I was interviewed by the Atheists Republic Cape Town on their ‘Meet the Atheists’ segment. Below is the full clip on their You Tube channel. Enjoy!
On May 12, 2022, Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a 200 level Home Economics student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto was lynched by her fellow students on allegation of committing Blasphemy.
Deborah was dragged out of the security room where she was hiding, by a mob. She was mercilessly beaten, tires thrown around her neck and set ablaze by her colleagues, young Islamic fanatics.
Each time I tried to write about this case, I usually freeze, unable to manage more than a few words. I just stop because I feel a hopeless sadness pierce at my heart. A total confusion and perplexed at the sanity of the perpetrators and of those who still hold religious beliefs so dearly that they would harm others or even kill for their God or religious beliefs.
Deborah Yakubu was accused of committing Blasphemy against Islam/ Prophet Mohammed on a WhatsApp group. It is not very clear exactly what she said that her murderers considered blasphemous and worth lynching her over. Some have said Deborah, as a Christian, credited Jesus for helping her pass her exams. Some said she allegedly made a comment on WhatsApp, criticizing the religion-related posts that Muslim classmates discussed in the study group she believed should have been reserved for academic purposes. Whatever it was, it was allegedly deemed to be blasphemous, especially as Sokoto State, where the college of Education is located, is an Islamic state, although it is still part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is a Federal State and constitutionally a secular State, although the culture and behaviours suggest otherwise.
Nigeria has 32 States that make up the Federation. The North is largely Muslim while the South is largely Christian.
There has been public outcry in many parts of Nigeria following this dastardly act, with many calling for Justice.
President Muhammadu Buhari, Amnesty International (AI), the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) all condemned the dastardly act. You can read the many statements from different organisations in this Guardian report.
Catriona Laing, British high commissioner to Nigeria, called for the prosecution of the killers of Deborah. She tweeted, “I condemn the murder of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto, and urge the police and relevant authorities to ensure the perpetrators of this horrific act are made to face justice in line with the law.”
The Nigerian Bar Association announced that its conference that was scheduled to hold in Sokoto State from Sunday, May 22 to 26, 2022, has been cancelled because of the murder.
In a statement, signed by NBA President, Olumide Akpata, he said ” The NBA is deeply worried not just by the chilling news of the murder of Miss Deborah Yakubu, but also by the sudden and sad turn of events and the deteriorating security situation in Sokoto State.”
Akpata also expressed NBA’s concerns regarding the charges preferred against suspects that have been arraigned for the gruesome murder of the student.
“We are, however, worried by yet-to-be-confirmed reports reaching us that the suspects have been charged with mere breach of public peace in an episode that cut short Deborah’s life in her prime,” he said adding that the NBA is opposed to a “banalisation of the situation.”
Breach of peace? Really? A gruesome murder was committed in public, and they are charging the suspects with “breach of peace”? Words fail me.
Humans have been perpetrating unfathomable evils since they started creating Gods in their own image. The evils committed in the name of religion since time immemorial are just incomprehensibly evil, abominable and unfortunately still celebrated in the two precious holy books of Christians and Muslims.
I never met another Atheist before I became an Atheist. As a young teenager enthusiastic about her Christianity and about winning Bible quizzes, I simply read the Bible in all its entirety and knew there and then that my morality is far superior to that of the God portrayed in the fictional but gruesome holy book. I could not in all consciousness continue to worship or celebrate a sadistic God that was portrayed as responsible for the murders, genocide and jealous killings of even children.
Is it any wonder that some people who worship this God want to be just like him? I mean, what would God do in this circumstance if he were in that WhatsApp Group? Most probably get jealous, angry, throw a tantrum, and set the alleged blasphemer ablaze himself.
Well, it wouldn’t be a first, no matter what the religious believers say, be they Christians or Muslims. The Abrahamic God is not exactly known for His even temper and kind heartedness towards those who have any other God besides Him. Afterall, believers gleefully inform us that their God is busy preparing an everlasting burning fire where unbelevers like myself will burn in hell forever. How are sane people with empathy even capable of loving anyone, be it God or man, who is capable of thinking such evil deed, let alone carry it out? I say, show me your God and I will tell you who you are.
Deborah was an ardent Christians. I have seen some wonder why her God, the Christiaan God, did not step in and prevent her murder, smite the Islamic fanatics and show himself as the true God.
