Black Lives Matter Protest Chelmsford

It was a surprise when I was contacted  on LinkedIn to speak at a Black Lives Mattter protest in my local area, Chelmsford, Essex.

It was a very pleasant surprise because Chelmsford is not exactly known for its Liberal views. It is a conservative city with a white majority and very low black population density. I moved there from London almost 3 years ago and the contrast was shocking even though it is just a 35 minures train ride from Chelmsford to London.

I happily accepted to speak and offered to help the young organisers with the protest. I was sceptical that people might not turn up. I’ve never been so happy to be proved wrong!

The rally was held on Saturday 13 June, 2020 at Central park for speeches followed by a march through the Central areas to Oaklands Park where protesters took a knee for George Floyd.

RMC Event Photography

Chelmsford, thank you for turning out in large numbers to support Black Lives Mattter protest. Special shout out to the young organisers Black Lives Matter – Chelmsford and the young people who attended and marched with passion. It shows there is hope for humanity, the younger generation will do better.

Here is the video of my speech at the protest. #BlackLivesMatter.

Pictures from the event. Some from my camera, some from RMC Event Photography

RMC Event Photography

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    RMC Event Photography

Your black colleagues are most probably not okay right now

As a migrant black woman living in UK, the events of the past few weeks have left me emotionally drained and mentally exhausted and I can say this is true for my family, my black friends and black colleagues. Many of us are traumatised. Black people all over are distraught by these events, and this includes your black colleagues.

These past few days and weeks, we have seen a black man, George Floyd, being choked to death on camera by a white cop, the very people who are supposed to serve and protect the community. The words “I can’t breathe” send shivers down our spines. It sounds eerily familiar. It is a haunting cry for help and now a rallying cry for justice.

I remember spending the weekend watching videos of white people just being cruel, abusive and derogatory towards black people for no other reason than the colour of their skin.

We were still reeling from the shock of the daylight murder of Ahmaud Arbery who was peacefully jogging on the street when a white man and his son hunted him down and fired shots at him like a wild animal, they killed him and waited by his dead body until the police came. And guess what, the police did not think they had done anything wrong, they went home to celebrate getting rid of another black person in their neighbourhood. It was not until the video of the murder emerged on social media several weeks after that the killers were finally arrested following public outcry.

Just a few weeks ago, Breonna Taylor, a black woman, was shot dead in her own bed by police as she slept. Turned out the police were in the wrong house, the suspect they were looking for was already in police custody. Let that sink in. As a black person, even sleeping peacefully in your own home could still get you murdered by cops.

I have seen video of a white woman calling the cops on a black man in a park while making false allegations against the man. She made sure to emphasise on the phone that the person threatening her life was a black African American. We know what happens when they call cops on black people.

I have watched a white man call the cops on young black men at a residential gym just because they don’t look like they belong there, their skin colours did not fit in the neighbourhood, never mind that they were also renters in the property.

I have watched the video of a white woman call cops on a black woman in the park while making false accusations about her. The sense of entitlement to police black bodies was very evident there.

And let’s not forget the teenager, Trayvon Martin who was murdered on the street by a white vigilante, the boy only had skittles in his pocket. The white man who murdered him said he looked like a demon. His black skin to this racist screamed “Demon”, his black skin screamed “Thug”.

I shed tears when I read the account of Steve Locke, a black professor, who was stopped and searched by cops on the street and treated like a criminal. He was not believed when he said he works at the university few blocks away and just came out to get lunch. They said he looked like a suspect, during the ordeal, he feared for his life, as he should.

All these victims were killed, attacked, dehumanised for one major reason, the colour of their skin. As a black woman, I know any of the victims could have been me. It could have been my son. It could have been my family members, black friends, black colleagues.

I remember walking into the office after a heavy weekend of sadness and anger, thinking, I have to leave that part behind and let it be business as usual in the office. Put on a smile and tell people you had a good weekend because that is what we have learned to do.

However, how do you compartmentalise such pain? It is not as if you can leave your skin colour behind and put on a brand-new identity at work. These issues follow us everywhere; we as black people have just learned over time not to bring that to our workplace especially when it is a white majority workplace. We stand the risk of being labelled the “sensitive aggressive black person” and be told to “get over it”.

Racism kills. It kills us physically. It kills us mentally. It dehumanises our existence. It thrashes our dignity and humanity.

Imagine you were going to work and came across a fatal accident, as a human being, you feel sad. Also, you feel thankful that it wasn’t you or a family member. Now, imagine that the fatal accident was simply due to the colour of the skin of the victim, as a white person, you think, that is sad, you might even think that is bad but you go about your normal duties. However, imagine your black colleagues came across same fatal accident scenario. They feel sad but that is not all, they feel traumatised, devastated and angry. They know the victim could have been them, their black son, black partner, their children, their father, mother, sister, black friends, all because it is targeted at people that look like them. See, we do not feel these racially motivated killings the same way. We know it could definitely be us next. It hits too close to home for black people.

Some might say “but these horrible things only happen in the USA, we are better here in UK”. No, we are not. Most importantly, it is not enough to simply be less racist; the goal is not to be racist at all. We see the way black people are disproportionately stopped and searched on the streets by cops, how black people are disproportionately arrested, how black people die in police custody. We see how black people are portrayed in the media.

In London, Sean Rigg died in police custody in exact same condition as George Floyd. Racism, Racial profiling and police brutality are contributing factors in the deaths of Joy Gardiner, Leon Briggs, Christopher Adler, Rashan Charles, Olaseni Lewis, Stephen Lawrence, Mark Duggan, Dalian Atkinson, Sheku bayoh etc.

As a black person in UK, I have been shouted at in my local shops and on the street to go back home especially following Brexit. I know what it feels like to walk into a store or venue and immediately be made to feel you do not belong there. We have lived this experience; we are living this racist nightmare.

It does not matter whether it is in USA, UK, Germany or China, the ordeal is real and painful. To be judged everyday solely on your skin colour is traumatising. To be deprived of your humanity, dignity, rights and respect because of your race is devastating, infuriating and sad. Being black should not be a death sentence.

To our white colleagues, please know that your black colleagues are not okay right now, acknowledge their pain. Reach out to them, speak out. We have all being watching the news and reading the newspapers, there is no need to pretend we do not know these things are happening. Silence is not the best policy in this case. If we truly want people to be themselves at work, it is important to acknowledge who they are, their total package.

We say Inclusion is not just being invited to a party but also being asked to dance. However, it is not always about the dancing, it is also about sharing the pain. Right now, it does not feel like we live in the same world. I step out from my world and walk into another world every morning I go to work. Yet, I carry with me the trauma, unrecognised, unacknowledged by people who tell me I can be me in my workplace. They tell me that they are serious about Diversity and Inclusion, yet I sit in my corner of the office feeling very isolated in these unfolding global events. How do we feel included when our struggles are not acknowledged or when we are cautious about raising the issues because it could make our white colleagues uncomfortable? Some of us are even afraid to bring up the topic at work for fear of being accused of stirring the pot.

The question is, how can you as a white person be a good ally to your black colleagues?

First you need to sincerely Ask them how they are feeling.

Listen to them, don’t talk over them.

No, it is not the time to tell them you are not racist because you have a black friend or you married a black person. You can do all these and still be very racist.

Educate yourself about race issues. Read about white privilege, structural racism and understand that you as a white person benefits from institutional racism. Pls, do not expect your black colleagues to educate you on racism. We talk enough about this already, it is emotionally draining. We have the talk with our black children, we have the uncomfortable but necessary talk with our black sons to keep them safe. We talk about this on social media, it is exhausting.

Donate to Black Lives Matters groups. Donate to organisations that are committed to combating racism.

Talk about racism with your family and friends. Develop your understanding of the struggles of black people and aim to do better.

