Appropriation VS Appreciation

Understanding Appropriation & Appreciation through experience, white privilege… and the Genie from Aladdin.

I remember once when I used to work at the Bose store, I was trying to sell a pair of QC25’s (noise cancelling headphones) to a guy who looked around the same age as me. He had the whole ‘hipster’ vibe going with his blonde top knot and beard.

At the time I was also rocking a top knot and beard combo, although I imagine for different reasons.

I left him to test out the QC’s and retreated behind the till to change the store music, when an elderly Jamaican lady walked in. She stopped for a moment when she saw my customer and then looked directly at me – she walked over to the till with this massive beaming smile like she was about to burst out laughing and said to me…

First these white boys were wearing braids – now this – next thing you know they’ll be walking around in a turban

Fortunately for ‘Hipster Joe‘ (chill his name was Joe – I remember) he was wearing noise cancelling headphones and jamming out to Portishead – so he was saved the embarrassment of being a part of that conversation.

He left soon after, but not before promising he’d buy the headphones when he got his next pay cheque from the artisan shoe cobbler he was temping at.

My first reaction to her comment was to laugh – because her delivery was legend.

Then after she left the store I began to think about the difference in me sporting a look that I recognise as cultural, and Joe having a go because all of a sudden it’s a new trend.

One might argue from the image below that I wore a top-knot for superficial purposes, but the truth is when a person feels that their cultural identities are being ‘high-jacked’ they are more likely to engage them in an attempt to reclaim them. Recently I’ve seen more Indian friends modernise more traditional looks, and African friends sporting their natural afros, or braids for this very reason.

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Top-Knotted

But as a beard wearing brown-boy with a top knot I had been ‘randomly‘ selected from airport queues, ‘randomly‘ searched at train stations, ‘randomly‘ pulled over on the road, and have even had people blatantly avoid sitting next to me on the tube (I’m sorry to be blunt here but that last one was exclusively by white women)

I wonder if Joe faced those same issues?

Enter Appropriation…

Now to those of you who think that this just sounds bitter/angry/over-analysed, ask yourself this question…

“Have I ever been made to feel like my image/attire poses a possible threat to the people around me?” 

Now the only white people who are likely to answer yes to that question are either those desperately seeking to experience the ‘minority struggle‘ – as opposed to understand it… or Police Officers.

*Note we don’t refer to it as the minority struggle – that is yet another title bestowed upon us. 

You see it’s hard to be so ‘easy-going‘ about this stuff when you get characterised as a threat for simply ‘doing you’…

So what is appropriation?…

A young black female is walking along Southbank with braids and a dashiki at a time where the global #BlackLivesMatter movement makes some people feel uncomfortable because they’ve been gravely misinformed about its intentions. She is meeting her black friend who hasn’t straightened her hair and is proudly wearing her afro.

The 2 girls meet with an array of inquisitive stares…

“What are their intentions?” 

“What are they trying to prove?”

“Are they trying to intimidate us?” 

 

Now this time 2 young white females are treading the same path and are sporting the same look – they also meet with inquisitive stares…

“They must be going through a phase/to a fancy dress”

“Wow they’re certainly forward thinking”

“They must be very confident”

Cultural Appropriation is being able to dress in the attire of another culture without carrying the burdens/stereotypes/idiosyncrasies that come attached.

 Cultural Appropriation is trivialising a cultural identity for the sake of novelty – i.e. ‘themed’ costume parties.

Cultural Appropriation is the generalisation of a cultural identity for superficial purposes – i.e. Fashion.

Cultural Appropriation places a trivial importance on the symbol while disregarding what it symbolises.

Appreciation 

Two years ago it was my sisters wedding, and my brother and I invited our best friend. He was invited for the whole day which is a pretty big deal. Now he’s spent a great deal of his life around my family and has come to many ‘cultural functions’ so he was excited to see how things went down at an Indian wedding.

One day my brother and I were discussing when we should buy our Sherwani’s (Indian male attire) and it was really touching when our friend asked if he should wear one too, or if it would be seen as disrespectful.

“NOT AT ALL! ” – We 3 went to Wembley the next week to buy our Sherwani’s for the wedding…

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The man has taste! 

The difference is something so simple and fine-lined that you’ll kick yourself when you hear it…

A genuine interest to learn and engage.

Taking the effort to learn is the mark of showing true respect and honour to any culture or tradition. If you do anything without understanding context you’re immediately at risk of looking like a fool.

The picture below serves as imagery to bridge the next part of the conversation with the idea of looking like a fool.

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No YOU haven’t personally murdered a Native American, enslaved an African, or invaded India… but you are still benefitting from those actions.
White Privilege…

Now before you roll your eyes and head for the comment section to lecture me on how you’ve never had any privilege – let me try this from a different angle…

Not too long ago I was having a discussion with a white female peer about the concept of white privilege. She refused to acknowledge that there was such a thing because she had seen both her parents slave away in working class jobs and never receive any advantage over anyone. I believe her.

