Me. I’m made of earth, softened by water and baked in fire.
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?
I was sexually abused by my dad.
It had happened throughout my whole childhood. And it only stopped when I blurted it out to my boyfriend at the time at 18.
But I was able to go about my everyday without letting it stop me. Not just after he left, but whilst he was still around. I was the cheerful and friendly girl at school, top of my class without working too hard, loving to read and travel and put myself forward for every opportunity that came up. During the day I was normal.
And come night time, I just accepted that was something that would happen for a few minutes. I lay perfectly still, did not open my eyes, did not say a word.
And somehow I was able to compartmentalise the two realities completely. No one would have ever guessed that anything was wrong.
A few months ago I found out about therapy offered to all employees. I told myself out loud “well why not?” But inside I whispered “you’re broken and need fixing.”
Therapy was not particularly enlightening and I did not completely connect with my therapist.
But what I did find was going made me rethink about those nights in detail – something I had never done before. And in doing so, I discovered he had absolutely no control over me. I was loving life and had not let that stop me from enjoying myself. I needed to hear that. I needed to know that I was not damaged and broken.
We discussed how I blamed myself for what had happened, for not telling someone sooner and for being so passive. But I see now that I was being brave for my family – my mum, my sisters and my brother.
The reality was a few minutes with him touching me in a way I knew was wrong was something I could manage. Him beating up my mum, leaving us with no money or the stigma of my mum being a divorcee was much worse.
People think the worst part of what happened was what he did. But the worst part was living with him. He was a controlling, dangerous man. The kind that beat his wife when his sick baby cried in the night. The kind that would leave her with £20 for the whole week. The kind that would openly cheat on her, knowing she had no one to go to with four young children.
And I was not passive. I recalled how I would wet the bed – even at the age of 16 and not wash myself to make myself dirty. Admittedly these were not conscious acts of resistants but I would like to think that they were unconscious ones.
I do still have fleeting thoughts about what happened but it does not stop me from getting on with my day. I am able to love and am loved. My family are solid and successful. I am not broke or damaged.
Written in response to my 30 day challenge prompt “what do you wear to bed”.
I look as I did two years ago. Not an inch taller, not a wrinkle wiser. In fact, I look as I did 10 years. Photos only revealing their age from the clothes I chose to wear.
So how have I changed in the last 2 years? Coincidently, this is not only the prompt for today’s “post a day“, but also the two year anniversary of my blog! Almost magic. Two years ago I began my career in a corporate company. Before then I had completed my masters and then worked in the charity sector. That in itself was a massive change for me. All of a sudden I was, by choice, in an environment and world I had spend much of my time the year before opposing.
I started off hating life. Hating every morning. Spending time in the bathroom during work away from it all. Two years on, and I do still have days when I feel like this. But it’s not every day.
That’s not to say I have given in. Quite the contrary. I know this is not the career I want, yet, I know what I am gaining from being there. And I have finally been able to distinguish between my life and my career. My job is not my life. As a woman who throws herself in fully, it took some growing to recognise this. My life exists outside of my career – for now.
One day I may find a career that I am able to happily intertwine with my whole life. Colleagues that I consider to be friends, and even family. Work I can apply in the way I conduct my day to day. Values I can share in and out of the office. This is not it. And that’s ok.
It is funny how I think of how I’ve changed over the last two years and focus on the area that, on the surface, hasn’t changed at all. Funny because when it comes to my personal life, so much has changed.
I have been going to therapy (in response to my childhood sexual abuse) – and in fact next week will be my final session. And I am in a relationship with my best friend. Cheesy, I know. But cheesy I am. Those are deeper topics I’d like to dedicate a post each to.
How have you changed in the last two years?
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.
I am terrified. They come at us from cars, on motorbikes or run up to you. You’re just driving, a passenger or a pedestrian. They throw a liquid at you and then you burn.
There is nothing you can do. No defence you can learn. No potion you can carry. Nowhere you can hide.
Carry a bottle of water I read. But a bottle is not enough to wash away the chemicals and in many cases will only make it worse. We are defenceless. We are helpless.
