My Advice for “White Allies”

One of the many beautiful things about the left is that it has the ability to enlighten white people about the systematic oppression that our non-white friends, neighbours, colleagues and even family members face on a daily basis. Although we will never understand what people of colour go through we have the opportunity to be enlightened about white supremacy, and how through many forms it is harmful for not just them but us as well. The problem is many of us are faced with a crisis, we don’t know where we stand and how we should act in certain circles. Most of all we are out of place and are forced to adapt to unfamiliar settings, which can be both uncomfortable and testing based on how we react.

Personally, as a CIS heterosexual white male, I have never been a fan of the term “white ally”. It is just not something I identify with. I can’t wear it with pride as a patch on my spiritual biker cut. The term “white ally” is often surrounded by a set of unwritten requirements and expectations which can often over complicate a white activist’s thought process and in turn their sense of direction. More importantly it complicates how we define our sense of belonging within activist groups, and that ilk. The word “ally” implies a level of “distant friendliness and empathy”, although we as white people are not oppressed we seek to reach out and help those who are. This can be problematic as most “white allies” have no idea how to do this in a way which can actually benefit oppressed peoples of colour.

All too often amongst left wing groups you come across the overly eager white members, indiscriminate of age, who are almost bouncing in their seat to show how different they are to their ‘oppressive counterparts’. I’m sure some of you can think of a few large socialist organisations in which this is fatally rampant. The problem is many of these self professed “white allies” who have been allowed into spaces created by peoples of colour, unknowingly commit their most carnal of sins, talking over oppressed peoples and inadvertently dominating the narrative set by oppressed peoples during discussions. This is a total calamity in itself, and ruins numerous organisations. I have lost count of the events I have partaken in, or observed, where white members would talk for what seemed like hours about oppression they had never faced, and either knowingly or unknowingly, shut out the voices of minorities who had suffered oppression and as a result had perhaps more valuable contributions to the discussion. I can vividly remember the countless rolling eyes of non-white listeners when this took place. These listeners were probably glad at first to realise that a white person was taking interest in their cause, but were later regretful that they had been given an opportunity to shut out the voices of those that mattered most, the oppressed. In the spaces the oppressed otherwise feel most safe. The eagerness of the “White ally” to prove he/she is different to their “oppressive counterparts” can be intoxicating. The majority simply have no idea about how to properly direct their enthusiasm. It shows, it really does.

A contemporary example of my last paragraph in action before I advance. Russell Brand can support those at risk of losing their council flats, but he cannot speak for them as Russell Brand is not at risk of losing his council flat. He is a millionaire, he does not live in a council flat. Therefore he cannot speak as someone who lives in a council flat. By talking too much on their forum, he risks stifling the voices of those who are at risk and making it “The Russell Brand show featuring Eviction”. In simpler terms: Russell Brand cannot speak for the people at risk, as he is not at risk. He has to know when to step back.

The most powerful thing a “white ally” can do is step back. In order to do this the “White ally” must learn when and where they need to step back. The key role of the “White Ally” is to be of the best help he can to his oppressed fellows. When does a “white ally” have to step back? When they get too close. What this means is that when a “white ally” finds themselves going “deep cover” (to paraphrase Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg’s 1992 hit), they need to step back. Simply, when they find themselves regularly talking at length about issues which won’t affect them, with a false understanding, they need to step away as they risk stifling the voices of the oppressed as a result of their privilege. These issues often take the form of subjects such as: colourism, genocide, cultural appropriation, tackling religious extremism in foreign countries, racial discrimination, state violence and the legacy of famous non-white activist figures (most notably Martin Luther King). All too often “white allies” will take it upon themselves to write at length about people of interest within the struggle. Choosing to ignore that their role is not to determine the legacy of these people, which is what they’re doing whether they realise it or not. “White allies” must realise that the same applies to their musings on things such as discrimination and cultural appropriation, of which it is highly unlikely they will ever experience. You aren’t needed here, step back and apply your energy more constructively.

How does a “white ally” apply themselves once they have taken the often difficult step back? They research and they learn as much as possible. Once again “knowledge is power”. A “white ally” is useful once they can offer another outlook or understanding of a social justice issue. Which in turn adds another bullet in the arsenal of oppressed people fighting back against an oppressive system. That means that they develop an understanding first, only then do they offer their findings in the form of suggestion. Rather than be at risk of baseless critique derived from a place of scarce understanding. The job of the “White ally” is to assist, not provide for oppressed people. Oppressed peoples of colour have plenty to provide, their risk is being shut out by boisterous voices driven by weak understanding. For example, if a white person looks to set up an organisation fighting oppression they need to make sure that the oppressed people take the forefront. They are not the oppressed people and probably never will be. Assist, not provide. The final way a “white ally” can best assist oppressed peoples of colour is by seeking to spot nasty habits they have inadvertently internalised. You may not recognise them but people who you are attempting to help will. What you then do is take the logical next step, make your best efforts to remove them.

