Playing the race card

education, livingroom

In a recent interview the “Head of Britain’s ‘strictest school” claimed that black children were using the ‘race card’ when in trouble.

The rhetoric is that of an aging, white, conservative male trying to dismiss the divisive legacy of the British empire but the words belong to a youngish “women of colour” (pictured above).

I wonder how she can feel so comfortable with her blackness being used to validate the notion that racism does not exist in the education system.

I wonder how her family feels when her words are used as ammunition to shoot down the varied and valid experiences of BAME people. How confortable they feel that knowing she has told parents to ignore reports of racism from their children. 

With her claim that troublesome black children play “the race card’, I wonder if the irony that her race is the only reason she’s being given air time is lost on her?  Does she realise that she’s the black ace being played by racists?

Racists who use her words as soundbites to prevent education reform.

And as school “Punishments”  which disproportionately affect BAME students, align more and more with prison systems (solitary/isolation booths, saturday detentions, detentions for low level behaviours etc) our schools need reforming.

Our National Curriculum, underpinned by Britain’s perspective of history as a PR exercise – needs reforming.

Testing methods which rely on teacher assessment, easily suspectable to teacher bias – needs resisting.

Catchment areas of *good schools*drawn around property prices – needs revising.

The reduced government funding – needs reversing.

Obviously, this not a post discussing whether teachers are or are not racist. I am referring to the structural racism in our education system (see below for further reading) harming our children.  The children that head teachers should be trying to protect, not further alienate.

TBH xx

Recommended Reads x

Tell It Like It Is-How Our Schools Fail Black children

Natives by Akala

 “How the West Indian Child is Made Educationally Subnormal in the British School System”

 

Don’t lose your vote

Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink, livingroom

Last Sunday I was prevented from voting during a local Parliamentary Candidate vote. After queuing for almost an hour with my son, I was informed I would not be able to leave the hall until the vote had concluded four hours later. 4 hours with a 5 year old and no childcare facilities or activities.

I had to leave.

I lost my vote. 

I wasn’t alone.

Many other parents and carers had to leave because they couldn’t commit to staying the full four hours with dependants to care for.

IMG_20191106_082231.jpg

But rather than just complain, we took action so that parents would not be excluded at the following vote. At the following canidate elections we (parents unable to vote previously) organised a drop in creche so that parents could stay and vote this time around.

IMG_20191102_171837_612

We must make getting involved in politics more family friendly. Our vote is too important to lose.

The outcome of this general election puts the NHS, education and fire services.. ALL public services at risk.

It is estimated that there have been 130,000 “preventable” deaths as a direct result of austerity cuts.  We can not survive another Conservative (or Liberal Democrat coalition) Government.

Screenshot_20191106_220551Our planet cannot survive another Government that only serves corporations profits and personal interests.

im-jacob-rees-mogg-conservative-mp-for-north-east-somerset-the-821939644.png

Don’t just suffer or complain about how awful this Government is.  Register to vote. Support friends, family and vulnerable people in your community with voting-make sure your voices are heard.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-5015581

This is the time to come together and bring change for the many not the few.

TBH xx

Retrograde State of Mind

blogging, Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink

Mercury Retrogrades have had a bit of a bad rap since their recent reincarnation into modern pop culture.

when-you-wake-up-and-realize-its-mercury-retrograde-moongazingangel-35396563

By memes and astrology pages alone, Mercury in Retrograde would be up there with four horseman and the front page of The Daily Mail as something bound to ruin your day.

But perhaps our Sun’s closest neighbour is just a misunderstood planet whizzing around a massive orb of fire on a slightly wonky orbit.

Mercury-Retrograde-meme-by-_inked.mystic

To be clear, I’m not trying to test fate when I talk down the tumultuous energy which MiR is notorious for. But the fact that Mercury isn’t travelling backwards during its “retrograde”, (it just appears that way from our perspective on Earth) and that it is the fastest (orbit speed) planet in our solar system makes  me wonder whether it’s we humans who have our wires crossed. 

