Category Archives: Social Justice

Glasgow strike

If the council thinks that equal pay for female workers struggling on a basic wage is not an issue to strike over, then let’s see what happens when there are no women doing the lowest status jobs.

Original article here

Susan Aitken said the two-day strike by more than 8,000 mostly female employees, thought to be the largest ever in the UK over pay inequality, would “have a devastating impact and there is no need for it”.

The strike began at 7am on Tuesday after years of legal disputes between unions and Glasgow council over the underpayment of staff in female-dominated roles such as cleaning, with employees earning up to £3 an hour less than those in male-dominated roles such as bin collections.

Thousands of women are pursuing equal pay claims against the council after the court of session, Scotland’s civil court, ruled in their favour last year. GMB and Unison picket lines were set up outside the city chambers on George Square and other sites, including refuse depots.


“Equal pay is not a gift to be given, it is a right for our members to demand. At the moment, 8,000 of our members have gone on strike today because they have lost faith that that demand is going to be met.”


Get Out – Film

A great balance of horror and humour. An award winning screenplay.

White people “admiring” black bodies and consuming them like commodities.

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 15.21.22.png

Watch here.


90th Academy Awards 

-won Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay

-Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (for Kaluuya)

23rd Critics’ Choice Awards

-5 nominations

75th Golden Globe Awards (nominations)

-Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and

-Best Actor – Comedy or Musical for Kaluuya

71st British Academy Film Awards (nominations)

-Best Actor in a Leading Role for Kaluuya

-Best Original Screenplay


Twitter exchange between Sarah Silverman and an angry/hurt dude:
Instead of ignoring the insult, or responding with equal aggression, Silverman took the opportunity to test the neutralizing impact of unexpected love. She took the time to read the Twitter feed of the man who’d harassed her, Jeremy Jamrozy, then gracefully responded that she believed in him, validating his pain and encouraging him to see love in himself.
Then, instead of leaving it at kind words, Silverman leveraged her 12 million Twitter followers and financial power to find back specialists in San Antonio, Texas, where Jamrozy lives, to treat his slipped disks.
“I was once a giving and nice person, but too many things destroyed that and I became bitter and hateful,” Jamrozy told My San Antonio. “Then Sarah showed me the way. Don’t get me wrong, I still got a long way to go, but it’s a start.”
Silverman and Jamrozy’s unlikely connection has resonated with many as an outlier amidst the brutal, self-centered bash-fest that social media often becomes. Entering a new year, Silverman’s selflessness and Jamrozy’s vulnerability offer a powerful antidote to cynicism and hatred.
Most of us don’t have the financial means to foot a stranger’s medical bills, but we all have the capacity to say the simple words Silverman said to her would-be troll: “I see you,” and “I believe you.”

“Expat” or “Immigrant”? Race and Realisations on Privilege

I recently read an article that referred to the word “expat” as something:

In the Western lexicon of human migration there are still lot of remnants of a white supremacist ideology, with hierarchical classes of words created to differentiate White people from the rest of humanity, with the purpose of putting White people above everyone else.

I’d never thought about it before. What is the difference between an “immigrant” and an “expat”?

There were various answers in the comments below the above quoted article. One difference tends to be duration. An expat is planning on returning within a short time, an immigrant is planning on staying longer term. Another might be integration. An expat is more likely to be working in a language they speak very well (like English) and not have much opportunity/motivation to learn the local language, whereas an immigrant would most likely be working in the local language and have more chance of becoming proficient.

As someone who has been living abroad for several years, I came to understand the negative side of “expat”. As an “anglo”, people automatically assumed you know nothing about local customs, often resent your presence as you have “stolen” a local person’s job, expect you to speak their language perfectly immediately, constantly expect you to “integrate” (meaning laughing at their jokes about you). I took a million language classes, I changed my clothes (to blend in), and I breathed a sigh of relief, and something very simple finally clicked.

People of colour cannot change their clothes as I can. They cannot camouflage themselves. It might seem obvious to someone from a multicultural society, but for me, it took the experience of moving out of my “home” country to teach me about privilege.

I thought about all the times my non-white British friends had mentioned racism to me, or I had witnessed the aftermath of a racist incident. I had sometimes said (in my head) at the time: “It’s not that big a deal. Why are they so upset? People say shit to me all the time”.

Then I got it. I can lose weight. I can cut my hair. I can work at conforming. They can’t ever conform physically. And why should they? (Oh crumb nuggets. This was my privilege to only just realise this now. Wha?????!!!!)

I think the tone of the above quoted article is a good example of how a person writes when they are angry after years upon years of unpleasant personal experiences (see “Favourite quotes, below), let alone generation upon generation of colonialism. It’s a rare gift to be able to be keyed up about a subject, like race/colonialism/sexism, without attacking the readers who you may be trying to educate in to reconsidering their positions. It’s a skill I must confess that I have not yet acquired. I know this because many of the blog posts I write I am unable to publish as they too are full of ire. It can take many drafts before I convert my spleen into something that might be considered balanced, bordering on informative.

Favourite quotes from the original article:

Top African professionals going to work in Europe are not considered expats. They are immigrants. Period.

If you see those “expats” in Africa, call them immigrants like everyone else. If that hurts their white superiority, they can jump in the air and stay there!

Favourite quotes from NYT article cited in: “Don’t Call Them Expats”

A more current interpretation of the term “expat” has more to do with privilege. Expats are free to roam between countries and cultures, privileges not afforded to those considered immigrants or migrant workers.

But Hong Kong will extend all of its rights and protections to me once I’ve lived here for seven years–though I often get the feeling there isn’t much expectation of reciprocity, the way immigrants to the United States are expected to learn English and adopt a certain set of values.