Please, do not say you are Colour blind. We live in a world that sees colour. If you do not see my colour, you will not see my struggle. Saying you do not see colour is a cop out. You need to understand that racism is not just an individual thing, it is embedded in the very fabric of our society. We need to do more than sing Kumbaya to disintegrate racism.

It is not enough to be quietly non racist; this is the time to be vocally anti-racist. This is not the time to be silent, this is the time to reach out to your black colleagues and inquire about their wellbeing. Show that you care. Show that they matter.

When we say Black lives matter, pls, do not counter this with All lives matter. Understand that we wouldn’t be saying black lives matter if all lives already matter. White lives have always mattered; we are calling for black lives to matter just as much. As we have been trying to explain to the All Lives matter brigade, if one house was on fire, you wouldn’t insist that the fire fighters spray all the houses on the street, because all houses matter. Your house is not on fire, let’s spray the one on fire. Also, when we raise funds for cancer research, we do not scream All diseases matter. Why do some people think Black Lives matter is a dirty word? If you are one of these who immediately say All Lives matter, you need to take a very deep look at yourself and ask yourself why you are unable to just say Black lives matter. Check your white privilege.

We need to have honest conversations. We should be part of dismantling racism. Let’s do our part. Racism is not going to go away overnight. However, we can chip away at it by doing our part. This can be our legacy when finally, our grandchildren and great grandchildren are truly free from the evils of racism. A better world is possible, it starts with you and me.

BiNet USA, Bisexual Pride Flag and the questionable Petition

I woke up a few days ago to tweets and feeds on social media that BiNet USA has declared it owns Bisexual Pride Flag and has sent out desist warnings to people and organisations not to use the colours without its approval. I thought, whoa, surely this must be a satirical joke but alas, it wasn’t. BiNet USA dug its grave; what a shameful thing to even think of! BiNet USA should have known the Bisexual flag is bigger than its greed and ego. Well they say Pride comes before a fall. BiNet cowardly deleted their twitter account after going on about owning and trademarking the Bisexual Flag and even threatening people and organisations with lawsuit. It’s a shame that someone with an ill thought out greedy idea has caused pain to many bisexuals who find comfort in the Bisexual flag identity. As a bisexual who is very much proud of the Bisexual pride flag, I say shame on you BiNet USA.

That said, I have seen a petition making the rounds demanding that the President of BiNet USA, Faith Cheltenham, be removed by its board. I certainly do not support going after an individual in this case and I don’t support this petition.

I loathe what BiNet USA did in regards to its appalling claims to Bisexual Pride flag, however, I hold BiNet USA as an Organisation responsible for the claim, the tweets and its fallout actions including targeting bi activists who used the flag on their websites.

This atrocity was carried out in the name of BiNet USA and I fail to see how this was just an individual action. Even its statement was issued as BiNet USA Board’s decision not an individual’s decision. Yet, many just want the black woman President of BiNet USA kicked out.

It’s all well and good when some board members find it convenient to tender their resignation now but where were they when the decision was made? Did they first read about it on twitter? Would they have resigned if there was no public outcry?

This mess was created by BiNet USA and BiNet USA as an organisation should be held responsible. This issue should not be used as a means of settling personal grudges with the president of BiNet USA or any other board members. A more appropriate petition would have been a demand for BiNet USA to apologise for its action.

The President of BiNet USA on her Facebook page identifies as trans-femme Black Bisexual. and I cannot ignore the fact that racism could be a motivating factor in some of the comments I have been reading regarding this issue. There is so much hate and harassment towards Faith Cheltenham, most of it coming from the white bisexual community that it is truly concerning and the race aspect cannot be ignored.

The comments on some threads i have engaged in or stumbled on have been pure vile. Before you send another tweet, post another comment or go on her Facebook page to leave abusive, bullying and harassing comment or reviews, pause and ask yourself, is this really worth it. Remember, no one is taking away your bisexual Bi pride flag, neither Faith Cheltenham nor BiNet USA has the capacity to do it. So, pause, is it worth contributing to the distress of a black trans femme disabled bisexual when she is down? Why pile it on? Two wrongs do not make a right. Show care, show empathy, be angry but don’t be out to physically and emotionally crush someone who has contributed a lot to the visibility of Bisexuals. People can stumble, it is not an opportunity to trample on them. Think carefully about your motive before you send another abusive tweet, review or comment. Is your indignant self-righteousness really worth the physical, mental health of a member of our community, especially one who has dedicated their life to promoting our cause even if they have messed up now? Let’s correct people with care not with hate. Remember, there is a human being behind that screen, be considerate.

I certainly support that bad leadership should be called out. Some people are coming out with some unpleasant, abusive encounters they had with the BiNet USA president in their personal or official capacity many years ago, which is understandable, however, let’s not conflate issues or use this particular opportunity to exert a personal vendetta against an individual.

If the petition was about asking BiNet USA to explain itself and apologise, I’m more than happy to sign and share but I refuse to be party to what appears to be people using this opportunity to settle scores with a black woman they have, rightly or wrongly, issues with.

Toxic leadership should be addressed but again let’s not conflate issues. BiNet USA as an Organisation did something appalling and BiNet as an Organisation has some explaining to do and a sincere apology to give regardless of whether they remove their president or not. It’s not just about Faith Cheltenham, it is about BiNet USA as an Organisation.

Some of these calling for her head have also speculated on her mental health with some saying it so derogatorily, which in and of itself is ableism. I don’t think we are in a position to speculate on the mental health of an individual. If this was even a possibility that is crossing peoples’ mind regarding Faith Cheltenham, is targeting her as an individual a responsible, decent action to take at this point?

If people have been abused by faith (and for the record, I do not know her, and I don’t ever recollect having any interaction with her), they should separate that issue from this particular Bi pride flag issue, otherwise it is just what it is, a personal vendetta.

Some claimed the reason they support the petition to remove Faith as BiNet USA President is because nothing can be done until she is gone. Really? Why must it be until after she is gone? A statement was issued in the name of BiNet USA Board of directors recently yet you insist it’s all about Faith Cheltenham. Sounds very much like personal targeting of an individual to me.

The only interest I have in BiNet USA is for the organisation to apologise for what happened. BiNet USA has a lot of explaining to do as to what led to that awful claim in the first place. It is not just enough for them to wake up tomorrow and say “Yes, we have removed Faith Cheltenham, can we now go back to being in your good books?”. Nope, they need to explain and apologise. It is totally their decision if they wish to remove their President, I will definitely not be signing or sharing a petition to that effect, that is the responsibility of the board of directors.

Also, for people who have reasons to bring complaints against BiNet USA President in her official capacity, they should very well do so, I simply maintain that this should not be conflated with the Bisexual Pride flag issue except in cases where it is specifically related to the flag issue. For example, demanding that a Bi activist who organised a Bi Virtual event remove the bi pride flag from their website, now this is related to this issue, not something done by Faith 3, 4, 5, 10 years ago.

Yes, BiNet USA has doubled down on its claim but it has not apologised, instead it came out with a statement by its Board of Directors that does little to clarify the situation. This is the more reason I think BiNet USA as a whole should be held responsible for this and not just its president, Faith Cheltenham, as this petition seeks to do.

Regardless of other people’s narration of their experiences with the President of BiNet USA in their personal capacity or official capacity, this particular issue is about what BiNet USA said about owning the copyright to Bi Pride Flag and these tweets and statements were made in the name of BiNet USA. If people have grudges with the BiNet USA President aside this particular BiNet USA ridiculous claim to Bi Pride Flag, this is a separate issue and should not be logged in with BiNet USA claim to the Bisexual Pride Flag. BiNet USA made an appalling claim, BiNet USA should not only speak out but apologise for the claim.

BiNet USA action is what I am appalled by, it is what I am reacting to. It is not left for me to tell BiNet USA to kick its President off its board but I can definitely ask BiNet to address the harm it did. Asking BiNet to specifically remove its President is more of personal targeting of an individual than holding BiNet USA to account for its action as an Organisation.