To put it simply, there are only 3 steps required of the White ally:
1) Learn to recognise systematic oppression
2) Do not support systematic oppression
3) Contribute intelligently

A final note, being a white ally does not mean that you have to take responsibility for the actions of all white people in the past and constantly disassociate yourself from white culture and the nasty features of white history. Unless your family directly benefitted from the slave trade or had the facility to end it but chose not to, you do not have to live as if you bare the burden. To quote the late great Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, “it’s not your fault”. You are not making things better for yourselves by refusing to see the beauty in your own culture as well as recognising that in others. Just because you find the Roman Empire and the Crusades interesting doesn’t mean that you can’t appreciate the Fatamid Empire or the Ashanti Kingdom or vica versa, for example. Yes white people have done nasty shit, but you don’t bare the burden. History is far too deep and complex for it to be that simple. Another example that puts this into context is the Iraq war. Tony Blair and the New Labour cabinet of 1997-2001 bare the burden of the Iraq war, not the British public.

To conclude the greatest thing a white ally can do is; step back, breathe in, breathe out, put your ego aside and learn to find a way of being yourself and supporting the oppressed. In such a way which doesn’t compromise your being.

By Louis Earle @RemoveCapital

These views do not represent the views of all Rmovement members but individual members. 

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Stop And Search Workshop and training.

We are hosting a stop and search workshop on Thursday the 26th of February, in order to teach people about their rights when confronted by the police and to train people in order to go out on the streets to teach people about their stop and search rights, in order to combat state violence in the form of stop and searches (27% of which were found to be illegal or unlawful by a legal inquiry)

We need as many people to take part in this as possible!

Location: City University

Date: 26th of February 2015

Time: 7PM

Is it fair to characterise the period of Pax Britannica as a time of benevolent hegemonic leadership?

A common assertion about the Pax Britannica is that this period was the time of ‘British prosperity and imperial confidence’ (Watts 2007, pg 547) between 1815 and 1914, Great Britain succeeded in sustaining their naval supremacy and was the first to establish the largest industrial empire in history. Indeed, it is tempting to label this period as a time of benevolent hegemonic leadership, having said that, in this essay I shall contend that the Pax Britannica was a period of savagery and depredation. Britain’s military and domestic accomplishments were due to colonial possession, forced assimilation and absence of accountability.

Going back to the original question, firstly, I will address the accomplishments of the British Empire between 1815 and 1914. Secondly, I will look at whether the Evangelical missionaries in West Africa that occurred from 1804 onwards had a positive impact on native peoples and the British Empire. Thirdly, this essay will mention the significance of the Napoleon war, the East India Company and the Boer War that took place between 1899 and 1902. Furthermore, I shall conclude that it is unfair to commend the period of Pax Britannica as a benevolent and hegemonic leadership.

 Firstly, to understand the nature of Pax Britannica, it is vital to discuss in depth the accomplishments gained by Great Britain, which will bring together the inconsistent assumption that this period was the time of benevolent and hegemonic leadership. With a population of more than 400 million Britain held the largest empire with its consistent global power (Niall 2004). What’s more, the Great Britain seized the advantage of having the superior geographical position globally. In terms of raw materials, by 1800, the consumption of sugar in Great Britain had increased by 2,500 per cent in 150 years (Walvin 2001, pg 5). Overseas; white settlers from Great Britain had a responsibility (and succeeded) in elevating the native cultures to the prestigious level of British civilisation. Understandably, there is a large belief that survives in Britain that the Pax Britannica was an enlightening enterprise that brought the benefits of civilisation abroad inevitably with collateral damage. George Orwell correctly phrases;‘They built a prison and call it progress.’(Jackson 2013, pg 3). Additionally, the accidental global power Great Britain gained is attributed to the failures of the Napoleon wars between 1803 and 1815 and the lack of domestic threat from European states.

The imperial rhetoric of benevolence was the assumption that colonisation was an inherent necessity for indigenous people and their traditional cultures. Frederick Weld, a governor of several British colonies held the belief that supported this ideology of benevolence. He expressed that:

‘The material work of colonization — taking over the land, “civilizing” or eradicating or evicting the indigenous inhabitants — becomes the accepting of an invitation not merely from the ruler of Empire, but from God, whose creative powers have been co-opted to the provision of pastoral resources. Colonization, naturalized as pastoralism, comes to constitute a benevolent and beneficent project’ (Gilbert and Tiffin 2008, pg 80)

