Why the truth matters to me

truth

Growing up a stranger in the place of your birth is disorientating. Asides from the challenges one might encounter when starting at a new school, like making friends, children with foreign parents have to overcome additional obstacles in order to fit in. They must learn another language sometimes, as I did, but language is one of those things small children master within a surprisingly short period of time. Other barriers to assimilation are not so easy to tackle and there are so many, it’s no surprise people from ethnic minorities suffer disproportionately with poor mental health.

When you are told you are, but also feel, a member of the underclass, you either buy into the narrative – especially when you’ve not been taught to think critically – or you seek to distance yourself from the perceptions others have of your people. You buy into their hate or your own, in a bid to survive, but to survive well. Self-love just isn’t an option. I was conscious of the lies I needed to tell if I had any hope of accessing the world I wanted to belong to as early as age 6 when I decided I wanted to be called Sam. Even for one so young and innocent I had an inkling Sam was a name they just couldn’t mess with. It was English for a start. I didn’t have to spell it out every time, or have people poke fun at it, whether my peers or teachers (who should have known better). Even at this age I knew I had to change who I was if I was to have a fighting chance in life.

Racism wasn’t the only thing that informed the shaping of an identity that sat at odds with who I was inside. In fact as time went on, it became less of a conscious thing and something I normalised, and believed everyone did. Of course I now know this isn’t true, that many people are born into their identities and have the freedom to express them without the judgmental white gaze waiting for them to slip up.  Or the limitations of a violent home, living your days in fear of attack, never knowing where the next hit was coming from, desperately trying to cover up the evil truth from outsiders, in case they confirmed you did actually deserve the abuse you endured.

I was bubbly and outgoing, smart and organised, my mouth permanently fixed in a smile. I was part of the school council, a class monitor, a straight A student, a member of the quiz team and captain for rounders, netball and cricket. We were the champions of it all. None of the teachers would have guessed the situation at home was escalating, that we were living in fear and self-harming. My personality was split early on, through necessity; I had to be two different people in order to survive. Entering the big wide world as a teen on the run, I had to invent another persona to fit in with all these interesting new London types from all over Europe and beyond. When I left school, I left my world, my friends, my life behind. I had to learn how to speak in a way that didn’t set southerners off in a fit of giggles at my dulcet Brummie drawl. I had to be flexible if I was going to make it, whatever it would take. I lapped up my token status as the one who wasn’t like all the others, as though this was a reflection of my amazingness and not a divisive and racist microagression used by white people to remind you of your place (not so worthy but not so bad either, a reminder to keep doing what it is you’re doing for cookies), and keep you from questioning their problematic views.

Of course I didn’t know then that I didn’t have to be so amenable. I was on the run from a culture I had rejected because of the ways in which it made me a target and was desperate to adopt new ways to help me blend in. I became so many different things to so many people; I forgot who I was and what I wanted. I lived a life where I was manipulated by people who identified this willingness to please and then exploited it. I was used and abused, scapegoated. I was called a liar for keeping secrets I was too afraid to share. A gestalt therapist I accessed through my work noted that I smiled when I spoke of negative things and asked me to consider the incongruence between my words and my body language. I had become so jumbled up in my thoughts I began to dissociate whenever I was afraid. There was drug abuse, promiscuity, domestic abuse in my intimate relationships whilst I struggled to hold down a job as an advocate fighting for victims of domestic abuse. I was my own best example of bad practice though it did have the bonus of making me non-judgmental, however hopeless a situation might have seemed, I believed it was essential they had access to the same support. Cops for eg are less likely to want to help repeat victims, especially those who may have been warned off from being a witness previously (cos it’s all about them and paperwork, not an infectious social disease).

I couldn’t find my way out of my living hell. I couldn’t access the support to do so because then people would know my secret; that I was ugly and horrible, and undeserving of love and respect. That I should die. My adult relationships confirmed the self-hatred I had as a small child; nothing I did would ever change the fundamental flaw from within, my low social standing as the daughter of immigrants who never did escape the ghetto or the colonial mind-set (despite the straight As) and respect for hierarchy (within patriarchy). I was a slag before I had even kissed a boy, they must have known what I would grow into I reasoned.

