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. 

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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

Domestic Queen?

My mum will be going on holiday for a whole 5 weeks on Saturday. With her gone, as the eldest child, I will essentially be the ruler of the house. My sister – three years my junior – is more housekeeping-responsible. She knows when it’s the right time to have dinner (not when you’re simply hungry), when the little ones need to get to bed (apparently not when they’re sleepy) and how often to clean the bathroom (when it looks dirty should be replaced with a wipe down every night and a more thorough clean every week). So when my mum last went on holiday, the house was still standing and – more importantly to my mum – clean. This time, my sister is going with her, so it’s time for me to step up.

Now, this doesn’t sound like that hard a task. I am 23 years old, I have lived out for a few months here and there and travel around (the UK – not the world as I would wish) a lot. So I know how to look after myself. Unfortunately, looking after oneself isn’t the same as looking after a house.  Continue reading

Brown Beauty

She sat up, briefly glancing at her reflection. An action she could not avoid every morning since it hang opposite her bed. Most mornings she would avoid looking in that direction. And should her lazy eyes focus for too long, she’d turn her head. Her skin too dark, her hair too frizzy, her nose too pointy. Too many faults to be beautiful. Too much to deal with first thing in the morning.  Continue reading