An Alternative Narrative

As mentioned in my last post, we have the Black Nature In Residence Showcase coming up on the evening of 28 October.

This is the first event in a series that identity on tyne through their Earth Sea Love project are collaborating with Northumberland National Park to host.

Other events offered as an alternative to the Future Landscape Programme that will run at the same tine at COP26 in Glasgow, will provide diverse voices to the environmental and conservation movement and makes those all important links between the local and global in terms of the climate crisis.

Starting on 11 November, 7.30-8.30pm – Decolonising the Environmental Movement

I’ll be hosting a conversation with Sarah Hussain and Serayna Solanki

Through their projects and research, both Sarah Hussain and Serayna
Solanki are providing spaces for marginalised communities and people of
colour to engage with nature as a means of changing the narrative around
who has a say in the Climate Change Movement. They are working within
education and research, community and organisational partnerships, to create
and highlight dialogue around climate justice through personal and community
storytelling.

Then 18 November, 7-8pm, Nature Writing Reading

Join me , as host again, with Jo Clement and Zakiya McKenzie for a reading and discussion of literature which explores place, environment, belonging and identity as both writers read from and talk about their recent collections.

Then on 22 November, 7-8pm – A keynote lecture with Grace Hull, Holistic Sustainability

What is holistic sustainability?

Grace Hull created Green Grace Soul to share her journey to living sustainably in a holistic way. Grace attempts to balance the food she eats, the products she uses and the things she buys with the most beneficial outcomes for her health, the health of the planet, and the others living on it.

Sustainable living and Climate Change activism have many faces, and by centring holistic sustainability Grace engages with intersectionality and the social and historical context of climate change through the reflections of her journey that she shares on her website, podcast and DIY projects.

This will be a keynote lecture followed by a Q and A.

A Gratitude List

“My blessings always overflow.” Abiola Abrams

  1. I’m grateful for time away alone in a VW Camper. A dream come true.
  2. I’m grateful for the Autumn light on the mountains in the distance.
  3. I’m grateful for the sound of the sea shhhing me to stillness.
  4. I’m grateful for my babies being well and happy.
  5. I’m grateful for the people who come and go in my life.
  6. I’m grateful for protected boundaries.
  7. I’m grateful for money in the bank.
  8. I’m grateful for projects coming to an end, successfully.
  9. I’m grateful for the hot sweet potato and pumpkin soup.
  10. I’m grateful for the grey heron who’s hunting for fish just in my sightline.

Autumn Walk

This is my season.

I love this time of year. Autumn is my birth season and it’s when I shine. There’s that ‘back-to-school’ feeling accompanied by the change in energy and light. There’s a bubbling of anticipation as the landscape is on the turn. Transformation is possible.

I lean into the season by getting outside into nature as much as possible. Usually when the schools go back , we can enjoy a few weeks of sunshine, a late summer roll out of heat before the temperatures drop.


September is also a good month also to enjoy sea swimming as this is as warm as it’s going to get, The North Sea, after storing some of the summer’s warmth. The water can be so clear sometimes, calm and still.

This transitional season is beautiful because where there is life there is also decay and death. The late blooming flowers still have some joy to give. At the same time as the berries are bursting out of brambles and bushes. Leaves begin to turn colour, to collect in brown bundles. A time to harvest those seeds we planted in spring. A time to count our blessings and give thanks.

Happy Autumn x

Emotional Labour

‘It’s hard to be calm in a world made for whiteness. ‘ Austin Channing Brown

My last post, Black Fatigue, was written in a moment of anger, hence all the mistakes. Not mistakes in the argument or feelings but in the spellings and grammar. But I make no apologies. Sometimes it’s good for the soul, or good for me to let the anger out that I’m carrying around, moment to moment, daily.

It’s probably one of the rare occasions, I’ve allowed myself to vent as I have learned through years and experiences being an angry Black woman gets me nowhere. But the flip side, where has being an amicable and amenable Black woman got me? Probably well down the road of mental health issues and questionable wellbeing.

A week on, and I’m still sick and tired of the things playing out in my life as I move through this world in the body of a Black woman but still not recognised or treated as a fellow human being. I could even say that things have gotten worse as with time, more slights and ignorance and lack of awareness of their actions and inactions accumulate. Continue to accumulate as I get older but also as I attempt and fight to be met eye to eye with others as a human being deserving of living and striving within this world.

I oscillate between exhaustion and anger. Being depleted and fired up. And the worse thing of all is those that cause this suffering are oblivious to it. And even when I take the time and energy to point it out to them, how their actions are being unfair, unjust, unreasonable, and not seeing the situation in it’s totality they get on the defensive, do not engage with the issue, but deflect it away with comments like, ‘ I won’t engage with you when you’re being so aggressive.’

I stand by my post Black Fatigue. I just wish I’d mentioned emotional labour too. I can see now, as I reach 50 years old this year, that I have spent my lifetime trying to fit in. That means trying to be white. That is the only way to be let / given an inch in this game/ society/ life. I’m expected to be white because this is the cultural way of being. White people believe being white is right and good. Anything ‘other’ is wrong and should do everything right to become more white.