Screenshot_20191029_215319

In fact, Mercury’s orbit actually pushed ancient scientists to finally let go of their beloved notion that the Earth was the centre of the universe. As dented as those eggheaded egos were, their acceptance of an unwelcome truth literally expanded their universe infinitely.

So maybe Mercury in Retrograde is just simply a good time to reflect and accept unwelcome truths in order to expand and evolve?

Screenshot_20191030_200725And as the last retrograde of 2019 approaches, I am going to welcome it as an opportunity to take time to digest and reflect.

Naturally, I mean this literally as well as figuratively as the women’s network that I Co founded, Sisterhood Supper Club, will be hosting it’s first open invite dinner. (12 courses, no less)

Digestion AND trying something new, truly a retrograde State of mind…

During this retrograde, see if you can raise a toast every time you..

Screenshot_20191029_214232

Ideas by @foreverconcious

Cheers to that! Happy retrograde and Halloween everyone!

TBH xx

 

 

 

#itsOkNotToBeOk

livingroom

It’s hard to find a single person who hasn’t been touched by mental health. Whether a family member, partner or personally, the pressures of modern society are taking a toll on our collective mental health.

As part of World Mental Health Awareness day, people have been encouraged to share their experiences of mental health and combat the stigma attached. I hope all the shared experiences reach the people who need it.

Here’s mine.. XxX

In twelve months my whole life changed and crumbled – health, wealth, job, home, relationship – collapsed.

The little that remained of my confidence and identity (after being in a particularly pychologically abusive relationship) finally retreated.

The relentless onslaught of failures, health issues, work issues, battles and abuse kept my body permanently in fight or flight mode. I was overwhelmed and perpetually exhausted.

At times I asked my friends to assess my sanity. After years of abuse and gaslighting, I couldn’t be sure if my perception of reality was working properly.

The thought of depression often conjures pictures of unhappiness or numbness but for me I just felt exhausted. Birds singing made me smile and music could move me, but after so many knock downs the fear of the unknown future fuckery lurking around the next corner kept me living in the future and in a constant state of high anxiety.

To escape my thoughts often turned to suicide, not because I was unhappy, I just wanted to rest. I was too tired and didn’t want to keep battling, being “strong” or “dusting myself off”.

I remember one day feeling particularly trapped and full of self pity. I stared longingly out of a ninth floor hotel window wanting to jump. My responsibilities and beliefs meant that I could never commit suicide and tears streamed down my face at that reality. I saw death as a beautiful peace that I wasn’t allowed to have alive.

But it was also during that dark time that I realised that my friends unconditionally accepted me. Even in such a broken and needy state. They were there for me and I realised that I was worthy enough to receive their love.

Screenshot_20191013_232028.jpg

It was a couple of years before I could start to process and heal from all the trauma but I still feel blessed today knowing that each step of the way my friends were there.

Years later those times seem like another life, but I will never forget the kindness of my friends and the liberating lesson that we all are worthy of such kindness and love.

To all my friends and family that were there for me thank you xxxx

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/

Surrender To The Madness. Joker review

livingroom, review, reviews

The Joker is a master piece needed for this moment in time.

A time when unelected leaders shut down open debates by elected representatives in the name of democracy.

A time when protestors fighting to save our planet are imprisoned or attacked whilst the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity are rewarded by profits and protected by a bias media.

Where a person kills an innocent man in his own home and is given more sympathy than the victim because the killer was a white women and the victim was a black man- but we are told daily that modern society is colour blind.

We live in the age of cognitive dissonance and the mental illness it causes.

Screenshot_20191006_193506

Joker gets this. It is not an comic book action movie. It captures ground zero tipping point of extreme measure. The realisation that whilst living in crazy times carrying on as if everything is normal is the true sign of madness.

Cue manic laugh at the irony…

But in that manic cackle (that Phoenix pulls off so well) is the ghost of everytime you have ever laughed in disbelief or shrugged “Fuck This Shit” at the news or ridiculously shitty, unjust or unfair life moment.

That medicinal laughter that feels so good. Numbs your pain and mollifies your hope. Comic relief from the harsh realities of a fucked up world.

