Posted in Blog, Mental Health

The Problem With Colourism (and Light-Skinned Women)

Once again Black women have been thrown under the bus, by lighter-skinned women as well as men.

DJ Maya Jama is mixed-race and at the age of 18, posted a tweet where she had repeated an offensive joke by comedian Kevin Hart. Why light-skinned women feel it is necessary to berate their darker peers is beyond me and reasons are constantly up for debate: they’re jealous of us and suffer from insecurity issues; they want to put us in our place which is at the bottom rung of society.

I don’t really care. I just want it stopped.

On my timeline, Stefflon Don was the first to open her mouth against dark skinned women:

“All you dark-skinned hating on light skin bitches like if God gave you a choice you wouldn’t change your colour lool…” 

This was said in a tweet. At first she denied even saying it, instead of having the balls to own up. She then deleted the tweet. Instead of admitting that (a) what she’d said was wrong and (b) that although it may have been something she thought before, as a Black woman now she definitely no longer thinks that way, she just tried to pretend that it didn’t happen. I remember Stefflon Don being on my list of gigs to go to on the “Song Kick” app, however after that comment and behaviour, she’s been cancelled for life.

So back to Maya Jama:

Screenshot_20180421-124746

The joke was originally told by Kevin Hart (who’s a dickhead anyway), however Maya thought it was so funny – especially being light-skinned herself – that she had to share it on Twitter. Her apology once the tweet was exposed was also a joke, in mine as well as many others’ opinion, because instead of apologising specifically to the women she had offended – dark-skinned women – she apologised for offending ALL women, because in her subconscious she wasn’t sorry at all. In fact, she still stands by the view that as a light-skinned woman, she is superior to her peers of a darker tone.

She later rewrote an apology:

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 17.21.04

 

This is clearly directed at the appropriate audience and appeared to demonstrate an understanding of not just the consequences of repeating such views, but also a hint of an understanding of the historical context (particularly colonialism). But by then, she had enraged so many of us, that the apology was too little too late.

What fucked me off the most, was the behaviour of Black men on social media, who attacked Black women for having an opinion, for being offended and for standing up for ourselves. I, myself was targeted by incredibly ignorant Black men, who clearly did not understand colourism. Black women of a darker complexion are perceived as the uglier, aggressive, non-feminine species of the community, while lighter-skinned women who can pass for white and therefore carry a privilege over their darker-skinned peers are perceived as more attractive and therefore, more feminine. This is a negative ideology which began in slavery and continued in colonialism. For years, darker-skinned women have been subjected to violence and cruelty, not only from outside of our community from white people, but also from Black men. This has had detrimental effects upon the mental health of Black women too, which for years has also gone unregarded.

And now we’re owning our dark skin, and embracing our beauty, Black men in particularly do NOT like it.

For years, as Black women, we have also been instructed to police our pain and emotions. When derogative comments like these are made and we come out fighting, (defending ourselves and showing valid emotions to racial provocation), we are accused of being trolls (again, not a pretty association!) Colourism is a sub-category of racism, and it is damaging and oppressive. Yet it continues because light-skinned women continue to repeat the negative narrative.

The lie that dark-skinned women are jealous of our lighter-skinned peers also needs to end. WE ARE NOT. You may have made us feel inferior when we were younger – so much so, that we did want to be like you so that boys would find us more attractive, so that we could gain the privileges you all got as children (and still do), you even made some of us want to kill ourselves, because you made us feel so ugly. However, the narrative has changed. We are who are and we fucking love it. So fuck off and leave us alone.

My final point on Maya Jama, is that although the original tweet was written when she was eighteen years old, she apparently has said things on Twitter where she has compared dark-skinned women to shadows, and although I haven’t seen these tweets, I believe they exist and I not going to go stalking through her timeline to find them. As I previously mentioned, the lack of remorse in her original apology, proved what was going on in her subconscious. How we truly feel and want to act resides within the unconscious, which then influences our behaviour; the thoughts that reside within the unconscious are inappropriate and illogical, and demand instant satisfaction and as we become age, we are supposed to learn to control these impulses. Acting out and then apologising afterwards isn’t good enough.

I didn’t really rate Jama before – all I knew previous to this, was that she was a DJ and dating Stormzy (who has remained uncharacteristically silent during all of this! Very disappointing). I didn’t rate her because to me she was a nobody who did nothing for the community, and so I have no issues with cancelling her.

XOXO

Posted in Poetry

Kiri

I smash my head against the table because there ain’t no pain worse than a white man taking my daughter away from me.

 

But still, you question my pain. When you wrongfully charge me with my daughter’s murder you spit judgement at me for showing nothing to you. I don’t care if you look like me. You’re still one of them – or so you think. This is how structural racism works in Britain.

