Anxiety, Stress and Mental Health

In light of the recent sixth sense publication (the sixth form magazine at my school) about mental health, I thought that it would be nice to shed light on the topic.

Mental Health – what is it? An issue that isn’t addressed enough. Something swept under the carpet and ignored. Why? We have grown up under this belief that if you don’t see it, it doesn’t exist! We have been brought up to learn that concepts such as pain and hurt are proven through physical scars. However, why is this a problem? .

 

Because people think the solution is to “Just cheer up!“But how? This is the problem with Mental health, people don’t take it seriously. Why, because you can’t see it – after all “seeing is believing”. People can never get into another person mind/ body and feel the fear and panic that builds up within them. I can speak from experience, but in those times I lose control of my body – I feel helpless and that is the worst feeling ever.

Why? We have been raised to take control over everything: our lives, our mistakes, our responsibilities and our decisions. But when have we been told to loosen up? To follow the flow and go wherever life takes us. I’m not denying that I’ve heard that advice, but i would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that the first piece of advice is enforced a lot more than the second.

I am in a place where I should be the happiest person alive…but I’m not! My mind is a battlefield for my emotions so yes, I guess I could say I am mentally unstable at times. I guess we can all say that because it impossible to feel a certain emotion 100% of the time. It is possible to be consumed by one though and feel like that. However, if I raise my hand and say that I am not mentally okay, you would automatically assume that I am insane. Mentally unstable = Crazy. This isn’t a tautology. With the rise of social media, technology and social expectations, young people are increasingly thrown into situations that are intoxicated by pressure. Such an overwhelming dose has poisoned us with symptoms of Stress, Anxiety and even Depression. Although 2016 on the whole was a great year for me, it was also the same year that tested my mental health. It is the same year where I experienced one of many mental breakdowns. It was the first time that I accepted the fact that its okay not to always be okay. What matters most is the bounce back. What you do in response to those voices in your head – because trust me, they are there.

So what do you do? I could give you advice but that would be based upon the false pretext that I have found the solution, that I have successfully overcome my own issues. However, I can give you some advice about what I have noticed that has helped me the most. SUPPORT! I have a great network of friends and family who are always there when I need them. Simply asking me “Are you OK?” makes a huge difference. I usually don’t open up about my feelings. I usually bottle things up and let them ‘fester’. So knowing that people are there for you to talk  to means the world. It makes it easier for me to break the barriers in my head and shed some light to the dark.

So, before I go, I just want to ask “Are YOU okay?”

P.S (Sorry nothing makes sense, this is just the why my mind works)

CSG Sixth Sense: https://www.facebook.com/camdensixthsense/

Featured Image Source: Parliament Street

BHM: “Is fear a legitimate justification for the oppression of black people?”

Currently in my history course I am having the privilege to learn about the civil rights movement in America ranging from the end of slavery in 1850 to the election of Barack Obama in 2009. One constant discussion that I have noticed popping up in class is about the motivations of some white people to commit such atrocities towards people of my race. As a result I began to wonder whether ‘fear is a legitimate justification for the oppression of black people.’

One argument that has been raised is that many people were motivated by their fear. The argument entails that white people were scared of the threat of releasing slaves. This fear of the unknown was very prevalent in the US climate because people were worried about what could happen with the rising power of black people. In other words ‘it was one thing to tame the lion and keep it in a cage but would those same people be ready to release it and face its rage?‘ To a certain extent, I understand the argument. However, I don’t believe it is legitimate enough to justify the actions carried out by the perpetrators.

In some instances such as interracial relationships or friendships, if you were caught by extremist groups such as the KKK those who were known as “nigger lovers” would be subject to the same conditions as their black counterparts. Consequently, when it came to saving their own/family lives, disassociating yourself seemed like the best alternative.It was either your life or theirs. When you are put in such life threatening positions the most obvious option is to save yourself. Therefore, it was better be a passive bystander than an active citizen (especially in a country where the majority would be against you). In these circumstances I can understand to an extent their rationality. I haven’t been in such a situation (and God forbid that I ever will) so I can’t judge them for the decision that they took.

However, these people were the minority so I can’t deny the fact that if there were more active citizens standing up against the injustice then change could have occurred a lot quicker. Yet again, having said that, I live in a relatively liberal society where the government generally listens to large scale demonstrations or dissatisfaction. Maybe at the time, the same sort of ‘protest’ wouldn’t be as effective.

