Featured

Why was the ‘Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent’ (OWAAD) important?

The distinction between Black feminism and white feminism has long been established, due to the triple burden facing many Black women of race, class and gender. Black feminists have and continue to, highlight the differences in their experiences and issues they are confronted with. On the key issues of family, patriarchy and reproduction,

Black women have distinctly different realities to that of their white middle class counter parts, that often centre the feminist movement.[1] Black women are consistently confronted with racism, resistance and further oppression which white feminism has undermined and silenced. It was in acknowledgment of this that OWAAD was formed in 1978.[2]OWAAD functioned as an umbrella organisation, bringing together various groups of women with divergent interests and focuses.[3] OWAAD had a prominent impact on the women’s liberation movements in Britain, by placing the experiences of Black and Asian women on the liberation agenda. Attracting over 300 women to its first national conference, OWAAD successfully prompted the establishment of Black women’s groups across London.

The ‘Brixton’s Black Women’s Group’ opened in London as the first Black Women’s Centre and Asian and African – Caribbean women founded the ‘Southall Black Sisters’ in North West London.[4] As well as its undeniable influence, OWAAD contributed to several campaigns for the progression of the black experience in the United Kingdom. OWAAD joined the campaign to scrap the SUS laws, which gave the police the powers of stop and search without any cause and was disproportionately used against young Black men.[5] The impact of OWAAD and its initiatives are undeniably powerful and revolutionary. As Stella Dadzie (co-founder of OWAAD) emphasised, OWAAD worked to ‘show people sisterhood in operation’.[6] Not only did OWAAD take on the responsibility of upholding the Black-british community, they also established a legacy of justice and perseverance that remains a fundamental pillar of Black British History.


[1]British Library, ‘Sisterhood and After: The Women’s Liberation Oral History Project’, 3rd June 2011 <https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/stella-dadzie-owaad> last accessed 6/12/2019

[2] Ibid

[3] Bethany Warner, ‘The Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent: constructing a collective identity’, 2016 <http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/history/documents/dissertations/Bethany_Warner2016.pdf > last accessed 6/12/2019

[4] Tess Gayhart, ‘Beyond the SS Empire Windrush: London’s Black History in the Archives’, 9thMay 2016

<https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/kingshistory/category/teaching/> last accessed 6/12/2019

[5] Sophia Siddiqui,’ Still at the Heart of the race, Thirty years on’, 6th September 2018 < http://www.irr.org.uk/news/still-the-heart-of-the-race-thirty-years-on/> last accessed 6/12/2019

[6] Ibid(1)

By Isabelle Ehiorobo

Black Lives Must Always Matter

and when we speak we are afraid

our words will not be heard

nor welcomed

but when we are silent we are still afraid

So it is better to speak

remembering

we were never meant to survive.

– A Litany for Survival, AUDRE LORDE

Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade. They, and countless other Black people, have been murdered by agents of this vicious white-supremacist system. They can now only exist in the public domain as symbols of a basic truth. A truth that refuses to be understood by racists and active proponents of this dangerous white-supremacist society.

White supremacy has a global reach, the UK is not exempt. We say their names: Rashan Charles, Mark Duggan, Sarah Reed, Belly Mujinga, amongst many others. Black men in the UK are forty times more likely to be stopped and search by the police. Black people also disproportionately die as a result of the use of force or restraint by the police. In order to effectively combat this, we as a people need to actively support racial justice organisations, we need to provide mental and emotional support to one another, and we need to invest in our local Black communities.

“In a racist society, it is not enough to not be racist, we must be anti-racist.” – ANGELA DAVIS

For white readers, you are complicit in systemic racism if you cannot, or refuse to, under-stand how protected and powerful you are because of your white skin, wherever you are in this world. For all readers, regardless of the colour of your skin, you are complicit in systemic racism if you do anything that perpetuates this inequitable system as it stands. You are complicit in systemic racism if you wilfully remain ignorant of our shared human histories that have led to this white-supremacist system. You are complicit in systemic racism if you even attempt to rationalise the death of a Black person in these circumstances before accepting the following fundamental truth: they died because they were Black.

It is not about participating in the spectacle of “support”, “sympathy” and “understanding” to assuage guilt, quell one’s conscience or protect a social or commercial brand. It is about being actively oppositional 24/7 against any and every form of racism and white supremacy. It is about unlearning the deplorable and racist untruths that have been ingrained into our collective social consciousness, on a global scale. It is about recognising how systemic racism works, on a global scale. It is about recognising how white supremacy works, on a global scale. It is about being active in decolonising our society and committing to this. We all need to unite together to save Black lives.

