Tag Archives: racism

Mental health services are shit

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TW: Suicide, Suicidal ideation

If you’ve had to use mental health services in the UK, you’ll probably know this already.  I have several mental health diagnoses: depression has given me a whole heap of trouble, despite the fact it’s one of the minor mental health ailments I live with.

In January 2018 my doctor sent me to Casualty after I told her I was suicidal. I was referred to the Home Treatment team, and that was where the nightmare really began.  Over the course of a week, I was seen by 5 different people, most of whom hadn’t read any of my notes, so I had to start from the beginning with them.  Each one said they would return, or that I’d see a maximum of 2 people from the team.  That didn’t happen obviously.  What really made this all even more horrible was when I was seen by a black woman who ended up being very biphobic and queerphobic, and could hardly look at me after I spoke to her about how biphobia affected my life in a negative way.  To get this behaviour from a professional in my own home felt truly awful.

I was also encouraged to attend a support group at a day centre.  Again I was met with bigoted and racist views from a Clinical Psychologist who ran the group.  I finally wrote a complaint letter in February.  I met with 2 of the senior staff (one glared at me the whole time).  They said they would review how things were done, but nobody apologised.  In fact it was December 2018 before I got an apology from the head psychiatrist.  She told me she would get an Occupational Therapist and a Psychologist to contact me after the Christmas period.  I heard nothing until 4 months later, I phoned the mental health centre to discharge myself.  I had barely ended the call when I got an incoming call from the Occupational Therapist apologising for the long wait.  “Maybe you’ll think about staying with us,” she said.  “I’ve been thinking about this for 4 months, and the answer is no,” I replied.

I love the NHS, but when it comes to mental health, things are chronically bad.  There is no consistency of service, no awareness of multiple marginalisation, no LGBT+ training.  The only thing in abundance is the volume of lies I’ve been told.  There are no other services for suicidal adults in my part of London.  I can’t get seen by another borough on the NHS.  I have precisely zero options when it comes to this.  Being suicidal is bad, but the way I’ve been treated has magnified that into being intolerable.  These people are supposed to help, but they’ve made things far worse for me, and what tops it off is that the next time I’m suicidal, I’m supposed to go to Casualty where the only thing they can do is refer me to the same people who treated me like shit.cropped-tumblr_os67y3q7tk1qd3j1wo2_1280

White revenge TW: Rape, Racism

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You may or may not have heard about what the actor Liam Neeson has been up to lately.  A friend of Liam’s (a white woman) was raped by a black man.  When Liam found out, he admits he went out looking for a black man to kill. Link to Guardian article.

What Liam did was want to take revenge when the survivor of a terrible experience didn’t ask him to.  He took away her agency, using his anger to have revenge on all black men.  This is something I’ve seen an awful lot.  A white woman or girl is hurt by black men, and all black people, involved or not, must pay for that.  This is in stark reality to the higher numbers of women, femmes and girls of colour who are raped, abused and treated violently by white men.  Who goes after their rapists?  Who cares what happens to them?

Nobody does.

Sadly not even men of colour seem to care about the fate of black women and girls.  If you have a look at images for any Black Lives Matter protest when a Black man is brutalised, there will be massive crowds.  Now look at a protest when a black woman is brutalised.  It will be a hell of a lot smaller, if it happens at all (especially if that woman was a sex worker, trans, disabled, fat etc)

In the UK, the tale of white girls who were sexually abused by Muslim men in Rochdale is a terrible example.  Instead on focusing time and resources helping the girls to heal, the far-right and many other white men have used this to demonise Muslims everywhere.  It’s almost as if they don’t actually give a shit about the survivors of abuse.  If they did, they would take action on the high numbers of children sexually abused by men of all ethnicities (with white men topping that list of abusers).  They would make it feel safer for all victims and survivors to speak up.  But once again, white men have used their idea of white female fragility to fuel their need for violence against men of colour who hurt “one of their own”.

As a survivor of 2 decades of incest and sexual abuse, I know that my abusers were black men, black women, and white men.  I know nobody’s going to try to get revenge for me and what started when I was only three years old.  The thing is, I don’t want revenge.  Apart from the fact that it’s almost impossible – the major abuser (my dad) is long dead, and I never learned the names of the men in vehicles who my dad led me to in a car park on the outskirts of Epping Forest.  What I want is for there to be better support for people of all genders who survived incest, sexual abuse and rape.  I want white men in particular to donate to charities who help the most vulnerable survivors who are People of Colour, disabled, old, and hurting so much.

Keep your revenge.  It doesn’t do me any good – it just satisfies a lust for control that you crave.  I was never yours to start with anyway.

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On World Suicide Prevention Day

These targets on my back are weighing me down:
Biphobia/Fatphobia/Racism/Ableism
“Wait your turn!” Says the well-meaning activist
“Why are you so angry?” Says the self-proclaimed ally.
“My back hurts,” I respond.  “I need help.”

