Posted in Blog

Roxanne Pallett (Celebrity Big Brother) Accusing Ryan Thomas of Domestic Violence

I had planned to come out of my short-hiatus with a different post, however I had something that I urgently needed to get off my chest.

 

I stopped watching Big Brother quite a while ago, before it even moved channels in fact. Yet, I did try to watch one episode of Celebrity Big Brother earlier this week because I’m suffering from withdrawal symptoms following the end of Love Island last month LOL. It didn’t hit the spot.

skynews-roxanne-pallett-ryan-thomas_4407158

(Image source)

But on social media this week, I noticed a lot of tweets about Roxanne Pallett and Ryan Thomas. For anybody unfamiliar with them, both are soap opera stars (on rival programmes actually!) Roxanne is apparently known for being a bit of a drama queen off-screen (who would’ve thought of a soap actress??), as well as on-screen while being on Celebrity Big Brother and last week, Roxanne clearly didn’t think that she had enough attention, so decided to accuse Ryan of violently attacking her. I had to watch. 

 

So, it was another case of Love Island, where the audience watching saw what really happened, while everybody else in the house for a while only had the words of Roxanne and Ryan. In case you haven’t watched it, this is what happened: they were both in the kitchen and Ryan playfully did some jabs near her side, but his hands never touched her. Roxanne, after laughing, then screamed

“ow that hurt! Woman-beater”.

She then went into the bedroom and asked Big Brother if she could be called to the “Diary Room”, where she told Big Brother that Ryan had just violently attacked her and she was in pain. Following this, she asked to be sent to another bedroom for the night, because she couldn’t be in the same room as “her attacker”, while Ryan was given a formal warning from Big Brother. I’m guessing this action was taken by the Big Brother production team to appease Roxanne

 

Unbeknownst to Ryan, over the next subsequent days or so, Roxanne had begun to tell some of the other guys what had happened to her, which included an over-exaggerated demonstration on her friend Ben and lots of shaking and sobbing while having to “relive the ordeal”. It was noticed that she never approached the other women in the house, because she knew that they wouldn’t have believed her. Ryan soon became ostracised from the majority of the group of men (the older men stood by Ryan, but the younger guys sided with Roxanne), until Big Brother finally stepped in, when one of the guys – Dan – who had initially been on Roxanne’s side, went into the Diary Room to bitch about Ryan, only for Big Brother to ask Dan if Ryan had really done anything, would he even still be in the house? Dan then saw the light and informed the rest of the house that Roxanne had been lying.

 

I have seen many white women using their fragility when it comes to spinning stories. I am furious with Jermaine in particular – the only Black man in the house – because even after he was told the truth, he was the only one still swayed by Roxanne’s white tears; he took A LOT of convincing and I feel like this is a common occurrence with Black men who like to jump to the rescue of white women.

I am also sick and tired of women like Roxanne using their privilege of fragility to make false accusations about violence, tarnishing the authenticity of real victims and survivors of violence inflicted by men, while simultaneous damaging the reputation of the men they accuse. Can you imagine if this hadn’t have happened on camera? Ryan’s career would have been ruined.

 

I used to have two girl-friends who would often accuse a guy of being physically violent towards them and throw around the term “woman-beater”, when they had just been play fighting and barely touched (we all saw). They then admitted that they had been joking, but this was only after a few days or WEEKS of punishing the guy they had accused! It is sick, just because you are so desperate for attention, to use accusations of violence to gain that attention. Watching Ryan destroyed by the accusation was not only heartbreaking but incredibly uncomfortable and infuriating to watch. I rarely jump to the defence of a man, but in this case, I was on Ryan’s side 100%. 

 

I’ve also seen women accuse their partners of verbal abuse because of jokes and bants (banter) from the man’s side. The woman will happily give bants to the man, but as soon as the man gives it back, they’re accused of abuse. I’m not saying that insulting somebody isn’t abuse – fair from it, as I’ve been a victim of both physical and verbal abuse – but bants IS NOT THE SAME because bants is a two-way street! Bants is affectionate in fact; affectionate teasing, while verbal and emotional abuse is one-sided means to dominate, undermine, threaten and control. Of course there is a very thin line here, but for clarification, if the joke hurts then fair enough, but on its own, a joke cannot count as abuse.

 

Going back to Big Brother, something Roxanne said after she realised that the tide was turning against her in the house, really riled me up. In the Diary Room she made a comment about the reaction she was now receiving after everybody in the house had found out that she was lying:

“this is why women don’t speak out about things like this, because nobody believes them”.

FUCK OFF. Women don’t speak out about this stuff because they live in fear, not only that they won’t be believed, but also that there will be consequences from their abuser. Wanting to be believed is on the list, but a low priority when your life is in danger.

