming of its predecessor, an idea stretching back several centuries. 

Synagoga is shown , unlike the triumphant figure of Ecclesia, as a figure of abandonment and submission. She is blindfolded, averts her head from the direction of Ecclesia and the cathedral’s portal, her spear is broken and surmounted by a banner, while she feebly holds the tablets of the Old Testament, implying, the obsolescence of Judaism in Medieval Christian society. Her drapery is  transparent and fluid compared to the glorious massiveness of Ecclesia’s straight lines. Her weakness, encoded in her posture, would have been probably recognized even by illiterate visitors of the cathedral. 

She is wearing a veil which perhaps symbolises the idea of “Jewish blindness” - the perceived failure of the Judaism to 'recognise' Christ as the son of God. 

Isaac Brunn’s engraving of 1617 reports that originally a crown was laid at her feet, while a scene probably alluding to the biblical murder of Abel by his brother Cain was inscribed on the corbel above her. These are all especially negative iconographic associations, which do not only attest to her defeat by Ecclesia, but also enact certain characteristic stereotypes attributed to Jews during the period. Synagoga’s contemporary  costume transports the biblical story of the first fratricide; an immemorial crime;  into the context the 13th century. This narrative technique implies that medieval Jews are collectively culpable and accountable for every crime historically attributed to them.

The idea of collective responsibility does not only highlight the prejudicial understanding of the Jewish members of Christian societies in an uninterrupted continuity with their ancestors, and thus still guilty for their trespasses, but is also a reminder that in contemporary society, individuals are still targeted and expected to feel guilty and responsible for the actions of their ancestors or other members of their religious  or ethnic communities. 


---Hailey Maxwell


Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Understanding Privilege and Power

The Complexities of Privilege

Inequality is characterised by the uneven distribution of rights across the population.

These rights amount to what kinds of social power a person can have. A person's social power is determined by the amount of respect they are offered by society and how easy it is for them access certain rights. These rights vary greatly, whether it’s about having greater accessibility to education, healthcare, economic stability or easier access to jobs, legal protection or safe and acceptable housing.

Inequality becomes visible when we realise that equal access to things we consider basic human needs and rights is not awarded to everyone equally. On the global stage, it is clear that the standard of living and the basic human rights awarded to people living in the developed world is much higher than those living in less developed countries. Today, in 2015, people across the world still face famine, genocide, starvation and disease on a large scale; while in the developed world these challenges are not something most of the population have to ever face. This is just one obvious example of an unequal distribution of physical well being, but the same can be said for further basic human rights such as physical safety, freedom from persecution and physical harm or freedom to practice religion. The list goes on, and it’s a list we’re all familiar with in comparatively economically and socially privileged west.

However even in the West, while we like to think that we live in an equal, meritocratic society, George Orwell highlighted a sentiment expressed in Animal Farm that still feels relevant; "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." Some members of our society, due to circumstances and accidents of birth, find it much easier than others to access the attributes that allow a person to improve their quality of life - and as a result those people are naturally in in a more powerful position based on a variety of attributes and circumstances, whether they are aware or it or not. We consider certain people who are more powerful agents in society to have more privilege.

According to Michel Foucault, “power is everywhere and comes from everywhere”  This expressed the notion of privilege as being in constant flux and negotiation. Foucault uses the term ‘power/knowledge’ to signify that power is constituted through accepted forms of knowledge, scientific understanding and ‘truth.’ This means that it is a society's cultural norms and values which determine how privileged a person is within that society. A person who is very privileged in one social and geographical setting may find themselves in a less privileged position somewhere else; privilege is not an unmoving, permanent fixture – which sheds a positive light on the notion of privilege, as it means inequality can always be challenged, combated and reduced.

We often mistakenly understand power as being made up of a binary opposition; “us against them” in a kind of master/slave scenario where one group of homogeneous people are against another minority group. Racism is characterised as the domination of one race over others, sexism is the domination of one gender over another.

However, people are complex; society is even more so. It’s reductive to put people into convenient little boxes and imagine allocated power to be based on this dialectical, “master/slave” kind of basis. All women are not the same. All people of a particular racial group are not the same. We can't imagine social power as being all or nothing; everyone has some social power.

