by Colin Joseph
Recognition that low-paid workers are increasingly finding it difficult to meet living costs is making national news following Ed Miliband’s speech to Labour’s annual conference in Manchester last week.
Mr Miliband, MP, leader of the Labour Party, made a commitment to help working adults cope with rising living costs by zoning-in on low paid workers in his speech. He even promised that his first national goal as Prime Minister would be to halve the number of people in low pay by 2025 and raise the minimum wage by £1.50 an hour to over £8.00 by 2020. Whether the Labour party keeps its promises remains to be seen.
Research published last year by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) found that low-paid workers across the board hit a brick wall when it comes to work-place training, educational opportunities, promotion and pay rises. But even more concerning are BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) low-paid workers who are much more likely to find themselves trapped in poverty with no way out compared to low-paid workers generally.
By Huma Munshi
Sex education in my school consisted of experimenting with putting a condom on a cucumber and watching a video of a woman giving birth. This was met with embarrassed giggling from my peers and awkward glances. At home, we would never dream of discussing sex or relationships. My parents were old school Asian, Muslim folk. For them, sex took place in the confines of a marriage, preferably arranged, and exploring sexual desire seemed an anathema in that environment. In both instances, there was no mention of consent in relationships, bodily autonomy or enjoyment.
I actually found out about the mechanics of sex through one of my peers at the mosque I attended after school - so much for good little Muslim girls.
by Amanda Paul
Parliament has just sanctioned airstrikes on Iraqi soil after Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi requested military intervention by Britain a few days ago.
The cause for such a grandiose request – ISIS.
ISIS needs to be STOPPED. I’m concerned though by the means Britain believes it should use to achieve this.
Airstrikes are indiscriminate; they do not differentiate between militants and civilians. Cameron accepts this war will ‘last for years’ and most commentators believe we will see the deployment of ground troops, along with guaranteed civilian fatalities. To quell any public unease about what is to come, we are repeatedly told that Al-Abadi’s request makes the airstrikes legal.
Let’s examine this claim, are Britain’s airstrikes going to be legal?
CONTENT NOTE: Islamophobia and Sexism
by Shane Thomas
“Pop culture to sport, and back again“
It was long overdue, but basketball’s governing body, FIBA recently decreed that players will be permitted to wear religious head coveringsduring national – but not international – competitons.Further good news in the sporting world came as the R&A members announced that after 260 years, women now have the opportunity to be members of the club at St Andrews.
While these are stories to be celebrated, the question has to be asked why these decisions ever had to be made?
The ban on headcoverings in basketball was an adjudication that heavily affected Muslim and Sikh players. This is not an accident. We live in a world where much of the West has a reductionist view of Islam. Hijabs, turbans, and brown skin come couched in assumed danger and oppressive behaviour - things that ostensibly don’t mesh well with the joy and fun inherent in sport.
And while there’s a world of difference between Islam and Sikhism, the Islamophobia in the aforementioned mindset isn’t just visited on Muslims, but on many people of South Asian descent - whether they are religious or not.
I’m sure like myself, those of you who are against Exhibit B were happy to learn that further shows at the The Barbican Centre have been cancelled, as of Tuesday ‘after a huge, short sharp and a dynamic campaign‘. Unfortunately, the media coverage of the cancellation indicates that much work is still to be done. Theatre critic Lyn Gardner praised the ‘art’ for reminding us that “Britain’s 21st century ways of seeing are still strongly skewed by….colonial attitudes.” Granted, it is important to expose Britain’s dark colonial past but as Dr Robbie Shililam asks ‘who is setting the agenda for whose healing at whose cost?’
Artist and performer Selina Thompson who saw the exhibition in Edinburgh intimates that it is at ours ‘Seeing black people, seeing African people – presented as bodies, rather than people: this is nothing new. Seeing those Black Bodies suffering, presented in unbearable pain and terror, this is NOTHING NEW. Black women as sex objects waiting to be raped, as anatomical specimens to be examined, as Mammys, as animals, seeing black men disembodied or presented as violent and frightening, in cages, with their bodies maimed, or without bodies at all, as four disembodied heads sing at the bottom of the exhibition – a mournful lament, of course, so that the whole space reeks of pity and shame and grief – Seeing black history presented as though it began and will end with Colonialism – i.e. when white people come into the picture, is NOTHING NEW. It is not radical, it does not challenge me – actually, it doesn’t challenge anyone really, because it feeds into a cultural narrative that is all too common. One in which pain and persecution is the only way in which we can understand the experience of blackness, one in which we fetishize the black experience as abject’. ~ Exhibit BView More
September 2001 stands out in most people’s minds because of what happened to the World Trade Center in New York.