She also made it a point to inform me of how many ‘ethnic’ friends she has – but I’m never sure why this is relevant information. Nonetheless I offered her a gold star – but she didn’t want it – which I found odd.

I then tried to explain it from a perspective that she might better understand.

“I’m a man – so you might say that in this society I have ‘Male Privilege’… now that doesn’t mean that I have a golden ticket to success and that no matter what happens I will always have some rope to climb up – it means that in a situation where both myself or a female could be vulnerable – the female will inevitably feel more vulnerable than I might, because society has rendered a very different world of outcomes for her than for me.”

She sat silently processing the idea – “For example if a male and female were both walking home late at night on a dark street and no one was around – it is more likely that the female would feel vulnerable and under potential threat than the male… even if it’s for just a second”  

She was visibly walking through the scenario.

“White Privilege works in the same way – it’s late at night, 2 black males and 2 white males are driving down the same road in 2 separate cars and a police car stops in between them both at a set of traffic lights… who do you think is more likely to get followed and/or pulled over?”

Looking at it in that way seemed to make sense to her.

Maybe ‘privilegeseems like the wrong word – but I’m pretty sure I speak for most people when I say that we’re not big on the term ‘minority‘ ‘urban‘ or ‘immigrant‘, or having anything that is considered ‘non-white‘ to be ‘ethnic’.

I don’t say this with an ‘eye-for-an-eye‘ mentality – I say it because the english language is limited and we have to play with the cards that we’re dealt. The only way we can be rid of these words is by understanding the concepts attached to them and working together honestly to make them meaningless.

That being said I bet we can find better words for these ideas in German or Sanskrit. 

Curiosity + White Privilege = Appropriation
Curiosity + Engagement = Appreciation 

Listen, you probably don’t have bad intentions when you want to throw an Egyptian or Bollywood themed party. When you slap on a Bindi before you go to a festival I highly doubt you have any intention to spite Indian women. If you’re rocking braids and a FUBU jacket – you might be a little confused – but no one believes you’re a bad person. However, if you throw a ‘Red Indian’ themed party you’re basically scum (#SorryNotSorry)

The truth is that you’re unburdened with the responsibility of representing your entire ethnic group and are not going to be scrutinised and possibly even penalised for visually engaging your culture. This gives you the luxury to feel that engaging in other cultures is just you celebrating or honouring them.

That’s a lovely thought, and if all of the world wasn’t distorted by the ridiculous racist paradigms that effect ALL OF US… there wouldn’t be a problem and we would just be sharing culture and experience.

I genuinely love that idea.

But many many people (including myself) disdain actions taken in ignorance, so until people are willing to understand the implications of parading around in a native american head dress with red cups full of red bull and Jager calling themselves ‘LittleBigBull’, this conversation isn’t going to be silenced… no matter how uncomfortable it makes people.

A Scene from your Childhood

Do you remember that scene at the end of Aladdin?  When Jaffar makes his final wish to become an all powerful Genie? Then Aladdin gives that triumphant final word “YOU WANTED TO BE A GENIE? WELL YOU GOT IT – AND EVERYTHING THAT COMES WITH IT!” – yeah that.

Watch from 1.00 to relive an important lesson from your childhood about ‘genie appropriation’.

 

IN THE ‘NEWS‘:  This week Vanessa Hudgens took a photo of herself with box braids and shared it on her snapchat –  now there is speculation as to whether this is an example of appropriation. Personally I think there are far more pressing things to attend to on the global stage – but since this ‘event‘ can open up a dialogue about deeper issues – it’s certainly worth spending no more than 60 seconds to make up your mind on this particular issue.

#Hindus4Trump? Yikes.

These Hindus be trippin’ yo

 

As a practising ‘Hindu’ it’s taken me over a day to process what happened in New Jersey on Saturday evening.

The #HindusForTrump Bollywood Event.

Thankfully I live 3,500 miles away in London – because if I was any closer I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from attending the event to try and sabotage it in some ‘Looney Toon-esque’ fashion.

But while I am shocked at what I saw, I’m not surprised that right wing politics is taking ‘a swim in the Ganges’ so to speak. Let me take you back to springtime in London when Sadiq Khan (Labour) and Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) were in the running for London Mayor.

The Goldsmith campaign targeted the British-Indian demographic by posting flyers through our doors promising to protect ‘our family gold’ from Khan’s wealth tax, telling us how much he loved to celebrate Hindu festivals like Diwali, and reassuring us of his support for Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

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This tactic was poorly received by the Indian community – but it does shed light on the approach right-wing politicians believe will impact a fraction of society they clearly know very little about. Donald Trump capitalised on that sentiment this past weekend.

Bollywood is near and dear to the Indian community. It’s what many Indians believe to be India’s greatest export. I’d argue against that saying that yoga and worldly literatures probably take top spot there – but I’m not ashamed to say that I also love a good Bollywood movie. So it comes as no surprise that many ‘right-wingers’ try to use this angle to capture the hearts of the Hindu diaspora.

