TBT: 2015

tumblr_n3jtgnrmog1tnbth9o1_500The year end has sneaked up on me. It’s been a weird one – leaving university, starting my career, leaving my fiancé after a seven year relationship, learning more and more about white privilege and fighting against it – so much has happened.

It’s both dragged on and flown by. I am not the same person that watched 2015 come in. Then again, I’m not the same person that watched December come in so no surprises there. I’ve decided not to have new new years’ resolutions. I will just sit back and ride the roller coaster of life – mostly because I never keep them.

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Instead, I reflected back. It is #TBT afterall! Here are the things I am grateful for: Continue reading

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Rest in Power: Tamir Rice

Once again, the murder of another black person has gone unjustified. They murdered this beautiful little boy within two seconds. And then they lied about the murder. And they lied about him. And then they justified it. And then they walked free. The cycle – over and over again. How many more hashtags?

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No Justice, No Peace.

I have been writing and rewriting this piece because nothing I say is deserving or any different to what hundreds have already said. The fear, the heartbreak, the anger.

If you mention racism you are told that is of the past – we are a post-racial society now. Yet more black people are killed by the police now than there were lynchings at the worst of Jim Crow era! We accept the Jim Crow era was horrendous – so why are we expected to accept the murders now? Continue reading

Being visibly Muslim

I wrote about the stares and the fear on my personal Facebook. As I waited for the next train home a man walked towards me, giving me a glance that send shivers down my spine. My brother saw it too – my 16 year old baby brother. Without even saying anything he stood in front of me, protecting me from the tracks – just in case. Just in case this was another person filled with so much hate that they could push a women into the oncoming trains, or rip the headscarf off her head, shout vile abuse or spit at her.

He walked by, I was safe – that time. And I wanted to cry. Because I felt so exposed and so paranoid. I wanted to sob because my little brother felt it too. And I wanted to howl because I knew it was so much worse in other places – Paris and outside the multicultural bricks of London – and if I was struggling here, how on earth were my sisters getting on there?

The response I got felt like a punch to my gut. White friends from university – who I hadn’t spoken to in 2 years – telling me I’m the same as Donald Trump and all the facists. How I was spreading hate and I did not deserve to be in this community.

I don’t feel safe. Not in being visibly Muslim, not in expressing my feelings and not in finding solidarity.

This post was written in response to the daily prompt Safety First

Those Monday morning pickups 

These things happened:

  • People boycotted Star Wars because white fagility. But John Boyega has been keeping it real and killing it. I’m going to watch it today – very excited

“I’m grounded in who I am, and I am a confident black man. A confident, Nigerian, black, chocolate man.

They are merely victims of a disease in their mind.

They’re stupid, and I’m not going to lose sleep over people. The presale tickets have gone through the roof — their agenda has failed. Miserably.

I just don’t get it. You guys got every single alien in this movie imaginable to man. With tentacles, five eyes. Aliens that, if they existed, we’d definitely have an issue. We’d have to get them to the government and be, like, “What are you?” Yet what you want to do is fixate on another human being’s color. You need to go back to school and unlearn what you have learned. I think Yoda said that, or Obi-Wan”

  • Stormzy in the running for Christmas #1 and it is causing white tear tsunami
  • So many radical activists are running in the Labour Youth Conference – Corbynites taking over
  • I found out Hermione is being played by a black women in the new play – giving so much hope to so many women of colour
  • I found 3 beautiful shades of nude lipstick (getting over my red phase and moving into nudes). They were called things like cappuccino and not nude because I ain’t white but they were on sale so I’ll take it

Braaaaap – John Boyega (watch video)

Sometimes it works 

Sometimes I can write what I mean, how I feel, the way I want. Other times – like today – it is forced and fake.

It’s not working.

Have you tried switching it off and turning it back on again?

On that note, those thinking of upgrading to Windows 10 – I just spent an entire morning bashing my keyboard because it was stuck in some funky mode – and it suddenly started working but I have no idea why or whether it will mess up again. Don’t do it – they’re not ready.

Being corporate: 2 months into project

Every week I am certain I will quit. No more. It took some sitting down and thinking about why I wanted to leave to really understand – it isn’t the job – it’s the people.