The world is not a great place for many right now, let’s spread love, not hate.

Trans Rights are Workers Rights too.

It is saddening that transphobia camouflaged as concerns for women’s rights is growing within the left movement and seeping its ugly way into progressive movements including Trade Unions.

This article in the Morning Star on 20/02/2020 was particularly saddening, I am particularly ashamed of this article because it was written by the General secretary of my union although he said it was in his personal capacity and was his personal opinion, it still matters. Personal opinion of elected union officials expressed in a paper matters to me as a union member, especially as this opinion goes against the official position of the Union on Trans rights.

Groups such as Women’s Place UK and LGB Alliance were condemned at Union conferences for their transphobia, therefore an elected member of the Union defending these groups is concerning and disappointing. These groups make no secret of the fact that they are Trans exclusionary and their actions scream it loud and clear. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Why would anyone think otherwise?

As a Cis woman who is black, bisexual and feminist, I know what inclusion feels like and it is not these groups and I know what exclusion feels like, it feels like these groups.

The rights of trans women to exist without having their very existence questioned is not going to take away hard fought for and hard-won women’s rights. Groups that encourage dead-naming of Trans women or shouts “Penis” at them when they try to speak are nothing but a shining example of what hate looks like. This is not feminism; this is pure hate. If you associate with such groups, do not be surprised when people think you agree with their principles.

This is truly disheartening. My rights as a cis woman are not threatened by trans women. The existence of trans women does not stop women, trans women inclusive, from fighting for women’s rights.

The feminism I embraced and that has defined me from a young age was based on deconstructing gender roles especially as imposed by the society. Now, are we going back to enforcing these gender roles just because we want to police who gets to be a woman?

What is it to be woman anyway? Is it the ability to give birth, menstruate or have a womb that makes me a woman and grants me an automatic pass to women spaces? What happens when I can no longer do all these things or no longer have these ‘women things’ due to age, medical conditions or because I was born without these ‘women packages’ as is the case with some women?

Really, what is it to be a woman? Is it the appalling fact that I can be raped that makes me a woman? Anyone can be raped, however as a woman, I am at a higher risk of being raped than a man would ever be. However, statistics also show that I am likely to be raped by someone I know, rather than strangers.

This continued fear-mongering by trans exclusionary feminists that trans women and non binary siblings are potential rapists trying to gain access into women spaces or lurking in women toilets just so they could rape women is pathetic, disgusting greatly misinformed and goes against statistics. As a woman, I am more likely to be raped by a male family member than a trans women in a public toilet! Also, in most cases, Rape is about asserting power and comes from a position of power, this is something feminists know too well. Trans women and non binary people are vulnerable groups and demonising them this way is just wrong.

Oppressed and marginalised groups should not be looking to marginalise or oppress other minority groups, if we are fortunate to be able to empower others, go ahead and empower. We have nothing to lose from lifting others up, we gain a better world. As Cis women, we should be lifting up our trans sisters and non binary siblings, not demonising them for daring to live as their true self identity.

It was not that long ago that black people as a whole were routinely demonised for the actions of a few black people. The actions of a few were eagerly used as a reason to demonise a whole race and as an excuse to deny basic human rights to black people. The pathetic excuse of white supremacists that white women must be protected from “barbaric” black men led to the executions and persecution of innocent black men, and this continue till date. Do we really want to demonise our trans sisters and siblings in this manner too?

As if the article on 20/02/2020 was not bad enough transphobia, on 22/02/20, a cartoon was printed by the Morning Star which depicted a crocodile getting in to a pond of newts.

Newts: “But – You can’t come in here, this is our safe space!”
Crocodile: “Don’t worry your pretty little heads! I am transitioning as a newt!”


This is terrible, disgusting and overt transphobia. This is really concerning considering many trade union leaders sit on the board of this paper.

There is a petition on Change.org. Pls, feel free to sign and share. As stated in the petition-

We are disappointed that, according to its 2018 return, the Morning Star had a number of trade unions on its management committee (those we are petitioning above).
As a registered mutual society, the Morning Star claims that it “produced a daily newspaper under the strapline ‘For peace and socialism’ and reported on the social and political developments as well as the plights and struggles of people trying to achieve a safer and fairer world.
We believe that The Morning Star has gone against those principles and needs to be held to account.

This conscious spreading of transphobia is appalling and divisive. We need to unite to fight for a better world for ALL not just spew out rhetoric that further divides the working class.

Transphobia has no place in our collective struggle for workers’ rights. Trans issues are workers issues. Trans rights are workers’ rights. Trans rights are human rights. No to Transphobia, Yes to a better world for ALL.

Ho Ho Ho…Happy Secular Holiday!

Not everyone can have a happy holiday.

It has been an especially sad year for some, with many young lives lost as the holidays approached. So many grieving mothers, grieving fathers, grieving children, grieving lovers, it is sad.

If you are grieving, I wish you the fortitude to bear the loss and a very splendid support system with people that won’t judge you, will hold your hands, listen to you moan and offer you tissues to wipe your tears.

We all cannot be merry this Xmas, please do not feel forced to join in the hilarity if you do not feel up to it. Be strong, for this too shall pass and you shall be happy again.

Pain and pleasures are life’s twin fountains, with our pains; we appreciate more our pleasures when it comes, as it surely will.

Happy Holidays to everyone who is up to it and don’t forget to put a smile on someone’s face today!

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The Deafening Silence of White Privilege

What happened at this conference in the name of entertainment is outrageous, demeaning and reeks of blind white privilege. Unfortunately, some white people never seem to understand that racism is not entertainment. Racism is not Art. Racism is not something you intellectualised or play devil’s advocate with. Re-enacting a slave auction is certainly not something you entertain your mostly white audience with. The oppression of my ancestors is not your entertainment. When I read what happened at this conference in this article, I could not help but fume with anger, and to think there were people defending such appalling behaviour on twitter. You need to read the article to understand why the anger.

A quote from the article that resonates with me –

Slavery is considered an egregious human rights violation, alongside torture. The prohibition of both constitute the only two absolute, fundamental human rights which can never be justified or derogated from. Both can amount to crimes against humanity. This is for a reason. The gravity, horror and the harm of slavery, and its continued legacy, is important to understand–not intellectualised, minimised, sanitised, denied or dismissed as ‘that was in the past’ or ‘nothing to do with us’. The oppressive weight of Whiteness lives on, and its manifestations in individual, institutional, overt and covert, indirect racism are all around us, in us and in our practices. Racism and complicity in racism are always wrong. Racism is brutal. Racism is always an assault. Never entertainment.

It is also sad that most white people who consider themselves as not racist or ‘woke’ just sometimes get it so wrong. Also, it is important to bear in mind that fighting racism is not the sole responsibility of people of colour.

This reaction below was the response of a rather well-meaning white friend when I posted this article on my Facebook page

This is not the time for decorum anymore. Instead of walking out and issuing a statement the next day, why on earth didn’t those who object not stop the auction, physically, and denounce the audience for its passive acceptance of such an outrage? I’m fed up with objecting from the side-lines. If necessary, trash the place by throwing the chairs around. Get in their faces and dominate. It works.

While I was finding the right words to respond to such short-sighted statement from an online friend, another friend chimed in with her well thought out response.

I imagine that people walked out because they felt vulnerable and traumatised. I imagine that a direct response such as the one you describe did not feel available precisely because of the power dynamics and context described in the article. It would have been an option for the members of the majority white audience to take that action. Apparently they chose not to, or didn’t see the need. As white people, it’s on us to challenge racism because we have the privilege to do that. To leave it to those being oppressed to challenge that oppression by themselves is profoundly unfair because they are already vulnerable and traumatised. That’s my understanding anyway.

