Academia, Race

Who does Black excellence look like?

Writing about Black people again you say!?!?! Yes.

Basically, this Black excellence thing is really interesting to me. I think a lot of opinions surrounding it are really polarised. On the one hand, some people think black excellence is amazing and sets a good example for our community. On the other hand, some find it problematic and make it seem like Black people are essentially saying “I’m just as good as you massa!!”. I think each view sort of makes sense, but I’d like to offer my view.

What does Black excellence mean at the moment?

Perhaps my view is narrow but I think, generally speaking, Black excellence is defined by things that are praised in this wonderful capitalist economy! Academic achievement (Oxbridge/Brampton Manor), making it into the corporate world, entering a higher tax bracket, beating your non-Black peers in areas which they dominate. Now I’m not saying these are terrible things. My question is are we trying to be like rich white men? Kidding. My actual question is, what matters to us as a community and what role does our success play in that?

While it is excellent to “beat the odds”, what else does it do? Representation does matter, and we absolutely do need Black people in corporate spaces and higher education, but I think there’s more to this that is too often ignored.

 

What’s a better way to define Black excellence? (imo)

I think that the society we live in defines success in a pretty simple way, success is basically just having a career that pays really well and if you’re lucky, loving what you do. Even though with my generation there is more weight added to loving what you do, love doesn’t pay the bills as my mother says (she’s Ghanaian). Such a simple definition makes the path to success relatively clear, you go to school, you work hard, you get good grades, you go to uni, you work hard again, you get good grades again, you graduate, you find a job and then you make lots of money and become rich enough to start tax evading. The hard part is the tax-evading. Kidding, again.

The hard part is all the hard work (who would have thought?). It’s the countless hours of revision, studying a curriculum that looks nothing like you, maybe you work a job, your parents are on your ass about chores, etc. The list goes on. I’m sure a lot of us have heard the saying that you have to be twice as good to get half as far and to be honest, I think a lot of us have felt that. So obviously being successful in this sense earns you the Black excellence badge. You deserve it. You have suffered.

But do you deserve it thoughhhhhhh?

I think Black excellence is how much of an asset you are to your community.

If you’ve done all the work climbing up the corporate ladder just to snatch the ladder away when you get to the top, then you are a word that rhymes with spoon. And it’s not goon. What is the point in working so hard to do so little for anyone but yourself? Does that seem like excellence?

And what about our activists and community workers? What about the people in our community who look out for us but aren’t seen as excellent because they don’t dress fancy or dominate in their industries. What about the artists? The non-academics? They need to be recognised too. Just because we can’t quantify their value in terms of their earnings doesn’t mean we should overlook them. The same way Black people in education and the corporate world are more than just their grades and wages.

This isn’t to say that non-corporate Black people are never recognised, but it’s just that Black excellence is predominantly presented to us as rich Black people. And Martin Luther King.

Just because you do well doesn’t mean you do good. And in a time where we still have to be doubly better, I genuinely believe it’s our duty to look out for each other rather than be complacent with our own achievements.

 

How much of the good stuff is happening?

There are tons of great programs, internships, insight events etc. that allow young Black people in particular to improve their social mobility BUT a lot of them are incredibly elitist. Let’s say you have 3 groups of young Black people and let’s say they’re all at GCSE/6th Form age (for the sake of the example there are 3 groups obviously this isn’t literally the case but it helps demonstrate my point) :

  • Group 1 – Gifted Academically (The A/A* type)
  • Group 2 – Giften Artistically (E.g. Writers, Music makers, Painters)
  • Group 3 – Haven’t discovered what their craft is yet

Group 1 tends to have it pretty good in terms of how they are received by the community and education, particularly when the system of education best suits your abilities, is always encouraged. We see this all the time, especially on platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter on A-Level results day.

Group 2 tends to have it a little harder. I can imagine it being fairly difficult for Black parents, in particular, to encourage the arts when their child shows an interest and I know a lot of people who have had to bear the brunt of this. Not only that but making music, for example, is always seen as just a hobby for most as opposed to something that they genuinely could make a living off of. Now unlike Group 1, most schools don’t offer opportunities for these kids to artistically thrive. Whilst their Group 1 peers are applying for an array of summer schools and internships that they are readily presented with, Group 2 has to figure out an entire industry on their own. I don’t know about you but it was extremely rare for me to see any opportunities for creative industries at school pop up, and this was not because there weren’t any.