 

Roxanne has now walked out of the house and her career is rightfully in tatters. Furthermore, stories have come out from ex-partners who have said that she has done the same to them (accused them of abuse which has ruined their reputations), while colleagues of her’s have said that she is a compulsive liar and constantly seeking attention. Emma Willis, the host of Big Brother, also gave her a brutal grilling in her exit interview. Roxanne now insists that after watching the footage back, Ryan didn’t actually punch her, but it felt like it hurt at the time. It’s ironic that the show has taken its name from George Orwell’s Nighteen-Eighty Four really. 

 

I’ll leave it at that.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

What Do I Want, Like, Really REALLY Want?

Even though my sister and I haven’t spoken for just over four years, not a day goes by where I don’t think about her; sometimes it’s a song or film that reminds me of her and all of the memories connected to that come flooding back, overwhelming me with grief. For example, over the weekend I was making my girlfriend watch the “Twilight” film: for her it was the first time; for me it was the God knows what-teenth time. The Twilight saga literally took over me and my sister’s lives! We were both obsessed with Edward Cullen, while my best friend at the time was infatuated with Jacob Black, so my sister and I would cackle at how anybody could choose a smelly werewolf over an oppressively loving vampire (of course I realise now that Edward’s behaviour was borderline sociopathic, and he and Bella deffo had an unhealthy relationship…) and we would obsessively watch the films over and over again. There’s a particular song at the end of Twilight by Iron & Wine which my sister absolutely loved and hearing it on Saturday absolutely broke me.

 

Probably also because I’m forever reminded of her in my dreams, which could be why hearing this song affected me so. Sometimes I dream that I’m apologising to my sister for abandoning her; my mother in these dreams is crazy to the point of feral, while my sister is so stressed she’s become severely underweight. In most of my dreams I’m chasing her for her forgiveness while she ignores me, until recently actually: last week I dreamt that she wanted to come to my birthday party (my birthday was recently) and I told her no, because I only wanted true family there (my friends). This was the first time I’d shown any authority towards her subconsciously, which is symbolic because showing authority and standing up for myself against her in reality was one of the reasons why she stopped talking to me.

 

Considering I’m a Psychology student, I should probably through some Freudian theory into this: most psychologists believe that dreams are just random brain activity while sleeping, but Freud’s psychoanalysis on dreams argues that our dreams are symbolic of hidden impulses we desire to enact and while asleep, thoughts from the id (subconscious) slip into our ego (consciousness).

 

Growing up, my sister and I were extremely close however, we did fight a lot, mostly over banal things such as each other’s toys, but also because of jealousy – I saw my sister as my father’s fave and she saw me as my mother’s fave – while being played off against one another by our parents. But I always promised myself that we would never end up like our mother and her sister (our aunt) – who no longer speak to each other and haven’t for years – so even when I knew my sister was in the wrong, the majority of the time I would be the one to make up with her, desperate to keep our relationship in tact.

 

As close as we were and as hard as the separation is for me, (according to my mother – when we were speaking – my sister was also struggling with our separation, but where I’ve made many attempts to reach out to her, she has slammed the door in my face and hasn’t made any attempts to reach out to me either) I need to come to grips with the fact that we may never speak again. On the other hand, it has only been four years which in the grand scheme of life is not really that long, so there is still time to reconcile.

 

But do I really want to?

 

On Saturday as I was crying to my girlfriend and sobbing that I couldn’t take not speaking to her any longer, my girlfriend thinking that it was coming from a good place advised me to try one more time to reach out to her. So I did plan to give it one more go on Sunday (yesterday) by calling the house to speak to her while my mother would be out of the house at church, but then on Sunday morning I had two seizures and couldn’t do anything for the rest of the day and forgot about our plan until later on in the evening. The strange thing was, I didn’t seem to distraught about having forgotten about it.

 

I also religiously listen to Kelechi Okafor’s podcast called “Say Your Mind” and this week, during her tarot reading section, she talked about self-worth and knowing who should and shouldn’t be “on the [life] journey with you”. She advised that sometimes people leave your life for a reason and if they cannot see your self worth, then they shouldn’t be on this journey with you and this led me to reconsider my actions regarding my sister.

 

My sister doesn’t see my self-worth; she doesn’t consider my feelings; she only loves me when I’m being a “yes man” – remember she made the decision to stop talking to me after I moved out of the family home and growing tired of her shit and lies I finally stood up to her.

He was a good man

This is also the same sister who even though grew up in the same household of tyranny with my father, claims to not believe that I was sexually abused by this man because according to her warped memories, “he was a good man”. Her memories are extremely selective though, because she does appear to remember him beating us and shouting, yet I guess because he bought us nice things (while getting us into debt) he was a great father.

 

This post has been extremely cathartic for me actually, because now that it’s all written down, I can see our relationship for how fucked up it really was and I do deserve better. I was saying to my girlfriend today that I would never chase an ex, so why am I chasing after my sister? I have too much dignity and self-worth for that.

 

So bringing this back to Freud (I’m not even a Freudian by the way, however I do find his theory on dreams quite interesting) what could my dreams mean?

  1. Do they mean that I do desperately want to reconcile with my sister?
  2. Do I just want to speak to her so that I can tell that I deserve to be treated with respect, how she’s rejected me is below par and that I deserve more?
  3. Or is it just a whole load of random thoughts?