This is perhaps why the Joker is an uncomfortable watch for many. No we are not going to turn into an angry mob of murdering, looting psychopaths or think that Joker is the messiah returned. But Gotham reminds us too much of where we are right now.

But Batman isnt coming and our world is being led by a pack of Jokers.

Joker receives 🏅🏅🏅🏅🏅

But should come with a trigger warning regarding child/domestic abuse and mental health.

Should I stay or Should I go..

livingroom, london

Every time I’m by the sea, I feel at peace and never want to leave. But something always pulls me back to the big smoke…

I love the diversity, activity and randomness of London. I love my friends and family..

I love the ridiculous selection of weaves, wigs and shea butter at my local hair shop, the plethora of black owned vegan joints popping up everywhere and my beloved Suya stall.

I love attending pop up art exhibitions, crayfish parties, or a shoobs at the back of Jamaican take away all on the same day.

I love walking down the street and seeing people I know, children I’ve taught and my daily commuter friends who I’ll never know their names or where they’re going.

But the sea is still calling me.

Awfully Unlawfully

livingroom, politics

Last week I was back at Parliament for a class trip to teach the children about democracy..however it was a tad difficult to explain how we
live in a democratic society when we couldn’t watch any elected MPs debate as Parliament had been 🎉UNLAWFULLY🎉 prorogued by an unelected Prime Minister, selected by 92,153 people ( 0.002 %of voting population) the majority of which were old, rich white men. #justiceserved #fckboris

However in response to Labour’s plans to scrape private schools… I think it would be more productive to address the issues as to why people choose them for their children. I don’t necessarily believe that private schools automatically means a better academic education (more rounded generally–yes) but they definitely have more money and the opportunity to make connections/establish social status. Private schools are a reflection of the plutocracy in which we live, where how much you have, where you went to school, who you know and not what you know are the keys to success. This mindset has led to our country being governed by a handful of unqualified private school boys. But abolishing private schools won’t change that mentality or break the old boys network which has corrupted our society. Stopping the million pound tax rebates for private schools and reinvesting back into underfunded state schools is a good start though.. #etonmess #brexit #borisjohnson
#criminal #labour #schools #fuckboris #jc4pm

Poets Vs Gender Equality 

livingroom

  

  

To celebrate my birthday this year I decided to face my fear of public speaking and share a couple of my poems in public.  Quite a bold and surprising move considering that behind the carnival feathers and political rants, I am a very shy and private person. (No really, I am.)

Spurred on by the fantastic cause, my incredible friends and my desire to reclaim my voice and start my next orbit of the Sun as I mean it to continue, I danced onto the stage and tried to deliver my poem with all the gravitas the matter of gender equality deserved…. but settled for managing to get all the words out clearly and ending with a smile.  Although not a perfect performance-it was definitely fun and a learning experience and an absolute honour to take part in such an inspiring and important event.  Thank you @poetversus and UN Women, I am now officially a published poet! 
  
xx TBH xx

 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4QCXr79Rkcw

The paper cut that would cost thousands..

garden, Gardening, politics

So last week I was reframing some artwork when I cut my thumb. The cut wasn’t that much bigger than a paper cut so besides washing away the blood, I basically ignored it, didn’t put a plaster on then started on the gardening…

By Saturday morning it had started to swell and become painful so I went to the local pharmacy for advice and was told to use Savlon and a plaster… So I continued about my business getting ready for a family trip to the coast on the Monday..

By Monday though, my thumb had swelled in size and throbing with pain so I decided to pop into the train station pharmacy before we jumped on our train to the seaside.

The pharmacist took one look and said I needed medical attention immediately.  Still not thinking it was that serious, I went to the local A&E only to be referred immediately to the plastics team hand specialists at St Thomas’ Hospital Line I  who admitted me straight way and booked surgery for the next morning.  The cut (No bigger than a paper cut!) had become infected and the infection had visible tracked along my vein up my arm and my tendons were at risk… The surgery went fine and I was discharged a couple of days later.

