This month we interview Myrna Loy, Chief Editor & Founder, of Blackright magazine based in London . Many of you may remember Ms Loy from the serial “The other side of Tourism” that was published on Jamaicans.com. Blackright is a thought provoking magazine based in London. The magazine offer information to the West Indian community and offers alternative parenting strategies.
Q: Tell us about the Blackbright magazine?
Many young blacks are stereotyped in the UK as being loud, lazy, trouble-makers. The media tends to report negative stories which Blackbright will redress. Already, since Blackbright has been published, more positive articles on blacks are being published.
Blackbright is a magazine that has been developed to educate the wider community (non-blacks) on the other side of black culture. It will give them an insight to how we live, unlike “Shoot the Messenger” which betrayed all our cultural secrets without compensating it with anything constructive. Blackbright will do this, while stimulating and motivating black youth. Blackbright is light-hearted and simply written so that it can appeal to all ages. It is intended to promote self-awareness, improve self-esteem and show how career opportunities can be obtained.
Q: I read the September issue of the magazine and found it to be quite thought provoking. From reading the September issue it seems your main target is black youths. What do you hope to achieve?
The magazine’s target is not really black youths – its target is much wider. I am trying TO highlight the misperception of black youth by non-blacks. First and foremost it is educating the wider community about black life so as to negate the stereotype. Secondly, I am hoping to achieve a greater understanding between youths and adults, west-Indians and other cultures. Further, I am hoping that the family can use the magazine as a resource that will offer them useful information. I would like the magazine to be kept in school libraries as a reference tool. Blackbright is using subliminal messages to promote constructive adjustment in the image and behaviour of our black youth.
Q: If you never had the magazine what would your advice be to parents?
My advice to parents is to observe and look beyond what the child is saying. A lot of times a ‘child’ wants to communicate physically, emotionally or verbally but parents these days are so busy, so tired, that they tend to brush of their children with TV, treats, friends, or other electronic distractions. Parents need to take their children seriously and give selflessly of their time.
Q: What about young people (advice)?
Young people need to take stock and assess whether their behaviour, their image, their attitude and or/tone is getting the result they want. We all want to keep our integrity, our dignity, the essence of our culture and our ‘self’, but in order to get where we aspire to be in life, we need to compromise sometimes and that means conforming in our dress and in the way we present ourselves to others who may be in a position to offer career opportunities, until we are stabilised and in a position to do what we want.
Q: The issue talks about Jakefakeans. Is this a big issue in England and how is it affecting the Jamaican culture?
JahFakans is a big issue in England, because there are a lot of islanders and Africans pretending to be Jamaicans and any time something bad happens, the headlines read “Jamaicans” no other island is ever mentioned. So I felt it was important to highlight how many types of west-Indians there are to those white people who think that everyone black person is a Jamaican! It affects the Jamaican culture in that Jamaicans feel the need to downplay themselves in order not to be targeted.
Q: What are some of the issues facing black youths of Caribbean heritage and how does the magazine address it them?
Many black youths of Caribbean heritage in Britain are underachieving, more so than those of African heritage. Many kids born in England seem to lack the impetus of their forefathers to learn subjects that will increase their earning power. The magazine is seeking tangible and identifiable role models so that the youth will not feel alienated from success. Blackbright publishes thought-provoking articles and promotes different ways in which to approach challenges without compromising their values.
Q: What are the challenges of publishing a month magazine? How do you keep up with today’s trends with the youth?
It is actually a quarterly magazine, and the challenges are many – mostly because I am doing the putting together of it by myself. Printing is the biggest challenge because I am still learning and mistakes are expensive. Distribution is a challenge; obtaining subscriptions is also challenge although some are trickling through. With regard to keeping up with trends, I am constantly in touch with the youth (having a grand-daughter who is 14, and nieces and nephews in their teens) so I stay in touch with the current thinking of the youth.
Q: This leads me to my next question. What is your passion?
My passion is teaching through writing and painting. I love writing. I was born for Blackbright News.
Q: What legacy do you want to leave with the magazine?
That Blackbright News made a difference and has trodden on soil where no other magazine has. Blackbright is quite unique and untarnished because it is an independent magazine and self-funded. I want to leave a legacy that Blackbright has created a positive change for the community and that non-blacks will never look at blacks in the same light again, but will now look at them with awe and wonder. Or at least, treat each one on merit and not tarnish us all with the same brush!
Q: Do I plan an online version in the future?
Yes I do, when resources improve. In the meantime, my international audience will have to contend with the PDF version which is its equivalent!!
Q: How has the magazine being received in the London community?
It is has not been truly exposed to the London community yet. The first issue concentrated in a town called Luton which is around 37 miles from London and it is where I live. The September issue is going further out into London so it will be interesting to see how it is received.
Q: What other projects are you working on?
Working full-time for a private company and working on the magazine takes up all time. I am focusing on what is going to the next issue that in itself is a project (smile). Bullying is a bit thing over here.. and whether or not the ‘family’ still exists. I am researching these concerns for the next issue.
Q: You have a very diverse staff. Are they all of Caribbean heritage or decent?
Three are of Caribbean descent – Jamaica, Dominica and Trinidad; two are African (Nigeria and Ghana), one from India, two from China, one from Stockholm.
How is the book “The other side of Tourism in Jamaica” doing? Do you still get emails on the serial version you published on Jamaicans.com?
The Other Side of Tourism has gone very quiet. I sell a couple every now and then, but it really needs promoting which is expensive!
Q: Any plans to turn it into a movie or play?
I would love for it to be turned into a movie or play. It would be like another Smile Orange! I hope someone picks up it’s potential for a movie, while I am still alive.
Q: Recently a new play opened in London about older women going to Jamaica to get their “grove on” with younger men. Very similar to “How Stella got her groove back. Have you heard about it? How is the Jamaican Community reacting to the play? Have you seen it?
No, I have never heard of it and I haven’t heard anyone refer to it, so I cannot comment on any reactions, I am afraid. Some of the Black English guys here can be so ‘dry” (i.e. lack zest) so it wouldn’t surprise me if the older women went to our strong, virile Jamaicans for passion (smile)
Q: Any final thoughts?
My final thought is that Blackbright is an essential training tool, especially here in Britain. I am not sure if it can bring about the drive that is needed to harness talent in our Black British in order to provoke productivity, but we’ll give it a good try.
Q: Thanks for the interview and all the best with BlackBright.
You are welcome!