discovering ebony


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Islamophobi-what? (“I’m not racist but”)

“I don’t know who she’s fucking talking to, with that tent on her head”

“We’ve accepted blacks into this country, but I just can’t get along with them

“Share if you agree!” *picture comparison of a man in a balaclava and women in a burqa* titled THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE

Those are just a small fraction of comments that I have witnessed/been in direct earshot of. All people I know.

The use of “Islamophobia” has sky rocketed so much so, that Google has now coded in a clean cut definition for the word, whilst other phobias of religion are quoted with third party sources. Oh look, there’s even a graph.

In the UK, Islam has constantly been interlinked with terrorism, oppression and political connotations. There is no getting away from mentioning Islam and a racist slur or right-wing ideology, within the same sentence.

The negative reception towards, and perception of the religion is diabolical. We have the EDL to thank for that. But not before an outlandish judgement of appearance became the norm – skin colour to be specific.

“It’s cheaper in the paki shop” and They fucking stink”, is common language with the young people I know, and is unconsciously and unintentionally racist. With phrases as such rolling off the tongue, am I surrounded by future terroists? No! Because they’re not Muslim! Right?

According to Google, terrorism is:
  1. the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

This statement doesn’t define terrorism by any religion, race or specific culture – so why does Islam have these connotations? Is Islamophobia a code word for racism?

It’s all quite odd. A religion, therefore on par with Christianity, Judaism etc, has nothing more than a core foundation of practising peace and love. However it’s women are prisoners and it’s men are murderers, and it’s children must be saved! Islam is drowning under constant interrogation, generalisation and white supremacy. I emphasise the last as here is just a few examples:

 

“The Israel In Ireland Facebook and Twitter accounts have been blasted for sharing the series of controversial posts”

The depiction created and consumed by far right white extremists is unavoidable, disgusting and is shaping what the next generation thinks – it’s propaganda at it’s best. Instilling fear and destroying a community of innocent of people just trying to live their lives different to the ‘norm’. The images above aren’t labelled terrorism, because it is created by far right white extremists, so that’s makes it okay!

As mentioned, Islam, as with other religions, is one solely based on peace and love, so think again when someone, whether reported about or someone you know, claims to be Muslim, yet is violent and has pro-hate smeared onto their every being, is actually a Muslim, or a follower of any faith.

If you really think, they are a minority of vile human beings that use Islam as a cloak to fuel Islamophobia – and you believe them just because they are not white.

 

Please check out Writer’s Of Colour/Media Diversified who’s content inspired this piece.

 

 

 


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Manic! At the Disc-presson

I’ve always thought I was bipolar. Anti-depressants never seem to be enough. And there would be times where I would be extremely happy – just because. Or suddenly, aggressive, nasty, bitter and well – just a bitch.

The notion has been parred off by numerous GPs:

“People say that because it’s quite popular to say so. People only say that because they want it”.

“No, it’s unlikely that you’ll develop the disorder. I wouldn’t bother looking any more into it.”

But something wasn’t right. My mother had and does have her ’bouts with (un-diagnosed) bipolar. She can be furious at the smallest of things, then belt out a cheery gospel anthem in the same breath. My dad was (diagnosed) depressed and smoked himself to death. Mental illnesses are inheritary so, wasn’t it okay to check for sure?

I’ve had countless people mention that I can be two completely different people, unrecognisable, both on and off medication. One friend even mentioned that anti-depressants can exaggerate the symptoms of depression – which I agreed as whenever I have taken medication, I feel more suicidal.

Being ‘manic’ is as difficult to describe as being depressed. I personally feel as though a hand is clenched firmly, but not too tight, around my heart. My breathing becomes more voluntary and my mind races from what to have for tea, to what I said to someone 5 years ago, to what I was to do about that fine I still hadn’t paid, and back again. ‘Round and ’round and ’round.

It was the same with my emotions. I can be sad, happy and furious all in the same thought process. Everything bouncing around my head into a forever-lasting string ball of mess.

I’d get excited about small projects, start them, them end them tragically. Not before I’d spent all my money on materialistic things I didn’t need.

Then I’d visit on that side Craigslist. Enter that dirty ‘adults-only’ zone where the only thing to come of it were promises of “a wild night” , a free photo shoot or cash for your troubles. Tempted at the opportunity to fuel my new shopping addict, I’d decline. I’d be too tired to move from my bed anyway.

