The First Time I Realised I was Black

I didn’t know I was black until I relocated to the UK in 2009 at the ripe old age of 34, before then, I thought I was just a human being.

Settling down in the UK, I quickly realised my skin colour mattered. It matters a lot.

I relocated to the UK in 2009 to study for my Post graduate degree in Law, specialising in Gender, Sexuality and Human rights.  Even though I had contemplated my gender, sexuality, globalisation and the catastrophic effects of unbridled capitalism, I had not given my skin colour much thought.

From the overt racism, which I encountered from the University Surgery GP, the subtle racism of some of my white lecturers (who ironically taught equality classes), the white co-workers who turned their noses up at my African accent, to the ‘behind the back’ racist stab by the white, female principal officer in my workplace, which cost me a much needed, very good job offer, I quickly realised that my skin colour mattered.

In fact, I eventually realised that my skin colour mattered so much it could be the determining factor in being treated as a human being deserving of dignity and respect or just a subhuman who at best is only fit to be a pet chimpanzee. When as a black person in a white society, you do not appreciate being treated like a pet Chimpanzee by your white ‘friends/colleagues’, you are quickly treated as an unappreciative subhuman and labelled an angry black woman or a dangerous black man.

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The Overt racism from my very first UK GP

The very first thing I did immediately I settled down at my school was to register with a GP. This was because I had an underlying health issue that require I be placed on medication. I used to have night seizures during sleep. I had done EEG tests in Nigeria which were inconclusive as to whether I had epilepsy or not. Nevertheless, I was placed on anti-epileptic drugs to control the seizures.

Before I embarked on my journey to UK, I made sure to get enough medication and prescription from my neurologist in Nigeria to last me until I settled down in UK. However, when I went to register at my university surgery in Stoke-on-Trent, England, and explained to the GP, a white old man, that I needed the prescription, he just wouldn’t believe me. He refused to believe I suffered from seizures.

I presented him with the results of my EEG tests from Nigeria, the prescription letter from my neurologist and the medication I was placed on, he still refused to prescribe my medication.  Simply put, my doctor’s diagnosis and prescription was not good enough for him because it came from Nigeria, from the ‘dark’ continent of Africa.

This University Surgery doctor actually asked me if I had a video clip of me having a seizure! I was truly aghast!

Was I supposed to record a video of myself suffering a seizure?

Were my family members or whoever was with me when I suffer a night seizure supposed to get their phone out and start recording instead of helping me stay alive?

This bigoted white doctor refused to give me my prescription simply because to him, I was just another black immigrant who came to England to take advantage of the healthcare and bleed the NHS dry!

I had to find ways to get my medication sent to me from Nigeria, which was difficult, eventually I ran out of medication. A few months later, I suffered the worst seizure of my life. For the first time since I started having night seizures, I seriously injured myself. The seizure was so bad I sprained my neck muscle and could not move one of my arms for weeks. I had to have physiotherapy sessions and was placed on pain killers.

When I went to the University Surgery to complain, I was told the GP had been transferred to another Surgery, and the school now had a new GP. The new GP wrote a prescription for me, got me an appointment with a neurologist in London and arranged for me to have an EEG and MRI scan.

My new neurologist, a very sympathetic Asian woman, could not believe it when I told her how the GP refused to prescribe my medication. She profusely apologised for the action of the GP. She went on to place me on another brand of anti-epileptic medication, which has really proved to be very good. It’s been 7 years since that seizure and I’ve not had another seizure since.  However, I am still on my medication, a much lower dosage but I understand this might be a medication I take for life.

Oh, did I mention that the racist GP was biphobic too? Of course, he was. No surprise. While taking my details, he asked if I was on birth control, I said no. He looked at me antagonistically and asked why. I told him I was bisexual. I explained that my last relationship was with a woman. From his stony silence, I could feel his biphobia almost swallowing me up!  Although his biphobia didn’t cost me my life, his overt racism almost did.

I’m still irked by how I was treated by the very first GP I encountered in UK. He couldn’t even be bothered to hide his racism and bigotry. To him, my Nigerian doctor’s prescription, hospital tests and notes were not good enough for his white ass. My word and experience as a patient were not to be believed because of my skin colour and country of origin.