Her neck, her neck, he put his hands around her beautiful long neck, because where he saw a black drug baby I saw a beautiful little Black princess.

 

My princess. So he took her from me.

 

Which is why I smash my head against the table because there ain’t no pain worse than a white man taking my daughter away from me.

 

White words can destroy a life just as much hands. She claimed she saw my car outside her house, so you charged me on her word. Now two lives are lost, and I’m forced to live out my days in incarceration endlessly grieving for my Black princess.

 

So I smash my head against the table because there ain’t no pain worse than a white man taking my daughter away from me.

 

Now there are riots outside of the police station, crying #nojusticenopeace

But the media has portrayed me as a thug with no fixed abode, so there will be no justice for me because there never is for faces like mine.

 

And who gets peace? Surely the hands that wrung my princess’s neck will forever tremble, not from guilt but insanity. Because whiteness knows no guilt when Black blood is shed.

And he will be scared of his own shadow because there’s more to fear in your own mind than justice catching up with you when you kill a black body.

 

Which is why I smash my head against the table because there ain’t no pain worse than a white man taking my daughter away from me.

 

 

 

 

Image taken from BT TV.

This piece was inspired by the events seen in the TV Drama show Kiri.

©The Wallflower Speaks Loudly, 2018
Posted in Poetry

Doctor Whiteface

You’ve diagnosed me as pain less

But I’ve told you that it hurts when you remove my heart.

I can feel the scorn in your hands of oppression around my neck.

When you pierce my eye with your surgeon’s scalpel,

so that I can’t see you remove my brother’s life from my side.

It hurts.

 

You say we can’t feel pain

But it hurts when you stare

And when you pretend we don’t exist.

When you call us stupid degenerates regardless of having more years of education than you all.

We can recite the law you constantly break upon our backs.

And it hurts too

And when you force us out of our jobs because of our melanin skin.

 

And yet you all continue to stare like spectators at a match.

It’s the FA cup final and you’re chomping at the bit

For some black blood.

 

But this is Britain, so your excitement is reserved.

And you expect us to keep a stiff upper lip, while denying us our British heritage to our faces.

All bets for black blood are “under the table”.

 

Like a mental institution Doctor Whiteface,

Your island really is full of crackers.

 

 

©The Wallflower Speaks Loudly, 2018

 

 

Posted in Poetry

Disappointment

Disappointment

A tasteless frozen pizza from a wood oven restaurant.

 

The only Black face in a sea of staring hostile pale faces who simultaneously ignore your presence.

Disappointment.

 

A ringtone on loud in the middle of your meditation.

A refund with no apology because white privilege makes mistakes and we all have to bear the cross.

 

Disappointment

Those two ticks to show you’ve been acknowledged but dismissed.

Message received loud and clear but in through one and out the other.

 

Disappointment

Waiting on you as you ride up that hill an hour late;

Watching as you finish that pointless youtube video instead of helping with the housework

I’ve become a Victorian housewife as I holler about the fucking cobwebs and dishes

 

Maybe my ailments will put me out of my misery like a Victorian orphan.

 

This is adulthood.

 

Constant fucking disappointment.

 

©The Wallflower Speaks Loudly, 2018
Posted in Blog, Mental Health

David Lammy’s Article, Gangs, & A Scathing Review of My Childhood…

Reading David Lammy’s article in the Guardian today really hit home, not only drawing attention to how politically and culturally isolated Black youths are today because of our Government’s continued cognitive dissonance, but it also reminded me that this has been going on for years and years and years and no Government has every improved the situation for young people.

This excerpt especially resonated with me:

The first thing Lammy wants us to understand is the blameless ease with which a child who goes home to an empty council estate flat because his mum can’t afford childcare while she’s at work, can become a gang member. All it takes is a gift of new trainers, he says, for which in return the child is soon asked to carry a little package round the corner, and before long, the 12-year-old is earning more in one week than his parents make in a year.

I didn’t grow up on a council estate, however I did grow up in a single parent family and was responsible for looking after my sister while my mum had to work in full-time employment. Luckily for my mum I was a geek, but unfortunately my sister got mixed up with some bad people and did some bad things and I had to save her. We used to call them “pikeys” in my days. When she told me that she had a boyfriend, my antenna went up, but when her friends told me that he was in a gang of white pikeys, I went round to his house and told him to stay the fuck away from my sister. For some reason he listened. People just did in those days. I don’t think my sister has every appreciated the fact that she could’ve been dead if it wasn’t for me. And she soon admitted to me that he didn’t treat her well either. My mum still knows nothing of this… until now.

