Ashtart Al-Hurra

Radar Radio is Dead, but the Problems in Our ‘Community’ Are Not.

At the time of posting this, it’s been one month since I first published my blogpost about Radar Radio’s fucked up mistreatment of my sexual harassment claims. Before releasing any official statement on the public’s reaction to my experiences, I thought I would wait and see how Radar decided to respond. After all, I had broken an NDA, so my main concern was whether or not they would take legal action against me. So far, no such thing has happened.

There’s been literal radio silence ever since they went off air on Monday the 16th of April. If you were at any point doubting what I had to say, their reaction must have proved their guilt to you by now, because if it wasn’t true they would have said so straight away, instead of acting like huge pussies by cowering into a corner and not facing the issues at hand. I do still have the receipts though, for any of the gaslighting ass doubters.

These few weeks have allowed me the time to do some serious thinking about how people responded to my claims, and has also brought a number of issues to my attention which I will discuss here. Now that the smoke has cleared from the ‘burn your Radar shirt on Timber Street’ madness, we can focus on the serious issues at hand, and remember who the real victims are.

Firstly, I did not name names (other than Ollie and Mike Ashley) in my piece, because the point was to highlight that misogyny is systematic. It’s a society-wide issue which is present at every level of every organisation. Even women are misogynistic at times – It’s called internalised misogyny. We are so conditioned into thinking women are less than men, that we will put ourselves and other women down, hence why I included that cis female staff also spread rumours about me.

All of us as people, have been conditioned to believe certain things about women, men and gender. We’ve been conditioned this way in order to keep certain people in power. We all need to undo this thinking if our aim is to create an equal society. And I’m not just talking about women are this and men are that, I’m talking about the whole spectrum of different gender identities. There aren’t just two. Fun fact: your gender identity can be different from your assigned birth sex, aka what genitals you were born with.

Secondly. There’s been a lot of talk (unsurprisingly, from men) about Radar staff losing their jobs due to this whole thing. Eyeroll. Which staff are you really concerned about here? Because me and loads of other women of colour were never even taken seriously enough to be offered paid work in the first place.

The majority of Radar’s paid staff were straight white dudes, who will never be discriminated against to the level that women of colour, and especially black women, are when looking for work. When you think about ‘jobs’, are you thinking about women’s jobs? People of colour’s jobs? Queer people’s jobs? Probably not, because you’re brainwashed into believing that white, straight and male is the norm. Again, this is to keep certain people in power.

Plus, those on Radar’s payroll were actually getting regular money while I was getting fucked around by the Job Centre, because they couldn’t decide whether I was too mentally ill, or not mentally ill enough (from my negative experiences at your stupid ass unsafe workplace), to get ESA or Universal Credit or fuck all. The same goes for all the other womxn who have suffered to a point they have become unfit for work. The tea is that Radar are rumoured to shut down at the end of this month, and all paid staff staff will get redundancy settlements while us victims don’t get shit, so don’t talk to me about jobs unless you mean everyone’s jobs. Next.

Some performative ass motherfuckers have been posting my shit, pretending to be allies to the cause while actually being abusers or problematic dickheads themselves. Tonnes of DJs left Radar because of my statement, but we quickly found out not all of them were innocent. Ralph Hardy and Daniel OG were among the artists that got outed on Twitter for being abusive towards women. One show that left was run by a guy who touched me and my mate up on multiple occasions, as well as another who made comments to my Lebanese ass about wanting a ‘Persian princess’. Yep, I’m talking about you, Brim and Sake from Pineal Sounds.

I saw dudes writing some long ass tweet threads talking about how bad Radar is while multiple black women were in my DMs telling me the same dude racially and physically assaulted them. You man have some fucking nerve. I didn’t publicise my trauma for you to get clout, I did it firstly to free myself, and secondly to make other victims feel less alone. This shit aint for your fake ass so stay in your lane or you will get clocked. The same goes for Aurora Mitchell, a white girl dj who posted my article saying how we all have to make shit better, but then deleted it when I asked her why she treated a black woman friend of mine like a dickhead.

We don’t need your fake support. We need you to hold yourselves responsible for your own actions and privileges. If you’re not shook, you should be, because we know exactly how you act offline and we will call you the fuck out. When people say they’re anti racism or sexism, but then do racist and sexist shit, it’s fucking dangerous and predatory. If my statement showed you anything it’s that womxn of colour have way more power than you think and we communicate on a regular. We’re constantly making each other aware.

Reeling us in by pretending you support our issues or making out that you’re ‘woke’ and then doing shit that completely goes against that, is triggering as fuck and puts victims back in the space of being preyed upon and dehumanised. If I see you doing this shit I will hold you the fuck accountable. I’m here for people like me, not their abusers.

Now let’s think about statistics. When I released my statement, countless numbers of womxn were in my emails and DMs telling me they’ve had similar experiences, whether in music or more generally in society. The number of r*pe and abuse stories I’ve heard over the past month fucking sickens me, and none of you are even ready to hear how badly the victims have been treated by not only people in the industry, but by public services such as the Police and the NHS. (I will be writing some more on this subject at a later date).