It is futile asking this type of question. It reminds me of the age-old question of Epicurus
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
It has been three weeks since the gruesome lynching and it seems Nigerians have already moved on to the next story on social media, the suicide of a successful single middle-aged woman. Another sad incident I shall write about in my next blog.
Until then, please try not to lose your humanity in this often inhuman world and definitely do not lose hope in humanity even though this seems to be the most difficult thing for me right now.
My heartfelt condolences to the family of Deborah Samuel Yakubu.
My heart breaks! Why are Black people so much hated everywhere?
I woke up to the hashtag #africansinukraine trending on social media and right now it is difficult not to rage at the world, at racism and how sad this all is. And they say White Supremacy is a thing of the past!
This makes me wonder; if we ever had a world crisis where people had to be rescued, I wouldn’t be surprised if the sign “No Blacks until all White people are safe” is openly displayed and a Policy to that effect openly implemented.
We say Never Again then things like this happen and we know yes, it can happen again. The true test of character and allyship is not when we are comfortable but when we are in a difficult situation.
Is it any surprise we don’t read about these things on the news, no mainstream media coverage? If not for social media, many would deny that such is happening right now. I despair for humanity. In fact, I am close to giving up on humans. What a sad world we live in.
Holocaust Memorial Day is marked on 27 January each year to remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in the genocides, which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
By the end of the Holocaust, six million Jewish men, women and children had been murdered in ghettos, mass-shootings, in concentration camps and extermination camps.
In the UK and around the world, millions of people face prejudice, discrimination and hostility simply because of their identity. Holocaust Memorial Day is a day of commemoration and a reminder that we need to take action to challenge these attitudes and behaviours.
The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2022 is One Day. There are many ways to interpret the theme, some of which are outlined here.
The Holocaust Memorial Trust provides a wealth of information about the Holocaust and genocide, as well as ways in which you can engage with this year’s theme. For example, you could:
Pick One Day in History and learn about that day.
Use this theme as motivation to speak out One Day in the future when you see injustices, prejudices, and identity-based violence.
The Holocaust Memorial Trust documents life stories of survivors of genocide.
Read about The Babi Yar massacre which started on 29 September 1941, devastated the Jewish community of Kiev and marked one of the deadliest single operations during the Holocaust.
Read about life stories of genocide survivors such as Mussa Uwitonze: Mussa Uwitonze became an orphan after being separated from his family during the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
I was at a Holocaust memorial event and a sweet old lady was speaking as a survivor.The traumas she shared were heart-breaking. She was very upbeat and optimistic about the future while hoping that the horror she experienced first-hand never happened again in human history. It struck me when she mentioned that she suffers from dementia and that even when she forgets other things, the memories of the genocide are very vivid in her brain, she remembers every minute detail of the horror. No human should ever have such experiences imprinted in their brain. Such horror should never have happened.
I was taken aback though when she mentioned that during an event she was speaking at, someone asked her if she felt guilty about being alive when many died. I have no idea why anyone, especially when they are not her therapist, would ask such question. The only one who should feel guilty are the monsters who committed the crime and the monsters who stood by and did nothing. They are the guilty ones.
Her response to the question was that God must have kept her alive to tell the story. Immediately my heart sank.
This idea that there was a God who could have stopped the genocide but chose instead to spare the lives of a few people just so they could tell of the horrors they saw, was indeed a notion I struggle to wrap my head around. It reminded me of the story of Job in the Bible, his God-induced sufferings as a test of his faith and the immorality of this human creation called God.
I know if I had any superpower that would have allowed me to prevent such terrible events such as genocides, of course I would use my superpowers even if it cost me the last reserve of my superpower. I mean, is that not the stuff heroes are made of? Always ready to help humanity, anyone in need even if it means going that very extra length? Is this not why we love Spiderman, Superman, Voltron, Wonder woman and all great action heroes and heroines? Why can’t we expect same of God? Is God not a hero or is there a double standard for heroes?