Regardless of this claim, we can’t forget the most important stakeholders in this situation, the victim! In such a situation it was always the black person who was severely punished. The white person had a chance to get off ‘scot free‘. Even though the chance might be minimal, it was still a chance – one that the black person wouldn’t get. Furthermore, no one would care for the  victims family. As a matter of fact the family would be at more risk because they were associated with such a ‘criminal’ which then ‘blacklisted’ them within their own community. With the increasing segregation of the two races, especially during the period of the Jim Crow laws, any interaction amongst the races seemed risky and stupid.

Image result for jim crow laws

Source: Mr Nussbaum

But…. Where do we draw the line between an excuse and justification? How far down the line do we say that your fear is acceptable to be acted upon? I understand being afraid of the unknown but how can the mass lynchings, oppression or racism still be a justifiable solution?  If we forever lived in fear then we would have an unbroken and dismantled world. One where a society couldn’t function since all we act upon are our prejudices.

When you are scared of something, surely the first thing you do is avoid the fear? Surely at some point, you ask yourself, why are you scared? Then you try to find a way to cure the fear. Just like an illness- you detect the symptoms, diagnose the illness then you treat it! However, from the history I have learnt, people haven’t taken those precautionary measures. Maybe it is because they have ‘diagnosed’ their ignorance but don’t want it to be treated or they just don’t want to diagnose it in the first place. In these cases the fear isn’t justified, its just an excuse.

In many cases using fear as an excuse is the easy way out. It’s easier to keep fighting than to accept defeat. Why? This is because, I believe we inherently have a culture of blaming others to defend ourselves. It is easier for me to say that you’re wrong, than to confess that I am! It is easier for me to blame my teacher for my bad grades than to accept that I could have done better had I spent more time revising. It is easier to keep arguing with someone even though you know you are wrong. Why? It is probably another one of those natural human habits that we can’t help but do!

However, it takes a brave person to accept that they’re wrong! It takes an intelligent person to get to know someone before they believe their preconceived assumptions. This is a lesson I have learnt throughout History to this present day. During the Holocaust, many Jews feared for their lives but they didn’t stop being Jewish! During and since the Orlando shootings, the LGBTQ+ community didn’t stop being who they were! So why should I? I can’t physically stop being black! I can’t mentally stop being black and I never will! Just because some people don’t accept me for my melanin doesn’t mean I will! Yes, I live in fear for my life and many others because my existence is already a political statement. However, trying to oppress another community isn’t the answer!

In response to the question: Is fear a legitimate justification for the oppression of black people, my answer is NO! It will always be NO! Why? Fear is just an excuse. We don’t have time for excuses because we need solutions so we don’t keep asking ourselves these questions for decades to come.

Featured Image Source: Sophisticated Ignorance

BHM: Black skin is NOT marketable!

Before you read my article, I just want to apologise for disappearing and going MIA. I have been applying to university and caught up with the stress of it all. However, I have finished so I should get back into the swing of things with regular posts again!

In honour of Black History Month, I am dedicating all my posts to black related issues hence they will all contain an abbreviation ‘BHM‘. To read the first post in the series, please read my Black History Month post!  It is an overview of some of the black figures I love and respect!I hope you look forward to this little series because it is very personal as it relates to my experiences as a black woman.

Whether it is hair or beauty us black girls are not good enough for producers! Walking into a drug store such as Boots or Superdrug is honestly  a dreadful experience for many women of colour (WOC) because there are no beauty brands that cater for darker shades. It is impossible!

Therefore, I was quite surprised to learn that in September 2015 the racontuer posted an article stating that “the beauty industry is worth £17 billion to the UK economy, and consumers are expected to spend an average of £342.90 on beauty and skincare this year.” Within in this market, the beauty resource further added that it “employs around one million workers nationwide.

Regardless of these numbers, I still don’t understand why it is difficult to find a foundation or concealer in my shade. In addition, when most of the advocates for beauty products from platforms such as YouTube are women of colour (WOC), I don’t understand why we still face this problem in 2016.

These brands constantly partner with such individuals, thus, at some point these brands should think about targeting their large audiences (which are presumably WOC). Consequently, it should be more than obvious to increase the supply of black beauty products by making them! To further aid this case, if you see the competition for drug store black beauty products in the UK, there is hardly any! Therefore, it only benefits the companies as they can capitalise upon the demand.

Patricia Bright (Source: Blog

 

 

Some of the most frustrating things about this is how I can’t run into a local stop and pick up a foundation if I am running low. That isn’t to say that I use makeup so much that I need to run in and buy it whenever, but, having that privilege would be nice. Knowing that, I as a consumer and a minority, have some kind of importance in the market is empowering – it means I have a voice.