Gender, race, religious views, ability and sexual orientation are all obvious ways in which people are discriminated against within society; it is not entirely unfair to say that being a Caucasian, able bodied, heterosexual man awards a person a large amount of privilege in Western society. However, we need to recognise that more nuanced attributes determine a person’s position on the axis of power; education, class, age, income and location all play a part in allowing a citizen social power.

For example; despite the prevalence of sexism in Western society, a University educated, upper middle class white woman arguably enjoys more social power in the West than a working class, black male who has never been educated past high school.

There are a variety of combinations of types of privilege which give us our place on the axis of social power and it is important that we recognise these within ourselves and within our society's value system in order to better understand our own impact on the world around us, and empathise with others. The arbitrary system of value which decides what gives a person privilege (e.g being heterosexual rather than homosexual and/or able bodied rather than disabled) should and can always be challenged; as it benefits the few and not the many.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KlmvmuxzYE


- Hailey Maxwell





Monday, 23 February 2015

Kicking Prejudice Off the Pitch.

Last week, we saw the beautiful game tarnished by a shameful racist incident on the busy Paris metro at Richelieu-Drouot station as visiting Chlesea football fans made their way to see their team play Paris Saint-Germain. In a video taken by a British expat, the Chelsea fans are seen aggressively harassing a black passenger, whilst chanting “we're racist and that's the way we like it.”

People around the world have been disgusted by the video; the disgraceful behaviour of these bigots rubbed salt in the wounds of Parisians who have lived precariously in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo incident. Issues of prejudice and intolerance have been at the forefront of national consciousness not only in France but in all of Europe, with reports of racist, anti-Semitic and Islamaphobic incidents surfacing on a daily basis since the attack. 

Football is no stranger to accusations of institutionalised racism - not only in the UK but across the continent; in Scotland we are familiar with the sectarian violence that comes with Old Firm matches between Rangers and Celtic, while in Poland the Euro 2012 was thematized by incidents of violence, racist hooliganism, the presence of Nazi flags and monkey chants directed towards black players. 

It would be wrong to direct all criticism  with regards to intolerant attitudes to football fans; we can clearly observe patterns of discrimination higher up the chain of power, within the institution of the sport itself. Indeed, there have been repeated suggestions that football is institutionally racist. These accusations criticise a tangible structural inequality in the game, characterised by a lack of representation of people of colour at the top.

In September 2014 Chief Executive of the Premier Football Association (PFA) Gordon Taylor said that the sport shows a "hidden resistance" preventing black managers getting jobs." He aptly observed, "you see so many black players on the pitch, yet we have two black managers out of 92” - referring to  Chris Powell at Huddersfield and Carlisle's Keith Curle, the only black managers. Two years prior to Taylor's comments in 2012, the PFA  had released a six point action plan to reduce inequality in the sport. 

The Association called for: Speeding up the process of dealing with reported racist abuse with close monitoring of any incidents, stiffer penalties for racist abuse and to include an equality awareness programme for culprits and clubs involved, monitoring and reporting of issues of ethnic minority representation and an increased focus on other equality issues such as gender, sexual orientation, disability, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Asians in football.  Despite these best efforts at increasing awareness of prejudice and tackling them at the level of administration and legislation within the game, inequality remains a permanent fixture on the pitch and in the boardroom as these recommendations have been consistently ignored. 

The PFA had also called for an English version of “the Rooney Rule,” an affirmative action policy introduced by America's National football League (NFL) in 2003 whereby teams are obliged to interview interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. Discussions took place last year about introducing an equivalent rule in English football called the Coaching Fair Play scheme, which has still not been introduced. Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore deems it "unnecessary" and instead introduced the Premier League's Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme, which reserves three places for black and ethnic minority coaches.

It seems that despite major associations recognising the institutional problem of prejudice and discrimination within the sport,
It does not help when the most influential figures in the game refuse to acknowledge the issue at hand. Infamously, Chelsea's own manager Jose Mourinho claimed, in response to calls for the introduction of the Rooney Rule, that "there is no racism in football.” Clearly, the fans of his team disagree with that. 