“Well not everyone can make it in music!”, well not everyone can become a CEO or an investment banker either but people don’t seem to keep that same energy.

And then if you’re in Group 3 you’re basically punished for not knowing what you want to do with the majority of your life when you’ve only lived a minority of it. It’s ludicrous. It seems like when it comes to tackling careers there’s always an assumption that you know what you want to do so that when an opportunity is presented to you, you just take it. Like if you’re broadly interested in Engineering, there are an array of different things you can sign up for. But if you have no idea, you have to select from the narrow industries you’re presented with at school and just pray that something sticks. Who is going to take the time to tell these kids they don’t have to have it all figure out? That a lot of successful people who love their jobs peaked “late”?

How does Black excellence tie into all of this? Attitudes towards success start at a young age.

My general point with the examples is a lot of good is happening for the Group 1’s, and that’s great. But there are other avenues to explore and it’s up to schools, mentors and parents to present their children with a map that has more than 3 roads on it (Medicine, Engineering and Finance are the 3 roads if you didn’t already know). Even in saying this, the opportunities presented are so elitist that value-added is completely ignored. What about the students who are not getting A’s and A*’s, they might not be working any less hard, they might not have any less to offer than their “smarter” peers yet they will be denied access to experiences they deserve because they are already just not good enough. What message does this send? This trickle-down economics of harnessing the best of the best and investing loads into them doesn’t work if we want to look at the bigger picture of where we see our community in the future. This sort of progress is bottom-up.

To put it simply, who needs sponsorship the most? The Oxbridge student who is guaranteed employability or the young Musician who can’t afford studio time but needs it? You could argue that you can have both, but do you need both? There is no point in an altruism that isn’t effective.

We should be avoiding unjust hierarchies within our groups, not perpetuating them.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African Proverb

Standard
Colonisation, Faith, Philosophy

Is Black atheism really THAT weird?

I saw a tweet the other day and this guy was saying that he finds it weird when he meets Black people that are atheist, or something along those lines. I found it weird because on one hand I kind of get it, most black people that I have personally come across anyway are religious but then I also think should they be???

There’s this whole argument that Black people should absolutely not be Christian because the WHITE MAN USED IT TO ENSLAVE THEM!!!!! I get where this is coming from but it’s just narrow-minded. It takes away Black peoples agency. Not only that but Christianity was in Africa before the slave trade and colonialism, it just wasn’t really a huge deal. There’s evidence that suggests Christianity was first established in 1 or 2AD in Northern Africa, this is before it even found its way to some parts of Europe. This also includes Islam which spread around the 7th century causing Christianity to retreat slightly, although it remained in places like Ethiopia. Islam also gained considerable momentum in the West around the 10th century. Then the Portuguese showed up in the 15th century which was the main driving force for Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa.

But even in light of this, it’s not like in smaller communities people were sitting together singing hymns and retelling the parables, they were still slaughtering chickens for sacrifice and throwing away twins into evil forests. Sort of. (Sidenote: I really recommend reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe it provides great insights into precolonial village life). The extent to which Africa, specifically Sub-saharan Africa, was Christian is greatly overestimated just to argue against the fact that Christianity is the White mans religion. I think we need to shift how we think about religion, who it is for and who it belongs to. If it is the White mans religion where did he get it from? And why did he require a monopoly on violence to spread his belief of an all loving God?

Anyway, that’s besides the point. I think that right now we’re in a climate where people are either extremely afraid to be wrong/problematic so they never say anything even mildly controversial or people are totally controversial and abrasive about their beliefs. I think there is a happy medium and I also think that starts with honest conversations that are not controversial for shock factor. To do this you can’t be on the defence, you cannot be ready to be offended otherwise you’ll never learn anything. What if I want to talk about why the gospels have different accounts of Christs resurrection? Can I do that without someone being offended, probably not. Or what if I wanted to talk about inheritance laws in Islam or Judaism, or what’s happening with Palestine or Israel? I’d probably be labelled an Islamaphobe or Antisemite. However, this is assuming the things being said are genuinely not oppressive and I understand that some people just love to fight which is annoying.

