Society

Britain’s Rejects

My 72 year old immigrant grandmother died in 2002, prompting a rushed visit to Pakistan. She had specified her wishes to be repatriated to her final resting place when the time came. Growing up we’d always objected to their pipe dream plans to show us the motherland, even going so far as likening it to death, given that we were never short of a cautionary tale or two of what could go wrong if they were not truthful of their intentions. There was always talk of so and so’s kid who’d gone off the rails so the folks took them ‘back home’ to straighten them out. This usually meant a forced marriage but there was always the worry you’d never return.

For 20 years I’d ignored their pleas to at least give them a chance and see what they had built with their own hands, for us, so that we had roots and a place we could always call home. My gran, or dhaadhi as we called her, would look at us in disbelief and shake her head, unsure of how else to sell it to us; the stories she’d tell of exotic fruits abundant in the courtyard, trees grown especially for us, her face wrinkled up in a smile as she recalled the exceptional quality of, as she put it, the juiciest mangoes on God’s green earth and other fruits I don’t know the English word for.

Whilst I love listening to her and seeing her clear delight I wasn’t convinced. I considered myself British, English even, and harboured an unhealthy self hate; I wasn’t above sneering at Pakis. Eager to set myself apart I believed the things white people said about Pakistan and Pakistanis and asserted my Britishness whenever it was required of me. I do cringe whenever I think back to that mindset. I think about the sort of white person who’d get off on hearing my disgust for people like me, the kind to collect tokens and play brown people off each other, dividing Muslims and Hindus for example and profiting off the misery that inevitably follows. Divide rule and conquer works to this day.

It didn’t matter when she died though, I suddenly felt I owed her a trip. Almost immediately I was consumed with guilt that I hadn’t honoured this wish of hers whilst she had been alive but I hoped she knew I was with her for her final journey. Barely six hours after she took her last breath we (my twin, dad, aunt and I) were in business class on a PIA flight bound for Islamabad. It was the first time I’d ever flown and my nerves were shot, I’d barely slept or processed what had happened but the hot cloths and silver service made up for the turbulence a little bit. My dad even let twin and I smoke a cigarette! It was that kind of a day, normal programming abandoned, venturing into the unknown out of a sense of duty and family pride. I tried not to think of her, alone, entombed in a wooden box, along with the rest of the cargo.

We landed at Islamabad airport at 6am. I was hit by the heat, as if I’d walked into a wall of hot air and it would suffocate me, upon exiting the plane. The sun hadn’t been up long but it was already 27 degrees. My thoughts went to my gran and the effect these conditions would have on her lifeless body. We waited for her coffin to be released and clung to each other through the chaos and din of the arrivals lounge, we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Random strange men pawed at our luggage offering to carry it, not being entirely forthcoming about the tip they expected for this service. It smelt funny, and the people were scary, staring at us as if we’d fallen from the sky. An uncle herded us out of the terminal and explained we looked different to regular Pakistanis and they were probably trying to figure out if we were worth anything.

It didn’t feel like a homecoming but the worst day of my life and the natives weren’t exactly helping. I didn’t want my worst fears to be confirmed, that we were easy pickings and could be disappeared, never to return. Dad’s cousin thought we were hilarious, batting furiously at the flies that seemed to throng the air, shrieking at the various creepy critters that had dared to greet us. We were a novelty. Fragile. Typical of desis who’d lost their way. A highly amusing form of entertainment for the locals.

The funeral was as expected; the outpouring of grief par the course but I had never imagined my dear gran knew so many people. I was bewildered by the number of women sat around smoking, a practice that was almost entirely gendered amongst the older generations in Britain. I only ever knew one lady smoker, my granddad’s sister in law and she had a free pass on account of her mental status. Here it just seemed to be a way of life, the chilum, similar to a shisha, was a permanent fixture. Granted they weren’t holding penis shaped cigarettes as they do in the west (cigarettes were originally marketed to women on the basis that women envied the penis and smoking would achieve equality or something) but this was really a sight to behold for someone who’d been brought up in a strict household where women most definitely did not smoke. I was also surprised at the relative freedom my girl cousins had with regards to their personal grooming. We’d been forced to keep our hair long, our eyebrows natural and our sleeves below the elbow and yet my cousins had no such restrictions. It’s when I first started to believe our grandparents were trying to preserve something of our culture in the west, that we were a snapshot frozen in time of an era pre colonialism whereas the rest of the world had just moved on.