As ever, hope remains with organisations like Show Racism the Red Card, an organisation which involves influential football players in their anti-racism educational programme, and Kick It Out, a group which lobbies and works with the football authorities, professional clubs, players, fans and communities to tackle all forms of discrimination.  However, commenting on the Paris Metro incident, Kick It Out chairman Lord Ousley stated that "We know that prejudice is on the increase and that in itself leads to hateful attitudes and this sort of conduct.”  Given that  the sport has proven itself to been incapable of dealing with or taking the issue of racism seriously internally, Gordon Taylor's suggestion that "We need to look to government with regard to greater equality in football at managers and coaches level and also with regard to youth development level” seems more than reasonable. 


The victim of the Paris incident, a French-Mauritian known as Souleyman S spoke about why he did not immediately report his his attackers, asking "What could I tell my children? That daddy was shoved around on the Metro because he is black?”  

- Hailey Maxwell

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Maya.

Hey everyone,


I had never even heard the name Maya Angelou before the sad news of her passing in April of this year. All of a sudden, images of her face covered every magazine and newspaper I saw; she was hailed as an inspirational figure, a creator of beautiful poetry and literature and an extraordinary human being. I was, of course, intrigued. Why was this the first time I had discovered such a renowned author and poet? As a prospective literature student, I liked to think that I kept myself up to date with everything writer-related. It was largely out of curiosity that I picked up a copy of Angelou’s first memoir, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’. 

I was instantly pulled into the southern American state of Arkansas, watching a young Maya as she struggled with her identity as a young black girl in an oppressive and racist society. Although she and her brother Bailey lived in relative comfort in the care of their grandmother, they were constantly forced to deal with abusive behaviour at the hands of white inhabitants of Arkansas. The cruelty that I read about so frequently was incredibly shocking; it made it worse to think that such atrocities were being committed a mere eighty years ago. The scene that I found most distressing was one where Maya and her grandmother visited the dentist. Because the only African-American dentists and doctors were 25 miles away, Maya was taken by her grandmother to a practice nearer to home. This practice was run by white dentists, and upon arrival Maya was told that they “do not treat nigra, coloured people”. Although the money given by Maya’s grandmother had kept the dentist’s business from going under, the dentist insisted that he would rather put his hand “in a dog’s mouth” than in Maya’s. 

I found this scene appalling, as any other person would – it just didn’t make sense to me that someone could look at another human being in pain and refuse them help. As a white person, it was particularly uncomfortable to read. Although I was not personally responsible for the abuse that Maya and others like her had to face, it upset me to think that I have descended from those who were. Maya’s descriptions of the white people around her really struck me; seeing people like me through her eyes really made me think about how lucky I am to have never experienced racial abuse. 

Although Maya starts off as a young, angry girl, furious with the treatment of her community, throughout the course of the book she transforms into a courageous and accomplished young woman. It warms the heart of a reader to learn that Maya becomes the very first black streetcar operator in San Francisco at the age of fifteen – her determination and spirit are incredibly inspiring. Although she grew up in a society where she endured great cruelty and prejudice, Maya Angelou’s legacy was not one of hatred or bitterness but one of love. It is for this reason that I can understand why she is adored and revered throughout the world. 


Sadly, racism is not a problem that has been eradicated from modern life. However, we have made great steps forward in the last number of years in combatting racial prejudice around the world. I do not believe that either guilt or bitterness is beneficial to anyone. The sufferings of people in the past should be remembered but not used to apportion blame. We are all human beings with similar aspirations; we all feel pain and joy and anger and love, no matter what colour our skin is or which ancestors we have descended from. To quote Maya Angelou once more, “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

- Anna Rickards

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Lipstick.

It was around early evening when the lipstick arrived. Crates and crates of the stuff, red as fresh blood, piled in numerous boxes around the camp, scattered like jigsaw pieces on concrete. Nothing could contrast more with this place than those packed boxes, in their brightness and vitality. The walls were grey, peeling like wrinkled skin; six foot high and topped with layer upon layer of jagged barbed wire knife-blade sharp, they encircled the camp with the brute force of a thousand bodyguards. Each building was regulation grey, exactly the same as the one before it, lined up in rigid rows like soldiers on parade. All that the eye could see for miles around was grey. Grey clothes. The grey sheen of guns. Grey people. It was as if a flock of jovial red birds had unexpectedly descended upon a sea of filthy pigeons, miserable in their squalor. 