There needs to be a space where both believers and non-believers can challenge and discuss their views without offending each other. I’ve seen in some religious communities that someone even asking a question is seen as defiance rather than an opportunity to unpack a specific belief. How we respond to each other I think is so important. One thing I’ve heard a lot of since I decided I wasn’t a Christian anymore was people telling me that it’s okay because I’m on a journey. And yes, everyone is on a journey but the end goal for me isn’t Christianity. It’s almost as if other peoples way to cope with my lack of faith is to assume that at some point I’ll eventually “see the light” which is so crazy because I don’t have the opposite expectation for them. Not only this but I’ve seen non-believers be embarrassed about their religious pasts and only ever insult the religion they once followed without trying to have productive conversations about it. Or even some atheists looking down at religious people as having less academic capability which is just so wrong. It goes on and on and back and forth, without being productive.

I think organised Religion is too obviously political to ignore which begs the question of whether people are having genuine personal experiences or if they’re just subject to conditioning. Some people don’t like this because they don’t like the idea of being subject to anything but conditioning is so real. Conditioning is why me, as a proud feminist who believes that generally men and women are capable of the same thing, could NEVER propose to a man. I think I would rather eat a rubber duck. It’s a totally random example but the principle applies. There’s absolutely no reason I shouldn’t one day be able to bend my knee and ask for a mans hand in marriage but I literally just can’t, for no good reason. And that’s how conditioning works, you can believe things that are totally unjustified just because it’s become a norm for you through whatever sociological or psychological process. A simple question could be, if I were not born into this family in this country would I still have this ‘objective’ belief?

Maybe if I challenged myself enough I could think myself out of refusing to propose but I have bigger fish to fry. Plus it’s just one of those beliefs I’m okay with being subject to. Humans aren’t as rational as we think.

The big overarching point I want to make with this is that we should let people say things, and although people do just say anything, we should let them talk to we can figure out how right or wrong they are without being mean. Unless they are mean first.

((Also, there are tonnes of resources online that teach African history in an accessible way, it does take a fair amount of sifting through useless stuff but it’s worth it!!))

Standard
Altruism, Environment, Fashion

What is the cost of what you’re wearing?

The fashion industry seems like one of the most sophisticated industries in the world but honestly it belongs in the gutter. You’re probably thinking how can I say this with the clothes that are piling up in the corner of my bedroom but I never claimed I wasn’t a hypocrite!

Anyway that’s besides the point of me writing this.

Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of these “drip” pages (personally I think they’re ruining twitter) and also there’s this podcast I like called reasons to be cheerful where there was an episode on fast fashion that actually got me thinking about fashion outside of a creative context. I did some reading around it and a part of me wishes I didn’t but I think it’s worth sharing despite the fact that (spoiler alert) everything is hopeless and it seems like the world is going to hell.

Basically there’s two ways to look at the impacts: the social and the environmental. I think that the two do overlap in some ways but I won’t get into that.

The social side is essentially that fashion is great because it allows us to shape our identities, how we dress can serve as an indicator of who we are and is often a defining part of almost all cultures. Our styles evolve with our age and in a lot of ways its a vehicle for us to improve our self-esteem. But on the other hand it’s extremely exploitative on a lot of different levels. There is the issue of larger and more powerful brands stealing the works of smaller brands, the child labour, unsafe working conditions often endured by the people who make our clothes , unfair pay, animal cruelty and a whole lot of more nuanced issues. These social costs are often the ones that appear to be addressed the most in the media especially after the tragic collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013. What’s even more tragic is that about 1/6 people in the world work in the fashion industry and 75% of garment workers globally are female so these issues are incredibly widespread.

Some people say things like how we kind of have to consume fashion because otherwise people in third world countries might not have jobs, but if you have managed to convince yourself that you’re doing a favour to anyone but yourself when you buy a cheap T-Shirt I have news for you…You’re delusional. What’s the solution I propose then? Well I’m not entirely sure, I barely know enough about the problem to even begin to understand the solution I’m just putting what I do know out there.

The environmental side is a little different because I don’t think there are any actual benefits of fashion to the environment (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). The fashion industry is unbelievably harmful to the environment. Some issues are honestly so random, like when you wash clothes that are made from polyester the micro-plastics from it inevitably enter the water which is consumed by fish that are then fished for human consumption. Then there’s the fact that it takes 2700 litres of water to make one cotton shirt and that fashion is the second largest polluter of water. This is so NUTS because only like 2.5% of water on Earth is fresh water and only 1% is accessible because the rest of it is frozen so we really don’t have water to waste at all. Not only that but the pollutants can cause the water to become carcinogenic (cancer causing).

