8 Reasons “I’d Rather Be a Rebel than a Slave” on t-shirts for “Suffragette” is Wrong

When Time Out London invited the leading actresses of the new film, “Suffragette”, to be photographed for its October 2015 issue, they did not envisage the heated debate that ensued. The photoshoot featured the stars of the movie, Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Romola Garai, and Anne-Marie Duff posing in t-shirts bearing Emmeline Pankhurst’s quote, “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.” The appropriateness of the t-shirts message was called into question. Reactions to this debate have been very enlightening as well as disturbing. The photoshoot provided another opportunity to see white feminism in action and the reaction shows how difficult it is for feminists of colour to be heard in a visibly white world.

Mary Rozzi

Mary Rozzi

Below are 8 reasons why the quote on the t-shirts is inappropriate, insensitive and offensive as a promotional material for a 21st century film that seeks to promote equality.

1- Not everyone has the luxury of choosing between being a slave or a rebel

My ancestors were humans who were carted off from Africa and made slaves in foreign lands. They did not have12108275_10153653732906873_381376419150408220_n the luxury of choosing between being a rebel or being a slave. No one would “rather be a slave”. Many of them were rebels but this did not save them from being slaves. They did not just hand themselves over to their captors. They did not just roll over and decided to live the slave life. They did not choose to be separated from their families and land of births.

Captivity was forced on them. Slavery was forced on them. Many were born into slavery. Being a rebel in the sense of organising protests and speeches under police protection and throwing animal blood at their fancily dressed “Masters” were not options available to them.

However, the fact that millions of my ancestors died as slaves in foreign lands did not mean that many of them were not rebels. There were rebellions on the slave ships. Many died with their rebellion stories that will never be told.

Many slaves learned to survive and keep their sanity in the face of utter atrocities and the most degrading treatment known to humans.

Many were rebellious enough to keep their sanity, build a community, and nurture generations of rebels.

They were slaves not because they chose not to be rebels but because they were captured or born into slavery. They were humans turned slaves not because they had rather be slaves than be rebels.

2- It lacks Intersectional Feminism

In this day and age, progressives should be conscious of all the intersections that can unite or divide us as feminists. When those issues are raised, white feminists should not try to ‘whitesplained’ away the concerns of black feminists. They should listen, ask questions and learn. We are in the fight against sexism together. However, we all have different experiences that are magnified by colour, race, class, sexual orientation, and our different background and history.

As a black African woman, ‘Slave’ is a word that gives me the shivers. It is a word that comes with baggage and a horde of unwanted feelings. Slave is a word that serves as a vivid reminder of the atrocities my ancestors suffered in the hands of white people. Slave is a word that reminds me that I am still impacted and affected by that horrible history. ‘Slave’ is a word that makes me aware that we still have a long way to go before we come close to achieving a post-racial society.

I am aware that a white person wouldn’t necessarily have the same feelings I have as a black person towards the word ‘Slave’, especially when used as a noun. This is not so surprising because our history and stories concerning slavery and its effects are different.

I find it appalling that white people trivialise the word ‘Slave’ and even use it as a sort of fantasy game. For example, if only I had a penny for the numerous times white men on dating sites send me messages that they want to be my slave and would be honoured if I could whip their white arses. By virtue of their privileged background, they can afford to casually throw the word ‘Slave ‘around, whereas for me as a black woman, the word conjures up horrible images of the atrocities suffered by my ancestors.

As a black woman, I cannot afford not to have a negative reaction to the word slave; after all, it was not so long ago that slave owner paraded Sarah Baartman as a freak. A white woman’s reaction to being told by a white suitor online to be a slave would be different from my reaction as a black woman.  Too much baggage comes with the word that it can never be a trivial, fantasy word.

Slavery is not a fantasy; it is the lived experience of my ancestors.

‘Slave’ is not just a euphemism or a verb to describe your discomfort; it was an identity forced on my ancestors by their white captors.

‘Slave’ is not just another word for a non-rebellious victim; it is much more than that.

‘Slave’ is a word that some white people still consciously or unconsciously associate with a black person, a black woman, a black employee, their black colleagues or the black neighbour whose presence in their neighbourhood has brought down the property value of the area.

‘Slave’ is an inaudible, taboo but still heavy word that permeates the atmosphere when black and white people are in the same room, especially when there is a conflict of interest.  We might not acknowledge its presence, we might deny that it is even there but when we disagree, when tensions run high, when arguments get heated, the word ‘slave’ comes alive. “You could have been my slave in another life” are thoughts that come alive when the die is cast.