They referred to us as the English princesses, for being so vulnerable to the elements. In our hurry to bury dhaadhi according to Islamic law within 24 hours, we’d had to forgo the usual preparations; shots for foreign diseases and the like. Within 48 hours we were struck with a mystery bug that was determined to shoot itself out of both ends and stifling temperatures in the mid 50s weren’t helping the situation, especially when the electricity was guaranteed to give out at least twice a day. I had never felt more miserable in my life and decided there was nothing else for it, we had to go home. Everyone else had other ideas though; we hadn’t given it a chance, we needed to eat more and think about getting better, the airline wouldn’t carry us if we were too sick and for a brief time I was petrified they weren’t going to let us leave at all. Maybe this had been the plan all along.

Fortunately the bug seemed to attack in waves and a day later our uncle took us shopping, we hadn’t come with very much stuff, in my case I didn’t even own more than one pair of salwar kameez. All was going well until we actually spoke to the vendors and my uncle clocked they were hiking up the prices. He said if we liked the look of anything to point at it rather than say anything aloud. I was confused, we’d been conversing in Punjabi but apparently even that sounded different to them and English people could afford to pay more.

I felt personally attacked, not gonna lie. I didn’t belong here, as people were keen to point out with every interaction. I didn’t like the heat, I didn’t like the food, or the people even, they were rude and looked at me the way closeted racists did in England. I didn’t feel safe. All I wanted was a cheese and tomato sandwich and my bed, at home in rainy blighty. I asked for fries on one occasion, thinking there isn’t a place in the world you can’t get fries, and bawled my eyes out when they arrived dusted with chilli powder. In the end, I shook off as much of it as I could and sliced up some tomato and onion for the weirdest chip butty ever. I dreamed of Nandos. I vowed to kiss the ground when I got home and never complain about the cold ever again (delirious or delusional, you decide) and made it my mission to pester the folks at all times, ET had to go home. Eventually, 10 days after the ordeal began we boarded a flight home, excited like you wouldn’t believe I made lists in my head of everything I would drink and eat.

I wasn’t sorry to say goodbye to my dysfunctional country of origin, but I did think of what it might be like, 50 years on. There’s no doubting Pakistan is a hellhole for many reasons but it was made this way. It was a consolation prize given to the victims of the British empire, those who once considered themselves Indian, those of my grandparents generation who would’ve been young children at the time of partition. They’ve seen horrors we can only imagine. They are the product of such horrors. To show humanity you must be shown it and Pakistanis are amongst some of the first to be dehumanised. They are the losers of the empire and all the alliances that followed, between extremists bound by mutual desires for power and control and must be mocked and denigrated in order to maintain the global hierarchy. They are Muslims and they were once proud rulers of India, loved by moderates of all faiths. Their fall from grace is the only lasting legacy for young Pakistan, it simply hasn’t had enough time to recuperate.

Our grandparents were refugees of a kind, the land they occupied was destroyed by the British who busted a dam, destroying everything. Britain promised those people refuge from a disaster of their own creation and so they came, naive to the racism that awaited them. They never accepted they were British, my grandparent’s generations, their hearts were too broken, unable to mend. Such is the life of the stateless citizen. I had tricked myself into believing I belonged in the UK but 9/11 changed all of that. The unspoken hate bubbled to the surface and became impossible to ignore. It’s gotten exponentially worse in recent years, there’s no denying it now. They say we don’t integrate but when we do they want to ban us from getting involved, just look at the furore over the Xmas ads, life is impossible for those of us who do not belong anywhere.

There’s no love lost between me and centrist Sadiq Khan but I felt for him today. We don’t belong anywhere, we only have an idea of what it is to belong somewhere and our place of birth is the nearest we can get to realising it, despite what the racists might say.

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Legitimate Concerns of the White Working Class

A few days ago, I went to a restaurant with a friend and after the meal we stopped off at a supermarket for some essentials. My date said he’d pop in quickly whilst I smoked my cigarette. Stood at the entrance I noticed a heap on the floor to my right, a young lad maybe no more than 18 with ginger hair and circles under his eyes – malnourished was the word that immediately popped to mind. I dug around in the bottom of my bag for loose change and found £1.70 in coins which I handed to him. It was a particularly blustery evening and his sleeping bag seemed inadequate, the air felt cold and sharp with the coming rain. It wasn’t right that he would have to endure a night like this. I asked him if he had anywhere warm to go and he said he just needed another fiver before he could make that happen.