But when these politicians open their mouths about how much of a fan they are – disaster strikes… example “I’m a big fan of Hindu” – Well Mr Trump – ‘Hindu’ says thanks but no thanks.

Watch Zac Goldsmith squirm his way through this interview when he’s asked exactly how much he loves Bollywood. Skip to 0.18 for the Gold.

Frankly it’s embarrassing to be identified as a community that is thought to be so easily swayed by pathetic propaganda attempts led by the Trumps and Goldsmiths of this world. Not to mention this ‘masterpiece’ by the ‘Conservative Friends of India’ called ‘Neela Hai Aasma’ (Blue Skies). It’s a Bollywood styled propaganda video that was published in 2015 to rally support from the British-Indian community for David Cameron.

Seriously though… you need to watch this video. 


Trump’s campaign team has acknowledged common ground between Donald Trump and Narendra Modi supporters. With the increasing tensions around Kashmir and talks of another India – Pakistan war, an age-old dispute between Hindus and Muslims is being incited for the sake of gaining political ground. This anti-Islamic sentiment is the bond between Trump and this small fraction of Indian-Americans who resonate with an anti-Islamic message.

Leveraging the historical tensions between Hindus and Muslims is an old trick that both communities should be very sceptical of by now. The last time they fell for it India was split into two, and hundreds of thousands of people from both communities were killed during partition. The conflict in Kashmir is a result of the very same, the consequences of which have been devastating for Hindu and Muslim communities alike.

It was slightly encouraging to read in a Washington Post article that many of the attendees were unaware that the event was meant to have any political overtones, and only showed up to see some of their favourite celebrities and leave.

But it’s this cavalier approach that implies that the Hindu community will tacitly accept injustice for the sake of superficial pleasure. This idea of our community is reflected in Goldsmith’s and David Cameron’s campaigns as shown above, and was grossly demonstrated by the #HindusForTrump Bollywood event on Saturday.

For any of the Hindus that attended Saturday’s event who may be reading this, I’ll quote one of our own very prominent Vedic figures – Emperor Yudhishthira from the Indian epic ‘Mahabharata.’

“Those who have the right to be responsible do not have the right to be ignorant.”

As voters in this election you are responsible.

We come from a culture that encourages – NO – demands us to be informed and accepting at all times. If you follow a leader who preaches hate and focuses the majority of his energy on defaming other people, saying abhorrent things about women and condemning other religions – you are working against the very culture you claim to represent.

These cringe-worthy attempts deployed by right-wing politicians to gain support from Hindu voters – whether it be here in the UK, over in the US, or in India itself – should be viewed in the same way you view a doctor giving a baby a lollipop to distract her from the needle going in her arm – a childish tactic… and you’re adults for Krishna’s sake!

BuzzFeed published a post sharing ‘The 12 Most Incredible And Absurd Things That Happened At The “Hindus For Trump” Bollywood Event’…  Incredible, absurd and I’d add downright disturbing to that list.

If my article or BuzzFeed’s list hasn’t swayed your thinking – I have one last thing for you…

If Trump ever met Gandhiji… he’d probably call him a pussy. 

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Being spiritual is all about abandoning negativity and being kind all the time… WRONG. (DUSSEHRA SPECIAL)

“It’s all about Peace and Love man”…”Get rid of all that negativity in your life”… “Meditation is all about pure thoughts”
Wrong Wrong Wrong.

A LONG time ago there was this Yogi – he had many disciples who would travel for thousands of miles to see him. He was known to have attained the very highest degree of enlightenment and was versed in all exoteric and esoteric knowledge.

His nature was calm and collected… he was completely undistracted. It was said that merely being in his presence would relieve you of all problems and illusions in your life.

He had sat in a meditative state for years… never once breaking his resolve. People would join him, coming and going throughout this long period of meditation in the hope that they would be able to attain the same enlightenment as their chosen ‘Guru’… or at least get a one-on-one ‘coaching sesh’

One day a woman came to join others who were meditating along side this yogic master. Unable to focus, she started fidgeting and scanning the area to see if anyone else was on the same vibe.

They weren’t…Everyone was in a deep meditative state.

This angered the woman. She tightened her eyes shut, but continued to fidget and stir.

She started to question herself, her worth, her purpose. She worked herself up so much that she ended up in the darkest parts of her consciousness.

She reflected on the mistakes of her past, her failed relationships, all the people she had disappointed… and she felt her heart sink into her stomach at the thought of all these failures.

Tears rolled down her face as she began to ask herself how she could ever think that she could sit amongst these peaceful, blissful people.

Suddenly she felt an overwhelming presence before her. She slowly loosened her eyelids till her eyes involuntarily widened at the sight of what was in front of her.

All of the other students had come out of their transcendental state and were staring in amazement.

