Faith

For Global Diversity Week (that I didn’t know existed until about a month ago), my school decided to focus on the religion. So as you do, I volunteered to help out despite my hate of public speaking because my faith’s more important than stage fright!

The topic chosen by Christian Union was ‘Why Christianity?‘, a very valid question. One way you could look at it is why not just be an atheist, forget God. Or you could take the why Christianity and not Judaism or Islam which are very similar. Hell, why not just be a satanist? But whichever angle is taken, I’ve always found it an impossible question to answer that hasn’t prevented it being the most common question I face.

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I was raised a Christian, I know more about it than I do about any other religion. I know the basic ideals of the other main religions, but not enough to ever persuade me to convert. So I’m very biased, and that bias has been ingrained in me literally since birth. Most of my family are Christians so of course that would influence my answer. So in a sense, my family answered the ‘why Christianity?‘ question for me, a very long time ago. But that’s 1 – not a satisfactory answer to non-Christians, and 2 – not the whole story.

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Despite being raised in a Christian family, there was never pressure to be open and outgoing about your faith. So lots of cousins have turned agnostic or atheist, I on the other hand, am a bit of a Jesus freak. In the last four years, thanks to various people and events, I’ve become far more personally involved in my faith. Somewhere along the line, I made the choice that this – believing in Jesus & God and all that entails – was a fundamental part of my character.

But I never really thought about why I made this choice, until this week. Family issues were initially a deciding factor, I went through the whole ‘screw God, he’s never there when I need him and never answers my prayers‘ phase because of said issues. That didn’t work out, it was only a couple months before I reverted back to my old ways. I was then lucky to become friends with two lovely ladies – who know who they are – one of whom forced, begged and bribed me to get me to Christian Union. And I got a sense of fulfilment there, with my friends that I didn’t really get anywhere else. For me, that’s what made the difference. Being there felt right, it felt like home. I didn’t know or appreciate it at the time, but when I moved schools and it was gone I felt significantly different.

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So for me, the answer to ‘why Christianity?‘ is simple. It feels like home, it feels safe and loving. I feel safe enough to make mistakes, it’s a trial and error gig. And the bible proves to me that God accepts people for what’s in their hearts not what’s in their past. It’s the family and home I’ve never had, yet simultaneously always have. There’s a serenity I get from knowing that I always have God behind me, and that he’ll always love me, even when I’ve royally screwed up and even Mother Teresa herself couldn’t forgive me.

Of course, this isn’t enough for a lot of people. Some people need facts, which I think a theologian would be better equipped to answer, others need a sign from God to bring them to him. I honestly can’t help those people, as much as I’d love to, especially with so fickle an answer to why I’m a Christian. But for me it’s one of those, when you know, you’ll know things. Not very helpful, I know!

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I won’t claim that I know it all and am 100% confident that the God I pray to is out there somewhere. I believe he is, 99.8% of the time, but I’ll always wonder if actually Buddhists have the right end of the stick and I’m wasting my time as well as ignoring a lot of Gods who want my attention. Maybe there is no God, maybe it’s all a big con, who knows. I just have a feeling that I can’t describe, that tells me he’s here, with me and that’s all I need.

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Privileged Opinions

I sat in on a conversation the other day about affirmative action.

To add a little context, it was between a white female and a white gay male – both of whom would supposedly benefit from it but both of whom were opposed to it. Their reasons were understandable, the main one being wanting to be hired for the quality of your work rather than your gender/colour/sexuality, which lots of people would agree with.

But I’d like to drop my two cents into the hat too!

For simplicity I’m going to refer to affirmative action throughout the post, in the UK we call it positive discrimination but the former has a nicer ring to it. 

First of all, I hate the implication that affirmative action (aa) or quotas allows substandard individuals to gain access to (often prestigious) institutions. The black students at Oxford University weren’t picked illiterate teenagers off the streets to fill a quota, they’re students who worked their asses off like everyone else to get in. So why couldn’t they just work without the special favours I hear you ask. Because every living human on this earth is biased however pure their intentions are. This bias comes in many different sizes, from the admissions officer barely skimming over your personal statement because your name is Abdullah not James to the secretary thinking you’re a cleaner not a prospective student when you go to her for help. They’ll never confess to it but it still happens.

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People of Colour (POC), LGBTQA+ and women (and good luck if you fall into all three) face this bias, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. Affirmative action is keeping your CV/personal statement/job application out of the bin unless you have a white passing name or can keep your orientation a secret so just say thank you and move on. When you’re not a straight white male, your hard work and genius will only get you so far, it’s the tragic world we live in.

The second thing implied by that phrase is that there will always be a white male who is better qualified for the job who has had their future taken away from them by these minorities and women (we may be treated like a minority but we certainly are not!). This poor men work so hard all their lives only to be cheated out of their rightful positions in society by some immigrant or some woman, how disenfranchising!

