Perspectives and Student section writer
Candice is a English Literature with Creative Writing graduate at UEA. She is a published writer and curator/editor for Underpass magazine. With vested interests in race, gender, sexuality, travel and the arts; she can be found hunched over a notebook, writing about it all.
(10.03.17) – But He’s Not Racist
I have been living in Berlin for around two months now and generally the transition from the UK to mainland Europe has been a relatively easy process. If we put rising rent prices, endless German bureaucracy, and the future of Brexit aside, Berlin in some ways is a safe haven for a young black Brit such as myself.
Undoubtedly, my ability to move, live and work in Germany is not possible without an immense amount of privilege. I, unlike many people, do not face the same amount of adversity by simply being here; irrespective of my feelings towards my nationality, having a British passport is a golden ticket I didn’t have to work for. However, even with its numerous working and academic advantages, my citizenship does not defend me against the microaggressions of prejudice and racism that I receive almost on a daily basis.
(11.02.17) – Lone Wolf: The Racialising ofTerror
I was fortunate enough recently to discuss race and race relations with a dear friend of mine. We covered numerous standpoints and theories, but the heart of the conversation was all about exposing the power of language – specifically, how it is inherently embedded with racist structures.
(22.01.17) – A Creative Distance
For the past few weeks I have been mulling over the phrase ‘What’s in a name?’
Famously posed in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the question itself addresses a complex struggle between society’s influence and personal principles. For Juliet, Montague is a cursed history and a treasured ill fate. By virtue of being Capulet, her query is a forceful defiance to alter the course of her history, thus changing the alliance to her name, her lover’s name, and the relation between the two families.
(12.01.17) – Living With Less
I have always been fascinated by the dynamics of space; how we utilise it, what we decide to fill it with and what our own space says about us. If we think globally about ‘space’, its conception works in tandem with a few other fundamental principles of our existence; time, energy and space work in accordance with each other allowing us to exist, perceive and theorise.
(17.11.16) – The Longevity of Art
In times of national or personal struggle, we have long since turned to our favourite books, records or films for companionship and reassurance. We find comfort in these creative endeavours – the note of a song or the rhythm of a sentence – that often mirror the nuances of daily existence. Yet, whilst we use these tools of communication, we have yet to fully support them with our time, interest and money. With authorisation from government officials, local authorities have seen their arts funds and budgets cut consistently since 2010. Consequently, libraries, art galleries and museums have been affected most, with numerous closures occurring across the country.
(03.11.16) – Black Brits and Afropeans
The black British existence is inherently unique. It not only samples cultural flavours or practices from Africa and the Caribbean but seemingly blends those influences into standardised British behaviour. For many black children in modern Britain, the divide between our race and nationality somehow leaves a gap for white or even non-black people of colour to make assumptions as to who we are.
(20.10.16) – A Place for Poetry
The Nobel Prize for Literature is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated and respected arts prizes in the calendar year. Previous winners include Harold Pinter, V.S. Naipaul and Toni Morrison – all of whom have gone on to achieve worldwide and commercial success. This year’s prize was awarded to singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who – surprisingly – only ever wrote one novel. The Blonde on Blonde singer was awarded the honour over rumoured nominees Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Haruki Murakami.‘Having created new poetic expressions within the American songbook tradition’, Dylan’s surrealist, stream-of-consciousness protest lyrics have been given the Nobel stamp of approval – but what impact does this have on our understanding of this increasingly popular form?
(06.10.16) – Review: A Seat at the Table
‘A Seat at the Table’ is the newly debuted project by the enigmatic Solange Knowles. The 21 track album marries intricate layers of R&B with densely packed lyrics, carving open a bigger space to discuss the beauty of black creatives. With features from the likes of Kelly Rowland, Q-Tip, Sampha and Kelela – not forgetting incredible production credits from Raphael Saadiq – there is no denying that Knowles is opening and changing the space for admiring and respecting black creativity.
(21.09.16) – Skepta and the Return of Black Punk Ethos
Grime’s re-emergence into mainstream channels of music should be viewed as nothing less than a testament to the masses of hungry music listeners searching for an angry energy tandem with their feelings of creative distrust with the music industry complex. Whether you see its re-surfacing as positive or negative; its influence has grown so much so, we are willing to finally give it long overdue credibility.
(08.09.16) – Black Erasure in Art
In the niche space we call the ‘art world’, the discrediting or downplaying of black artists has not gone unnoticed as it has undocumented. That’s not to say critical discussion of African/African diaspora art has not been made; it is to suggest however that favourable and more accessible criticism is blessed upon the dominant sphere of white, European Art. For many black artists, including the likes of Kerry James Marshall, publicising the potential racist nature of art history opens up the narrative of what really goes on in the art world.
(25.08.16) – Misogynoir in Sport
To this day, I am unable to pinpoint what exactly about sport coverage brings out numerous forms of oppression and respectability politics. It should come as no surprise that something as global and consistent as the Olympics should regularly undermine or overstate the achievements of many hard-working sportsman – thus propagating outdated and sexist narratives within competitive sport.
(11.08.16) – Miseducation of Grammar Schools
When I think back on my time in grammar school education, it is not with entirely fond memories. I was a working class, BAME student, whose parents were working tirelessly to make sure my educational needs were catered for — be it my uniform, school trips or even paying the annual school fund. Even so, little could be done on their part to protect me from the overly-competitive nature of the grammar school system; an educational structure that paraded itself as a diverse and inclusive market only out of an innate self-fulfilling prophecy to produce a particular class of intellectuals.