It was the Yogi that everyone was so gaga about – out of his meditative state and sitting in front of this restless woman.

The Yogi looked at the woman in awe and said…

“I’m sorry I disturbed you… but I’ve never seen someone in such a deep meditative state before.”  


“Enlightenment is a destructive process.
It
 has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier.
Enlightenment is the 
crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true” 

– Adyashanti 


Today is Dussehra – a day in the Hindu calendar that marks Shri Rama’s defeat over Ravana – the 10-headed Demon King – as told in the Vedic Epic ‘Ramayana’.

Ravana is an extremely fascinating figure in Vedic history. Although he is renowned to be possibly one of the most evil and ‘adharam’ characters – he is remembered for some extremely ‘redeeming’ traits.

  1. He was Lord Shiva’s most ardent devotee and would quite literally ‘move mountains’ to please him.
  2. He was the most learned Vedic scholar of his time and is still to this day revered as the most intelligent being that has existed (I think Shri Krishna is probably the only exception to this). 
  3. At the time of his final breath he imparted the greatest lesson of his life to Lakshman – the younger brother of Shri Ram…

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That third point is one that often gets overlooked – especially on this day where we celebrate the physical death of Ravana by setting a giant effigy of him on fire (even though it’s awesome to watch).

The most poignant death on this day is the death of Ravana’s ‘ten heads’ – or rather his states of mind…

  1. Ahankara (Ego)
  2. Amanavta (Cruelty)
  3. Anyaya (Injustice)
  4. Kama Vasana (Lust)
  5. Krodha (Anger)
  6. Lobha (Greed)
  7. Mada (Over Pride)
  8. Matsara (Jealousy) 
  9. Moha (Attachment)
  10. Swartha (Selfishness) 

Right before his death Ravana realises all of the terrible actions he has taken in his life and spends his final moments in absolute despair. His remorse and reflection of his past is such that he comes to realise the true purpose of his life – and although it is coming to an end – he finds solace in the fact that he achieved exactly what he was meant to…

wait what?

The Story of Jaya and Vijaya…

Shri Vishnu had two gate keepers – brothers named Jaya & Vijaya – who would guard the gates of Vaikuntha, the heavenly realm in which Shri Vishnu resides with Devi Laxmi.

Given they were entrusted with such an important task, with time the brothers grew arrogant.

One day Shri Vishnu was chilling out at home with Devi Laxmi.

Jaya and Vijaya stood at the gates and said…

For real he’s not about that life today – He’s just trying to chill with his Goddess on some mad sunday vibes – we won’t let anyone through today“. 

The four sons of Brahma Dev, known as the Manasaputras, came strolling up the path to meet Shri Vishnu. They were ardent devotees and wished to seek his blessing – I think it was for a new development of duplex luxury apartments in Mumbai or something (it really wasn’t).

The Manasaputras were extremely enlightened, pious and possessed great self-control, and they were still only young boys. They asked gently if they could meet their chosen deity – but Jaya & Vijaya refused…

Narr fam you’re not getting through – Shri Vishnu is chilling and we won’t disturb him for some youts

The Manasaputras – slightly agitated – said…

Aight we get that you feel like top boys but to be honest you can’t stop devotees of Shri Vishnu from getting his blessings – he wouldn’t be cool with that.

The debate continued on in this fashion until one of the Manasaputras completely lost composure and said…

“You know for 2 beings who are so close to God all the time – you’re acting like dicks. Until the 2 of you come to your senses you’re going to lose your divinity and wander the earth as mortals.”

Upon hearing this the 2 brothers immediately realised their mistake and were remorseful. They couldn’t bare the thought of being separated from Shri Vishnu and so they prayed to him to remove this curse, and he appeared before them – but it was too late…

“Sorry guys – you really screwed this one up – I can’t remove the curse by these young sages, but I can tweak it a bit. I’ll give you 2 options…

  1. You can spend 7 lifetimes as my devotees till you realise supreme knowledge and then you will be reunited with me… OR…
  2. You can spend 3 lifetimes as my enemy and I will defeat you in each life – after which you will be reunited with me.” 

Jaya & Vijaya couldn’t deal with the idea of 7 mortal lifetimes away from Shri Vishnu – and so took the second option. In the second lifetime Jaya & Vijaya were born as Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna – while Shri Vishnu was born as Shri Ram.

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Cool. So what does this all mean?

The story of the ‘Ramayana’ is part of a wider narrative in the Vedic scriptures that describes the workings of Karma. All of the abhorrent actions of Ravana were necessary for him to realise the true purpose of his life – to attain supreme knowledge and to realign with his God.

Rather than choosing 7 lifetimes as a devotee, Jaya & Vijaya chose to be an enemy of someone they were already devoted to – why?

And why was it 7 lifetimes as a devotee and only 3 lifetimes as an enemy?

