I started this blog back in 2012 at the start of a deeply personal life-altering journey. My initial focus was beauty, as I transitioned from a corporate life into makeup artistry- a world that for me was not only unfamiliar but unknown. As the years have passed and the journey of knowing myself has continued, this sporadic blog evolved to include fashion and eventually lifestyle. So let me say this loud for those in the back;
Being Black is far from a lifestyle… IT IS MY LIFE!
The last few weeks have seen me retreat into myself as I try to navigate and analyse my feelings around the incessant police brutality and blatant racism that Black people in America are dealing with on the daily. My last post honouring Breonna Taylor’s life on what would have been her 27th birthday was specifically intended to be my first post discussing institutionalised racism here on my blog. Why? For the very statement above, being Black is my life.
Like many of you reading this, George Floyd’s death hit differently. As did Ahmaud Arbery’s, Breonna’s and the countless other Black lives taken too soon. Their murders at the hands of merciless cowards with badges and without have made me physically and emotionally sick. You see, as a mother of a Black son who also has severe special needs, my heart can’t process that for some, the colour of his skin alone can translate into a threat and a target on his head. The same fear extends to how I feel when I think of my Black family and friends.
Black men and women continue to be demonised and criminalised in the United Kingdom. So please also say and remember their names and the many, many others we know and do not know
Stephen Lawrence. Mark Duggan. David Oluwake. Sarah Reed. Sheku Bayoh. Leon Briggs. Kevin Clarke. Rashan Charles. Shukri Abdi. Trevor Smith. Jimmy Mubenga. Edson Da Costa.
As we protest for justice and change against racism the world over, we have been reminded (although we have NEVER forgotten) that systemic racism remains rife in this country. Every structural institution in this country has been complicit for too long in more ways than one, from the police to churches, from the schools to the media and more. The persistent microagressions, implicit bias, omissions of our Blackness, disregard of our pain and suffering, and the obvious and covert racism has overdue cases to be answered. AND SILENCE IS NOT THE ANSWER!
Let me tell you a little story. Today, June 10th 2020, we #ShutDownAcademia, #ShutDownSTEM and #StrikeForBlackLives. I champion any discussions with these hashtags as this is close to my heart. I returned to university in 2016 and studied Education. I was immediately disappointed and disillusioned at the underrepresentation of Black academic staff in higher education and the system on a whole. This was the same in my place of employment, a school. When I asked my headteacher why we didn’t have any Black teachers or senior leaders, she replied ‘we can’t employ them’. You see the problem now. I vowed that I was going to fight for change.
The lack of Black professors, lecturers and senior leaders in schools and especially universities has been a subject I am extremely passionate about. It was the topic of my first class undergraduate dissertation and will also be deeply explored in my postgraduate final project on the experiences of Black postgraduate students.
Yes, I was that student in every lecture that raised questions about race issues in education. I was that student representative that had discussions with the leadership team about the white curriculum and lack of Black lecturers and guest speakers on the course. I was that student that challenged lecturers about the omission of resources (articles, books, journals etc.) from Black and minority academics or specialists. I was that student who would write about race-related issues in education for every assignment possible even though I was scared at times that the message would be lost or my grades would suffer. I was that student who wrote a series of poems about race in education for a published book. I was that student who was told that I should be careful when writing about race as I come across as too passionate. My postgraduate journey has been much the same but worse in many ways as I study Psychology. I could go on and on and still have so more to share.
The recent discussion on #BlackinTheIvory has been a powerful discourse about Black academics and students in academia. This is such an important and powerful movement, as I am now that student who wants to pursue a PhD in Education. However, I was recently turned down for a scholarship (specifically calling for Black and minority ethnic students) because the institution was not able to source a suitable supervisor for my area of interest.
Can you guess what that is?
The underrepresentation of Black and minority ethnic in academia.
The marathon indeed continues as does the story. Don’t give up!
For more on the Black lives movement including programmes, donations and resources please click here.
For other ways you can educate yourself and others and help such as signing petitions, other donations etc click here.
Please continue to look after your mental health during this time. I have created social media boundaries to ensure I am looking after my wellbeing the best I can during this time. Please find the best way for you, which may include:
- Free or low-cost therapy (I am no therapist but am here if you need me)
- Writing, meditation and prayer
- Connecting with Black creatives and inspirational groups/ individuals
Look after you… You are loved!