It is sad that we still live in a world where skin colour mattered to the point that it could be a barrier to getting the opportunity to decent living conditions.  In my next post, I will share the appalling experience of how I lost a great job offer that would have meant saying goodbye to housing benefits and Job Seekers allowance, all because someone judged me based on my skin colour. Watch this space.

This post was inspired by CNN series of the same title – The First Time I Realized I Was Black

Just another random guy telling a woman what to do with her body

So, another guy decided to tell me what he wants me to do with my body to please his eyes. Never mind that i hardlyScreen-Shot-2014-10-29-at-11.09.03-AM knew him. Never mind that the few interactions i had with him on social media were about him as an African-American reaching out because he wanted a better understanding on some issues especially as it affects Africa and Africans. Never mind that i treated him with utmost respect, taking time to answer his questions and i thought the respect was mutual. But alas, he was just another man who refused to understand that telling a woman what to do with her body, to please their ‘manly gaze’, is just totally wrong.

Well, he decided to express his displeasure with my weight loss. He sent messages to my Facebook inbox , starting with a disgusted face sticker, cos well, words weren’t enough to express just how disgusted he was that i lost my ‘meaty’ figure!

sidney edited

what u doing to yourself? u used to be a buxom voluptuous woman. u need to get some more meat on dem lovely bones.my eyes cant feast on u anymore.

Yeah, he started is message with a disgusted face sticker. Cos, well, that is just how disgusted he feels about me losing weight. As he stated, his eyes can’t feast on me anymore. Poor chap.

Of course, i didn’t hold back in telling him exactly what i thought he should do with his ‘manly gaze’.

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That’s very insulting and I am very disappointed that you have this kind of patriarchal mindset. I thought you were more evolved than this lousy comment.

First, it is my body, not yours.

What i do with my body is my business, not anyone else’s business.

It is very sexist and patriarchal of you to use language that implies my body is for you or any other man to FEAST on. I am not a piece of meat on display for your ‘manly gaze’.

If my existence or looks hurt your eyes, then take your fucking eyes somewhere else, i never asked for you stare, look or feast on me BTW, I didn’t know you have been feasting on me, i am so glad now that there is one less sexist man feasting on me.

Crawl out of that cave you woke up in today that made you think it was ok for you to tell me I should put on some meat on my bones cos you liked feasting your eyes on me when i was “a buxom voluptuous woman”. Gawd, do you even understand how patronising that sounds?

And truly, shed that sexist, patriarchal attitude and stop telling women what to do with their bodies, we do not exist for your pleasure! My body. My choice. My Right.

Did he understand this simple truth? Of course he wouldn’t even think about it cos it’s easier to blame his victim.

sidney edited 3

its not patriarchal, it matriarchal. u insult me with that. i dont think appreciating a woman’s beauty is patriarchal, i don’t think loving women is patriarchal. if i admire your buxom voluptuous beauty, its not patriarchal. if I express my opinion about you, or any part of you, body, mind or spirit, its not patriarchal. not what you are doing has a name but I wont name it because THEN you might accuse me of being patriarchal when in fact it would appear you are more patriarchal than me. You have gone beyond the pale, out of bounds and past your limits in your evaluation and attribution of motive to me.

He just kept trying to pathetically justify his action, even claiming i am the one who is patriarchal. lol

sidney edited 4

and yes, i see NOTHING WRONG in enjoying you as a complete person.

sexist? stop it.

sensuality and beinf sensual and enjoying it is not sexist nor pariarchal.

i respect ur sensitivity, but u are wrong here if u think i am insensitive.

i expressed myself to u as a friend.

it was tongue in cheek

i was obviously mistaken to think that you knew me better.

Somehow in his mind, i was to blame for reading his words rather than reading his mind.  And his pathetic attempt at pacifying me ended up as very patronising. Well, he couldn’t apologise, after all, he still couldn’t see how he was wrong. According to him, he respects my sensitivity, cos well, i was just being “sensitive” about being talked to like a piece of meat, albeit one no longer fit for his consumption and pleasure!

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I don’t care what your motives or intentions were, all i know FOR CERTAIN is that you have no right to tell me what to do with my body.

Keep your opinion of my body to your self.