Additionally, fashion accounts for 10% of the global carbon footprint and it produces billions of pounds of fabric waste annually which will continue to grow. From 2000 to 2014 the clothing we own has increased by 60% and we kept each item of clothing for around half as long as usual. About 150 billion garments are produced yearly; so as much as recycling is a great idea the rate that clothes are produced heavily outweighs the rate at which it is re-used or re-manufactured. Even if you just think about it aside from all the data, it’s kind of crazy how every few weeks when you enter a clothing store it looks slightly different. We call it trendy, how fashion is always changing but is this cost worth it? Absolutely not mate. Things go in and out of fashion so quickly we almost forget things exist, like look at ZX Fluxes, they went out of fashion as quick as they came in. I can’t even imagine how many of them are in landfill or collecting dust somewhere in someones shoe cupboard because it’s social suicide to wear them.

We’re literally wearing our planets demise. Maybe this is slightly dramatic but then is it really? The data says otherwise.

As consumers who live in a consumption culture whose fault is it? CAPITALISM!!!

I’m kidding, sort of.

But I think with issues like this everything is so complicated, we all play a role, some larger than others and since this isn’t an open letter to the industry or government I want to talk about what we can do. It sounds flowery but we should be more mindful. Before you buy anything you should really think about how much use you’re actually going to get out of it, is it disposable? If it only going to be good for one picture? Can you even genuinely afford it? Maybe you don’t want to think about this because you don’t want everything in your life to be that deep but the reality is that it is that deep. I’m not saying you should never buy another garment again because that’s unrealistic but I don’t think anyone should act like it’s impossible to cut down how much they consume.

It can be hard because a lot of the time you’ll kind of forget the point or feel like you’re not making a difference at all, but everyone thinking like this is dangerous and we can’t convince ourselves that we don’t care just because we assume everyone else won’t. And that goes for anything that matters.

Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want – Anna Lappe

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
Easy to read facts on the fashion industry:
https://www.wri.org/blog/2017/07/apparel-industrys-environmental-impact-6-graphics
Interesting paper about our responses to fast fashion alongside general attitudes to sustainability. (If you can’t access the paper just let me know and I’ll send you the PDF)
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2752/175174112X13340749707123?needAccess=true&instName=UCL+%28University+College+London%29
Short video on the social and environmental costs of the fashion industry:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq0–DfC2Xk
Rana Plaza Accident in Bangladesh:
https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/geip/WCMS_614394/lang–en/index.htm
Cost of Cheap Fashion TED Talk:
https://youtu.be/5r8V4QWwxf0
Standard
Race

Can Black People be Racist?

Okay so amongst the rubbish I get asked on curious cat someone asked me if I thought Black people could be racist to be white people. I was literally like omg someone has finally asked me something relevant!!! But when I answered yes they then proceeded to say I’m one of those all lives matter people.

Hate to see it.

I think the main disagreement when it comes to talking about whether or not Black people can be racist is how we define racism. There are a lot of general definitions that are mainly saying that it’s when you discriminate against or treat someone differently based on the fact that they’re a different race but I think these definitions are valid. Some say that they’re problematic because they may be written by white people but this doesn’t actually mean they’re wrong. You don’t always have to be a victim of something to understand what it is.

The go-to definition it seems is the “power” one where people define racism in terms of power.

Essentially the definition is:

Racism = Prejudice + Power.

They then use this definition to justify that Black people cannot be racist to white people because there is a power imbalance. I can see why people might agree with this. It is true there is a power imbalance in a lot of circumstances but just because there’s a new “quirky”/”woke” definition of something doesn’t mean that it must be true. If you really think about this, we cannot define general racism this way.

By saying you have to be powerful to genuinely be racist totally ignores intersectionality and can be extremely problematic. To explain why I’m going to conflate power and money. If we say racism requires power what we’re saying is that poor white people cannot be racist and rich Black people can. Now this is obviously stupid.

This is also saying that Asians cannot be racist towards Black people because they too are a group that lacks power. Although in a lot of aspects they may hold more privilege, this does not take away from the struggles faced in their own communities. Now I know a lot of black people would agree that Asian people can be racist, but you cannot say this and then maintain the power definition of racism. Anti-Blackness in the Asian community and the Black response to it is a whole other issue that I’m not going to unpack in this particular post but I hope you see what I’m getting at here.

The power definition of racism is really describing institutional racism in my opinion. Institutional racism is racial discrimination that exists in certain establishments or institutions, as the name suggests. Where power comes into this is who allows or manages the behaviours that discriminate. For example, institutional racism would exist between someone who has the power to hire/fire and a potential or current employee if the person in power makes decisions solely based off the persons race.

