The EU Referendum: Let’s Choose Hope not Despair

Guest post by: Laurence Watt, Political Science Major 

On June 23, the citizens of the United Kingdom narrowly voted to leave the European Union by 52% to 48%. Although for some it’s a time for jubilation, for many others it is a time of great concern and sadness.

Immediately after the Leave side had been declared victorious, the value of the Pound plummeted, the stock market took a hammering, and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron announced he would resign. During the campaign, many in the UK – as well as around the world – perceived the leave campaign to be driven by racism and xenophobia. On top of that, many Britons are fearful that their ability to work, study and travel in Europe is under threat. Perhaps most significantly however, the desires of 48% of the British population as well as the majority of young voters are to be ignored.

However, what’s done is done. Democracy may have its flaws, but it’s the best we have. And so, although many will be unhappy with the result, my objective for this piece is to dispel some myths and propose a more optimistic vision for the future of Great Britain and Europe.

First, although it’s undeniable that elements of the Leave camp were driven by racism and fear, it’s both erroneous and dangerous to suggest that 52% of the British people who voted leave did so out of racism and hatred for Europe and immigrants. In fact, many who voted leave did so for reasons that had nothing to do with bigotry and everything to do with democracy and sovereignty.

Before considering this point, please keep in mind that Europe and the European Union are very different things: Europe is a rich continent exhibiting an array of diverse cultures and opportunities; the European Union is a political-economic union between 28 countries, headed by an unelected European Commission which proposes and enforces laws for member-states. In recent years, the EU has been criticized for becoming increasingly authoritarian and undemocratic. Already, the EU has overruled the demands of elected governments (consider Greece, Ireland and Portugal for example), pushed for greater powers, and stressed its intent to establish a European army with it’s own foreign policy. In particular, many people in Britain were upset that over 55% of UK laws were made in the EU by officials they neither elected nor can vote out.

Secondly, although the pound and the overall UK economy has taken a hit, Great Britain can and will recover. It may not fully recover by tomorrow or even next year, but it will in time. After all, it’s not the politicians or Eurocrats who’ve made Britain the fifth largest economy in the world; it’s the indefatigable British workers. Whether the UK is part of political-economic union or not, the British people will continue to go to work and Great Britain will be strong enough to survive by forging its own trade deals with the rest of the world.

Thirdly, no matter how people voted, what’s to be admired is that the British people participated in one of the largest exercises of democracy in it’s modern history with a voter turnout of 72.2%. Also, for the majority, this vote was very difficult for people to make – especially considering that both campaigns for leave and remain indulged in fear-mongering. In fact, there were many people who were scared of voting based on how they’d be perceived by their friends and family members. In the aftermath, it’s vitally important to remember that every person has a right to their opinion and a right to vote, and those rights should be respected whether you disagree with their stance or not.

Lastly, already a number of leaders from around the world have come out and reassured the UK that, contrary to what some political forecasters predicted, armageddon is not on the horizon. “While the UK’s relationship with the EU will change, one thing that will not change is the special relationship that exists between our two nations,” said Barack Obama. According to Sadiq Khan, London’s new Labour Mayor, although the result may be an unexpected and even an unfortunate one, he believes there’s no need to panic and that he’s confident Britain can survive and prosper outside the European Union. French President François Hollande has also weighed in on the result, implying that Britain’s decision could actually help reform the EU for the better. “To move forward, Europe cannot act as before,” said Hollande.

So, what’s the positive vision for the United Kingdom outside of the EU? Well, let’s start with what we know. We know that the United Kingdom will continue to trade with Europe: Germany will continue to sell it’s cars and France will continue to sell it’s Wine. We also know that the British parliament will once again become supreme by no longer having to bend to the will of the EU commission. Finally, we know that to formally divorce from the EU, the UK will have to invoke article 50 of the EU constitution, which gives it two years to work out it’s economic relations with Eurozone members. However, it isn’t just what we know that should be taken into consideration – it’s what we can hope and strive for.