And here’s why:

  • the drinking culture: I don’t drink but that is the only way to get ahead. On nights out I have been given countless career advice and offered opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise. But all the while I feel alienated and uncomfortable. Worse still, there are Muslims who drink and then I get asked why I don’t drink and have to justify my life decisions
  • casual sexism: the “dears”,”silly girl” – every single day. The jokes that are plain offensive – cheating on your partners, rating the waitress, objectifying the other women in the office – every single day. “Fingering” the hole in the table, discussing their grooming schedule … I could go on. You would think I am talking about teenagers but these are men in their early 40s, managers and senior managers. And they know what they’re doing with the “oh, be careful or we’ll get reported to HR *wink wink*”
  • 888f55672ab982642748dfaa42619d9a85faecbff2a925ae1b22dcc4ed22d466the ignorance: one of the managers said calling a white person a monkey would be racist. Context: someone (white person) was told off my a director and we couldn’t remember what the word was. Idiot? Fool? Monkey (as in lab monkey)? “Oh no, you can’t say monkey – that would be racist.” “Why would calling a white person be racist, there’s no historical context there at all.” “As a white man, I am telling you it’s racist.” Ok then, let’s ignore the person of colour who happens to have worked in liberation.
  • the homophobia: the jokes about “canal street” and being gay. The misgendering of trans people. The pride in “knowing gay couples” – like it’s some sort of competition
  • cabin fever: living in hotels and out of a suitcase – so being around the same people that you work with all week

But here’s why I stay:

  • It pays very well – like really well. And I need the money. 8ba9fd119cdf41e493e5e66bdd976588
  • The work is very interesting – I am learning so much every day and the breadth and depth of experience is super cool
  • I deserve to feel welcome in that space. I have awesome credentials and know what I’m doing. I will not be bullied out
  • With so few visibly Muslim women there, I feel like it’s important for anyone new joining that I stay and make sure they see familiarity – it’s something that would have helped me so much
  • I have the opportunity to travel all over the world and exposure to amazing projects – such a good start to my career

I will keep reminding myself of why I stay. And I will stay.

“What I love doing best is Nothing… It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” – A.A.Milne

Being an outsider 

The trouble with being part of so many groups is that you’re not really part of any group. They have their party. They have their trip. They have their jokes and their many quips. I can follow it all – smile, understand, blend in.

Yet I am seeing it all happen through a frosty window. I can feel the warmth but only as I walk past. I’m not who they target, who they meant to include.

Why are you such a beg?

So I scroll down my feed, wondering if they miss me – knowing that they don’t. Barely relevant, no longer a student, never the corporate man. Simple shadows of the various versions of the groups, never a solid whole. Peeking in but unable to join. Just an outsider – left out in the cold.

Preventing PREVENT: the guidebook

I have spoken before about the terror caused by the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill (2015).

A law that forces teachers, doctors and therapists into spies. A law that turns the vulnerable into suspects.

Do you:

  • seek excitement and adventure
  • want to get “in” with a group
  • type any “terrorism-related terms” into Google
  • feel like just being on your own
  • have low self-esteem
  • fall out with your old friends, and hook up with new ones
  • change your appearance
  • have poor mental health
  • have an interest in religion
  • get into fights with your family
  • disagree with the government on their foreign policy

then you are under risk of radicilisation (!). Yes these are real examples of signs published by the government. Don’t forget the unwritten rule: you must be perceived* as Muslim.

*look like a Muslim – be brown, Sunni, have a beard, wear a hijab

NUS have created this amazing guidebook – all the background and tips on how to organise – get your copy here (and share amongst your friends). And check out #StudentNotSuspects campaign on social media.

As they try to normalise PREVENT, we will normalise dissent – Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students Officer

Being glum

It is hard to be anything but glum.

When bombs fall like rain onto the honest whilst tyrants laugh in their chambers. I will never forget that. The sound of them chuckling after they voted to bomb people. People who, like them, have families and children. Who, like them, get terrified and are terrified. And there was nothing we could do about it. They ignored our pleas and cries in the streets. Nothing to stop this tiny island – once a beast but now a fragile shadow –  shoving in trying to demonstrate its relevance. And I know, 2 extra planes isn’t going to add anything. But one life destroyed is one too many. People are not collateral.

More news of shootings. More news of terrorist attacks not named terrorist attacks because the perpetrator was not brown or Muslim. More news of being falsely accused of terrorism – a whole route closed down because a man with a beard was on the bus, students being kicked out of class for being anti-war, a boy threatened by the police for fighting to keep his youth centre open – all suspects whilst the real terrorist live in their mansions.

Winter is here – I leave my room whilst it’s dark and watch the sunrise from the train. I leave work after it’s dark – completely missing sunset. I go into my room, usually after forced niceties,  and go on my phone to catch up with the world. A cycle of darkness. And I am left glum.

Blessings to al-Shâm, blessings to al-Shâm, blessings to al-Shâm! (yâ tûbâ li al-Shâm). Because the wings of the angels of the Merciful are lowered over it. – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)