UPDATE: A “cleaner” (less angry, attacking) version of the Silicon Africa article was featured in this Guardian article

Speaking Up, Educating, or Cowardly Silence?

My friend had a friend come to stay, so I went to meet them for an afternoon of fun.

This friend seemed nice enough, but a bit sort of frenetic energy, a bit gossipy, but basically alright.

In telling me the story of their adventures the previous night, this girl started to talk about realising that they were dancing next to a trans woman. She referred to the person as “transvestite”, “man”, and “he”. I asked some questions about her appearance as I thought I had seen a trans-woman but the person I saw had light brown hair and the trans-woman they saw last night was young, with very dark hair.

I didn’t correct the person speaking but I didn’t sneer with her, and she started to back pedal a little bit. “Transvestite and transexual. I never know the difference”. I explained, neutrally, using my limited knowledge.

The conversation flowed on. I wondered if I did the right thing (by not reacting and explaining what I knew) or if I was cowardly. My anger wasn’t triggered because I’m not part of the group being attacked, so I was able to calmly respond with factual explanations, not shaming the other person in order to “win”.
I wonder if the conversation served to help this woman change her point of view. I suppose it’s our life experiences that cause us to rethink our positions and resulting behaviour.

Fighting Racism on Facebook. Rule No. 1: Be Nice


So, I’ve noticed a lot of racist things cropping up on my news feed over the past 12 months, and now I’ve read this Guardian article about the rise of racism in the UK. It’s a long article, and if you don’t have time to read it, my favourite quotes from the article are all at the end of this post, in the order they appear in the original article*.

Here’s a corker:

He said the political and media class faced a huge challenge. “Right now we’re in a state of complete denial about why Ukip’s assault on Britain’s elite culture has found an echo, across the political spectrum. This isn’t just a reaction to the financial crisis; and we need to treat people with greater respect than to imply that if only they were better informed and smarter, they would see the error of their ways.”

(Omar Khan, acting director of the Runnymede Trust – Britain’s leading independent race equality thinktank)

If you disagree with racism, with Ukip, with Nigel Farage, then WE NEED YOU. We need YOU to quietly, respectfully say to your Facebook friend who posts something by “Britain First”: “Hey man, actually, the immigrants aren’t stealing your shit. It’s the politicians who are fucking us all over! They are sitting in their mansions laughing their asses off at us all fighting each other!”

So please. Don’t delete people who post anti-immigration/pro Ukip/islamophobic stuff on Facebook. Do the more difficult thing. Let them know that you don’t agree. Quietly, respectfully. But let them know. 

Let them know that the Daily Mail manipulates news stories to play on the anger and frustration we all feel. Let them know that Bah Bah Black Sheep has never, and will never, be banned. Let them know that the people who talk about changing the name of The White House are actually mad right-wingers who say extreme things to make a point and grab headlines. Let them know that if they don’t want to eat Halal meat, they can still go to Subway, just probably not the one that’s closed during Ramadan.

Be kind, and let them know if they have been tricked into believing something that has no basis in fact.

But most of all, be kind.


First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

*The shadow justice minister, Sadiq Khan, said the findings should come as a wake-up call. “This is clear evidence that we cannot be complacent about racial prejudice. Where it manifests itself, it blights our society. Those in positions of authority must take their responsibilities seriously. It also falls to us to address the underlying causes.”

Trevor Phillips, former chair of the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Integration doesn’t happen by accident – you have to work at it. If we want to avoid a slow descent into mutual bigotry, we need to drop the dogma, stop singing kumbaya to each other, weigh the evidence without sentiment, recognise the reality, and work out a programme – both symbolic and practical – to change the reality.”

Campaigners say the new findings are in part a result of a decade that included 9/11 and the subsequent “war on terror”, rising inequality and increasing hostility towards immigration – especially from eastern Europe.

Omar Khan, acting director of the Runnymede Trust – Britain’s leading independent race equality thinktank – said the data should be noted by all the main parties.

“This nails the lie that the problem of racism has been overcome in Britain or that somehow when Jeremy Clarkson said the things he did it is some sort of anomaly that does not tap into a wider problem.

“Politicians became too relaxed and thought that all they had to do was let things continue unhindered and that generational change would take over. But this should act as a warning shot to politicians and the public about how we see ourselves.”

He said the political and media class faced a huge challenge. “Right now we’re in a state of complete denial about why Ukip’s assault on Britain’s elite culture has found an echo, across the political spectrum. This isn’t just a reaction to the financial crisis; and we need to treat people with greater respect than to imply that if only they were better informed and smarter, they would see the error of their ways.”

Prof Bhikhu Parekh, the Labour peer who in 1998 chaired the groundbreaking Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, said the data revealed a country increasingly ill at ease with itself. “The last few years have been marked by fear of loss of identity,” he said. “There have been new people coming in and new mores. People feel uncomfortable. They lose their bearings. What should they say or do to not be classed as racist?

“People have a feeling that we are losing control of our own society in terms of the EU and the liberal establishment and that they are not in charge of their destiny. They feel they can’t do anything about it.”

But he also argues that the language around race has changed. “The term racism has undergone a change of meaning. It has lost its moral force. We use it today too freely. After the war if you said someone was racist, you had images of Hitler. A racist was someone who hated people. Now it is applied to someone who might say: ‘I love my people and want to keep others at a distance.’”

She said the makeup of prejudice was complicated. There are tensions between black and Asian communities – highlighted by the riots in 2005 and 2011 – as well as between white and non-white groups. “It is about class and deprivation and also the result of very poor management of an ethnically diverse city and region. What we need to do is get better at creating public spaces where people can mix, at serving really diverse communities and addressing some of the underlying problems of poverty and isolation.”