My sense of optimism for the future of the UK isn’t based on any factual evidence, rather it’s based on hope. What gives me hope? The kindness, intelligence and strength of many friends and family members living in the UK give me hope. The proclivity of the British people to stand up in the face of unimaginable hardship and fight even harder for the values they cherish gives me hope. The idea that finally the EU could be ready to make reforms to address it’s democratic deficit and stop suppressing the elected governments of it’s member states gives me hope. To some it may feel like we’ve embarked on a dangerous path and sunk far below expectations, but more than ever before it’s time we keep calm, keep a stiff upper lip, and carry on. This perspective may be tough to adopt, but it’s ultimately a question of whether we’re courageous enough to choose hope over despair.

Overall, there are undoubtedly many risks ahead of the UK and millions of Britons are justified in feeling upset. However, in the face of great hardship exists great opportunities and, if Britain has proven one thing in the past century, it’s that there is no obstacle too great that it can’t overcome – unless it concerns football. Ultimately, no matter the consequences, I will always be proud to be British.

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The Rise of the Non-Stereotypical Politician.

Proud, repugnant, cocky, ‘sleezy’. These are a couple of the words that have been used to describe the presumptive candidate of the Grand Old Party(Republican Party) in the upcoming United-States election. However, looking at the manner in which he swept multiple states in the primaries there must have been something he was doing right. We are going to explore the rhetoric, strategy and appeal of Donald Trump and his rise from just controversial to also critically crucial in the November 8th election.

statue-of-liberty-1442160So what makes him so appealing to over 8.7 million people currently(according to a Breitbart.com article dated 25th April, 2016) across the United States you may ask. In my view, it is not so much his lack of ‘appropriate’ statements or somewhat-bigoted comments that draws in his audience but more of the direct approach he takes. In a world where politicians are the 2nd most distrusted people( According to the Readers Digest), one who consistently gets straight to the point and avoids ‘wishy-washy’ political tendencies can seem rather attractive. Regardless of his content, his supporters appear to value his resolve which is crucial to all aspects of decision making, especially for a president.

us-capitol-1233848The Donald, as he is popularly called, has shaken the era of political correctness. Raw, uncensored and almost  gnarly, he has continuously broken the laurels of ‘the model politician’, making him somewhat dissociated from the tainted image of everyday politicians. I will give him props for how far he’s come from people joking about his run for presidency to becoming the most likely Republican candidate.

“He is the first media-made candidate. It all comes down to money”
– Gabo Zavala

However, all the credit doesn’t necessarily go to him, with the media giving him hours and hours of unpaid airtime(the New York Times estimates that he has received over $1.8 billion worth of free media) coupled with current occurrences across the states which have aided his rhetoric. The wave of terror attacks  has also paid its due, leading to mass insecurity, racism and islamophobia. Many share in my personal sentiment that Mr. Trump is the true voice of a large section of Americans, that have been silenced by an increasingly politically correct society in recent times. Waves of anti-immigration fanatics and a fight to ‘protect the Second Amendment’ have been at the centre of Trump’s campaign. Thus he appeals to this ‘silent majority’ and given the process that democracy follows, he has a strong chance of becoming the leader of the free world.

In retrospect the fear of  an unconventional candidate may be what our society has needed for some time.  A shock to our social way of life, where people’s views are not particularly aired but masked under a guise of non-controversial half truths. Given the events that have gone on including Panama papers, the Paris Terror Attacks & the Orlando shooting, it is about time we as a global community take action.  A time to have discussion and conflict resolution devoid of violent and hate-speech, where we can find peaceful focal points for progressive solutions. The general elections are taking place on the 8th of November and we can only hope that the true representative of the American people assumes office.

 


 

 

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Ramadan: The Islamic Holy Month of Fasting

Guest post by Elisa Gallaccio.
BA Political Science minor in Economics.