 

I’ll probably still grieve, because it’s a massive loss regardless of how fucked up the relationship was, and as much as I wish the whole science from the film: “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind” existed, it doesn’t. Therefore things are going to trigger memories, which I have to accept and learn to cope with.

 

As for my dreams, I am seriously considering hypnotism to get this bitch out of my subconscious, because it’s driving me INSANE!

 

On a serious note, as of tomorrow, I’ll be seeing my old therapist again. My lovely girlfriend has agreed to help me out with the fees and I’m putting my pride aside to put my mental health first. So this will definitely be something to focus on. Clearly there’s something deeper psychologically to this which needs to be worked on.

Perhaps I need to realise that me living my best live and focusing on that instead of being able to say this to my sister’s face is actually the best therapeutic fuck you. My therapist is amazing at what she does, so I’m positive that I’ll be able to move on from this loss, both consciously as well as unconsciously.

XOXO

Posted in Blog

How We Label Black Boys

I found out today through Twittter’s moments, that 23-year-old Saddique died in Camberwell (London) from a fatal stabbing this week.

I want to address the way that black boys and young men victims are labelled by the media following their death. Once again, Saddique has been labelled a rapper, this time in the Drill music genre.

Many will not understand why this is a problem, so I’m going to explain: the connotations of the label “rapper” as I explained in a previous post, are extremely negative; it dehumanises the victim and promotes the racial bias that because these black boys are involved in a particular genre of music, they are looking for trouble and thus deserve to die.

I also want to address negative assumptions within our own community. I personally haven’t listened to much Drill music, however one person today told me it’s quite violent and another person has also said that some gangs use the genre as a method of communicating their violent intentions to other gangs.

Yes, gang culture is a problem; nobody is denying that. But my problem is that we are falling down the same trap as the white people by saying things like: “they’re not helping their situation”, or “they bring it on themselves”.

Again, we’re dehumanising these boys and young men and ignoring the fact that white supremacy and institutional racism plays a massive part in keeping black men in a place of inferiority. Remember, I trained to teach in a boys’ secondary comprehensive school, where the majority of the staff were white and would openly bully the black boys by telling them that they were stupid, that they would amount to nothing because of the colour of their skin and that there was nothing for them because they did not belong in this society. They were also constantly labelled as aggressive troublemakers (even the quiet black boys who were just trying to live their lives). Mainstream media is also constantly telling us that Black boys are the largest group of underachievers. Some of those boys told me that I was the first teacher ever to come along and tell them that they were worth something and to encourage them to aspire to be something more.

If you are told something enough times, eventually you’re going to believe it, so if you’re being told at school (or even at home, because we have to admit that there is a problem with psychological abuse from parents within our culture) that you’re worthless, but older boys are telling you the opposite and giving you the acceptance that you’ve been craving your entire life, which leader are you going to follow?

Don’t get it twisted; I am in no way excusing the path these boys and men are taking. What I am saying is more needs to be done to change the direction they are being forced into.

I’m going to end with a quote from Maya Angelou’s “The Heart of a Woman”, which I happen to be reading again, where Angelou’s son Guy has been threatened by a gang (called the Savages) and she is actually contemplating the concept of who these boys are behind the facade of violence:

First I had to understand the thinking of the Savages. They were young black men, preying on other young black men. They had been informed, successfully, that they were worthless, and everyone who looked like them was equally without worth. Each sunrise brought a day without hope and each evening the sun set on a day lacking achievement. Whites, who ruled the world, owned the air and food and jobs and schools and fair play, had refused to share with them any of life’s necessities – and somewhere, deeper than their consciousness, they believed the whites were correct. They, the young black youth, young lords of nothing, were born without value and would creep, like blinded moles, their lives long in the darkness, under the earth, chewing on roots, driven far from the light.

I understood the Savages. I understood and hated the system which molded them, but understanding in no way licensed them to vent their frustration and anger on my son […] something had to be done to contain the lawless brood of alienated teenagers. 

Rest in power Saddique.

XOXO

Posted in Blog

Fighting The Good Fight

Over the weekend I went to a picnic with some of my girfriend’s friends. It was a lovely afternoon in Hyde Park – apart from the weather; after sweating through the London heatwave for many weeks, it was now absolutely fucking freezing following a thunderstorm the night before; I was also inappropriately dressed for a heatwave, having not checked the weather app beforehand (!!!) Some of these people I’d already met on a previous night out so it was good to be around people I already knew; some were new faces, and very welcoming.
We had a great afternoon of munching on a picnic brunch and listening to good music on a portable speaker.
Until the conversation turned sinister. One of the older women began a debate on legalising drugs; some of the group were for legalising while others were against. There was already some tension as the woman who had initiated the conversation was incredibly forthcoming with her opinions and dominating the debate. Myself and another girl removed ourselves from the conversation as it became more and more heated, by lying down and talking amongst ourselves, however I could still hear my girlfriend very much trying to get the woman to see her point of view while agreeing with some of the opposing points, which the woman clearly couldn’t see, because she wasn’t actually listening to my girlfriend and instead was just raising her voice to oppress my girlfriend.
Then suddenly, the debate turned even more sinister as the woman brought social economic status as well as race into the debate. Although she said that she believed the middle classes were to blame for the drug problems within the working class, she also said believed that Black people were a major problem with their gang culture wars and “nonsensical murdering amongst the community”. She then brought up the recent murder of an eighteen year old in Brixton (Latwaan Griffiths, 18) and said that this had been related to drugs, therefore the boy was clearly no angel as depicted by grieving family and friends, but:

“a little shit who had trouble coming to him”.

