Bullshit 

Her: I don’t like Beyoncé 

Me: oh yeh? Why not? 

Her: because she bleaches her skin 

Me: well she’s quite light skin to begin with 

Her: bullshit 

Me: and anyway there’s societal pressures for people with dark skin to lighten their skin 

Her: bullshit 

Me: it’s genuinely considered an attractive feature and something companies capitalise on 

Her: bullshit

I will never get over the entitlement of white middle class women to not only assume they know what societal pressures for *women of colour* are like but ignore information when they are given it. 

This is why your feminism is not my feminism and your liberation will never be my liberation. 

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Ramdan diary: day 9

The first 10 days of Ramadan focus on mercy. One of the biggest mercies Allah grants us is our mothers. Mothers who sacrifice all they have for their children. But migrant mothers in particular are simultaneously rocks and pillows.

Our mothers moved through mountains. Literally. They left everything they know – the greenary they grew up around, the families they grew up with, the cultures they grew up in. Spat in the face. Ridiculed in the street. Ignored by the state. The trauma.

They taught us maths and they taught us to write neatly. They bought us books whilst they wore less. They taught us our values – patience, humility, respect. They shared the things they knew – kameez, plaits, curries, oils. We rejected. Straighteners and jeans, pizza and chips. English is cool. The trauma.

They stay with violent and controlling men. Continued to suppress their dreams to feed ours. Unable to leave and destined to stay. For us. So we could have the things we need and the things we want. The trauma.

All the trauma they face. The anxiety and depressions they suffer with silently. How many of them describe physical heart pain? Unable to distinguish the anguish in their heart.

And yet we are so harsh of their minor omissions. So unforgiving of their misunderstanding. So impatient when they call us.

Ami tumrar lagi shoba korsi (I did it all for you). – my mother

Ammu I can never tell you often enough. All the beatings you took so we could eat. Using the little money he would give you to use as our tutoring money. Turning him away for our safety even when the community talked trash about you. Pushing me to never quit – at college, at university, from work. My rock and my pillow. Reminding me constantly of who I am, what is important, what will always matter. Everything I gratefully am and everything I am gratefully not is because of you. Our mercy.

Even a few days ago my taxi driver gave me a recipt without the total on it. I had partially shared a journey so only had to pay half. Of course the expenses team do not know this even the driver hinted I could make back £20. Cash money – easy. My friend said I deserved it, it’s taking from the rich, think of it like a little blessing. My mum reminded me that every penny I take that does not belong to me is money that can never bring me any good. My mercy.

Oh Allah. Have mercy on our mothers. Let us be coolness of their eyes. Let us be the righteous children they deserve. 

Self-care: my weapon and shield 

Self-care is an act of political warfare. Learn to share only when you have the strength to do so. Say no when you do not. Say nothing when even this is not possible.
Our pain matters. Our words are worth something. Our experience is real. 

We are not exotic. We are not submissive or unduly angry. We are not different to the others.

There is a difference between offensive and oppressive. And we know when we are being oppressed. By their words, by their actions, by their systems. We can recognise the dull pain it causes deep in our stomach.

And so we do not have to explain it. Not why we do what we do. Not why we want what we want. And certainly not when we hurt the way we do.

Expecting marginalised peoples to disregard their own emotions to calmly educate you is the epitome of entitlement

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

Our Voice Matters 

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”- Dr Seuss

Sometimes we mute ourselves. We worry about saying something that will sound like we’re making a fuss. Our voices as women are quietened and as women of colour silenced. We are reminded we sound bossy. We sound aggressive. We don’t know what we’re talking about. We don’t sound like that passive, attractive women of their dreams anymore.

If something makes you feel uneasy, sends a pulse down to your stomach, does not sit right in your mind – you are not making a fuss. Your voice is important. You are confident. You are brave. You do know.

Because only you will know what your experience has taught you. It should not be ignored. You are not just the other.

So that comment that sounds a little racist or sexist, that joke that wasn’t so funny, that question simply inappropriate – call them out. Our voice matters.

Perhaps they will tell you you’re making a big deal out of nothing. Perhaps they will call you bossy. Perhaps they will call you aggressive. It may hurt. People those who you thought you trusted betray you. Allies broken.

But you’ll feel lighter – having done your bit – trying to make the world a better place for everyone. You’ll surround yourself with people who genuinely care. People who love you. People who empower you. And not those who clip your wings and muzzle your mind. Your voice will have mattered. And for that at least you can be proud.

The F word

I am a feminist.

There I said it. This word has become muddled and twisted, said by many but understood by few. I have so much to say and obviously a 500 or so word blog won’t be enough to cover this huge topic but here are a few of my initial thoughts.

Feminism is simply the movement to get equality for the sexes. It is that simple but yet, I think mainly due to the toxicity around the word, people are ashamed or reluctant to call themselves a feminist. At the end of the day, I don’t think it really matters so long as you believe in the values. But to me the word brings solidarity and strength. And so I own it.  Continue reading