His response-

I see it in a somewhat different way. Sure some people will feel vulnerable and just want to get out of there. That’s understandable. However if you want to change things then you have to have the courage to challenge other people there and then, that reaction gives leadership so that other people will join you. This particular event is typical of what happens daily in many different forms. It must be met with immediate response and a readiness to escalate. It is not easy to do and often the moment is missed, but is has to be done.

Though to tell the truth, more often than not in the past, to my shame I haven’t reacted quickly enough in the moment. Sometimes it somebody totally unexpected who speaks up and demands solidarity from us all. Thank goodness for them. I suppose we have all experienced that.

When I finally found the words to respond, I wrote-

This is a white privileged view of the situation and very similar to blaming the victim rather than addressing the behaviour of the oppressor,.

You have focused on the reaction of the victim. Very tantamount to asking a rape victim…”but why didn’t you fight back or attack your rapist?”

What you have done here is blame the oppressed for the continued action of the oppressor and for not reacting the way you as a privileged white man would have preferred them to react to their oppression.

What’s wrong with this was actually highlighted in the article. You have failed to take into consideration factors such as shock, power dynamics, class and race privilege and the minority factor amongst other things.

Black people at that conference were in the minority as mentioned in the article, and the article mentioned that in that particular profession, that is the norm, which also translates to, the black people at that conference could probably only attend because they got a sponsorship or part sponsorship so as to not make the conference appear all white. I have seen this in action, I have been a beneficiary of such superficial equality action for conference organisers to look good and to tick the equality monitoring form.
Most probably the black participants were junior colleagues hoping to use such conference to network and climb up the ladder. They do not have the power luxury to start throwing a tantrum and chairs around or grab the microphone to disrupt the event to protest a play that offended them.

Walking out itself was a protest tool they felt comfortable using and I applaud them for taking a stand. They also forfeited their rest hour to come together to draft a response and insisted it was read at the conference the next day.

However, did they get support for the statement from the white audience? Nope. They were met with silence. A loud silence of white privilege who wondered why the black people could be offended by something so entertaining. To them the black people there had no sense of humour, no wonder their ancestors were enslaved.

Look , there was a time when if I was at such a conference I would have jumped on stage and disrupted that event, but that was a younger me. Would this me that is a civil servant do such a thing now? I doubt so. I would walk out, I would silently protest outside if possible, I would draft a statement and insist it be read, same thing they already did. However, I know I wouldn’t jumped on stage to stop the play. Power dynamics, civil service code of conduct, immigrant status, race factor which definitely has and would affect my getting another job or a promotion and the need to pay my Bills are factors that would deter me from reacting in the way you as a white man suggested.

Instead of being angry that the black people did not react aggressively to stop this racism that continue to happen, why not direct that anger to the people that keep doing this act of racism and the white audience who enjoy such and the white audience who maintain a grave silence in the face of such outrageous racism.

In other words, don’t tell people to fight their rapist, tell rapists to stop raping. Tell racists to stop being racists and don’t blame black people for not fighting back the way you as a white man would want them to. Finally, remember fighting and stopping racism is definitely not just the responsibility of the oppressed, it is a collective responsibility and white people needs to take a huge part of the responsibility.

From his response below, it is good to know that he has at least had a rethink

Thanks Yemisi Ilesanmi and****** for your your well considered replies. Yes I am speaking from white privelege. It is a different power dynamic. It means that I can fire back at those who offend me and if necessary go down with all guns blazing. That is a freedom I assume, wrongly as you point out, that every citizen has – no matter their race, gender or sexuality. At any rate that is the ideal, even if doesn’t exist in practice. The accusation of blaming the victims for their non-aggressive reaction rather than focusing on the oppressors – stings – and I shall remember my mistake; though I suspect I shall probably repeat it when I next try to wave the flag for more militant, break-the-limits-of-convention type of action that I am in favour of. In the last few years I have increasingly lost patience for a safe/tolerant/polite approach with my opponents. The Amazon burns, Brexit disaster looms, Trump is doing his stuff, the Tories are about to be re-elected, Racism is so much more overt, Religion is even more unbearable, Fascism manoeuvres into the mainstream and we have only a handful of years left to stop runaway climate change. We are losing, not winning. Whether I have a privileged position or not, my attitude is to slap back. The only real question is how best to carry the majority of the people with us. And in that respect my non-too-subtle approach may be counter-productive. I suspect you both have your own ideas on how, but how does it chime with the times?

It’s good to know that at least they got part of what I was getting at. However, it reiterates the saying-He who wears the shoes knows where it pinches most.

No matter how much white people think they get racism they cannot really feel the tragic impact as Black people who know and understand their history do. Even when I organise equality events , now neatly and ‘conveniently called inclusion events, with white people, I am so conscious of how they only want to speak about the ‘feel good’ part of inclusion which comes with phrases such as “We are all one”, “We all bleed same blood”, “let’s all just get over things and just get along”. However, they get very uncomfortable when words such as white privilege, class differences, race power dynamics are mentioned. Surface equality is not enough to dismantle the power structure of racism. People with the power must learn to speak out against racism and call it out, Afterall their white voices still hold more power that the people affected by racism.

All I ask is that, beware of your white privilege and use your voice when most needed to condemn racism.

Liam Neeson: The face of white privilege and the advert for “Power-walking” as a cure for racism

The confidence of Liam Neeson casually confessing without any prompt that he went out with a weapon for a week looking to kill any black man, without even thinking there might be repercussions, reeks of white privilege. Just imagine if this was a black man confessing to going out every day for a week looking for a random white person to kill, just imagine.

In the interview with UK independent, Liam Neeson said

I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody- I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could… kill him.

On Good Morning America, he explained:

I went out deliberately into black areas in the city looking to be set upon so I could unleash physical violence, and I did it maybe four or five times until I caught myself on and it really shocked me, this primal urge I had.

The fact that Liam Neeson could confess to this is not really about the bravery, it’s about his cluelessness, about him not even realising a black man, a Muslim, an Asian man cannot just casually confess to this without serious repercussion , and not just from an angry populace on social media, but from the legal arm of government, starting with a knock, if not a kick , at his door from police officers ready to haul his black ass in for questioning for planning terrorist attacks. Liam Neeson is blissfully oblivious to this, Afterall it is normal primordial urge to want to murder black bastards, he really deserves a cookie for overcoming this very normal urge through power-walking 2 hours a day for a few weeks. Talk about white privilege!

Well, the power-walking worked, until he suddenly felt the need to refer to black people as “black bastard” during an interview, a case of repressed racism bursting out to show his inner racist, perhaps? Why on earth did he use that racist term and tone in that interview? Maybe we have the power-walking to thank for his not adding to the long list of black men who were killed and lynched by white men just because they can, think Emmett Louis Till, and all the black men that were lynched under the guise of protecting white women’s honour.

To all white people defending Liam Neeson, keep doing so, you are showing your low-key racism. Hand Liam a medal for his ‘bravery’, give him a cookie because we live in a society where it is such a heroic thing to no longer feel the primal urge to murder any member of a whole race for the alleged crime of a member of that race, and when that race is black people, damn, give that man an extra cookie…what restraint he showed!

It is one thing for Liam Neeson to acknowledge that it was wrong for him to try to seek revenge on behalf of a friend, but he never acknowledged it was racist of him to want to machete, in his own word. a “black bastard” to death. What Liam portrayed in that interview and what he continued to miss in the nonpoplogy, ‘I am the Victim here’ interview he later granted on Good Morning America, was that while he acknowledged that wanting to take Revenge is not the solution, he failed to acknowledge that his rage for revenge was further fuelled by the skin colour of his friend’s alleged rapist. Why was he concerned about the colour of the rapist anyway? Why did he not ask for the age or height of this alleged rapist and why didn’t he feel the urge to hunt down any man of same age and height? If she had said the rapist was white, would he really have gone out every week to look for a white man to kill?