Imagine my surprise that she could be so open about her views on the murder of a young Black man in the presence of a Black woman. However, for the sake of keeping the harmony, I kept silent.
She mentioned that she had read about the incident in a news article in that day’s Evening Standard, a copy of which she had. I asked if I could see it and as I read it, nowhere did I see any mention of drugs being related to the death of this Black young man. It did however mention that he was a rapper. BINGO! I thought. She clearly read “rapper” and made assumptions based upon the connotations of the colour of his skin and his occupation.

*I was going to link the article here, however the online version is EXTREMELY different to the printed version. E.g. the online version doesn’t mention Griffiths being a rapper, neither does it have any of the positive quotes from his loved ones*

As I finished the article, she continued to make derogatory remarks about the Black community to me. This time only to me. At this point, I then said to her “I don’t want to speak about this anymore”.
She ignored me and carried on. By this point, I was clearly visibly distressed, which she continued to ignore as she insisted on to making her derogatory opinions heard. I then said, you do realise that there is more to this story? She replied:

“yeah, that he was involved in gangs and drugs and had no better aspirations, just like the rest of them.”

Me:

“well no, there’s more to it than that, especially in terms of the societal problems within the community.”

However, she wasn’t getting the hint and she continued in her argument that boys like this were just little shits. I then said to her that she clearly couldn’t see the bigger picture, so there really was no point in having this discussion any further, to which she replied “well why don’t you tell me?” It had earlier become clear to me that she had no interest in my opinion and that she was just baiting me for a reaction, hence I told her that I refused to engage in any further conversation and walked away. She then went back to the rest of the group and still within earshot, I could hear her continuing her debate and derogatory remarks. My girlfriend came over to me to apologise for this woman’s behaviour and asked if I was ok, to which I responded nearly in tears that no I wasn’t and that I really didn’t want to make a scene so I’m just going to go home. My girlfriend begged me to stay, but I felt so uncomfortable that regardless of how lovely the rest of the group were, I just didn’t want to be around them. I felt like I’d been attacked and felt raw to the touch.
Having decided to go home, I wanted to say my goodbyes to the rest of the group, but I could still hear this woman ranting away, so after thinking carefully about what I wanted to do and say, I then said to my girlfriend: “I’m going to say something” and before my girlfriend could respond, I walked up the woman and said:

“Can I just give you some advice? In future, you really need to be careful of how you speak about Black people around a Black person, because sometimes what you say can be harmful”.

I did not call her racist, I just informed her that her comments were harmful. Immediately her response was to become defensive as she accused me of calling her a racist and acted offended. This made me extremely upset. To top it off, she then said to me “I’m sorry if I offended you, but I’m not racist” which is when my girlfriend jumped in and said:

“hold on! Saying ‘sorry if I offended you’ is not a real apology! If you’re going to apologise for what you’ve said and really mean it, you don’t say ‘I’m sorry if you were offended’ because that’s not accepting responsibility”

The woman then responded “well I’m sorry, but I’m not a racist! I have black-”
And before she could finish that sentence I cried “oh here we go! The ‘I’m not a racist because I have one Black friend’ argument. Well guess what? You are a fucking racist because you’ve proved yourself to be one”.
She then became angry at me for calling her a racist again (even though this was actually the first time I had said it) and approached me to touch me. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps to pacify me, however in that moment I did not want to be touched, especially by a fucking racist. As I stepped back and told her not to fucking touch me, she had the caucasity to look affronted, while saying, “I just want to calm you down” – because I’m an angry Black woman right, and like bears, racists think we need to be calmed down and tamed, to which I repeated my request that she do not touch me. She then stormed off, yelling that she had been victimised.

Having not wanting to cause a scene, I was petrified that everybody except my girlfriend would be angry with me for “spoiling the afternoon”. However, all of the group bare one person, were completely on my side. They completely sympathised with me and understood where I was coming from. In fact, I’d felt so guilty and embarrassed about the entire altercation, that I was contemplating going home so that everybody else could enjoy themselves without me. However, the rest of the group insisted that I come out for drinks with them.