A tragic incident in my personal life provided the catalyst for PTSD. All the feelings I’d ever suppressed bubbled to the surface and consumed me. I existed, and that’s all I can say for my consciousness over the period of a year except that I never want to go back there. With the right support, I was able to identify the pathways responsible for the ‘random’ panic attacks. I sorted the snapshots in my mind onto the correct collages and vowed to trace them back to the first triggers so that I could beat them. In order to do this, I have to be 100% honest with myself and everyone else or the carefully constructed administration of my mental health will fold in on itself.

A huge part of my recovery is about owning my genuine mistakes and experiencing them in a way that doesn’t cripple me with anxiety (the white commentariat can go to hell for the ways in which they hindered my progress, not forgetting the PoC who’ve perpetuated the lies about me).

Don’t lie to (or about) me; I will come at you with the rage of a woman who knows she is being gaslighted, because it triggers a collage of all the people who’ve knowingly put me in harm’s way, by minimising, denying and erasing my experience of things. I always feel a little crazy following a spat with people who lie because it hits me hard in a way you cannot appreciate. Sunny Hundal occupies the same brain space as the mosque teacher who molested me and continued to enjoy the kudos of being a holy man. Helen Lewis triggers the same feelings as the guy who molested me at 15 then said he’d heard I was a slag so thought he’d try his luck. That dude denies to this day that he ever put a finger on me.

If I say something and it seems dishonest to you, run your concerns by me, to my knowledge I am always telling the truth. I do however appreciate the arbitrary nature of most things so if you know better, do tell. I won’t lie and say it doesn’t help if you’re already a friend, coming at me with criticisms, however well intentioned, won’t end well if we’ve barely exchanged a RT, or even the bare minimum of support considering the shitehole the internet can be (and has been towards me).

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OITNB and Islamophobia

It’s rare to find a piece of popular culture that isn’t hugely problematic in some way. The mainstream media caters for the mainstream, an audience that finds humour in human suffering. If this sounds a bit far-fetched, consider the ways in which comedians hit back at victims of abuse when we have asked them to stop giving rapists the green light with their rape ‘jokes’, those witty bantz where the punchline is like a blow to the stomach, knocking the wind from unsuspecting victims of abuse further victimised by those extracting joy from their pain and calling it comedy, and then some more, by defenders of free speech but only the sort of speech that maintains existing structures of power and control and hierarchy; hate speech most often espoused by the white middle class commentariat, framed as genuine concerns for the maintenance of society, for the betterment of us all, yet translates into violence against the most vulnerable; women of colour, trans people, Muslim people.. Those voices we never hear because they are so marginalised, the ones who cannot defend themselves against the charges made against them because the white middle class heteronormative media controls our perceptions on all.

This is why Orange is the New Black was such a resounding success. Women in prison as a genre is a sure fire way to pull in the viewing numbers; if you’re old enough to remember Prisoner Cell Block H (or have been watching Wentworth – a 21st century spin off based in the same Australian prison), this has been a winning formula in reaching a specific audience because they are so frequently overlooked; those working class women doing time for survival in a patriarchal world. There are the shoplifters; women criminalised for stealing food or nappies, serving disproportionate sentences when comparing with males because women are not supposed to commit crime and are therefore punished more harshly to serve as a deterrent, but there are also those women encumbered by their acts of resilience, those who finally snapped and stabbed their abuser to death. We may not have served time at her majesty’s convenience but we do know what it is to suffer a woman’s lot in life, and this exploration of hardship and injustice keeps us hooked.

It should be easy to maintain focus on the inequalities women face without resorting to microagressions; however I was disappointed to find that my latest fave is threatening to be just as problematic as the rest. Before I begin to take it apart I feel it is relevant I make a full disclosure about my beliefs because I am frequently told I have only reacted in this way because I am a Muslim.

I am not a Muslim. I was once but I ran away as fast as I could. It took many years for me to come to the conclusion that I could not blame every last Muslim for the horrendous ways in which God was used by some of them to control me. It is not God who demands murder and rape, rather humans using the authority of God to justify their abusive practices. God, in any religion, acts for peace. It is with this fair conclusion I judge the writers of OITNB for being so disingenuous in their not so subtle reinforcement of the mind-set that Muslims are there for the ridiculing.