Now I know some homeless shelters are free. I get that. I understand sometimes it’s not safe for people to stay at these shelters because they are vulnerable and the needs of all service users must be considered. He may have been talking about a cheap hotel, it really didn’t make a difference to me, I pulled out a fiver and handed it over. I said, “I really don’t care where you spend it, honestly, just that you need it and I can give it” and he seemed panicked as though he desperately needed me to believe him when he said it was going towards shelter. I suddenly felt sheepish, in trying to reassure him I’d actually made him paranoid, no doubt because this a conversation he has several times a day, and has had to defend himself against these cruel judgments.

To make things less awkward I decided to go into the store and track my friend down. We met in the queue for the till, there being one customer before us and so I proceeded to tell him about what had just happened. I wasn’t talking loud enough for anyone else to hear, I thought, yet the cashier, an older woman perhaps in her 60s, with a tattoo on her neck that resembled a port wine stain in the shape of a badly drawn daisy, suddenly barked at me “how much did you give him?” My response was equally abrupt, “nothing” I said, confused as to why this woman was inserting herself into my private conversation given that she was still serving the customer in front of us and we most definitely did not invite the interruption. Nonetheless she proceeded to tell me what a mug I was for giving this kid some pocket change, rolling off a bunch of other times customers had given him money including a chap who’d won £120 on a scratch card and she said he’d only go and spend it on drugs.

“GOOD!” I exclaimed, much to her annoyance. “Do you know how cold it is out there? If I can help someone find something that will make the cold night air a bit more bearable, even if it is just drugs, then I’ve done my part. In an ideal world, that kid wouldn’t be on the streets, we’d look after him.”

She didn’t seem pleased at this and started rambling about how he gets into a jeep with some lads and makes at least £50-60 a day and people like me were just encouraging this deception and suddenly the older white man in front of me in the queue pipes up about Brexit and how “it’s a good job we’ve finally left the union” not looking up from his shopping once, brave white knight that he was. My friend and I looked at each other like, what the fuck is going on, we’ve somehow got ourselves embroiled in an argument with Bigots for a Bastard Britain. I knew what Bashful Brave White Man meant, Brexit meant Pakis Out and soon enough there would be no Pakis around to give poor white kids money on the streets, or that once the Pakis were gone, the poor white kids on the street would have jobs and wouldn’t need to beg or something racist, at least, I know this much from his nonsensical interjection and entitlement to my time and efforts. We didn’t validate his pointless contribution with a response, he paid for his groceries and fucked off.

Ratty Old White Lady, seemingly hesitant to accept she had no right to tell me what to do with my money, continued to whinge about nothing until I stopped her and said “there are billionaires in the world hoarding money, the kind of wealth you clearly have no clue about or else you wouldn’t spend your days begrudging a teenager pennies, comparatively speaking, but you won’t challenge them, because you’re twisted and you don’t feel like you’re living unless you’re suffering. They’re laughing at you, and so they should, you haven’t got the first clue” and with this we paid for our things and left the store.

My friend and I seethed all the way home, analysing every little thing that was said before I launched into a diatribe on the state of the white British working class. As a born and bred Britisher, there are, unfortunately, members of my family I could describe in the same way, those who’ve brought into the protestant work ethic and live to work, but suffering is crucial for it to be considered worthy. You can’t do something you enjoy or anything that requires little effort on your part, that’s cheating. My friend is white British middle class and said that he could never say what I had just said because it would sound completely different, my point being, “the white working class is keen to point out how hard they work for the right to call themselves decent hard working folk but I cannot think of any other demographic so lazy and immature in its thinking.”

As a daughter of immigrants, my grandfather was a foreman for British Steel, my father a car mechanic (his work unit in the grounds of a council estate) I am completely wedded to this statement and couldn’t be more justified. I am justified in its application because I have come to detest the double standards and bullshit emanating from the general direction of the supposedly native and legitimately concerned white working class the establishment overlords wheel out to excuse their racist and inhumane policies against other working class people on rainy fascist island. I wish I’d said to badly drawn port wine daisy tattoo lady she was the mug for working at Asda for her £50-60 a day when young homeless lad knew to appeal to those who have more. I wish I’d called Brexit Bigot out when I’d had the chance and told him to jog on.