The one person who wasn’t on my side, was of course friends with the racist who had stormed off and she decided to go and follow her friend to see if she was okay. The rest of us decided to find a pub in which to hang out. Eventually the friend caught up with us and started filling everybody else in on what had been discussed. I decided to walk away from the group at a near distance in front, to also distance myself from the drama, because I was still feeling raw, but at the same time I no longer wanted to be part of it. However, I could hear this woman saying that her racist friend had told her that she hadn’t done anything wrong and had been called a racist for no reason. This woman then started calling my name.

I ignored her, hoping she would get the hint.

She didn’t. She came running after me and asked if we could talk about what had happened. I replied that I really didn’t want to and just wanted to move on from the situation. However, this woman REFUSED TO LISTEN TO ME and proceeded to tell me that her friend was not a racist and didn’t understand what she had done wrong, and that she was hurt by being called a racist, plus she’s worked with black people for years –

Before this bitch could rant any further I cut her off with the following:

“Okay, I’ve just told you that I don’t want to talk about this anymore, but you’ve ignored me. You need to understand that I AM the victim here, not your friend and when I tell you that I do not want to talk about this, it’s because it’s extremely upsetting for me. Okay?”

She said okay before skulking off with a hurt expression on her face. (Classic white fragility – why the fuck is she upset in this situation????)
She then decided that she could no longer come to the pub with us (although she had planned to before this latter discussion with me) because she suddenly had to meet a friend.
To say that the rest of the group were not disappointed by this would be an understatement.
I spent the rest of the walk praised for my heroism and confidence, before sitting down in a lovely pub in Kensington having drinks and having some cheeky girl chat.
However, as much as I appreciate the compliment, to say that I was brave is incorrect; standing up against racism isn’t about bravery, it’s about having to remind racists that Black people are human beings and fighting for my right as a human to just live my fucking life. That doesn’t take guts, it takes fucking stamina because it’s fucking exhausting. I’m also not as confident as I may come across online, and therefore try to avoid confrontations; as you can see from my account of what happened last weekend, I purposefully tried to remove myself from this situation MORE THAN ONCE, however I was bombarded with aggressive white fragility to not only victimise and dehumanise me, but to also put me in my place. As the only Black woman in the group, I was being told by these two women that I was not wanted in this space. It was actually like they were telling me: What’s it going to take to get you to leave?
On the positive side, the best thing about the situation is not only that the group were on my side, but also my girlfriend had my back for the first time ever in an altercation with a racist. She paid attention not only to the situation but also to my feelings, without me having to communicate them and she’s now realised that not paying attention and then making excuses for white people’s racism just doesn’t cut it. You can’t NOT be a racist and still say racist things. As white people, you are conditioned to think about Black people and POC (people of colour) a certain way and act around / towards us a certain way, sometimes without you even realising. However, this is no excuse because if you refuse to realise and make an effort to unlearn these insidious racist messages and propaganda – especially as an adult – then I’m afraid you are a racist.

You can also see that from the way my girlfriend spoke up for me, you can speak out against racism while also keeping the attention on the Black person, as opposed to taking the spotlight for yourself because you want to paint yourself as a white saviour or ally.

It really isn’t that fucking hard.

Rest in power Latwaan Griffiths 🖤

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Mental Health Services Are Letting Black People Down BIG TIME

I’m so angry and distraught.

After being rejected by the Islington Personality Disorder Service (London) for treatment last year, I was referred to The Spiral Centre in Islington for low-cost therapy. I applied in December 2017 and was added to their waiting list. I finally had an assessment in May 2018, after which I was told that I would be notified about which therapist I had been allocated to within a matter of weeks.

It is now July and I have still not been allocated to a therapist. When I contacted Spiral, this was their response:

We are very sorry that you have been waiting so long and we haven’t been in touch with you since May. You’re right that our usual waiting time is around three months but this has unexpectedly increased recently because more people are contacting us. We definitely have you on the waiting list and have been looking out for an appropriate vacancy for you. Partly the delay has been that we think that you need to have a more experienced therapist from what you said in the assessment, and we have a smaller number of experienced therapists on the low cost scheme. We will be in touch as soon as are able to offer you a space with a therapist but unfortunately we are not able to predict when that will be, you are near the top of the waiting list.
Please do contact us again with any questions.
All good wishes

The reason why I have highlighted part of the response in red, is because I didn’t tell them anything new in the assessment that I hadn’t told them in my original application. In fact, I was extremely upfront in my application about my mental health having deteriorated due to racial trauma.

While on Spiral’s waiting list, I was seeing a Private Therapist, which my girlfriend was paying for due to my low income, however I stopped seeing this therapist partly because I no longer wanted to rely upon my girlfriend for money – she’s my partner, not my mother or the guardian of my mental health – but also because after the assessment, Spiral had assured me that I wouldn’t have to wait long for my sessions to start. Hence, from that, I began to wind down my sessions with the Private Therapist before coming to a complete end, under the assumption that I would be picked up by Spiral.

Now I’ve been left with nothing.

I’m furious with Spiral, because although I sympathise that they are a small organisation, they do still have a duty of care to people like me who are on their waiting list and have been fed empty promises. When I brought this up with them in my response to their’s above, they admitted that they had fucked up, however I just had to wait.

