Race & Identity

Why I’m No Longer Remaining Silent About Racial Injustice

George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Rekia Boyd. Aiyana Jones. Trayvon Martin. Ezell Ford. Eric Garner. Walter Scott. Jamar Clark.

Say their names.

In the weeks since the murder of George Floyd, people are waking up and the facade of a progressive society is finally crumbling. We are joining the Black Lives Matter movement in solidarity to say enough is enough.

I initially avoided watching the video of George Floyd’s murder as I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. However, it was after talking with a close friend who made me realise that watching the video is not just about being a part of the conversation, but it is to remind us all that we have a duty to call out these atrocious acts of brutality.

It was harrowing. It took 8 minutes and 46 seconds for those officers to mercilessly take away the life of George Floyd. Hearing the last cries of Mr Floyd is a clear reminder of what Black people face on a daily basis. It’s validating generations of protests and cries from the Black community that something has to be done to finally put an end to this ongoing cycle of racial injustice.

I felt anger and confusion that Black people are still being murdered like this. Most of all, I felt absolutely helpless. I kept wondering how I can show my support besides just sharing a post on my Instagram story. I learned that I had to do more than just be anti-racist.

George Floyd’s murder ignited something across the world. The power of social media is that conversation, knowledge, and resources are literally at our fingertips. I began to read information on how to help the BLM movement in the US from the UK. I was amassed with links to petitions, donation pages, protest pages, information with lists of resources to read, watch and listen. In the midst of pain and sadness, people were sharing love and support.

It’s easy to criticise the US for its problems with racism, but as I began to read up more about the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole, I came to understand that the UK is far from innocent.

I have just finished reading the incredibly powerful Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Her thought-provoking account on race in Britain is as honest and real as it gets. In her book, she breaks down how racism in the UK exists within every single part of our society from education, history, gender, politics and class. The socioeconomic impact of the British Empire on colonised countries has been drastically played down throughout history, and more so on how it still very much impacts our society today. In a short film with the BBC called ‘Britain is in denial about race’, Eddo-Lodge says that “White people need to speak about institutional racism – not deny its existence” – which is the wake-up call we all need to start seeing things for how they really are.

The murders of innocent and unarmed Black citizens are not coincidences. We can no longer turn a blind eye to what’s happening every single day. It starts with us by listening. Listen to the stories and learn what you can do to help amplify those voices. Ask questions even if it means digging deep to get those answers.

As a human being, I can empathise to an extent with how my Black friends are feeling, but in no means will I ever truly understand what it means to be Black. I will no longer stay quiet and not speak up if someone tries to make a joke, or pass an ignorant comment. What I promise to do is to continue to listen, learn and respect the voices that need to be heard.

The work of the Black Lives Matter movement is far from over.

Sai

My painting to show my solidarity and support for the BLM movement. To see my full Instagram post, click here.

Materials

Below is a compilation of resources I have read, watched and listened to over the years and more recently. Some of these recommendations have been provided by friends and family too. I will continue to add further resources to the list over time.

Black Lives Matter

History

  • Black History Month – Amazing free library with a variety of resources on prominent leaders of Black History, speeches, music, newspaper excerpts, writers, articles.

Movies / Documentaries:

  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Get Out
  • The 13th – Netflix
  • Queen and Slim
  • Just Mercy
  • When They See Us – Netflix
  • American Son – Netflix

Books / Podcasts

  • An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
  • The Good Immigrant – Nikesh Shukla
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • The End of Policing – Alex S. Vitale
  • Natives – Akala
  • About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge – Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Have You Heard George’s Podcast? – George Mpanga (aka George the Poet)

Petitions

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Lockdown, Thoughts

Love/hate Lockdown

Dear Lockdown,

I’m not loving you, the way I wanted to.

Sincerely,
Sai

I thought that unemployment during lockdown was going to be a breeze. It was supposed to be a time to rest and reset.

It’s quite surreal to think just how drastically our lives have changed over the last few months. So surreal that you can’t help but think we’re living in a movie and we’re hiding behind our bucket of popcorn waiting for our happy ending. While chaos is ensuing across the globe, I have spent a lot of this time to reflect, whilst battling with my own internal struggles.

Life before lockdown was semi-optimistic: I was made redundant at the start of the year, which I saw as the perfect opportunity to recharge. My redundancy massively knocked my confidence (mainly due to the unprofessional handling by my former employer – but that will be a whole separate post), so I definitely needed a break before immediately jumping into a new job.

As you might have expected, my vision of doing yoga on a beach in Bali was short-lived and instead swapped for a lockdown staycation. I maintained my positivity in that I would still be able have the time off I deserved, and even better, in the comfort of my own home.

Unfortunately, the pressure to re-evaluate my whole life during a career break (and on top of that in the middle of a global pandemic!) was enough for me to run.