Stop making excuses for horrible people, I reckon. Stop legitimising their hateful creed, there is nothing virtuous about doing a job that pays you peanuts whilst lining the fat cat’s pockets with your blood sweat and tears. You don’t get a medal for keeping in line, that’s a myth. Stop being such an insufferable serf. Wake the fuck up and acknowledge this life you have as being more precious than the value some narcissist with a trust fund places on it.

Stop being so damn white and undeservedly proud of monstrous attitudes.

Interview on the Headscarf ‘Ban’

Penny Sized Thoughts

As a short Asian woman (5ft 1in) belonging to one of the largest demographics on this here planet of ours, representation matters. We’re an easy target, we’re smaller so we can’t get away quick enough, or we’re more visible because we are child sized in an adult world, frequently fetishised by orientalists and predators who think we’re easy pickings. Everyone has a go, and I mean EVERYONE, because we’re traditionally submissive and scared of most people. The penalties for deviating evident on this very blog, as a notoriously small yet unusually loud and ‘aggressive’ south Asian woman I’m a shock to most people’s systems because I refuse to play to type, not that it matters, people only see what they want. We never have legitimate concerns, we’re merely acting out, throwing a tantrum.

Perhaps this logic can be applied to some people, just not all. The equally diminutive Laurie Penny has since deleted the offending tweet but I gather it went something like this:

laurie penny 2

fetishising yes

Here’s the thing Laurie, there isn’t a niche market for little Asian lady clothes, we live in a society that almost exclusively caters to white people, with their big bones and flat bodies. We are masters of the wunderweb or else we have our clothes professionally altered, it’s always been more expensive to be a little Asian lady on Rainy Fascist Island, unless you manage to find a child sized garment with enough room for woman sized boobs and bums.

We’re the same size more or less, Laurie and I, in height that is. Our bodies are completely different, as you would expect. I suspect Laurie, whilst similar in stature, has a fetishisation for bodies she would deem exotic, the curvier silhouette of a woman of colour for example. It is perhaps why, when she overheard me bemoaning the severe lack of smoochable comrades at a party, she offered her own mouth. What was I going to do, put on the spot like that? I couldn’t exactly reject her (I’m much better at saying no these days, beware)  so I obliged. It was nice enough but I couldn’t shake off the feeling it was a bit awkward and entitled and she walked away straight after, if it wasn’t already weird enough.

Thinking on it now, with my more rounded view of Laurie and the world she inhabits, she probably did it just so she could say she’d kissed an Asian girl and she liked it. It’s not the first time she’s gotten into trouble for saying inappropriate things about woc, specifically small Asian women.

laurie penny fetishlaurie penny fetish 1

Or you could just be a white woman with an orientalist fetish, and enjoy the relative privileges being white gives you. You can dip into short people’s oppressions when it suits, and also the ways in which you are perceived, for instance, I think you play on the infantilisation people impose on you. We’re expected to forgive the awful things you say because you haven’t eaten, when people like myself are expected to never make a mistake even when we’re on opiates for ill health.

laurie eats toast

Frankly, I’m sick of this petulant brat. She is beyond reproach, schmoozing Nazis, helping to rebrand white supremacy for the 21st century and her sycophantic audience laps it up, time and time again. Laurie has many opinions on womanhood and how we use performative femininity to attract men, completely ignorant of the various cultural reasons non white women have for keeping their hair long. She thinks of herself as enlightened, almost Godlike (a white supremacist trait) in her analysis of other women.

I don’t care what she meant, or whether she thinks her words are being taken out of context, every interaction Laurie has with the wider world speaks volumes about the kind of person she is; irresponsible, self absorbed, entitled and ultimately, a predictable bore.

 

Remember the Holocaust, punch Nazis

Today marks the 17th Holocaust Memorial Commemoration Day. It reminds us of the date the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz was liberated by the soviet union in 1945. We also remember the victims of subsequent genocides; Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur. It comes as a timely reminder of just how close we are yet again to experiencing a similar fate, if certain forces are allowed to continue spreading hateful propaganda.