Great.

The fact that I am currently studying Mental Health and Psychology also seems to be a double edged sword, because although I’m learning about the mind and educating myself for my future, I’m also seen as a high-functioning patient because of the subject I am studying, which is ridiculous. Even qualified therapists are required to have their own therapeutic support. Furthermore, many people in therapy make the assumption that I know more than trainee therapists, which is untrue; I’m not yet training to be a therapist, I’m still in the very early stages of my career, hence I am nowhere near as qualified as a trainee therapist.

In the meantime, I’ve contacted The Gestalt Centre in Kings Cross, London. However, I’ve now been told that some applicants wait up to a year or more to be allocated to a therapist. I’m now currently on their waiting list too.

Both Spiral, and The Gestalt Centre have given me a list of organisations to contact in the meantime, however out of the list the latter sent to me, the majority don’t even apply to me (!!!!!!) and the list from Spiral is the same exhausted list I was sent by the Islington Personality Service last year.

So, a year after my mental health breakdown, I am still in the same place as I was – rejected by the NHS for help and struggling with my mental health. I have an assignment due this week and I cannot even bring myself to get out of bed to do any work. I am mentally exhausted.

What is most exhausting is the discrimination when it comes to therapy and counselling: the Personality Service rejected me because they bought into the stereotypes of me being a Black woman who is strong enough to find her own resources; my girlfriend and I applied to Tavistock for couples therapy, last month and I was told that not only would it be offensive to talk about racism to a white therapist and that my requesting a black therapist to counteract this would be offensive to white therapists, I was also told that my girlfriend’s “trans issues” are of a higher importance than my trauma caused by historical and daily racism.

As a Black woman in Britain, struggling with her mental health, there is nothing for me. One of the reasons why I’m doing this MSc and planning on then training to be a Black Therapist in the UK, is because WE NEED MORE BLACK THERAPISTS IN THE UK. There are thousands of Black British people like me who are struggling with generational, historical, as well as current racism on a daily basis. The problem with white therapists is although they are bound by ethics, their white fragility is still triggered by talking about the Black experience. I was once told by a white therapist that I was offending her, just for talking about how I was being treated at work for the colour of my skin. Furthermore, white people just cannot understand or empathise with the Black experience (and the majority even seem to be incapable of simple sympathy), partly because they are so blinded by white privilege: how many times are we as Black people told that “historical racism is not an issue because it’s in the past” and therefore we should “get over it and stop living with a chip on our shoulder”? How many times are we as Black Britons told that our experience is nowhere near as traumatic as that of the Black American experience, therefore we should be grateful? How many times are we told that we are “just looking for racism that doesn’t even exist”? How many times are we told that just by talking about racism or mentioning it, we are “playing the race card”?

How many of you know how fucking traumatic all of this is to us as Black people?

You tend to conveniently forget that we are fucking human beings.

On top of apparent BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), I’m also still struggling with body dysphoria and bulimia (I fight every day to not make myself sick after meals, because of my meds, but sometimes it’s hard to control, especially when you grew up doing it), as well as the depression that comes with having to live with a chronic condition. All while struggling with the psychological impacts of racism.

So, in regards to the mental health, I don’t know what the fuck I’m going to do. My student loan barely even covers my tuition fees, let alone basic living; same with the benefits I am currently on for my Epilepsy. I’m sure I’ll figure something out… Black people always do, right?

Hopefully my mental health won’t consume me in the meantime.

XOXO

P.S. If you are Black and struggling with your mental health, AND can afford Private Therapy, please do contact a therapist via The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network. Some also offer reduced rates, depending on your level of income.
P.P.S. So I’ve just finished reading Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou and wanted to share this quote as it relates to well to what I was saying about seeing a white therapist:
I used up my Kleenex and took more from my purse. No, I couldn’t tell him [the white psychiatrist] about living inside a skin that was hated or feared by the majority of one’s fellow citizens or about the sensation of getting on a bus on a lovely morning, felling happy and suddenly seeing the passengers curl their lips in distaste or avert their eyes in revulsion. No, I had nothing to say to the doctor. I stood up. 
Here’s another quote from the play Leave Taking, by Winsome Pinnock:
Enid: What doctor know about our illness? Just give you a few pills to sick your stomach and a doctor certificate. What they know about a black woman soul. 
Posted in Blog, Mental Health

When Your White Friends Turn Out To Be Racists

Last year I was extremely angry about the way that white British people were treating me for speaking my truth: why am I getting abuse just for saying that racism exists in our country? Why are you telling me that I do not belong here? I soon then realised that I could not fight every single troll that was coming at me, especially when it was becoming detrimental to my mental health. Some days my phone would be going crazy with notifications from threads I had become involved in, because I thought that I could reason with such people, only to end up in them abusing me even more.

Mostly the abuse was coming from strangers on social media, most recently on my YouTube channel: 

Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 07.02.51

I no longer engage in accusations from strangers.

