Europeans, Let’s Talk…

europe, global, racism, society, thinkpiece July 1, 2020

Lockdown has pushed me into developing several new interests, some of them, very delicious, and others, seemingly pointless–or, so I thought, initially. Long story short, the Instagram accounts of the least interesting characters of Love Island have helped me to confirm my long-running theory:

White Europeans are blind to Europe’s massive racism problem.

OK? Now, let’s break down how we got here (prepare to pray for me in 3, 2, 1). Sans my Love Island fix, I’m following more former Islanders on Instagram; and because of that, my discover page shows posts from the ones who fell through the cracks. Does that mean something? It didn’t until I started noticing a peculiar pattern. Being? An absence of black squares. Meaning? Absolutely nothing to the untrained eye, and the untrained eye only–but, EYE, am a professional, luv.

After I identified my (aforementioned) hypothesis, I quickly differentiated between my control group, the Islanders who posted nothing, and, my experimental group, the Islanders who posted black squares. And while testing my hypothesis, like the damn good scientist et investigateur that I am, I observed something that unearthed it all: within several captions, the words, I stand with America, or some variation of the sort. WTF does that really tell us though? British people, like so many other Europeans, are failing to call out the racism that exists in their very backyard.

Years of visiting, vacationing, or working in cities like Milan, Paris, London, Amsterdam, all the way down to the island of Ibiza, have revealed to me Europeans’ genuine belief that racism isn’t nearly as bad in Europe as it is in the United States. Some Europeans have fallen so deep into the Kool Aid, that they even believe that racism is nearly non-existent in Europe. If you’re one of them, I need you to understand this;

When Black people hear you say, “Europe doesn’t really have the same race issues that exist in America,” we say the name Phillip Mbuji Johansen,

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a Black, Danish man named in a piece published in the New York Times yesterday titled, “A Black Man Was Tortured and Killed in Denmark. The Police Insist It Wasn’t About Race.”

We say the name Shukri Abdi,

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 a 12 year-old Somalian girl who was murdered in Manchester, UK in 2017. Shukri was bullied by her classmates who were at the scene where she was found drowned. The police failed to investigate, and declared her death a “tragic accident.”

We say the name Adama Traoré,

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a Black, French man murdered by Paris Metropolitan Police on his 24th birthday in 2016. It was reported that “Traoré was detained and pinned down by three police offers, reportedly telling them before he died that he couldn’t breathe.”

We think of the African immigrants shot by a Fascist in Macerata, Italy. We think of Black, European footballers like Italian-Ghanian pro, Mario Balotelli, saying things like, “the ‘really extreme’ racism I’ve witnessed in Italian football is worse than any I’ve seen in England or France.”

We think of the racist actions of the UK government that lead to The Grenfell Tower Fire. We think of reports that a dozen cops in Rouen, France, exchanging a series of white supremacist messages in a WhatsApp group in late 2019; and of the StreetPress’ exposé, “uncovering a private Facebook group of eight thousand, French, law enforcement members from across the country, in which police regularly exchanged racist commentary.”

We say the names Alberto Adriano, Sean RiggKingsley Burrell, Stephen Lawrence, Zyed Benna, Bouna Traoré, and so many other Black and Brown Europeans who had their lives stolen from them. And before you call their deaths mere “exceptions to the rule,”

you should know that the history of racism across Europe is well-documented, although, significant erasure has taken place.

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Anti-Black, German propaganda

Most Europeans are unaware of the human zoos, or “ethnological exhibitions,” that displayed Black people in cities like Hamberg, Berlin, Paris, Riga, Bern, Bucharest, Warsaw, Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Milan, and more well into the 1960s.

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"The World’s Fair, in 1889 was visited by 28 million people, who 
lined up to see 400 indigenous people as the major attraction. 
The 1900 World’s Fair followed suit, as did the Colonial Exhibitions
in Marseilles (1906 and 1922) and in Paris (1907 and 1931) which 
displayed naked or semi-naked humans in cages. Paris saw 34 million 
people attend their exhibition in six months alone."

Most Europeans don’t know the name of Ota Benga who was put on display at The Bronx Zoo in 1904.

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According to reports, “the card outside the exhibit read: Age, 23 years. Height, 4 feet 11 inches. Weight 103 pound. Brought from the Kasai River, Congo Free State, South Central Africa, By D. Samuel P Verner. Exhibited each afternoon during September.” 

It isn’t well-known that Hitler sterilized as many African-German mixed race children without anesthetics. And:

"Black soldiers of the American, French, and British Armies were 
worked to death on construction projects or died as a result of 
mistreatment in concentration or prisoner-of-war camps. Others were 
never even incarcerated, but were instead immediately killed by the 
SS or Gestapo. Black prisoners received harsher treatment and less 
food than white POWs, and whilst most white POWs were imprisoned, 
many of the black soldiers either worked until they died or were 
executed."