Weld’s attitude towards colonialism is one of many as to why Great Britain held an altruistic view towards cultures abroad they felt were indecent. Despite this, it was this belief that caused the death of innocent indigenous peoples, once resistance was displayed. The word ‘benevolent’ has connotations such as charity, philanthropy, and decency, all terms describing the act of great of care for others. Aforementioned, the Pax Britannia is known to be the period of relative peace, when Great Britain stipulated services such as abolishing the slave trade in 1807; this in turn outlawed slavery in all the British territories. Although Great Britain was a popular advocate for antislavery, there was still a grave desire to civilise the ‘Dark Continent’ in West Africa. The cultures of native peoples commonly known as the ‘savage customs’ began to be reevaluated by explorers, missionaries and scientists in the name of civilisation. One should use the phrase forced assimilation rather than the word benevolent, due to the violent transition imposed by white settlers, on the native indigenous peoples using subjection and colonial dominance. Benevolence indeed justified the force used in West Africa, by firstly teaching the natives English, improving their standard of housing and clothing and of course teaching the religion of Christianity. (Currently the reason for widespread growth of Catholicism in African countries after independence). With the expansion of the industrial industry, Britain believed its colonial policy was essentially benevolent due to the unintentional racist doctrine that humanitarian aid was necessary for those in West Africa perceived to be morally inferior. White teaching was vital, the uncolonised were to be colonised. Edward Said explains this:

‘The power of culture by virtue of its elevated or superior position to authorise to dominate, to legitimate, demote, interdict and validate’. (Said 1983, pg 9)

Through the indigenous narrative, cultures abroad were denied their voices; white settlers from Great Britain became complicit in silence, this turned into violence for anyone who displayed signs of resistance. Alas, the romanticism of abolitionism introduced the broad policy of westernisation and the increasing authority of colonial government by devout precepts. The Pax Britannica is believed by the British to be a constructive but bountiful period due to the cultural and economic maturity given to ‘uncivilised’ nations. Nonetheless the erasure of native inhabitants through colonial violence (clothing, academia and architecture) contradicts the definition of Pax Britannica.

Secondly, the other commonly held belief about the Pax Britannica is related to the hegemonic nature connoted to this period. David Cameron implied that Great Britain succeeded in being a great empire, because ‘Britannica didn’t rule the waves with armbands on’ (Watt 2011). Cameron’s quote shows the avoidance to challenge this generic rhetoric, and fails to address the challenges regarding the hegemonic nature of the Pax Britannica. To be a true hegemonic power, it is crucial to gain dominance through consensual (but fair) glory and global acknowledgement not through unintended results in imperial wars. The Napoleonic Wars between 1803 and 1815 resulted in the eradication of the Holy Roman Empire, thus leading to the decline of the power Spain held over its colonies. The Treaty of Paris on 20th November 1815 consolidated Britain’s prestigious global power. Another crucial possession for Great Britain was the East India Company, as it was responsible for international trade, (including raw materials such as silk, tea and cotton) the East India Company held the fruits towards the glorious beginnings for the British Empire. With such an authoritative status, Great Britain could not be challenged. Unfortunately, Britain was met with several challenges to their structural power; the Indian Rebellion of 1857 dissolved the East India Company in 1858 using violent methods. Moreover, the East India Company failed to demonstrate Britain’s mature hegemony as they caused widespread famines in India. Between 1865 and 1866, over a million civilians died from a drought in Odisha, which, regrettably Lord Salisbury, British Secretary State for India failed to combat these tragic events. Pax Britannica may have generated mass wealth and recognition; however this illustration is a clear demonstration as to how Great Britain failed to show their hegemonic leadership due to the lack of accountability once a series of unfortunate events occurred.

Nonetheless, Pax Britannica showed Britain’s leadership and great skill through successful wars, but with success it came with intentional ‘collateral’ deaths. The Second Boer War lasted for two years from 1899 to 1902, which resulted in the British Empire gaining autonomy over the Orange Free State (South Africa). Moreover, Great Britain was responsible for the deaths of 28,000 Boer civilians, 20,000 of them being young children between June 1901 and May 1902 due to starvation and systematic torture. (Harris 2001). Originally, the British created refugee camps for women and children homeless from the war, however due to the high threat of the militia of the Boer people, these refugee camps became concentration camps to monitor this threat. Britain managed to use their power to manipulate the rest of the international community that humane tactics were in place in order to keep Boer soldiers and civilians’ safe. It could be argued that although Great Britain managed to show their hegemonic power by consolidating valuable colonies as a result of successful wars, unnecessary amounts of civilians died during these wars.

To characterise the period of the Pax Britannica as the time of benevolent hegemonic leadership would be disastrous simply due to the risk of erasure. It is true, that the British Empire managed to maintain their power and show their structural humanitarian side by abolishing the slave trade in 1805 for instance. However, the term erasure used in this context is a collective term that challenges the idea that the British Empire gained their power with a minimum degree of force and native acceptance. The period of Pax Britannica was the fruit of brutal wars that involved cultural extinction and forced assimilation. Additionally, the Pax Britannica achieved their global status by incidental means due to the decline of powers in the European sphere. It is unfair to characterise the Pax Britannica as the time of benevolent hegemonic leadership as this would be implying that the British Empire had an altruistic influence abroad, which clearly was not the case.