Ramadan Mubarak

ramaRamadan is the ninth-and holiest-month of the Islamic lunar calendar and the month of fasting for Muslims. Ramadan is considered the holiest month because it was in Ramadan that the Qur’an was first revealed.
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Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with confession of faith, five daily prayers, zakah (almsgiving) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah).Ramadan starts upon sighting of the moon. This year, it began on the 7th of June.

 

The purpose of fasting during Ramadan is to help Muslims grow closer to Allah. Fasting is recognized for its health, spiritual and psychological benefits, and is considered by Muslims as a means to improve their moral character and provides an opportunity for spiritual renewal.

 

A typical day during Ramadan

 

Muslims will wake up before the sun rises and eat and drink to prepare for their day. Once the sun is up, there is no eating, drinking, smoking, or intimate encounters until sundown, otherwise known as iftar. Iftar then begins by consuming dates and drink, before beginning their post-iftar prayers. Once the prayers are performed, dinner is typically after 9 pm, until the next day, when the fast begins again. Muslims fast for 14-18 hours per day during Ramadan.

 

Fasting is significant to Islam in many ways. It is not meant to starve Muslims of substance, but rather serves as a lesson on how to control and discipline human desires. When fasting, one learns to say no to things that are otherwise permissible and good. And when one can say no to things that are normally permissible, then one would be able to easily control and avoid that which is forbidden. In essence, it allows one to understand better with those who have very little-the poor and the destitute-and as such, teaches empathy, sympathy, and takes away some of our human selfishness and self-centeredness. Fasting is seen as an opportunity to exercise self-control, cleans the mind, body and spirit, and build a greater connection with Allah through prayers, which ultimately promotes peace. Ramadan is also a time of charitable services, where Muslims can give back to their community and connect with one another.

 

Ramadan is set to end on or near July 6th 2016, depending on the sighting of the new moon. Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations begin for three days after the end of Ramadan. It is during this celebration that practicing Muslims come together to be with their families, prepare feasts, exchange gifts, continue to be charitable, and forgive any harm done to one another. It is a time of love, of prayer and blessings, and connectedness with Allah.

 

To all those participating in Ramadan this year, stop by the International Programs and Services office(UNC 227) on July 6th and 7th for treats and celebration! Eid Mubarak!

 

 

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Apathy in politics: Case Study the UBCSUO election 2016.

suoAre elections really the best way of choosing representatives in leadership? Should there be a mandatory percentage turnout to make an election valid? These were the questions that came to mind when I pondered over the immediate past UBCSUO elections that were held in mid-March, which brings us to the theme of this article, apathy in student politics.

Most of us are guilty of it, myself included, failing to realize the extent to which our inconsideration affects our long term benefit. Across various electoral boards, the phrase, “it makes no difference”, is the excuse many give for their non participation. The belief that individual votes do not really count, in the grand scheme of things, is in itself detrimental to the concept of democracy.

What interested me the most about this particular election was the social media buzz which came with it. Yik Yak, a platform that has some ‘Twitter-esque’ features with an anonymous identity option, was the go to for many keyboard warriors. Refreshing the app every other hour, a plethora of different sentiment could be seen; from the good, to the bad to the ugly.  In some cases people advocated for change while others propagated hateful comments, but the most popular ‘Yaks’ were mainly attacks on the Student Union. The legitimacy of the union was questioned in multiple instances barring an allegedly rigged election, which I personally also found interesting.

The fact of the matter is, under 1,500 people voted. Less than 20% of our student body decided who runs our student union and this is an increase as opposed to the under 10% turnout in previous years. This real question of representation, because can we say the views of under 20% account for the full campus population? Can we truly say democracy is functional in this setting? Could the apathy be a sign that we need to work on building the credibility of our union so students actually feel the system works? I think so. I believe the union can do a lot more to show what they do and how they do it, so students know the importance of having a voice in campus affairs and the benefits of unionization. Also I believe campaigns where students can collaborate with the union to further the campus society and local talent in our small community can also help alleviate this issue.

I will end this piece with one of my favourite quotes from, in my view, one of America’s greatest Presidents:

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Politics of Hair a part of “Rule out Racism Week.”