I bear this burden of invisible wounds, long lasting effects and impact of slave trade. I reel from the word slave. White feminists might not understand the shiver I get from the casualization of the word, but they should sit down, listen and learn why this word should not be so trivialised. Those who argue that sexism is itself a form of slavery really needs to take a seat and take a class in slavery. Even then, they still won’t get the full impact of it because only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches.

3- Turning a blind eye to racism in the name of fighting sexism is never right

The promotional shoot for the film ‘Suffragette’ tried to address a big issue by trivialising another momentous big issue. Considering that feminism should encompass all women including women of colour, the film promoters failed gigantically in not putting into consideration the impact of the word ‘Slave’ on women of colour. It is bad enough that the film erases the racism condoned by many suffragettes, but to actually go ahead to use such an insensitive quote to promote the film is tactless and harmful. The chosen quote does not promote an intersectional message and it failed woefully in living up to the standard of acceptable social consciousness in this 21st century.

It is sad that many white women who consider themselves “non-racist” gets angry when women of colour talk about racism. White women are often irked when black feminists raise issues of racism in feminism. Why are white women so quick to trivialise or dismiss the concerns of women of colour? Some white women are very passionate about pointing out sexism but get defensive whenever issues concerning racism are raised. They are quick to throw around meaningless concoctions like “Reverse racism” and “Black on black crime”.

For example, during the 2011 London riot, I made a Facebook post about how I wanted to go out wearing my hooded leather jacket but looked in the mirror and thought, “Wrong skin colour, wrong place and wrong time” and discarded the hooded jacket. I also mentioned that I was glad my teenage son was not in London during the riot because of his skin colour and police prejudice, especially during a riot. Some of my online white friends were quick to admonish me for my concerns. A white friend said she was hurt that I felt that way! Those white friends with whom I joined hands to condemn sexism said my feelings and fears concerning racism were not valid. To them, concerns about racism in Britain is just an excuse black people use to be racist towards white people!

There was the time I posted a picture of black Barbie dolls that were selling at much lower price than white Barbie 423904_10150713985681873_1770900952_ndolls and a white female friend with whom I share a common interest in addressing fatshaming and promoting body acceptance, said I was being too sensitive.  She claimed i was just trying to find faults were there was none. When I told her I could write a treatise on the implications of the picture, she immediately unfriended me. At that point, I was no longer the feminist friend she fights body shaming with; I was a loud, angry black woman who sees racism in everything.

It is sad those white feminists are easily annoyed when black women of colour raise concerns about racism and its effects We can be their friends if we only care about the things our white friends care about. We can be body positive allies, we can rant against online sexism together, but we are not allowed to talk about other issues that do not affect them as white women. When we start talking about racism, we stop being their cool black friends. We become just another angry loud-mouthed black woman. We become the stereotype they have been warned about.

White feminists should stop being so irked when black people point out racism. We get it, racism is not top of your agenda as white feminists, racism does not affect your daily life, but kindly sit your privileged white ass down for a minute and actually listen to why it is important for us to talk about racism and address ways you could be racist or enable racism without even realising it. Surely, this should not be too difficult to do or too big a thing to ask.

4- It is much more than just an African American Vs UK suffrage movement debate

I don’t have to be an African American to find the t-shirts message repulsive, appalling, disconcerting, classist and racist. I did not need to know the connection between the word ‘rebel’ and ‘confederates’ before i was appalled by the quote on the t-shirts. As a black African Nigerian woman resident in London, I was immediately repulsed when I saw the white women cast of the film smiling into the camera wearing t-shirts with the slogan “I’d rather be a rebel than be a slave’.  As a feminist, I went “Err, how thoughtless!

If I was on a protest ground with fellow feminists fighting for equality and some white feminists wore these T-shirts, I would certainly side-eye them and probably engage them in discussion on why it was an offensive T-shirt especially in the context of our shared fight for equality and the need for intersectionality.

Treating the issue as if it were just a case of difference between the UK’s suffrage movement and America’s suffrage movement only serves to silence the voices of other feminists who are not nationals of those two mighty nations.  By solely centering the debate on the difference between suffrage movements in America and Britain, they ignore the fact that there are feminists outside those two regions who find these t-shirts slogan appalling and disconcerting. This centrist focus further treats feminists of other nationals as irrelevant and invisible.