It is this underlying vision for education that further widens the gap between the lowest earners in Britain and those that are at the top. The division of children at the age of 11 to test their intelligence further predates to a privileged notion that intelligence is hereditary, and if not, that it can be bought.
(28.07.16) – Graduating Whilst Black
I graduated! I actually graduated. Mortarboard thrown, picture taken, congratulatory conversations with parents and friends and then you hear the dreaded, “What are you doing next?”
It’s not that I have never given much thought to what would come post-university — quite the opposite. The last few months prior to dressing in my cap and gown have been filled with endless job applications, copious redrafts of my CV and looking into Masters programmes both in the UK and elsewhere – I cannot be the only one. I am certain the same can be said of other BAME students whose road to graduate employment is a lot more uncertain and suspiciously taxing.
(14.07.16) – The Revolution Will not be Televised
There is something to be said for the recent solidarity protests in London, Birmingham and Manchester as organised by the Black Lives Matter movement. Never have I seen such a positive, unionised display of blackness that has caught the eye of not only the media, but also the average citizen. As more articles are released, I am becoming more intrigued by the role that social media has played in galvanising mass movement, and implementing revolutionary politics that will leave behind a long lasting message for people of colour to come.
My experience in the UK regarding institutional violence against people of colour was that the baton was always passed to our stateside counterparts. It is not difficult to see why, when sites such as Twitter and Tumblr opened us up to the lives of Trayvon Martin, Ayesha Jones, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland — long before it caught the attention of popular news sites and news networks. It was important that these narratives were being discussed, as it gave people of all races an insight into the practices within forces that are designed to safeguard us —especially in a society of 24-hour surveillance.
(16.06.16) – Can I Have an Educational Refund?
It’s not wrong to ask what university is actually for, is it? As a soon to be graduate, it almost seems expected to find myself questioning what I have been doing for the last three years. Admittedly, a lot all-nighters and sleep, but more importantly, I am pondering as to what I’ve actually learnt in my time as a student.
(02.06.16) – Black Students in White Education
In May 2016, Birmingham City University announced it will be accepting applications for its new degree in ‘Black Studies’— the first of its kind in Europe. The course is said to be an interdisciplinary area of study that will look into migration of the African diaspora, black scholars, and the effects of economics within black communities. Estimated to parallel the popular and esteemed African-American study programmes present at the likes of Yale, Harvard, and Howard University, this programme is finally addressing an underlying problem within British education. More specifically, why black voices have long been ignored or overridden in academic spheres. As a Birmingham native, I have never been more proud to witness this advancement, but we cannot stand by the belief that its implementation is enough.
(19.05.16) – Global Rape: Sexual Assault Is Everyone’s Concern
Trigger warning: rape, sexual assault
South African high court Judge, Mabel Jansen, has come under fire in regards to recently published comments in which she claimed black men find gang-rape of a “baby, daughter and mother a pleasurable past time.” Jansen’s accusations came alongside a series of other inflammatory comments in which she likened rape and murder as cultural pastimes within the (South African) black community. Although Jansen later reported that these comments were taken out of context, this does point to a larger issue of how we understand rape, both as a social and theoretical practice.
(05.05.16) – Studying You: Students With Grief and Mental Illness
When I was in my last year of primary school, I experienced the death of a pupil in the year below; her name was Demi. She had epilepsy and was known to have regular fits, but they were often manageable and not entirely life threatening if responded to sufficiently. I distinctly remember one lunch time as I headed towards the playground, that I passed by Demi having another fit. Teachers and paramedics cornered me off, so as not to make a bigger scene and I ran off to the playground to inform others. Of course we were all concerned, but were mostly pacified in the knowledge she was in the best possible care.
(21.04.16) – Dear Students: It’s Ok To Be Rich
As someone who prides themselves on coming from a Black, working class background, I can honestly say that my attitude towards wealth, especially inherited wealth is not as big a deal as many may think. I am fully aware that an institution such as university is a privilege, which in itself brings together people of different backgrounds and different experiences in their upbringing. That in part is what makes the experience of being a student all the more interesting — being invited into a world unbeknownst to you.
In that respect, university life is a microcosm of our society: people of differing economic status and political alliances co-existing (for the most part). As I said, my attitudes to wealth are largely unaffected, but I cannot deny that I have noticed that attitudes towards wealth from students who come from a ‘privileged’ background, often come with the feeling of shame.
From #oscarssowhite to #rhodesmustfall, a spotlight has been shone on the lack of diversity and positive representation for POC across numerous institutions. Although these discussions have been catalysed in online spheres, the implications of these hashtags reference the real experiences of silencing and downplaying the importance of solidarity among BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) people — particularly in student environments.
In 2015, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) conducted a study that suggested more BME students as opposed to White British students were enrolling in university — despite statistically ‘underperforming’ in academia. A general consensus made by researchers was that students from minority households have higher aspirations regarding education than their white counterparts, even with the increase made to tuition fees and the potential privatisation of student loans at hand.
(09.11.15) – Black History Month and the Practice of Tokenism
Throughout my two, soon to be three, years at UEA I have not only witnessed racial discrimination but have also been a victim to it; everything from casual uses of racial slurs to instances of fetishes and exoticism. It may come as a surprise to some, but not once have I felt that the union has provided an opportunity, be it caucuses or panels to discuss the safety of ethnic students, unless pressured by activist groups or even the media. As October and Black History Month ends, I thought it would serve me and perhaps some other people of colour (POC) well, to reflect on how racial issues, in particular; the experience of black or brown students are often overlooked, diminished, or outright rejected, unless given a socially acceptable platform such as Black History Month or student elections.