We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers rising up worldwide. After years of patience, we understand the necessity of these uprisings against white supremacy and police brutality. Demanding change is essential. These uprisings are needed in order for our truth to be communicated in a language that is undeniably intelligible for everyone. And so, we continue to be emphatic with this basic truth. This truth that refuses to be understood by racists and active proponents of this dangerous white-supremacist society: Black Lives Matter.

Please join us in showing solidarity by using the hashtags #blacklivesmatter and #justice-forGeorgeFloyd on your social media.

We encourage you to donate to and support as many racial justice groups and campaigns as you can. We would suggest the following organisations especially:

Resourcing Racial Justice fund

The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust

Black Lives Matter

Please also support the families and friends of the most recent and named victims of white supremacy, and donate to the bail funds in America in order to help protesters here. And finally, if you are looking to support our efforts in racial justice in the UK, we would urge you to support our work here.

– BLAM UK –

Toni Morrison: Pieces I Am – A Review

Toni Morrison: Pieces I am

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to watch the new documentary dedicated to the life of Toni Morrison. It was a powerful, emotional and gripping piece. I was left in awe of a great thinker, writer, mother and sister.

The film started with Toni Morrison talking about what writing and reading meant to Black people in the South. She told us that her Great Grandfather would boast that he read “the Bible 5 times” as this was a time when Black people were not allowed to read due to laws restricting the literacy of Black people. Reading then was a way of installing pride in Black people as they were banned from doing this. Morrison taught us how the scarcity of reading due to the fact Black people were not allowed to read in the past, gave her and her sister a new found love for reading. I learnt that Morrison had read every single book in her local library. This concept for me really challenged the notion that we have as a society about excellence and the lengths we go to for it. Morrison stated she did this so she could explore different ways of saying the same thing, this gave me a new meaning about what it truly is to be dedicated to excellence. It has even given me a new outlook on life and has broadened the lengths I will go to in order master the field that I am in.

Morrison then went on to talk about her life as a teacher at Howard university, which later led to her becoming an editor for Round House. It was at this role as an editor she took on the notion of ensuring that she wrote books for Black people. Books that did not have the white gaze, books that did not over explain Black life as those who are Black already understand the lifestyle they live. She made it clear that she wanted people to know she was writing for Black people. Her desire to centre that which has been disregarded and seen as unimportant outside of whiteness, shows her commitment to truly being herself. I was able to see Morrison’s outlook and understanding of what it means to be of service to others. Her dedication to serving others was fully reinforced when she stated that she knew “she could not be out in the streets with the activists like Angela Davis and Huey P Newton; but that she would make it her duty to do what she can for the Black movement where she was.” She was the key person behind Angela Davis Autobiography and the works of Muhammad Ali, Bobby Seale, Huey. P Newton. She stated she wanted to ‘help them create pieces that would last forever’. It was such a small act that has had such a profound ripple effect. The novels I am now able to read about Black revolutionaries are something that Toni Morrison helped fashion. Her commitment to ensuring Black narratives are kept alive and centred in such a bold and calculated way has made me develop a new love for Toni Morrison.

The documentary really honed in on the fact that although Toni Morrison is very much loved and appreciated today this was not always the case. When she wrote her first novel Sula a critic stated, ‘that although she was a great writer, she was limiting herself by only writing about Black people’. It is as if for Morrison to be herself and to centre her community’s narratives meant her work would never be valued. Morrison always made it clear that her work was created to validate “Black narratives” that are all to often told from the view of the “white gaze” or not told at all. She made it clear from the start she would be challenging and changing this. Throughout this documentary we are really able to get a true sense of Morrison’s work through her own words, thoughts, feelings and her inspirations. This documentary with Toni Morrison’s voice being at the centre is truly a lasting gift to us all.

The film is still showing in many places around London please click here to find out where you can watch. If you are new to Toni Morrison’s work or an advent reader, I would recommend you watch this Documentary to fully understand this marvellous woman.

By Ife Thompson

Why we no longer need to look to Turtle bay and Rum Kitchen, the quest for Black owned fine dining?

 

Many of us want to support Black British business, as many of us are aware of the narratives about Black owned spaces and know that if we don’t support first, others won’t . As a tailor, I know first-hand how important Black consumers have been in supporting me and ensuring my cliental grows. There have been many recent controversies about people owning business posing like they are for the culture and making loads of money from it, when people from that culture are struggling to make similar business models. One of these is fine dining -Black Owned restaurants.

We have looked wide and far to find you a top quality London based 3 course meal that is Black owned. We have found Annaya place and they serve tasty and beautiful meals from Jamaican. Please support them and put Black cuisines on the map.

By Ife Thompson

If we as a people realized the greatness from which we came we would be less likely to disrespect ourselves.

post