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So it’s honestly easier to believe that there’ll always be a white male suited to do any degree level job than it is to believe that the asian woman in a sari sat next to him pre-interview is suited to the job? Really? Because that’s what I’m hearing.

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My last point to everyone who disproves of affirmative action is take five minutes to look at the history of anything you’re passionate about. Personally for me it’s science and a recurring theme seems to be:

(Qualified) Female works very hard, discovers something groundbreaking. Man comes along, sees what she’s discovered, tweaks it slightly then presents the idea as his own genius from start to finish. And what does history do – immortalise the Watsons and Cricks, and the Kekules, whilst simultaneously making the Rosalind Franklins & Kathleen Lonsdales a footnote, three lines in a paragraph near the end.

The same happened (and is still happening today)  to the black community and music, did you know The King of Rock & Roll, Elvis, shot into stardom from covering rock songs written by black artists. Artists like Ike Turner & Crudup who never reached the same heights because of segregation at the time.

Too often credit has not been given where it was due. That’s what affirmative action is trying to fix, it’s not trying to ruin lives or give unfair advantages to a select few. Knock it all you like but until we live in an ideal world with no significant biases, it’s the best we can do to get everyone a seat around the imaginary table.

Used To

I’m used to daddy coming home late from God knows where. I’ve dealt with that since forever.

But I’m not used to him not coming home. Not coming home tonight, tomorrow or forever. Just not coming home.

I’m not used to this not being his home. Despite the fact that I’m used to him not being home. 

I feel like nothing’s changed yet everything has changed. I feel like me yet simultaneously like a stranger. 

It’s like Kudzi died, the girl with dreams and pure joy died. I don’t know when but she left and all that’s left is a shell. A shell that sometimes enjoys past hobbies but most of the time pretends. Pretends in the hope that it’ll resurrect the dead Kudzi. Pretends in the hope that there’s truth in the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’. 

I got used to mamma’s frustrations, her ranting and tiredness. But her sadness is harder to adjust to. Her brokenness. It’s not something I want to adjust to. I want her to be happy but I feel I can’t give it to her. I feel so overrated, so unworthy of all her praise. Like all I’m capable of is disappointment because one day she’ll see me as the flawed person I really am and it’ll break her. 

I’m used to Shona’s tantrums & tears. But I’m not used to her bawling, her sobbing constantly. I’m not used to her raw pain, the pain of someone too young to comprehend. The pain that you can’t just kiss away.

I’m used to Shona’s questions. But I’m used to having answers, I’m not used to not knowing. Not adding to her knowledge bank. Not soothing her. And I’m definitely not used to not being believed. Having to repeat myself all morning because she honestly believes nobody loves her. And knowing that even though she’s stopped crying, a small part of her still doesn’t believe me. Knowing that it’s that part of her that’ll dictate her future actions and self confidence. 

But there’s one thing I’m used to. Being alone. And I know it’s selfish but it’s the only thing that hasn’t changed and with so much change I want one thing to remain the same. It’s not healthy, nor is it realistic. And I know it’s not completely true, I’m never really alone. But it’s all I have. It’s all I can hold on to. So please allow me a week, a month – I don’t know. Just to be alone. Just to keep one thing the same.

New Year

I haven’t blogged in eons, but it’s the new year and I think it’s time. Blogging or rather writing has always been my main coping mechanism, and I have a lot of coping to do in the coming months. So once in a while I’ll drop my thoughts onto my blog. I won’t promise routine, can’t guarantee that, but I promise that I’ll be truthful.

This is for me, 100% for me. Because I have healing to do. And it’s the type of healing I have to do alone and for myself. For once I feel as if a new year will result in a new me, I just need to ensure that it’s a me I’m proud of. One who helps and loves God, herself and others.

Kudzi

Advice

Bonjour,

Alors, so originally I was going to write ‘Advice I’d Give To A Newborn’, but there are several flaws with that. I spend all {98%} my time with babies saying either – ‘you’re so cute!’ or ‘please stop crying’, and newborns wouldn’t even be able to process and understand what I’m saying. So this is dedicated to the Kudzi between Yr6 and Yr8, but still applicable to all ages.

Don’t Grow Up Too Quick. It’s that one piece of advice I always dismissed but it’s so true. Everything happens when it should and pretending (lying) that you’re older isn’t gonna get you very far. Now don’t confuse this with maturity, be mature but don’t try and act like you’re a uni student who’s about to celebrate their 23rd birthday when you’re a 15 year old doing GCSEs, because one day you’ll wish you’d spent more time being young and carefree and less time acting like someone who you have years to grow into.