1 in 4 women are subject to sexual violence at some point in their lives. Next time you’re in a public space, count every 4 women and you’ll quickly realise how disgusting our country really is behind closed doors. If 1 in 4 women are victims, how many of your mates are potential abusers? The statistics get even worse when you focus specifically on black and trans women.

In fact, probably 99% of those who shared their stories with me were black women, which is a fucking joke when you also take into account that black women are the most likely to have mental health problems, while also being the least likely to be listened to or taken seriously when trying to access necessary support services in the UK.

This is what I mean by remembering who the real victims are here. When all of this blows over, Ollie Ashley will still have a billionaire Dad. Those who were on Radar’s payroll will still have redundancy money and easier chances at opportunities. Men will still be dominant in the music industry and across society. Abuse will continue behind closed doors. People who haven’t been abused will continue to share their stupid ass opinions like they matter. And victims will still be victims.

At best, we will start to feel like survivors, but when the hype dies down, we will all still have to live with the shit we’ve been through at the hands of these assholes. Many of us still won’t be able to access the services we need, because the society we live in doesn’t care about us, let alone listen to us. Anyone who jumped on this shit in the moment, but doesn’t continue to take action in creating long-term change can honestly eat my whole ass.

Realise who the true enemy is. Realise that they use ‘divide and conquer’ tactics so we target each other rather than them. Include womxn. Include queer people. Include black people. Listen to each other. We proved we have strength in numbers, let’s nurture that strength and continue to take these fuckers down.

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Disclaimer:

Since I finished the first draft of this post, a list of abusers in various UK creative scenes was published by an anonymous group called ‘Open Here’. The list was displayed on their Twitter @OpenHere2 and has since been deleted. I would like to note that although we reposted it, neither myself nor Mixed Spices have anything to do with this list. We have emailed back and forth with Open Here since hearing they were collecting names a while back, but have no idea of their real identities, and even if we did, we would not reveal them.

There have been some questions about this list and also more generally about what we can all actively do in order to help survivors. We are currently having some issues with web design (we’re shit at it) but are slowly working on building up a rich support page where people will be able to access a tonne of relevant information. If you have anything useful you think we should list, please email us at mixedspicesldn@gmail.com.

Additionally, we are in the process of planning a Mixed Spices fundraiser where all profits will be donated to the North London R*pe Crisis, which is where I went for counselling. We will also use the event as an opportunity to hand out relevant information. Survivors who have come forward during this time will be given free guestlist and care packages including self-help information if they decide they would like to attend. If you would like to help out, or can suggest possible venues etc, please hit us up.

If there is anything else you feel we should be doing, please contact us at the email address listed above.

Thank you all for your support during this time, it’s been fucking overwhelming.

I’m a Woman of Colour Who Was Mistreated at Radar Radio – Their Reaction to Pxssy Palace’s Leaving Statement Is Absolute Trash. Here’s Why.

CONTENT WARNING: mention of r*pe, child and domestic abuse, sexual harassment.

If you weren’t aware, the woc and queer-centred feminist DJ collective Pxssy Palace recently posted a statement on their Instagram page notifying followers that they would no longer be hosting their monthly show on Radar Radio.

Their decision to leave the station was influenced by Radar’s ongoing problematicness in a number of areas related to the mistreatment and exploitation of marginalised bodies. The list, unfortunately, is far too long for me to write out here (which says a lot about the extent of the damage caused), but is still up on their page if you haven’t seen it yet. Radar have since replied to this with their own statement which, well, it’s absolute fucking trash.

I relate to most of the issues raised by Pxssy Palace, but one item on the list was especially triggering for me: “Creating an uncomfortable and toxic environment which has led to the departure of many women of colour staff”. I was one of those women of colour staff. In 2016, I worked at Radar for around 9 months, first as a Studio Assistant, and then as a Producer. I was never paid a penny and I was completely overqualified but, unluckily for me, this was least of my problems.

As someone who’s worked in the London music scene since 2010, I know exactly what it’s like for women in the industry. It fucking sucks. When I first entered the scene it was the golden age of Dubstep, and inequality was rife. At least in 2016 there were actually women on lineups and people talking about feminism, I thought.

I could say this was naïve of me, but the standards I encountered in the music industry with regard to gender had always been so low that honestly any remote improvement seemed amazing, but I digress. The point is, I joined Radar stupidly thinking that I’d be contributing to something positive, and finally establish a safe place for myself to do what I love.

It turned out that Radar behind the scenes was nothing like how it sounded. I was a fan not only because I’m a huge music nerd, but because I’m an angry brown woman who grew up in the ends. I heard voices like mine on there, chatting shit about colonialism and calling people out for their bullshit. How was it that down the line, it turns out the place is owned by a rich white dude (Ollie Ashley) whose dad (Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct) exploits people like me and my family every day on a huge scale? Mad.