Then I’d be angry, really fucking angry and the world was my enemy. I hated it and everything that fed off it, and would sulk alone in my darkened room just to prove it.

It’s very tiresome, lonely and quite pathetic really.

“Sorry I missed your calls, texts, emails AND door knocks. I was high on my own self-pity”

And the worst thing is, it’s all unintentional. I can’t control, nor comprehend what goes in this rotten mind, and it’s beyond my character, or that of how anyone else knows me.

Obviously it’s no excuse, but this is unavoidable, right? I can be, dare I say it, cured?

But there is nothing much more I can do for now, I think. I have resorted to cheap wine and spewing my woes over my blog to put everything into perspective. And even then, I’m not ever pleased with the end result.

 


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The trouble with working when you’re depressed.

Oh blog, I’m sorry. How I’ve been so neglectful and absent. If only you chimed for attention in the early hours – like my Kim Kardashian game does.

But things have been different since I last visited. I’ve worked. I’ve left work. I’ve been suicidal, and I’ve been very happy.

Things are happening very quickly, and strangely I do no more than occasional sighs, smoke superkings and feel neutral.

It’s been three months since I took up an apprenticeship. It wasn’t my dream job, but it was with a mutual friend, and I was flat out poor and miserably sour after leaving college.

Each morning I had gradually arrived later, and later. My depression would not allow me to face a such mindless tasks that required me to hunch over a tiny desk space, eat my lunch clumsily over my laptop and on rare occasion, smoke indoors when the building landlord wasn’t around.

So I left. Which screwed up my housing situation for a bit. But that’s okay. Employability Support Allowance ‘allows me the privilege’ to claim a beneficiary on the basis of a mental illness – for a short period of time whilst I “get better”.

Again, not my dream lifestyle. Earlier this year I created something brilliant that initially challenge working-class perceptions, but now has developed into getting more young people involved in politics. A social enterprise that would allow me to hire myself and other young people. We would be revolutionists and on par with key decision-makers. Even a Think-Tank came to mind.

But no. Again the depression struck again and most days I have remained in my flat since. Which now has a upstairs so I have more space to sulk and ponder.

Trying hard not too, I do reflect back on my life and think “shit Ebony, how did you end up like this?”.

I was an straight A student leaving high school, which indicted I was academically able to succeed straight through college and into university.

However instead my life just got shittier and shittier. Even before the tragedy, I was miserable. Unfortunately I’m one of many.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of remarkable young people. They have the same determination and drive as a Russel-group potential candidate, however never make it that far. We either wallow in our own self-pity or aren’t to be seen for a while.

I did think “hey, maybe I should just do another apprenticeship”, but it’s either applying for a corporate business and being told “your charity background wouldn’t fit in” – i.e. they want a spineless, gullible young person who they can mould into a Capitalist selling machine; or something in the IT sector – in which I have no expertise, or interest in.

Yes few may be lucky enough to hold down standard work, but that isn’t for everyone. There are young people who want to travel the world, change the world and add to it – but we can’t because we’re too sick, too sad and too suicidal.

We are failures because we can’t even try. The norm of completing qualifications isn’t for us, however with that being the only option for young ‘game-changers’, we are then left with nothing.

I should be grateful though, the short-period of ESA is a helpful reminder that by the beginning of September, I will be better, I will be cured! Because if not, I’ll be absent from my blog again.

 


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Middle Child(ren) Problems

I have never been a fan of classrooms. Whether because my anxiety overruled my ability to concentrate, or just whether the work wasn’t stimulating enough. She had the same problem – you could tell we were sisters.

But rather than sticking it out like me, she never finished year 7.

She refused to go. She refused to leave her bedroom and spent the majority of the day sleeping. She is constantly exhausted despite having no daily agenda. It all sounds too familiar.

Young people are trapped in a system that isn’t suited to them, and then thrown into another system that allows the child to endure interrogation and no successful support structure put into place. The young person is made to feel stupidly unworthy. If you have a elaborate job titles and 5 digit wage, your word is law and final. Accountability and compromise is out of the question.