 

Bibliography

Ferguson, N. (2004) Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power. United States: Basic Books.

 

Gilbert, H. and Tiffin, C. (2008) Burden or Benefit?: Imperial Benevolence and Its Legacies. United States: Indiana University Press.

 

Harris, P. (2001) British Hid Horror Conditions At Boer Concentration Camps, Rense. British Hid Horror Conditions At Boer Concentration Camps. Available at: http://www.rense.com/general17/britishhidhorror.htm (Accessed: 4 January 2015).

 

Jackson, A. (2013) Buildings of Empire. Oxford University Press.

 

‘Secular Criticism’ (1983) in Said, E. The world, the text, and the critic. United States: Cambridge, Mass Harvard University Press, 1983.

 

Walvin, J. (2001) ‘Chapter 1: Consuming Passions’, in Walvin, J. Black Ivory: A History of British Slavery. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.

 

Watt, N. (2011) ‘David Cameron Speech: Lets show the world some fight’, The Guardian, 5 October.

 

Watts, C. P. (2007) ‘Pax Britannica’, in Hodge, C. C. Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800-1914. 2nd edn. Greenwood Press.

By Gabriella Obeng @angryblackfemmy

These views do not represent the views of all Rmovement members but individual members.

Hai Mama

Pretty features masked in lustrous adornment, heavy distractions she was grateful for. Dark rouge carefully applied to the perfectly rounded arcs of her unapologetically full pout, her hazel eyes; a muddy mess of memories, brown into green spiked with defiant yellow, lined with kohl. She thought of her new life, her new master. Her stomach churned and her eyes pricked with tears.

Hai mama why did you damn your child
To the confines of an old man
He’s rotten, decrepit, he beats me daily
I’m tortured until the very end

Hai mama did you not see I was
A Child,
I had no place as his slave…

You ruined my innocence, you sold me off
Mama you took my soul, that’s enough
Why are you letting me die?

The last shrill note hung in the air before the raucous applause shattered it, each woman murmuring her appreciation for their song. Shahida allowed a quiet smile as a buzz of chatter warmed the mud hut walls, the older women held each other cackling whilst they rocked, talking of old age scandal-“…that bastard Zaid, two wives dead and he has another in the wings!”. She was in the company of those like herself, the suffering, the silent. Shahida the witness. Shahida the witness. Shahida observed her surroundings at age 12. Was married life really so bad? Her smooth unflawed skin crinkled as she thought.

But she needn’t think, this was a joyous occasion. Shahida’s dad had dowry of RS. 8000 , Shahida was married… to a “good” man, a successful merchant, who earned enough to have a house in Islamabad! Her head stayed low, eyes down despite her brain screaming for them to document the frenzy around her. A flutter of movement startled the bride and she vaguely felt the scratch of her weighty embroidered scarf graze her slight cheek bones.

Grief and pain was normality in marriage, she accepted this. He would occasionally become angry, she would be there to hurt… she accepted this. She could cook and clean, you only had to look at the dirty yellow calluses that invaded her hands. She would cook and clean, she had nothing else to offer. A dirty thought crept into her mind.

Children. Bache.

She felt nausea stealthily washing over her being, what about children. Could she birth him a boy? She had to.

He needed a lineage, they always did and she’d be more than gone if she didn’t. Shahida swallowed her tears, feeling the ache slither down to the centre of her ribs. She let go and thought of Islamabad, always thought of Islamabad. Masha’Allah. She’d heard of the women there, “modern” women, who walked outside in their Pakistan without male company, women who wore polished hair and makeup, tottered around the dusty streets of the city in shiny red stilettos. Shahida wondered if she’d be one. Faisal seemed nice.

***

He wheezed as he stumbled in, face taking sour shape upon feeling the impertinent beads of sweat which slid down his face, only halting to gather a hot sticky mess by his thick black moustache. His slanted black eyes, disguised by dark rings of yesteryear scanned the room to pin his bride. His dull skin brightened a little and his thin wide lips curled into a smile, found her. Older than expected , but nonetheless satisfactory, he approved. Faisal gripped the few pieces of gold he’d picked a few hours earlier in his clammy hands and ungracefully shuffled to her as a hush fell over the room. He impatiently tapped his leg until the service was done.

Ten to six and he still wasn’t home…he’d gone to town where the uncovered women were. The potent smell of dhal attacked the air with exotic, raw spices. Shaking, Shahida poured a sloppy portion, took the roti off the chawa and waited. And waited. A brash laugh shook her and she sat to attention, repressing the urge to vomit. Faisal was here.

“What is this?”

“Dhal. Dhal Faisal ji.”