This leads me to Epicurus age old unanswered question: –
” Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
I think we hesitate to call people out on this thought process because it is often difficult to call out someone who has been through a trauma. We say to ourselves, this isn’t the time or place. Yes, maybe it isn’t. However, there should be a time and a place to eventually have the discussion. For those who lost loved ones in fatal events and have to listen to survivors say things like “God must have spared my life for a reason”, must hurt. it is as if their loved one who died in the same incident was not deemed worthy to be saved by God. Their loved ones were not good enough to be the chosen ones by Sky Daddy. It must hurt. I wrote about this in my blog posts Why “Thank God I survived” or “God knows best” is a terrible thing to say in the aftermath of a fatal disaster and Natural Disasters are certainly not a time to thank God!
The world leaders who stood aside and did nothing to prevent the genocides are the anti-heroes and are as complicit as the perpetrators.
It is our hope that we will never again make the mistakes of the past and that One Day we will live in a world where genocide, racism, and discrimination in all its ugly form does not exist anymore. We can only achieve this by taking action.
As the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously said – “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality”.
It’s Black History Month and the theme this year is Proud To Be. I am Proud of everything that makes me Black.
I am proud of my Black Heritage.
I am Proud to be African.
I am proud to be an African Woman.
I am proud of the hospitality of my people.
I am proud of the creativity, the arts, rich culture and music that we have generously given the world which unfortunately are often appropriated without acknowledgement of the Black origin.
I am proud of the contributions of my people to Science and Technology.
I am proud of the exuberant nature of my people and the way we express ourselves with all our body gestures.
I am Proud of the renowned hospitality and welcoming nature of my ancestors.
I am Proud to be a Black African woman.
Africa is the cradle of life, it is the continuent that keeps giving even though they keep exploiting its human and natural resources, my people are resilient and continue to radiate hope.
They say Black is bad and not good enough, yet they refuse to return the beautiful Artefacts they stole from us that today still grace their museums.
They say Black is ugly yet they go under the knife to look like us to copy the very physical attributes they called ugly.
Still we rise because we know, and we know that they know, Black excellence is real, Black is beautiful. in and out.
To forget our history is to assimilate the lies of the colonisers and exploiters.
I know my history and this is why I Am Proud To Be. #HappyBlackHistoryMonth
As part of my celebration of Black History Month 2021 and in keeping with its ‘Theme ‘Proud To Be’ , I recited the poem ‘Africa my Africa’ by David Diop and shared with my work colleagues as a BHM video compililation project. Enjoy!
Africa my Africa – David Diop
Africa my Africa
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral Savannahs
Africa of whom my grandmother sings
On the banks of the distant river
I have never known you
But your blood flows in my veins
Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields
The blood of your sweat
The sweat of your work
The work of your slavery
Africa, tell me Africa
Is this your back that is unbent
This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation
This back trembling with red scars
And saying no to the whip under the midday sun?
But a grave voice answers me
Impetuous child that tree, young and strong
That tree over there
Splendidly alone amidst white and faded flowers
That is your Africa springing up anew
springing up patiently, obstinately
Whose fruit bit by bit acquires
The bitter taste of liberty.
MAY 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). It was first celebrated in 2004 to draw attention to the discrimination and violence experienced by Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Intersex and Transsexual people for their sexual orientation, gender identities and characteristics. IDAHOBIT has since become a global event celebrated in many countries. This year’s theme is Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!
On May 17, World Health Organisation (WHO) declassified Homosexuality as a disease. May 17 (IDAHOBIT) was specifically chosen to commemorate the decision.
31 years after WHO declared that homosexuality is not a disease or mental disorder, in 70 countries, it is still illegal to identify as LGBT+ and in 12 countries, you could be given the death penalty.
Although many would say it is getting easier to identify as gay and that lgbt + people are no longer stigmatise. However, the truth is this is not the reality for many lgbt+ people across the globe, including in the UK.
1.5 billion people live under regimes that deny the right to love.
Same-sex relationships are currently illegal in many sub-Saharan African countries. Sodomy law is a colonial legacy inherited by former British colonies, a law which many have not abolished. Roger Jean-Claude Mbede was a camerounian who was imprisoned for sending a text message declaring his love for another man. He died in prison. Eric Lembembe was another Cameroonian prominent gay rights activist brutally murdered Dwayne Jones, was murdered in Jamaica after he attended a dance party dressed in women’s clothing. Corrective rape targeted at lesbians is still prevalence. This is not just in African or Caribbean countries. In 2016, the world woke up to the news of a mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It was horrific homophobic attack where a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53. Russian currently has many LGBT+ activists languishing in jail.