Don’t tell me or any woman to put on weight or lose weight FOR YOUR BENEFIT or Pleasure

Don’t ever treat or talk to me like I am a piece of meat for you to feast your eyes on. Obviously you still can’t see how your choice of words are very insulting.. Feast on .. as if i am a pie e of meat for your pleasure and consumption. So i should just go make myself more meaty so you can Feast your eyes on me again. as Now, i am sore to your meaty loving eyes. EEEK!!!!

Enjoy whatever goes on in your mind, you cross the line when you abuse whatever facebook friendship i have with you when you tell me what i should do with my body to PLEASE YOU.

I did not solicit for your opinion of my body. Keep your opinions to yourself.

Do you think you are the only man who feel they are entitled to tell me or other women what to do with our body? I get this kind of lousy behaviour every day. It is harassment. Catcalls, random opinion of guys on my body. Guys insisting i smile for them. Guys telling me to lose weight. Guys saying i need to keep my curves and stop losing weight. I am so tired of such assholes. It is my body, you all should just keep your opiniony of my bod to your entitled sexist selves!

Again, NEVER tell a woman what to do with her body. We don’t exist for your sexist gaze or approval. You should read the articles wrote on similar attitude of men telling women what to do with their bodies.

Stop telling black women what to do with their hair or skin!

Everyday Sexism: Catcalls and Street Harassment 

I saw he was still busy typing, no doubt trying to justify his action. At this point, i knew i had to disengage.

Sidney edited 8

I do not wish to spend any more time engaging with you on this. Pls, respect my space. I don’t care to read whatever it is you are typing right now. Just give it a rest. Go think about your comments and read the articles. I don’t want to hear or read anymore attempt of you trying to justify your comment. There is no excuse .

Did he get it? No, but at least he disengaged. However,  he couldn’t resist telling me how i was to blame for not understanding him. Well, at least he did say “ok. bye.”

sidney edited 9

u act like i was giving u a command. I know how u feel about such things. i have read ur commentaries about sexist patriarchal insults and attitudes.

ok. bye.
Well, that was that. This was especially sad because this guy actually considered himself to be amongst the ”good’, 557264_423393704397930_1730387465_n‘decent’, ‘women supporting’ men out there, but his words and mindset speak otherwise. Unfortunately, like many other men, he just wasn’t willing to admit that he consciously or unconsciously still sees and treats women as a piece of meat whose existence is to aesthetically please his ‘manly gaze’.  Men, please, stop doing this.

 

Does taking gym selfies or posting several pics on Facebook translates to Narcissism?

When my dear Facebook friend all the way from America sent me a link in my inbox with the message “London, we have a problem.”, I opened the link with a bit of trepidation and was confronted with a shady headline Study Finds That People Who Post Gym Selfies Have A Psychological Problem “

The article went on to postulate about some dubious research it never linked to. The  article reads

Some people have to let the whole world know that they have been to the gym by means of Facebook posts normally accompanied by a selfie. It turns this could by due to an underlying psychological problem which causes them to become obsessed with taking selfies.

In a study conducted at Brunel University is was discovered that people who constantly brag about fitness tend to show narcissistic traits  – This is a term for the psychological disorder where people gain pleasure from self admiration. This behavior usually results  annoying vein posts such as “sun’s out, guns out” all over your timeline, the intention is to boost their own ego with comments and likes.

 I call bullshit on this. [Read more…]

Baby, You Are Beautiful – Dance Video

Some of us know we are.

Some of us don’t believe we are.

Some of us let society tell us otherwise.

Beauty comes in different colours, shapes and sizes.

Baby, You Are Beautiful.  Snapshot_20160515_252

What makes you beautiful is Not

Because you don’t know you are beautiful,

But because you simply are.

Do you; with or without make-up

Rock you; whatever your body size, shape or ability.

Celebrate your body; even if the society says you shouldn’t.

Flaunt these curves; even if they claim you aren’t beach ready.

Embrace and shower your body with Love.

Cos baby, You are You.

And Baby,

You Are Beautiful.