With so many genocides behind us, you’d think we’d know by now how to prevent one. It seems easy enough to me, failed states look for scapegoats; whether Jews, Muslims, trans, disabled or LGBT, already marginalised groups are easy targets, because they have no way of defending themselves against a system that begrudgingly allows them to exist.

It seems obvious to anyone who is willing to sign their name to the truth; neo Nazism has risen off the back of a white supremacist agenda, promulgated by people/organisations we thought we could trust (like the BBC). The instinct to protect humanity is chipped away at by the state and media, gradually, drip feeding the message that all of society’s ills can be attributed to this group, unlike us, that has failed to do x. In times of economic crisis, failed states and their leaders crank up the propaganda machine to distract us from their deficiency, so we are not baying for their blood and demanding our dues but killing each other, conveniently letting our toffee nosed overlords off the hook.

How can we in good conscience honour the victims of genocides past when we seem to be teetering on the brink of another, nefariously intimated by the same individuals espousing liberal platitudes such as ‘Never Again’?

‘Beware Hate Speech, says Auschwitz Holocaust survivor’ is a featured story on the BBC website. There are also segments on Newsround such as ‘Holocaust Memorial; what can we learn?’ Yet it wasn’t so long ago the internet was aghast at the BBC for their promotion of real live fascists like Farage who was given more airtime in the run up to the general election than all the other leaders combined. You might have caught the swastika tattooed Nazi on the news who went by unchallenged by BBC presenters when he suggested the swastika was not in fact racist. The BBC likes to claim its non partisan stance reflects its programming but in refusing to label Nazis they have failed in this respect. By downplaying the Nazi, they have chosen the Nazi.

helenlewis

The execrable minimisation of genocidal white supremacy by your faves has enabled a 21st century descent into fascism, yet still there are those who claim to uphold liberal values whilst ushering in this kinder, gentler attitude towards Nazis. Nazis just need to be shown some humanity, allegedly, to stop behaving like Nazis. You absolutely must not punch a nazi or you’re as bad as those who slaughtered 11 million people in the name of white pride. If you’re the sort of person who has even a shred of empathy/sympathy for Nazis, you might be a nazi too, or at the very least a white supremacist. When I think of Nazis, I don’t stop at a punch, Nazis are for the wall. Y’see I understand Nazis don’t even think of me as human, just medical waste. I knew as a child Nazis would have come for me, it made learning about the holocaust shockingly real and painful.

I guess this could go some way to explain the dissonance of those who mark memorial days yet platform Nazis in their newspapers and magazines. Fascism won’t ever directly impact on Nazi collaborators, they’re white by and large, middle class too if they’re journalists and academics. A bunch of these folks were fine othering Muslim people or trans people and denying it would lead to fascism but now that it is here, they’re down for punching Nazis. Dissonance or naivete, I can never tell but it might have helped stall things had they believed us.

If we read enough we know historically Nazis respond only to violence, rather it is the only thing that can stop them dead in their tracks. Nazis are cowards, they are opportunists, they thrive only because liberals legitimise their extremism, they claim to be moderates yet turn away refugees and make distinctions between good and bad immigrants, Europeans and non Europeans, Muslims and Jews. Nazis do love to divide rule and conquer so we must respond with solidarity, whether it personally impacts on us or not. When they other even one of us, we must fight back together as a whole. Othering is a white supremacist tool used to justify dehumanisation then genocide, it has no place in a civilised society. It is bullying to speak of other identities whilst excluding them from the discussion, protesting this fact does not make the protester a bully but a revolutionary.

The world is in need of a therapist, to show us all the incongruence of our words against our actions, and the good grace to admit our deepest faults, in the belief we can all be forgiven if we uphold the truth.

In our post truth, fake news world, I despair.

Part Three: Sticks and Stones

clarkson-racistjterry

“It’s not racist to say the p or no words, maybe offensive to those who love to be offended but they’re just words.”

may-not-a-racist

“Those might be racist words but they were not said with racist intent.”

immigration   ukba-vans

“It’s not racist to say.. you don’t care about black people.”