“Did I ask for dhal? Do I look like a fucking peasant?”

Faisal the Judge.

Shahida’s eyes widened at his curse, she swiftly averted her gaze…but he’d seen. Anger rushed through him, electrocuting his core, blood rushing to the surface of his skin, veins throbbing as his insides boiled. Who was she? Who was she, to judge him? She became a blur as he undid his belt, grasped the cuff of her salwar and thrashed her flesh. He couldn’t hear her pained screams, he only vaguely felt her 50 pound body shake with each melancholy blow, he worked like a machine. He let go when he could see no more white, only crimson. She dragged herself to the corner as he left.

Bitch.” The door slammed.

By Madiha Farooq @farooqm101

These views do not represent the views of all Rmovement members but individual members.

How Men Can Support Feminist Spaces

Feminism last year picked up the pace through many celebrities endorsing the movement, and it has become an even more prominent topic in the public eye and easily becomes the centre of much heated debate. Feminism seems to send the modern man into instant defence mode, many feel its an attack on their identity and rights. More often than ever I hear the term misandry used but in the completely wrong context only to derail misogyny. Accounts like ‘@MenistTweet’ on twitter not only undermine all progress of feminism but paint feminism as the tool of oppression towards men. What most male allies do realise is the benefits of feminism, and its intersectional ability in the fight against Patriarchal masculinity which not only damages women but also men. By exploring how men can support the feminist space, we can see the value of feminism in all sections of society.

“I support equality but I do not support feminism” I have heard this comment far too often but what does it actually mean? Feminism has been besmirched so much that most people do not actually know what it means. Many imagine a group of militant, power hungry women who just want to be destructive to all men however this completely contrary to most feminists. The definition of feminism although varies is simply a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.(1) What is this oppression? Patriarchal Masculinity. Patriarchal Masculinity is set on the belief that men have the right to dominate and control women, children and some other men. Patriarchal Masculinity has promised that along with this “right” to control will come privileges and these privileges are status, power and sex. This oppression denies men of any emotions, it cuts of many emotional connections and destroys personalities. It manifests itself in violence, aggression or anger to anything viewed as inferior; this creates hyper masculinity.

Intersectionality is what is the most important. This has become very obvious to me of late due to the recent events in America of police shooting of black men Mike Brown, Eric Garner and John Crawford. (2) However what has struck me the most is the amazing support from the black feminist movement and the black/poc LGBTQA community, and in contrast the slander produced by black men in opposition to these movements. Many of these women are at the forefront of protesting, aiding and raising awareness yet they are still getting abuse. Not only do black women face racial oppression, they experience the wrath of patriarchy due to their gender. This sexism is produced even in their homes, but why? Patriarchal masculinity, not only does it abuse women but it has also abused men. Black men in society are some of the most downtrodden individuals, this oppression is manifest in hyper masculine behaviour. It causes the will to dominate. If black men can not dominate in their jobs, their finances or careers where do they get to express this hypermasculinity? Only their homes. Black women face the brunt of this abuse, and its because they know the humiliation their husbands, brothers and cousins are being subjected to by imperialist capitalist white supremacist patriarchy.

Many black women are killed by the police like men however the slogan “all black lives matter” only seems to pertain to men. Women such as Yvette Smith, Miriam Carey and Shereese Francis names seem to slip under our radar this definitely needs to be changed. (2) This can also be applied to the transgender and Gay community, many men in this communities are ostracised and their deaths seem to have minimal impact and this is just one of the ways patriarchy demonstrates itself. As Tupac Shakur said “Time to heal our women, be real to our women, And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies, That will hate the ladies, that make the babies”. (3) With this sentiment it’s important that we encourage self-love and love for women.

So how do we as men aid the feminist movement? First of all we must not try to make it about self pity or “male guilt” both of these are counter productive. Actively going out and making our spaces feminist is useful, however, it is important to realise that activism isn’t defined by how many protests you attend, It’s consistently challenging and questioning your internalised ideas, that has been rooted since birth. Men, we can go to as many feminist conventions as we like but if you’re not taking part in changing your destructive views, your activism is useless. Alas, this will take more than a few weeks to do, be willing to take years, it will take time, but it must be done.

Men need to create communities where they can talk about their own experiences with hypermasculinity. Without these communities it partly buys in to the notion of traditional masculinity and hyper-individuality which is specifically harmful to men, even though it of course affects people of all genders. Talking about these experiences shows you are a feminist ally and willing to take part in conversations about your own masculinity that have choked you for years, and its clear you have learned how to give women their own spaces. (4)

Feminist men do not deserve a place in feminist women spaces. It is this idea of entitlement into spaces that is another trait of patriarchal male thinking. This does not mean that men can not attend feminist conventions or similar events mostly dominated by women, however it means that they can not forcibly be a part of the construct. Feminist spaces are for women to talk about their experiences without being overshadowed, being an ally is crucial and this can be done by:

  • Being polite
  • Listen; don’t speak over women and their experiences.
  • Don’t demand resources, for example: “I have never seen a woman being harassed on the street, give me an example this happens now”
  • Be uncomfortable, this is NOT about us as men.
  • Do better
  • LISTEN.