These 2 questions have the same answer…

If we follow the same path as everyone else we will never discover the true purpose of our own lives (or it might take 7 lifetimes!). Whether you want to believe it or not we are all here serving a purpose. Trying to mimic the lifestyle of another person for the sake of being spiritual means you will never attain your truth – perhaps only an iota of what is actually waiting out there for you.

‘Spirituality’ is about attaining knowledge, it has nothing to do with speaking softly and talking about how much you want to hug people. It’s about how aware you are.

There is a vast difference between accepting who you are with all of your faults and teaching  yourself how to be better – and dashing everything under the carpet and pretending to be this enlightened being who is exceedingly wise. Only one of those approaches can provide you with substance in the form of mistakes, lessons and growth.

Accepting oneself after an act of kindness is easy. But doing so after one has committed a ‘grave sin’ is one of the most enlightening and spiritual experiences a person can have in their life – because only from that point can you begin to strive towards becoming better and realising your true purpose.

So if you’re trying to become more spiritual/conscious/aligned/aware or any of the words synonymous with these – then don’t go around searching for answers in other people’s lives, downloading apps that promise you ‘balance’, or even reading Holy Books.

Sit down, close your eyes and ask yourself the questions you’re dying to know about yourself – even if it takes you somewhere you’ve been avoiding for a while.

Do it… and I promise you that of all the answers you’re looking for will show themselves to you – right on time.

 

Happy Dussehra and Vijayadashami to all !   

 

 

What Brown People should be saying about #BlackLivesMatter

“They’re forgetting about us”…”We also suffer racism”… “#AllLivesMatter”.

Earlier this year – in fact shortly after Brexit – I was walking down a street in Hayes & Harlington, and I was tripped up and told to ‘Fuck off home’… although the joke was on them because I was already on my way home! 

It was a shocking experience merely because you don’t really expect that sort of shit to happen anymore. Alas… it did – but don’t cry for me, I was fortunate enough to get my story heard with an article in the Washington Post – so yay me. Here’s the full article with the Washington Post.

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DISCLAIMER: I’m about to get very honest regarding this topic – so if you’re easily offended or prone to senseless trolling… I did warn you.

 

Now the kind of statements in the header of this post only surface when people feel like the afflictions they’ve dealt with for so long are totally forgotten about or given less importance.

This isn’t the case with #BlackLivesMatter… no one is forgetting about the time you were stopped and searched 10 times at the airport, or the time someone called you a ‘Paki Terrorist’ for stepping out into the road too early, causing all kinds of havoc.

But in order to understand why the #BlackLivesMatter movement matters for all of us – even more than #AllLivesMatter – we need to look at the bare facts about racism. 

Ugh – How do I do this without sounding like a wacky conspiracy theorist? Right…

A seed is planted into the ground with the intention for it to sprout. If the surrounding conditions nurture the seed, lots of things happen over time. By the end of it you have roots, a trunk, branches, leaves and fruits. But you don’t call that tree and everything on it a seed. 

In the same way ‘Racism’ is not what we think it is…

Racism is an economic idea. 

Racism is the ‘seed’ in this analogy. The idea that an oppressed economic class could be created using a combination of aesthetic and cultural distinction.

The slave trade and forced migration to Europe and America are the ‘roots’ in the analogy. The very foundations of the institution that would support the idea with economic growth in an ‘enterprising nation’. 

The courts and rulings are the most visible and reinforced aspects of this ‘growth’, and so they are the ‘trunk’… This stage can be referred to as application. Laws were created to mentally imprint upon society that this new economic class were also a criminal class, thus justifying the foundations that supported the idea.

The ‘branches’ are none other than the organisations that developed as a result of the application, foundations, and idea. From the Ku Klux Klan to the Black Panthers – all of the support and resistance that developed as a result of a social and economic system of oppression can be referred to as its legacy.  

The abolishment of slavery, the civil rights movement, ‘affirmative action’ – All of these are campaigns to mark a new era of consciousness. These are the ‘leaves’ that sprout from the branches. But just as leaves do these campaigns wither and fall off, making way for a newer more ‘evolved’ approach to maintaining the idea and foundations, by altering the application and distancing from the legacy. This we can refer to as development.

Then finally the long awaited produce that can be bitter, sour or sweet depending on the timing – the ‘fruit’. Or as we know it #BlackLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter – or anything in their likeness. Essentially the ingrained mentality and response of the public towards issues relating to the original idea, its foundations, the application, its legacy, and development strategies.

Do they buy it? spit it out? or wait for the product to ripen into something that suits their taste?

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IdeaFoundation – ApplicationLegacyDevelopmentProduce

As a young entrepreneur when I look at these stages I see nothing more than a business strategy – and getting personal in business helps no one.

Don’t get me wrong – this business strategy has (and continues to) cost countless lives and evokes rage in anyone who has even a sliver of a conscience. But if we want to dismantle it – we just can’t take it personally. 