I am from a country where Same sex love is a criminal offence. In Nigeria, same sex relationships carry a 14 years’ jail term and advocating for LGBT rights attracts a 10 year’ iimprisonment. As a bisexual woman who had her life heavily impacted by this, I know first-hand the horrors criminalisation have wrought on LGBT+ people who live in societies where it is illegal to be your authentic, fabulous self. Being openly LGBT+ could be a matter of life and death.
There are many LGBT+ people fleeing oppression and violence across the world. Persecutions and discrimination have displaced many from their families, childhood friends, loved ones and support system. To start life afresh in an unknown land, they become refugees, a term which comes with its own stigma. There are many who never had the opportunity to flee an oppressive regime or the wrath of a homophobic, biphobic or transphobic lynching mob.
This week, I read about the heart-breaking case of a gay man, Alireza Fazeli-Monfared, brutally murdered and beheaded by family in Iran in what is known as ‘Honour killing’. He was just 20 years old. The family found out about his sexual orientation after they discovered the Iranian military exempted him from service because of “sexual depravities”. Basically, the discrimination against LGBT+ people in the military caused him to be outed with fatal consequences. A young life brutally cut short and unfortunately not the only one and would most probably not be the last one.
In 2020, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) reported there was a high increase in the number of transgender or gender non confirming people fatally shot dead or killed by other violent means, the majority of which were Black and Latinx transgender women.
Transrespect versus Transphobia worldwide (TvT) reported that 350 Transgender people were murdered, suffocated and burned alive in 2020. The list was sourced via local and national news stories. This is probably a tip of the iceberg as many hate crimes and deaths go unreported. Also, we cannot disregard the severe impact of Covid19 and lockdown on LGBT+ people in regards to hate crime and domestic violence.
IDAHOBIT is a day to recognise that lgbt+ people still suffer persecutions in many parts of the world. It is a reminder to stand up and say no to hate and promote policies that help dismantle discrimination. As the founders stated, the main purpose of the May 17 mobilisations is to raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBT communities worldwide, which in turn provides an opportunity to take action and engage in dialogue with the media, policymakers, public opinion, and wider civil society.
We must not assume all is well with the world just because we are not facing the same problems experienced by others different than us. In the workplace, on the streets, within the family, in schools and closed community groups, lgbt+ still face subtle and not so subtle discrimination, bullying, hate and harassment on a daily basis. Many are still afraid to come out of the closets for fear of what they stand to lose.
We must ask ourselves, how can discrimination be legal?
In the spirit of this year’s IDAHOBIT theme –Together Resisting, Supporting, Healing!, let us be consciously aware of the persecutions, discrimination, oppressions and violence others face which we might never experience.
Let us Resist these discrimination and persecutions.
Show your Support in words and actions, for the human rights of persecuted LGBT+ wherever part of the world they live or are from.
For Healing to cmmence, we need to show we care, are willing to stand up for freedom to love for all, and actively promote equality and human rights for all.
You don’t have to be affected before you stand up for human rights. You don’t have to be lgbt+ to stand up for LGBT+ rights. You don’t have to be a woman to stand up for women’s rights. You don’t have to be an animal to stand up for animal rights. You don’t have to be a tree to be against deforestation. To stand up for lgbt+ rights, all you have to be is human, a decent human being.
Together we must stand up for the voiceless lgbt+ people in solidarity and let them know they are not alone or forgotten. Together we can end all forms of oppression and discrimination.
Human rights are not optional. We are not free until everyone is free. As Dr Martin Luther king said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Happy IDAHOBIT.
October is Black History Month in the UK and what better year to celebrate this than 2020. The past events of 2020 has shone a light on racism in the US, UK and other parts of the western world including China re its reactions to black people living in China during Covid19.
From the police murder of Gorge Floyd and his last haunting words, “I can’t breathe”, to the white supremacists lynching of Ahmaud Arbery while peacefully jogging on the streets, the brutal murder of Breonna Taylor while sleeping in her own bed, the disproportionate police stop and search of black people during covid19 lockdown in UK to the many Black Lives Matter protests worldwide, 2020 has indeed been that strange year of strange happenings and reckonings too.