Change Is Natural. For better and for worse people change – FACT, get used to & get over it, it’ll solve a lot of arguments. People won’t change at the same rate or even in the same direction, I look at girls I used to call m best friends in Year7, we’re all so different now and only two are still best friends. If you feel someone has changed in a way that makes you incompatible – don’t force the friendship, all you do is end it on bad terms. And it’s okay for you to change, grow into a better version of yourself, or maybe you’ll go through a tough patch but hopefully you come out the other end stronger.

Do you boo. People are thinking about you less than you think they are most of the time. How often do you really sit down and think about someone else and their lives – positively or negatively. Most people rarely do it, so stop being scared of doing x because of what ‘they‘ might say. Will they be in your life in a decade? Will you even care about their opinions in a couple weeks? It’s your life, within reason do what makes you happy and the right people will surround you making you forget the wrong ones ever existed. If it matters to you, don’t let it go.

Everyone makes mistakes. Seriously, relax. You failed a test, missed the shot in PE, fell over in the hall, forgot your lines in the play. Life moves on, time waits for nobody, you need to stop waiting for the ground to swallow you because its not happening. Take a deep breath, salvage as much of the situation as possible then move on. Put that error to the back of your mind. Eventually everyone will forget, including you.

Good vs. Bad. Last but not least, its not always going to be easy. You can read every book, blog and watch every vlog but you need to experience things for yourself. Both the good and the bad, learn from but don’t dwell on them for too long. Don’t live your live in a bubble to avoid pain because pain helps you grow, it hurts but it show you how resilient you are. And don’t spend all your time looking back at the good times, try and spend more time making new memories.

Those are the five things I wish I’d read back in the day, most important things I’ve learnt in my 17 years. Oh and ‘Every action (or inaction) has a consequence‘. Maybe they’ll help someone else, or maybe I’ll just come back to read this in a decade and switch things up a little.

Au revoir, my loves xo

An Eye For An Eye

First of all, rest in peace to all the people killed & harmed (physically and mentally) by police brutality worldwide. Its sad when the people paid and trusted to protect us chose not to…

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I specifically wanted to blog about the Baltimore Uprising (or riots) and indirectly the London riots years back – both of which started as peaceful protests against the unlawful killing of young black men before some protesters turned to ‘violence‘. And I find myself back where I was when the riots were happening in London: I know peaceful protests aren’t enough but will the burning buildings solve anything?

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Since the death of Mike Brown last year in August I’ve been keeping track of all the peaceful protests going on in the States and the occasional ones in the UK but the issue is – the people who matter, the people who can actually change things haven’t, they make no comment until the protest is on their front door, until their favourite cafe is burnt down. And it’s not like these protests are a new phenomenon, everytime a unarmed poc (person of colour) is killed by police people get out and protest, its been happening for decades at least.

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It is so easy and simplistic to say rioting doesn’t solve anything and to a point that’s true. Businesses who have no relation to law enforcement and their errors suffer, people lose their source of income and their pride and joy but as a Tumblr helpfully pointed out. Most of these businesses have insurance, someone can come help them patch things up again when this finishes. But those kids who died, and most of them are young and innocent, theres no insurance policy to bring them back. They’re gone for good and no amount of  money will end the pain their families.

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When the Gaza conflict was happening over summer I put a Ghandi quote on my Instagram and it read ‘an eye for an eye only left the world blind‘ but I realise now its far more complex. This isn’t a fair ‘trade’ because police are killing poc – that’s their input – and in exchange the people of colour who live are voicing their dissent sometimes as peaceful protest and other times through burning buildings – thats our input. This isn’t an eye for an eye though, this is my heart for your pinky finger. Sure it’s nice having all five fingers but you can make life work without one, and with all the new tech it’ll be like you never lost a finger, but I can’t function without my heart. Once you take that, you take everything from me.

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And what hurts more is the bias in the way it’s reported by most media outlets. One US news channel had the nerve to call Walter Scott a suspect when a more appropriate term would be victim. Even in death his name is tarnished, his character demonised and if thats not disgusting I don’t know what is.

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Channel 4 did a report recently, about the countless poc who are now being cleared of crimes they never committed 20/30 years ago. After 20 years of their lives are stolen, by a racist system which preferred easy scapegoats to real criminals, they’re released into this world. And I cynically thought to myself as I watched them leave the prison that maybe they were better off in there. Because these days, there is no trial – fair or not. There’s instant execution. There is the ‘he reached for my gun/into his pocket and I felt intimidated‘ excuse which lets murderers walk free.

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And now I’ve mentioned it, have you ever noticed that it’s always the same story? A person of colour is (nearly) always minding their business or committing a minor offence e.g. jaywalking when they’re stopped by police. Then according to the officer there is a struggle and the officer felt his only option was to fire his weapon several times. However eye witness accounts mention no scuffle, it’s often ‘s/he tried to get away/explain when they heard shots fired. Then the bleeding body is handcuffed then left, no medical assistance called.

