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Archive for the ‘Being Black’ Category

The Raw Somali 

The Raw Somali

 

The trained Somali

The trained Somali

 

Is there anything wrong with these two images, or is it just me?

 

obtained from JSTOR.
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Formula 1’s first black driver is in pole position to be Britain’s biggest sports star!

You know, I am not much into Formula 1 racing but Lewis Hamilton has been brought to my attention much through the hype of the media. And to be honest, by the way he is performing now, he seems to be in a very good shape and receiving standing ovations from the onlookers. What I fear though, is the backlash of this extravagant publicity. I fear that he may not be able to cope with this unattainable expectation that the Brits put on his shoulders. There was the same hype and unsurpassable expectations over Button too, and Henman and many other great but not so great British sportsmen. Too much is put on their plate.

What I find startling also is the way it makes me feel. It makes me feel slightly proud in some way that a black person has reached this stage in the Formula 1 and the first person to take the podium in his first three races at that – though he never won one yet. But this slight sensation of my reserved pride in his achievements outlines something far more dangerous. It suggests that a black man hasn’t had the competence of accomplishing such a feat – that’s until now; until Hamilton came and rescued him. As if he did it for the black race! Why is he being judged on the basis of his skin colour?

And I don’t know why, but I predict that, like any other black man who has made tremendous amounts of money will undoubtedly splash out on a culture of profligacy and hedonism rather than anything beneficial. They are a fat lot of use!

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This bicentenary marks the abolition of one the greatest crimes against humanity – The Slave Trade. Last year, it was reported that Mr Blair was shy of a full apology, but it seems like he has done it. He has apologized. So did London’s Mayor, Ken Livingstone, and he also explained why he has apologized. But what would an apology do? Automatically erase the entire era of slavery from the minds of people, act as a recompense for the hideous crimes or simple be just another word from the mouths of politicians?

Slavery was barbaric and inhumane, so what’s an apology worth. Even the Holocaust is given much priority than Slavery! If slavery is anything to apologize for, it’s the Africans who should be apologizing for brutally capturing their brothers from the neighbouring villages and towns and selling them into slavery in the first place. Only thing is, sorry, is just another word!

By the way, who is this “sorry” going to? the buried ancestors or the living descendants?

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With knife crime sweeping across the country , the politicians are quick to mete out their hollow words. We need to be tougher on crime, they say, and the media picks this up and plasters it across its front pages. An amnesty will soon be in place to curb the spiralling wave of crime, as communities are devastated, and soon all will be forgotten – that’s until another victim falls on the street splattered with blood.

Any bus journey home, in any corner of the UK, could be your last. The streets are teeming with “thugs” who are bent on crime and intimidation. This is not something new – it has been like this for ages. And for a very long time too, the government has been trying to do something about it but all with empty promises.

What I am extremely irritated by, though, is the opinions of those people – (some) White people – who assume that this country is being degraded by black people and their cultures. As soon as the talk of crime gets underway, they already seem to know their suspects. Young, Black, Male, with nothing better to do than infiltrate this country with their crime and filth. I remember very well reading the Evening Standard, last year, when An Wilson said that “the only contribution” Somalis make to this society is “street crime and violence”! I am almost certain that when Mr Wilson wrote those words he was either highly intoxicated or his head was too far up his arse to make any sense.

This is the sort of racist tinge to crime, that Jackie describes here, I despise;

…there is a racist tinge to the reaction of the majority. People think, but don’t say, well, it’s only black on black, or Asian on Asian for that matter. It is one gang of uncivilised young thugs against another (though Kodjo was neither a gang member nor a young thug). Keep out of their way, and these murders will continue but won’t touch us. When the people involved are young and white, another defence mechanism kicks in: “Well, it happened outside a pub/nightclub in the small hours. If you’re not young, male and drinking in the wrong place, this won’t touch you.”