It is not unusual for people to ask why we need black history month. My answer is, 11 months of the year is white history month, it is the default history. It is what is taught in our schools every day. White history is the creed and the tenets we are urged to learn and live by every single day of the year. Surely, it is not too much to set aside I month of the year to shine light on the history of black members of our society. It is white history month all year round, just as it is heterosexual history month all year round. I’m definitely happy to officially be able to grab the headlines with my struggles, achievements and celebrations of my whole self at least one month a year. Black History matters too.
Some have argued that celebrating Black History month further divides rather than includes. I’d say the spirit of inclusion would be fostered by the knowledge we stand to gain through engaging in Black History Month. It’s a month we make that extra conscious effort to learn, share experiences and ask questions such as – What are these hidden contributions of black people to world history? Why are Black people so ill-treated? Is Windrush scandal a reflection of disregard of Caribbean people’s contributions to British History? Who are these unsung black inventors, heroes and heroines? What does equality really look like? Why are there so many complaints because Tesco featured a black woman in its advert? Why should Black Lives Matter?
For me, Black History month is a great time to reconnect with my root as a black person, to feel the pain and the triumphs of my people amidst all the racial struggles in this white privileged society I live in.
It is so sad that Black history is not taught in British schools; history, they say, are written by victors and of course, they write it in their own favour. Colonialism and the appalling, inhuman act of 400 years of Trans-Atlantic slave trade set black people back 400 years. Cultures were lost, so many native languages wiped out and people forced to assimilate into a new culture that was deemed ‘superior and civilised’, yet, artefacts looted from my so called ‘uncivilised’ black ancestors adorn the British museum galleries. I hope and wait with bated breath that one day, these artworks that are testaments to the great empires of my black ancestors will be returned to their ancestral lands and be reunited with the descendants of their makers. Black history needs to be taught in all schools at all level. Black children need to know they have black heroes and heroines they can be proud of.
Black history is not just about Slavery. They tell us slaves were taken from Africa. This is not true. PEOPLE were taken from Africa. These people were made into slaves in foreign lands to build the wealth of empires and white slave owners. A stupendous wealth of which descendants of these slave owners still reap from today. The consequences for the descendants of African people that were taken and made into slaves include Racism, low income due to redlining and segregation, economic disparity, police brutality, disproportionate arrests and a loss of identity for many African Americans whose ancestors were displaced. Imagine never being able to trace your root and not knowing the language your ancestors spoke.
So many atrocities have been committed just because one race believed (some still believe) that they are superior to other races. White people need to acknowledge the wrong done when they engaged in trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonisation. Honest discussion about racism, its impact and acknowledging how deep-rooted it is, will pave the way for change.
My heart breaks for every Black/Brown child who has been told that their skin colour is ugly and inferior. We are taught that Black is evil. It is an appalling society that created these divisions and discrimination, and are in one way or the other, still upholding these racist beliefs and systemic /institutionalised racist structures.
The famous Educator and strong white ally, Jane Elliot, conducted an interesting experiment with school children based on eye colour. Pls, google it, everyone should watch it and read about it.
As black children we are told we are not good enough, as adults we face same discrimination at workplaces. They tell us our accent is not good enough, our faces do not fit in leadership positions, we are systematically denied promotions etc. Black History Month affords the opportunity to change the narrative. To remind our black children that they are beautiful just the way they are. To celebrate all that is black in them and about them.
It makes no sense to determine that one person is superior to the other based on their skin colour, yet that is what racism did, what slavery did, what colonialism did. Unfortunately, this is what some still seek to uphold.
Everyone is entitled to human rights and dignity of person regardless of race, skin colour, sex, gender identity, geographical location etc. Human right is an inalienable right; it is not something you give to someone out of the benevolence of your heart. It is sad that we still need to demand, scream, protest for our human rights, in this day and age. White-supremacy or racism of any sort does not belong in any civilised society. A society that thrives on racism does not deserves to be called modern or civilised. We can do better; we must do better.
As a white person, please educate yourself about how deep rooted racism really is and how the system is built to uphold racism. Stop being so defensive when we mention racism. Listen, Learn and Act. Only then can we truly begin to dismantle racism. Listening is great for understanding, Action is important for accountability. I look forward to a better understanding and accountability on racial issues.
