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

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Being a Suspect

If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.
But I do worry. Those believing we live in a completely unbiased world are ignorant or plain wrong.

If we were, there would not be 1518 deaths in the hands of the police in the UK (mental health hospitals, back of their vans, in their stations) in just the last 25 years with 0 convictions – of mostly black and brown bodies. Think about this for a second. More than a 1000 people murdered – no one charged for it. If this was any other group we would call them what they are – corrupt and a terrorist organisation.

If we were it would not be only Muslim men who are extradited without trial or charge – even when white men accused of the same crimes are not. A white women being islamophobic would get just as much response as when a black women was – same story: different outcome.

There is a climate of fear, created by the media and politicians. A fear of loosing something that cannot really be lost. Loosing British values – even though no one seems to really know what that is. Democracy? Britain is ruled by a family who are born into that position and our laws get decided by people who are born into or given that privilege. The rule of law? When the police themselves are not held accountable and the law is so subjective and changes with time how can this be an accurate measure of values? Homosexual relationships were outlawed just a few years ago and same-sex marriage was made legal in my own lifetime (with our current Equalities Minister voting against it). Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs? When the reports of islamophia has doubled – and let’s be honest, how many of us bother to even report when the police don’t care, when the media are allowed to be islamophobic – what is so mutual about it?

I don’t trust the state to listen and understand.

If you’re arrested under terrorism law, the courts do not even tell you what you’ve been accused of. How is your lawyer meant to fight your case? Imagine a taxi driver reported to the police because he had a little Quran hanging from his window in his car. His house raided at 5 in the morning. Him having to go through deradicalisation training. True story. Imagine a student who downloads a copy of a book on terrorism that the library already owns. He gets reported and his university do nothing to support him. True story. Imagine a man doing community work in Afghanistan, arrested and detained in a maximum security prison known to do torture for 13 years without a trial or charge. True story.

Find out about more true stories here.

I don’t have anything to hide but I am Muslim so I do have something to worry about. I am a suspect and will not even be given a chance to prove my innocence.