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What hurts more is the fact that when white people pull stunts like pointing a real, loaded gun at the police; committing armed robbery; assembling and denoting a bomb at a marathon; or crash a car into the white house (x). They’re taken alive into police custody. ALIVE. The only exception on my list being the Boston bombers of which one is dead and the other on trial. For heavens sake Tamir Rice (12) was shot dead for playing with a TOY gun. The police didn’t even try to talk to him, they got out of their cars and seconds later shot dead a baby.

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To white people reading this, realise how privileged you are because your lives are respected, oh how I envy you. But also think back to how you felt on 9/11 or 7/7, during the Charlie Hebo attacks, how you felt when ISIS beheaded Brits and Americans etc. The pain, and disgust you felt. How all your governments were quick to say they’d crush these terrorists, eradicate them from the earth. And do two things.

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When you hear (another) poc was killed by police, think back to that pain then imagine how it must feel to feel that pain weekly. Secondly, don’t preach ‘violence never solved anything‘ when your elected leaders are quick to jump to violence in the form of airstrikes etc. I’m sorry when you look at European and American history it is violent – there hasn’t been a century that has been peaceful to date. Tell me when you learnt violence never solved things, pre or post slavery, the two world wars, the war in Iraq? I’m not saying everywhere else is/was rosy, but those places aren’t preaching non-violence to protestors.

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I don’t know what the Baltimore Uprising will achieve, if anything. But I do know the peaceful stuff wasn’t enough and if this is what it takes for people to listen then so be it. Because if we can sort this out we won’t have to mourn brothers and sisters weekly and cities won’t have to rebuild themselves.

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I’ll leave you with a link (x) to a really good analogy about this whole peaceful vs violent debate and the quote and song that inspired this post. Stay Woke. Stay Alive.

You took my son from me. Do you know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate? You know how many black men graduate? Not many. Because you bring them down to this type of level, where they feel like they don’t got nothing to live for anyway. ‘They’re going to try and take me out anyway’.

Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown

My way of remembering the victims of police brutality is putting some in this post. There are sadly thousands that aren’t in this post, and this isn’t even including the LGBTQA people killed by police brutality. To read their stories (x)

Beautiful Little Fool

Bonjour guys,

I was reading Gatsby the other day in school for like the hundredth time – no I don’t do English Lit, I just like rereading my favourite books especially when I’m avoiding doing something important, like A levels!

Back on topic, so I was reading and I came across this line which made me stop and really think:

‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.’

Daisy 

Now my first instinct – technically second because I was two paragraphs down when I came back to it – was to pause, in a ‘hold up’ type manner because whilst its set in a different era and Daisy in a totally different class to me, all the women I love and admire are beautiful but I’d never describe them as fools.

So I decided to do the sensible thing – Google it. And I must say SparkNotes you’re a gem! Their explanation made the most sense:

Daisy is not a fool herself but is the product of a social environment that, to a great extent, does not value intelligence in women. The older generation values subservience and docility in females, and the younger generation values thoughtless giddiness and pleasure-seeking. (…) and seems to imply that a girl can have more fun if she is beautiful and simplistic.

What I also realised though is whilst our society is more accepting of intelligent women than hers was, women still believe that being beautiful and simplistic is the key to a happy life. I have met too many girls who downplay their intelligence to avoid intimidating men, who play dumb (in a scheming way quite ironically) to get the man. I’ve read countless books and watched even more films where women suspect their sig. other is cheating but overlook it in the hope that it’ll go away and everything will go back to normal. And in the end whats the point?

You either end up with a guy who doesn’t love you for you but loves you for a more ‘simplistic’ facade or no relationship at all.

So where am I going with this… Sexism isn’t dead, it lives in each of us – me included – because we’ve been fed it since birth. (I know I sound like a lunatic but just hold on, it’ll make sense soon) We need to look at the women who inspire us, the traits they have in common and think before we act because I don’t think we notice that we do these things. They’ve become natural and that is more dangerous.

In my opinion, which isn’t the right/most important opinion in the world – Daisy is not a very nice person (really she’s a bit of a bitch), she just fucks things up and then runs away with her idiotic, racist, cheating husband.

But sadly we all have a little Daisy inside us, who wants to take the easy route in life. Downplay x, y, z so that Tom, Dick and Harry come to play. And I also think that there really isn’t much difference between the generations Daisy is stuck between and the ones we are. Women still have a list of a million things they should be, half of which many of us don’t want to be.

I don’t know maybe I’m a lunatic feminist who’s looking for any opportunity to spread the craziness. Maybe I’m onto something. What I do know however is i need to go to bed because its 01:45 right now and I don’t want to fall asleep in my frees tomorrow!

bisous,

kudzi xo