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

Haiti 

My prayers and thoughts are with the people of Haiti. Your lives may not be considered worth a Facebook filter or the time to develop a code to let your loved ones know you are safe. Your lives may not be on the “most read” because the loss of your lives does not cause the pain that’s associated with the loss of human lives. 

But for those of us who do care, we send our genuine prayers. Our love. Our tears. 

And it does take a second thought to remember that we should care. It is not washed all over our media and talked about at work and will not be discussed for weeks on end. 

But we have taken that second to remind ourselves of humanity and the loss of humanity. 

#ShutDown

The burden of the brutalised is not to comfort the bystander. That is not our job. Stop with all that. 

If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an already established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions for those who do. 

Sit down. 

– Jesse Williams 

I extend my solidarity and support for the brave activists who #ShutDown across the UK yesterday. 

The problem with the left

And I say that somewhat ironically. There is not a problem with the left but a problem with humanity. A problem, which with further thought, you discover is not so much a problem but a reality. The left – like any group – is not homogeneous. What binds us is wanting a “fairer world”.  Yet we come with varying spectrum of politics, opinions on priorities, names that we call ourselves (the -ists) ideas on how to organise, beliefs on what the perfect world should be.

So I find the whole question of “the problem with the left” as being problematic in itself.

What inspired me to write this post in the first place are two things:

  1. Owen Jone’s dissertation length piece on Jeremy Corbyn
  2. Some direct actions or social media actions I have noticed recently

So first onto Owen Jones. He made several interesting points and highlight many issues that needs to be dealt with. But he offered no solutions. And this is the thing, he spent a large chunk of his piece reaffirming his expertise and credentials. Then surely he should be offering solutions – if not the likes of him then who?

And onto the direct actions – I am referring to London Black Rev organising a direct action to chuck bugs into Byron as part of the resistance against them. The following sums up my thoughts on it:

While I appreciate the symbolism of the cockroach thing at the ‪#‎boycottbyron‬ protest yesterday, gotta be honest and say I don’t back it.

London Black Revs – which is an individual masquerading as an organisation tbh – acted without consulting those who called the action.

Those who participated in the insect action didn’t think about the affect it’d have on workers; by this I don’t just mean the clean up but how those with precarious immigration status might feel about police being called inside the restaurant itself.

This isn’t the first time London Black Revs has acted irresponsibly. Last week, LBR put out a call-out about UKBA vans in N London. Myself and two friends responded and went to the location to provide support. It became clear that not only was LBR not even there, but was actively sourcing information from racists on Twitter to pass on to us. This was thoughtless in the extreme, and could have put us in very real danger.

I don’t trust someone who tips off journalists about an action and not their fellow activists. I don’t trust someone who acts recklessly in situations where it’s not their neck on the line. I urge you all to think carefully about whether London Black Revs is an individual you trust in a political or a personal capacity. If not, there are other (better!) groups to invest your time and your effort in. Stay safe friends xxx – Ash Sarkar

And this brings me onto the thing that links these two: unity within the left. I have a lot of people saying that people are traitors for speaking out, that they are doing the jobs of the right-wing media.

“Unity” is used as a silencing tool. A shut up and take it. No – when something does not sit right we should speak out. That is the only way we can make sure we remain progressive, and not stuck in a bubble waiting for the next burst (think Conservatives getting in at the last two General Elections, Brexit, and the very likely election of Trump).

My worry however is how to ensure we are united enough so that the efforts we put in mean we are making significant steps forward in the right direction. This is why I never fell for #Lexit – I knew the left are not organised enough to be able to take over the narrative sufficiently to be useful.

And it is disheartening. We are consistently under-resourced, unorganised, dealing with internalised racism, sexism and abuse – I just don’t see a way out. We need leadership – and it will not come from middle-class white straight men.

The solution is accepting this. Look at the #BlackLivesMatter movement – started by three queer Black women. And it grew from Twitter and Facebook. We should be taking lessons from these rather than using them to push forward our own political agendas once again (side-eye to London Black Revs).

The revolution will be led by Black, queer, disabled, Muslim women. And until these groups are respected enough to be given space it will only lead to the downfall of the whole movement.

Do more

The world woke up today to the news of another black man murdered by the hands that are sworn to protect him.

My brothers Philando Castile‬ and Alton Sterling‬, your names join the long list of black people killed by the state. 114th black man killed by the police in America in 2016. We will say your name, we will mourn you, we will fight for you. May you rest in power and may your children grow up in a world where they do not meet the same fate. 

The videos posted online are heartbreaking. Infuriating. Numbing. And that is just the feelings I am feeling as a non-black women of colour. I cannot even imagine how my black siblings are feeling – having to navigate a world that has been systemically set up to use them as commodity and discard them without a care.

I am so sorry. But that is not enough. My prayers and my hugs and my love will not bring back your loved ones. Will not save you from the trauma of knowing that could have been you, your dad, your brother. Will not save you from having to read millions protect the murderers. And will not protect you from the injustice of seeing no one blamed, no one punished, no closure.

We must do more. And when I say we I am talking to my fellow non-black people of colour and white people. It is not enough that we go to rallies, and marches and write statuses and share a tweet. Do all these things, yes. But we need to do more.  Continue reading

Numbers and places 

The lives lost simply numbers and places. No photos. No names. No stories. But each and every one of them is a person like you and I. With families and loved ones. With livelihoods and paths they crafted for themselves. Destinies and dreams. This is just too many. Before we can even be done mourning there’s another one. Another death count. We hold our breaths praying it’s not someone we know. For if it’s not someone we know then they’re just a number.

We write a message online and send our prayers. Create a hashtag. #PrayforTurkey #PrayforBangladesh #PrayforIraq. And then we forget until the next and then the next.

And of course if it’s in the global south then we will forget very soon. Only the ones with roots there will know or care to know. No flags, no vigils, no news coverage. If it’s in the west we will mourn a little longer. But they too will be forgotten soon.

Unless it is your home, your friends, your family. Just numbers and places. Far away stories of evil men (and it is always men) continue. But it’s ok. We can breath, it’s not us. This time.

May Allah accept the fallen as martyrs and bring peace to their loved ones. And may we have peace and stability in our homes.

Vigil for Sarah Reed


The family of Sareh Reed have called on Blaksox to organise and announce a peaceful candlelit vigil on the same day as Sarah’s funeral. The vigil will take place from 7-8.30 PM on Monday 8th February (tomorrow) at HMP and YOI Holloway, Parkhurst Road, London N7 ONU.

One person cannot do everything but everyone can do something

Please share and attend if you are able.

This is happening here – not the US. Police brutality and violence in the hands of the state cannot keep going. How many more lives stolen before we wake up?

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?

cleveland_police_shoot_boy-02282

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