Needless to say, my dream of doing anything in music at all without being victimized soon shattered. While working at Radar, I was sexually harassed, like, fucking tonnes, by dickhead dj dudes. This is shit for anybody, but triggering especially for me, as I’m a survivor of child abuse, domestic abuse and r*pe (which I was dealing with at the time). Not only this, but both my abusive ex and my r*pist are producers/DJs who know all the same fucking people I do, so you can imagine I don’t take this shit lightly. To add fuel to the fire, a couple women at the station also had the audacity to spread rumours about me fucking and sucking various guys there, as if all I’m gonna want after having horrible experiences with dick – is more dick?!

At times when harassment took place at the station itself, I notified whoever was in charge. For some reason, nothing ever really seemed to come of this. Most of the time, though, I was victimized while out at events, but by Radar DJs. To me, this was an industry issue, not just a Radar issue, so I took to Facebook to complain.

I didn’t mention Radar or any other names, so imagine my surprise when I turned up to my next shift (straight from an afters too, so I was in no mood) and the person in charge that day decided they would talk to me about it in a pseudo-official manner out of fucking nowhere. T-R-I-G-G-E-R-E-D!

In a nutshell, the person in question said that I represented Radar and shouldn’t be talking about such things on social media (as if these dumb ass djs aren’t out in public wearing your t-shirts while acting like fucking idiots?!). They also asked me to recount to them who had harassed me and what exactly those people had done, which any abuse survivor will tell you is not fucking easy. After I did this, I was told that what happened “just sounded like small things”, that “it’s just boys being boys”, and that “they’re just chirpsing”. They concluded by saying that I should tell a manager (which I had done) or “stay silent on the topic”.

Bruv. I spent the rest of my shift either in the bathroom having a panic attack, or in the studio with the show I produced wishing I was anywhere but there. When I got home, I wrote a long ass email to one of the managers telling them what happened, explaining that if nothing was done about this, I would not feel comfortable enough to remain at the station.

You’re not even ready for how deep it got after this point. They brought in a HR person from Eacotts, the company that deals with Sports Direct, to speak to me and take an official statement. Not only did I have to recount what happened, I also had to go through who had harassed me and what they had done again. This process took place through a series of meetings at Radar, where they spoke to me, then spoke to the manager who had made me uncomfortable, then had a meeting with both of us to reconcile the issue.

By this point I was fucking exhausted, and just went along with everything. None of it really seemed genuine, more like they just wanted it brushed under the rug, but I was in such a vulnerable state I just wanted it to end. When it did, the HR person sent me a confidential letter outlining that they would take action through providing staff with sensitivity training. This was the only thing they said they would do, and according to friends of mine who still work there – this never happened.

Other than that – and this is where it becomes some real capitalist conspiracy type shit – they made me sign a confidentiality form declaring that I would not reveal any of this information to anybody without the permission of Ollie Ashley or a member of Eacotts. They also asked me not to post any material “in any way related to Radar Radio, the Ashley family or the music community” online. Obviously, I’m violating the fuck out of that shit right now, but that’s what Radar gets for pretending to be ‘uncensored’ while actually censoring the shit out of women of colour. Anyway, since when the hell do Sports Direct believe they have jurisdiction over people talking about music?! Fam, your bullshit is unenforceable.

At the time, I emailed Ollie asking about all this madness, and never got a reply. I eventually left the station because the experience had really all the way fucked me up. I had started a masters at the time, and had to suspend this for a year because I was so fucking depressed it had become a disability. I literally could not fucking move from my couch. I stopped doing anything music related. I completely cut myself off from everyone. I went through 6 months of counselling and therapy. This shit had really resurfaced a lifetime of trauma for me, and did not fucking help at all in terms of my healing from the recent r*pe.

It’s a lot, right? And I’m just one of the many women of colour mentioned in the Pxssy Palace statement. If this is the extent of my mistreatment, what the hell have all of the others had to deal with? It’s taken me around 1500 words to explain, a year to heal, and almost 2 years to come out about this. Pxssy Palace crafted a lengthy and detailed statement, and my issue is only one of the many points they listed. How do Radar reply? With a generalised, patronising and ridiculously short blog post that doesn’t actually address any of their very real and specific actions that have genuinely hurt people like us. They even have the audacity to state that these are ‘opinions’. Well, I got the receipts for those ‘opinions’, bitch!

Everything I have just told you is why Radar’s reply to Pxssy Palace is complete and utter trash. Pxssy Palace are the only people in the entire industry that I know of, who have had the integrity to publicly challenge this weird position of power that Radar have created for themselves. It’s as if people are genuinely scared it’ll fuck their careers up, even though this music existed years before any of these gentrifiers had a clue. Nobody actually needs Radar, Radar needs artists. Otherwise it wouldn’t have built itself off the back of the black working class people who pioneered Grime. Bye.

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned here and would like to reach out, please feel free to contact us at mixedspicesldn@gmail.com.

Additionally, we will be working on adding a ‘support’ page to our site with links and relevant information for those in need.