Background Music by One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful

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Online Dating: Serving up Choices and Confusion

Dating in this generation has a whole new meaning. It is all about choice or rather the illusion of choice, leading to confusion, pain, and a life wasted on swiping profiles for the next hit. This Facebook note by a Facebook friend, got me thinking about dating. As a single woman, i must say, i agree totally with his take on it. In this age of online dating, it is all about the illusion of choice and the uncertainty that comes with it. dating

Back when i was a teenager growing up in Nigeria, 20 something years ago, dating was not even a thing. You were either in a relationship with someone or you were not. It was straight to the relationship phase. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy asks girl, “Will you be my girlfriend?”, if girl likes boy, she plays coquettish long enough to not appear desperate, then says yes, and bingo, they are in a relationship. No dating as it is known today, no testing the waters, that was done at the ‘eyeing her/him up’ stage. The courtship stage did not normally involve alone time together. Maybe time with friends and families where you both sussed each other out, until one of you makes the move. [Read more…]

Planned Parenthood Clinic Shooting: Religious Assholes, Vile Politicians and Dipshit Media

In between the religions assholes causing havoc and the vile politicians eager to drop bombs on civilians, it is a CU5oEefUYAAkYmHwonder WW3 has not been officially declared!

I was out when I briefly saw the headlines for the Colorado shooting today; apparently, three people, including a police officer, have been confirmed dead and many more injured.

The shooter, now identified as Robert Lewis Dear, is a 57-year-old white man from North Carolina.

According to reports

“Lt. Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs Police Department said the gunman, described as wearing a long coat and armed with a rifle, gave up after officers inside the building shouted at him. He previously had been firing at police who entered the facility.

Buckley also said the unidentified man had brought “items” with him inside the building and left some outside, meaning officers had to make sure they were not “any kind of devices.”

“The man apparently began his deadly spree at the Planned Parenthood building, although it was not clear if his motive was related to the organization.

“We don’t have any information on this individual’s mentality, or his ideas or ideology,” Buckley said.

Interesting how they are not eager to jump to conclusions about this shooter’s ideas and ideology. This is white cis [Read more…]

Winter might be upon us but nothing is going to take away my sunshine; let’s dance!

What better way to herald a new month than to dance away the pains, sorrows, regrets, betrayals, dashed hopes and disappointments of the past month. What does not kill us makes us stronger.

As I wrote in my poem: ‘Chin Up and Weather the Storm’

Life dishes out its mixture of pain and pleasureSnapshot_20151028_24

With pressure, we appreciate more our treasures

Stricken down, rise up and look beyond the snares

This too shall pass for nothing stays the same

When it is all falling apart, just stay strong

Chin up and weather the storm!

Winter might be upon us but nothing is going to take away my sunshine.

As Albert Camus said-

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.

Nothing lifts my spirits better than good music and the liberty to dance to my favourite tunes whenever I feel like. Music and dance are the choice flavour of my body and soul!

Here is to all Survivors; keep surviving and live life the best you can. Enjoy my dance video!

 

My Birthday Dance and Musings: Already Loving my 40s!

I am grateful for four amazing decades on planet earth. I am eagerly looking forward to new challenges and more20150816_141924 resised ftb jpg amazing experiences in the coming years!

I am especially looking forward to starting a new job as a union organiser with one of the largest trade unions in UK. I missed being a full time trade unionist and I am so looking forward to working with union activists and organising workers again!

I started working for the labour movement in my early twenties and with the responsibility of fighting for workers’ rights came many opportunities to see the world from different angles. The views can be very depressing especially when it comes to class stratification, oppression, exploitation of labour, crass capitalism and its uneven division of wealth built on the backs of the long-suffering majority who toil every day to earn a living wage but never get to enjoy the wealth created by their labour. However, sometimes the view can be very exhilarating, especially when the voiceless find their voices through union organising, and against all odds, conquer to achieve great successes, fuelled by strength in unity and propelled by hope in a better tomorrow, while demanding for a better today. The last few years of my 30s were pretty challenging, mostly due to having to start afresh in a new, unfamiliar environment as a single parent with a teenage son who was about to enrol in college. I did not plan to be an immigrant in UK or anywhere else, but sometimes, even though we have our life already neatly planned, circumstances beyond our control could force us to depart from our schedule.

Leaving behind a comfortable life and job security to start afresh in a strange land was not an easy decision to make. [Read more…]

Five Assumptions We Should Avoid Making

I was working out at my gym when two gym regulars decided to strike up a conversation with me.

Gym regular (Male) – You have lost a lot of weight

Gym regular (Female) -Yeah, I told her so too.