Now many of you must be saying to yourself – “Great analogy Kesh – but when you put all of those parts together you get a tree – so if you put all of those stages together you get racism.” Right?

Wrong. All of those stages together are called an ‘institution’ – A collection of functions serving one purpose – to execute an idea. Racism is an idea – developed to create an economic hierarchy that is distinguishable through aesthetics and culture – of which Black people are kept at the bottom of this economic pyramid. 

Still not convinced? Then I have one word for you:

Anti-Semitism #ThinkAboutIt  

Now to the brown people who are seething because I haven’t mentioned the atrocities of the East India Company, the British Raj, or the wars in the Middle East… and classified these as contributions to racist ideals – ‘I aint mad at cha’ – in fact those are all contributions to executing the idea. 

But these are all classified as foundations which are usually characterised by acts of imperialism. It’s the application that then defines how a ‘race is placed in the pyramid’.

While the British were in India they immersed themselves in the culture. In fact they integrated with it so much so that many quintessential British nuances derive from things they learnt during their time in India.

‘Blighty’ comes from the Urdu ‘Bilayat’, meaning European. ‘Curry’ (which is a non-existent concept in India) is an official British cuisine… the list goes on… #Tea

Considering the rule of Britain in India coincides with the slave trade from Africa – this gives us a very clear insight into how the British had strategically placed 2 races in the pyramid.

There were Indians who were enslaved and exported to the Caribbean – but again these Indians were much darker than those who were demoted to 2nd class citizens (not slaves). Playing into the idea of economic segregation through aesthetics – which had already existed in India long before any European set foot there I might add. 

A great way to see the lasting effects of these wildly different approaches is again very visual…

Take the Asian and African diaspora in the west as an example. Wherever Asians find themselves in the world the first thing people will notice about them is that they are still very much immersed in the culture they have come from – even after 2 or 3 generations. When you go to your Hindu friends house it’s not uncommon for you to see it decorated with Vedic deities who date back to ancient times.

How often is it that you go to an African friends home and see Kemetic or Pwenetic deities? – Whose existence also coincides with ancient Vedic culture.

In fact, from my personal experience, when speaking to black friends who haven’t actively educated themselves on the true history of Africa – many can only share with me African history post slave trade. This is not me insulting the African diaspora – it’s shedding light on the result of destroying history to devalue culture.

While the Asians under European rule were ‘given permission‘ to hold onto their cultures, the Africans under European rule had theirs destroyed, and a new culture was ‘graciously donated‘. This particular tactic is part of the application and is a strong insight into the value of culture in any economic paradigm. So when a culture is completely ‘whitewashed’ at the time of colonialism and enslavement – it’s clear that this is a strategic ploy.  

Many of my black friends and colleagues who have spoken to me about the acceptance of this culture, refer to it as ‘Stockholm Syndrome‘. This can be considered as part of the produce – as we are referring to an ingrained mentality. 

Yes – bombs are being dropped and people are being killed across the Muslim world, small Indian and Chinese children are being forced to work in hostile conditions to piece together our #Swag. But the economic leaders of these communities are very much in cahoots with supplementing this economic pyramid.

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Just look at Saudi Arabia, India and China as nations – all are considered to be economic partners of western nations and corporations… why?

Resources, infrastructure, unification. So long as there is a tacit acceptance that these nations can continue to grow their GDP from this system- they will be viewed in high regard.  

This comes under development  in the strategy – as we are redefining relationships for the benefit of 2 parties – or at least it seems that way! 

So when these communities are viewed as economic partners in an economic pyramid – does this not place them higher in the structure?  

Of course it does! If you were thinking no you’re being stubborn and silly!     

Racism can be defined as the idea that an oppressed economic class is created using a combination of aesthetic and cultural distinction. People of African descent are the oppressed economic class who are the subject of this racist ideal.

I’m not being politically correct here – I’m calling a spade a spade. 

This video entitled ‘The Racket of Racism‘ by the extremely informed Romany Malco can give you a more elaborate insight into the history of racism

Yes – many of us brown people face a myriad of prejudices and discrimination – but what we need to understand is that supporting an idea like #BlackLivesMatter does not mean that you are supporting the ‘black struggle’ and forgetting about the ‘brown plight.’

It means that you are addressing the very seed of the problem that we all face – by firstly acknowledging the economic structure in place, removing your personal attachments (because they have no place in economics) – and educating others that we are actually fighting a ‘business model’, not a bunch of mindless racists who hate for no reason… as convenient as that is to believe. 

Businesses shut down when the idea is no longer relevant, wanted, or needed. You can attack the foundations, you can condemn the application, you can slander the legacy, disrupt the development and even stop consuming the produce

But until you completely understand and obliterate the idea… they will always find a new way to build the model up again.

So if you truly want to be rid of racism – you don’t have to proclaim #BlackLivesMatter every second of the day – but you certainly need to accept that it is the first step in understanding what racism actually is. 