SPOILER ALERT – The prison is infested with bedbugs, all soft furnishings and books must be incinerated to prevent the pests from spreading further. A small gathering discusses the books that were burned, the Catholic nun character is on hand to correct Morello when she states all of the books were gone. “Not true” she asserts “there was one book they were afraid to burn” which Sister Ingalls immediately follows with a dramatic sigh as though she was suggesting that even she, as a Catholic – with all their pomp and ceremony – thinks it ridiculous to consider it a sacred text exempt from the rules to which we must all adhere. Morello responds “I stand corrected – there is a bug infested Quran.”

If this was the first mention of the Quran and a bonfire in western history you may be forgiven for thinking I am seeking issues where there are none, but you’d have had to been living on the moon to deny the continuity of this theme, especially when it’s a bunch of Americans alluding to it. Not a week goes by without another story of some Yankee yahoo threatening to buy up all the Qurans and burn them, a flagrant attempt at fanning the flames of bigotry, because those sorts of people actively seek war and know which buttons to press. Burn a bunch of poppies and see the calm Christians and even secularists fired up for vengeance because burning a book or a paper flower isn’t the random inconsequential act antagonists profess it to be.

Later on in the show, Vause is seen reading the Quran and makes an unnecessary statement about how she is probably forbidden from touching/reading the Quran but she washed her hands and figures an omniscient God would appreciate this. Just a suggestion but perhaps the show’s producers could have asked a Muslim queer for the lowdown on what is and isn’t permissible? They could even look into the positive things Islam does and encourages in its followers, for eg, recognising that trans people have a right to state funded surgery because Allah has made it our duty to save all people and treat them to good health if it is within our power to do so. This doesn’t fit western narratives though.

Yes, the Quran is a sacred book to its followers. Yes, it is given the respect one affords to a sacred artefact, it is kept in a safe place and one must be ritually cleansed in order to touch it. This is a fact. Similar could be said for the Bhagavad Gita or even the bible. That’s the thing about religious texts; they are sacred to their followers. Just because that Catholic nun thought it preposterous the Quran was given special treatment doesn’t mean there aren’t evangelical Christians who’d justify killing you for disrespecting their holy bible. Again, it is people who are fundamental in their interpretations of religion and like there are some Christian fanatics murdering abortionists yet failing to see the incongruence between their beliefs and their actions there are Muslims who will use God to justify misogyny and violence. There are also atheists demanding the culling of religious sorts because they allegedly cause war and stuff without an awareness of how ironic their solution to dehumanisation and depravity is to mirror those things we protest in extremists.

This is the crux of my ill feelings towards the framing of social narratives in the 3rd season of OITNB. The Quran and its followers have not only been posited as these people who consider themselves above the laws governing everyone else but also as the worst offender. Consider the makeover given to Pennsatucky. Be reminded that she was actually a homophobic bible bashing snitch who was employed by prison staff to rat out inmates suspected of lesbian activity. Suddenly she’s a reformed ally and lover of all things LGBTQIA, supporting Boo in her butchness? Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that Pennsatucky isn’t so violently racist and sexually shaming as she once was, I just object to the fact she’s elevated to a human position where she is capable of empathy and being part of a system even if it means completely demolishing her belief system and replacing it with an idea of what an acceptable human should be; the two are too far removed from each other for it to be a natural process, especially when they’re driving home the message that Islam is the one to watch. Instead I believe this to be an intentional move in which the writers, or whoever, get their childish jabs in at something they don’t understand or care for, in a bid to improve their ratings, reaching out to the mainstream they’re appealing to by confirming prejudices, showing solidarity to those on the same side (because Muslim queers don’t exist and therefore won’t be offended because they wouldn’t have seen the show cos it so full of sin or something).

I loved OITNB for its portrayal on the diversity of women and sexuality. For every racist, sexist trope the show explored there was a positive character to speak out for that way of life but as time goes on the characters fall into lazy racial stereotyping; homophobic Latinas and white queers, as though queer women of colour do not exist in equal numbers. Trans women for eg found a beautiful representative in Laverne Cox, she gives as good as she gets (the transphobia doesn’t let up much, even in the 3rd season) making her a perfect role model for those seeking out idols. The same cannot be said for Muslim women, perhaps because in reality they’re immediately shipped off to Guantanamo without trial, whatever the offence.


Only four episodes in, but this new series is way worse so far. The points you mention seem symptomatic of it reaching out for some mainstream populism which is totally diluting what made it great. I find it quite bizarre that we’re supposed to want the prison stay open, and cheer when it survives due to privatisation! I don’t want the prison to stay open, I want a work strike which unites everyone against the authorities, or I want the place to burn.