In regards to my white friends, I had either fallen out with them or just withdrawn from them. Because I had never wanted/ needed to be seen as Black, my colour, race and culture had never been an issue in our friendship, but now I did want to be seen as Black, which surprised the friends I ended up falling out with because suddenly they were not allowed to make racist comments around me while I laughed it off, but died inside.

I’ve stayed friends with some old friends, some of who have now revealed themselves to have only pretended to be onboard with my newfound Blackness; some of these people still think that they can get away with saying anti-black things to me, because they cannot perceive my blackness.

Here are two examples: 

One guy was a friend I knew from church (this was years ago). He knew that I fancied him, but led me on knowing that he was going to emigrate indefinitely. To say that I was heartbroken is an understatement. I was devastated because I had genuinely thought I had a connection with this guy, however now in hindsight I realise that it could never be because I was black and he looked down on me. After a couple of years in Australia, he moved to Zambia, to begin a career in ministry work. I didn’t want to believe that he was a ‘white saviour’ who looked down upon the people he was working with and claiming to help, however the more and more emails I received from him talking about the Zambians, the more it became clear that he was racist. Still, I was in denial. I was once in love with this guy (or so I had thought), how can he be fucking racist? I would’ve known, surely. So when he shared his number, I decided to send him a message to see how he was. His emails are generally addressed because he’s emailing a group of us, so I wanted to see how he came across on a personal level; was he the same guy I knew years ago? Would I be proved wrong?

When I asked him about Zambia, he replied that he couldn’t believe how modern it was and that it surprised him that there were supermarkets and a stadium. This is problematic for two reasons: one, because he had confirmed his racial biases which hadn’t changed even though he was now living in an African country, and two, because he had clearly forgotten that he was talking to a black woman – why would you tell a Black woman of Caribbean and African ancestry that you are surprised at how capable her people are???? When I called him out on this, he became defensive, including pointing out the fact that the Zambians were more racist about themselves than him and if it wasn’t for him they would have no self-esteem, (only proving the ‘white saviour’ trope and their beliefs that Black Africans are incapable of being anything without the white man) which obviously upset me more:

Screenshot_20180627-213232_WhatsApp

Notice that he mentions the “race card”… can somebody please enlighten me on what this “card” actually looks like and how I can get hold of it, because according to white-supremacists, it is this powerful card which can be used to change the direction of the game of life!

The Race Card(Image source)

Note to white people: don’t tell me about your black friends just to prove how un-racist you are! IT DOESN’T WORK! He’s also clearly lying about black people agreeing with him. 

He also made some homophobic comments (unfortunately I forgot to screenshot them), in an attempt to conflate how gay people hate themselves just as Black people hate themselves and I ended up having to block him and calling him a c*** on facebook so that that all of our mutual friends could see what he had done to me and who this person really was. I also blocked him on there and via email so that he couldn’t contact me again. Our Black mutual friends actually weren’t surprised to hear what he had done and now that I admit it, neither was I.

The second example was a friend I met on social media. We appeared to get on so well that we actually came close to meeting in real life at one point, however as always life gets in the way. Plus, soon warning alarms signalled when he once asked me if he guest post on my blog, because I had more followers than him. Considering that my blog is unapologetically written from a Black perspective, I found it strange that as a white man he thought that blogging on my platform would be appropriate. It hence became clear to me that he wasn’t paying as much attention to my posts as he had initially claimed. He also commented on one of my youtube videos, with a “not all white people comment” when I was discussing how traumatic it is to be British but feel unwanted in my own country and the country I was born in, and perceived as an immigrant because of the colour of my skin. The video was about how watching the movie Black Panther had only enhanced this feeling of unwant. Again, I found his commentary to be inappropriate, because I clearly wasn’t talking about all white people and the video was about my feelings not his as a white person.

The final straw came when he commented on a tweet I posted of an clip from an LBC radio show, where a racist had called in to say that he wouldn’t be supporting the England football team because there were too many Black players on the team, therefore he was hoping that they would lose because of this. Again, this same guy comments on my tweet, being defensive about this not being all white people and that in his opinion racism was no longer as big an issue as it used to be, because he had never experienced it or seen it in his thirty-odd years. Let me remind you that this guy is white.

Joe1

But they do exist? Actually, more racism happens than white people tend to believe which is why non-white people are consistently gaslighted. To ignore this fact, is problematic.

Joe4

This white guy is telling a Black person who suffers from racism on a daily basis, that the amount of people like this is decreasing, when actually in the age of social media, it isn’t. Furthermore, racism hasn’t always been labelled as wrong because there is a constant conflict between white people and people like me who suffer from racial trauma on what counts as racism. In fact, racism in the UK is extremely insidious, making it just as psychologically traumatic as the explicit racism we see in other Western countries. Therefore, this comment is extremely harmful. 

A friend who is also a Black woman came onboard because she also found his responses to be problematic. In the end, I blocked him. He then sent me an email with the subject line “you’re overreacting” and demanded that I unblock him, while also attempting to assure me that he was not a racist. I never called him a racist, he had just chosen to expose himself as one on multiple occasions.