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REFORM RACISM – The Men Who Ruled India

The Piccadilly line is one of the most ‘happening’ places in London. Nope… I don’t have a crack pipe in my hand, nor am I a deluded train driver with an insatiable passion for the underground. But like many of you, I’ve collected a wealth of educational experiences from plotting myself on a carriage and absorbing the fragile ecosystem that is a TFL tube. From friendly conversations with commuters, to drunken songs with strangers, eye opening chats with homeless travellers and awkward moments with sleepy tourists… the really memorable experiences have (sadly) always been race related.

The most prominent of the lot was the first time I decided to intervene in a situation that just appalled me. It was the evening commute home, and this young Indian guy was sat down across from me. He was engrossed in some work documents and had no clue that he was suddenly surrounded by a group of large Caucasian males who’d clearly spent a substantial part of the day drinking… something (the carriage smelt like a nail salon).

“A bit smart for the corner shop aren’t ya?” said one of the giant xenophobes,

“How bad is it cleaning toilets in your 2-piece?” added another burly jester.

Now just 2 weeks before this I witnessed a similar situation where an English lady yelled “FUCKING PAKI!” to an Arab woman who mistakenly pushed passed while entering the carriage with her two daughters. I said nothing and it ate at me for ages.

This time I wasn’t going to let that happen!

I made eye contact with their target; I could see his discomfort and fear of being left to deal with this abuse alone. So I stood up and took a shot…

Can’t be worse than realising your self esteem has plummeted because you see Asian youths excelling after a single generation, and you haven’t been able to shift out of whatever working class hole you crawl out of everyday, despite your ancestors having been here since King Canut!”

I visualized myself taking a deep breath, but held a stern gaze for effect. The carriage was frozen for what felt like 20 minutes and everyone was doing that typical Londoner ‘staring-but-trying-not-to-stare’ thing. I looked down and carried on reading my ironically titled book ‘The Men Who Ruled India’. The four men just glared at me, they had no words, only dumb expressions and pulsating temple veins… then they left the carriage. My initial feeling was the relief that I wasn’t having my head smashed in against the ground. I had the smiles and admiration of the other commuters, and most importantly, a look of genuine gratitude from the guy opposite me. But that sense of victory quickly faded as I began to realise what I had said to those men.

They say, “The best defence is a great offence.” That type of mentality only applies when your objective is to win the game, not when you’re trying to teach someone a new one… that requires patience.  

To chastise a person on the basis of their social class is something I strongly stand against because I too hail from the working class. But I succumbed to my frustrations and impulsively spread a little bit more hate, disguised as heroic action.

I firmly believe education to be the key solution in resolving tensions between ethnic groups, which makes aggressive retaliation nothing but counterproductive in my crusade to ‘reform racism’. We can only educate others by creating an open dialogue.

What does that show?

It shows that you care enough about the issue to hear another person’s point of view, regardless of how opposed to them you may be. People really respect and respond to that, even if the entire conversation is based upon their hatred for you.

A person’s ignorance is not a mark of their value, only of their experiences.

So what should I have done instead? I could have asked questions, “What makes you assume he cleans toilets or works at a corner shop?” Questions make situations of this nature awkward for the abuser; because most of the time they themselves don’t know why they say the things they do, feeling too uncomfortable to shed light on their antiquated opinions. It’s an impulsive act and comes from a place of confusion and frustration. If you retaliate with the same energy you only enhance racial tensions and contribute to a culture of bitter 2nd and 3rd generation ethnic minorities.

I guess what I’m saying is if we can remove the subject of race from uncomfortable race-based situations, we stop assessing a faceless institution and begin to question the individual and their reasons for racially provoking another… and let me tell you something, if you successfully dodge the subject of race in a scenario of this kind, you will either expose a person for their brain-washed ignorance or wake them up to a new perspective.

Gwan… Give it a go!

P&L

K

Read this if life has the awful habit of TERRIFYING YOU – The Fear Spectrum

At some point in life we find ourselves staring deep into an abyss, and as we anxiously gaze we can only see the dark emptiness of space.

But like the air that surrounds us is full of life, the abyss is filled with our fears, anxieties, worries, and mortality. We fear the unknown for we cannot bear to stare into the darkness for long enough and strain to see the light. Does this mean we fear resolution? No, our desperation for resolution is the cause of our fears, it means we fear truth; the reality of our existence is morbid in nature, and that makes it harder to face even the smallest and most superficial truths in our lives.

The only way to overcome this is to stare into the abyss, capture every fear floating around in the darkness, snatch it from the air and seek it’s true meaning… Assess the internal and external factors that fuel your fears, and remove them from your life.

‘Fear’ is to ‘Will’ what ‘Hate’ is to ‘Love’, a distinction without a difference. In fact, the sensation that drives us to act, is the same as the apathy that tells us to do nothing, the only difference is attitude. Fear is a colour spectrum governed by how much you are willing to do against what you are not, every hue between ‘Fear’ and ‘Will’ is a step toward or away from action.