Adam Ford

(Since writing this piece I have seen a little more of the 3rd season and it doesn’t get any better. Soso makes an entirely irrelevant reference to stoning women in Iran and various characters join in with antisemitic remarks, no doubt triggering for some considering the nature of the ‘jokes’, and later on we get a reference to a Somali pirate thrown in for good measure. The disparaging comments against Jews don’t let up either.)

reverseracism

I stand with Bahar Mustafa – Reverse racism isn’t real

I was considering jumping straight into this post but when I did so on Twitter white people got unnecessarily agitated so I shall explain first. Goldsmiths University bme students have been hounded by the white left and right of the mainstream media and beyond, for demanding safe spaces for ethnic minorities. Bahar Mustafa, a student officer has been accused of racism, with white people everywhere chucking their newly acquired race cards in for their two pennies. This post will attempt to demonstrate how ludicrous these accusations of reverse racism are. Racism isn’t about fighting back at people who have structural power and control over you or initiating spaces within which it is safe to speak about the systematic targeting of people of colour by the state or indeed institutions like universities, it’s those people in power using their wealth and position to deny non-white people freedom in all things.

If reverse racism was real and PoC had any influence this is the world we would live in.

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Edward Smith? What kind of name is that? It rhymes with dead bird shit! No seriously, look, it sounds exactly the same. Your parents obviously didn’t love you with a name like that.. Couldn’t they have given you something that sounded a bit more, well, Indian? Explains why you people don’t get very far, you’re not willing to muck in and work as hard as the rest of us. Why is that? You think you’re better than me? At least I don’t smell of bacon sarnies. At least my skin doesn’t look like I rubbed pigeon shite all over it. I don’t believe in some weirdo nailed to a cross, what kind of lost prophet allows himself to be crucified? What a weak God, must have been a paedophile. I suppose that’s the only way you people still exist, no standards y’see, just at it like rabbits, like a virus..

Hello there madam, please take your shoes off and open your bag, take off your coat, and your belt. Ahmed will search you now. What is the purpose of your visit? Why have you chosen to come to our country? You say you’re here visiting friends but why aren’t they here to pick you up from the airport? Are you lying? This name Churchill, who gave you this name? What is its significance? Oh, it’s just a name is it? Well I disagree. He put 3 million of our people to death, he was a tyrannical dictator. I think you’re hiding something. I think you want a cavity search.

Police have just arrived at the scene and are hoping to apprehend the assailant described as white with a thick west country accent following an incident in which dozens of young Asian girls were thought to have been drugged and plied with alcohol then raped whilst they lay passed out and vulnerable to other white predators. Every day we see a new case pop up, musicians, TV personalities we let into our country who repaid us by raping our daughters. When there is obviously such a huge cultural element to the exploitation of vulnerable children, is it any wonder we are in the crisis we are in today, when so many white people simply turn a blind eye and condone abuses like this? (Actually, this one is just too true)

So what do we have on our agenda today sisters? I know! Let’s demand better makeup artists on all Bollywood movie sets! It’s only right the likes of the Kapoors get only the best that capitalism has to offer. Erm, what? Why are you criticising me? Why do I care if white working class disabled people are gonna get all their benefits cut? They should have thought of that before they bothered rocking up to the Indian border with their bullshit asylum claims. Oh sure, the Irish are starving them, the Welsh have cut off their water supply, the Scots are bent on revenge.. why is any of this our problem? That’s the problem with white people, no solidarity. Only interested in themselves and now they dare try to oppress me.. I’ll show them. The gall of it all! A proper feminist doesn’t criticise other women or make it all about herself. She learns when to shut her mouth and stand quietly behind people who are smarter. Positive discrimination is for idiots who wouldn’t get through otherwise.

I see that you’re thinking up ever more elaborate excuses for not bothering to get out of bed. I don’t believe you’re depressed or in pain. I think you know exactly what an easy ride India is for scroungers like yourself and you’re playing the system. You say you’re not like all the others but you’re still leeching off the state which is paid for with MY taxes. I don’t want to bankroll you and your 13 kids. Typical whitey, with your stupid Marxist analysis. Bet he was a rapist too.