The Rule out Racism Week is hosted by the Equity and Inclusion office in collaboration with other campus partners including the International Programs and Services, UBCSUO, and SARA to mitigate the cancer of racism in our campus community .

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The Politics of Hair event was hosted by Siona Coker, a 4th year Philosophy, Gender and Women’s studies double major, who prepared a presentation on black hair. She approached the topic from the concept of good hair as perpetuated by the major hair brands and media. Touching on topics including what hair is ‘professional’ , the problem with touching people’s hair without permission, and the differences in texture of natural hair, as well as appropriation.

rastafarians-1-1430384For a long time, Eurocentric beauty standards have been the order of the day and people who have not subscribed to these standards especially in the professional world sometimes face institutional racism. They are sent home from school because of their hair whose texture they have little control over, or are less competitive for job opportunities because of their ‘unprofessional’ hairstyles. Siona spoke on the reasons why ‘wearing your mane’ was a source of pride, as well as the damage that heat use (for straightening) does to black hair and the costs black women have to go through to be professional.

The discussion moved on to why touching peoples hair is a complete No-No, especially as it pertains to women, because of the long history of patriarchy and inequality in the system. It was revealed that hair is perceived as very intimate, and when people who have not been given permission to touch it, reach in, they reinforce the privilege that they have, more so when men do it. Many of the participants believed that their hair is a symbol of liberation, which when people randomly touch,  re-oppreses them.

Post discussion, I thought about why, in the 21st century, some people are still concerned about how people look instead of what skills they bring to the table. It is part of the reason why mitigating systemic and institutional racism as well as all forms of discrimination from our society. More discussions like these in our community can contribute to our minute quota in the world, in attempts to curb discrimination.

 

 

 

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Syrian Relief Charity Gala

Everyone is aware of the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis that has unfolded as a result. We all have read about the plight of the refugees, the reluctance of some nations to embrace them and the willingness of some to welcome them. Seeing such tragedy makes many of us want to help in any way possible. But we often don’t have that opportunity because we cannot physically go there and help. However, an opportunity was created by the Syrian Charity Gala which was held on 10th March in Laurel Packinghouse in downtown Kelowna. The event was organized by Fatima Zahra Sentissi, in support with UBC Students Union Okanagan (UBCSUO) and International Programs and Services (IPS).

Fatima is a 4th year Management student from Morocco. When she read about all that was happening to Syrians, she wanted to do something to help. She approached Romey Jaswal of UBCSUO. Romey was leading a Syrian Medical Relief Drive, raising money to collect medical supplies to send to field hospitals in Syria. He had successfully collected over $20,000 in retail worth of medical supplies from different individuals and entities in Kelowna. Fatima wanted to contribute to this initiative. She came up with the idea of organizing a Syrian Relief Charity Gala, which would not only raise money through donations and ticket sales but also create more awareness about the situation.

With financial and logistical support from UBCSUO and IPS, Fatima put together the gala. On the night of March 10th, Laurel Packinghouse was packed with UBCO students and individuals from the Kelowna community, including the Mayor of Kelowna. Every individual who bought a ticket to the event or made a donation did so because it gave them the opportunity to finally help in this crisis.

The event included some phenomenal performances from UBCO students and clubs such as UBCO Beats, Asian Student Association, African-Carribbean Club, Nosa and Czarina. Two performances that were particularly moving were a spoken word poem and a presentation, both done by Syrian undergraduate students at UBCO.

The poetry was recited by Marya Atassi. Through her performance, Marya conveyed the bitter truth about how refugees are viewed as outcasts no matter where they are. She wanted to convey that the victims of the war are the refugees who have lost their homes, how they are human beings just like us and wanted to belong to a community just like us. Her words left an impact on the audience about how the struggle for refugees doesn’t end in just reaching a safe country. It continues with making the country their new home.