Its not for men to ask women what they need to do for the feminist cause, but rather to be asking themselves what they can do for this patriarchal society. This can be applied to oppressed groups such as the trans community, it’s imperative as cis heterosexual folks, we don’t demand a space to be included. This is not, out space, realise this. Malcolm X taught that white people should not look to being in black spaces, but rather create their own spaces where they are allies of the original cause and go and teach other white people including themselves to unlearn deep entrenched racism. (5) Similarly feminist men need to create and maintain whole new spaces for men and become allies of women’s feminism. (6)

I mentioned before that several men are active on the street shouting for feminism but are incapable of destroying their own behaviours towards women This is something as a man I am struggling up to date, gender slurs always have been my weakness. Although I would not call a woman a “whore” or a “slut” vocally for the way she is dressed or act subconsciously I make prejudgments about their sexual activeness and her personality. Turning off these deeply entrenched ideas includes socialising with like minded male feminists in similar circumstances, and repeatedly reminding yourself of the damaging effects of heteronormativity and patriarchal masculinity. In myself I see growth in a reduction of prejudgment of women from their image, and this is demonstrated when I feel disgust at other mens views towards women and my automatic assertion to change their views. Protesting about feminist equality and helping others unlearn their patriarchal ideas is important, but we as men must be careful that heteronormative behaviours such as gender slurs, sexual stereotypes and dominance is unlearnt by ourselves as without constant unlearning we can slip into transphobia, homophobia and hyper masculinity.

Emotional therapy for men is very important. We as men are told to cut emotions off as it can make you weak or more likely to cause issues. This is very sad and causes a lot of pent pain. After reading The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love I saw how much emotional disconnect affected me. (7)(8) I have never had a very close relationship with my father, but its always been civil one. One thing I always remembered was his struggle to show love and be an emotional being. As a child he was one thirteen and because of this is mother sent him to and live with his grandma as she could not handle all of them single handedly. Not only must this created hostility towards the maternal role but a cut off of emotional trust. He subscribed to traditional Ghanaian patriarchal views only to see his role as to provide money,work and provide discipline. This I believe trapped him in a catch 22, he became a slave to circumstances that made him the man he was, and distanced himself from his children.

I think bell hooks has it right, in The Will to Change: “Women and men alike in our culture spend very little time encouraging males to learn to love. Even the women who are pissed off at men, women most of whom are not and maybe never will be feminist, use their anger to avoid being truly committed to helping to create a world where males of all ages can know love. And there remains a small strain of feminist thinkers who feel strongly that they have given all they want to give to men; they are concerned solely with improving the collective welfare of women. Yet life has shown me that any time a single male dares to transgress patriarchal boundaries in order to love, the lives of women, men and children are fundamentally changed for the better.” (7)

The main thing to remember is oppression is oppression. (9) The oppressor is extremely divisive he will set up divisions between all those who are oppressed so that they cannot work together and be divisive towards each other; this means no goals are never accomplished only left in a cyclical cycle. A lot of Black male activists neglect this trait, they only seek to speak about politics (mostly racial) and completely neglect gender concerns, for example Marcus Garvey although he had amazing liberation ideas of black people he was also patriarchal and personally he failed as a leader as he did not recognise the wider issues of oppression. Through unity, all oppression will be understood and that’s how we move towards a whole upheaval of the system so set in concrete we are all strangled daily. “If someone is standing on their own beliefs and their own beliefs are anti-patriarchal and anti-sexist, they are not required to be anybody’s ally. They are on their front line in the same way that I’m on my front line.”

References:

(1)”Feminism – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary”. merriam-webster.com. Accessed 26/12/2014.

(2) Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police, 1999-2014 – http://gawker.com/unarmed-people-of-color-killed-by-police-1999-2014-1666672349 Accessed 26/12/2014.

(3)Tupac Shakur. (1993). Keep Ya Head Up. Interscope

(4) Men Need Feminism – http://feministallies.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/men-in-feminist-spaces.html Accessed 26/12/2014.

(5) Jules Archer. (30 May 1996). They Had a Dream: Civil Rights Struggle from Frederick Douglass to Marcus Garvey to Martin Luther King, Jr.and Malcolm X. Puffin Books

(6) Modleski, Tania (1991). Feminism without women: culture and criticism in a ‘postfeminist’ age. New York: Routledge. p. 188.

(7) Bell Hooks (1 Dec 2004).The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love. Washington Square Press

(8) bell hooks & Melissa Harris-Perry: thoughts on the conversation http://sofiasamatar.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/bell-hooks-melissa-harris-perry.html Accessed 26/12/2014.