Now trust me I don’t want to target the makeup and beauty industry as a topic of political discussion but until the issue is revolved I have to complain!

My main problem is trying to digest the fact that this industry has enough resources to make a product, enough demand to sell the product and enough representatives to show the product. Having said that, why don’t they make products for darker complexions?

Why do I have to buy high end makeup products from Mac or Fashion Fair just to find my right shade? Why do I have to spend over £50 for a full face of makeup when people of lighter complexions could do the same in less than £25? What is the problem with dark skin? Is it not marketable enough?

Having said that, I have to commend L’Oreal for taking the first step forward. Their most recent make up campaign has introduced a range of complexions that suit a multitude of skin tones! By no means am I saying that this it, but I am very happy to see that they are taking the first step in the right direction. I also hope that this initiative will be the first of many and trigger other companies to realise this huge gap in the market, especially as retail giants such as Sephora could be moving here soon to consume all this demand.

Image result for loreal true match

 

Feature Image Source: The Society Pages (please also read the article attached)

 

Cultural Appropriation: Marc Jacobs and Dreadlocks

I always found Cultural Appropriation to be a topic that is highly controversial and quite scary to discuss. However, today I just couldn’t stay quiet. I have always been scared to discuss my opinions on this matter, but when I heard about the Marc Jacobs and Dreadlocks situation, I just had to vent my frustration.

For those of you who may not know, this season is home to multiple Fashion Weeks across the world.Whether it is from my blog, YouTube video or window shopping in Oxford Street, I have always loved fashion. One day, I hope that I will be able to watch the shows in fashion week and see all the amazing work by such creative designers. One of these designers, for example, is Marc Jacobs. With such talented designs, his brand and work is iconic. So when I saw a video about his show on NowThis Entertainment I was more than happy to watch. However the caption of the video got me the most: “Hey Marc Jacobs, dreadlocks on white models was probably not a good idea.” As soon I read that, things began to take a turn for the worse.

Basically, the video demonstrates the backlash Marc Jacobs has been facing for featuring white models wearing faux dreadlocks in his latest fashion show.

Initially, I  just felt like “here we go again…another Cultural Appropriation issue” because I have literally reached a point where I am just too frustrated to care. However, when I kept watching the video and researching about this issue, I just found myself getting even more angry. I am not the sort of person who gets angry very easily so when I do get angry it takes something big to do that. Not only were the comments I read beneath the video quite disgusting and ignorant but it was the fact that STILL in 2016 people don’t understand why people are so frustrated! One of those people being Marc Jacobs himself.

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Source: The Mirror

Whilst reading the Mirror article: Marc Jacobs defends using dreadlocks in fashion show featuring Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner after sparking row, it mentioned Marc Jacobs response to the backlash. He stated:

Image result for marc jacobs and dreadlocks

Source: Refinery 29

“All who cry “cultural appropriation” or whatever nonsense about any race or skin color wearing their hair in any particular style or manner – funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair.

“I respect and am inspired by people and how they look. I don’t see colour or race – I see people. I’m sorry to read that so many people are so narrow minded… Love is the answer.

“Appreciation of all and inspiration from anywhere is a beautiful thing.”

This whole entire argument is in no way justified for what he has done. It’s clear to me that he doesn’t understand the concept of ‘Cultural Appropriation’ and he doesn’t seem to care. As a matter of fact, on his Instagram page he has just been sharing articles which argue that what he has done isn’t wrong and “Cultural Appropriation” isn’t a ‘big deal.’ Moreover, on his Facebook page he has just been sharing images of the show and made no additional comments which clearly shows how little he cares about the situation.

  1. First of all he states:  “funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair.”

Well Mr Jacobs, if we take a little trip down memory lane to a period called slavery, maybe I can give you a little insight to why many women of colour (WOC) straighten their hair. During the slave trade, WOC (black people in particular) were ridiculed for their Afro-centric features i.e. dark skin, big lips and natural hair. Natural hair has collected numerous insults some more direct e.g. ‘nappy hair’ but other more subtle suggesting that natural hair isn’t ‘tidy’.

Dreadlocks usually occur when natural hair (which is of curly kinky texture), begins to lock in to place. Back in the day, hair tools such as comb and brushes were not readily available so this was just a natural thing to occur. As a matter of fact it collected the term ‘Dread’locks because people were actually scared of it’s appearance. Consequently, such hairstyles were usually frowned upon. In order for a slave to SURVIVE, it was better to look more white/Caucasian. Thus, over the years the creative protective styles from the various tribes of Africa soon became a part of history. Consequently, straighter hair wasn’t a choice simply from desire but a choice to SURVIVE! Unfortunately, this is still a part of our society today where certain institutions such as schools and the working environment still dismiss natural hair. For example, in South Africa where black girls protested against having their hair straightened.