Silence is compliance. It is not enough to just not be racist, you need to be anti-racist for progress to be made. It is not enough for white people to say they are not racist; they need to be vocally anti-racist. Every ally, every support, every voice counts.
As Black people, we need to decolonise our history and tell our stories.
My history. My reality.
My Pain. My celebration.
My story to tell.
Your sins, awaiting atonement.
Your conscience, a lifetime to cleanse.
As we celebrate Black History Month in UK –
Think Justice For All.
Stand up to Racism.
Stand up for Black Lives Matter.
It is the logical thing to do. Do not allow racists and xenophobes divide us. There is strength in diversity, together we are stronger. A better world is possible; be part of the solution, not the problem.
It is no news that white colleagues often feel uncomfortable when Black/Brown colleagues talk about racism. They fidget, try to change the subject, subtlety excuse themselves and some see it as a cue to tell us that their best friend is black. What is it about discussing racism that makes white people uncomfortable? Whatever it is, it is time to address this discomfort.
The conversation is a difficult one to have but it must be had. It is a privilege to be able to ignore racism, as a black person, I do not have this luxury. Racism has its ugly knee on my neck, even when I scream “I can’t breathe”, I am told to be silent. The people who benefits from the system which emboldens the perpetrators are the ones quick to say they are uncomfortable, you’d think they are the oppressed with the knee on their necks!
Denial of racism is itself a racist act. When as a white person, you become annoyed whenever we speak about racism, you are being dismissive of our reality. When you say to us, “but we are nice to you, why do you keep talking about racism”, you need to understand that trying to silence us is an act of microaggression. You might be ‘nice’ to us, you can try to convince us how much you don’t see colour (which itself is problematic), however, we live in a world where we are exposed to some treatments and realities you are protected from because of your race.
Please, understand that this is not about making you feel guilty for being white. It is not necessarily about you; we are not after your guilt. We are opening your eyes to our experiences which you might not be aware of because it does not affect you. It is about creating awareness and demanding change. Look at it as an opportunity to learn and to take an active stance against racism by committing yourself to being a white ally. We want to build a better society and we want you to do your part to make this happen. So, no, we don’t need or want your guilt, we want you to be anti-racist.
Silence is compliance. We live in a society where the voice of a white person is deemed more important and more valued than the voice of someone from a BAME community. White people listen better to other white people on racism than they would black people who actually experience racism every day. This is sad but it is our reality. Therefore, it is important for our white allies to keep educating themselves so they can educate other white people.
Racism hurts and the micro aggression directed towards us in the workplace because of our skin colour, accent, hair and everything that makes us different is extremely sad and painful. As Black/Brown children we are told we are not good enough, as adults we face same discrimination at work, our accent is not good enough, our faces do not fit leadership positions, we are systematically denied promotions etc.
I always say microaggression is one of the worst type of racism out there as it is so easy for the perpetrators to flippantly dismiss it as “it was just a joke” or “You are too sensitive”. As women, society expects us to take small space, as black women, we are even expected to take less space and be “less loud” and “less aggressive”. It is a challenge to be our true self in the workplace especially when our true self is not valued. As a black/Brown person, when we enter a room or try to contribute at a meeting, people assume because of our skin colour and accent, we are less educated and just there as the token BAME to fill the inclusion seat.
I listened to a talk given by a colleague on micro-aggressions where he shared some of the heart-breaking racist experiences he had been subjected to in the workplace. As a black man with an ‘African’ accent, he was not believed when he mentioned on the phone that he worked for the department. He was advised by his manager to go with a white colleague to verify his identity. He needed a white colleague to verify to another white person that he is legit. This started me thinking about ‘borrowed whiteness’ (for lack of a better term).
Are you aware that as Blacks, we sometimes attempt to ‘borrow’ white privilege from our white friends, spouses, partners? A white colleague mentioned that his Asian partner would hold his hand at airports to borrow his whiteness for protection. It is a scenario I understand very well.
One of my earliest experiences of borrowing whiteness was when I travelled the world as a trade union organiser. When travelling with white colleagues, I was always the only black person in the group. I made sure to stay close to my white comrades, to be associated with them, so I would be looked at less suspiciously. This gave me some sort of protection from being immediately classified as a criminal. I borrowed/hid under their whiteness to be protected from racist gaze and scrutiny, a white privilege they did not even know they possessed because they had never had to consider it.