Human history is filled with stories of finding even a glimmer of light amidst the darkest space in the face of absolute despair. Those stories have taught us that the human capacity to comprehend darkness is only paralleled by its ability to understand light, because darkness can only exist if there is light.

P&L

K

Why I’m tired of Female Harassment Videos!

I’m sure that many of you have watched at least one (if not 10) of these social experiment videos exposing female harassment.

Now before I continue, I realise that the title of this post alone is enough to infuriate even the most fickle of feminist supporters, but this trend of criminalising 50% of the human population is beginning to digress into nothing more than a passive aggressive sting in the sides of misogynists and male feminists alike…

it’s no longer serving an educational purpose, it’s only riling up both sexes.

As men, our understanding of how it feels to be a woman in 2014 is only limited by our capacity to empathise with the stories and accounts of sexual harassment and rape available to us through history, the media, online or through people we meet or know… so by that logic, the depth of our understanding is totally dependent on how much valuable information we have access to.

I proudly call myself a feminist, I’ve grown up in a family with strong feminist values, but more importantly, I’ve been raised by women who understand the importance of instilling these values in young men. Like any man I’ve fallen off the wagon at times and undone much of the work the matriarchs of my family had put so much effort into. But it’s testament to the value of a great home education, the fact that I was able to shake off my demons and march to the right beat in the end.

Unfortunately, young men today are immersed in ‘lad culture’ which is perpetuated  by characters like the in-over-his-head ‘Dapper Laughs’, the WAAAAAYYY over the top Dan Bilzerian, and the inexcusably foul Julien Blanc. As if these types of men were not harmful enough, there are also ‘female role models’ who insinuate that it’s okay to treat a girl like a rocking horse. Pair an overly-sexed up media with the pre existing patriarchal paradigms that have always existed, and you have a very highly concentrated beam of ignorance headed for your tots!   

 MR DAPPER ‘MOIST’ LAUGHS  96520

1804___Selected MR DAN ‘BITCHEZ’ BILZERIAN

MR JULIEN ‘STR8 UP RAPIST’ BLANC 1416051987743_wps_10_julien_blanc

 

 

There is certainly great value in exposing the sexually enthralled male fiend, or ‘lad’ who is sadly now an archetypal figure. However, pointing fingers merely directs us to the culprit, it says nothing of how to deal with them.

I don’t believe for a second that any woman is responsible for any form of sexual harassment or abuse she may be subjected to, whether she walks the street covered head to toe or totally naked is irrelevant, she’s here, she’s free… what the fuck has that got to do with you?

But I’m sorry, asking an objectively attractive female to document the number of ‘cat calls’ she gets during a leisurely stroll around areas known for lecherous men, is like throwing a newborn baby into a cage of lions… they don’t know any better. These are men hardened and conditioned by the misogynistic mainstream media and the ancient traditions of patriarchy. Shouting them down is futile because it’s our society that neglects to educate them properly. This does not absolve these men of blame, but it does insinuate that the problem is institutional, not solely individual. To me that’d suggest that educational reform is in order… perhaps incorporating ‘gender sensitivity’ into school curriculums early on… or if you want to bypass all of that bureaucratic bullshit, the Internet provides us with unlimited creative options in helping to educate young people in new and entertaining ways… I’d start there.  

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If these videos have done anything, they’ve made me so much more conscious of how I communicate with women, which is a great result on some levels, but apparently even making eye contact makes me a potential rapist in her eyes… I am more than aware of how being male and living within a patriarchal society contributes to ‘rape culture’, even if it is by default and is driven by fear… but I mean as if my brown skin and beard weren’t already creating enough preconceptions about my character as it were… we all have shit to deal with.

I’m positive that this post may draw sentiments such as ‘why don’t you propose a solution?’ or ‘you have no right!’…But I firmly believe that causes like this need to be led by those who are plighted by its inequalities… I don’t think a man can lead this revolution against sexism any more than I think I can learn the history of my people from British historians… If your oppressor frees you, you’ll still remain under their thumb… freeing yourself from your oppressor will kick sexism in the bum… Remember that shit.  

I’ve collected a few really positive and insightful videos about feminism, for contrast and inspiration.

 

This is a TED Talk by blogger Courtney E Martin, discussing the three essential paradoxes of her generation’s quest to define the term ‘Feminism’ for themselves.

The next video is a rap written and performed by Madiha Bhatti, who has clearly had enough of the chauvinistic sex fest that is today’s mainstream music industry, and does not mince her words… She quite rightly calls her piece Mu(sick).

The final video features Indian actresses Kalki Koechilin and VJ Juhi Pandey with a very satirical message, speaking out against the poor attitudes to rape shared by many cultures… most notably in India. 

 

Consider this feedback from a feminist who just so happens to be a man, and really wants to see some shit turned around!

Go get ‘em!

K