Dear white feminists, Britain and America are not the be-all and end-all of everything feminism. There are feminists outsides those two shores and they are also concerned and affected by the message promoted in the photoshoot.

5- Being a rebel does not automatically exclude anyone from being a slave

One can be a rebel and still be a slave of an oppressive system. One can be a rebel and a slave.

One can be a feminist and still be enslaved by patriarchy. Slave is not a title one award to oneself. ‘Slave’ identity was forced on enslaved humans.

A rebel makes a conscious decision to rebel against the status quo. It is a physical and sometimes mental expression to break away from the status quo.  However, the mere act of being a rebel does not abolish the status quo.

Slavery is not just a mental state; it is a physical state as well. Those who benefit from the status quo and who are empowered by the system force it on others less fortunate than them. Also, during the slave trade era, many slaves were rebels but this did not mean they stopped being slaves.

6- It blames and shames the victims of systemic oppression

Do we now shame victims of oppression for choosing to survive rather than die as rebels while in ‘white terms’we define who qualifies as a ‘rebel’?

How is it OK to blame victims of oppression? How is it even acceptable to shame victims who are already subjected to gross violations of their human rights? Is it their fault that they could not break away from the chains of oppression?

The women in Saudi Arabia who are not allowed to drive cars or go out without a male chaperone are victims of patriarchy, religion and culture. Many of these women are rebels in their own way. Some of them challenge the status quo using strategies available to them within the constraints of their culture and environment. Who are we to look down on them and declare, “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave”?

Who says they are not rebels in their own way?

Who says the white idea of rebellion is the best way and only way to be a rebel?

Is it that unless they discard of their hijabs and go naked on the streets to protest their oppression, they are not rebels and therefore have chosen to rather be slaves?

My friends in high schools and the many African girls who were subjected to female genital mutilation did not have the option to be rebels; they were just kids who fell victim to an awful cultural practice that stems from patriarchy. They did not choose to not be rebels, they were victims.

Women who are trafficked and held as sex slaves did not choose not to be rebels; they are victims.

Going by the logic of “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave”, we can now blame and shame the innocent schoolgirls captured by the Nigerian Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram.  We can wear our fancy t-shirts and look down on them from our high position and wonder –

  • Why on earth are they still choosing to be a slave to Boko Haram rather than be rebels like us”?
  • How dare they not have escaped, organised freedom speeches and lynch their captors?
  • How dare they not be rebels? How dare they remain slaves!

Yeah, somehow, some white feminists thought it was ok to dress white women in t-shirts with the thoughtless quote “I’d rather be  a rebel than a slave”, as a rallying call against sexism and patriarchy while they look down their noses on those who have allegedly ‘chosen’ to be slaves. No dear white feminists, it does not work that way.

“I’d rather be a rebel than a slave” is a victim-blaming slogan. Such slogans only serve to divide rather than unite. It is classist, it is racist, it is divisive, and it is insensitive.

7- As an Emmeline Pankhurst quote, it is still questionable in context, and on T-shirts

The fact that a famous suffragette said these words in a rally 100 years ago does not validate the appropriateness of the quote for all time. It does not even mean the quote was appropriate for its time, especially not when many suffragettes were racists and did not encourage the full participation of women of colour in the suffrage movement. Emmeline Pankhurst whose quote it was could hardly be held up as a paragon of racial equality. Therefore, even in its original context, the words are not that palatable.

Messages on promotional T-shirts are powerful; they send a message across to a diverse audience. I learned to be conscious of t-shirts message in my teens.  As a teenager growing up in Nigeria, I bought a pretty second hand pink t-shirt with the words “Touch the mountains” emblazoned on it. In my naiveté, I thought, it carried a profound message like “Reach for the sky” or “fly high”. However, I was constantly surprised when strangers, particularly men on the streets, would read the slogan aloud and try to touch my boobs. When I jumped in surprise or got angry, they would say, “But you said to touch the mountains”. Well, to them, the “Touch the mountains” slogan on my t-shirt meant, “Touch my boobs”, because to them, boobs are mountains! It took me longer than I was proud of to finally figure out that the message on that t-shirt could be construed as a lewd invitation rather than a motivational message.  Since that sexist, abusive experience, I tend to seriously scrutinise the words on any t-shirt I put on.

Would I wear a t-shirt with the quote, “I would rather be a rebel than a slave”? No, I would not.