Much of the rhetoric around racism the past few years has been rooted in denial of its very existence. It’s not racist to have an opinion, even if that opinion dehumanises non whites. The definition of racism has been distorted so that we cannot complain of racism unless a white person was on hand to witness it and their criteria is met.

boodleoops  bengoldrhodes3

Even then it might not be that racist, the white person is just ignorant through no fault of their own, we must try to understand the economic difficulties that inspired their Very Legitimate Concerns and accept their superior status on account of their whiteness.

moron  morangoldacre

When Caitlin Moran told the word she literally couldn’t give a shit about black representation, what effect did that have on ignorant white people? The woman who taught liberal middle England how to be a white feminist attended Michael Gove’s wedding even though she’s a ‘leftie’, also thinks it’s funny to punch down at those with less privilege, people with HIV status or trans people for example. All we ever did was point out how wrong this was, nauseated as we were at this odious bigotry. Imagine if she and her friends had replied “I’m awfully sorry I’ve made you feel this way, it was not my intention. Please accept my sincere apologies, I will do better”.

IMAGINE.

Admitting fault in a toxic post truth world of their own making is impossible for these most fragile of snowflakes. They double down. They responded to our increasingly (understandably) hostile call outs with pointed irreverence.

blame-caitlin   haynesbanging

haynesprick

The journalists we knocked heads with online continued with the very agenda we were opposing because they knew they had the power to silence us and carry on as if this kind of racism was the norm.

disgracedent

liddle  muslimmums

cathy newman.jpg

Later that day.

cathy-apologises

Only powerful white people have the power to say what is and isn’t racist.

dawk      stephenfrydawk

britfirstdawks     dawksnotaracist

They can claim they’re being silenced by our call out culture and no platforming, the only tool we have to combat hate speech, but we know otherwise.

freespeechsure

bindelbindel-transphobia  bindel1

julie-bindel-threats

3 years of this blatant propaganda (Lee Rigby provided a catalyst on the back of years of fake news following 9/11) and denial of its trickle down effect has culminated in the rise of cowardly fascism, white supremacists emboldened by the actions of those with the power to do immense good, who’ve demonstrated consistently their intolerance of folks deemed *other by the most privileged in society. Those who possess the kind of privilege that could bring world peace, if they weren’t so white, greedy and self obsessed. They lie, they turn the truth upside down and in doing so condemn 100s if not 1000s to a backlash incited from their national platforms to their international audiences.

farage-of-the-left

60% of people don’t read past headlines, and the journalists know this. Object and they’ll pull out the Journo Card “if you’d actually bothered to read it.. I address that further down in the piece”. How gullible do they think we are? Every word is deliberate. They make the news but they also want to be the news, so playing the victim even under all of that privilege keeps them relevant. They understand power and control dynamics and are aware they possess most of it. This campaign to undermine and erase various feminists of colour, trans women, sex workers etc has been successful, most people bought into their divisive narrative. Most people believed the lies.

suzanneedl

(published 2011)

burka

We cannot now be expected to believe they are on our side, ready to fight fascism and smash white supremacy. Not when they’ve done some of their best work drip feeding bigotry to the unquestioning masses. No one wants to go down in history as a nazi collaborator, but there are no free passes here.

(TBC)

We need to talk about the commentariat

I write this not for the Brexit ate my braahn baby crowd but for those of us who are willing to admit harsh truths in order to effect change. To know what it is we must do for the future we learn about the past and study trends so we can be better prepared for what’s coming. You don’t need an academic record in order to observe how the world is affected by narratives however, especially if you are burdened by unspoken rules placing you at various intersections of oppression, you experience them through social inequality. Speaking for myself I have been a keen observer of all things social and have been since I studied sociology at high school. It informs my interactions with the world. I never anticipated the backlash though, I had expected some resistance but not on the scale I received and not from the people I thought I could trust, the Guardian types keen on saving us all from ourselves.

When you learned about the Holocaust did you stop to wonder as I did, how so many were organised and in such a short period of time, carted off to their deaths without so much as a whimper from their white German neighbours? Did you marvel at the breathtaking ignorance of the allies who were allegedly unaware of the camps until it was almost over anyway? Perhaps now you know, given the ways in which truths are erased in our supposedly post truth world, and how narratives are framed, by those who claim to know better, those publications considered ‘leftie’ or socialist in some respects are squarely to blame, along with the perhaps deliberately embellished version of war we were taught on the national curriculum where Britain saved the world, and the Jews.