Honkies out! Honkies out! Burn all bibles! No more churches or cathedrals here! We have the right to protect ourselves and our country from this whitey invasion. You can tell the atheists to fuck off home too, just cos they don’t believe in God doesn’t mean they’re not fanatics.

Oh God, not another white terrorist incident. When they so clearly want a war, why don’t we give it to them? Oh innocent people will die will they? What about the Amritsar Massacre eh? #neverforget Let’s call it collateral damage and speak no more. I don’t care what the international community, UN or anyone else has to say about human rights violations. If we take away their human rights, there’s nothing to violate.

They said fucking WHAT? White people have the right to express their faith and beliefs through their way of life? But their way of life is savage and not for the civilised. Is that what we want? A planet overrun by crusading Neanderthals? I say we exterminate them before they sully the purity of our supreme race. Who’s gonna tell us we can’t? The good Indian citizens of our fair and just land? No course not, they’d have to be a race traitor to even consider it and worthy of the gas chambers for even thinking it.

The Christians right *slurs* They’ve got these Christianity balls that are made out of glass and they chuck them at your head really fast like, and smash into millions of tiny little swastikas that then sprout legs and crawl under your skin and baptise you from the inside out. Their Godot is a bastard, he’s not after peace but revenge.

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This is just a short example of a weird world none of us recognise. That’s because it doesn’t exist. If we reverse racism and behave as many white people do, we are perhaps no more than a hateful violent nuisance, as the white critics of Bahar Mustafa claim to be, but if we then also assign ourselves structural power and influence as journalists, academics, politicians who are white with the privileges of a national platform, well then the power imbalance is plain for all to see except hypocrites, liars and cheats. That’s racism; having the power and reach to claim you are being racially abused and people believe you, despite the everyday abuse actual marginalised people experience which you enable and nobody believes. Without power, racism is simply prejudice. In some cases prejudice is justified, for example if you’re a woman and you’re sick of men killing women or you’re non-white and tired of white supremacists killing non-whites.

When you are conditioned to fear something and you fight back, that’s not racism but radical and revolutionary.

reverse racism dictionary

reverse racism dictionary 2

Virginity is a patriarchal construct

virginity testing man

(Originally posted here)

It’s difficult to call but I often wonder about the worst places to be a woman on earth. It’s easy enough to point the finger at those oddballs who don’t look like us but there are some issues that pop up wherever one might be based. For some inexplicable reason a woman’s worth is based on the thin membrane near the entrance to her vagina. Some people are born without a hymen, and for those people I fear the worst. How do they prove they haven’t engaged in premarital sex?

An Islamic college in Australia is under investigation for excluding girls from running competitions because it may damage their hymens. They call this ‘losing your virginity’. Do they have a similar ruling on tampons, or is that an icky women’s subject no one wishes to discuss? This concept of losing something taboo isn’t necessarily Islamic in nature, we use this phrase all over the world to indicate that a person has finally had sex and cannot be classed a virgin anymore, or ‘pure’ and ‘innocent’ as many cultures in the east and the west seem to suggest with all the focus on virginity, and slags; women who choose to sleep around in the same way men feel entitled to do so. Men are not judged in the same way when they have sex for the first time. The female partner, even if she is more experienced, will not be taking his virginity in the same way patriarchy takes virginity from women. This is a construct. Males are not taking anything, if anything, they are throwing their own genitalia into the mix.

For patriarchy to maintain power and control, through shame and judgment, they applied destructive emotions to an act to make it seem unequal, to place a value on a human body part that will dictate the level of respect you afford not only the person it belongs to but all the members of their family. Bizarre, no? This is why I brought up the example regarding those born without a hymen, just like there are some assigned male infants born without foreskins, are these people born untouchables, impure and unchaste? Have they been sent here with instructions on how to treat them as people unworthy of honour, being as there is nothing to ‘break’ or ‘take’? Perhaps it is permissible for such people to run to their hearts content, safe in the knowledge their genitals will not be torn asunder from the strain of a relay race.

Rules and regulations on what is deemed acceptable behaviour for females, posited by males is a time honoured tradition that is as batshit as it sounds, especially when considering the dishonest notions applied to our bodies. In some cultures, the hymen is irrelevant compared to the ‘gaping sleeve’ a vagina poses. To protect these women’s honour, they are butchered and stitched together again, leading to infertility and fatality for many. These arbitrary cultural practices are borne from the same twisted minds (not God) that blame women for being temptresses and witches for beguiling rapists into committing sin, by ‘taking’ and ‘breaking’ a thing they believe controls them, and their access to honour in a man’s world. It has no place in the 21st century when so many of us are standing up for the rights to our own bodies; rejecting the controls patriarchy and in some cases the state, has on our bodies. Why is it anyone else’s business what sits inside your pants?

