When they try to bury us 

They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.

In solidarity with NUS (in particular Shelly Asquith) and CAGE who have been under attack for fighting against injustice. And shame on Richard Brooks who says he is “against PREVENT” but appears to have done nothing but tell people opposition is not the way forward.

Full blog on this topic coming on Monday.

Home

Home is not where you were born. Home is where all your attempts to escape cease – Naguib Mahfouz

I was born in London – in fact not very far from where I live now. I am a ‘proper’ London-er by all lists and calculations. Everything outside the M25 is “up north”, I ignore all acts of friendliness in the streets and can’t stand people who don’t know how to use an escalator. London is my home.

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But I have so many conflated thoughts about it. This is my home. I have no other home. But when people ask where are you from? I instinctively know they mean why aren’t you white? But I play their game. London. No, where are you really from? Yes I was right. I have a pre-prepared answer now, “well I was born in London and lived here all my life but my parents were born in Bangladesh.”

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It is this other-ing, not just by that comments but in so many ways, like filling in forms – I will always be British something else* – my kids will always be British something else and their kids after them will be British something else, that makes me realise even though this is my home, I will never feel quite at home. I will always feel like I’m squatting.

Maybe I will be able to go a whole week without feeling it. But then something will pop up on the news, someone will say an off-the-cuff comment and I will be reminded.

*something else because what they call us changes over time.

I wonder if I will ever be allowed to feel at home. Probably not in my lifetime. But I wonder how many generations of children immigrant families have before this goes away.

Being poor: save our council homes

The Torys have put forward a proposal to stop new council tenants from having lifelong tenancies. Instead tenancies will last only two – five years, after which their position will be reconsidered and they may be removed. This is just another  attack on the poor – now being told having a stable home is too much of a privilege that they can’t afford.

Council housing are often the only form of housing working class families can afford – rent being sky high and too unpredictable. And we all know it’s near impossible to actually own a home here.

Imagine your family having to move around every five years – your children having to move schools – affecting the friendships they form, their studies and confidence. Just making friends with the neighbours and then having to move again – would you even bother making friends? Wasting money on decorating when with the current cuts you can barely afford food and clothing – would you even bother redecorating?

Living in a house – not a home. Uncertain of your future. Whole neighbourhoods destroyed. Community spirit forgotten.

I grew up in a council house and still live in a council estate. I remember the upheaval in the early days before we got our permanent home now. We were living out of suitcases, homes were often damp and horrible and I was always the new kid. Having a stable home meant I was able to go to one school – get to know my teachers, make lifelong friends and being able to bring friends round, not worry about where I will be living. I am now a graduate and working – having a stable home played a huge part in this.

Just because we are poor does not mean we don’t deserve a home. Being poor is not a crime and should not be punished. A stable home is simple decency.

This proposal makes no sense for anyone apart from the rich. It puts further strains on councils to do extra processing and means they can never plan ahead.

I urge you all to sign this petition and help save our council homes.

My dream world

In my dream world the word equality will cease to exist. No child will be born with any more advantage than another. We will be proud of our differences – in culture, identify and skills. The goals you have will be truly limited by yourself – nothing or no one else.

This was the start of an application for a course where I had to talk about my dream world. But my friend told me it is too generic to include. So I thought I’d share it on here instead.

Generic I may be – but does that mean everyone has the same dream? And if so – why we not there yet?


Because of the 1% that own 99%. But why don’t we just ignore the 1% and takeover? Because they teach us to hate each over, keep us hungry and uneducated and make us want to be like them. Oh – they smart.

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This is a conversation I had with myself. Why you telling them this – don’t you know this is the first sign of madness?

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)

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 a strong women

I think my mum is depressed. She asked me “why don’t I feel happiness inside?” And with those words I felt a little piece of me shatter as I realised she was the strong brown women. The unbreakable, not allowed to tremor.

I assume it began with the trauma of coming to a foreign land in the hope of a better life for her unborn children. Leaving her parents, siblings and the world she knows behind. Coming to this cold place where they never accept her, shout abuse and all she can do is smile back.

My dad beat her, emotionally tortured her and abused her children. This was not a secret – everyone knew. She had to bring us up on her own because dad was never around. He was earning the money but he’d keep her on a budget. She never treated herself. But the expectation is you stick with your husband for the sake of the children. And you pray for him. And you pray for yourself. And you keep going.

When mum had the strength to leave him, the whole community turned their backs on her. She heard people she did not even know talk about her. She worries about no one marrying her daughters because of it. She worries about her son growing up to be a d*ck and people blaming her for it. Her worries never stopped when the man left.

Our mums – black and brown women – expected to carry our burdens on their shoulders. They are the mythological superwoman: infallible, resilient, machines. Protect their men even when they betray them. Protect their children, their parents, their siblings. Our families include all our cousins – even 5 times removed.

But who looks out for them? Who asks them if they’re coping? If their shoulders need a break? You’re so strong, so brave they say. Keep smiling through the tears they advice. Poor mental health is not seen as an option. You keep praying. And you keep going.

Now prayer is a powerful thing. It has got me through the worst of times and I thank it for my best of times. But that does not mean poor mental health does not require treatment. You would not cut your finger off but just pray for it to fix itself.

But even my mum – the strongest women I know – refuses to get help. Perhaps because she doesn’t know what help could even be. She doesn’t want to take psychotics. And why does she need to speak to anyone when she can speak to God? It’s as if seeking help is admitting defeat and breaking the oath we are born into. The oath to care about everyone else’s needs and to carry all their pain.

And then there’s me, another brown women. Baring the weight of my mother’s pain, my sisters’ pains, my brothers’ pain. Now financially supporting my family because the tax man has decided my mum is not a single parent and so does not deserve benefits (they believe my dad still lives with us and won’t believe otherwise). Worrying about the my brother’s grades. Worrying about him being accused of being a terrorist because he is a brown boy with a beard. Worrying about my sisters getting their hearts broken. Worrying about my families, my friends, my world. Another strong girl doomed to be a strong women.

What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person – John Green, Paper Towns