It is heart-breaking that we need to be associated with the skin of another to afford us protection/validation because our skin colour is considered not good enough. Even at a crime scene, our words are not good enough unless a white person corroborates us. The witness evidence of a single white guy in a crime scene carries more weight than the witness evidence of three black guys at the same crime scene. Ask mothers who have been at the brink of losing their black sons to crimes they did not commit only to be saved at the last minute when a white witness turns up and corroborates what the black witnesses have been saying all along. This is degrading and dehumanising, this is how systemic racism works.
There are reasons black people do not trust the police, every black person knows a family member or BAME friend who has been a victim of police brutality. There is undisputable evidence that Police use their Stop and Search powers to disproportionately target Blacks. During Covid19 lockdown, 22,000 young black men were stopped and searched in London. We are stereotyped as prone to committing criminal activities, we are deemed guilty before proven innocent, our skin colour used as the damning evidence of our guilt. Even the healthcare system is not immune to this racism. Blacks were used as guinea pigs in medical trials, most times in inhumane conditions, and are still used as guinea pigs to this day. Just a few months ago two French doctors made racists remarks on TV that Coronavirus vaccines should first be tested in Africa. My very first encounter with a GP in UK was steeped in racism and it almost proved fatal. However, that is a story for another day.
Discrimination really hurts. It is painful to be looked at differently with suspicion in a park, supermarkets or departmental store when all you want to do is buy a bottle of perfume. Remember what happened to Leona Lewis and her father? Even as an international superstar, she still experienced racism in a store. Her black skin did not fit the clientele. Her black skin was viewed as criminal, as suspicious, as inferior. I can tell you that Blacks have same experience every day as Leona Lewis and her father.
My sister who recently started an event planning company has become weary when speaking to white customers on the phone. She told me about a recent case where she had been communicating with a white woman via emails and had almost sealed the deal. However, when it was time to complete the transactions on the phone and exchange bank details, the woman was surprised that my sister was Black and asked where she was from. The woman then said she will get back in touch and that was the last she heard from her. Unfortunately, that was just one of such cases since she started her business. She has now put up a beautiful picture of herself on her website dressed in resplendent Nigerian attire. This way, she avoids the hurt that comes with being rejected to your face or deemed not good enough because of your race.
White colleagues, you should take time to reflect on why you are uncomfortable when we bring up racism. Listen, learn and empathise because if you do not put yourself in our shoes you might not understand the pains of Black people whose ancestors were subjected to the worst kind of man’s inhumanity to man and whose descendants are still being treated as less than human by individuals, police and the system.
Some of the things we read on social media make us wonder where our colleagues stand on Racism Some of us, both black and white, lost friends when we voiced our support for Black Lives Matter. Don’t be afraid to take a stance against racism even if you lose childhood friends. Take solace in the fact that your friends’ group is now less racist. Who wants to be friends with racists anyway. You wouldn’t want to be friends with paedophiles even if they were childhood friends, so why make excuses for racists friends who refuse to learn and are easily offended when we challenge racism?
It is sad that we work and live in a society where speaking out about oppression in our workplace is considered a brave thing to do. The fear of repercussion is real, the ostracism that comes with challenging our oppression is a price too high for some of us to pay. How did we come to this? Not today; it is centuries of oppressing and silencing black people. I understand just how tempting it is for us as BAME to hide away and not challenge perpetrators. However, in doing so, we gradually lose our voice and wither away.
It is time to have honest conversations no matter how uncomfortable some might find it. White colleagues need to remember that their discomfort is nothing compared to the daily experiences of their black colleagues who live with racism every day. We must hold racists accountable for their actions. We need more than placating words, we demand action.
A society where racism is still rife has no business referring to itself as a modern society. No one is born hating another for the colour of their skin, society taught this hate, society promotes this hate, it is time for us to collectively act to break the chain of this injustice. It is time to be vocally anti-racist. Time to stand up for true change and help build a better, fair and just society where no one is treated as inferior to the other or denied opportunities because of their race or accent.
Finally, pls, understand that Black Lives Matter is not about White vs Black, it is Racism Vs Anti-racist. Where do you stand?
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.
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
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.