(9) Julie Bindel (18 January 2006). “Eradicate the oldest oppression”. The Guardian.

By Joshua Binfor @EdwardAshanti

These views do not represent the views of all Rmovement members but individual members. 

FRACKING IN THE UK CASE STUDY: WEST SUSSEX

Fracking is just a symptom of a much wider problem. As easier to extract energy resources are exhausted by the unsustainable energy consumption of the present system, we are resorting to ever more extreme methods of energy extraction. Over the last century the exploitation of fossil fuels has moved from tunnel mining for coal and drilling shallow oil wells to tearing apart whole mountains and drilling in a mile or more deep of ocean.
As existing energy resources deplete the default response has just been to try harder; dig or drill deeper; go after lower quality resources or move on to more remote locations. This increasing effort has consequences: increasing pollution, more dangerous working conditions, greater greenhouse gas emissions, more land use and less resources available to other sectors of society.
At present we are on a course which leads towards a world dominated by energy extraction, one where most of the energy produced is used to run the extraction processes while people live and die in its toxic shadow. The present system’s addiction to massive amounts of energy is driving this headlong rush towards oblivion and unless something is done to stop it we will all be dragged down into hell with it.
Unconventional Gas
The UK unconventional gas (and to a lesser extent oil) extraction is the main new threat, in the form of three different processes; Shale Gas, Coal Bed Methane (CBM) and Underground Coal Gasification (UCG). While there are a lot of differing technical details these processes all involve drilling large numbers of directional wells at regular intervals, coating the landscape.
The scale of these new more intense methods are like nothing we have seen before. Up until now the largest onshore gas field in the UK, Saltfleetby in Lincolnshire, had only 8 wells. To produce the same amount of unconventional gas would require hundreds of wells to be drilled. To temporarily replace just one offshore North Sea gas field would require thousands of unconventional wells.
As well as requiring many more wells these methods also involve much more. Shale Gas and Oil require massive, slickwater hydraulic fracturing, to be carried out on every well. Millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are injected under massive pressure. CBM wells are also often fracked. UCG which involves setting fire to coal seams underground is even more extreme.
These unconventional wells also have much shorter lifespans, with production from a typical shale well declining by 70 to 80 percent in the first year alone. This means that large numbers of new wells need to be constantly drilled to maintain production, even for short periods. In many areas of the US unconventional gas is already peaking after less than a decade of exploitation.
Impacts of Unconventional Gas (and Oil)
For all these processes water contamination is a major issue. All wells will eventually leak, as steel casings rust and cement rots, and unconventional gas (and oil) means many, many more wells. Contamination of groundwater has been a consistent feature of unconventional gas extraction, in the US, Canada and Australia.
The amount of water used in these processes and the amount of waste produced are also major issues. In Colorado farmers are losing access to water as fracking companies buy up supplies. Meanwhile the vast streams of toxic and radioactive waste are a nightmare to dispose of, and attempts to get rid of this waste by injecting it into the ground are causing large numbers of earthquakes.
Air pollution is also an under appreciated threat from unconventional gas. In previously pristine wilderness areas of the US ozone levels now routinely exceed those in the centre of Los Angeles, while leaking toxic and carcinogenic hydrocarbon vapours are also common. Such pollution can be blown hundreds of miles from its source. Breathing difficulties are common complaints for those living in the shadow of these industries.
While targeted health studies of the effects of these developments have just not been done, what evidence there is shows major impacts. Cancer clusters, neurological and reproductive problems in humans and animals have all been reported and should be expected given the chemicals that are being emitted. In the vicinity of unconventional gas extraction communities are getting sick and the response has been make people prove that the industry is the cause, or shut up.
Climate Catastrophe
At a global level, there are already far more conventional fossil fuel reserves than we can afford to burn without causing catastrophic climate change. As with all unconventional fossil fuels unconventional gas (and oil) simply adds to this store of unburnable carbon. Widespread exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels could produce enough carbon dioxide to make the planet literally uninhabitable.
In the shorter term methane emissions from these processes amplify the effects of the carbon dioxide emitted. Studies have shown that Shale Gas and CBM are worse than burning coal in the short term, and it is the short term that matters when considering potential tipping points in the climate system like melting arctic permafrost and the fate of the Amazon rainforest. UCG is even worse, with its direct carbon emission far higher than from the conventional exploitation of coal. More…
What can be done?
While all this may seem very bleak, there are rays of hope within this dark cloud. Unconventional fossil fuels are much more dispersed than conventional ones, meaning that in order to get them many more communities are affected but must at least passively consent to their extraction. If these communities get organised to resist this invasion then it can be stopped. This is already happening is many places across the globe (for instance in Australia) but everyone need to do their bit if this juggernaut is to be stopped.
Want to get organised? Want to take action? Get stuck in…