So Mr Jacobs, it is very easy to point the finger to sway the blame but actually addressing the issue at heart is the tricky part!

2. Secondly he also claims that: “I respect and am inspired by people and how they look. I don’t see colour or race”

Very funny you should say that Mr Jacobs because I can’t see any colour either from your fashion shows. Out of all the multiple designs you would like to present I find it interesting how I don’t see many Asian people or black people also gracing the stage. I mean what is so wrong with some colour? Do we not fit your aesthetic? Does our skin colour not work well with your design?

I find it quite difficult to believe that you can argue that “Appreciation of all and inspiration from anywhere is a beautiful thing.” because I don’t see you appreciating it that much. From what I gather, you only perceive other cultures as  beautiful when they come from a white person. Maybe you should take the time to practise what you preach by actually sharing “love” for all cultures by displaying all cultures on the catwalk (not just on a white person).

The thing that frustrates me the most, is the fact that you are capitalising on something inherent to another persons culture and that is really offensive. Especially because in this current day and age, I still can’t go anywhere without having to ‘whiten’ my appearance in order to be accepted. It’s funny how although slavery has ended, the mentality of it still prevails. To be specific, we still see other cultures being treated as inferior to the white culture. If he really wanted to appreciate dreadlocks then he should have featured a black model which actually has REAL dreadlocks on her head.

I know this piece is very different from what I usually write but I thought it was important to share my opinions. Please feel free to share yours below!!! If you still don’t understand ‘Cultural Appropriation’ I will be writing a post about it soon so look out for my upcoming posts!

Featured Image Source: The Guardian

Blog Bites: Are you masculine enough?

Hey everyone, EID MUBARAK!!! I hope you are all well and good.Looking through my blog I have noticed that I haven’t written an Eid related post. Very weird! It would have been a great way to start my Blog Bites series.Regardless, don’t be too disappointed because this blog will soon have a taste of Eid Insha’Allah!

Anyway, time for a quick update.I have decided that I want to start writing mini blog posts for those days where you want to read a quick and detailed post about a particular issue. Not only are they easy for you but also for me when I don’t have enough time to write a huge full on article. Moreover, they allow me to get a sense of what you want to read so I can write more about topics you enjoy reading and I enjoy writing. So look for ‘Blog Bites’ in the title if you want to read a short and sweet piece.

During the summer holidays, I had work experience at Good Business and I was able to write a piece for their weekly newsletter called ‘Friday 5’. To read some more interesting short pieces click here! Otherwise, I hope you enjoy reading this piece and feel free to discuss your opinions in the comments.

Teenage boys are affected by body confidence issues just as much as girls are but often have less access to support, a recent survey shows. 55% of the 18-year-old boys asked had considered changing their diet in order to gain a ‘better body’ and most felt that issues such as eating disorders, dieting, and extreme exercising were relevant to both boys and girls. While magazine spreads featuring women are generally assumed to be photo shopped, advertisements from well-known brands such as Calvin Klein that feature muscular men also set impossible standards for how men should look and are routinely airbrushed, yet there are lower levels of awareness about how these images are altered to represent an unachievable ideal. To address this issue, pressures need to be discussed openly, however societal expectations for how men should display emotion mean that boys are less likely to talk about their worries, making it hard to offer support or even gage the prevalence of body image issues amongst them. This is equally true of mental health issues, and ‘Release the Pressure’, our recent suicide-prevention campaign for Kent County Council, reacted to this by encouraging men to call a hotline and open up about the causes of stress and pressure in their life.

Feature image source: Ad Week

Social Media: The good, the bad and the ugly

SOCIAL MEDIA.

Wow! It has definitely come a long way since I was born – in the late 20th century (that makes me sound extremely old). Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are becoming increasing popular and essentially key forms of communication in our daily lives. Not only are they being used to connect with people all around the world e.g. friends and family, they have become platforms where companies can market themselves and reach out to a wider audience. I have no doubt that it definitely has it’s high points but simultaneously it has it’s low points.

