Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Racism At Work – Competition with Other People of Colour (The Effects of White Supremacy)

Black women at work

(Image source)

Yesterday I went to my second Racism At Work session. The group is led by a Black Clinical Psychologist who specialises in racial trauma. I signed up because I was still suffering from the effects of the racial trauma I experienced with my previous employer, which had left me bedridden from epileptic seizures and mental health issues triggered by the racism. The effects of the racial trauma also left me with a phobia of going back to work.

Thankfully, I’m back in work part-time now, but it’s with an agency, not only because it allows flexibility whilst I finish my MSc, but also because it allows me the freedom I need as a Black disabled woman. While employed with the agency, I don’t have to be bound to a contract with one employer; If I go to one place and hate it, I can just call the agency to tell them so that they don’t send me back.

The best thing about this support group, is being amongst a group of British BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) people, who have suffered very similar experiences to me in the workplace; who have suffered such racial trauma at work, that they have been left psychologically scarred for life. Like myself. As difficult at the sessions are, I find it incredibly comforting to be in a group of people who are pretty much strangers, yet they get me, and what I’ve been through and what I am still going through.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how I came to be at “Jule’s House of Pain” (my previous employer), posing questions to myself like,

 

why did I think that I could work in an almost all-white staffed school?

 

Other than one Black media teacher and one Black teaching assistant, I was the only employee of colour at this school. I was the only person of colour in the English department. Prior to this, I’d worked in a Secondary school in Hackney for two years, where I was one of many people of colour amongst the staff. My line manager was also a Black British Caribbean woman, who was older than me. At the beginning, our relationship was amazing; She was like a second mother to me, she knew all about the deterioration of my relationship with my own mother and was incredibly supportive. She even let me take on extra responsibilities regardless of my disability and I was the only teaching assistant in the school who was also teaching lessons solo. However, when I decided in the second year of my employment to apply for teacher training in another school, our relationship deteriorated. I’d applied to train in that school the previous year, but my application had been rejected by the mostly white senior leadership team. At first they said that they hadn’t received it (even though I’d had confirmation after submitting the application through UCAS), then after making me wait for so long, they finally rejected my application, claiming that it was because of my lower second-class degree (even though in their application guidelines, they’d said that they would accept and consider applicants with a 2.2). The Head of the English department said that she had fought for me, however the Head Teacher has refused to consider my application. My Line Manager didn’t say anything until the following year when I told her that I was applying again, but to different schools; she told me that I’d been rejected the previous year because of my epilepsy and soon began to divulge apparent murmurings amongst the Senior Leadership Team that I was a burden to the department because of my epilepsy and wasn’t fulfilling my job description… even though I was still working as an Unqualified Teacher at the point, while still only being paid at a Teaching Assistant rate.

The reason why I bring this up, is because in the group yesterday we were discussing toxic relationships at work with other women of colour, who appear to be threatened by the competition they perceive between us as two women of colour and become pawns in the “game” of white supremacy and institutionalised racism, by enacting the behaviour a white oppressor would usually display towards us.

My Line Manager didn’t have to tell me “everything that was apparently being said about me”. She only did it to bring me down, because I had become confident in my role – confident enough to spread my wings to another school even. She was acting like I was gunning for her role, but all I wanted to do was teach! And in a different department! In the grievance, I even put everything that my line manager had told me was being said about me – even by the Head Teacher – and was told that it was all categorically lies. But it’s difficult to know who to believe in a situation like that.

I began to realise that if it wasn’t for this manager, I would never have rushed to “Jule’s House of Pain” to do my teacher training. I was just so desperate to get away from her, that I took the first school that offered me a job. Most of the Senior Leadership Team were leaving during my second year, including the Head Teacher, and the teacher who was taking her place was always supportive of my work. With her and the Head of English looking at my teaching application, I may have had a second-chance. In fact, when I had to ask her to write my Teacher Training reference (she began her role during the last term of my employment), she was disappointed that I wasn’t staying with them to do it at her school. She asked me why I hadn’t applied to train there and by this point, it was almost the end of my employment at the school and I felt like I had nothing to lose by telling the truth, so I did:

 

I was told that my application last year was rejected because of my epilepsy, so I felt like I had no choice but to go to another school.