On the other hand, the presentation was done by Karam Alshelh, another UBCO undergraduate student. The room went dark. Karam used visuals and sounds and explained the stark reality of the Syrian civil war. He showed pictures of his hometown before the war; it had beautiful streets and houses. But when he showed the images of the same places after the war, it sent a shiver down everyone’s spine. To see the difference and hear from a person who has lived there about his beautiful definition of home and what it had turned to, the war became that much more real.

With over 200 people attending, the gala raised $2000 in ticket sales and $500 from donations. The money was contributed towards the Syrian Medical Relief Drive. This gala enabled UBCO students and the Kelowna community to unite and show that we stand with the Syrians. We might be far away from them but we wish the best for them and hope that there is a peaceful solution to the conflict.

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International Women’s Day Interviews: Part 4

In light of the celebration of International Women’s Week, the Global Spectrum, in collaboration with International Programs & Services, will showcase interviews with our UBC-O community. Enjoy!

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Sierra Bharmal

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

For me a remarkable woman or self identified woman is somebody who doesn’t let either other woman or other people who identified as male to pick or have an impact on their decision on how to live their life

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

For me, a person who i find remarkable is my mom she made the decision to stop working, so that she could focus on her hobbies, she loves to play tennis and  she is improved a lot in the last year, she is taking the initiative to join classes, even if they can be intimidating. like for example in Santiago, she joined all male classes, so that she can improve her self. because she wanted to prove that she is just as good a the male, she exercises for her, because it makes her feel good. she doesn’t do it for anybody else. she takes interest in all hobbies that she wants, she learned to play the guitar, she continues to learn to speak Spanish, she wants to pick up another language and so for me she is remarkable, because she is doing what makes her happy without letting other people stop her.

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Joses Akampurira

Q: Do you have a woman in mind who you think is remarkable or exceptional? Why?

The most remarkable woman would be a mother. Motherhood is not an easy gift, I can tell you its a choice that people make but its really though for raising a child, and a boy in that. But what is remarkable is all the sacrifices she makes. Having your only son go miles and miles away from you, knowing you will never get to see him until a year or more.

Just to live by the faith that he is okay in a world that you don’t know anything about, that is a huge sacrifice. It is this thing about a mother you can tell, how much they do for their children to be comfortable. They make so many sacrifices. That alone makes them remarkable!

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Tolga Aday

Q: Do you have a woman in mind who you think is remarkable or exceptional? Why? mandira_1912@hotmail.com

First of all I think we all humans are the same. Same spirit, same this, same that. I can’t say what makes a person special, but for a woman, there are different categories. Some people like the look, some people like the spirit. But for me, what makes a woman special is how she is independent at a time such as this. My mom is an independent woman and she has raised me.

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International Women’s Day Interviews (Part 3)

International-Womens-Day1In light of the celebration of International Women’s Week, the Global Spectrum, in collaboration with International Programs & Services, will showcase interviews with our UBC-O community. Enjoy!

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Dushun Wilson

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

The ability to fully embody their identity. Just, the ability to completely know what they are, and not take anyone else’s perception of themselves as they take their own

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

My mother is exceptional because she has been able to take on roles that I feel men would typically take on, without compromising her femininity and without being shoehorned into a role that people would call manly.

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Vicky Medeia

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

I think that what makes someone exceptional is being strong, being able to keep going on when everyone and everything is trying to stop you and going against you, while being selfless; caring more about how it will affect others, than how it will affect you.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

My mum. Last year my mum was diagnosed with cancer, and when she was diagnosed, she didn’t tell me because the first thing she thought was how I was going to feel guilty of not being able to be with her. So, she waited a while and let me know that everything was fine, that she was sick and getting treatment, and that everything would be fine. Even though I know she was sad and emotionally stressed and drained, she kept thinking about how I would take it. That for me is a very strong woman.