They will dish out detentions, bad reports and countless fines to confirm their ego and power, with a complete disregard for how miserable pupils actually are. No time is actually spent genuinely invested in this young person to progress to a happier life, only results for meaningless scoreboards and out-of-touch Ofsted – as if these outweigh a suicide risk.

I shouldn’t have to struggle on my own to save her from strangling herself countless times. I don’t want to have to go to hospital with her, not knowing whether she’s going to make it through the night.

She would rather die than attend somewhere she doesn’t feel welcome, and she is not the only one. The fact that so many young people are unheard, unseen and personal issues not catered to is shocking.

This will be the downfall of Institutional Education.


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There is nothing crueller than school children

High school was a misery. Yes the whole structure of it had flaws but, that extended to it’s pupils also.

Dear class of 2007-2011

I didn’t like the way I was peer pressured to have a “boyfriend” by aged 12. This only lasted 2 weeks maximum, and was always at your scrutiny to enjoy, mock and ridicule. Without something on my left arm I would be deemed “frigid”, subject to cat-calling and skirt flinging by male class mates until my relationship status changed to suit you.

I didn’t like the way I was singled out and made fun of when I didn’t have the latest phone or trainers – because my mother couldn’t afford it and for the umpteen time, my dad didn’t live with us.

Do you remember, when we were in year 7, and we had to all bring in an item that described us best and present it to the class. I remember profoundly the pint-size girl, with dirty blond hair, often in a very oversize parka and near-to-the-floor backpack, shuffled to the front and presented a cassette.

“I’m going to play you one of my favourite songs. Mariella by Kate Nash.”

You faced her with bemused and blank expressions, but despite your condescending looks, she went on to play a snippet of the song.

At the time I was a incognito fan of Kate Nash, and a whole range of other indie music. But after the whole “You sound posh for a black person!” and “You shouldn’t listen to/like that! That’s white people music”, I stayed this way for another 3 years. Thanks.

But you didn’t stop there. Those with mental and physical disabilities were at your disposal. The Blind’s guide stick would be kicked from beneath them and shoulder-tapping would commence as you ran away in glee.

A boy was forever shamed and greeted with disgust because of his mental disability. So much so that you pushed it knowing he had an issue with bacteria, that he erupted in rage and fear, bolted out the classroom only to be following by shrieks of laughing kids.

Looking back, I wish I’d hung out with the kids who you told me were  “weird” or “strange” – the oddballs so to speak. Instead I was cocooned in a pretentious and superficial world, spun by you, and with all the mindless drivel of “life updates” I have to sift through now, you most likely have the same mentality to date.

Mirroring that, I speak to a handful of you on rare occasion. Along with Isobel, throughout the years we were victim to patronising remarks on high test scores and interrogation on who we fancied. We didn’t care for all that, but what else is a 14 year old to do? We were outnumbered, so complied right up until college started.

When Isobel passed away, what initially angered me was the the vast majority that took it upon social networking sites to share your grief. And all I could think was “Oh fuck off. Isobel never liked you anyway”.

Which was true. Isobel was extremely intelligent and therefore humble about it. She hated the attention focused on just that, because there was a lot more to her than full marks. She became paranoid of you bitchin’ away about her, even to the extent of not attending an Oxford University school trip – something she was way more entitled to than anyone else.

When Isobel took the week off to revise for her GCSE exams, you made it your business. Do you remember that triple science class? I sat through a whole hour of her name being flung around the classroom – comments on how it wasn’t fair she was granted the privilege, and how she was “mean” and “a selfish bitch” because she never shared her notes or helped anyone else.

It’s a shame Isobel had to be subject to bullying because of her brilliance, and it’s a shame that school children have to be so cruel to lead others into truancy. I understand that high school is there to shape you, weed out the best from the worse, but no child’s experience of it had to end that way.

I really hope high school shaped you for the better. I can’t say I was the perfect kid, because I wasn’t. I fooled you all into believing that sham of a “relationship” I was in when I was severely depressed. But I am a better person after it all now.

We don’t speak much, especially after the tragedy but, there’s probably a reason for that.

All the best.

The girl that dated the Harry Potter wannabe.