“From the British Red Cross,” the creatures read. You couldn’t really describe them as people anymore. All of the life and hope had been extracted from them, pulled away, weaned from them like sunshine being filtered away by a wall of clouds. They flitted from grey building to grey building, eyes glassy and lifeless, as if ghosts already; no substance. All identity had been stripped from them when they arrived - their names forgotten, all possessions pillaged, a number scorched into their skin like a welt. What had once been many people was now one entity, all the terrified eyes becoming one, all the shrunken skulls identical. Nobody understood or even cared what the crates were for. Weren’t crates of food, or clothes, or anything else, more important? It was too late for petty gifts, or trivial little presents. What was the use of red lips on a dying face? 

Among the crowd was a woman, maybe thirty years old. She had had a name, once, before her identity was stolen and replaced by a string of numbers. Yasmin. It meant flower. How ironic, she often thought to herself, that she now looked like a wilting one, the colour from her cheeks long faded, her eyes soulless and dead. These days she walked with no intention of actually getting anywhere, feeling like she had to force through a sea of skeletons wherever she went. There was no one at the camp that she could talk to, no one she could even consider being her friend. People pushed by her, shoved her, all manners flung to the side. She looked and felt invisible, as if melting away into nothingness, slowly but surely. 

She remembered the Great War, and all of its awful retributions. Remembered people jeering and shouting in the street. Calling her hideous names that stuck to her like glue. She remembered the train, the one that had taken her away, the one that was so full of people, so crammed with mothers and fathers and grandparents and children that some didn’t make the journey. The first time she had ever seen death, right in front of her eyes. Now, though, it was commonplace. It happened all the time, everywhere she went; there was no escape from the rivers of death, the fallen angels. She couldn’t dwell on the body of a child, tears of hate and remorse filling her eyes, because before long there would be another. And another. These days she would walk by the corpses unaffected, void of emotion, not because she didn’t care but because she couldn’t. 

She remembered the day she had arrived. Guns, so many guns; nobody who arrived was armed yet they were herded like miserable sheep by the soldiers, pushed and shoved around like livestock. All her jewelry was ransacked, her necklace torn from her neck, her earrings forced from her ears. She fingered the puckered scars on her earlobes. They had ripped her hair from her, too, the hair that everybody said was beautiful. Long, wavy and black as a raven’s feather, people used to say, and they stole it. The wild animals in uniform. It didn’t matter though. Nothing mattered anymore. Hair grew, didn’t it? She didn’t need to look beautiful because there was nobody here that would care if she did. She had joined the hundreds of women and girls, mothers and daughters, all with their hair sheared carelessly to almost nothing, with what was left sticking up in melancholy tufts. The pile of hair lay on the floor like a ragged sleeping beast. Everyone had come in looking different, but now they were all identical. She didn’t want to look at the mothers with their daughters, to see them holding each other close, because her own child had been separated from her when she arrived. Her little boy, her baby. She never saw him again. 

That night, some people took the lipstick anyway. Women who still remembered what hope was. The ones who still had bigger ideas, bigger dreams. Walking silently from building to building, the desolation was still painted across people’s faces as clearly as day, but now these women had scarlet lips. They still had to wear the regulation clothes, bleak and scratchy on the skin, but the lipstick made them look almost human again. A red stain from home. A flash of colour in all the drab grey. People were no longer simply numbers. For a second, they were back to being individuals again. Dotted across the hideous landscape were pairs of bright red lips. A protest against death.

She took the lipstick in her hand, the brightness and beauty of it almost unreal. She half expected it to be pulled off of her; after all, everything else she held close long since had been taken from her. There was no mirror but it didn’t matter, because she knew she didn’t look beautiful anymore. It would just be painful to see the sharp edges piercing through the way she looked now, distorting her features sickeningly like some sort of trick. The lipstick felt soft, a rare gentleness, as she stroked it along her lips. She let herself delve into deep, sleepy memories of sitting by her mother in her bedroom as a child, knees crossed like a little lady on the eiderdown, watching her mother put on lipstick. How she had wanted to try the magical Woman War Paint that she’d seen so many times before on movie stars, so effortlessly beautiful. She remembered her mother’s smiling eyes and the scent of lavender water, sickly-sweet. 