My body is covered in bruises
From people touching me with barge poles:
“I’ve always liked fat girls/black girls/bisexual girls,” says the fetish guy.
“I don’t like holding hands/acknowledging you/kissing you in public,” he says later.
“I’m lonely,” I respond.  “I need help.”

I find a home at the bottom of a barrel:
“If you only lost some weight/wore a wig/lightened your skin,” says the media
“Don’t make this about race,” says the bigot
“Bisexuality is a cop out!” Screams the lesbians and gays at Pride.
“My world is full of hatred,” I respond.  “I need help.”

World Suicide Prevention Day comes around:
“Reach out and talk to someone,” says the Prime Minister
“Call this helpline that doesn’t know how to talk to blacks/bisexuals/old people”
Says the clueless straight white folks
“This life is too painful,” I respond.  “I just want it to stop.”

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Zine Fairs, or a Blizzard on a trestle table

I started making zines on Christmas Day 2014.  There was no snow, no blizzard then; that was reserved for later wen I started selling zines at fairs.  Zine events are white; really white, no matter where they happen in the U.K.  With a couple of exceptions* I’m often the only black person tabling, though there are usually a some POC attending as shoppers. The Blizzard Scale explained: http://j-applebee.tumblr.com/post/160014567848/the-blizzardscale

I’ve had discussions recently with a few organisers of zine fairs held in different parts of the country about the lack of diversity at their fairs.  Their responses showed a powerful ignorance of the needs and issues facing zine creators who are marginalised or oppressed (POC, Disabled, Working Class, Older, and LGBT+.  All these groups are likely to be poorer, so costs for tabling, production and travel to the events will be difficult to budget for.

Issues and Solutions:
Finding out about zine events is another issue, as plenty of fairs attract tablers by word of mouth or invitation only, so marginalised creators are unlikely to find out about these events until the publicity for attendees goes out.  I’ve been told by a one-woman zine fair organiser, “We can’t force marginalised creators to approach us for tables!”  This way of thinking is plainly ridiculous.  If organisers truly want diversity, then they have to make an effort to attract us.  This could be as simple as doing a general call for tablers, but stating you’re looking for marginalised creators too; having a quota, or offering tables for a reduced fee (even if that reduction is small).  These things show that you’re aware of us and want us at your zine fair.

Access:
I’ve tabled at zine fairs held in the basement of a pub, where zero customers visited.  The space was down a steep staircase, making it inaccessible to creators and customers with mobility issues.  This lack of consideration made me despair.  Accessibility isn’t just just for those in wheelchairs – I’ve also tabled at a fair in the back room of a noisy pub where my tinnitus played havoc the whole time.**. On one horrible occasion, a zine fair was held in a London bookshop which had a racist book prominently displayed there.

The U.K is a place with marginalised and oppressed people living in every part of it.  Zines are at its heart a tool created for these groups whose voices are often ignored and silenced.  Nobody would know that from the makeup of most zine fairs though.

*Thanks to:

NW Zinefest https://northwestzinefest.wordpress.com

Weirdo Zinefest https://www.facebook.com/events/865940280157674 (2017 event)

 DIY Cultures http://diycultures.tumblr.com 

Penfight Distro https://penfightdistro.com/zine-events/ has a calendar of Zine fairs throughout the year.

@POCZines http://poczineproject.tumblr.com is a mainly U.S based group that supports Zinesters of Colour

for actively encouraging marginalised zine creators.

**There is NO REASON to hold events in a pub nowadays.  Yes, pubs can be cheap or even free, but the majority of pubs are also very unfriendly/off-putting/inaccessible for:
Women & Femmes
LGBT+ folk
Disabled
People of Colour
Religious people (esp if they wear religious dress)

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Guest Post by @Angreebindii

People of Colour at BiCon: Are we really welcome there?

@Angreebindii works in Higher Education. She has a background in political activism and social justice campaigns. She is QTIPOC, disabled, a trade union organiser and is mostly angry about inequality.

Bicon is the UK’s largest and most consistent event dedicated to the bisexual community. It is the amalgamation of both a conference and a convention, hence the name Bicon. Bicon explores a whole spectrum of issues relating to bisexuality, kink and sex positivity. It came about in the mid-1980s after an event titled ‘The Politics of Bisexuality’ was the first to be organised in London, 1984. What followed was a series of similar events after fully concretising into Bicon shortly after. It is a yearly event where the management and delivery of the event is democratically run.

This year’s event was the second I attended. And it may well be my last. In fact, my first Bicon was on the cusp of being my last. My first Bicon was rifled racism. I found myself swimming in meagre attendance of people of colour in an oppressive sea of white attendees. It was an unsafe space fraught with white dreadlocks and well-meaning pretty white bindis. It also consisted of culturally appropriative events organised and led by white people. These included meditation mornings and tantric sex type of sessions. This year’s Bicon was  pretty much of the same old white thing. Even with Bicon’s sponsorship of first time Bis of Colour attendees, this year’s event was quite white.

