This week black women take pageant crowns and India sees protests against Islamophobia
This is a sad week, given the result of the General Election. But there are a few uplifting stories of PoC resilience and resistance.
16 Dec 2019
A still from the Miss World final 2019
As if a Tory majority wasn’t enough last week…Taylor Swift has been announced as a headliner at Glastonbury. It’s like I’ve awoken in a worryingly white parallel universe, with Priti Patel’s terrorising smirk as the only glimmer of colour. So, I spent the weekend trying to self-care myself out of an election-triggered meltdown. It didn’t work, but knowing we have 29 wonderful women of colour MPs in the Labour Party fighting for us in parliament instils some hope.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy took Streatham from Chuku Umunna, and Marsha de Cordova held onto her marginal in Battersea, while Britain’s youngest MP Nadia Whittome is a breath of fresh air. The 23-year-old Nottingham East MP is a child of immigrants and has pledged to only accept a “worker’s wage” of £35,000 after-tax, donating the rest of her salary to local causes. Nadia wrote on Twitter: “I will be a new kind of MP, inspired by radical women of colour across the world.” I’m genuinely excited to see the great things she will do. Please accept my attempts at hopefulness. I think I still need time.
Here’s what else went down this week.
Indian women sing in streets of Assam to protest Islamophobic citizenship laws
Indian lawmakers have continued their tirade against Muslims, approving a law that grants citizenship to migrants from Pakistani, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, as long as they’re not Muslim. The Citizenship Amendment Bill grants Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs who fled the three countries before 2015.
Protests broke out all over India against the law, which threatens their secular constitution. Curfews were enacted, troops were deployed and six protestors have died, four killed by police. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party is working towards creating a Hindu nationalist state and has already demonstrated its anti-Muslim agenda in Kashmir. The UN has branded the new citizenship law as “fundamentally discriminatory”.
While some of the protests in north-east India have been violent, many women have taken to the streets in their thousands to sing songs and poems to protest the discriminatory law.
Woman in Hackney makes black dolls as a form of therapy
Black businesswoman Sandra Monero has been awarded funding to help her keep up with the demand for her black dolls. Sandra, who is in her late 40s, was born to Carribean parents from St Lucia and is London born and bred. Tragically, Sandra’s parents and brother died, and creating representative black dolls, inspired by the powerful black women around her, helped her get through the grief.
“Growing up, I only knew about Barbie and Cindy and of course, I wanted to be like them. But being a black child it was impossible as it did not represent me at all,” Sandra told gal-dem. Her Monero Dolls feature a range of different hairstyles, and she produces clothing inspired by her African and Carribean heritage, making use of Ghanian Kente cloth.
Talking about how her dolls have connected her with her community, Sandra said: “Men, women, children are in love with the Monero Dolls. I think its because the dolls tell a story and a few people have reached out to me and told me similar stories about their depression.”
You can visit Monero Kids Boutique in Dalston to see her range of inclusive, representative kids toys.
• A writer from Hong Kong went viral this week with her poem ‘2047’ which discusses the killing of protestors, and the lack of support from other countries and the UN to the people of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
• This year has seen the first openly gay contestant in Miss Universe’s 67-year history. Swe Zin Htet is the reigning Miss Myanmar and bravely came out a week before she was due to participate in the global competition, despite homosexuality being illegal in her home country.
• Amazon has landed the worldwide rights to a documentary all about Rihanna compiled of 1,200 hours of footage taken over the years to give us an exclusive look into her life.
•Facebook has told users that Islamophobic posts meet its community standards despite reports that the site is being used as part of a coordinated scheme profiting from hate and disinformation.
• From Monday, 16 December, undocumented immigrants in New York will be able to get drivers licenses, while Maine Senator Susan Collins introduced a bill to let asylum seekers work sooner, in opposition to White House plans.
• Afro Nation festival is releasing an album, Afro Nation Vol.1, which sees afrobeats artists from Ghana, London, Lagos, and beyond, collaborate.
• A Nigerian and Jamaican entrepreneur, Keisha Ehigie, has created Imagine Me Stories, a book subscription service for black children that includes representative books. Only 4% of children’s books in the UK contain a BAME character, and they are far more likely to contain an animal character than a person of colour.
•Black mothers in the US are three times more likely to die from childbirth than white mothers, according to new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• Taiwan, which became the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage in May, has opened the door to more LGBTQ+ content in its media.
• In a landmark court case, a judge in Japan has ruled that it is illegal to impose restrictions on the bathrooms that transgender people can use.
• US dictionary Merriam-Webster has named “they” as its word of the year, adding a new definition reflecting its use as a singular personal pronoun for non-binary people.
•Murders of indigenous Brazilian Amazon leaders has hit its highest level in two decades, with a total of 10 people being killed this year.
• Nigerian table tennis players, Abia Uchenna Alexandro and Eboh Kenneth Chinedu, were wrongfully deported to Bosnia by Croatian police who mistook them for undocumented immigrants.
• London church SPAC Nation is being investigated over allegations that pastors were pressuring young people to sell their blood to raise funds, according to the ongoing Huffington Post investigation.
• There’s an app for everything these days, and a particularly great festive one this year is one that helps families locate a black Father Christmas, created by a mum who wanted her son to see a Santa he could relate to.
Moment of the week
For the first time in history, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss America, Miss Universe, and Miss World, are all black women. It’s black girl magic and Miss Nigeria’s reaction to Miss Jamaica’s win is giving us the supportive friendship vibes we all need.
A huge well done to Toni-Ann Singh of Jamaica who was crowned Miss World, Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst, Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris, Miss America Nia Franklin, and 2019 Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi from South Africa, who wore her natural hair on the catwalk despite being told by many people to wear a wig.