Would I be happy if my fellow feminists, especially white feminists don this t-shirt? No, I would not.

Would I yank it off them if they did? No, I would not.

However, I would attempt to let them know why the T-shirt is offensive and insensitive. Sometimes, people just don’t get the underlying harmful message in a t-shirt slogan, a supposedly powerful quote, or even in a protest song.

8- White women equating sexism to slavery is disgusting

When I shared one of the articles pointing out the white feminism in the “Suffragette” film’s photoshoot on my WhiteTearsfacebook wall, a white woman immediately commented-

So white women have never been slaves? Slavery is something that have ONLY happened to black people?

As I was not inclined to humour her, I asked her to go educate herself and take her trolling ass off my wall, to which she responded

 You can block me and delete my comments – as you can block and delete the history of abuse against all women including white women in your own mind. But the truth will not go away.

As it was one of these days that it was easier to reach for the block button than write a treatise, I blocked her ass. Unfortunately, this inane, disgusting, and ridiculous argument keeps surfacing.

Do we really want to start playing the game of “I was a victim too, how dare you complain!”

Do we really want to compare the sexism suffered by white women to the Atlantic slave trade?

Were black men able to legally purchase white women as slaves? NO.

White women enjoyed the inhuman privilege of owning black slaves.

By virtue of their skin colour, white women could whip, sell or lynch their black slaves.

Yes, sexism curtailed the social standing of white women; however, racism raised the social status of white women.

It is disgusting for a white woman to diminish or trivialise the effects of racism by citing sexism. White women did not suffer mass murders in the name of sexism. Black people were massacred and hung en masse. Black Africans were thrown off slave ships into the oceans alive sometimes under very frivolous circumstances as insurance claim.  Those who survived the brutal, degrading, disease ridden journeys were on arrival paraded like animals, sold to the highest bidders, brutally branded, forced to learn new language, take their owners’ names and were worked to death under inhuman conditions. Comparing this abhorrent time in the history of humankind to sexism is highly ignorant, offensive, and appalling.10629642_1500839566828578_601239324720944857_n

Meryl Streep and her “Suffragette” movie co-stars posing with t-shirts that read, “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave”, screams white feminism. It sends across the awful message that white women concerns are more important than intersectional feminism. We cannot address inequality while ignoring racism.  We cannot do feminism without taking on board intersectionality. We cannot successfully tackle inequality without breaking down the systemic barriers that foster inequality.

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…]

Serena Williams: Racism, Sexism and the Champion

Serena Williams gave us another ‪‎Serenaslam. She is unarguably one of the greatest of all times. At 33, when most men and women champions are catching their retirement cheques, Serena Williams is saying ‘You aint seen anything yet!’ Serena Williams is at her best ever and she is here to stay. What an inspirational athlete!


The Williams sisters not only changed the face of Tennis, they took it to a higher level. In a game where racism still unashamedly rears its ugly head, where sexism and beauty stereotypes mean the best athlete who happens to be black, gets less endorsement deals than the white blonde she has dominated for years, one cannot but admire the determination of the Williams sisters to excel in their game. Their many victories are inspirational and legendary.

We cannot ignore the racism the Williams sisters have faced over the years in a game that is predominantly white and traditionally elitist. [Read more…]

On the ban of UKIP LGBT from London Pride

London Pride is an event I eagerly look forward to since I started residing in UK. For me, it represents freedom, a 10270791_910936968932361_6130231271874203855_nsafe place to make a loud political statement and have fun with LGBT families and allies.

Therefore, it was a shock when I checked the London Parade list for 27 June, 2015 and saw UKIP LGBT staring right back at me.  The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is widely known for its homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia and blatant racism.  I was aghast that UKIP LGBT is going to be in that ‘safe and fun’ pride parade.

Considering how vocal UKIP leaders and members have been about condemning LGBT rights and [Read more…]

The curious case of Rachel Dolezal

When Rachel Dolezal was outed as a Caucasian woman in blackface, the story almost broke the internet. Several daystumblr_inline_npu43mC6mM1qfb043_500 later, we are still trying to put the pieces together. So far, the story has served as a platform to discuss racism and cultural appropriation. However, it has also served as a platform for transphobes to pontificate on gender and redefine transracial.