Perversion and deviance in young people isn’t something you can prevent by being a perverted deviant in your beliefs about vaginas you have no business poking around in. Perversely, by administering a virginity check, a practice employed even by the British Home Office in the late 70s, you are actually ‘taking’ and ‘breaking virginity’ as it is defined in your head. It is the people with designs on the contents of your pants who maintain patriarchy and allow for rapists to rape, and get away with it. For as long as we place the burden of chastity and decency on a tag of skin, we allow for violence against women to flourish.

Anarchy in the UK

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What is anarchism and why was I so afraid initially to vocally identify as one? Perhaps it had something to do with the image I’d had constructed for me, angry Sex Pistols spitting into their microphones as they rasped menacingly about the queen (fair enough, actually), the same sex pistols I’d associated with racism cos punks were as scaring looking as the skinheads when you’re a brown girl trying to make sense of white subculture but are too afraid to ask just in case they do turn out to be a paki bashing neo Nazi.  There was Vyvyan from The Young Ones who frightened the life out of me as a small child (this was largely due to the metal in his face) and the response “there’d be anarchy” in every discussion regarding the breaking of rules painted a nightmare scenario where we’d all regress to a primitive state, raping and looting and bashing each other to death for larfs. Of course I would be afraid to say the words “I am an anarchist” when I did not want to be associated with such carnage and destruction (plus it also sounds a bit like antichrist).

Then I met some anarchists and they were thoroughly awesome people. I wondered where they’d been all my life as I reflected on all the people I’d made do with, accepted, despite their shades of bigotry because I’d felt there was no other choice and I was alone in my thoughts. Here was a bunch of people who just got it and didn’t need it spelling out. Anarchism is the antithesis of every social structure maintained by authority, disproportionately represented by white men. To call oneself an anarchist means to reject the ways of white men, and to challenge those perpetuating oppression whenever we personally witness it, affecting these changes wherever we have the power and influence to do so. I didn’t go to a posh university to learn all these fancy words and expressions; I was just born this way (in my rundown brown Muslim ghetto). Meeting others like me just helped bring everything in focus, and I was pleased to find they came in all colours, genders and beliefs.

To question the reason for everything is at the core of every true anarchist. Why do we do things in this way? Who benefits from it? Is it to any other person’s detriment, on purpose or inadvertently? How can we ensure justice? If these questions do not matter to you then how can you say you are an anarchist?

Anarchism isn’t about behaving like a dick or actively promoting self-interest cos you’re a libertarian who don’t-listen-to-no-one; it shouldn’t be done for the kudos or kicking back at the state cos you’re angry with your dad (although there is nothing wrong with that). Anarchism is taking a radical approach concerning all things and doing them differently. In this sense, most religions can be compared to anarchy (at the point of inception). A new way of being becomes possible, tired of the old (and often violent and oppressive) way of doing things, seeking to change things radically for the betterment of all, because you need to be inclusive if you’re going to spread that gospel far and wide. I believe Jesus was an anarchist, and Mohammed too. Feed the poor and stop raping/murdering your children are worthy (and radical) causes whichever millennium you’re from, and then, just like now, the people in power persecuted those seeking to end power and control by making a violent example of them.

We’ve all heard the ‘let’s fix class then we can entertain feminism’ orders. They come from primarily white men. There are some women socialists using the same tactic with regards to class and race but that’s another blog post. For anarchy to work, I’m sorry not sorry white men, you have to stfu. It’s not like you don’t already have your say right? White supremacy is a social construct as is patriarchy and when you refuse to shut up and listen you are doing both of these things. You’re simply maintaining the status quo and that as you’ve probably already guessed, is not anarchy. Me telling you to do this right now is not exerting power and control or authority over you but punching up at historical oppressors in a bid to be heard so you can stop being so abusive. I do not have any control over your opportunities but you certainly do mine.