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Karlee Friesen 

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

I think to be a remarkable woman is to be someone who stands up for what you believe in, someone who is confident, you don’t have to be confident all the time, but to do what you can with the resources that you have. Being yourself and knowing who you are.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

I have a lot of self-identified women role models. Especially since there’s so many amazing women out there in pop culture right now that are taking a stand and telling it how it is, and that is really awesome, because several years ago you wouldn’t have got that in popular culture. Now it is such a big topic, which is really good, as it brings forth so many opportunities for women especially young women, because they’re the ones seeing it the most on different media. It’s a really good time to be a woman! Even though there’s still progress to be made.

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Murad Alnashef

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

A woman who I think is remarkable would be my mom. The reason being that my mom has been a very hard working, dedicated, loyal and ambitious woman. Reason why I think she’s remarkable is because she is basically selfless. Her goal in life was to raise me right and do what’s best for me. She raised me with a set of values that I’ll always carry on in my entire life. And even to this day what I am and what I’ll become will always be a result of what she has done for me.

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International Women’s Day Interviews (Part 2)

International-Womens-Day1In light of the celebration of International Women’s Week, the Global Spectrum, in collaboration with International Programs & Services, will showcase interviews with our UBC-O community. Enjoy!

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Joseph Khouri

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

What makes a woman special is the achievements and goals that she puts in her mind and actually achieves them, goes for it and doesn’t hesitate when it comes to it being difficult or out of her way. A woman’s courage in society will help bring about gender equality, especially in countries that are less developed and have that issue that bring their economy down thus women play a major role in the human cycle by raising children that are well educated and self-reliant.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

I think my sister would fit the characteristics I have given because she has come to Canada all by herself and she has been doing great, going to university, studying and getting the potential that she deserves. Living along for an Arab girl this is a big step in her life especially since there aren’t many people she can rely on being away from home.

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Avery Bridge 

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

Confidence, and being able to follow her dreams. Someone who isn’t held back by identities and by what someone should be.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

My mum, because she is an engineer, and people told her she shouldn’t be an engineer because she was a girl, so yeah, I think it’s cool she did it anyways.

IMG_1225 2Jessica Sulz 

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

To me, even in the face of adversity, when you stand up for what you believe in is something that makes a woman remarkable.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

My mum. I know it’s pretty cliché and many people say that, but my mum to me is really remarkable because she was a police officer and when she was going into the police industry, there wasn’t many women in there. I think that’s really inspiring to me, that she did that anyway. She ended up being singled out because she was a woman, because she was able to get pregnant and take time off work, and she ended up losing her job, but she still took a stand against this. She is now a big advocate for women, she gets recognition from others.

IMG_1222 2Mary Song 

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

What makes a woman exceptional would be the things that they have encountered in their lives and things that they have pushed through and fought for. A woman that I think that has both those qualities is my mother as she’s a residential school survivor. She’s been sober now for 13 years. This past year she’s overcome so many obstacles in regards to a different way of living, learning to be around people, learning how to talk about residential school, learning how to read about it without feeling too uncomfortable and pushing it away. Learning to understand and read where I come from being her daughter and the impact it’s had on my family. She’s just really inspired me to keep pushing, to move forward with helping other families heal and other individuals who are still suffering or else live with those impacts within their own communities or family structures

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Borderless

Drenched in Blood stained crimson,
Embellished in Gold plated armour,
Adorned in vibrant Green raffia,
I am none other than the Black star.

I am none other than mighty Senegambia,
A valiant warrior; Asantewaa of the Gold Coast.
The Ivory that is the horn of Africa,
A son of a land I’m proud, I boast.

Oh Mother Africa, have your offspring failed you?
Running off to America, in search of a dream …
… long turned nightmare.
Our forefathers who fought for our freedom,
Turn in their graves in disdain.
But our efforts, our efforts, they are not in vain.

Compton, Detroit, Kingston, Libreville.
Brothers are bound by their unending title,
Negro, Black, Coloured, African.
A struggle for identity crucially vital.

But I dream of an Africa,
One where we aren’t marred as charity cases,
But strong, resilient, happy faces.
One where we see ourselves as a unit, one people,
UBUNTU; I am because you are.

–  Nene Azu

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