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Western Media Priorities

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If I mention to you that between 250-300 Nigerian girls have been victimised and abducted, in defiance to “western ideologies on education”, I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t know what I was on about. Western media has been pretty sparse in reporting on the tragedy. I’ve had many exclaim that “it’s a lot more in comparison to other countries”, but that doesn’t quite answer this question – why was the Manchester vigil to raise awareness and encourage the rescue over 200 young black women, competing with the ‘protest’ of one white man, who didn’t want to be recalled back to prison after breaching his license conditions.

It isn’t the first time this story has had to battle to get any major media coverage/recognition. Within the UK the stories have barely reached front page news and if they haven’t, there are only handful of articles dotted around in major media outlets – such as The Guardian, The BBC and The Times.

Arriving late after a doctor’s appointment and dodging traditional Mancunian rain, I arrived around 6pm. Armed with just a standard DSLR and notepad, I glanced over the site and took a few snaps before being roped into a picture and a unison of voices demanding for the young Nigerian women to be released.

Unfortunately there were no key decision makers/politicians in Piccadilly Gardens today, so I couldn’t really ask why more action wasn’t being organised, let alone taken. Celebrities Misha B and Julie Hesmondhalgh (the late Hayley Cropper from Coronation Street) showed their support, and made sure their followers/fanbase were aware of the cause on respective social media.

But it just wasn’t enough. I estimated around 100 men, woman and children, from a range of backgrounds and ages were present – yet over 1000 bystanders were too fascinated with the idiocy and selfishness of one man to notice how important our cause was.

The crowd had dispersed by half past, agreeing to meet back in the Gardens the upcoming Saturday. I took this opportunity to take some more photographs and testimonies of those present.

“Hi my name is Ebony. I’m 19 and I’m here to obviously show my support, but also I’m writing a blog post in hope this tragedy will get more media coverage – is it OK if I interview you? Why did you want to get involved today?”

“I got involved because it affects me directly. One as a mother, as a Nigerian, and someone that’s experienced something similar as a kid…

I’m looking at the way things are going now in 2014 and I’m surprised the [Nigerian] Government are not pulling their weight. They don’t seem to be bothered about it – and it hurts! Why can’t we get publicity the same way as the coverage to the plane that went missing

A lot of Nigerians aren’t even aware – I was talking to my friend about it, and she was like “Really? When?” And I’m like, where were you? This happened three weeks ago!”

I then went on to reference Madeline McCann, and how there was still heavy headline news articles, 7 years after her abduction, covering the story, and how if this had been 270+ young white women, there would be a similar public uproar.

“Yes definitely, if this was non-African kids, this would be a big thing.

If we Nigerians are laid back, we can’t expect the world to fight for us,  but now that we’re fighting, people will come out and support us”

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“To be honest it’s really heart-breaking, I just try to imagine if that was my daughter, my sister, friend and I just feel…three weeks! Something just has to be done by now.

It’s just horrendous thinking about what could be happening to those girls – are they being fed? Have they been raped? We just don’t know.”

(These two woman who I spoke to were very passionate about the cause and adamant that a positive result came from today. Due to my lack of journalism skills I was unable to get their names and ages, however if you are reading this – thank you tremendously for your input).

My final interview was with 3 younger black women.

“I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, so I try  to imagine myself in that situation, but it’s difficult. I use to live in London since I was 4, so I feel really British, but if at that age, if I was still in Nigeria, if that had happened to me… it’s a crazy thing to even think about.

 It’s more closer to me because I do know people from there. For example, I met a lady at my church on Sunday, who actually has a school in Northern Nigeria, so she herself expressed her own fear that, what if this happens to her school? So it really resonates with me because they’re real people and this could’ve happened to anyone”

- Adenike Adebiyi, 18

“I’m actually from Nigeria, and this is just really depressing because yes, it could happen to anyone. And the fact that there is a lot of chaos happening in Nigeria already, if feels like this is just going to continue happening and there’ll be other side effects a part from people getting killed. This is just the start of something that no-one is looking forward to.

It’s sad that the [Nigerian] Government has really failed us this much. 

“And even the UK Government, in the sense that there hasn’t been a lot of media coverage here?”

“Yes, but even that isn’t going to even stop anything, it raises awareness for that short amount of time but then everyone just forgets about it. There is so much happening and so much tension that’s just building up. People will get frustrated and scared because innocent people will eventually die because of all this. It’s now reaching it’s peak, the boiling point is getting there.