Crime has no colour, neither does wickedness. These youths understand the leniency this government has towards crime and are taking advantage of it – they know they will be out soon, with their “street credibility” up a notch. Prison is no deterrent whatsoever. And the poor mother lies in her bed in grievance. Another son lost, another mother bereaved. Over the past two weeks alone 14 murder cases involving knives were reported and just over this weekened alone there were 50 cases involving knives.

Imagine if this country had a National Service scheme – where every child, upon finishing his/her GCSEs, must go through a compulsory one or two years service in the Army!

I am all for bringing back corporal punishment in schools as well as capital punishment in the country. Anyone agrees?

An eye for an eye, makes the whole world blind, but sometimes it’s the best solution!

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I was helping my little niece with her Science homework last night when the subject of school came up. She talked passionately about her school, her friends and her best teachers. We went back to her science homework, talking about the function of the bones and how they help the body. After working for a while, there was some silence as she jotted down what she had learnt.

“Abti, My teacher is racist,” she said out of the the blue with a frown
“How is she a racist, Abti?”
“It’s a he”
“Oh, ok. How do you know he is a racist then?”
“You know he sticks up only for the English people”
“How do you know he sticks up only for them?”
“Coz he never sticks up for me”
“Never sticks up for you. You must have done something wrong abti”
“Abti, this girl always lies about me and follows me and he had to talk to hooyo (mother) about it today”

She pauses for a while, still with a frown on her face

“He never listens to me coz am the only black person in my class”

I looked straight at her, trying to deduce from her demeanour whether she was being serious or just pulling my leg. Besides, I was surprised because the school has a large population of Ethnic minority students.

“You’re the only black person in your class? ”
“Yeah, didn’t you know?”
“No, Abti, I didn’t!”

There was a slight pause.

“How do you feel being the only black person in your class”
“Awful”
“Why is that?”
“Coz he sticks up for the other kids and not for me”
“But how do you know he is sticking up for them because their colour is different to yours. He might not be sticking up for you because you have done something to upset him”
“Innit Abti, it will be annoying, yeah, if a girl blames you for everything and always follows you everywhere even to the toilet and you tell the teachers and they don’t do nuffink (nothing) about it?”
“You must have done something abti to get the blame. No body gets blamed for nothing, but you must remember if a teacher doesn’t do anything about it then go to another teacher and tell them”
“No abti I haven’t done nuffink”
“But Teachers are not racist at all abti. Teachers cannot be racist”
“Yeah but why does it always have to happen to me. Last week I lost all of my golden time coz of her”

pause.

“Abti this girl she pushed me, yeah, during PE coz she wanted to be wiv her friend and I pushed her back and I got the blame”
“Yes, but abti you mustn’t get involved. If someone pushes you or does anything to you go straight to the teachers and tell them”

Silence.

“He takes one minute off everone’s golden time but me he takes 10 minutes”
“Did you speak to him about it?”
“No”
“Why not?”
“Whats the point, he’s gonna tell ms M about me”
“But if you think he’s not being fair, you should tell him that. Have you told him?”

Silence
She shakes her head and emits a silent “no”

“If I tell him then he’s gonna go to miss M and tell her I said he was being racist and am gonna get excluded”

she goes quiet for a few seconds

“And these boys are always racist to me coz am the only girl who wears khamaar in my class. And we are the only two muslims, the other is a boy and he is mixed race”
“Do the boys pick on him as well?”
“No”
“Why do you think they pick on you and not him then?”
“Coz he’s a boy and am a girl”
“And the only reason they pick on me is coz I wear a Khimaar. Even Miss W, the behaviour mentor she doesn’t even do nuffink (nothing)”
“Have you told her about it?”
“No. She doesn’t like me anyway!”
“Abti, but if you haven’t even told her about it, how do you know she won’t do anything about it?”
“Coz she likes everyone else in the class and not me”
“She would not know abti, you have to tell her. She cannot do anything about something which she nknows nothing about. If you tell her, she will do something about it.”

I pause for a while, starring at her. she is looking down at her work book, thinking.