Rachel Dolezal, 37 year old part-time professor in the Africana studies program at Eastern Washington University, was outed by her Caucasian parents, Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal, as a white woman pretending to be black. Following the social media attention, Rachel Dolezal handed in her resignation as president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). She tendered her resignation without any sign of remorse, later followed by an exclusive live interview with NBC News where she insisted-

I definitely am not white, I’m more black than I am white. That’s the accurate answer from my truth.

Rachel seems to think her chosen truth trumps facts. You can choose your truth but you can’t choose your facts. She seems to have a history of choosing her truths with total disregard for facts.

On several occasions, Rachel Dolezal has claimed to be the victim of hate crimes. However, Investigators have not been able to find evidence to substantiate her claims. In fact, it was an effort to connect the dots in her latest hate [Read more…]

“Hero Mom”? Hitting children is not what good parenting looks like

When the video of an angry mom beating up her son at the Baltimore protest went viral, Toya Graham, the mom who smacked her 16-year-old son, Michael Singleton, for joining the protest, became the face of good parenting and many lauded her as hero mom of the year.

It is disappointing that many hailed her action and called for more ‘black mothers’ to whip their ‘erring’ sons into line! Are we so desensitised to violence that we don’t see anything wrong with a parent hitting a child in anger? You cannot discipline a child when you are out of control, not thinking straight or blinded with fear or anger. Toya Graham was expressing anger and fear, she admitted, “I just lost it”.

I cringed when I watched the video, the fear and violence hit me in the face! This is not what good parenting looks like. This is not what discipline looks like. This is not what makes a hero mom. This is FEAR. This is ANGER. This is a panicked mother lashing out at her child. This is an adult hitting a child she knows will not hit her back.

Hitting your child in a fit of anger is not discipline; it is child abuse. Lashing out at your children in fear because you want to keep them safe is not Love; it is child abuse. [Read more…]

South Africa and Xenophobic Attacks: Simply No Justification

On March 20, 2015, xenophobic attacks broke out in Durban, South Africa, some disgruntled South Africans turned on their neighbours, viciously attacking foreigners, mostly immigrant black Africans. This set in motion a wave of anti-immigrants attacks. The locals accused migrants of taking local jobs. They wanted the foreigners out of their country. Since the attacks, many deaths have been recorded and thousands of foreigners have fled for their lives, with many rendered homeless and in hiding.

A Mozambican man, Emmanuel Sithole was stalked, stabbed and murdered on the streets by vicious South Africans, According to reports, many including policemen watched while he pleaded for his life.

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The Nigerian consul-general in South Africa, Uche Ajulu-Okeke said  – [Read more…]

Chapel Hill Shootings: Condemning religion does not an Islamophobe make, Atheism does not a superior moral being make

The gruesome murders of Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Razan Abu-Salha, 19, all Muslims, in the gun-toting hand of Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, an atheist, is appalling and a tragedy. I cannot begin to imagine what the families of these victims must be going through.

259308B600000578-2948803-In_court_Craig_Hicks_46_is_pictured_as_he_enters_the_courtroom_f-m-9_1423673885002 carolina.si_

CNN reported

According to the law enforcement official briefed on the investigation, Tuesday’s altercation started after Hicks found a car belonging to one of the victims in what he claimed was his parking space. Then Hicks went to the victim’s condo and shot all three people in a confrontation.

Hicks turned himself in to police Tuesday night and is being held in the Durham County Jail without bond. He is cooperating with investigators, police said Wednesday morning.

Mohammad Abu-Salha The father of the female victims feels differently, he believes it is an hate crime.  He stated

We have no doubt that the way they looked and the way they believed had something to do with this

Karen Hicks, the soon to be ex-wife of Craig Stephen Hicks expressed her shock and sympathy, she however stated

This incident had nothing to do with religion or the victims’ faith, but in fact was related to the longstanding parking disputes that my husband had with the neighbors

According to Craig Stephen Hicks’ neighbour, Samantha Maness it was an equal opportunity anger situation.

I have seen and heard him be very unfriendly to a lot of people in this community,” Samantha Maness, another resident of the Finley Forest development, told the Times. She said that Hicks displayed an “equal opportunity anger” and that he made “everyone feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

Why are some atheists blaming ‘Extreme Atheism’ for Chapel Hill shootings? 

I watched in bewilderment as some atheists assume extreme atheism was to blame for the murders. Some have [Read more…]

The Charlie Hebdo tragedy: The five crowds that are getting it wrong

In the wake of the atrocious murder of Charlie Hedbo’s journalists by Islamist fundamentalists which led to #Jesuischarlie, it is sad that some people have chosen this horrendous time to falsely accuse the magazine of the very thing it stands against; Racism, Sexism, Homophobia and Misogyny.