 

She responded:

 

We would’ve accepted your application now that I’m Head Teacher. We need teachers like you here.

 

By the end of my time at the school, I’d had to file a grievance against my line manager and was moved to the English Department until the end of the school year. But, even being in a different department was difficult because she was still in the school and still talking about me to staff.

 

The irony is that, my Line Manager handed in her resignation after I did. I wouldn’t have had to deal with her anymore. I could’ve stayed in a multi-culturally-staffed school, if it wasn’t for her. When this suddenly dawned on me last night, it broke me, because it brought back all of the trauma I had suffered during my teacher training year. Had it not been for that Line Manager in my previous school, I might have been saved from such trauma. Having to reconcile that although white supremacy played a big part in this game, a Black woman had played a huge part in the demise of my career as well as my mental health, is a difficult pill to swallow. But this is what competition will do, especially when we’re playing the game of the white man. Some of us are so desperate for approval and acceptance from white people, that we will trample over our own people to get it. It’s historical – As slaves, Black people were encouraged to compete for favour from their White slave owners; within families, women in particular fight for the attention and favour of their mothers –  and clearly some of us are unwilling to break the generation pattern. Psychologically, unless we make the decision to break that bondage we could all still fall prey to the orders of the white man. Even if they aren’t explicitly telling us to fight each other, we can still implicitly hear the orders because that’s how institutionalised racism works and the closer you are to your white colleagues or managers, the closer you believe yourself to be to the power that they hold, which of course isn’t true. 

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Poetry

They Were My Babes

 

They were my babes

But you called them retards

Because of your black hearts

They called me fam

Coz God had a plan

They were my babes

But you gave them hell

Coz they were under my spell

You treated them like savages

Like discarded packages

They were my babes

But I was torn away

In that black month of May

Like a mother torn from her babes

They were my babes

They were my babes

I still bear the scars

But no longer are they a mask

To cover the miscarriage

The racial attack and injustice

Of when I lost my babes

Resilence

 

XOXO

Posted in Blog

Winston Churchill – The Murderer

“England celebrates their genocides. The ‘Winston Churchill note’ has entered circulation. Honouring a man who swilled on champagne while 4 million men, women and children in Bengal starved due to his racist colonial policies.”

Thank goodness for contactless payments, because the thought of holding a £5 note now makes me want to vomit. I’ve worshipped a murderer for twenty years; you fuckers taught us in school that he was a hero and when I was a teacher I taught the same. 

You even taught us that he was “one of us“, before my eyes were opened.

Churchill was born on 30 November 1874 in Blenheim Palace. What endeared me to him was his speech impediment, which he overcame. He was also a sickly child. He was a successful journalist and author of bestsellers, and before World War I he had already served as home secretary, president of the board of trade and first lord of the admiralty (head of the navy). During World War I, he was appointed minister of munitions, then secretary of state for war and secretary of state for air. After the war, he became secretary of state for the colonies and, finally, served as chancellor of the Exchequer from 1924 to 1929.

During the build up towards World War II, Churchill was an isolated hero, valiant enough to take on Hitler; in school we were taught that Chamberlain was the cowardly “Appeaser”, frightened of the Third Reich and it was Churchill who saved Europe from complete Nazi control. 
Churchill addressed the people directly only a few times, but when he did, up to two-thirds of Britons sat in front of their radios, hanging on his every word. I still remember the shivers I used to get whenever I used to listen to the “We shall fight on the beaches” speech from 4 June 1940. Churchill’s strongest weapon was the word. The equally eloquent John F. Kennedy, son of the then US ambassador in London and later president of the United States, once said that Churchill had sent the English language to war, and this is how he connected with his people, and what made his MY hero. He gave magnificent speeches, and even the Nazis were impressed by his eloquence. “In his crudeness, he does command a certain amount of respect,” Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945) wrote. Churchill emphasized a total commitment to the war. While the Third Reich exploited forced laborers and ransacked the countries it occupied, the Britons were expected to contribute directly to the war effort by these rhetorical performances. Churchill convinced them that without their efforts at home, the War could not be won on the Front.