It gets kind of complicated here because questions like “what if the person hires on a positive discriminatory basis?” So like what if the person employs an Asian based on the fact that they think Asians are smart, or they’re trying to diversify the work place? Well calling that racism seems a bit far fetched, that just seems like ignorance to me but I’m just a small girl with a small blog so what do I know!!

 

I just feel like being oppressed doesn’t mean that you cannot oppress others. Maybe you don’t have the power to oppress to the same degree; but then why would you want that? It seems regressive to me.

We shouldn’t excuse ourselves from bad behaviour just because we were once or still are the victims of it.

 

Standard
Altruism, Social Media, Vegan

6 Reasons why you’ve tried & failed to go VEGAN.

I really hate to be that vegan girl (not really lmao) that writes about going vegan or whatever but it seems like veganism is really popular these days and worth writing about. Everywhere you go there is at least one vegan option and honestly over time, that one option doesn’t totally taste like shit. I’ve even noticed that less people are making grass jokes which is always nice.

Now if I had a pound for every time someone told me that they respect veganism but they could never do it (when I didn’t ask) then I would have enough money to do something expensive. I’ve had so many friends try and fail. They probably watched what the health or earthlings or something and then went vegan for like a solid week and then ate meat “by accident” and gave up. That’s no shade if you fall into that category, but if you want to try again this is for you.

 

1: YOU MADE VEGANISM A STREAK

I think what happens to a lot of people is they might start off super strong and they have a great plan of how they’re going vegan and then all of a sudden they just give into a craving and veganism is totally out of the window. I think that in some ways this is probably the fault of the vegan community making people feel like their efforts are meaningless. But I’m here to tell you that if you accidentally consume, or even on purpose in a moment of weakness, eat meat or dairy you aren’t “less vegan”. Honestly, there are so many times that I have accidentally consumed dairy and my digestive system has paid the PRICE. If every time I consumed dairy I gave up on veganism entirely I probably would not have managed to make myself lactose intolerant (that was a joke, I have no idea if that’s even scientifically possible).

All I’m saying is, don’t be so hard on yourself. Because I know when it comes to things like going to the gym or revising you lot aren’t beating yourselves up about not being consistent so why isn’t your attitude to your diet the same? If you accidentally consume meat or dairy understand that you are just an incompetent person. Kidding. Just take it easy and manage the expectations you have of yourself. Whether that means meatless Mondays or going vegan cold turkey.

 

2: GOING VEGAN IS ON TREND

We’re living in a morally surveillant era, where the lifestyle choices you make send signals to society about what kind of person you are. Most peoples initial idea of a vegan is a white left-wing activist who has blonde dreads and only uses paper straws. Personally, I don’t know anyone who fits into this but my point is that how we interpret labels like “vegan” can affect our views on the lifestyle. There a ton of vegan YouTubers who are no longer vegan and lots of YouTubers doing 30-day vegan challenges. Vegan is a word popping up literally everywhere and its presence in the media can really make it feel like a trend or a phase rather than the lifestyle that it is.

If it’s something you want to try for fun, by all means, go ahead but I think it’s important to understand that it’s not a fleeting trend that shouldn’t be taken seriously. A lot of people might fail at it just because they don’t care enough. You see the word vegan everywhere but it’s not often that you see the actual cruelty against animals that motivates this lifestyle. You’re never going to truly want to stay vegan if you just do not care about animals. This isn’t me saying that you have to care, but just know if you don’t it won’t last.

 

3: YOU WENT VEGAN AND YOU STILL HAVE ACNE

There is an extremely common misconception that going vegan will cure all of your health problems and after only eating plants you’re going to wake up extremely energetic and live till 100. This just isn’t true. The thing about veganism is that everyone thinks it’s extremely healthy. On a vegan diet it’s just harder to be unhealthy, but trust me when you get used to it and discover your fav snacks are vegan the health thing is going out of the window. The health thing went out of the window for me when I deeped some indomie was vegan and I ate it for a week straight (this is no cap).

If your skin clears up that’s great, me personally, can’t relate. But if you go vegan manage your expectations of how much your life will change. The reality is that you won’t be perfectly healthy always eating fresh fruit and veg especially if you’re someone who doesn’t like vegetables.