His rage to want to lynch any black man to protect or avenge the honour of a white woman is one that is unfortunately very much entrenched in black history as one of the horrors committed by white people against black people. This horror is not a distant, past memory, this white man’s fantasy for black lynching still lives with us today. Remember Trayvon Martin, and George Zimmerman’s confession of seeing a young black boy walking on a white populated street, and immediately thinking he was a demon. Zimmerman admitted he saw a demon, not a human being, not a young boy, but because of the boy’s skin colour, what he saw was a demon and that cost Trayvon Martin his young life. Liam Neeson’s casual confession while promoting his revenge themed movie, is tasteless and even more so was his attempt to convince us he is not racist on a day that would have been the 24th birthday of Trayvon Martin who was murdered by a white man with same urge as Liam Neeson, to kill a black man, any black person. Only George Zimmerman did murder, he got away with it, and till date, has no remorse.

Liam Neeson has obviously not identified the Hate crime element in his confession. It is impossible to acknowledge and deal with something when you have not even realised it is a problem. After one week of going out 4 to 5 days to hunt down any “Black bastard”, he finally realised his primal urge was wrong, but did he realise it was a hate crime? Didn’t sound like it.

Did he realised just how much hurt based on real lived experiences his confession brought black people, myself included? It is a confirmation of what we as black people already know, we are not fully seen as humans of same status by many white people. We still have every reason to have that doubt, even if it’s the tiniest doubt, about how a white person truly sees us, no matter how open minded or progressive the white person claims to be. Liam Neeson’s confession confirms what we as black people have always known, we are not safe, hence why we march with the placards ‘BlackLivesMatter’, why we bend a knee during national anthems, why we use the hashtags BlackLivesMatter.

In this Black history month, Liam Neeson has unintentionally reminded us that we are not safe, that we can be the target of hate crime just because of our skin colour, that we are easily demonised because white people painted the devil and all that is evil in black colour. If Black is the face of evil, it is perfectly understandable when white men see evil when they see a black man.

Liam Neeson claimed-

I was trying to show honour, to stand up for my dear friend in this terribly medieval fashion.

If every black person went out to take revenge for what white people did to us, our families and dearest black friends, there wouldn’t be any white person alive today. Yet they tell us it was all in the past, that we should move on, if only they would let us truly move on and not have to live with their everyday racism.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, the allegations and the women stars that never got to shine

Neil deGrasse Tyson and the sexual misconduct allegations is a sad reminder of why I hardly have heroes, especially men as heroes. Even when I have men who I would otherwise classify as heroes, it is difficult not to wonder how they have treated women, especially vulnerable women in their lives, and how they are treating the women, especially vulnerable women in their lives.

I have worked and interacted too long in male dominated workplaces with powerful men who are revered and idolised by the society, but who leave me wanting to puke with the way they talk about women or the way they treat women in their personal and professional lives, for me to have any illusions left about men in power. Male privilege and male toxicity are very real, these did not just come about when we started using terms like male privileges, or male toxicity or when hashtags like #METOO started trending.

Sexual abuse, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination have been happening before we found the names to define them, they are still happening long after we put a name on them, and they will continue to happen as long as male privilege exists. These dastardly acts will exist as long as we continue to hero-worship blindly and think just like the way we created Gods, our earth idols can do no wrong. However, we can start putting a stop to this normalised abnormality when we start believing the victims of these sexual predators. We will make progress when we stop blaming women for men behaving badly.

As a woman, a black woman, a bisexual woman, I refused to be held responsible for the state of anyone’s arousal or the state of any man’s dick. It is not my duty to quench your lust or thirst for my body or give you hugs that you intend for your sexual satisfaction. Women’s careers and lives should never have to be defined by what we allow or not allow a sexual predator to do to us, unfortunately in many cases, this is the case. Our lives, our stories our #MeToos are all defined by what men wanted from us and what men took from us and how we are still healing from the traumas of what was taken from us without our consent.

We try to come to terms with what was taken from us because we understood the unwritten code that if we do not give it, we would be out of a much-sought career that we are qualified for and have given our best to. We understand that the unwritten codes say that even if we are the best qualified, we still must meet the qualification, i.e. the willingness to give our body unquestionably to the boss who holds the power and knows powerful people who could ruin our careers just with a snap of their fingers if we do not cooperate. For many, this could mean not just a repercussion for themselves alone, but also for the people they care for and about, it means homelessness, not able to feed their loved ones or their children getting kicked out of schools.

When you sit on your judgemental throne and asked, “but why didn’t she just say No and go look for another job?”, just remember, the person who wears the shoes knows where it pinches, and one size does not fit all. Do not put the blame on the victim, for once, stop with the ‘but’, and lay the blame squarely where it belongs, with the abuser.

When I first read about the sexual misconduct allegations against Neil deGrasse Tyson, I felt so saddened because I really admired him. This is not surprising as he is one of the very few visible black astrophysicists in the world. I loved his Cosmos documentaries and I held him in very high esteem. A part of me seriously wished the accusations were not true but as a woman, I know from experience that such allegations should never be taken lightly. Men in power do things to women under their control that just should not be excused, the higher they grow in their career, the more entitled they feel to every woman’s body. They childishly reason like a spoilt brat that they have the power, the money and in some very few cases, the looks too, so why the heck can’t they have any woman they want?

When I stumbled on this article from TheAtlantic on a friend’s FB page, I felt ashamed because somehow since I first read about these allegations, I had managed to subconsciously push it out of my mind while at the same time avoiding anything to do with Neil deGrasse Tyson. I did not talk about it, I did not discuss it, it was as if I was afraid to acknowledge it. This article managed to kick me out of my numbness because of the way it focused on the impact of sexual harassment on women’s careers. As a career woman, it reminded me that silence is never the answer. I might not have the answer but at least I will not be numbed into silence and be complicit in further normalising sexual abuse just because well, it happens a lot and we are used to it. No, I do not wish to be used to this normal abnormality!

If you are not familiar with this developing story, below are some quotes from different articles on the story so far-

From TheAtlantic- Neil deGrasse Tyson and the Careers That Weren’t

What the summaries can miss-and what many of the write-ups of the matter, far beyond the blunt demands of the headline, can miss as well-is the fact that the claims in question are not, actually, just about sexual misconduct. The women who have come forward to share stories about Neil deGrasse Tyson have also been talking about a related, but different, indignity: the harm that the alleged misconduct has done to their careers. They are talking, in that, about something Americans haven’t been terribly good at talking about, even in the age of #MeToo: the radiating damage that sexual abuse can inflict on women’s professional lives. The smothered ambitions. The seeded self-doubts. The notion that careers can experience trauma, too.

Today, Amet talks about the ongoing effects the alleged rape has had on her body, on her mind, on her capacity to maintain relationships with other people. But her accusation extends beyond that: Amet also alleges that Tyson’s behavior led her to leave the graduate program she had worked so hard to be admitted to, and thus to stop nurturing aspirations of becoming an astrophysicist, and thus to give up her dream of becoming the first black woman astronaut. This is how Amet, addressing Tyson from the distance of diverged paths, put it in a blog post in 2014: “How does it feel to know that YOU are the reason there is one less black female galactic astronomer on this planet? Yes, YOU.”

Backlash, as well, is Katelyn Allers, who has also come forward with allegations against Tyson-admiring her tattoo of the solar system at a professional gathering, she says, he traced its path up her shoulder and under her dress-deciding not to attend more professional events where Tyson might appear. Backlash is the woman taking herself out of the equation. Backlash is the notion that the world is organized by frail little planets that orbit, inevitably, around a singular sun.

It’s another cliche: The man misbehaves, the woman gets blamed for it. Her reputation is compromised; her career is stymied; she is branded as difficult; he is simply a man being a man. This bind-the sexual offenses becoming professional ones-is a stubborn element of #MeToo. One of the women who accused the former TV host Charlie Rose of misconduct summed things up like this: “I was hunting for a job, and he was hunting for me.”