He did all of this through his words.

So imagine my dismay when I discovered that not only were Churchill’s speeches plagiarised, (a similar passage to “We Shall Fight” appears in Rudyard Kipling’s collection of stories: “The Jungle Book”); Britain greatest hero is a mass murderer. 

At the Palestine Royal Commission (Peel) of 1937, Churchill stated that he believed in intention of the Balfour Declaration was to make Palestine an “overwhelmingly Jewish state”. He went on to also express to the Peel Commission that he does “not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place”.

Churchill was the archetypical white supremacist, and this is why racism still exists in Britain because we’ve been teaching it in our school for years. Like a fool I’ve been teaching it! Churchill didn’t want to stop Hitler, he was just lusting for non-white blood.

During the Second World War, Churchill decided to torture India; he wanted to start a civil war because he despised them as a people, he despised their religion, and he wanted to make money:

Bengal-Famine

(Image Source)

The British Army took millions of tons of rice from starving people to ship to the Middle East – where it wasn’t even needed. When the starving people of Bengal asked for food, Churchill said the ‘famine’ was their own fault “for breeding like rabbits”. The Viceroy of India said: “Churchill’s attitude towards India and the famine is negligent, hostile and contemptuous”. Even right wing imperialist Leo Amery who was the British Secretary of State in India said he: “didn’t see much difference between his [Churchill] outlook and Hitler’s”.

Neither do I, because his blood-lust didn’t just stop at India either. My Grandfather was Indian. Were his parents back in India during the 1940s? Did they suffer during that famine? Were they victims of Churchill? I have no way of knowing. The thought makes me sick to my stomach. The very thought that I possibly celebrated their torturer tears me apart.

Two weeks ago, my partner and I went to Windsor castle and saw a room of spoils the Empire had “acquired”, including this one:

Indian Crown

I’m sorry, did I say acquired? I meant stolen. Yes this was before Churchill was born, however this photograph – as well as the entire castle really was a reminder of the damage Britain has done to non-White people all over the world.

British Colonialism has played a huge part in shaping today’s society. It has facilitated Britain’s economic expansion by ensuring its control over distant territories and peoples, in a large-scale domination scheme that required and promoted huge disparities in power and the subjugation of innocent populations. The British and Europeans used “tests of intelligence”, falsely proving the people of Africa to be less able intellectually, to control of their resources and justified it as the “natural outcome” – this is also how they justified land seizures and slave-trading for profit. 

Although most colonies gained independence after the Second World War, the contemporary flow of goods, capital, people and culture in many countries still retains the colonial pattern. Colonialism requires strong social and psychological mechanisms of domination and control, which have become more pervasive and subtle over time (Moane, 1999), which we now refer to as racial microaggressions.

Yet for our past – particularly our Caribbean island – we’ve received no apologies and no reparations from Britain, for the racist crimes of theft, rape, torture, and severe damage to our mental health.

I’ll leave you with this as food for thought from your hero, Winston Churchill, who died on 24 January 1965 in Kensington, London:

“Churchill suggested the motto “Keep England White” when debating the adoption of new laws limiting immigration from the Caribbean.”

I’m jubilant to finally know the truth now. I’ve spent many months searching for the truth about Churchill, and I’m finally liberated. I just wish that Britain would be honest with its history, because as a society you are concealing some densely racist skeletons.

 

Written by a Black-Caribbean blogger, born in Britain, with family from St Lucia, Caribbean, India and France.

All quotes from https://crimesofbritain.com/2016/09/13/the-trial-of-winston-churchill/ 

Posted in Blog

When Will It End?

Sometimes, I don’t know who I am anymore.

Some days I wake up, work on MSc, do some blogging, etc etc. Yes, I’ve got it together!

