Being ready

She wakes up ready.
Ready to take on everything she is not ready for.

As her kettle brews she brushes her hair. She irons the clothes that fit too tight and don’t fall right. She lines her eyes, applies mascara and taints her lips. She wraps her scarf around her head and pins it into place. She drinks her tea. And puts on plasters before wearing her heels. She is ready.

Ready to pretend she understands the capitalistic world she’s thrown herself in where the corporate call themselves the alternative. They pride themselves as diverse and inclusive yet she sees no one like herself and does not fit in. She pretends she does not mind that they get drunk and speak too close, spewing horrible fumes and dropping alcohol onto her beautiful gown. She pretends she does not feel offended when they assume she is against LGBT rights. She tries to laugh as the scoff at “chavs only buying clothes from Primark” whilst she is dressed in mostly Primark clothes and lives with her mum in a council house. She is patient when they ask “are you Islam?” and “so what are you doing about ISIS?”. She hides her offence at the “I volunteered in Africa (because obviously Africa is a country to them). It was weird because I was the only white person in the village”. She goes along to yet another evening of networking with the same clones and the same stench of wine.

And when all is done, she can come back home. She takes off the heels at the door, unwraps her scarf, wipes off the black around her eyes and changes into her mexi. She does not have to be ready anymore. She sighs with relief and gets ready for bed, dreading the morning ahead.

Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman. – Maya Angelou

Is it a date?

Does one party have to explicitly ask the other out “on a date” or would “do you want to catch a movie together” count as an invite to a date?¬†Is it a date if the guy pays but only so you can sit next to each other and you know you’ll just pay him back later anyway?

Do you have to eat? And does it have to be anywhere fancy? What if you plan to eat but then realise neither of you are even hungry?

What counts as a date?

What if you’re just friends. In fact you even have a conversation about the levels of friendship and he names you as one of his closest friends? You call each other mate. You talk about each other’s relationships (or lack of). But you’re both single. And he has had a crush on you before. And I guess, perhaps, you had a crush on the idea of him before.

What if you’re sitting there in the dark, wondering if it’s a date, wondering if he’s wondering the same thing? Yet he does not reach over – stays very much in his seat, keeps his arms to himself.

I guess I wonder because, perhaps deep inside, I’d like it to be one.

Black History Month

Black History Month is here! As a non-black person of colour, BHM is not something I paid very much attention to ’till last year. Before then, my school didn’t focus on it at all, I was taught MLK was the good revolutionist and Malcolm X was the bad revolutionist, I thought BHM was a time to be sad about the trans Atlantic slave trade, and that was the only history black people had.

Last year I was introduced to a whole new world of activist, I was taught what euro-centrism is, what solidarity means, what liberation feels like, how political Blackness unites us. I went to a variety of events – from panels to performances. The veils around my eyes blew off and the glass of false pretence teaching us all that the world is fine and everything horrible happened many moons ago shattered. I was empowered.

And that is what BHM is to me. A time where we can focus our energies in teaching ourselves – about our heritages and strengths and struggles. And of the heritages and strengths and struggles of our brothers and sisters across the globe. And we can be empowered to not sit back and let the glass continue to encapsulate the many of our brothers and sisters who still sleep.

Yes our heroes should be remembered but our struggles are more than three (MLK, Rosa Parks and Ghandi) people – with even their struggles being summarised to being passive. Black History is so much richer than that – in all areas of the world, in all fields, in all cultures. Black history is world history, and until it is recognised as such – BHM is vital in empowering us to at least remember so.

BHM for me is a start, a reenergiser, a reminder. When we can come together and celebrate. We are here. And then we can plan and organise. We can organise against racist laws such as the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act. We can organise against Apartheid Israel. We can organise against the White curriculum. It is not just a month, but more like a start of the year.

Even if your experience of BHM has not been brilliant – even if you don’t see the point of it – do check out the events your local area are organising. Whether that be in your university or community. Don’t limit yourself.

“We should emphasize not Negro history, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.” – Carter Woodson