Not Great Yet: reflections on a month in the USA

I had the privilege of being aided to travel to the USA (the southwest) for the past month in order to perform poetry, give talks and facilitate some workshops. It was an unexpected opportunity and one I saw as a real blessing and chance to expand my understandings and perceptions of the world. However, the USA threw me. I thought I knew what to expect … Continue reading Not Great Yet: reflections on a month in the USA

Islamophobia is not a “phobia”, it’s a way of governing

This month is Islamophobia Awareness Month. I didn’t actually know that was a thing until last year, and then I forgot again, until this year. I suppose like all groups who face structural violence and hatred, Muslims have now been granted a month in which public bodies and liberals should affirm their sense that they care for marginalised people. I am certain that many confronted … Continue reading Islamophobia is not a “phobia”, it’s a way of governing

Let me take a wild guess as to why Muslims are overrepresented in prison…

Labour MP David Lammy yesterday revealed the results of an independent review into the treatment of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals in the criminal justice system. One of the most shocking findings was that Muslims account for 15% of Britain’s prisoners – a 50% increase since ten years ago – despite being under 5% of its population. The obvious question is “why?” Why … Continue reading Let me take a wild guess as to why Muslims are overrepresented in prison…

Sexual abuse survivors deserve more than us blaming brown men

Content warnings: discussion of rape, victim-blaming, sexual abuse, child abuse. After first avoiding all news relating to the sensationalist and provocative headline, ‘British Pakistani men are raping and exploiting white girls’ I’ve decided to throw my hat into the fray over Sarah Champion, Labour’s shadow secretary for Women and Equalities (which women? which equality?) writing a piece for The Sun (who does that?) in light of … Continue reading Sexual abuse survivors deserve more than us blaming brown men

The pain of not being able to hurt you the way you hurt me

Over a month ago I read a line that I haven’t been able to get out of my head ever since. It was in the context of being on the receiving end of racial microaggressions – those off-hand comments that say you don’t belong, jokes that lay bare your dehumanisation, questions that make assumptions about you. The line was this: “I hated not being able … Continue reading The pain of not being able to hurt you the way you hurt me

Becoming Market Niche isn’t the same as Becoming Free

I fully fully back the importance of representation. I get it. I get that it matters who we see because that impacts what we can imagine. It hurts to be unimaginable. It hurts to never be an image equated with beauty. It matters that more and different body types and shapes and colours with different features and hair textures and skin tones get visibility and … Continue reading Becoming Market Niche isn’t the same as Becoming Free

‘Trust Your Instinct’ means ‘Don’t Trust Muslims’

A few days ago I woke up to the sensational headline that 13 potential terrorist attacks have been prevented in the UK since June 2013. Minutes later I heard news that the government just launched a new counter-terrorism campaign: Action Counters Terrorism (ACT), and every day since I’ve been putting up with interruptions on Spotify urging me to report suspicious and potential terrorist activity when just … Continue reading ‘Trust Your Instinct’ means ‘Don’t Trust Muslims’

Why are we obsessed with Muslim women?

EDIT: disclaimer that this is from my perspective in Britain and primarily about rhetoric here and in other Western European/North American contexts. The hijab, burqa, burkini, FGM, ‘honour killings’ and ‘forced marriages’ are familiar tropes when it comes to thinking about migration and Islam in ‘the West’. Their prevalence represents the slippage between ‘women’s rights’ and questions of national borders and religion, reflecting the way … Continue reading Why are we obsessed with Muslim women?