T1bfikb

But then, some nights, my anxiety is through the roof and I cannot shut my brain off, while some days it’s completely silently dead and I cannot move, so I stay in bed all day – on days like today, where I slept my life away.

I’ve gained weight because I’m no longer as active as I used to be, and I’m not vocal about it bothering me, but it does bother me, especially when I used to be bulimic. I fantasise about making myself sick, but I can’t because I have to cling to to those stupid pills that stop the seizures. So I just watch the weight gain every morning in the mirror instead.

I’ve spent an entire week arguing with my employer, trying to arrange an afternoon to collect my belongings from my old desk. I have nothing that belongs to them, because when they escorted me from the premises like a criminal for standing up to racism and disability discrimination, I was instructed not to take anything with me, so they have everything of mine and I have nothing of their’s. With the dire state in which the education system is in, I had to buy my students stationery to use in my lessons, so I spent a fortune on supplies which I had to leave, and which have been sitting at my old desk since May. My employer have spent a week at first trying to convince me that I had already collected the supplies (I haven’t), and then refusing to set a date. This was supposed to be the job of my Union Representative, who was far too lazy to do his job. At four in the morning on Wednesday, I finally emailed him and told him to do his job, and now I’ll be going in on Monday to collect my things.

These people are sick. 

Oh, and my Union Representative also sent me a copy of the Settlement Agreement I was forced to sign, (legally binding me to keep schtum about the name of my employer, as well as stopping me from suing their asses) with a coffee stain on it. When I pointed this out to him, he apologised, claiming that he hadn’t noticed before he posted it to me.

The coffee stain to me, was a visual gesture of what these people think of me, of how poorly they value me as a person.

Which is fine, because I feel exactly the same.

However, I still have to live with the damage. I’ve now moved to an area in London where my two nearest tube stations have no step free access, so if I have to travel during my postictal state (post-seizure), I’m screwed. Last week, I went to The Pink Floyd Exhibition at The V&A Museum, (aaaaamazballs by the way. I cried at it’s celestial-ness!), however I had to change at Green Park station. For anybody who lives in London, and has regularly done the interchange at that station, or even encountered it a few times, you’ll know it’s a lengthy process. Even at my fittest, I’d avoid it just to save time! Last week it killed me. I had to do this journey postictal (the tickets were pre-booked and non-refundable) and I’m currently at my unfittest. It was worth it for the exhibition, however I massively paid for it, both mentally and physically for days afterwards.

I’m trying to get over the mental damage, however knowing that there may have been a different outcome if I had been white, is a bigger pill to swallow than any of my anti-depressants or AEDS.

Self-care is so important. Yesterday, while lying in bed and feeling rubbish about doing so instead of research for my latest assignment, I stumbled upon thread about self-care on Twitter. Such simple steps: 

  • Getting out of bed (always a good start!) 
  • Drinking water – it is so important to keep hydrated, not just when you have epilepsy and you’re on AEDs, but also when your mood is low
  • Doing something other than what you HAVE you do – so we’ve just moved, and I’ve been putting off unpacking for ages, because of my MSc. Yesterday I decided to just put some music on and unpack. A flat full of boxes is so unhealthy for your mental health anyway. It’s like living out of a suitcase but worse! 
  • Take a shower. So after all of that unpacking, I was pretty sweaty anyway. Again, I put some music on really loud, had the bathroom door open as I was home alone and took the longest shower I’d EVER taken. It was glorious! Back in the day, before I was ever in a relationship, I would go days in bed, without showering, never changing my underwear, festering in my darkest thoughts. Not good. If you’re too weak to stand, treat yourself to a bath – you fucking deserve it you beautiful biatch ❤️
  • Read a good book. The best thing about not being an English teacher anymore, is that I get to read whatever I want, because I’m no longer constrained to the curriculum! Glorious! At the moment I’m reading Assata Shakur’s autobiography “Assata: An Autobiography” which I highly recommend. One thing I’m also trying to do, is getting into a routine of reading in bed, in order to calm my brain down. 

Anyway, these are just my suggestions, mixed with some I’ve come across. Life is tough, but we can’t give up right? 

XOXO