Today, I was watching a bunch of YouTube videos and I came across one called ‘The Stripped down challenge’. As far as I am concerned, it has been surfacing quite a lot recently since Jonah Green started it in early November this year (click here to watch it). The challenge entails sitting in front of a camera for 10 minutes and talking about whatever topic you want – it could be personal, it could be random, it could be anything. The only rules are

  1. You can’t edit the video
  2. You can’t cut anything out
  3. You can’t have any background music
For many of the people I have seen, (I have only watched a few) this was quite difficult because you weren’t able to remove any of those ‘awkward thinking moments‘ or interruptions during your time of recording. The main aim of it was to demonstrate the real side of Youtubers (the true side of people behind the camera) in response to a video uploaded by Essena O’ Neil which was called ‘Why I really am quitting social media’ (click here to watch). The video was quite emotional (especially towards the end) as she talked about the negatives of social media, how her life has been consumed by it and ‘numbers’ e.g. Number of followers or number of likes. She discussed a lot of things which were very much true to an extent and completely justified in some respect but I thought her overall perception of social media was clouded by her experiences. This created a very subjective view of some of the platforms I have mentioned above. Consequently, I had the idea to just sit down and reflect on social media & respond to what she said.
The GOOD
Social media is a great way to connect with people you know & don’t know from the comfort of your home or anywhere because of the availability of the internet on all platforms of technology. To be honest, wherever there is a place where people can come together and talk to each other online, that can be defined as social media. Regardless, of whether it is a forum or just the good old Snapchat.
I am very active on social media and have numerous social media accounts because not only do they allow me to engage in different experiences, they allow me to do different things. For example:
 NetworkPeople
Twitter
It allows me spontaneously blurt out my reactions to daily life, trending topics and connect with celebrities or fandoms e.g. The Walking Dead Fans (you are AWESOME if you watch that show)
Snapchat
It allows me to be 100% free. I post stupid, funny and ugly looking content to my friends or story but I don’t care about the reaction (to a certain extent) because I don’t feel like I need to wear a ‘mask’.
Tumblr/Instagram
It allows me explore my creativity and artistic side. I’m not going to lie but I love aesthetics hence why I have a passion for photography and pictures. Therefore I create themes or edit pictures not because I want to make myself look ‘perfect’ but because I want to create a mood.
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I could write a paragraph or essay on each of these (but ain’t nobody got time for that) however, I just wanted to show that you can achieve great things by using social media as a tool rather than a weapon. It’s qualities such as these which I believe Essena overlooked and forgot to mention in her video.
The BAD

Simultaneously, there are negative things that come from social media. Similar to the saying ‘love and hate are two sides of the same coin’ this also applies. From my experiences, I have witnessed and also experienced the abuse from social media. Although many people go onto Instagram, for example. and post compliments on people’s pictures there are also those trolls a.k.a ‘haters’ who can spam your account with horrible messages.

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Art by Kristina Webb

An example of this is through the platform Ask.fm. This platform allowed people to ask questions to each other or celebrities then those people would be able to directly respond. However, there was a feature where you could make yourself anonymous and people used this as ammunition to ask horrible questions or spam you with horrible messages. I remember, seeing my friends undergoing such torment so I stepped in to protect them. Nevertheless, the hate didn’t stop, it continued and eventually I became the next target. Those days of my life where honestly the most horrible and darkest periods because I felt like I couldn’t turn to anyone. Although I put a brave face and responded back diplomatically, a part of me felt defeated because the hate began to tug on my emotions and wear me down. Fortunately, I had the support of my family and friends to get me out of the situation but not all people are able to recover. Consequently, at the time many young people were commiting suicide due to the hate which accumulated from that site.

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Art by Kristina Webb

The sad thing is the hate/ judgement of other people is almost like a drug. You know it is bad for you but you keep taking it because you’re addicted. You need to see/ know what people think about you so that you can be secure about yourself but this shouldn’t be the case.
The UGLY
The ugly side of social media is this side I believe Essena was dicsuccing about predominantly in her video. Most of her opinions about social media seemed to come from this line of argument so I thought it would be reasonable to share this angle.
After using social media for a while, sometimes it has this undesired affect on people to crave more. It turns you into a person who is no longer content with what they have because they always want more. This is mainly represented with ‘numbers.’ You want a good number of likes, followers and comments in order to demonstrate the social power you have amongst social media and to also gain personal satisfaction. For example, I would feel really gassed if one of my pictures received 10,000 likes because it would feel like 10,000 people approve of your looks, they like your photo and possibly like you. Once you hit that target, you always want to achieve better and better. This applies to all people regardless of whether you are on social media or not e.g. if you get an A on your test, the next time you take a test you would either aim to get another A or possibly an A* because we are generally brought up under the principle tat working hard allows is to achieve success.luubet9hck0dpddtgmhl
However, the problem with this desire is that sometimes we become hungry for it which then makes it a neccessity. You begin to ask for more shoutouts or ask for more likes. You research ways in order to create a better appeal and then start changing yourself in order to conform to the ‘perfect person’ that society wants you to be. You are no longer an individual, just as copy. So this allows the question to arise… What makes you special? How are you different? At this point you have lost your scence of identity and your life becomes dedicated and infatuated by social media. Whenever you get a notification you check your phone and do things that you wouldn’t do in real life (the world outside the computer screen). Therefore, you slowly damage the memories of life because you ‘don’t have time’ to create them because you are stuck behind a screen.
These arguments may seem extreme or a bit far fetched, but honestly social media is a combination of all, even though it doesn’t want to be. For example a person can be kind, a liar and manipulative, they compromise of different personality traits  but depending on who comes into contact with it depends on your perception of them. One person may perceive them to be really kind whilst another may feel like they are a total liar. It’s all down to perception. The problem with perception is that if you’re not open minded then you won’t be able to acknowledge the full package and you will be limited to one view. So I am not going to glorify social media and give it a ton of praise when there are still negative sides to it BUT unlike Essena I will acknowledge the positives rather than allow the negatives to shut them out. As a result, I still stand by my original view about the amazing benefits of social media.
What do you think about social media?