Then what’s the point of going vegan? Well, it’s best for the animals, best for the environment and if you do it well your health will improve.

 

4: THE ONLY VEGAN FOOD YOU (think you) KNOW IS SALAD

All I can say to this is know yourself man. If you weren’t eating salad before you went vegan then what on earth is going to motivate you to eat it now? I had my first reality check when I spent like £9 on a salad from tossed (don’t get me wrong it was good) but I realised that this isn’t going to be my story and this isn’t who I am. None of my friends let me forget how much I spent on that falafel salad and honestly I don’t blame them.

Salad is a collection of vegetables that are just water in the form of different textures. If you like salads then I’m happy for you but if you don’t like salad just know I understand. There are a billion different vegan foods you can buy and cook at home if you just look for them, you don’t even have to look that hard. If you watch one or two vegan recipe videos on youtube in a few minutes your recommended will be flooded with vegan content, in fact it will be hard for you to avoid. You can take your favourite foods and then just make them vegan. Well, what if your favourite food is steak? Have a watermelon steak. Jk, I don’t know what to really say to that other than to take the opportunity to maybe find a new favourite food?

 

5: YOU WENT COMPLETELY COLD TURKEY

As admirable as this is, I’m not sure how sustainable it is. I was vegetarian for about two years before I made the switch to vegan and I think that’s a big contributor as to why I’m able to keep it up. It wasn’t an extreme switch for me.

If you slowly transition from cutting down meat and dairy from meals, to then entire days, then entire weeks etc. you’re more likely to stick to it because as you go you’re leaving the cravings you used to have behind. The good thing about doing it this way is that if along the way you realise you don’t want to go completely vegan you can just stop there. You don’t have to choose between being carnivorous and plant-based. Obviously, it would be nice to be more plant-based than anything, but know yourself and understand that if you can make a change in some areas then you should. That might be as little as ordering the vegan option when you’re eating out or picking out vegan snacks when you want a quick bite to eat.

It’s also important to change your perspective on veganism as being extreme. When really what is extreme is eating processed meat and dairy in every single meal. Even organic or free-range options are unlikely to be trusted, are usually expensive and inaccessible.

“The consumption of processed meat was associated with small increases in the risk of cancer in the studies reviewed. In those studies, the risk generally increased with the amount of meat consumed. An analysis of data from 10 studies estimated that every 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 18%.” this seems prrrrreeettty extreme to me and this is coming from the World Health Organisation. If you don’t want to believe it that’s fine but if you just do your research you’ll be able to see for yourself the effects it can have.

 

6: I JUST SPENT TOO MUCH MONEY GOING VEGAN

Nobody told you to go shopping at wholefoods or start only eating at vegan restaurants. Veganism is extremely affordable if you understand that products specifically marketed to the vegan community are going to be more expensive. If your weekly shop includes meat and dairy and all of a sudden you cut that out and spend it on alternatives the overall cost is still a lot less.

 

In light of all the above, just do your research and make sure it’s catered to you. If you grew up eating biryani don’t go looking up vegan lettuce wrap recipes, try to stick close to what you know. And just keep trying!! You have nothing to lose.

 

Standard
Race

You’re so much more black.

Guys if one more person says this to me I’m gunna lose it fr.

When I started my blog I really didn’t think I would ever really talk about my race because to me it’s never really been that deep. I feel like a lot of mixed people can have an identity crisis where they can’t figure out if they’re white or black and I never really understood that, being both just wasn’t that difficult for me to understand. I don’t want to take away from the experiences of mixed people who did experience that, but for me it wasn’t a thing. It’s weird though, because it felt like other people expected me to go through that phase. Like having to tick the “Other” box when filling out forms that ask about ethnicity hasn’t put me on edge, but I have been made to feel like it should.

I’d say I’m fairly in tune with both of my cultures. My mum’s from Ghana and my dad’s from Pakistan, both of them were born and raised in their home countries so I’ve learned a lot about each culture from both of them. You’d be surprised how similar they can be. My parents are cool people, very reasonable and they never really talked about race until I was a lot older.

Anyway, this isn’t (technically) my life story.

I just don’t want to hear anyone telling me that in their opinion I’m more black. I get it, I don’t look Pakistani, but that does not mean I am any less Pakistani than someone who does look it. I also understand that I tend to engage with black issues more than brown issues, but this also does not make me any less Pakistani. Race isn’t a merit. If it was then the likes of that rachel doly zaly should be considered black. Plus ,the very fact that I do not look Pakistani means that I can’t actually relate to the struggles that Pakistani women face day to day. On top of that I’m not Muslim, so my presence in the Pakistani community is fairly non-existent. But even then, anti-blackness in the Pakistani community is rife so is there even a place for me?

