On being discovered 

Visit the British Museum and you’ll discover all the discoveries the British made. Walls, art, precious stones, people. The erasure and retelling of history is an act of violence. They can’t tell us colonialism was a dark spot in their history whilst simultaneously making themselves the heroes. In doing so, they continue the cycle of believing they are the better people, the more benevolent people the more courageous people. And all this makes a more entitled people. 

And all the while we are taught we are less than. The savages who were saved. The stupid who were taught. Even though it is in our lands you will find the oldest university, the invention of many tools and the building of beautiful structures. We are the discovers. They are the takers. 

It is no wonder 44% of British people are proud of colonialism and 23% hold no view. Proud (or no view) on the rape, murder, pillaging and lasting damages done to 1/5 of the world’s population. 


Language is deliberate. Discovered instead of stolen. Focusing on the finding rather than what was built and learnt. The white man praised for stealing and the black man expected to be grateful that his things were worth the taking. 

But it is history?

No. It is happening here and now. The stealing of our art, the depletion of our resources, the slavery of our people. 

But what’s more, you cannot call it the past when the past is rewritten. False truths glamourised. Actual facts denied. The stolen goods still on display for all to see. This is not the past, that is the here and now. 

We need to be taught our histories to be able to move forward and know our worth. It is why movements like “why is my curriculum white?” are so vital. Our people need to have their wealth back to be able to rebuild. That is why reparation is so vital. 

What kind of historic truths did you learn in school / museums that you later found out / knew were lies? 

Advertisements

The state of the world 

I guess it is unfair that you need to work ten times as hard to get the same recognition but that is the state of the world

This state of the world has only been the status quo for less than 400 years. There are 4.5 billion years before that. And likely 4.5 billion more after. 

It is not enough to work ten times as hard for a seat at their table. For every one of us that makes it, there are ten that are left behind. Perhaps they only worked nine times as hard. 

And for what? For the table to be shifted a little more, your chair still bolted to the ground. 

No. We deserve more. We need to demand more. 

Just 50 years ago, racism was legal. You were denied work, homes and food and could do nothing about it. Just 50 years ago. That was the state of the world. 

Just 30 years ago, our child were assumed “educationally subnormal”. Sent to separate classes to paint whilst their counterparts did maths. Told they should work as sweepers. Just 30 years ago. That was the state of the world. 

Today, people of colour are still denied work, homes and food. Children are still undermarked and undervalued. Racism has not disappeared. But it has undeniably progressed. That is the state of the world.

Things did not magically change. The state likes the status quo. Our elders boycotted, they rioted, they lobbied. They educated, they agitated, they organised. 

And we owe it to our elders that fought for this progression. We owe it to ourselves who worked too damn hard to be where we are. And we owe it to our children who deserve to be recognised for their brilliance.  We owe it to our world for it to be in a better state. 

Learning to Divide the World

As the Europeans began their exploration, their main discovery was essentially how wrong they were and how little they knew. You would hope they would use this shock to be humbled and learn from those around them. We know that was not actually the case and instead they saw it as an opportunity to proclaim they had discovered the “new world”.

In his book, Learning to Divide the World, John Willinsky describes them seem seeing this as a chance to “rebuilt a world that had been lost, and to build it with greater strength and integrity”. I found the language used quite interesting here – greater strength and integrity. This is something we are still led to believe the Western world have over the rest of the world.

Even down to when they implement new laws such as ensuring we all have “British values” – despite the very values outlined (democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith) are universal or can be traced to have origins in foreign lands.  Continue reading

Capitalising on being ethical 

A few months ago I noticed just how popular being “socially aware” and “activism” in general was. And just how quickly companies were capitalising on this. You had Natwest – “supporting local businesses”,  Nescafé – “surprises for hard working mum’s”. And of course recently we had the uproar with Pepsi massively failing with their protest and collaborating with the police.

And although I can spend time explaining why this particular case is so wrong, I feel like it has already been explained (in a round about but still relevant way) here. Ultimately these companies are trying to capitalise on the work and struggle by oppressed people, without making any positive contribution themselves and trivialising and undermining the whole movement.

What it does highlight is the popularisation of these movements – being part of a protest is not seen as some super left thing to do that “normal” people should not take part in. Being ethical is seen as a requirement rather than an addition. It demonstrates a shift in society as a whole where we are expecting better and want to do better. Continue reading

The age of automation: work less, paid more

I work to make the rich richer. Improve the technology companies use, saving them resources and ultimately costs. Old ways of working are replaced by software or more efficient robots. Ultimately this leads to loss of jobs.

With the rise of strike action happening over Christmas directly caused by this it got me wondering about the sustainability of manual work forces.

Even with my lovely starter salary I am consistently in my overdraft. With the cost of living in London is rising still and work available reducing, I wonder how the capitalistic state we live in can continue. We continue to blame immigrants for loss of our jobs. But is it computers that we forget to worry about?

We invest billions to save trillions. Do we not want to be more efficient and advanced? Of course the answer is yes. Technological advances are inevitable. The problem is those at the top are taking savings made as profit, and making those at the bottom redundant. This is only sustainable for so long before you have a nation of people with no jobs. Now do the managers care – probably not. But we shouldn’t let that stop us.

What could the solution be? Here are a few of my own musings on a Monday morning over Christmas break. No theoretical and economic backing has gone into this except my own experiences working in the industry. I would be very much be interested in book recommendations or thoughts in the comments.