I only came to school here and I do plan on going back home, which I don’t regret, but just to think that my home is in such distress does worry me.

I was planning on getting a French Visa and I was told if you were from a certain country, it will take 2-3 months, and Nigeria was one of them – it’s just gotten to that point where we’re being compared to countries like Iran, Syria and Iraq .

It’s just so unnecessary and uncalled for, and innocent people may not have the privilege to pack their things and leave the country”

“So as young people, in a sense this is all quite strange because you’re all not so much older than the Nigerian girls”

“Definitely, we don’t even know if this number [234] is even correct, there might only be 100 left – some girls could have committed suicide, they may have fallen sick and because they haven’t got access to medicine their [abductors] might have abandoned them.

You just can’t wrap you’re head around it”

- Oluwatosin Adebutu, 18

“We’re hearing that the abductors are selling them for 2,000 Naira, which is like £9. To think they could decide someone is worth so little.

I know the terrorists deceived them, and that’s how they got the girls. Just imagine the amount of trauma these girls are going through, the girls thought the kidnappers were soldiers and never questioned it until it was too late. 

Even walking around perfectly safe Manchester, I’m still scared and so can’t even comprehend what those girls are going through”

- Bukky Olaiewaju, 18

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There is a lot being done, particurlalry social media outlets, that illustrate the dedicated people that demand our justice and government intervention. However one thing that was made clear from today, that in 2014, the importance of an issue and need for urgency, despite how dire, is still determined by race, and therefore a lack of empathy is shown and we’re back to obsessing over the fairer skinned within mindless pop culture.


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KT – Emotionally unstable as I am.

I’m sat in Theodore‘s old flat. Me, him and Elle are in our natural habitat – huddled onto a sofa and puffing away our cigarettes like chimneys.

There was knock at the door and unlike me, being shocked at who could possibly be wanting to visit and replying with “Who is it?”, “Come in!” is bellowed and a hurry of foot steps along stairs follow.

“Theo I can’t fix my eyelashes! Have you got any tweezers?”

“Um yeah, this is Ebony by the way, she just moved in on the first floor”

I awkwardly smiled in her direction in response to my name. A pale and thin girl with long burgundy hair is stood over us. In just a oversized t-shirt and leggings, she was undeniably perfect for Theo’s photo shoot.

Once not minding me and Elle be present, Theo sets up his equipment and begins to work. Like myself, particularly around strangers in such an environment, she was hesitant to pose openly, but her body does otherwise and the pictures come out resembling high professionalism.

The next time we meet we’re both vodka-induced crying and wailing.  KT has just broken up with her boyfriend – who lives on the same floor as me – and naturally needs consoling. I haven’t had the privilege of such since I was 16, however “I just don’t think it’s fair on James considering my depression” struck a bad chord, and I’m next known to be howling on a tear soaked bed about my own health, even though it doesn’t equate.

Looking back I can’t quite remember if he was present, considering it was his bed, but Theo must’ve been sick to the nines of our noise and had gone to sleep downstairs.

KT then threatened to kill herself because as was I, she’d just had enough with life and it’s inconveniences.

I blacked out, because the next thing I know I’m frantically running down stairs, causing a scene 4 doors down and screaming to security to allow me access into KT’s flat. She’d locked the door and after that episode, anyone would be worried.

Her boyfriend James rushed back followed by a policeman. KT had informed him of her plans and he had come back to the Foyer immediately. She was asked some questions and the option of being admitted into hospital for the night was suggested. She declined and stayed with James.

Exhausted and relieved, I went back to Theo’s, and I was greeted by pizza brought by Kyle, and just like how you can shut up a child with candy, I consumed slice after slice ravenously, and ambled back to my flat for the rest of the morning.

I didn’t see nor speak to KT for atleast two weeks afterwards, which gave me enough thinking time into why I had reacted in such a way.

I had only known KT  a month, yet that night I was so determined to not let the thin pale girl become so fragile she’d break. I even gave a monologue on how “things would get better” and dropped in my own personal experiences. Which was scarily hypocritical because I could never convince myself with the same words, nor took similar advice from others.

At the time, I’m not sure why I cared for a near-stranger so much. She wasn’t Isobel, but, that could’ve been Isobel.

 

 

 

 

 

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