I just think that generally, asking or just forcing mixed people to pick a side is absolutely stupid, what do you actually gain? Depending on the persons’ mix, identifying themselves can be very complicated. Often times I’ve just identified as a black woman for no particular reason other than out of convenience, but if I were to now identify myself as an Asian woman then it would raise a lot of eyebrows. The reality is that the black community is generally extremely welcoming to mixed individuals, now maybe this is partly due to colourism, but either way they just are. Other ethnic minority communities can’t say the same, so if a mixed person says they’re black just understand they know they aren’t fully black and they aren’t trying to be. Sometimes it’s just easier to say you’re black and not have questions asked about your mix. Whether this is problematic, I’m not really sure. I just think as long as you aren’t claiming experiences that aren’t yours or talking over others, what is the harm?

The thing is, I haven’t had an identity crisis, but in thinking about my race I have come to understand how complicated it all can be. Like the privileges that I have in being light skinned in the black community simply do not exist in the brown community because I’m “too black”. Then there’s also the fact that there isn’t really a mixed community because “mixed race” isn’t actually a race. In my life, the only other person who could truly understand this is my brother, but our experiences are likely to be totally different just because of things like gender. I think that generally mixed people can relate to certain things like being asked which culture they prefer, but it seems like most of the stuff we can relate on are experiencing similar microaggressions. Oh and by mixed, in this context I’m talking about being mixed with black and something else.

My point is if you think I’m “more black” please keep it to yourself.

 

I read this the other day and I actually cannot believe it. 1985. AS IN 34 YEARS GO: In South Africa, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949 prohibited marriage between Whites (people of European descent) and non-Whites (being classified as African, Asian and Coloured). It was repealed in 1985.
Standard
Faith, Philosophy

Religion and I

I’d honestly be lying if I said that writing this doesn’t SCARE me, I’m not entirely sure why though. The thing is if you’ve known me for a while you’ll understand how mad this all sounds coming from me. But at the end of the day, this is my truth. My faith was a big part of who I was and I never hid that, it wasn’t something I forced down anyone’s throats (well I hope not anyway lmao) and my newfound lack of faith isn’t something I’m going to hide either. This isn’t me trying to convince anyone of anything, other than to be open-minded, it’s sort of just a record of my evolution as a person.

Some background: I was Christian for a good 10 ish years, I wasn’t raised that way from birth but I didn’t start going to church till I was like 8 I think. To be honest church at that age was fun, when you’re a kid basically all your friends are from school (well mine were anyway) so having a separate social group from that felt cool.

I think I properly took my faith seriously when I was 14/15, that’s when I’d say that my identity was heavily influenced by Christ. I wasn’t the perfect Christian but I did try, I went to church, read my bible etc. Basically, the stuff that most would constitute makes a Christian a Christian. I really did believe that I believed in God. I know that’s a weird sort of thing to say, but I literally could not imagine life without God. Until now. Now, life without God is my reality.

Also, this isn’t some rash decision I’ve made, I didn’t just wake up one day and be like I AM NOW AN ATHEIST 😡  , I’ve been thinking about it for months. Even calling myself an atheist just feels aggressive, it’s like telling people you’re a vegan or a feminist. They’ll just assume that by you identifying yourself you’re trying to convince them to be like you. Like me saying that I am a feminist, isn’t actually saying that you ought to be one. Although you defo should, but you get my point.

 

I think it’s quickly worth mentioning that for anyone, theist or atheist, being open-minded doesn’t mean that everyone is supposed to end up reaching the same conclusion.

 

How did I come to the conclusion that I’m probably an atheist? (and by probably I mean definitely because I’m just scared to admit it for no rational reason)

Well I’ll start by saying that I’m not saying God absolutely most definitely without a doubt isn’t real, but at this point in my life, I’m more inclined to believe he doesn’t exist. I don’t know what it would take for me to believe in God if I’m being real. If the clouds parted and Jesus came down on a golden escalator from heaven I’d probably think I was going mad. My theory is that if God is real and he is omniscient then he would know what it would take for me to believe in him, and if he is omnipotent then he would know how to make that happen.