This is happening here. In ends. Our home. Places we can’t avoid. And there is nothing we can do about it. Defenceless. Helpless.
Yesterday I sat at the back of a cab on my way home from the station and made sure my window was shut. My throats was chocking in the heat but I could not bare to risk opening my window. Whatsapp buzzing with news of a new attack. 4 in the last 48 hours in areas, 5-15 minutes walk away from home.
As I walked to the train station this afternoon, I watched every man with a bottle of water with suspicion, keeping my ears peeled for approaching cars and bikes.
We have endured spitting. We have enduring beatings. We have endured the death of our elders coming home from prayer and our children going to pray. We have endured unborn children being lost in attacks. We have endured women being pushed into train tracks.
How much more are we to endure?
A short, unfinished piece started by me remembering my father saying “you’re not my son, so don’t act like one”.
Our sons, our brothers
Placed on a pedal stool before they could sit
Already perfect and complete.
Not allowed to falter
And failures considered growth.
Safe to go, wear, love as they see fit.
The world opened to them,
Open for the taking – they can take it.
So they take and they take.
Our fathers and uncles,
Telling us all of their burden.
The men who upped.
Yet how they forget
The backs that cracked
And the bellies that split in two
To give them the world.
The last few months have been an onslaught of news – the systematic rise of democratically and legal oppression. Everything from Trump (and how much of a focus there was on the individual rather than the mainstream ideology he represents) followed by the #MuslimBan to the recent EU hijab ban. It’s all been a tidal wave of news after fake news. Exhausting.
So I have stayed away from it all. I have been doing a lot of thinking – around the political climate we find ourselves in, whether there can be hope in all this – we have seen successes and a uniting of people’s in ways we haven’t seen, when is violence acceptable (following the split in opinion over the punching of the far-right “alt-right” leader), and why are people forced to prove themselves worthy of humanity for people to care (where doctors being affect by the #MuslimBan were seen as more worthy of their citizenship compared to a house wife on welfare for example).
And I appreciate the above is all a word vomit. Especially on a day like today when we mourn the death of innocent people and wonder again what happened to humanity.
On our screens we see a hatefilled terrorist who murdered and hurt too many innocent lives. And it’s painful – the waste and cruelty of it all. So twisted and confusing. MUSLIM TERRORIST they shout as soon as they see brown skin. No further evidence needed. It seems this has now been proven false and it is still unknown whether this was a politically motivated attack.
But news is news, who needs facts when propaganda material is so readily available. Let us headline Tommy Robinson, not an expert not witness but someone who blames “Asian culture” and “Islam” for what happened.
And I am filled in deep sorrow knowing what is to come. The increase in racism and islamophobia – spitting on the streets, girls hijabs pulled off their head, old men beaten up as they return home from prayer. The strengthing of racist and islamophobic laws. The fuel required by the rising powers to keep on rising. Towering over us with their watchful eyes as they strip away our rights and justice.
Tighten the borders they should. *But he was born here*. Ship them all out is what they mean.
And no one will say anything because they are scared.
Any hope is hard to muster and I can’t help but know darker days are to come.
As we sit in blissful silence I feel safe and content. You are the one I don’t need to try with. I want to rest my head on your shoulder and have you rest your head on mine. I want you to stroke my back as I close my eyes and forget about the day. I can forget about work and non-work. It will be just me and you laughing about aliens and Jon Snow.
You told me you’re afraid you’re unable to ever form bonds. You feel anxious around people – even your best friend. You worry about going out and would much rather be alone. Silence worries you. “But a few years ago you said you can be silent around me, has that changed?” “No.”
“Wow. That’s pretty cool. I feel safe around you too,” I say. “I feel the connection too. It feels like electricity on my knees and a coolness in my mind,” I do not say.
And months have gone by. I introduce you to my friend. And you decide to give it a go. “She’s perfect for you.” I say. “I wish you had tried with me” I do not say.
I know I do not love you. So why do I feel shards sticking into me every time you speak about her?