Now as I continue to question this standard, the way of operating in society, in the world, I’m going to become more and more angry and exhausted because I’m constantly being judged for being a Black female in a world made for whiteness. Everywhere I turn, in the street, on social media, on the TV, my self-esteem is being chipped away while living with the disparities in job opportunities, health care, education, and in the justice system. And I’m supposed to be happy and grateful when someone white talks about diversity and offers a crumb as if it’s taking a risk.
And then if I have the audacity to ask for more, there’s tears.

I’ve taken a break from social media as I was falling into the comparison spiral trap as well as putting pressure on myself to produce. But I see now what I was doing was performing. This is my pain and this is my joy. I was striving for the viewer, for you, to see me, treat me, like a fellow human being. It appears it’s the only dance I know. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be white at the same time as trying to convince/explain/ argue that I’m worthy, that I’m a fully functioning and feeling human being who deserves to be here for your discarded crumb. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

I’m taking back control and my power so I can control my rage. Not to protect others but myself. I’ve got to make sure now that my anger doesn’t destroy me. I’m putting in emotional labour with me, for me now.

Black Fatigue

It’s been one hell of a week. And it isn’t over yet. I just feel exhausted, drained and a bit bruised and a battered with the world. Can I say the system?

No. I’ve stopped using these kind of non-descriptive terms along with the likes of ‘institutional racism’. As these are terms used to conceal the truth, to deflect attention away from the people who create racist policies and practices. Who act on their racists attitudes and ideas. Who internalise racism and reflect it outwards against others that look like them.

I’m so sick and tired of being made to feel grateful for the crumbs that are thrown my way. That I should shut up and put up and a smile sweetly if I’m invited to the table. That I shouldn’t rock the boat, that I should be shamed or struck by fear into silence. Smile sweetly and just nod my head.

I’ve played the game and helped others tick their boxes as at the time I believed it would bring about change. That once I’d convinced them of my humanity, explained my existence and displayed my intelligence and worth then they would have to listen to me and take me seriously.

I’m sick and tired of this being played out again and again. All I can do is speak up. All I can do is work hard to create opportunities and experiences that weren’t there before for others and myself.

All I can do is call out injustices and imbalances in power and access where I see them. To not stand on the sidelines bickering but creating change on my own terms to make society a more equitable place.

I’m no longer gonna allow others to be putting their labels, insecurities and lenses on me. I know what my intentions are and I know they come from my heart. And I’m not sure everyone can say that when we live in a world which celebrates the achievements of one over the many and rewards the ones who are amenable saying the words that others want to to hear rather than speak their truth.

Guilty was the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial for another bad apple. This is hardly justice if the murders of Black and People of Colour by the Police, through state sponsored terror continues. There needs to be more accountability, there needs to be a cutting down of the whole rotten tree, there needs to be a redistribution of power.

I’m so sick and tired of the infighting, of the lack of listening, of the personal agendas and vested interests. Why are we living as if everything is scarcity, therefore everyone’s in cut-throat competition. Instead of embracing the reality of abundance. There is more than enough to go around except a few insist on hoarding a majority share. If everyone was given the right conditions, their rightful share/ place/ space to thrive, we would each fulfil our own potential.

Just like nature displays. Just as she sets the example. Today on International Earth Day, I just wish more individuals connected with nature, and therefore themselves and each other. The most powerful energy is love. But too many people continue to feed and act on hate.

And I’m just sick and tired of this being the case.

Spring

Can you feel it? Change in the air. A change in the energy; the undercurrent. I can feel it. I feel a quickening in my blood, as I move out of wintering, slow still. But I feel a rising in my energy levels along with my excitement that accompanies it.

Spring is on the horizon. The days are getting longer. The light is coming back. And it feels so good. Because I’ve journeyed through the dark months and I’m still here. And I’m not trying to be dramatic but this last year, since we as a family went into self-isolation due to the Coronavirus, was not foreseen. When I was dreaming and making plans for 2020, being in lockdown was not on the agenda. The best laid plans went to the wall and a deep saddening grief followed.

I have a lot to be grateful for over this past year, the past few months, today. I’ve been practicing leaning in more to gratitude because it supports me in realising that my life is blessed on so many ways.

Now, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel on the horizon, I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve been able to have due to the pandemic. If it wasn’t for lockdown her in the U.K., I wouldn’t have experienced that there is another way of working a s being in this world which doesn’t have to be rushing about, producing something, everything, every minute of the day. I’m grateful for being able to slow down and enjoy my life more, deeper.

I’m grateful for all the old and new people I’ve met up with this hear. I’ve been able to attend so many cool and important events around the world from the comfort of my own home, this year. This has been nurturing a s inspiring.

Right now, today, I’m grateful to still have my health. Yes I keep beating on my body with negative self-talk, but today that stops because I’m alive still, and well and able to continue living the way I want to live and how I live.