The other huge difference between our arguments is the intention behind them. When I say “stop doing that” it’s because you’re hurting somebody. You bash back because you don’t like being told what to do, because you are entitled and used to getting your own way. When the context is so wildly different you cannot apply the same reasoning/survivor language we use to label us as hypocrites. The truly anarchist response to being called out, if you have the self-awareness to regulate your thoughts despite being bombarded by messages on how we must behave in a white cis heteronormative patriarchy is to reflect and think about why you’re being called out not hit back with abuse or dig a deeper hole with your defence. That is the sign of an anarchist, someone who appreciates their privileges and place in the world and seeks to redress the imbalance, however uncomfortable that might be.

Being an anarchist means having the humility to recognise the impact one’s own existence has on others. In a world where we ask people what job they do in order to ascertain their social standing and bank balance before we know anything else about them, we are an anomaly. It makes perfect sense to an anarchist to be preoccupied with the often murderous actions of governments and their followers, and usually for monetary reasons. It is more shocking that most individuals are not bothered. People are more inclined to follow a world sporting event religiously than protest the hundreds of children murdered to make way for it. I am an anarchist because I object to this way of thinking and being. In the pursuit for self-gratification we have allowed for atrocity. We’re convinced it’s not our problem.

If you are not an anarchist (or a true anarchist), you are complicit. To be an anarchist is to be without rulers, not rules (the rulers have created this cruel uncaring world for personal gain). When the rules include treating all living creatures with respect and always questioning your prejudices, you have to question the sort of anarchist who would object to that.

Being a dick is the norm; a true anarchist would know this.

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Mother, do you think they’ll drop the bomb?

“Your mother, your mother, your mother”. That was the premise of one of my favourite Islamic children’s books as a kid, referring to a hadith (kinda like the gospels) where the prophet responded to a follower that mothers take not only first place in our hearts but second and third also, with fathers coming in fourth. I may have been 8 years old but I believed in those words more than I appreciated at the time. I simply did not have a relationship or bond with my dad, I couldn’t understand the point of him to be honest but I clung to my mother and she favoured me out of the four of us, her right hand Sam, always eager to please and whip the rest of them into line.

I can’t remember exactly when we drifted apart, it was more a collection of events that drove a wedge between us until we were so estranged from our relationship as mother and daughter, we forgot how to speak to one another. I was determined to fit into the white western ideal of acceptable behaviour and presentation which at the time translated into wearing very little and getting wasted and of course this would actually frighten my very traditional mother from a village in a remote part of Kashmir, especially when daughters who go bad are often attributed to a mother’s loose morals, regardless of the actual circumstances – violent father, violent household, cultural and religious demons and attitudes, societal pressures and expectations of brown girls in a white world.

To preserve her own honour she had to reject my behaviour by turning her back on me. She was probably disgusted by me to some degree. I did fry up a load of pork sausages in her kitchen once, out of defiance which made her promptly throw up in the sink. I felt hella guilty as the severity of what I’d just done dawned on me but I had a point to prove that I was an individual with the right to self-expression, however much my mother’s stomach flipped at the thought I was destined for hellfire.

The cause of the rift between us was largely down to the society we found ourselves in. These days I see you coming, suss out your intentions within the first few sentences but as a young person, microagressions had a different effect on me. I bought into them and believed if I was more like my white peers I wouldn’t be targeted for the colour of my skin. I wore a cross, I did goth, changed into hipsters and crop tops on the bus into school or town, joined in with the paki this, paki that, keen to make the distinction between them and us but it meant denying my very being, the people who brought me into existence and the way we are perceived by the ‘natives’ of this island. They tolerate us as long as we toe the line.

In the process of rejecting all the labels required of me, and finding self-love I remembered what it felt like to feel close to the woman who had given birth to me, 2 months premature, having carried my twin and me carefully in her 5ft frame up until then, and how I could still love her after so many years apart. I reverted back to using my ‘mother tongue’ with anyone who could understand it. For years I struggled to communicate effectively in my first language, perhaps because I didn’t have the comfort of just speaking without being judged on my grammar. Like anything, you become rusty without practice and of course I was busy showing off my English language skills to demonstrate how much I really belonged here. It’s like riding a bike though, as I discovered when I sat down with my mum, for the first time in almost decade, neither of us expecting the other to apologise for abandoning one another, just two women with an understanding of the lives we’d been forced to lead; violence being a feature whether in the home or on the streets.