Sweeping these atrocities ‘under the rug’ doesn’t make them any less real, heartbreaking, violent, and racist. So, white Europeans, I beg:

stop allowing the horrors, and the Americanness of police brutality to distract you from dismantling the racism that is killing and oppressing the Black people who call Europe home.

We. Are. Tired.

america, politics, society, thinkpiece June 22, 2020

I couldn’t get these words out last Wednesday, on my usual ‘new post’ day. I was too tired. I couldn’t do it last Thursday either, because I was too busy being tired carrying the weight of other things. And I figured talking about this on Juneteenth might come with bad juju, so today’s the day that I’ll say this:

I’m tired.

I was hoping I’d have more energy to talk about how urgently we must practice and protect our freedoms, how we undermine the size of our spheres of influence,

 

the history of governments wanting us to shut the fuck up, as shown through America’s Sedition laws, and The Earn It Act; I wanted to share notes from the talk I gave to a class at California State University last fall, in which I highlighted Michael Kent Curtis’s sentiments in his Free Speech, The People’s Darling Privilege, revealing, “the Supreme Court came to its current protective view of free speech only very gradually and only in the twentieth century…[due to struggles] between the Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans over the 1798 Sedition Act, the fight over slavery, attempts to suppress antislavery speech, as well as anti war speech during the Civil War,” but I’m tired. 

I wanted to talk about how The Earn It Act threatens our cybersecurity and free speech, under the guise of spending $5 billion towards “uncovering more child sex abuse material by investing in more FBI agents and online investigators,” but I’m tired.

I wanted to use this space–the one I pay to occupy–to inform, drop sources, and stir conversation, but, I’m tired, just like SO many Black women.

We show up, we take up space, we do the work, just like OLUWATOYIN SAULUonly to be subjected to humiliation or death by male assailants. We’re pushed in dumpsters for timelines. And when we’re not being called out for merely being, we’re gaslighted for merely feeling. Even after we start book clubs, and show that we truly just want the best for the people who look like us and still don’t see our humanity, just as much as we do the people who don’t look us and never saw us, we’re the least prioritized.

And when Black women are silent, because we’re busy healing from the traumas we carry; because we’re tired of screaming at the top of our lungs in memoriam; because we’re tired of our hearts breaking over the people who call us QUEEN with the same venom they’ll use to call us cockroaches, we’re selfish.

Why can’t we fucking rest instead?

"We mostly praise Black women for how much they can endure, strength, how much emotional labor they can provide for us. 
That alone is dehumanizing. Think about what you're contributing to. And please listen to Black women on this. You are causing harm. 
Protect Black women."

Pas Si Chic

fashion, lifestyle, survival guide June 10, 2020

I’m writing this as an escape.

There’s so much performative shenanigans littering the world that I have to do something that makes me feel sane.

Side note: I never imagined that at the ripe age of 24 writing into an algorithmic abyss would be the thing keeping me sane but, here we are. I mean, have you ever voluntarily taken up a hobby that requires you to eat your ego before throwing it up everywhere? Or, are you normal?

Like I said, I need an escape; if you know where we can find some frivolity for this pandemic please let me know. The speed at which white silence did a 180°, then evolved into the optical cacophony that was several white Senators kneeling in Kente cloth, is truly neck-breaking. And, during a pandemic.

We are still. living through. our first global pandemic. 

Does anyone else’s brain zone out and totally forget about that, only to come to in a wave of anxiety? I have to laugh …or bake…every weekend, to get through this. Mind you, before my instant active dry yeast arrived almost three weeks ago, I had already analyzed all hundred of the existential crises I had had; if anything, now I’m just getting more creative with my coping mechanisms. I’m quite literally doing what floats my boat. I mean, yeast goes to your ass…right?

 And every good bake or dinner requires a worthy dinner outfit. Yeah, I said it: dressing up to eat my dinner, or the things I bake myself, all alone, is the only thing keeping me sane right now. This girl loves her downtime, but I never intended to swap out glitzy dinner outfits for pseudo-groutfits (though, we never go full on grout over here) for this long. So, as a pick-me-up to the realization that I’ve been coordinating pseudo-groutfits with non-medical face masks for the past 4 months, I’ve been dressing up in for dinner.

Scoff if you’re boring, I’m gonna find a way to have fun.

Cue the Lookbook:

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And, these are  some looks I don’t (yet) own that send me into daydreams (my credit card’s nightmare):

IMG_4069Jolié Maxi Dress, Hanifa

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Heron Preston x Sami Miro Vintage SS2020

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Silk Sundown Wrap Dress, Fe Noel 

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White Lace Mini Dress, TLZ L’FEMME

…When I’m not daydreaming about the revolution, that is.