Less work, more pay.

With a global world, a world where the sun never sets and boundaries are just lines on a map, why are we still sticking to the 5 day a week schedule? Why not have a timeless workforce? One where each person works less overall – say 35 hours per week. The money saved from the cumulative longer hours and more efficient work done can be poured back in to pay everyone a decent salary.

And then we will all have more time. Time to help out in our communities, grow our own food, stay fit, spend time with our families. More rest to reduce the stress induced mental health and physical health issues draining our NHS. Reduced crimes due to rise in employment. A reduction in the divide between the poor and rich.

We will take back control of our economy so that it works for us rather than we work for it.

A utopia worth fighting for.

Workers of all lands, unite!

Bullshit 

Her: I don’t like Beyoncé 

Me: oh yeh? Why not? 

Her: because she bleaches her skin 

Me: well she’s quite light skin to begin with 

Her: bullshit 

Me: and anyway there’s societal pressures for people with dark skin to lighten their skin 

Her: bullshit 

Me: it’s genuinely considered an attractive feature and something companies capitalise on 

Her: bullshit

I will never get over the entitlement of white middle class women to not only assume they know what societal pressures for *women of colour* are like but ignore information when they are given it. 

This is why your feminism is not my feminism and your liberation will never be my liberation. 

The good immigrant 

My driver this morning asked me what I thought about Brexit. Months on the conversation goes on in the radio. A polish man, was not allowed to vote himself. 

I told him I voted stay. And not because I necessarily believe in the EU – a structure designed to find strength in the weakness of others. The us against them. But because of the racists and xenophobic rhetoric. 

My boy Tom did not vote out because he wanted out. He voted to get you and I out. To keep you and I out. 

And I don’t believe in the good versus bad immigrant. Yes my people and your people built this country, died for this country and continue to keep this country running. But some of my people are unable to work. For sickness or lack of work. Others make their money through the hustle. And they too “deserve” to be here. 

Because you too have your sick, your old, your poor. 

This small island is your home. And it was your fathers home. And his father’s before him. Amongst the smoke and the concrete and the cobalt. 

My father was born in the sun, around green and blue and brown. My father lived in a mud house, in a tin house and now rules a brick house. 

He came here promised work and was given a beating and spit for free. In his 40s something burst in his stomach and he could no longer lift his arms all the way up. He sold his shares in the resturant and signed on. My father is not a good immigrant. 

And even still this too is my home. 

“Here’s to them waking up at 4a.m., calling home to hear the voices of their loved ones. Here’s to their children, to the children who despite it all become artists, writers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, activists and rebels. Here’s to international money transfers. For never forgetting home.” – first generation, questions for Ada, Ijeoma Umebinyuo

Water is life 

“Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shore, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles over racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it. Our children are still taught to respect the violence which reduced a red-skinned people of an earlier culture into a few fragmented groups herded into impoverished reservations.” – MLK Jr. 

When money is more important that the lives and value of not just a generation bit of generations we know we are lost. Humanity should be more than this. 

The state are on the side of the oppressors. The state are on the side of the wreckers. The state is on the side of the rich. The state was never built to protect you and I. 

So it is up to us. We must rise. We must unite. 

#BurkiniBan

I am sick of women’s bodies being used as collateral to make points. What a women wears or does not wear should not be the choice of any person – certainly not of any man. 

For the mayor of Cannes to ban the Burkina whilst saying the Burkini is a”symbol of Islamic extremism” demonstrates the move towards demonising Islam as a religion – as opposed to demonising the very few who have extreme views. It once again ignores the statistics in global terrorism and ignores the academic literature on what causes extremism. News flash – Islam itself is not the cause. 

I find it extremely hyprocitical for a person to claim they will help women who are forced to wear something by forcing them not to wear what they want. The covering of the hair, arms and legs is a very common practise amongst Muslims – and is no way a sign of extremism. Linking the two only fuels the already heightened rhetoric on how a women in a hijab must be an extremist. 

I wear my hijab as a sign of my devotion to my Lord. No one asked me to wear it – and yes I was inspired by my mother and the strong faithed people around me. But they also inspired me to study hard, to be brave, to love myself. I am also inspired by other women who do not wear the hijab – Malia Bouattia, the first Muslim women as NUS president – for example. And I am inspired by non-Muslims – both women and men. 

Taking inspiration from people does not make you an extremist. This banning of an item of clothing once again assumes that Muslim women are weak, that they are not smart enough to make decisions about what they wear, that they don’t have the free will in their communities to choose what their wear. 

How far from the truth. It is the women, our mothers and aunts, who propel us to be where we are. Strong and fearless women who push us, make sure we don’t settle for anything less and keep us going. If only they knew. 

This ban has not liberated anyone or stopped any kind of “Islamic” extremism. What it has done is stopped women enjoying a swim, provided further ammo for gendered islamophobia and and once again shown the political system does not ask the opinions of those it effects. 

I find it very telling that there has been silence amongst many “feminist” groups about this. No outrage in support of their sisters who are having their autonomy stripped from them. Once again highlighting just how white mainstream feminism is. 

When, as happened in France, an attempt is made to coerce women out of the burqa rather than creating a situation in which a women can choose what she wishes to do, it’s not about liberating her, but about unclothing her. 

It becomes an act of humiliation and cultural imperialism. 

It’s not about the burqa. It’s about coercion. Coercing a women out of her burqa is as bad as coercing her into one. – Arundhati Roy