Contrary to what some might think, being unemployed whilst in lockdown is hard. With all of these extra hours in a day, all you can really do is think – and in my case I have been thinking in overdrive. Not only was finding the right job for me constantly in the back of my mind, I was forced to confront my anxieties and insecurities that suddenly resurfaced.

I began to critique my physical appearance, question my intelligence, worry about the state of the world, and wonder why I had not completed a quarantined-lockdown artistic masterpiece – all whilst trying to appear to my friends and family that I am ok.

To be honest, I spiralled to a low place. I hated constantly being on my phone, and for a long time I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to set myself any tasks or goals out of fear that I would not know how or where to start. I would also eat as a way to mask my feelings of anger, confusion and fear. I didn’t know what the State of the Future looked like, let alone my own.

Lo and behold, it was me joining TikTok that helped me shift the way I viewed myself, and to actually be more proactive. As ridiculous as this sounds, I was determined to learn famous TikTok dances admittedly in the hopes I could become a viral sensation and all my worries would go away. I’m kidding. Instead, it gave me something to focus on and I enjoyed the thrill of nailing a dance – ultimately starting a domino effect of what was to come. I stumbled across so much content about positivity and learning to embrace yourself, that it prompted me to take even more action.

I am now reading self-help books, I’ve started to journal again, I’m exercising and eating better, I’m following mindful content on social media, talking to my friends, family, and my therapist. It may seem like an overload, but I’ve learned that by slowly implementing these practices into my routine, I can see realistic results in the long-term.

Like I said, none of this has happened overnight and each day I am still learning what’s best for me. Trying to be the best version of myself is not going to be as smooth sailing as I thought it would be, but I am telling myself that it is ok, and that I am ok.

I didn’t want this post to be a superficial account of how you can bounce back straight away, because the honest truth is you can’t. It takes time and patience. Being kind to oneself doesn’t come natural to the most of us, but I am working on it. I’ve recently just started telling myself to trust the process because to me I see that as being able to trust myself. I use this as a daily reminder because I know that eventually I will be where I need to be.

I have been really hard on myself during this lockdown, but I am finally comfortable with saying I am doing better, slowly but surely.

I know I can
Be what I wanna be
If I work hard at it
I’ll be where I wanna be

Sai

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Lockdown, Thoughts

It’s been a minute

So the year is 2020 and what can I say? The world is in lockdown as we tackle Covid-19, the Black Lives Matter movement is bigger than ever, Brexit is actually happening, the 2020 Olympics has been pushed back to next year, Trump is running for his second presidency term – and that’s not even half of it.

With everything that’s happening in the world, it’s impossible not to reflect on how life is unfolding at the moment. It’s a scary and uncertain time, but the last few months have also allowed me to sit down and really ask myself some difficult questions about who I am, what I stand for and ultimately what I want out of my life.

It has been years since I last published a post on here, but I’ve been re-inspired to write again. I no longer want to stay silent on issues that I feel strongly about, so what better way to do that? I need to offload somehow to give my mind a bit of break!

I want to use this space to write about anything, but more recently I’ve felt inspired to include my mental health experiences, as well as my thoughts on race, identity, etc.

I still haven’t figured out exactly how I will go about this, but I’m looking forward to discovering along the way.

Feels good to be back!

Sai

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Getting Personal

Good Deed Fail

I couldn’t even make this up if I tried…

It was like any other day when as I was walking past (and resisting) a McDonald’s, I overheard a middle-aged man on crutches ask a stranger for some food. My conscience instantly rang alarms, and I knew that I couldn’t just carry on walking to leave that poor man hungry. I stopped in my tracks and felt around my pockets to find some loose change that I could offer, but I had nothing except my debit card. Since I couldn’t give any cash, I decided to turn back and offered to pay for a meal instead.

He thanked me greatly and asked if we could eat at the café three shops down from McDonald’s. Of course I agreed and we headed over there. I noticed a few people looking oddly at us but I guess they were confused as to how we were acquainted with each other. We got talking and I found out his name was Prince and was 45 years old.

We walked into the café and Prince made his order of an omelette breakfast and a cup of coffee which came to £5.45. I asked the lady behind the till for the card machine but to my disappointment she told me they didn’t have one and suggested that I use an ATM nearby. Luckily there were plenty of bank branches on the high street, with one right next door to the café. Prince had already sat down at this point and I explained to him that I will be right back to pay for the meal once I had withdrawn some cash out.