It could be true that some of us have a monumental chip on our shoulder, that we make excuses for our inadequacies or we might just be telling the truth. Recently the Guardian featured a story regarding the inhumane treatment a Dutch woman had received following Brexit when she applied for a British passport and was subsequently turned down because she had failed to include her original passport because *reasons*. There was outrage on social media not least because this mother of two was going to be ejected from the country minus her children, who did have British citizenship. How cruel the system was under Brexit, how devastatingly inhumane. Except this is the system and has been for as long as I can remember through my work with women who have no recourse to public funds. You won’t hear about them even if people like me blog about it. Where’s your outrage for women like Meena* and her toddler? She came over on a spousal visa from Pakistan and only just fell short of the then 2 year rule which stipulated residency in the country for at least two years under the supervision of a sponsor, in this case her husband, before she could make an application for indefinite leave to remain giving her full access to British benefits. He was violent. One day she made the decision to leave, because it was no longer safe enough, the violence was escalating and she feared for their lives. She’d endured his violent episodes but there was a limit. I’m only explaining this because she knew she had nowhere to go and so had suffered many months of abuse before she made the final break, potentially being faced with homelessness but that threshold had been crossed. Homelessness was preferable to certain death. Think about the hell she endured all on her own, without a clue. In fact she was one of the lucky ones and had a kind and thoughtful doctor, one who’d spotted the signs and knew of a culturally sensitive refuge that had a single room set aside for women with no recourse.

Subsidies for these women who, almost every time, fall through the net and get disappeared by the state or their abusive partners are practically non existent. There has never been adequate representation or provision for these women. When Meena traveled the two hours to the home office every time they said ‘jump’, baby in tow, she came back a sad shadow of her usual chatty self. I saw the state chip away at this personality, this woman who had every right to exist free from harm and to be supported in her darkest moments but instead she was yanked around like cattle to the slaughter. I can’t forget the way she cried as she prepared for the final hearing and was advised by her solicitor to bring all her valuables with her, if the home office denied her extenuating circumstances (despite the reams of evidence) she would be remanded immediately and sent to a detention centre. When we pleaded for the baby’s sake the home office, along with social services and even our own legal advisors said the state was obliged to provide for the little one and take her into care but Meena would still have to go. I was a temp and I left before her case was closed but I think about her even now and where she might be. When I read about privileged white women bemoaning airport queues, I think about Meena, and all the others the Guardian overlooked through indifference and probably racism, until Brexit provided the sacrificial king upon which to pin all of our woes.

Even more recently the Guardian published a lament from one Lindy West who left Twitter because it serves best the trolls, bots and dictators. I hear she wrote about the Nazism that Twitter is now famous for and also about all the ways she personally was sick of it and to be fair, this wasn’t regular trolling but a sustained campaign of abuse, harassment and stalking. I feel for her, absolutely, but I’m also a little pissed off. Anyone who knows what I and many other woc have been forced to endure the past few years will tell you the gigantic role journalists had in directing that abuse, harassment and stalking our way. When we protested the Guardian and New Statesmen ghouls for their hot takes on our lives they said we were bullying them and they as white middle class people with all the top jobs were being oppressed by us. What effect do you think that had on wider society? At a time when the far right mobilised in the wake of the killing of Lee Rigby these allegedly leftie papers were saying women of colour, queer people, trans people were bullying them and making false allegations of racism that were just unacceptable, oh, and intersectionality was just an elitist buzzword whilst poc had sinister undertones. You want to talk fake news?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

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This guy is an editor for the Guardian. When we called out the racism his girlfriend, who works for the New Statesman, was subjecting various people to, in her actions if not so much her words, this is how he responded.

His girlfriend later went on to ask:

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It is the middle class liberals and lefties citing Brexit as the root of all evil who have enabled the rise of fascism. Virtually every last one of them is white, plus a few tokens on hand to massage their egos. They did know, we tried to tell them a million times. They didn’t just do as they were told, they were the ones doing the telling. These are the facts we must remember.

It doesn’t matter what we think, as grandchildren of immigrants, and legitimate citizens of rainy fascist island, where our lives are scrutinised and twisted beyond our recognition. We are not permitted to defend ourselves or to react from a place of fear and vulnerability. When we react to these privileged white people’s assessments of our lives they double down instead of listening to us because they cannot believe we would have the audacity to talk back. We are bizarrely hostile, not understandably so. We should ask nicely, with our heads bowed and exult upon our colonial masters how special and superior they are, if we are to be given a voice, otherwise we simply do not exist.

 

READ NEXT: Part Two – Comments on the Commentariat