I don’t want this to turn into a philosophy/theology short course but there are just so many questions that I think are worth thinking about: If there’s a God then what religion is the right one? And I’m sorry but you people who say that they’re all the right ones are delusional because they all so obviously and fundamentally contradict one another. How can I know that God is real? What would prove his existence? What is the point of religion if you can just have faith? Who is God? Then there’s other stuff like the problem of evil.

I also read The God Delusion by Dawkins and although, from what I know of him as a person, I can’t say I like him but it’s actually a seriously good book. I would recommend it to literally anyone but I have to say it’s not for the fainthearted at all.

Anyway, in light of all of the above and months of contemplation that is how I arrived at atheism or some form of weak agnosticism.

 

How has my life been since I abandoned my faith?

The thing is, no matter what you believe you’ll always have doubts and I think I forgot that. When I was finally honest with myself about my beliefs anything that happened in my favour I was completely spooked by. My train could come as soon as I stepped foot on the platform and I’d be like omg God is that you hun??!!!! I know how utterly dumb this sounds but that is actually who I am. Little coincidences that happened in my life were subconsciously indicators that God existed and he was trying to get my attention. But then I thought, there’s definitely another 18-year-old girl out there somewhere who has never heard of the Christian God in which case anything good that happened to her would simply be good and anything bad would simply be bad. And I realised that I can and probably should be that girl.

Like sure, it would be nice to have an explanation for certain things like ‘why am I here?’ but for me, religion didn’t provide adequate answers. Religion provided explanations for some things, but it still didn’t have answers for things that mattered. I would rather not believe in a God and deal with moderate existential dread and wonder why I’m alive than believe in a God and a belief system that I don’t understand (almost) at all. It’s really forced me to find peace with not understanding certain things and although I could have gotten this peace as a Christian, it wasn’t the same because deep down I knew some things fundamentally didn’t make sense to me.

It’s also forced me to take a good look at myself and figure out what kind of person I want to be. As a Christian it’s pretty easy, the kind of person you want to be is a Christ-like person. The hard part is adhering to the ‘rules’. But when you don’t have that anymore you have to figure that out yourself and it’s hard especially when you’re aware of how inadequate you can be. Why should I listen to myself, knowing that I can really be a dummy? It made me trust myself and find a new sort of confidence.

One thing that I think is super specific to me is navigating guilt (or maybe not). I only realised this recently when I was talking to a good friend of mine that when I was Christian and I did something I wasn’t proud of I would always feel so guilty. And I didn’t feel guilty because I felt like God was looking over my shoulder, I understood that it was in Gods nature to be forgiving. But retrospectively I had always felt that I had let myself down, and I was insecure about that. I think I just thought that I felt guilty because I had let God down but I couldn’t feel bad that I let something I wasn’t sure existed down. I really didn’t want my faith to be based on insecurities that I had. I didn’t want to believe in God because I knew he would love me regardless of how I looked or acted. I don’t think I ever really felt validated by God, but I didn’t feel invalid either. I just wanted to believe in God because he existed and it made sense that he did. But it didn’t. And even if he did exist I wouldn’t know what kind of God that would be.

My friends are so amazing and supportive, regardless of their beliefs and I think that’s why it’s become a lot easier for me to be open about how I feel. No one has ever tried to convince me otherwise, although I’m not opposed to this, but I just appreciate that they have faith in me to know what I think is best for myself. Obviously, it’s sad that I’m not part of the Christian community anymore, but I guess I’m part of a new community.

I will say that I think it’s important to question your faith, and by question your faith I don’t mean asking yourself if God is real when something goes wrong in your life. I mean actually facing the difficult questions and addressing inconsistencies that exist in religious texts (and I don’t mean the dumb Old Testament vs. New Testament debate, I mean that there are quite bold inconsistencies within each of the testaments).

I think I’m only really scared to write this just in case I end up changing my mind but I’ve literally changed my mind so many times it wouldn’t be anything new and then at least I’d have another blog post to write. And like obviously if hell is real and I don’t change my mind then my soul is in trouble.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me understand myself better, provided comfort when I was a mess and those who never judged me for believing whatever I did. You all know who you are.
Just in case anyone still sees the Bible scriptures I have stuck on my wall I’m not taking them off because first of all, it’s an aesthetic and second of all the blu tac has literally ruined the wall and I don’t have anything to cover it up yet. Thank u.

I feel like this year is really just about like the year of just realising stuff and everyone around me, we’re all just realising things.

Standard