Parentification is an unfortunate generation cycle in Black culture, and I’ve spoken about this before on my blog which you can read here. Children are forced into adult roles within their families, mostly because one parent has walked out, forcing the older child to take on that parental role. This has a detrimental effect upon mental health, during adolescence and especially in adulthood. The worse thing is, as Black people we are never offered therapy (I will provide you with examples below). Usually the child is at shown some gratitude in older years from their parent or siblings, however I’ve never been shown any. I didn’t rebel until I was 17 – I snuck out a couple of times with some friends while my mum worked the night shift – my sister would have friends round so she wasn’t home alone, but other than that, I made sure I looked after my sister. I did most of the chores at home, because my mum made me, which I had to balance with homework, unlike my sister who wasn’t doing any chores or any homework because she wasn’t interested in pursuing further education like me and therefore didn’t see the point in home studying. I also had to balance this with Church, which we went to at least three times a week. All while hiding my father’s abuse. As a teenager, I had a lot on my plate.

Everybody on the outside of our family saw us as this tight, united trio of a mother and two daughters, but we were far from it. I had nobody to talk to and felt extremely isolated. It only got worse when I went to University.

At 24 when I went travelling and came to the Australia part of my trip, I suffered from aggressive, verbal racism from the locals. They would say stuff to my face and then laugh, as if I was supposed to be in on the joke. The next leg of my trip I planned to be New Zealand, but I just couldn’t face it, but I couldn’t afford to come home early. My only option was to call home and ask my mum for a loan to change my ticket so that I could come home early. I cried down the phone, begging for the loan, but I didn’t tell her about the racism, because I couldn’t. When I got home, she would retell the story about the phone call and laugh about how I cried, which I found an incredibly insensitive thing to do.

I sunk into a deep depression, fell in love with a drummer who used me for sex, became further depressed and so went to see the GP, who instead of referring me for counselling “told me to get over it” and then prescribed me anti-depressants. By now, I was drinking heavily so I just carried on to the point to excess, which the GP knew.

I got a job at a GP surgery, where at the Christmas party, the Practice Manager tried to sexually assault me, because I was off my face on drugs and alcohol and could take advantage and I had to call my sister and her boyfriend to come and pick me up. I think this is finally when the GP referred me for counselling. However, my sister was angry at me. She knew that I had been battling with the GP to receive proper help about my mental health, but not once had she offered to come and visit the GP with me, she just blamed me instead.

And the lack of care from the GP, this is because I’m Black. If I’d been a white girl with Blonde hair, screaming in agony, you bet your arse I would’ve been referred to see a Therapist at my very first GP appointment.

This happens to thousands of young Black girls and women today.

In my late twenties, I was finally diagnosed with Unstable Emotional Personality Disorder (formerly known as Borderline Personality Disorder) and the psychologist explained that all of the impulsive behaviour I had displayed in early twenties – the high and the low moods, the excessive drinking, the impulsive spending, the impulsive sex – was all because of this disorder. And now that I’m studying an MSc in Mental Health and Psychology, I’m finally able to research more about this condition because even though I’ve been diagnosed, I’m still not being treated. The NHS are still failing me as a Black woman today; I was recently rejected from the Personality Assessment Services for being too high-functioning, even though I struggle every day and I’m having to medicate myself.

And as for my family: after I was diagnosed with Epilepsy in 2014, my sister rejected me for being too much of a burden and still refuses to speak to me now. My cousin Dee recently said to me that she wishes that she’d had me as an older sister growing up and those words meant the world to me, and I do see her as a younger sister, even though we’ve only recently gotten back in touch. No request is too much.

My mother, who I recently got back in touch with, I’m not quite sure knows how to be a mother. She’s shown me no gratitude for the years of love I’ve shown. On Mother’s Day this year, she was supposed to call me and didn’t and offered no explanation for this. Her excuses for her constant failings are that nobody showed her how to be a mother, yet you’re doing a great job to your other daughter, just consistently failing me, so there must be a reason why?

She still hasn’t called and it’s because she expects me to be the parent, when I’m the child. And this is why I’m so thankful for the other adults in my life at the moment who allow me to be the child I finally deserve to be, because my childhood was stolen from me. My family are the dark clouds over my sunshine, they don’t build build me up like others around me do, they knock me down and it took me years of searching to realise that.

Furthermore, nobody showed me how to be a daughter, yet I’m doing it. My door is always open for my mum, when she decides that she wants to be one.

XOXO

Posted in Blog

Racial Segregation @Gigs

Tonight I went to see Sunflower Bean with my girlfriend at KOKO at Camden. I was apprehensive about it however, it turned out to be a pretty good gig!

Why the apprehension you ask? Because I’m a Black woman in a room full of white people, unprotected. The last gig I went to was to see Feeder at the O2 Brixton Academy, where I was attacked in the crowd and I definitely feel like it was racially provoked: I was in the mosh pit, the white people didn’t like seeing me there and attacked me. I’ve been in mosh pits before, most recently at a Wolf Alice gig at Alexandra Palace and I was fine. In fact, I had the time of my life. It always depends on the vibe of the crowd and this Feeder crowd was definitely aggressive. I ended up leaving the gig early, because I was too upset to stay and I was so anxious about being around white crowds I missed the next gig I was supposed to go to the following week.