DON’T BOMB SYRIA!

There are only 2hrs remaining (from when I started this post) until we here the verdict in reference to whether the UK will launch airstrikes in Syria to destroy the extremist group, ISIS and their bases. I was very close to not typing this up but I believe that it would be a shame to not share my opinion regarding such a controversial issue. My blog is all about huge political issues such as this, therefore, it would make sense for me to elaborate on my position in this long debate. If there is one thing I want to make clear if you haven’t already noticed, I do not support airstrikes and I do not support the government.

I am a young British Muslim who like everyone else is against terrorism, extremism and violence. I do not appreciate stupid comments or stereotypes attached to the 1.57bn worshippers of Islam because of the actions of the minority. I have no shame of what I believe in and what I practice so when people such as Donald Trump want to brand us with identity badges just like the Nazis did with the Jews, it makes me frustrated that such thoughts can be gathered in any persons mind, let alone escape his shameful mouth.

It makes me raise questions such as: what has happened our world? Why are we not moving forward? Why are we repeating the mistake we have made in the past. In response,  I remember that it is only the minority that I need to be challenging with those questions, not the majority. We have actually come a long way since the past, we have improved so much and extremism is another hurdle in our path to equality and democratic values.

So why d0n’t I support airstrikes?


1. The innocent civilians. I watched a video demonstrating the air strikes from France and I couldn’t help but feel so helpless to watch families, women, children and men screaming for the lives. Some were crying because they were trapped within the rubble which they used to call home, crying for the opportunity to witness the sky once again. 700 of those people lost their lives, and for what reason, because the French couldn’t care less about protecting the majority and innocent. No, they just wanted to destroy ISIS (the minority) without considering the burden attached. The world prayed for Paris when they were victims of such brutality but when the roles are reversed, who is praying for Syria

2. Extremist expansion. The USA releases statistics which stated that 10,000 ISIS members had been killed. Well done! However they failed to mention that ISIS membership doubled, increasing by 20,000. By using violence, we are only adding fuel to the fire and letting it burn. When do we put it out? All these air strikes are not preventing ISIS from committing acts of violence! As a matter of fact, I won’t be surprised if ISIS is just sitting back laughing at all this conflict because you are doing their job for them, killing the innocent and providing an increase to the membership of their ‘club’.
3. What do the people want? Finally, I just wanted to talk about what the people want. Throughout this tough time, all I heard is MPs this, MPs that. At the end of the day only parliament have the final decision in regards to the UK’s position not the people. Why am I not hearing about a referendum? Is it because the government are afraid that we don’t know enough? Is it because the government want to take the decision upon themselves? I find it sad that we don’t directly get a say in an issue which is crucial in our life and that we are left helpless about the final decision. On the other hand, what about the people that matter most – Syrians? I have heard politicians saying that they have gone to Syria and visited innocent civilians and how they are saddened by what ISIS are doing. However, I haven’t heard any of them actually asking them what they want? How can we help them? If they believe airstrikes are the best way forward? At the end of the day, their the people at the heart of this all. They are the people who wake up everyday, unsure about whether that day will be the last day. Not us. If we really ‘care’ about helping Syrians, we need to know what they want and we need to stop making assumptions about what we think is best for them.
I would love to continue explaining about why I am so anti-airstrike but like I mentioned I am a young person who fortunately gets to resume to her homework.  Before, I leave though, I just wanted to say that I find it quite appalling that when 30 school girls were taken by the Boko Haram, when Malala was shot by the Taliban, when 147 were killed by terrorist in Kenya… Where was the UK? Why is it only when Paris had fallen, we jumped to its aid in the name of ‘combating extremism and protecting the innocent.’ I don’t remember hearing  politicians preaching about our democratic values then, so why now?
I am not a ‘terrorist sympathiser’! I am only a young human being who want justice and equality to be applied to every individual that matters! War has proven several times in the past and will once again prove to be ineffective in keeping all us and all those innocent people safe.
So after once again, I urge you to oppose airstrikes. DON’T BOMB SYRIA!!!
 