The stories of those who have lived in Tyson’s orbit have served as reminders that, here on Earth, we remain biased toward the stars.

Vox – The sexual misconduct allegations against Neil deGrasse Tyson, explained

When they were in graduate school together in the 1980s, Tchiya Amet says she looked up to Neil deGrasse Tyson.

They were both black students in the majority-white astronomy department at the University of Texas Austin at the time, and Tyson was “like a big brother” to Amet, she told Vox. “We were comrades.”
That changed, she said, when she was over at his apartment one afternoon in 1984. She said he offered her a drink of water in a cup made of a coconut shell. The next thing she knew, she said, she was naked on his bed, and he was performing oral sex on her. When he saw that she had awoken, she said, he got on top of her and began penetrating her. Then, she said, she passed out again.

Tyson has said in a public Facebook post that the two dated briefly, but that the encounter she describes didn’t happen. Tyson has not responded to multiple requests for comment by Vox. For her part, Amet denies that she and Tyson dated – she says they were just friends.

The next time Amet saw Tyson in the halls of the astronomy department, she says she asked him, “How did this happen? Why did this happen?”

“He said, “Because we’re in this alone, and we’re in this together,”” Amet said, “and then he walked off.”

“I didn’t know what he meant,” she said. Soon after, Amet dropped out of school.

Amet has been speaking publicly about her experience with Tyson, now an astrophysicist, TV host, and the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, since 2010. She confronted him at a public appearance in San Francisco, she told David G. McAfee at the religion website Patheos. She posted her story on her personal blog in 2014 and on Twitter in 2016, and McAfee wrote about it at Patheos in 2017 and published an interview with Amet in November 2018.

From Patheos – Two More Women Accuse Neil deGrasse Tyson of Sexual Misconduct

Watson says she had been working directly under Tyson, who called out Trump in 2016 by saying he would grab him by the crotch when they met, and that they got along well. That all changed, however, when he invited his underling to his apartment at around 10:30 P.M. to “share a bottle of wine” and “unwind for a couple of hours.”

Watson, who said she felt pressured to impress her superstar boss, told me she agreed to come in for a glass of wine instead. Upon entering his apartment, Tyson allegedly took off his shoes and shirt, remaining in a tank top undershirt. Unfortunately, the night only got more awkward as Tyson, who is married, reportedly put on romantic music and replayed the most graphic parts.

She says Tyson soon brought out a cutting board and a knife to cut blocks of cheese that he decided they would share. But before slicing the snack, he allegedly gestured toward her with the knife and made a comment about stabbing.

Watson says she took the comment as a bad joke, but it’s important to note that this type of “joke” is exactly what people in power need to keep in mind when dealing with subordinates. And it set the stage for a night filled with subtle intimidation and sexual advances.

“It was definitely a very weird power move,” she said.

Inappropriate Approach
Watson says Tyson started talking about how every human being needs certain “releases” in life, including physical releases. He reportedly mentioned how difficult it had been for him to be away from home for several months.

Watson says Tyson asked her if she needed any releases, and she responded with a story about sexual harassment she endured in the past. It was a smart way to diffuse a tense situation, but she says he was unfazed.
“It was like talking to a wall,” Watson said.

She was getting up to leave when Neil allegedly stopped her, saying he wanted to show her a “Native American handshake” he knew. That involved holding hands tightly, making eye contact, and feeling for each other’s pulse, Watson told me.

When she broke off the awkward and incredibly intimate handshake, which he allegedly said represented a “spirit connection,” she attempted to just get up and leave.

Tyson then allegedly put his hands on her shoulders, and said he wanted to hug her, but if he did, he’d “just want more.”

I sincerely hope these cases get investigated, due process followed and everyone concerned get the justice they deserve.

Do Not Trigger Me With Your Invasive Christian Evangelism!

What is it with these nincompoop Christians and their invasive, entitled, ignorant evangelism? I came home from a nice weekend away, opened my door and found this evangelical card stapled to a pack of Haribo sweets on my floor. It was slipped into my home through my mailbox. The creepy message reads “IT’S OK! There is no need to be scared! (If you have Jesus on your side), while the other side quoted a bible verse.

As an atheist, are you saying I should I start freaking out as I do not have your imaginary Jesus by my side?

What if I were a practising Muslim and believe I have Mohammed by my side, should I be scared cos’ according to you, I should be scared if I don’t have Jesus?

What if I have Zeus, or the Gods and Goddesses of my ancestors, Ogun, Obatala, Oshun, Oya or Sango by my side? Ah, of course, you already called my Ancestral Gods blind, dumb and deaf in your bible. Same Bible you gave my ancestors while you stole their land and cart them off to a lifetime of slavery in foreign lands.

What would be your reaction if as a Christian you came home, opened your door and found same card you sent to my home with the same message, this time just insert Mohammed where you have put Jesus? Bet you would classify it as a terrorist message, convince yourself that it’s a plot to wipe out people who don’t believe in Mohammed. Your entitled, bigoted, Islamophobic arse would probably call the cops and the bomb disposal unit!

Yeah, this is the thing with Christian privilege, you get away with a lot of crap and harassment in the name of evangelism.

As an atheist, I do not come to your home to harass you about your religious beliefs.

I do not knock on your door to tell you about my lack of belief in your God, religion or whatever Skydaddy you worship.

I do not invade your place of worship to tell you to be afraid because your religious beliefs are silly, even though they are.

I do not come to your door to tell you that you are worshipping the wrong God as the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the one and only true God.

Was this supposed to be your spooky Halloween treat?

Do not harass me in my own home, you religious freaks! You already took a lot from me with your colonising Bible; I do not need you to trigger me in my own home.

I wish I could sue this Holy Trinity church, Springfield for harassment and for causing me stress in my home.

Btw, the card and the Haribo treat are headed for the trash can. I still remember what happened to my forefathers when they welcomed you into their homes, embraced your bible and accepted your treats!

Ariana Grande Groped By The Creepy Bishop Charles Ellis

I felt a tear trickled down my eye as I watched the video of the creepy Bishop Charles Ellis groping Ariana Grande on live TV during the legendary Aretha franklin’s burial ceremony. Ariana’s nervous laughter, the uncomfortable feeling on her face, her not wanting to disrespect a creepy elder or cause a scene were all too familiar feelings. These are feelings and emotions women know all too well when groped by a man, especially a revered man in position of authority. This is just so disgusting and unacceptable.

I don’t understand how anyone could justify this behaviour, try to make excuse for the pastor, or even blame it on Ariana’s short dress! However, we live in a sexist, patriarchal society, where misogynists excuse away these unfortunately daily occurrences faced by millions of women, famous and not so famous, all over the world.

Some have said it was a case of height difference. Height difference my foot. This pastor could have touched her on the shoulder or most preferably, kept his hands to himself and not touch her at all. Instead, he chose to grab her by her side boob, and not only that, he kept fondling her. Even when the poor young woman tried to nervously get away, the creepy older man pulled her right back and kept fondling her! How is that even acceptable? How could anyone make excuse for that kind of entitled behaviour? How could anyone not be disgusted at the video and pics?

It is sad that we live in a society where pastors can do no wrong in the face of their members. Sheep indeed. I shudder to think of what this pastor could have been getting away with, outside the prying eyes of the camera, in the name of welcoming his young women members.

People took to Twitter and other Social media to condemn the creepy behaviour of the Bishop with the hashtag #RespectArianaAndAll women.

It has been reported in the news that the Pastor has apologised to Ariana. But, wait a minute, was it really a remorseful apology or just some crap he came up with to placate us ‘sensitive’ people?

This creepy pastor sorry excuse of an apology does not even cut it, what does he mean by-

It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast

Oh really, what did you think you were touching when you grabbed her, and kept squeezing and fondling her side boob, or were you suddenly doing the lord’s work by giving her a mammogram live on TV?

Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar

What is with all the “Maybes”? There is no Maybe, you creepy pervert, you crossed the line! You saw these videos and pictures, yet you dared to say “Maybe”. That is not a sign of remorse. How could you watch the videos and pics and not be disgusted with yourself, unless of course it is familiar behaviour to you, one you have been engaging in so many times, so much that you don’t see anything wrong with it.

Your apology suggests in your entitled man’s eyes, you think we are overreacting. Your nonpology is not good enough, Bishop Charles Ellis. Women are tired of men like you who feel entitled to our bodies. I bet the holy spirit in you wouldn’t have felt the need to welcome so familiarly a 75-year-old woman the way you suddenly felt you needed to welcome,nay grope, 25 year old Ariana Grande. You are a creepy perverted man. You should be ashamed of yourself.

But again, I apologise.

Your apology should come without a “But”. Apologise, Full stop, no But.

Educate yourself, Bishop Charles Ellis. Educate men in your congregation about how not to be a creep. Take lessons to unlearn patriarchal, sexist, misogynistic behaviours and languages. Accept that like every other trash man out there, you feel entitled to touch women inappropriately, without their consent, and do something to change it.

Men, educate yourself. Women are not objects put on earth to satisfy your desires. We are not here to be aesthetically pleasing to your eyes. We are not here for you to whistle at, catcall, and touch without our consent.

Men, you are not entitled to a woman’s body. It does not matter what we wear or not wear. It does not matter what our age is. It does not matter what our class or status in society is. You cannot touch us without our explicit consent. Period.

To all the brainwashed women blaming Ariana for her short dress, get it into your thick skulls that what women wear is never a reason to sexually harass or assault them. No, women are not asking for sexual harassment, assault, inappropriate touching, cat calls or rape just because we put on a short dress or wear revealing body hugging clothes.

It is not our fault that you think so low of men as to think men are unevolved, uncontrollable wild animals who can’t control themselves around women with short or revealing clothes. Women are not responsible for regulating or controlling men’s urges. It is not our responsibility. What we wear is our choice. It is not an invitation for sexual assault. Our body, our choice. Our explicit consent matters.

Also, what was that ignorant joke Bishop Charles made about mistaking Ariana Grande’s name of the program for a new menu on Taco Bell? Really, that man needs deliverance, fast too! His level of ignorance is pathetic. How can he be expected to be a leader when he is so ignorant himself? Oh wait… he knows the bible, I guess that’s all the education he needs to lead a congregation. What a shame.

 

BiCon UK 2018

I attended my first BiCon UK 2018 on Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th August 2018 at University of Salford, and I must say, I really enjoyed it!

BiConvention/Conference is an annual event in UK. From BiCon UK website-

BiCon is a weekend-long educational and social gathering for bi people, their friends, partners, and others with a supportive interest in bisexuality. We don’t all use the labels “bi” or “bisexual” or even agree on what it means to be bi, but bisexuality is the common theme.

BiCon has been held in a different part of the UK each year since 1984. BiCon is proud to implement a code of conduct and is committed to making our event accessible.

The weekend often runs from Thursday through to Sunday, but that can vary. There are discussion groups and sessions in the daytime, social spaces and entertainment in the evening.

Each evening there’s a bar and social space, sometimes with performers or a disco, plus quiet space for board games or simply chilling out. Sometimes there’s a “BiCon Ball”, one evening for those who like to dress up (although you don’t have to!) and many other indoor and outdoor activities.

When I took some days off work and got on the train To BiCon UK, I really needed the break. Also, it was my first BiCon and I did not know what to expect.

Knackered on the train. However, I’m on my way to the annual BiCon UK taking place in Manchester this year. It’s gonna be refreshing, rejuvenating and a relaxing weekend with fellow BiFabulous people. Let the BiFun begin but first, I need a nap.

By the time I got to the venue, registered, got the keys to my very cosy, nice room, I began to relax and settle in for a what promised to be a BiFun Weekend.

Time to settle in and get my BiFabulous weekend started

 

There were variety of workshops to choose from, I was spoilt for choice. I enjoyed all the workshops I attended, and some of the best ones were-

Just A Bi-Sexual minute -An imitation of a radio game where s person talks about a given topic for a minute without pause, repetition, hesitation etc. I had fun having a go at it.

Fatticorms Unite –Very refreshing and enlightening discussion about Body Positivity

Safer Sex: What we should have learnt about Sex Ed –Useful tips on safe sex and where to get affordable protection.

Bi in the workplace – Great discussion about being Bi in the workplace and as an out Bisexual at my workplace, trade unionist and activist, I found this very interesting to share experiences.

BME safe place – I really enjoyed this safe place gathering because I was going through a very nasty situation steeped in racism in my workplace, that has to do with being the only black person in all white workplace where they have no idea about inclusion, diversity and white privilege. I was taking on the brunt of their lack of understanding of these issues, with the burden of pointing out these issues, and as a result tasked to do the extra labour of educating them on these issues. The BME same place was a welcomed relief. Listening to the experiences of my fellow BMEs, I was reassured that I am not losing the plot, it’s not all in my head and I am not alone!

Enjoying the various workshops at BiConUK. So many Bifabulous people to learn from and share experiences with. Lovely atmosphere to reunite with old friends and make new friends too.

It was not all about workshops and learning, it was all fun in the evenings. I had my first Silent disco, it was such fun dancing to my own playlist with my earphone on. Everyone on the dancefloor had their headphones on, just dancing to their own beats on the dancefloor. It was like being in your own world, free to move to your own beats however you like. It was so liberating. Who knew dancing in public to songs only you could hear could be so much fun? Ah wait a minute, I do it all the time at the gym! Loved sharing the silent dancefloor with fellow unicorns.

The BiCon Ball was held on the last night, it was simply fabulous.

Off to the ball…Kudos to all who dressed up to the ball as mythical bisexual characters, you were all fabulous! Well, I didn’t dress up as a mythical character to the ball, but chose instead to go as my fabulous self.

We Stand Together. Together we can build a better world where everyone matters. A world where we can all live to achieve our full potentials regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation or class. A world where we are free to be our fabulous selves because our existence is not a harm to anyone. A better world is possible, we just need to want it enough to build it together. Every step matters.

Thank you to all the special people I met at Bicon. Thanks to the organisers and volunteers for doing such a great job. Thanks to everyone at BiCon who respected the Code of Conduct, The participants made it such a lovely experience as everyone was just so courteous, respectful and very welcoming. I am already looking forward to the next BiCon.

Enjoy the pics and video from my BiCon Lens!

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It’s My Birthday; Time to Shake What My Mama Gave Me!

It’s my birthday and it’s not complete without my annual birthday dance. Every year I do a birthday dance on my birthday, and I enjoy comparing the dance videos to see how far I have come, interesting memories.

It has been a particularly difficult and emotionally tasking year with the sudden loss of my mum. I had to process different emotions in my personal life and confront prevalent social ills in my professional life, especially made difficult as the only black person in an all-white work environment where the words ‘Inclusivity and diversity’ are alien language.

However, despite it all, as I turn 43 today, I feel like a hot pie and the only girl in the world.

This is my first birthday as an orphan and I especially miss my beautiful mum because she would have woken me up with a birthday song and try to sneak in some unsolicited prayers! I miss her so much today. I dedicate this birthday dance to my departed beloved parents. You were my vehicles to this world, and I appreciate it.

Thanks to everyone who touched my life in one way or another and left positive impacts. To these who left only negative memories, may our parts never cross again. Positive vibes only.

Thanks, lovely people for all the birthday greetings and lovely wishes, much appreciated.

Happy Birthday to me…it’s time to shake what my mama gave me!

