Todays post is by @najmasadiyah on instagram and she is someone I’ve looked up to since I first met her at the age of 4 (if you remember my decade of hijab post- the friend I mention in there is her.)
I’m sure we have all heard sayings like “leave the past in the past” and “let bygones be bygones”. However, in some situations, that cannot be the case. For those of you who have been living under rock, we are in unprecedented times (terminology constantly used by British national news channels in attempt to describe the COVID-19 pandemic). I am using this same term unprecedented (-never have done or even known before) to explain the combatting of this vast, widespread, radical pandemic.
This summarises the inspiration of my writing piece. I am a guest on the @your_ukht_rimzy_ blog page, sharing my thoughts and opinions on the discrepancies steeped in the justice system in 2020; our world today.
Pardon my bad manners, I have yet to introduce myself. My name is @najmasadiyah, I am a BLACK, MUSLIM WOMEN and a 20 year old university graduate thereby feeling appreciably qualified to voice the majority opinions and emotions of those perceived as less than, and those perceived as second-class citizens, ranked at the bottom of the social ladder of the hierarchy. I am extremely proud of who I am, my exterior, but also who my parents raised me to be. I’m also proud of the person I have grown to become through copious lessons and mistakes. I am saying all that to say in the eyes of the overwhelming majority of society I have drawn the short straw, regarding the system of social stratification. In terms of race – I am Black, in terms of religion – I am Muslim, and in terms of gender – I am female. This distinctly means my mere existence will always be subjected to marginalisation.
This blog post contrary to opinions which may have been formulated by you (the readers), will be one which I try my utmost best to be short, summarised, and to the point. (For those of you who know me personally, you know how much of a challenge this is as I am a perpetual waffler). This will discuss a microcosm of the battles my identity brings me. I utilise the term “identity” lightly because I, me, @najmasadiyah am more than just the colour of my skin. In this context my identity that I refer to is with regards to the outside, how a stranger at a huge corporation interviewing me for a position may appraise me – a black girl (with a head wrapping).
It took me years and years to completely comprehend why I was not treated the same as the next person. Why I had to work and continue to work twice as hard to achieve the same goal as others? Why was I not “gifted” with any opportunities? This might be a surprise for a lot of the Brit readers. Britain IS a racist country. The foundation of this country was built on is racial injustice, imperialism (the continued extension of a country’s power and influence through colonisation, use of military force) and colonialism (the forced acquirement of political control over another country in order for economic and social exploitation). What a lot of British nationals failed and continue to fail to realise (including myself), was that racism in our country is buried deep within social norm constructs and is institutionalised. (For those of you who haven’t realised I used the inclusive pronoun “our” when referring to Britain, because as hurtful and saddening as it is to admit; this country is my home. I was born and raised here -London- and in my 20 years of life I have never once been back home to my motherland. I think under all the pain, that is what rubs salt in the wound, I belong to a country that does not want me to belong to them).
Institutional racism is racial discrimination that has become established as normal behaviour within a society or organization. This system explains the reasoning behind US being branded as a racist country which was built on stolen possessions and land through slavery (which I most definitely agree with). However, the US being infamous for those barbaric, callous, inhumane exploitations should not dim the spotlight on the issues of racism in Britain, regardless of the enigma. If you are still reading this blog post and unaware of institutional racism in Britain; here are real life cases. Riddle me this – “black pupils are more likely than white pupils to move into higher education” yet in the UK the black ethnic group have the lowest percentage of workers in “white collar” occupations of power – specifically 5%. Furthermore, it is “worth looking at the distinct lack of black faces teaching at our British universities to see what might contribute to this systemic failure.” As mentioned earlier (and the only reason I repeat this is because I feel upset, due to the corona virus pandemic, that I won’t be able to have a graduation ceremony – the class of 2020 we are in this together I feel your pain), having graduated university in London, aged 20, I can look back at my last three years of university and cannot remember having or even passing by one, ONE black lecturer in my department (my degree is a huge faculty of education so the lack of black lecturers is quite frankly appalling). Let me know is your British universities the same? Is it the same worldwide? “It is spurious to suggest that this attainment gap is down to a lack of intelligence, talent or aspiration.” It is absolutely ludicrous to believe that the attainment of these “middle class”, “white collar” career prospects, are solely based on meritocracy. And if you are amongst those that have that belief, you are living in blissful and wilful ignorance.
When the discussion of racism is bought to the table, people jump to the conclusion that the ideology of racism is the negligence of morality, but instead racism is a system that strategizes power. “Racism brings with it not just the disempowerment for those affected by it, but an empowerment for those who are not.”
Throughout this blog, I firstly aimed to have opened your eyes to British societal norms, a country historically known for its capitalism, inertia, and arrogance emphasised by pompous leaders intending to accumulate the world’s wealthiest resources through “bravery” whilst simultaneously being in constant combat with the Orwellian doctrine. Today, in the year of 2020, hundreds of years down the line, the slight British historical culture that prevails is the hidden racist agendas embedded within establishments – unlike the crystal-clear apparent injustices in our cousin country. In writing this blog, I also aimed to begin to educate and encourage open conversations, teaching those around us about racism and raising awareness. Thirdly, I aim to have made you realise that racism – very similar to the corona virus – is a world-wide disease; these disgusting, vitriolic views and racial injustices need to be eradicated.
For those of you who believe I played victim I leave you with a quote from one of my favourite authors, as she is far more eloquent and articulate than I could ever achieve. “Structural racism is never a case of innocent and pure persecuted people of colour versus white people’s intent on evil and malice. Rather it is about how Britain’s relationship with race infects and distorts equal opportunity.”
SOURCES: Renni Eddo Lodge “Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race.”
Gov.uk – Database on Employment and Occupation
Guardian – Afua Hirsch – “Toppling Statues? Here’s Why Nelson’s Column Should Be Next”
^ Check the highlights on my page for anymore book/article recommendations.
I hope you enjoyed the read and learnt from this post as well, be sure to drop Najma a follow on instagram @najmasadiyah and follow through with her new podcast series called Two Alike on instagram and soundcloud. This is a podcast made by two young black women (one of whom is Najma), who aim to have open conversations about the realities of life. It will be informative and a safe space for discussions ranging on topics such as politics and religion to self-care and friendships.
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