As Libby Nelson wrote in Charlie Hebdo: its history, humor, and controversies:

Charlie Hebdo is known for its cartoons, which are often raunchy and provocative, whether they depicted the Prophet Mohammed or portrayed the Pope performing holy communion with a condom.

Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, who was murdered in the attack, described the newspaper’s positions in 2012 as left-wing, secular, and atheist.

Below are 5 different crowds that are getting it wrong and why.

1- The “Charlie Hebdo is racist and sexist” crowd

This crowd eagerly post some of Charlie Hedbo’s cartoons with the aim of accusing the magazine of racism and L4057-1011.0sexism, without caring to dig into the context.

The context of Charlie Hebdo’s Parodies/cartoons is easily understood by the French but not easily understood by outsiders, unless they are conversant with French politics. Some of these cartoons can be viewed and understood under the piece What are some of Charlie Hebdo’s most famous cartoons?

At first glance, these cartoons might appear racist, sexist, and ill-thought-out, but after reading the contexts, this is usually not the case.

So, “What was the context of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon depicting Boko Haram sex slaves as welfare queens?”

This is what Libby Nelson has to say:

Charlie Hebdo covers often combined two unrelated stories to make a satirical point. In the context of the magazine’s leftist politics, this seems to be about spoofing not Nigerian trafficking victims, but French welfare critics, who have argued that France should cut welfare programs to prevent immigrant women from exploiting them. The cover, in this view, seems to say, “Hey, welfare critics, you’re so heartless that you probably think that even Nigerian sexual slavery victims are money-grubbing ‘welfare queens.

This is what French people have to say about it on Quora [Read more…]

#Ferguson: Mike brown and the “It is not a race thing” Apologists.

I have been unable to bring myself to write a blogpost on ‪#‎Ferguson for weeks now. Reading the updates is overwhelmingly heart wrenching. However, my sadness and pain won’t shield me from the myriad of stupid, wilfully ignorant and racist comments and memes that pops up on my newsfeed. If anything, those comments, status updates and memes contribute to my pain and anger. Michael Brown, 19, was unarmed when he was shot eight times in the middle of a street in Ferguson. And now, there is the case of Eric Garner, an African American choked to death by a white police officer.

It is disheartening when in an attempt to deny the racial aspect involved in Mike Brown’s murder, people who should know better post things like:

“This is not a race thing”

“I married a white person, my in-laws are white and they are not racists “

“All black people are not criminals; All white people are not racists”

“What if Mike brown was white?”

“Can’t we just move on?”

“But all lives matter!”

Those comments expose the comfortable ignorance people maintain on race related issues. Many white people are quick to deny white privilege. Some black people are quick to exclaim in unison with their white in-laws, “Not all white people are racists, can’t we just move on?”

An atheist black friend who should know better posted a video purportedly showing Mike Brown shoplifting, without any clarification and the first commenter, another black person, immediately wrote, “He shoplifted, he should be shot.” [Read more…]

On the street harassment video: Calling out racism should not drown out the sexism in the video.

When I watched the street harassment video titled 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman, my first thought was, forget 10 hours, that is my experience as a woman 557264_423393704397930_1730387465_nwalking the 10 minutes distance to my gym!

Catcalls and street harassments are daily experiences many women have learned to live with. Many of us have spoken out against this experience many times. However, are we ever taken seriously? No. Instead, trolls invade such posts with excuses like “Not every man”, “I am not your kind of feminist”, “This is why I hate feminists”… blahblahblah

Therefore, I was actually happy just to see a video documenting an actual experience of catcalls and street harassment going viral. In all honesty, I was not looking at the skin colour of the guys in the video, I was more about their words and often I went,  oh, I have heard that or oh that is a popular one. I guess to me, my street harassers have one thing in common, they are men, they say the same shit, they want control, they treat me like objects, and they feel entitled to my body. They are men that feel entitled to my time, who feel they must compliment my body and they get annoyed when I don’t beam at their validation of my beauty. They get angry when I don’t smile when they command me to smile on the street while going about my errands, some even get violent when I don’t reciprocate their unsolicited attention. They do all these regardless of their skin colour. So nope, I was not watching out for skin colour of my everyday street harasser in that video because what binds street harassers together is not their skin colour but their male identity, male privilege or better put, misogyny.