I was walking to Halifax and that’s when it hit me. I only just remembered that my card doesn’t work at cash machines. For the last five months, all ATMs (regardless of the branch) have failed to recognise my card where I can’t even check my account balance let alone withdraw money out. Strangely however, I’ve been able to pay for things using card readers so I hadn’t really thought to replace my card- up until that moment. Anyway, I’m standing at the ATM and I am praying that today be an exception. I hoped that God would recognise my act of kindness and will miraculously make my card work. But that day wasn’t to be the day for miracles. I’m panicking at this point and so I convince myself that if I use the indoor ATM my card just might work. Again, I insert my card into the slot and I see the familiar message that my card ‘cannot be recognised. Please try again.’

I am seriously stressing out right now. How can I go back to the café empty handed? How on earth can I look into a hungry man’s eyes and tell him that I can’t actually pay for the food that I promised? I hadn’t felt this embarrassed in so long. I tried to do a good deed and I couldn’t even do that properly?!

I realised that I was taking forever and that I should get back to the café to face the music. I was left with no choice but to ask Prince if we could go to another place where I can pay using my card. I wasn’t sure what would come out of this, but when I got to the café I asked the lady who served me once again if they had a card reader (come on Sai, was she really going to conjure up one from nowhere?) and she looked at me blankly and said they didn’t. Obviously. I explained my situation to her and asked to cancel the order. I then went to break the news to Prince.

I asked him if we could go to McDonald’s so I can pay by card and to my surprise he told me he didn’t like McDonald’s. Right, so that made me feel a whole lot worse. I then made other suggestions and he slowly got up as he tried to hold himself up with his crutches. I felt unbelievably awful and I continued to apologise as we walked to the door. Let me remind you that there were plenty of customers witnessing my fail at life too. On our way out I thanked the café owner, when out of nowhere a really kind man handed me a £10 note. I was so taken aback by his generosity I asked him if he was sure to offer this money. I thanked him over and over again and he just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

Prince and I sat back down as we waited for his food. In that time I got to know a bit about him and found out that he had no family around as his siblings never visited, and his mother lives in Ghana. He had also been suffering from polio since he was a child so found it really difficult to find work. He was dressed poorly and it was obvious that he could not really look after himself. I discovered that he was living in a care home nearby, which comforted me to know that he had somewhere safe to stay rather than on the streets. He also told me that he came to the area every now and then to drink and smoke with his friend which disappointed me a little because it made me doubt why he was asking for money on the streets. But I shouldn’t be quick to judge because regardless of what his intentions were, he was still in a less fortunate position than me. We spoke about our favourite subjects and what we like to watch on TV. He even offered me some of his food which was sweet.

He soon finished his meal and we parted ways after that. I wished him the best and he thanked me again. Prince kept the remaining money of what was left after breakfast and I wasn’t sure what he was going to spend his money on, but I guess I won’t ever know. All I can take from this is that I am so grateful for what I have. I know I complain about how I don’t have a job and that I don’t know where I am headed in life, but at the end of the day I still have a bed to sleep in and a roof over my head. I get to see my family everyday where there are people just like Prince who don’t even have that.

Again, I can’t assume that every homeless person will spend money on drugs and alcohol, but that’s where I think society is going wrong. We believe that we shouldn’t trust what people on the streets say, but I think we should try and change that. Let’s look into our hearts a bit more and see how we might be able to make someone’s day with small gestures.

I do believe that acts of kindness have a domino effect, and I would like to think that the kind stranger who gave me the £10 saw what I had tried to do.

If we all did our little bit imagine the impact it could have? So I hope the next time you see someone who might be hungry or cold, offer them 10 minutes of your day and give them something to smile about. I know that from now on I will be carrying more change and a working debit card!

Sai

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Graduate Life

Eating My Feelings and Then Some

Today has been an up-down sort of day. Firstly, I woke up from a really crappy dream after only four and a half hours sleep to the sound of a deafening drilling coming from outside – the kitchen is currently undergoing an extension but that’s a whole other story. So I think it’s fair to say that I wasn’t having the best of mornings.

Nevertheless, I didn’t want to let this ruin the rest of my day so I compiled a short list of things to complete over the next few hours. Job hunting was among the list as it pretty much is an ongoing task! Fast forward an hour later, I was already feeling accomplished after booking a hair appointment (priorities) and had found a few job positions that I was looking forward to start applying to.

The next thing I felt was a huge wave of despair gushing in from nowhere and I suddenly lost the will to do anything. I just broke down feeling completely hopeless and lost about where I am headed in my life. Job hunting has evidently taken its toll on me. My fears over not finding a job rapidly brought all of my other worries to light. The same questions were going repeatedly over and over in my head: ‘Should I have taken this year out to travel?’, ‘Is it still too late to travel?’, ‘How long will I be unemployed?’, ‘Will I ever stop worrying about my finances?’ and so on.

I started to tell myself that I am a failure compared to all of my friends who have jobs – which is beyond stupid I know. In these moments of weakness I forget that I really am not the only one going through this.