There have always been ongoing Bicon issues with whiteness. However, this year took more than an uncomfortable turn and it shook me. The organisers booked in Spectrum, the LGBT arm of the Home Office and praised the presence a uniformed Police Officer at the event. Many members from the Bis of Colour were uncomfortable and felt unsafe. I took to Twitter to highlight the issue. The response was mixed. At one point, it got very frustrating. My ‘views’ were disputed however, those of white people were not. For example: I, a migrant of colour got whitesplained about the police & the Home Office. However, ex-employees of the Home Office received support and compassion for stating the same thing as I did.

The very same weekend the police were aiding racists to attack people of colour in Charlottesville, Bicon was sharing pro-police & Home Office tweets. At the event, organisers and attendees were friendly and complicit with their presence. The lack of sensitivity, disrespect and outright racism at the expense of people of colour was hurtful. It certainly felt that our bisexuality counted less than white queers.

The presence of organisations linked to institutions such as the Home Office and the police is not only racist due to how the people of colour are treated but how our sexuality is discriminated against. Bicon organisers decided to defend their presence. That was racist as well a biphobic, classist, ableist and sexist. Their discrimination towards us were intersecting. The Home Office’s abhorrent treatment of queer, disabled, and women refugees cannot be ignored. The same is with the police. In fact, the police are responsible for killing people of colour due to the colour of their skin. These facts are not ignored by white queers at Bicon – they are debated then negated.

Following from these debates I had about Bicon, I decided that enough was enough.

Bisexuals of colour are told to engage in the event’s organisational processes. We are encouraged to attend, to contribute, and to make complaints within the existing structures. And when we do, we are thanked and our ‘views’ appreciated. However, those views, which in stark reality are in fact outright experiences of discrimination, are only ever just acknowledged. Racism becomes diluted to ‘microaaggression’ and ‘cultural appropriation’ almost as if that is an optional form of being discriminated against. It is as if we, queers of colour, choose to feel discriminated, hence actual change to create decolonised queer spaces become optional. That is all too convenient to white LGBT types. It suits them that we have done our job and contributed. And they have done their bit, they have acknowledged us. So the matter is closed.

Except that for us, queers of colour – the discrimination is ongoing. So each year, we have to do the same, contribute and be muted. It goes on until it becomes all too much for queers of colour. Then sometimes we let the less worse things slide. At other times, we get traumatised, burnt out and angry. Or just angry. Often we need to distance ourselves and take breaks whilst we carry on being racially discriminated against. All the while the racism never stops and nor do the white excuses. Hence, for us the racism never ends.

If we demand our rights, we are told that we are insensitive and unreasonable. We are told to appreciate that Bicon ‘is run by volunteers’. We are told that it takes a lot to organise an event. We are told that organisers get burnt out. We are told that it is a structural issue. All in all, we are told many things and are reduced to feel like misunderstanding children.  At the end of the day, all those things we are told are white excuses for racial bias. Respectability for the structure and the ‘volunteers’ outweigh our struggle to exist safely as bisexuals/queers of colour.

Bicon has been going for over 30 years, yet people of colour still face the brunt of bi-racism. I have been involved in political work since I was seventeen years old so I understand the dynamics of oppression. I have experienced such exclusive behaviours far too much. So for it to happen again, for me, is unacceptable.This is why I have made my decision.

Bicon and its white apologists are not worth my time. In an act of decolonised queer self-love, Bicon will never be graced by my powerful and important presence. Not until, real action occurs. By that I mean at least 1) a consistent increase of Bis of Colour year on year 2) a stronger decolonised code of conduct 3) the proper enforcement of the code of conduct 4) the end to cultural appropriation 4) POC focused session *run* by POCs 5) intersectionality.  

I encourage other queers of colour and their allies to demand the same. We need to stand up and own our power. It is an act of self-love to break an abusive relationship. People of colour everywhere deserve to be respected and valued. Until those changes in Bicon happen, we should stand up and demand change. Bicon’s reward would be our presence. And until then we will thrive by organising together our own events as queers of colour – in a decolonised act of self-love.

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Fat people with visible scars of disfigurements

Fat people who survived abuse/violence & have mental/internal scars

Fat women/femmes who don’t wear, or can’t access make up

Fat women/femmes who are bald or balding

Fat women/femmes who aren’t hourglass or pear shaped

Fat people who are older

Fat people who can’t afford or can’t access the latest fashions

Fat people who are super-fat/super-sized

Fat people who are genderqueer or nonbinary

Fat people of colour who live outside of North America

Fat people who are disabled

Fat people with multiple oppressions

Fat liberation is for you too.  You will probably never see yourself reflected in anything, mainstream or alternative.  You will probably feel let down by body positivity and fat positivity.  But you count.  You matter.