As she rubbed the lipstick in, she felt the dingy little room transform into a ballroom, saw her pale cold feet fitted with the finest of dancing shoes. Her scratchy, ugly uniform of death lengthened and softened into silk like a waterfall, and the slicing cold of the room turned to the stuffy, noisy warmth of a party. She’d only ever been to one such dance, but in its memory she held, like a gold locket, the warm euphoric feeling of falling in love. It was through bittersweet tears that she hummed - as slowly as she could - the music for a waltz, her first waltz, and held her arms out tentatively in the air for a partner whom she’d never see again. Although it looked as though she were mad, she never once felt alone. Through the blur of tears she could almost see his face, and his eyes were as bright as she always remembered. The lipstick took her back to life, to normality, to happiness and - most importantly - the man and the boy she adored. 


Almost seventy years on, a girl with hair as black as a raven’s feather is getting ready to go out. She blinks into the mirror, hair swinging, realising something is missing. Something very important... To give her hope. With a single swipe she is done: bright red lipstick. 




By Anna Rickard.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Illustrator.

An Artist Named Anna: The Cartooning Career of FYFT’s Resident Illustrator


I like to think that I have been an artist my whole life. However, this isn’t strictly true; I did not emerge into the world holding a pen in one hand and a work of genius in the other. In reality, I spent my early years partaking in cliché infant activities such as learning to speak and walk, and really only started the whole drawing thing at the ripe age of four. It was in my first year of primary school that I created my very first self portrait. Here it is. 





Not exactly Da Vinci, I’ll admit, but it was a beginning of sorts. My primary school life was filled with artistic ventures, from a penguin painting in primary two where everyone copied my ideas (Bitter? Me? I’m not bitter about it, honestly) to a huge, overflowing scrapbook of photos and drawings dedicated to cats from my “I’m ten and I love cats” era. If you didn’t have an “I’m ten and I love cats” era, you are either lying or in denial. Or both.

As I grew older, my parents and teachers discovered that they could take advantage of my secret powers and use them for evil in the form of birthday and Christmas cards, as well as the occasional school leaflet. At twelve, I designed the programme for our kiddie production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream:


One thing about the drawings I did was that I never used a pencil first. That’s right, you heard me. No safety net. No room for mistakes. Call me a mindless rebel, but there was something about that graphite contraption that I just didn’t - and still don’t - like. I instead learned the ways of the artist through a magical present, given to me by a neighbour. The Megasketcher, a magnetic drawing board, became my inseparable companion throughout my childhood years. Ah, the laughs we shared! The games we would play! This device allowed me to practice strokes over and over, simply erasing my work after making a mistake. To all of you with children, please invest in one. I guarantee you that your kids will become world-revered artists, or at the very least be able to play noughts and crosses without using up all the paper in the house.

Nowadays, my style is a little different. I prefer to do black and white line drawings like these, and seldom use colour unless it’s for a very good reason. 



I especially enjoy doing scenes with little tiny details, like the beach cartoon above. Sometimes, I draw comics and greetings cards with a special character I invented, called Bea. She’s a little bee who has secret super powers, often confronted with issues such as super villains and genetically modified snails (yes, I am seventeen years old. Yes, these are the things I choose to spend my time doing). 


When FYFT asked me to create some drawings for their resources, I was thrilled! I had met them at the same time as Ellen (the blogger below) at a session they at my old school, Glasgow Academy. 

For FYFT, the drawings I do are a lot more serious, but I try and make them sort of fun as well. Even when talking about things as serious and shocking as the holocaust, I think that adding illustrations makes it much more accessible for people. I have always used my drawings as a way of presenting information in a user-friendly way, and to be able to do this for FYFT is a great opportunity. 



Drawings are great because they are universal; where language barriers can sometimes prevent a message from getting through, a picture really is worth a thousand words because any person can understand it. No matter what language you speak, or what level of education you have, a picture transcends words, and that is why I am trying to use my illustrations as a way of getting across an important message of tolerance. FYFT is all about combatting prejudice of every kind, be it homophobia, racism, sexism or any other kind, and the drawings I create are all about promoting this cause. My name is Anna Rickards, and I am proud to be FYFT’s resident illustrator.