It was nice. She was older but less stressed and receptive to me, as me. I felt as if we’d glued together the gap in our relationship, and we could continue from this point forward without having to look back; an unspoken understanding that there was no agenda only life reminding us how painfully short it is. I was thrilled to feel at home and close to her once again. She seemed genuinely proud of every little thing I could do, without the usual expectations one has of an individual in a white western patriarchy. She doesn’t care about my lack of a job or mortgage or husband. I had surpassed her expectations by coming back to her and apologising for choosing this country over her.

When I was a kid I sneered I had no idea how I had come from her body and was composed entirely of her and my dad. I looked down upon them, thought them unintelligent and unrefined. Whilst I cannot say this has changed about my father, I take back the judgments I made about her. I judged her through the White Gaze™ and it doesn’t treat women like my mother very well. It considers them weak and unattractive, an easy target, and she was targeted, even when she had four under 5s in tow. I blamed my mother the victim for the abuse white people subjected her to. I am ashamed I put her through this.

My mother is a highly intelligent individual. She has a self-awareness that is missing in most people. She taught herself English by reading our textbooks over the years. I wasn’t even aware of her level of comprehension until one day she flipped at me for lying about my whereabouts, because she’d actually been reading an email I’d sent to my friend over my shoulder and I hadn’t bothered to cover it up assuming she didn’t have the first clue.

Never underestimate a woman of colour. We haven’t had an easy ride of it so we’ve gotten good at adapting to our surroundings. I know where I got these skills from now and it was a joy to talk politics with her over a cup of tea. I wondered what she could have been if she wasn’t a housewife and mum of four at the age of 21. What could she have achieved if she hadn’t been abused by my father and abandoned by her own family who lived thousands of miles away? They thought they had done their best by her, 1 of 8 daughters, by marrying her off and to a young man living in England too. They hadn’t anticipated the power and control that would govern her life.

This Mother’s Day, the first for me in almost a decade is a special one. I’ve bought her some comfortable shoes, biscuits for diabetics and a posh card to make up for all the ones I never sent. I’m excited about it, and looking forward to wishing her a happy one. For a while it was a day of triggers and self-hate, because under the defiance and stubbornness of underlining my grievances I actually felt unworthy of her love. I felt abandoned. I had burnt that bridge by rejecting who she was for some fake promise of acceptance if I assimilated with the white people of this land.

I was wrong and I am sorry. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom (I’m a Brummie by birth, alright?) x

jamesmay

Britain is racist, fact

If you were one of those people sharing the video of James May speaking for his knob friend as an example of the way we should all be feeling about this then take it from me, you’ve a stack load of unchecked privilege and a hint of the ol’ white supremacy about you (white people do not get to define what is and isn’t racist, rather the victims do). Hear me out..

Jeremy Clarkson assaulted a colleague. You’d be hard pushed to find an employment policy which does not recommend an immediate suspension in cases like these, if not the sack. That’s not all Clarkson has done though is it? If anything, this occasion may have been the straw that finally broke the camel’s back but if you’re a minority you could probably think of at least another three examples of problematic behaviour, for example, his defence of the sale of golliwogs through his family business. Or the fact that he asked for public sector workers to be shot in front of their families. Do you remember the time he used the N word and then issued a half arsed apology because no doubt a BBC producer insisted he do so? Perhaps his obsession with black lesbians would convince you of his complete fuckwittery? How about the time he ‘joked’ about the recently deceased passengers of flight MH370, leaving his sickofans to deal with me on his behalf? No? Well I suspect that is because you are also a bigot, and an insidious one at that too. It is people like you who maintain the status quo. You minimise the abuse people suffer, exhibiting some kid of psychosis where your beliefs do not reflect the external reality.

The petition to save Clarkson is a shameful indictment of ‘Great’ Britain. It marks us out as an intolerant, bigoted people excelling at nothing more than hypocrisy and entitlement.

Oh, how they crowed that I was just an idiot for calling everyone a racist..  Wasn’t too fucking wrong though, was I? When the Prime Minister of the country counts one of the most bigoted faces on the planet as one of his nearest and dearest then you know you’re fucked. To deny this fact at this late a stage, well, I think they’ve stopped denying it to be honest. They tested the water with all the rhetoric of the past few years, and Britons, starved and homeless still blame the immigrants and not the banks because white is right and the rest of us are just wrong even if we’re smarter, more truthful and respectful of life. Especially because that.