Me – Oh, yeah, thanks, the hard work is showing.

Gym regular (Male) – I am sure your husband will be happy

Me – I don’t have a husband. I am single

Gym Regulars – What, you mean you are single? [Read more…]

I Am Beautiful and I know It

It is so cringeworthy when people tell me i am beautiful and I accept it at face value with a nod to my own beauty but as a reward they want me to grovel at their feet or expect I say something self-devaluing like  “Oh no, you are just being nice, I am not all that.” Of course, i am all that and much more too, thanks for the observation!

I woke up this morning to this awesome video by Daysha Edewi titled “What If I Knew I Was Beautiful”. My fb friend had commented on the video on Facebook and tagged me and I went, “OMG, this video is so me!” [Read more…]

May Day: Organise not Agonise!

Every day, the divide between the Rich and the Poor widens, few overpaid workers, some well-paid workers and many underpaid workers. On this special day, please spare a minute to remember the millions of unemployed people; many made redundant by the many budget cuts. Many unemployed people are desperately seeking to enter the workforce, to keep a roof over their heads, put food on the table for their children and struggling to pay bills. Underpaid workers and the unemployed bear the brunt of nasty government policies.

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Help turn on the light at the end of the tunnel for many unemployed people left struggling to make ends meet due to economic downturn, corporate greed, redundancy and many avoidable budget cuts. Together We Can! [Read more…]

Natural Disasters are certainly not a time to thank God!

Lately, there has been no end to the bad news making the rounds so much that watching the news has become depressing. Nepal suffered an earthquake that killed thousands with many entombed in their own houses, hotels and museums. More than half a million people have been rendered homeless. The earthquake also triggered an avalanche that hit Mount Everest leaving many seriously injured and some dead.

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One cannot even begin to imagine the terror those people must have felt in their dying hour. It is heartwrenching to see the pains on the faces of the victims’ families as they confront the galling reality that their loved ones are buried underneath all that rubble and their bodies might never be recovered for proper burials.

The pains etched on the faces of survivors tell stories of horrors and gratitude. It seems, in the midst of the sorrows, pains, deaths, and survival; we still must celebrate life. Every life saved amidst these ruins is a cause for celebration. Every dead body pulled out is a cause for sorrow.

To die in such horrific and agonising manner is painful to imagine. In most cases, death really is not as much the problem as the manner and cause of it. [Read more…]

Santa Came To Turn Me On!

Some time ago, I broke my waist or thought I had, and excruciating lower back pain sent me running to my doctor.

I wondered why my waist could no longer support mySnapshot_20141212_117 big bums. After MRI scans and prescribed painkillers, it turned out; it was just some muscle strain probably from my gym workout. As it turns out, pulled muscles can be very painful. For a minute, I was convinced i had a mild stroke in my sleep, until my doctor put my mind to rest! Now, i know better than to lift heavy weights or do some strenuous cardio at the gym. I am definitely not taking any body-parts for granted again.

Many of you were concerned and some of my Naija friends recommended the local sprain and strain ointment, aboliki, which was actually very effective! I also promised that as soon as I was up and well again, I would make another dance-exercise video. Since I always make good on my promise, here it is!

Dancing to one of my favourite songs of all time was indeed fun and the sequinned Santa cap i got it at 99p shop came in handy as a dance prop!

I think my waist is at least 95% back to normal, therefore i consider my waist healed. What do you think?

I am glad to be back in good health, grateful to be able to shake my bums again and of course rock my curves!

Here is a toast to good health and Happy Holidays!

 

Related link-

Body Parts And Little Things We Take For Granted

Jamie Olivier; Hands Off My Continent’s Jollof Rice! #Jollofgate

 

Like many West Africans, I was aghast when I saw the picture of what Jamie Olivier tried to pass off as Jollof rice. Twitter was set ablaze by the B1aijQDCEAApYGlrighteous fury of West Africans, protesting the audacity of an international white celebrity chef, who dared to plagiarised (and badly so too), West Africa’s much beloved dish, Jollof Rice. To an outsider, this might seem like much ado about nothing, but hey jollof rice is not just any rice, it is a national treasure, a national signature, and as #Jollofgate fury has proved, it is an African pride. Touch our Jollof rice; we will come at you with united fury! [Read more…]