I finally purchased a pair of jeans that fit relatively well. They are not skinny jeans, but straight legged. Certain body types are not meant for skinny jeans and I am throwing myself into that category. I also opened a bank account. This task was much harder than obtaining a visa to enter this country (as a U.S. Citizen). I guess they said, “We’ll let you in, but make it hard for you once you get here. And then maybe you will go home.” I guess that is a good anti-immigration tactic.
In between reading for classes, I’ve continued to meet some incredible people, watch an exorbitant amount of TV on my computer, and take in some events. If you have been following me on Facebook, I’ve talked about my love for the shows The Inbetweeners and Peep Show. I love British humor. It’s outrageous, creative, raunchy, jaw dropping and dark at times. In both shows there never seems to be a happy ending, but it’s funny nevertheless.
I also managed to attend the London Film Festival where I attended two screenings; a German film Blessed Events and a Norwegian film, Home for Christmas. Both films were excellent and I suggest looking out for them next year. Blessed Events was about a woman who unexpectedly turns up pregnant. It takes her the whole movie to come to grips with the fact that she is having this baby and to accept not only the child, but the man she is having the child with. Home for Christmas was based on the lives of various people and their preparations for the Christmas Holiday. It also had a political undertone to it. While I am not into Christmas heavily, it was a movie that could make any Scrooge’s heart soften. The movie ended with a couple staring into the Northern Lights. I don’t recall ever hearing anything about the Northern Lights. After doing some reading on-line and looking at pictures, I’ve realized that this is something I want to see before I die. I don’t have too many places I want to visit or see, but that is on my list.
The whole of October was Black History Month. In the States, Black History Month is in February. I’m not sure how October got to be nominated in the UK, but I do know that February was chosen because of Carter G. Woodson. Originally he created Black History Week and he chose February because it was the month Abraham Lincoln (the great liberator) was born. The week eventually morphed into a month. During Black History Month I attended several events including a debate on campus held by the Afro-Caribbean Society. In the debate, they talked about the necessity for Black History Month. Some suggested that it should be called something else, a few didn’t like the idea of it at all, and others thought it should be expanded. I believe that all the different months such as Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, etc. are great times to spotlight the achievements of certain groups in our society. However, we should strive to learn about our history and others all year long. Black History Month can’t be inclusive of everything Black. We can however, try to broaden what is spread about our history. Growing up the only thing I really recall about Black History Month or any type of Black History in school was the Eyes on the Prize documentary, Martin Luther King, and the slave trade.
During the month of October, I also attended a lecture at the London School of Economics by Grada Kilomba, a Portuguese woman of African descent who now resides in Germany. She read from her book, Plantation Memories, and it was absolutely phenomenal. I honestly hate going to book readings and signings, but I felt that Ms. Kilomba had a lot to say that not only touched on the cords of what we were learning in class, but some of my own subjectivities. One thing that stood out most was her reading on the subject of “otherness”; a rampant theme in postcolonial discourse. The example that she gave was about an Afro-German woman who was always approached with the question “where are you from?” The answer was always, “I’m from here.” But this answer never satisfied people because she was Black. Her Blackness made her un-German in the eyes of many Germans. Although Germany was the only home she had known.
This whole idea of otherness and belonging was further highlighted as I watched a documentary about a Black Londoner (Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones) who was selected to run for MP as a Tory. The town he was to represent was predominately white with very few minorities. As the camera’s followed Wilfred around town, there was footage of him being heckled by some of the residents. One man indicated that he should go back where he came from. Wilfred’s general response was. “I’m from here. Where should I go?”
The sentiment from this resident was shocking, but nonetheless common as of late. As we have seen the aggression of the Tea Party in America, the aggression from the Right in Europe is strong as well. Although I am very happy to be in the midst of some extremely liberal people, policy is not reflective of that. Islam-a-phobia is not just in the U.S. France has banned the Burka and immigration is a hot-button topic that has resulted in stringent immigration reforms. I met a woman on my first day at the University who had to register for the police within seven days of coming to the UK (as part of her VISA requirement) and she was from Romania. She assumed that everyone on a student VISA had to do so. I told her that I didn’t have to and I felt bad. Many students have set up demonstrations and talks about the immigration issues and I hope to really understand the arguments further.
In addition to the immigration topics, the students are very vocal and active on other topics such as the Israeli-Palestinian issues and the current struggle over budget cuts that will ultimately increase tuition fees. Today I semi-participated in a demonstration. Today’s demonstration put me back to 1996/1997 at Lincoln University. I recall gathering at the top of the Student Union Building, blocking the entrance of the school and protesting outside of the president’s house. We ousted the president from the school and it was a good feeling. It’s been a long time since I have had that spirit or seen that kind of spirit in people. I can’t say that I am passionate about demonstrations and marches. I do find them effective at times, but I also find other tactics more effective like lobbying, writing to officials, boycotting, and striking (speaking of which – they are always on strike here). However, I greatly admire the student’s tenacity and determination. With regards to the current state of politics in the U.S., we have to have the same tenacity and determination, but it can’t be politics as usual. We must be creative and do something different and GOD – please don’t let those tea-baggers hijack America! If so, I’m not coming back.