However, I was glad when people started pointing out the racial aspect of the video, especially when the maker of the video was exposed for a similar racist editing he had done in a previous ad video and also a homeless man makeover ad video.  The discussions were good and enlightening.

However, as a woman who is very much affected by this catcalling, street harassment culture, I am worried that in an attempt to call out racism, focus is being taken [Read more…]

Sensationalising the Plight of African LGBTs

I am often approached at LGBT events especially at protests rallies by filmmakers and journalists who want to write a piece or make a 04338_yemisi_ilesanmidocumentary on the ‘horrible’ situation of African Lesbians and gays (they hardly take cognizance of bisexuals and Trans).

There is no doubt that African LGBTs who reside in countries where their sexual orientation is criminalised face a daunting task. Living a closeted life or choosing to face the consequences of being out and proud in a society where one’s sexual orientation is criminalised is frightening and dehumanising. I have been there, I am still there, and I know how horrible the threats can be. So yes, I understand why the filmmakers and writers are fascinated with telling this horror story.

However, a recurring theme makes me cringe every time I am approached by filmmakers or journalists demanding that I tell the horror stories or at least provide them some graphic pictures of violence suffered by African LGBTs. There is this fascination with the horror stories and abused bodies of African LGBTs that I am beginning to wonder if it is a voyage into morbid porn and/or just another way to portray Africans as victims.

When I inform these filmmakers and journalists that I do not have pictures of abused African LGBTS to share with them, they are immediately crestfallen. It is my opinion that most of them haunt African LGBT activists protest grounds not because they are interested in the fight for African LGBT Rights but because they see the plight of African LGBTs as a way of furthering their career in Journalism or film industry.

A heart-wrenching, graphic documentary on the abuses suffers by African LGBTs and why African LGBTS need white saviours could turn a [Read more…]

Just another sexist and racist encounter at the hospital

After many failed attempts to get an appointment at the surgery, I decided I was not going to endure another restless, sleepless, sweaty, tossing and turning night, so I dragged myself to my local Accident & Emergency/Walk in Center. At the entrance to the hospital is a big sign that reads, “If you have flu, stay at home, and call your GP”.  Well, I have flu-like symptoms and I have spent the last three days trying to get an appointment with my GP to no avail.  Majority of the NHS surgeries now have a rule that one can only book an appointment on the particular day within the hour of 8:00am -9:00am. Anything outside that, one would have to wait until the next day and start the process again. The problem is, as soon as it is 8:00am, the line becomes engaged. Try every minute and you will keep getting the busy tone. It is frustrating.

Anyway, I decided I have not been diagnosed with Flu, I needed treatment, and i am not going to self-diagnose or self-prescribe. Therefore, I walked to the reception room, and requested to see a doctor.

The following discussion ensued- [Read more…]

“We do not learn about our history by sitting in cages or sitting in slave ships and re-enacting how many lashes we had and seeing our skins with all those abrasions.” On Exhibit B-The human zoo. A great talk by Esther Stanford-Xosei.

The Barbican center is yet to cancel the awfully racist, dehumanising and traumatising exhibition titled ‘Exhibit B’ by white South African, Brett Bailey. Exhibit B- the human zoo, is a dehumanising, racist voyeurism in the name of art.

Below is a video of a great talk by “Reparationist, Jurisconsult, dynamic community advocate and radio Broadcaster Esther Stanford-Xosei” courtesy of London Live 360 TV  It is a must watch interview!

  [Read more…]

Exhibiting Africans in a Human Zoo is not Art, it is Racist Voyeurism! Please sign this petition.

The Human Zoo exhibition ‘Exhibit B’ by white South African Brett Bailey is disgusting and dehumanising! As a black woman in the 21st century, my skin colour or body should not be on exhibition for the voyeuristic, closeted pleasure of racist privileged white people. My ancestors already suffered this humiliation, I should not have to watch it happen again under the pathetic excuse of “It is Art”.

If the people at the Barbican Centre cannot see why this is racist and dehumanising, they need to raise their social consciousness and awareness.

As for the artist, white South African Brett Bailey, I think he already knows that he is a racist asshole, afterall his reported use of the ‘N’ words testify to this.

It is not art, it is an outlet for him and his fellow racist, privileged white people to enjoy voyeuristic, closeted racist pleasure at the expense of [Read more…]