On being discovered 

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? 

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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. 

Acid attacks

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? 

Learning to Divide the World

As the Europeans began their exploration, their main discovery was essentially how wrong they were and how little they knew. You would hope they would use this shock to be humbled and learn from those around them. We know that was not actually the case and instead they saw it as an opportunity to proclaim they had discovered the “new world”.

In his book, Learning to Divide the World, John Willinsky describes them seem seeing this as a chance to “rebuilt a world that had been lost, and to build it with greater strength and integrity”. I found the language used quite interesting here – greater strength and integrity. This is something we are still led to believe the Western world have over the rest of the world.

Even down to when they implement new laws such as ensuring we all have “British values” – despite the very values outlined (democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith) are universal or can be traced to have origins in foreign lands.  Continue reading

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

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

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

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.

My name 

They spell my name wrong even when my email is my name. It is not just rude. It is lack of care. Othering. Demonstrating just how unimportant I am.

Do you have a nickname?

No. Not for you. My pet names are names my loved ones call me with care.

When we apply we have to consider changing our name. Jay. Not Jayanet. No not Jay-a-net. Never mind.

When we know they turn us down for jobs. When they assume we are already too stupid when we hand in our work. At the very least they can call us what we are.

Every time I correct you is my political warfare. I exist. I am here. I survive.

Named by my grandfather. The history of my ancestors passed through me and I carry their strength. Queens, Warriors, Mothers’ of Prophets. It surpasses above and beyond the time you exist in and cold land you know. My name is fire. It is power.

give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. my name makes you want to tell me the truth. my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right. – Warsan Shire