All the doctors and nurses kept saying I had just been unlucky for the cut to get infected… but actually I feel incredibly  lucky that this happened whilst we still have the NHS in the UK.  During my three day stay in hospital I probably racked up a bill of thousands… such a teeny tiny scratch resulted in xrays, A&E, anesthetists, surgeons, nurses, plaster, medication and hospital stay etc… It all mounts up and who could afford to pay that bill?  Maybe Boris Johnson and his millionaire cronies- but not me xx So once again I just want to say thank you to the NHS (and the caring dedicated staff) and I hope that we protect it as much as it serves and protects us! #protecttheNHS

Again thanks for the love and support from my fam and my special visitor 😊and yes I will always put a plaster on no matter how small the cut from now on  😂

TBH xx

Poetry and Vulnerability 

livingroom, Poetry, Wednesday writing prompt

I’ve been writing poetry more frequently for about seven years but only recently  taking it more seriously with a couple of poems in publications out later this year.  I found for me, generally poetry isn’t difficult to write, it’s can just sometimes be difficult to share.

Generally poetry is personal. Poems can be so personal that it’s difficult to get objective perspective on them.  Is the last line cheesy and predictable or poignant? Are the verses so swamped in figurative language that the message is lost to sea, unreachable to anyone? Or so literal that it becomes a shopping list that bores people away?  Is it a “good” poem….

A few years ago I shared a version of the poem below with a couple of friends to try and get some objective opinions.   The feedback was positive (my friends are lovely) but came with the advice that I should only share it when I was “Ready to have people all up in your business…” This was a fair point with everything that was going on at the time. Even though all poems are written with poetic licence, judgements and assumptions of the author are always made and I had no desire to invite people in to spectate and speculate.  I had become so concerned about who might read my poems that I had misunderstood poetry and why people share poems.

But times change.  Since then I’ve shared my poems with friends, family, publishers, editors and on social media.  I’ve realised that with vulnerability comes with freedom.  A freedom of expression and creativity that surpasses any fear or concern of judgement. A freedom and joy that cannot be taken by negative comments or even no comments or likes at all 😉 A freedom that is fulled by self love and absolute comfort in my own skin, choices, experience and expression. My poetry is my voice, my poetry is for me.

Thank you to all of my friends who have supported and encouraged me to write Xx

TBH

After the Ashes

The Phoenix gazed at her reflection

the warmth of the blaze felt like an old friend

a familiar embrace.

 

She had known it was time but

She had been afraid to ignite the flame

She knew she had needed to

But she was afraid that she would scorch in the heat

She had forgotten her nature.

 

Time passes

sparks dance in the air

the Phoenix finds her perfect Match

Who poked and kindled her insecurities and fears

With deceit and hope

to the point of combustion

Insatiable, they consumed her

abusive fires rage

Toxic smoke

clouds her brain

strangles her throat

and blinds her eyes

Isolated

The Phoenix cannot see her own reflection

Or light her transformation.

 

The wind changes

Sparks dance in the air

ember wings glimmer

heat fires her heart and clears her head

The Phoenix fights for survival.

She tastes the pain.

Drinks the humiliation,

and feeds from the silent whispers that had combined into chains to shakle her to the ground.

She releases her feathers of fire

The warmth from the blaze feels like an old flame

a familiar embrace

She is now strong enough to die

be reborn

She is now ready to live

Ready to fly

The Phoenix gazed lovingly at her glow and thanked the Match.

It’s not the deal she seeks, it’s just to REMAIN in power.

livingroom, politics

As awesome as the Reprise of Gollum is #andyserkislegend

…it’s not a second referendum that the UK needs, but a General Election.

Just like the rumours in the Evening Standard yesterday, I also believe May orchestrated the leadership challenge. A defeated challenge now holds off any further challenges for a year and apparently “strengthens” her stance on Brexit. (debatable)

But most importantly (to May) it prevents any further leadership challenges for a further twelve months.  And let’s face it, that’s what this whole Brexit mess is all about- power not whether we leave or stay in the EU.

May is portrayed above as a die hard Brexiter, when really her focus is to get the best deal for the UK out of the unexpected carnage that was left to her by the right honorable David Cameron. Which was created by the unrepentant scapegoating and xenophobia promoted by the right honorable Borris Johnson and chums.