“Make sure you tell a teacher if anyone bullies you, abti, and if the teacher does nothing about it, tell another teacher. Do you understand?”
she nods.

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As the children went to assembly, I retained D, a young black child, behind to help him with his Maths as he was struggling a bit with it. On the course of the 15-minute session, as we went through multiplication by chunking, we discussed a whole range of topics from his favourite football team, to his favourite film, to what he did on the weekend, to cartoons, etc. And then an unusual subject cropped up:

“I’ll get you a DVD, Mr Said, what film do you want? He said.
“Isn’t it a little expensive, D? I replied thinking how he could get hold of one.
“No, I’ll get you a pirate one,” came back a casual answer
“You watch Pirate DVD’s? You know it’s illegal right D?

He laughs.
Pause.
Laughs again.

“I once stole a DVD from the China-man,” he says with a smile
“You stole a DVD? How?”
“I was looking at it and the Police came after him, so I put it in my bag”
“And you went home and watched it?”
“Yeah”
“What did your mom say? Would she allow you to watch it if she knew you stole it from the China-man?”
“She knows I stole it. She helped me steal it”
“What? I say surprised, “your mom helped you steal a DVD?”
“Yeah, we ran and the bus was there and we pretended to be running for the bus and we went home”
“So you think it’s alright to steal, D?”

He shrugs his shoulders, turns towards me, and smiles
“I don’t know”

He is right. How could he, at 9 years old, contradict his mother decision and discern that the actions she approves of are wrong? And could I tell him that stealing is wrong?

A mother is the child’s first teacher, his first insitution where he learns almost everything there is to learn about life. He soon will start to imitate her actions and this lays a rigid foundation for everything he undertakes later on in life. Would he take it from me then, when, at home, his parents consent to such behaviour? Most black parents are very strict with their children and teach them enough discipline to distinguish whats right from wrong from an early age, but the few that condone such beahviour tarnish the reputation for many good black parents.

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I attended the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Black Members Council (BMC) conference today and learnt of some staggering issues regarding the Media. For all those Black and Ethnic Minority Journalism hopefuls, be warned, a bumpy ride awaits you my friends, so be ready!

There is no one Black person that manages or has a senior position in any of the national newspapers and Television in the UK – even the BBC, which seems to be the best portrayal of Ethnic Minority in the Media. Most of these companies are owned by middle-ages white men with very rigid ideas as to what they want to see on their TV and whom they want to be represented by.

Today, you are more likely to see black people on National Television (as news reporters, presenters, etc) than ten years ago, but have you thought why? Traditionally, black people were in the backroom. For example, if you go to a hotel, you will always find a beautiful white woman sitting at the reception to welcome the visitors, and where are the black people – always in the kitchen. So why has this changed now? Why are black people all of a sudden appearing on National Television screens as the faces of major news channels despite the fact that they hold no managerial positions? The answer is simple – Because they are there simply for decoration purposes.

Black people, after coming across hundreds of hurdles, rigorous job interviews, and endless hours of fetching tea and biscuits for their senior white editors, might faintly have a chance of being employed by a National newspaper (if they are lucky). And once employed by a newspaper or a Television, retention rates are very, very low and there is absolutely no chance for progression. Management is always the specialty of a White, Middle-class, Oxbridge-educated male. You won’t find black people in roles where decision making is required or to represent a National Newspaper! They don’t mind having black people as long as they are not too many and are doing subordinate roles.

The prime reason the Media employ black and Ethnic Minority journalists is solely to ‘show’ the powers that be that they are recruiting on fair grounds and are fully aware of the Discrimination Laws, and, of course, to re-assure the Ethnic Minority that there is a voice for them in the Media. However, whether the black people in the media represent the voice of the Ethnic Minority groups they were born into or not is still a bone for contention.

Which left me wondering, is it that Black people are not “British enough” to represent or manage a British newspaper, for I have nothing else to think of that could be deemed rational in the light of these findings. But whatever the reasons are for such domination of the Media by the white-middle-class-males, it is not something that will be easily ended soon I believe!

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