P.S If you are also want to oppose airstrikes and actively contribute please click here to sign a petition registering your opposing regarding airstrikes.

Pray for Paris

For those of you who don’t know, Paris was unfortunate to be attacked by terrorist from the extremist group called ISIS. These attacks occurred in highly populated areas such as the Bataclan (a popular music venue) at about 9pm on 13th November 2015. Currently the death toll has gone up to 127 with 180 people injured – 80 of which are in a critical state however these numbers could sadly rise over the next couple of day as France mourns over this tragedy.

If there is anything that I hate most, its having to write about the loss of many innocent lives. To think people were enjoying their Friday night off from school or work and then the next minute their night is ruined by suicidal bombers and merciless shooters. I find it hard to say anything because yet again people have died as a result of those who don’t believe in principles such as the freedom of speech, equality for women and education for all. This is what drives me mad because I fail to understand why they oppose such values.

This attack simply illustrates the on going war we are fighting. The war of terror. Sadly, not enough people understand that combating terrorism is becoming increasingly more difficult especially as we are seeing an increase in attacks on the West. Some of the most known are 9/11 in the USA, 7/7 in the UK and now 13/11 in France. With the growth of technology, ISIS networks have become even more encrypted and harder to decode. Now they are even recruiting an army of people to go over and join them e.g. the 3 school girls from Bethnal Green. They are raising an army to spread their radical views and impose them regardless of the impact. ISIS are striking and they are striking hard. Terrorist are no longer people hiding in the shadows, they are coming out into the limelight and making sure their voices are heard e.g. through the use of social media they have been able to leak videos of innocent civilians being beheaded. We are in a war of terror!

However, how can we solve this problem? What can we do? I can start by telling you what we shouldn’t do… retaliate with force. In my opinion, the war of terror really began to take shape after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The west (predominantly the UK – Tony Blair & USA – George W Bush) decided to invade “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people”. However, until this day we are still suffering from the after effects of that decision. Terrorism has escalated to a record high and after 12 years, we have seen events such as the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the execution of Muammar Gaddafi, the refuge crisis and some ‘sort of’ apology from Tony Blair for the Iraq war. In some cases we have come a long way, but in others we haven’t made as much progress as expected. Fighting fire with fire only creates a bigger fire so retaliating with force isn’t going to help at all, it will actually make things worse. Why haven’t the leaders of today learnt from our mistakes in the past with WWI (which we just recently remembered), WWII and the Cold War. This isn’t a time where we should be allocating funds towards nuclear weapons such as trident because we don’t need more nuclear weapons in this world. By choosing to make more of these dangerous and destructive weapons, we are simply giving countries such as North Korea and other middle – eastern countries such as Israel, Pakistan and possible Iran a reason to make/ start to making more weapons.

Diplomacy, rationality and discussion is the way forward to conquering such issues. I’m not saying we should sit around playing ‘peace keeper’ every time but I don’t think we should always rely on the answer of implementing force and producing more weapons because that is what got us in this mess in the first place.

We can also learn to stop being so discriminatory towards Muslims/ Islamophobic because that is where we add the fuel to the fire. Muslims are an innocent group of people who worship the religion called Islam which means peace. They are no different than any other person out there and they are not the threat. I am not the threat. It is extremist which are the threat. They are the people who believe that they are doing the right thing ‘in the name of God’ but honestly don’t understand the faith at all since they carry out such atrocities.

The increase of hate crimes for Muslims have also increased with the rise of terrorism and now it becomes increasingly difficult (for women especially) to actively worship their religion e.g. by wearing the burka, hijab or niqab without facing discriminatory assaults. We live in a country where everyone is entitled to the freedom of expression and the freedom to worship any religion, so why am I or other Muslims in the world being denied this. Yes, ISIS are mainly responsible for ‘converting’ people into believing their radical ideas but to some extent the local community here in the UK and other western countries are responsible for causing people to join ISIS. If you keep telling people to go back to their country, if you keep discriminating against Muslims and if you keep verbally or physically assaulting them, they will listen and they will channel that hurt into anger which ISIS likes to manipulate. Then more people join the army fighting against the west and the vicious cycle keeps on going.  This is like bullying,(in some cases) if you keep harming the victim, they will believe what you say and take action into their own hands by committing suicide or loosing confidence in themselves (disclaimer: this example is only for some cases not all).