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UK Black Pride 2018: Shades of the Diaspora

UK Black pride 2018 was held on Sunday July 8 at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London. It was indeed a celebration of black LGBT1Q . The theme was Shades Of The Diaspora. I was there to celebrate all that is black and beautiful with my black LGBTIQ community and our allies. It was a protest and a party.

Hello from UK Black Pride, the party is rocking!

The party rocked! The vibrant, energetic performers on stage and the beautiful roaring crowd reminded me of what it is to be Black, Bold, Beautiful and Proud. Partying with my Black Lgbtiq community, I definitely felt like I belonged there.

Special thanks to the organisers for persistently organising UK Black pride despite all the negativity from these who seek to subjugate our spirit and never really make us feel belonged or truly included in the mainstream lgbt community. Also, a big shout out to all the volunteers and everyone who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring us a fun, successful, UK Black Pride. Solidarity forever.

It was indeed the largest UK Black Pride ever. The crowd was huge from every corner and angle. So many beautiful people and a rich diversity of cultures. The talents on stage were great, the crowd was energetic and made me realised i need to brush up on my dance steps. So much twerking from all genders that I was reminded twerking is a black thing , and will always be.

Kudos to the organisers for another successful UK Black Pride. I am already looking forward to an even bigger, colourful UK Black Pride and a more inclusive Pride every corner of the globe.

To voiceless LGBTIQs who cannot afford to hold or attend a Pride, I say Stand Tall, you are not forgotten. Rainbow will always shine through the clouds. Stay positive and live your truth in pride. Love, always.

Enjoy the pics and videos from my lens!

Always a pleasure to reunite with friends at this wonderful event.

I finally managed to sit my tired ass down. It was nice just sitting down watching the performers and the beautiful crowd do their thing. A day well spent refuelling and connecting with every side of my personal and political self.

Calling it a day! Bye for now, see ya all next year.

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London Pride 2018: Pride Matters

London Pride 2018 took place on July 7 in central London with the theme ‘Pride Matters’. Even though I now live in Essex, London Pride is one Pride I always look forward to.

Hello from London Pride. Flying the rainbow flag and the bisexual flag with Pride. Love Not Hate

Unfortunately, this year’s London Pride Parade was hijacked by a small group of Anti-Trans women who forced their way to the front of the parade, and force-led the parade. The transphobic group of about 10 lay down in front of the parade, shouting anti-trans slogans, and wouldn’t let the parade move. I wouldn’t bother to relate their transphobic messages here because I won’t be an indirect vessel to spread their hate messages. The transphobes disrupted and held up the start of the parade. The organisers finally gave in and allowed them to lead the parade. They marched right in front of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who was supposed to lead the parade. They held their Anti-Trans banners and distributed their transphobic leaflets. The organisers cited the hot weather for their decision to give in to the Anti-Trans group. I wished they had not given in and instead found a way to get the small group out of the parade. Big shame to the Anti-Trans group, they are a disgrace to the entire LGBT community.

Also, Britain’s largest LGBT organisation, Stonewall, stayed away from London Pride this year to protest the racism problem within the LGBT community.

A Stonewall spokesperson said:

We know this is an event that’s important to many in our communities and very much hope to attend in future years.

However last year, Pride in London’s community advisory board again raised concerns about the lack of diversity and inclusion at Pride in London – particularly of black and minority ethnic communities.

Pride in London rejected those concerns from the community in the strongest terms and, as yet, have failed to make any public acknowledgement that they may need to make significant changes if Pride in London is to be an event for everyone.

Racism is still very rife within the LGBT community in Britain. This did not come as a shock to LGBT PoC as we have been saying this for so long. It is really sad that those who are members of an oppressed group are sometimes themselves perpetrators of oppression against other vulnerable groups, when they are in position of power and have the privilege.

Aside from the unfortunate transphobic disruption at the parade, and the noticeable absence of Stonewall, London Pride was a spectacular event to behold. The parade was fun and colourful, and the entertainment at the London Pride stage at Trafalgar square was good. However, we do need more diverse entertainers to be featured to better represent the diversity in London and its LGBT community.

I did not march in the parade this year, but I did move around, cheered the parade on and mingled with the beautiful crowd.

Enjoy my pics, narratives, videos, dancing and awful singing!

I met some really lovely people from all corners of the globe at London Pride, however, this beautiful lady I met on the tube on my way to Pride. She was sitting opposite me and gave me a lovely smile. We looked up and smiled at each other at intervals. We got off at the same stop, outside Charing Cross station, she walked up to me and said ” I wanted to tell you on the train but couldn’t. You look beautiful, I love your make up. It is amazing”. I’ve been paid compliments before but from her it just kind of felt so sincere and heartfelt, and I am not really great at doing my makeup. I thanked her, told her she looked fabulous and asked if she was going to Pride, she said unfortunately not as she has to be somewhere else now. I asked if I could take her pic and share and she obliged. I love the diversity in London. This is why I miss London. This lovely lady with her beautiful smile kick-start a beautiful Pride for me. Thank you, my beautiful stranger on the tube for your lovely words.

This lovely gentleman offered me a seat when I was looking for somewhere to relax my tired feet during Pride. We ended up exchanging mints, sweets, wristbands and we shared our experiences of London Pride, and we gossiped. He sure was great company. Making friends across borders at Pride because Love knows no borders. Love Not Hate.

Ah, he photobombed my pic with his Usain Bolt move. Can’t really be angry at a bro for that now, can I? Made the pic all the more interesting.

He is so adorable! He joined me for a pic, when I did the back to back pose he said “Ah, we are doing the back to back now” and he proceeded to strike a pose, several poses. Surely, this bro couldn’t be outdone in the ‘strike a pose’ department!

Oh yes, Bisexuals are not confused, we just have the amazing capacity to love and be emotionally and sexually attracted to same and other genders. Hurray, for Genderless Love! Bisexuals are simply Bifabulous, we rock at Pride!

Flying high amongst the beautiful colours of the Rainbow in my Superpower bisexual cape. Bisexuals are not greedy, we are just Superheroes with the ability to love, be sexually or emotionally attracted to same and other genders. Our Love is genderless. Wrapped in the genderless love of the Bisexual flag. Love Not Hate.

These beautiful, lovely ladies gave me their beautiful rainbow adornment to wear and took my pics at London Pride. Then I asked them for a selfie together. This is the spirit of London Pride that I love so much. Let’s foster Love and friendship cos Love knows no borders, we are one.

Queens make Prides rock.

Jesus came to party at London Pride. It’s his Pride too, after all he was Bisexual…what with all that playing the field with the two sisters, Mary and Martha, while always hanging out with 12 hot men. Jesus was seriously ahead of the game. No discrimination was his motto. So, we hung out at Pride and took a pic.

Funny how this pic and my caption caused such upheaval in my home country Nigeria and ended up trending in Nigeria. I woke up to messages next day from family members, friends and enemies alike, telling me I was trending on the social/gossip blogs in Nigeria. Turned out enraged Nigerian Christians and anti LGBTs were cursing me out and calling for my head on a spike, for daring to associate their beloved white, blue-eyed Jesus with my ‘gay’ (or is it Bisexual?) agenda! Good thing I don’t read these blogs, and I do pity these who do. To think some of them had the guts to harass my family members with calls and messages! Ah, well, curses and threats for daring to live openly as an atheist and bisexual Nigerian? What else is new! If anything, I was concerned about how unbothered I was by these nasty blog sites and the nasty comments directed at me. The level of ignorance, religious fuelled hate, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and open threats of causing harm to another based on religion and sexual orientation just left me numb. It is sadly the norm. My people are living proof that ignorance fuels hate, and hate leads to violence.

Love goes the distance. Love knows no borders. Love does not discriminate. Love is the wheel we need to move towards a better world for all. Love is Love. Spread Love Not Hate.

There is enough room in the sky for all colours of the rainbow and more to shine and thrive. Diversity is the spice of life, fly and support the rainbow with Pride.

 

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