My panicking soon turned towards food and I junked out for the whole afternoon in front of the telly to feel better. It didn’t really work as I then began to worry about how much bad food I was putting inside of me and how much time I was wasting by not taking any steps for my career. Regardless, that did not stop me from eating some leftover cake from my sister’s 21st birthday over an episode of The Good Wife

Before this sounds like a tragedy, I did eventually cheer up! I sought after another Netflix pick-me-up and watched a show called Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt which surprisingly turned out to be funnier than I initially thought! When I’m grumpy, I’m the ‘don’t even think about talking to me’ grumpy so I surprised myself to hear me laughing out loud watching the show. I’ve certainly found my next TV series to binge watch!

You must be thinking I’m playing an old record with my unemployment rant, but it really is a genuine worry of mine. Since getting a job is my main priority at the moment, it is all I’m thinking about which obviously isn’t healthy. Or at least the way I’m stressing about it isn’t. I need to find some sort of meaning to my life so I worry that I won’t unless I find a job (even I know that’s not true), but I feel like I just need to get going sooner rather than later.

My friends and family remind me that everything happens for a reason, and that there will be a job out there that will be worth the long wait for. I hope they’re right. Thankfully I have my loved ones to support me as I don’t know what I would be doing without them really!

So like I said, it’s been a rollercoaster day of emotions today and I feel pretty exhausted from it to be honest! I do hope this has helped anyone who might be going through what I am just as much as it helped me get it off my chest.

Sai

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Graduate Life

New Year, New Job?

It has been a while since my last blog post, so I feel it’s about time I do something about that! During the manic of Christmas and the New Year, I found myself warped into an eating, dozing and present-buying frenzy that I feel like I have only just recovered from it! Yes, I am aware that we’re at the end of January…

Nevertheless, despite the busyness of it all, I had a wonderful time with my friends who came home for the holidays and a very special Christmas! Admittedly, all of the feasting and game-filled festivities put a hold on my search for jobs. I haven’t really started the New Year with any resolutions other than to stay on top of my job hunting (and this blog).

Constantly applying to jobs and not hearing back from employers has left me feeling pretty damn unmotivated because let’s face it, rejection hurts. This week I was turned down from two jobs, including one which I had interviewed for. I know I may sound bratty, but when you’ve been doing this for a good few months it’s hard to always remain positive and enthusiastic. I completely underestimated how difficult it is as a graduate to secure a job after university!

The company I interviewed for was the job I desperately wanted. As soon as I walked into their office I knew I wanted to work there, and I envisioned how I would embark on my cool, professional life. Of course, that didn’t last long as I didn’t get the job. I’m embarrassed to say that it hit me hard. So hard that I shed a few tears and wallowed in my sadness, feeling very sorry for myself. It took several Disney movies and chocolate to get over that rejection.

Fast forward a few days and I emailed another company I applied to for a follow-up of my application. I was told I had not been short-listed for an interview. I was disappointed to say the least.

This monotonous cycle of applying to jobs and getting rejected has taken a toll on my positivity and motivation. However, I know that moping around sulking really won’t get me anywhere. It’s one thing to feel down but I will not accept defeat! I think every experience (good or bad) is definitely a learning one but it’s something I have to keep reminding myself because it’s not easy trying to be positive all of the time. It’s going to be a gruelling task, but with my CV in one hand and Cover Letter in the other, it’s one I am prepared for.

I have come to accept that there will be knock-backs and slow responses but what I have learned is that there is nothing else I can do but to keep my head held up high and continue to search for the right place for me.

Surely someone will hire me, right?

Sai

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Getting Personal

A Snippet of Sai

I’m a twenty two year old graduate eagerly waiting to start the next chapter in my life. I’m pretty terrified at the thought of not knowing where I’m headed at the moment but I guess that’s equally exciting to go on this unknown adventure. I thought I would ‘find myself’ at uni, but alas I still haven’t done so yet. I think trying to find out who you are is pretty much an ongoing thing, but I relish at the idea that I’m learning little things about myself each day!

To start off, I love food. Like a lot. The ultimate snack of all snacks has to be good old crisps. Chocolate is a must with a good cuppa in the evenings too- obviously! I generally love to have a laugh and spending time with friends and family. I like to play on the Xbox from time to time – but admittedly I only really play one game that is Trials Fusion! I’m a huge fan of the TV show Grey’s Anatomy as it not only gives me any excuse to have a proper cry, but Meredith Grey is my inspiration!

My thoughts are pretty much all over the place as I’m always thinking about so many things at once. So I decided to keep track of all that’s going on in my head to share with the world (or the odd person who may stumble on my page).

All views are my own and in a complete random fashion. This is not a blog specifically about politics, fashion, or beauty (I have absolutely no clue where to begin with foundation) but I guarantee you will find an array of things here. So sit back and either laugh, scoff, hate or enjoy whatever I have to say!

Sai

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