Sometimes I wonder if there is an unwritten rule that as a Black woman, I’m supposed to be at the back at gigs, and then I’m safe. At Wolf Alice I was in the middle, so perhaps I was pushing my luck, but tonight I was at the back so everybody left me alone. In fact this was my view at one point:

Is that fair, just because of the colour of my skin? Even though I’ve paid the same amount as everybody else? And I noticed that the other Black people in the crowd were in the same position as me.

Is there an unwritten segregation law for gigs? I’m trying to think back to the gigs I went to when I was younger with my Indian friend and come to think of it, even then we were hassled quite aggressively because we were always at the front – at the time, we just joked that it was the white girls getting their knickers in a twist, because they wanted to be closer to the lead singer and we were in their path to daydreams of losing their virginities… but now I wonder if it was all racially motivated?

Sometimes I go to gigs and the only people of colour are the staff in the cloakroom, on security and on the bar, but just me in the crowd. Would you believe me if I said that it never even occurred to me until I became aware of my own Blackness?

But even as my culture changes and henceforth my taste in music, old influences still hold ties upon my heartstrings, even if they don’t give a shit about racism and Black lives.

Furthermore, racial microaggressions as well as racist aggressive culture itself, has only become more open and explicit in Britain over the years. Brexit was like a red flag for these racists; public spaces are no longer safe and a simple “please leave me alone” will now no longer suffice. The Feeder gig was proof of that.

I tagged Feeder in some tweets on a very active Twitter account, about what happened to me at their gig and they didn’t even respond. Rest assured, that relationship is over. And as much as I love live music, I’m starting to become weary about where I’m spending my Black pounds.


Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Introduction to Personality Theory (Being Black is AWESOME)

personalities

(Image source)

Since starting my MSc, I’ve been thinking A LOT about labels and diagnoses, particularly when you’re Black.

When I was 28 I was diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (formally known as Borderline Personality Disorder). However, this diagnosis was based upon my past behaviour where I had no sense of self; I was unstable, impulsive, my moods would go from high to low and I could be extremely unsociable one day to belle of the ball to the next.  However, as a young, Black woman growing up in the UK amongst mostly white girls of course I was confused about my identity and therefore, had no sense of self. But now that I’m “woke” and I’ve finally found a sense of “Blackness”, does that mean that I no longer have mental health issues? Of course it doesn’t. But because I finally do have a sense of self, I was rejected from the NHS Mental Health services assessment team for being too “high functioning” and even though I’ve complained, it’s made no difference. I may get a meeting with a psychologist regarding a further explanation on my diagnosis as per my request, but that’s it, so I’ll have to continue to pay for private therapy. To be fair, my Therapist is awesome, she’s a beautiful Black woman, so woke, and she’s highly intelligent.

My current module is on Individual Differences, Personality and Intelligence. I’m only a week in and so far, it’s proving incredibly insightful: psychologists like to throw around the words “normal” and “abnormal” quite a lot, which doesn’t surprise me, therefore when they’re creating a hypothesis for behaviour, you can imagine why they look at a Black person and find our behaviour “abnormal” when their theories are based upon “normal [white] populations”. It also makes sense as to why they’re so frequently diagnosing Black women with Personality disorders and Black men with Schizophrenia. Go figure.

A term I’ve discovered is: Unconditional positive regard, which is where an individual becomes less reliant upon the opinions of others and becomes more confident in their own opinion of themselves, therefore having a more positive opinion of oneself. This is a construct which I feel that my generation of Black people are lovingly embracing and something older generations were never taught – in fact, they were taught to hate themselves. Black people were never taught about the concept of self, not in this way, in fact I know in Caribbean culture it was very selfish to be introspective. However, what the older generation didn’t realise was that not allowing themselves to be free of white opinions was a mental shackle.

My final thought is something I read which proves something I’ve thought for awhile: some people create a self-construct (image) as a crutch, which is not actually a true representation of themselves or the way they can behave all the time, so when a distortion takes place, they become aggressive because they’re suddenly unsure of how to behave. I’ve found this in situations when [white] people are pretending that they are intelligent in conversations, but I show them up (not on purpose), so they become aggressive towards me. When these situations initially used to happen, I would become upset because in my mind I’m thinking all we’re doing is having a conversation, and now you’re shouting at me and calling me stupid wtf! when actually I’m saying something intelligent and you’re the stupid one, however now I’m confident enough to know that they are the insecure one and they are the one who is lashing out because of their insecurities. Their behaviour is a reflection of their own insecurities and a denial of any incongruence between their self-image and own behaviour.

XOXO