Now, I have been accused of being rash when it comes to my reactions to situations like this. When people start to act wild around me, I cut them out of my life, which voyeurs then link to the angry, irrational Black woman stereotype. But, firstly I need to put my health first and anybody who claims to be a friend or family member whose negative behaviour is provoking my conditions, needs to be cut out of my life. Secondly, I’ve come to a point in my life where I will no longer put up with shit. Up until my late-twenties, I was letting every tom, dick and harry walk all over me, just so that they could have an easy life, while disregarding my own feelings, which is also why I let my white friends be racist around me and pretend to be in on the joke – I used to be so afraid of calling them out and “causing trouble” that I just let them carry on. But now I know who I am and I have a lot more self-respect for myself.

Also, my actions are not rash. As you can see in the two examples I’ve given, I don’t want to automatically write off all white people as racists – especially when they are in my life. And I gave them plenty of chances to fix up, look sharp. It’s also why I put up with my family’s abuse for so long. But there comes a point where I have to snap, because like an elastic band, if you stretch me enough I’m going to fucking break and catch you in the eye.

XOXO

P.S. If you’re not already following me on social media, why the heck not???

Twitter: Cece_Alexandra

Insta: Cece_Alexandra

YouTube: The Black Wallflower in Wonderland

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

I’m a Pro-Black Rock Chick; Why Is That A Hard Concept to Grasp?

I grew up listening to rock and indie music, not because I grew up in a white centric environment, but because it was the music I grew up with and resonated with my own narrative. My father loved rock music and most of my favourite bands now are many of his own favourite bands. I even have some of his old LPs which I managed to salvage from the collection my mum threw out after he left.

 

When I suffered from bullying because of racism last year, I was extremely conflicted by my music choices. For the first time in my life, I began listening to hip hop music; for the first time in my life, I realised that white men like Thom Yorke and Robert Smith were not the same colour as me and probably didn’t care about me, perhaps didn’t even care about racism and what fans like me were going through as a young Black woman. As you’re reading this, if you’re white you’re probably saying/thinking

 

“what does race have to do with it?”

 

“why does it matter that I am a different colour to these bands? Or from a different culture?”

 

Well it does. Especially when you are constantly being abused for the colour of your skin and told that you don’t belong.

 

I say this time and time again and I will forever say it: Kendrick Lamar literally saved my life last year.

IMG_20180622_163026

One of my tattoos (The Blacker The Berry, by Kendrick Lamar)

 

I had always been a fan, but I had never really sat down and listened to his lyrics, until I went through what I went through last year; he spoke to me in a way a musician had NEVER spoken to me before; he allowed me to be unashamedly angry for the first time in my life. Another rapper I find similar to Kendrick so resonated with is Open Mike Eagle: he also speaks about violence against the black community and how his perceptions of blackness have developed from childhood to adulthood. I love him because he’s a great storyteller as well as visual artist. I never knew that hip hop could do this, probably because I’d never given it the chance; throughout my childhood, my mother had always told me that Tupac was just a thug, until last year I discovered he was a better poet than any of the classics I’d taught as an English teacher.

 

For many months, I stopped listening to rock music, and invested my time into hip hop, because these were people who looked like me and could see where I was coming from.  However, recently I’ve now found a good balance where I can still enjoy my rock and indie music, while also embracing hip hop (old and new), so essentially marrying the new me with the old me, and while my black comrades have finally fully embraced this, because they can still see that I’m a pro-black woman who just fucking loves music from different genres, many white people – including my girlfriend – find it difficult to wrap their heads around this concept. I’ve been accused by white people of giving them a free pass for racism because I listen to “white music”; that I’ve forgiven white people for the racial torture they frequently put me, and my brothers and sisters through, just because I’ve started listening to The Cure again and am currently obsessing over DIIV (both white rock bands). Listening to rock music, also doesn’t mean that I’m going to visit some white artist at the Tate (Jenny Holzer), just because she thinks her anti-patriarchal art is progressive, when she refuses to acknowledge intersectionality in her “progressive” feminist pieces.

 

WTF?

 

Listening to rock music doesn’t make me any less pro-black; it doesn’t change the fact that I think that all white people are born with racial biases and many are unwilling to accept that they are born with privilege. In fact, I find it beautifully ironic that every day as I walk through the streets of North West London, I am being judged for the colour of my skin and sometimes verbally and physically abused, whilst listening to Led Zepplin or Roxy Music on my phone through headphones. Which is why when white people say to me “colour doesn’t matter” well actually it does because white people perceive me as lower and “other” just because of the colour of my skin and furthermore, I AM FUCKING DIFFERENT TO YOU so have some respect for my skin colour and culture by recognising that. However, the irony of othering me while I’m listening to the bands you also may like, is that we still have things in common which most white people refuse to acknowledge.

 

I cannot change who I am, God knows I’ve tried. However, the point I’ve now come to is that I am no longer ashamed of who I am. I’ll always be a rock chick, but I’ll also always be pro-black.

XOXO