However, instead of thinking about what ISIS has ‘achieved’, we should mourn with the families of those in  Paris. We should pray for those in Paris and all the innocent people who have lost their lives. We should raise awareness of what has happened by using our social media platforms as a voice for good e.g. use the hashtag #PrayForParis on Instagram and Twitter or changing your Facebook profile picture to the French flag. We need to show people that what is happening is wrong and we don’t condone it! If you disagree with the decision of any government… Speak up! Voice your opinions, tell them if you disagree with the implementation of force, for example. I am not a huge fan of the David Cameron, but I do sympathise with him when he has to make big decisions about these things.

Don’t stay quiet and watch your world be destroyed by terror… open your voices and speak because the biggest threat to ISIS is humanity standing against terrorism!

– Haddy Jeng

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Lest we forget…11/11

On 11/11/18 at the 11th hour, the armistice was signed – declaring the end of the first world war. As a result, we wear poppies to reflect and respect all the soldiers that sacrificed their lives in order to protect their country and loved ones. Every year on this day we have a 2 min silence in order to remember the casualties of war (including the innocent).

Earlier this week I was asked “Whether we should continue remembering?” and it caused me to think deeply about today and its significance to our lives. I remember as a young child that around the beginning of November a lot of people were wearing red flowers. I felt really intrigued by them they looked so simple yet beautiful and I really wanted one for myself. As I grew a little in primary school, I learnt that these flowers were called ‘Poppies’ and that we wore them as sign of respect towards the people who lost their lives during the war. As a grew a little more in secondary school, I also learnt about the brutality of war and what it actually entailed. Consequently in sixth form, I am able to sit at my computer screen today and write this sentimental piece with a decent wealth of knowledge regarding the subject.

Shell Shock. This is a post traumatic stress disorder which terrorised what was left of ‘a life’ that the soldiers had left. It left them paralysed, blind and deaf. To add to the misery, electrocution was one of the only methods of treatment to conquer the disorder. Some survived however other’s couldn’t cope through the pain. Life offof the front line was an on going nightmare which many wanted to escape. The atrocities of war permanently scared a generation and still some people are suffering the after effects.

This is just an example of the brutality of war. The word war makes me cringe because it is an event which glorifies the destruction of humanity. Some young children in this day and age look up to the soldiers fighting to protect their countries and admire them as “heroes”. Heroes that they wish to become some day. However, that day should never come because there shouldn’t be a war to fight in. There shouldn’t be such violence in the world.

Personally, I don’t believe that soldiers are “heroes” but I do believe that they are brave men & women who are fulfilling their moral duty of protecting their loved ones and the country they call home. I am not saying this to insult anyone but I think using the term “heroes” is another way where we are subconsciously glorifying war. Additionally, it is another way in which we truly forget who we are paying our respects to because it generalises the masses. Rather than respecting how each individual person has contributed towards the war effort, we just assume that they are all one mass power of good which makes it easy to just remember their sacrifice and disengage with the true purpose of today. Although this may seem a mouthful and difficult to understand I am basically trying to say that “Remembrance day is an opportunity to learn and engage with what has happened in the past. It is a way for us to acknowledge that war should never be glorified and that we should always stand against it. It is a way for us to teach and preach those who don’t know about what happened and to prevent such events from happening again.”

You don’t need to research about every single casualty of war but simply learning about one/ listening to someone’s story could really open your eyes and change your prospective on life and humanity in general. This is because each individual that died was unique and that’s what made them human. The government find it easy to send away troops because they don’t get to know each soldier, they don’t have an emotional connection with each soldier, they just send away a mass of people and leave them to do their job. That’s all it is to them, a job. If they fail the job, they will grieve for some time but then they will replace them with another mass of prosperous soldiers and then the vicious cycle repeats.

So in response to the question I mentioned earlier “Should we continue remembering?” YES! It is the least we can do.Such a simple act means a lot to many grieving families and spreads the message that war is a brutal event.

Overall, I would like to end this blog by once again paying my respects to all those who died whether it be the soldiers or the innocent women or children who were killed. If it hadn’t been for their bravery, I wouldn’t be able to write this post today.