White Silence Is Violence

identity, know, lifestyle, society June 1, 2020

To any White friend I have, or have had:

In this deeply racist society, it’s simply not enough for you to “not be racist;”

It’s not enough for you to treat me with the respect I deserve;

It’s not enough for you to open your home to me, and your other Black friends;

It’s not enough for you to know what’s happening;

It’s not enough for you to be and to be ‘outraged;’

It’s not enough for you to know the history of racism in this country, or even, of every other country on the face of this Earth;

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It’s not enough for you to read Angela Davis;

It’s not enough for you to know Malcolm X;

It’s not enough for you to walk in Black Live Matter protests;

It’s not enough for you to recognize your White Privilege;

It’s not enough for you to know how capitalism is inherently racist;

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It’s not enough for you to repent for the sins of Whiteness: multiplying the number of Nat Turner’s, Emmett Till’s, and Henrietta Lack’s;

It’s not enough for you to be actively antiracist;

It’s not enough for you to hold your White counterparts accountable;

It’s not enough for you to unlearn your racism;

None of it is enough when you remain silent about it.

White supremacy doesn’t end by you doing your antiracist work in the shadows. White supremacy doesn’t end by you not making it inherently clear that you are antiracist. Again, and again, and again. Until you’re blue in the face. Anything less than making your antiracist action known to your white friends and white family is violence. Anything less than you normalizing talking about race with your white friends and white family is violence. Anything less than you continuously shouting from the rooftops how white people can unlearn their racism, and how white people can contribute to dismantling white supremacy is violence.

And your violence is no longer acceptable to me.

I’ve endured years of your silence. I’ve seen you consume every inch of Black culture except for the death that comes with it. Through the years, I’ve heard chorus upon chorus of your thoughts on the latest Black dance, win by your favorite majority-Black sports team, Twitter beef between your favorite Black celebrities, or clothing drop from your favorite streetwear brand that routinely coopts trends started by Black people. And throughout the years, I’ve heard your deafening silence when police killed Trayvon Martin, Clifford Glover, Claude Reese, Randy Evans, Yvonne Smallwood, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Sean Bell, Jordan Davis, Jonathan Ferrell, Ezell Ford, Darius Pinex, Ramarley Graham, Yvette Smith, Darrien Hunt, Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams, Kendrick McDade, Akai Gurley, Rumain Brisbon, Aiyana Jones, John Crawford, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Stephon Watts, Rekia Boyd, Trisha Miller, Dakota Bright, Corey Harris, Larry Jackson Jr., Tarika Wilson, John Crawford, Gary Hatcher, Manuel Loggins Jr., Nicholas Hayward, Kathryn Johnston, Samuel Dubose, Freddie Gray, The Charleston 9, Sandra Bland, Corey Jones, Alton Sterling, Roshad McIntosh, Ronald Madison, Joel Acevedo, Philando Castile, Patrick Dorismond, Jordan Baker, Timothy Stanbury, Terrence Crutcher, Keith Scott, Jordan Edwards, Stephon Clark, Bothem Sean, Atatiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor,  Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd.

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I’ve endured your silence all 60+ chances you’ve had to speak out. I’ve endured watching you take zero of those chances, and still resolving to calling yourself my ‘friend.’ “Maybe they’re waiting for the next one?” I used to wonder. But, now I know that your silence means that you don’t see the perpetual violence against Blackness as your problem.

And it’s laughable.

Have you not lived this life in community with so many people? The next time your friend’s family member is sick, will you not console them? Will you not congratulate the next family member of yours who gives birth? Will you not check in on your friend who attended a funeral? Or, console the next one who has their heart broken? …Oh, I’m mistaken? You’ll be there for them? Even though none of those things directly have anything to do with you?

So, then, why the fuck are you not avidly fighting to make Black Lives Matter?

It’s because you don’t believe that they do.

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Bliss-less Ambivalence

know, lifestyle, podcast May 28, 2020

am·biv·a·lence (n) /amˈbivələnt/

the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.
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Before all of this, ambivalent wouldn’t have been the first word I’d use to describe my worldview; it suggests far more moodiness and indecisiveness than I’d willingly associate myself with. But, one season of podcasting and pandemic-ing later, and I’ve realized that I feel nothing but ambivalence towards our human experience. My wide scope of conversations clarified for me that life, in all its dynamism, is fully incapable of being wholly one thing, or wholly another. It is forever shifting. The difference is, now, my ambivalence has lost its bliss–and, in my mind, it’s no coincidence that it has gone right at the close of season 1.

Over 16 weeks, I’ve had the privilege to learn and share insights from visionaries, educators, creators, and entrepreneurs who have sparked in me a gutsiness that I’m just beginning to get comfortable with. They knowingly joined me in conversations they imagined would ruffle feathers, induce introspection, and hopefully, inspire fervent criticism of American society. 

In me doing more of that, my ambivalence might find its bliss again…but if it never does, the least I can do is thank you for listening, even when you hated what you heard.

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