May is all Gollomesque over her precious deal because as a successful Brexit is the onlt hope she had to cling on to Power.  She’s not giving up her shot at the big chair easily, just look at how she magically produced billions to secure DUPs allegiance.  (Whilst schools, NHS, housing etc remain critically underfunded.)

May is so focused on staying in Power, that she is willingly taking on the Brexit shambles. Fighting to keep it hers infact. She is so blinded by her need to stay in Power, that she is oblivious and how it leaves her wide open to attack.

The PMs job is the job that everybody  (well Boris et al) want but just “not right now”.  Apart from May, no one wants to be responsible for negotiating a Brexit deal- the biggest no win situation of the century.

Even Big Mouth Boris, one of the most fervid backseat drivers, desperately trying to derail the deal process to push his own agenda for Power, was uncharacteristically quiet during the leadership vote.  I imagine him lurking the back streets of Westminster with a placard reading “Don’t vote for me- YET” and now shaking his fist dramatically at the sky knowing that another leadership challenge can’t be made until after Brexit.

Which is why we don’t need another referendum, we need another election.  It’s time to get rid of this backstabbing  Tory Government comprised of individuals driven by personal wealth and Power rather than leading Britain into a brighter, fairer and more secure future governing whether that be in or out of the EU.

General Election

Not another referendum

For the many, not the few

TBH xx

 

Was The Hate U Give, given enough love?

demonstrations, livingroom, politics, protests, review, society

****SPOILER ALERT*****.

This post is really for anyone who has seen the film, read the book or is not planning to do either.

The Hate U Give is a powerful film but has the book’s original message been scarificed for commercial backing. For me, it was the incredible performances,  rather than the writing and direction of the adaptation that stole the show.

I left the cinema teary eyed but with a distinct Pepsi Max after taste and a thirst to read the book.

APR05_LEE_POST02

After a couple of chapters, it was clear that the plot had been dramatically simplified and the core theme of racial injustice played down making gang influence the predominate malfactor to the storyline.

Poverty, race, family and love are not simply black or white, good vs bad affairs.   Even with a teen audience in mind, the simplistic retelling is a missed opportunity to explore the issues that are killing our society.  Considering the choice of screen writer,  best known for writing George of the Jungle, production and distribution companies- I question how deliberate that choice was.

There are always ommissions and changes in film adaptations, but changes should be made for artistic not political reasons.

In the book for example, Uncle Carlos (A black police detective) concludes that HE WOULDN’T have shot the victim, but in the film, he said he WOULD.

I can’t see how this change, which undermines the #blacklivesmatters cause, could ever be justified. Especially thinking about Thomas’s motivation behind writing the book.

In the story, the officer murdered a 17 year old boy based on his perceived fear of a young black man.  These fears have been deliberately cultivated by society to criminalise black identity and are maintained and reinforced by systematic racism. 

By editing out the uglier side of our boys in blue, it’s not just an injustice to the fictional characters of Garden Heights, but the lives of the thousands of innocent people who have had their life stolen by an officer’s foot, fist or barrel.

Many people do hate the police.  But the hate that killed the victim was the hatred and misrepresentation of black people in our society.  A point that I think the film underplayed, particulary with a speech given by the main character.

“…It’s us, we are the ones full of hate!..”

And that’s where the story ends.  The community comes together, “snitching” on the gang leader to see him incarcerated.

Apparently, not wanting to “snitch” is the reason for gangs in communities –  not the lack of employment opportunities, education, access to healthcare or substandard social housing.

The end has no mention of the continued police brutality either.  Another deviation from the book.

This film is being lauded as a bold, policital statement about the Black Lives Matter movement- but that better describes the book than the film.

Screenshot_20181029-202351_Samsung Internet.jpg

Joyfully, the film is a beautiful depiction of a black family and at the very least,  a great starting place for discussion about the more complex issues.

BH xx

 

If you would like to challenge police brutality in the UK, the United Friends and Family Campaign work to challenge, hold to account and end deaths in custody.

http://uffcampaign.org/

 

 

 

THUG LIFE X