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

Ramadan diary: day 22-23

Only a few days left! I can’t believe how quickly this month has flown by. And what a difference a month can make!

Despite the gloom that is my last post, and the continual increase of attacks I am hearing about, I have been feeling a little more hopeful today. I guess I have accepted the inevitable changes that are to come and have decided to instead focus my energies of two things – being happy with myself (and this is on both a spiritual and worldly level) and doing all that I have energy for to improve the world around me.

But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners. – Quran (8:30)

Yesterday I attended the London rally supporting Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. I don’t think Jeremy is the messiah. I believe in his politics. I believe in his mandate. I believe he can provide an actual opposition to the same kind of politics we’ve heard year in and year out, ever since I can remember.

We are continuously told he is a decent man but not a good leader. The 10,000 people gathered with under 24 hours and over 200,000 signing a petition would say otherwise. He is a leader. Just not the type we often associate with politicians.


I then went out for Iftar with old friends and new. Saying the food wasn’t great would be an overstatement but alhamdulliah the company made up for that. Again, reenergising my happiness battery.

Reflecting on yesterday I realise though the actions of people can make you loose hope in humanity, equally they can fill you right back up again. I am under no illusions that we have a fight in our hands and the country is in turmoil.

But at the very least we have our friends, our families and Twitter banter to keep us going.

And on that note here are my favourite two from the tragically beautiful Euro loss last night –

Brexit

It’s been a tough couple of days post the shocker that was Brexit. With so much initial numbness, followed by anger and then despair I was struggling to hone in on what I wanted to write about on here. I’ve decided to focus on me. You can find plenty of articles on the ridiculous reasons people voted to leave, the immediate retraction of promises from those leading and the frightening effect that’s already been put in place.

But this is about me and the thousands of British people of colour who no longer feel welcome here. Now don’t get me wrong – racism and xenophobia did not just appear overnight. Attacks – both verbal and physical – have always been around. It just so happens that this win has strengthened and empowered otherwise meek hate-filled people.

I have seen countless of reports – both from personal friends and those on social media – of abuse. People being told to go back because we’ve voted them out. People being shoved. People being beaten up. Continue reading

Ramadan diary: day 10

Into double digits and we’re in the last days of mercy – stepping into the days of forgiveness.

Yesterday I had dinner with a colleague I am staying with. It’s just the two of us doing some work on this site for the week so we thought we’d go out rather than having hotel food.

Over dinner, the discussion of the EU and #Brexit came up. It’s pretty hard to avoid the topic – especially with the vote right around the corner. I was surprised to hear my colleague used to support UKIP, and much of his family members still do. I did ask why and was told, “well they’re a bit racist to be honest.” In other parts of the conversation, discussing parts of London he said “I have to be honest, it does annoy me when I’m walking in the street and I don’t understand what people are saying. I mean this is England but you wouldn’t know it sometimes.”

I was pretty taken aback but did the strenuous smile and nervous chuckle you may know too well. Not everyday dismantling racist views. Some days enjoy dinner. (Dinner itself was lovely – courtesy of my company expenses, thank you).

Normally these everyday reminders of living in a world that is so cruel is harsh and bares heavy on my soul. But I wanted to think of forgiveness. Often racist views are deep rooted in ignorance, upheld by racist structures. It is these structures that need to be dismantled and once we do this, I hope, we can start to rebuild a lovelier world.

Will we ever get there? Perhaps not. But we can hope. Does it hurt – absolutely. Is it our responsibility to teach others all the time – no, nobody has that much energy and self care comes first. But we can forgive them in our hearts and focus on the structures. Lets focus on dismantling the masters house.  

For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices. – Audre Lorde

And since we are on the topic, here are my views on Brexit –

The European Union is an inherently problematic. It upholds structures that are Eurocentric and this is detrimental to the global south. However, given that we currently have a Tory government, it is dangerous to have such an upheaval happen now. It will mean cuts and lives being destroyed. The Left-wing argument of reform will fail – and we cannot take that risk. Look at what happened after the financial crisis. Happy to explain further in comments.