The only thing I remember from that month is trying to kill myself. I had it all planned out. I wrote letters to my family, divided up all my belongings and valuables, and decided how I would take my life. At that time, I was being treated for depression by a psychotherapist at my college. I felt isolated and I felt trapped. I didn’t have any other language except the phrase, “I don’t fit”. Never once had I experienced feelings of safety or belonging. My entire life, at that point, had been spent in defense.
I had to defend myself against kids in school who bullied me and made fun of me for being poor and wearing clothing that was either too small, too big, or dirty. I had to defend myself against my mother who was physically and mentally abusive. I had to defend myself against some of the men my mother brought into my life. I had to defend myself against my very fundamentalist church that cursed and ridiculed anyone who was different. I had to defend myself against some family members who rejected me and treated me like the black sheep, because at that time, they thought I was a lesbian because I liked girls. I even had to defend myself against myself because of destructive choices I made. While enduring the painful circumstances of my childhood and teen years, I knew I was different; I just didn’t know what word or words to say to describe my difference. I just knew I was different and that I didn’t fit in the world or in my body.View More
Yesterday morning, model Mahaneela Choudhury-Reid fell victim to an unprovoked and racially motivated attack at Regents park Tube station. She described the ordeal via Twitter, recalling how on entering a lift, she was repeatedly pushed by a white, stocky middled aged man. When she turned to face him, he continued to push her in full view of 15 or so bystanders who, taking the nomenclature too literally, chose to simply stand by.
Mahaneela and her assailant left the lift and carrying on the abuse, he proceeded to kick her as she attempted to exit through the barriers. She asked him what his problem was, to which he replied, “You’re my problem” and when she told him he was acting like a child, he told her she was a “fucking nigger”.
The two had passed commuters, ticket inspectors and even a pair of soldiers- all of whom did nothing to prevent the offence or diffuse the situation.
by Rubab Zaidi
Recently hashtags related to domestic violence were trending on Twitter, #WhyILeft and #WhyIStayed, asking women to come forward with their stories about why they chose to leave or stay in an abusive relationship. I thought it was incredibly brave of people to tell their stories like that – something I have not been able to do, until now. I’ve had a lot to say to the few people who have asked, but I think it’s time to share my story even with those who haven’t asked, especially those women who have gone through, or may still be going through, similar experiences. I know I had no one to help me or guide me, or even to just listen to what I had to say; I had my family of course, but I never got “proper” guidance or support because I just didn’t know it was there.
To give you a bit of background, I am a Muslim woman of Pakistani descent; I was married to a British Pakistani man and lived with him and his parents for a grand total of sixteen weeks, which seemed to me like sixteen years because of the mental state I was in. As naive and idealistic as I was back then, I went along with my husband’s decision to have a baby ASAP, and lo and behold, three weeks after getting married I was pregnant with my first and only child.
In the Oxford English Dictionary, “jihad” is defined as “a holy war fought by Muslims against unbelievers.” And this is the view commonly held in Western cultures. In Islam, however, the word has an entirely different meaning, taught to Muslims from childhood.
I first heard about this meaning of jihad as a kid on a radio show on the way to school. The radio show host was explaining how helping the needy and going to school are forms of jihad. I scoffed at him. “Really?” I said mockingly.
My dad turned to me. “Yes,” he said.
“So if I die now, do I go to heaven?”
“Yep. You would be a martyr.”
So what was the radio show host talking about? Where does this meaning of jihad as he was using it come from?
Being a black man over the past couple of weeks has been interesting, as it always is. I’ve stood in solidarity with the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri – both virtually and in a march at Notting Hill Carnival. There is a long history of black women leading movements for change and the most inspiring occurrence to come out of the recent protests has been the support black men have received from black women. However with that, it revealed a harsh reality, we aren’t always there for black women.
Earlier this year, NFL and former Baltimore Ravens running back (fired yesterday) Ray Rice was indicted for assaulting his then fiancée Janay Palmer. On Sunday, TMZ leaked a video recording (without consent) of the assault taking place in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino. The recording shows Palmer and Rice having an altercation, which leads to the latter knocking his fiancée unconscious. The most startling image during all of this was Rice’s demeanour as he dragged her body out of the elevator. It suggested that this wasn’t the first time that an incident like this had occurred between them. This leads me onto the point I wanted to raise.
Unlike the women who stood by us during the riots in Ferguson, who took rubber bullets, pepper spray and physical abuse for us, some men have done the opposite