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

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Black History Month

Black History Month is here! As a non-black person of colour, BHM is not something I paid very much attention to ’till last year. Before then, my school didn’t focus on it at all, I was taught MLK was the good revolutionist and Malcolm X was the bad revolutionist, I thought BHM was a time to be sad about the trans Atlantic slave trade, and that was the only history black people had.

Last year I was introduced to a whole new world of activist, I was taught what euro-centrism is, what solidarity means, what liberation feels like, how political Blackness unites us. I went to a variety of events – from panels to performances. The veils around my eyes blew off and the glass of false pretence teaching us all that the world is fine and everything horrible happened many moons ago shattered. I was empowered.

And that is what BHM is to me. A time where we can focus our energies in teaching ourselves – about our heritages and strengths and struggles. And of the heritages and strengths and struggles of our brothers and sisters across the globe. And we can be empowered to not sit back and let the glass continue to encapsulate the many of our brothers and sisters who still sleep.

Yes our heroes should be remembered but our struggles are more than three (MLK, Rosa Parks and Ghandi) people – with even their struggles being summarised to being passive. Black History is so much richer than that – in all areas of the world, in all fields, in all cultures. Black history is world history, and until it is recognised as such – BHM is vital in empowering us to at least remember so.

BHM for me is a start, a reenergiser, a reminder. When we can come together and celebrate. We are here. And then we can plan and organise. We can organise against racist laws such as the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act. We can organise against Apartheid Israel. We can organise against the White curriculum. It is not just a month, but more like a start of the year.

Even if your experience of BHM has not been brilliant – even if you don’t see the point of it – do check out the events your local area are organising. Whether that be in your university or community. Don’t limit yourself.

“We should emphasize not Negro history, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.” – Carter Woodson

Lefty or a Righty?

Which brain side do you use the most? A Mercedes Benz advertisement. 

Our society places the left side of the brain on a pedestal. Students able to teach Maths, Chemistry and Physics receive a grant – getting paid to gain the teaching qualification whilst everyone needs to pay for the same course. Universities often offer more research projects in these areas – and those that are able to offer more research are considered leading institutions. Students excelling in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths, Medicine and Maths) are seen as the “brainy kids”.

Considered “brainy” even though the other subjects require just as much “brain power” – but perhaps require the other side. For instance, not many STEMM students can paint, write poetry or even an extended essay.  Continue reading

Old Boys Club

My university organises regular career events, inviting alumni back to talk about their experiences in the big bad world, providing little tips and tricks, and allowing the space to network. Unfortunately, the majority of the panellists, sometimes all, are white.

So I worked with the careers team to hold termly events where the entire panel will be alumni who are also people of colour. Everyone would be welcome to the event, but it would also provide an opportunity for students of colour to ask specific questions that white graduates just do not understand or have expertise in.

The first event was a huge success, with over 100 students attending and received very positive feedback. So, we were very excited for the next event – which would be focusing on graduate schemes. The day of the event came and as I welcomed the guests in, a white man approached me, introducing himself as a panellist. Continue reading

The final step 

Me trying to instill passion into the prospective students, perhaps being mistaken for desperation.

I still remember coming home after my final day of primary school, sitting on the floor of my room and crying. I was going to miss my friends and my teachers, I didn’t want to grow up and I had an empty pit in my stomach. And I remember the final days of secondary school. That same pit there every time someone signed my leavers book or uniform, reminding me of how once again I’m leaving behind all that I am accustomed to, all the familiarity.

I moved on to college and then university. At each step I’d make new friends and, bar a few, leave my old ones behind. At each step there would be people who got me better than my previous friends and I was welcomed into a new place that allowed me to be more myself than before. Because at each step I knew more about what ‘being me’ is. 

Graduating from university was such an emotional time. I had done it. This was the final one. The final step I had before I reached the landing of options, full of doors I could enter. Some would be locked, others slightly jammed but accessible with a hard push. But it would be up to me which door I tried to open and which I walked into. Continue reading