Fracking company Celtique Energie has two applications to drill in and around the South Downs National Park Fortunately the local community have won this battle in keeping their locality frack-free as the local council turned down a shale gas exploration bid as reported by the Guardian:
An application by a shale company to explore for oil and gas in a picturesque part of West Sussex has been turned down.
West Sussex County Council’s planning committee refused the application by Celtique Energy for oil and gas exploration near Wisborough Green, a conservation area just outside the South Downs National Park.
The refusal, thought to be the first time a council has rejected a planning application by a shale company, was welcomed by local campaigners and environmentalists who feared that the exploration would lead to controversial fracking for oil or gas.
The county council said it turned down the application because Celtique did not demonstrate the site represented the best option compared with other sites, it had unsafe highways access and would have had an adverse impact on the area.
Heidi Brunsdon, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance. We have noted the objections of the local community and I felt that the debate today was a full and robust one.”(1)
Under UK law companies required landowners permission before exploring however under new measures imposed by the government companies now have free-reign to explore without the express will of the landowners. The Guardian states:

The government faces widespread opposition to plans to change trespass laws to allow shale gas companies to drill under homes without the owner’s permission, a poll has revealed.
The YouGov survey of 1,898 people found that 74% opposed the controversial move, which ministers are thought to be considering as part of efforts to drive a “shale gas revolution” that could see fracking across swathes of the UK.
More than 45,000 people around the country have joined legal moves to block energy companies from fracking under their properties, but a change to the trespass laws could allow companies to explore for shale gas without needing their permission.
The survey found that 73% of Conservative voters and 70% of Liberal Democrat supporters did not agree with changing the law to make it easier to drill under people’s homes.
The poll carried out for Greenpeace also revealed 80% of Labour voters and 77% of those planning to vote Ukip opposed the move.(2)
A New Statesman article entitled ‘Get the frack off my land’ states;
The government gave fracking companies the green light in the Queen’s speech this week, crucially removing the requirement for firms to gain permission from home-owners to drill under their land.
Although ministers claimed a final decision would depend on the outcome of a recently-launched public consultation, they signalled their firm intention to smooth the path for firms to exploit Britain’s shale gas reserve.
Much has been made of this permission waiver, which was first floated by the government in January, and which is likely to be included in an Infrastructure Bill during this Parliament.
The trespass exemption for fracking firms sits uncomfortably with most people’s intuitive interpretation of land ownership, but also their legal understanding of the matter too.
After all, the most common definition of land rights and a central principle of property law, states: “cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos”.
Or, for non-Latinists, this translates roughly* as: “he who owns soil does so up to the heavens and down to the centre of the earth”.
Well, up to a point. Admittedly, the legal principle, which entered common law during the reign of Edward I, is still accepted in limited form today in modern law.
But there are many exceptions, including airspace, water, trees, plants and flowers, wild animals, and, crucially, mines and minerals.
So the implication, frequently appealed to in the current furore over fracking, that horizontal drilling under a private owner’s land is a unique exception to, or transgression against, the owner’s legal land rights is misleading.
That said, it is true that up until now, current laws of trespass have required fracking firms to gain permission from land owners to drill under their land. Drilling can extend up to 3km horizontally underground from a central well pad.
This has held true for all historical landward oil and gas exploration in the UK. Companies seeking conventional energy sources on land require a license from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, which grants exclusive rights to explore for and exploit onshore oil and gas.
The license has never included any rights of access, however, nor does it waive the need for the company to gain planning permission and any other consent needed under current legislation.
Further complications arise if a company wants to drill through a coal seam in search of gas – they need the permission of the Coal Authority, which has been the rights holder of all British coal since the valuable sedimentary rock was nationalised in 1994.
Which brings us to the other question of ownership of minerals in the UK. Firstly, to define minerals. According to the Town and Country Planning legislation, minerals are “all substances in or under land of a kind ordinarily worked for removal by underground or surface working, except that it does not include peat cut for purposes other than for sale.”
Essentially, a home- or land-owner holds the rights (which should be registered in the Land Registry along with details of surface land rights) to all the minerals in their land, with the important exceptions of gold, silver, coal, oil and gas.
Land-owners would still require planning permission, however, from a mineral planning authority to extract any of these minerals that they technically own from their land.
As for the ownership of oil and gas, the Petroleum (Production) Act 1934 granted all onshore rights to the Crown. A different act presides over rights in the UK Continental Shelf outside UK territorial waters, but again these are vested in the Crown.
So, the fact that the state owns any shale gas that might under your land is not out of keeping with rights to conventional fuels. And while the proposed reform of trespass laws charts new territory for land-owners’ legal rights, there are many other exemptions to these rights as they stand.
The nub of it is that fracking firms can already drill under your land without your permission. The new legislation will only make the process easier.
As Energy Minister Michael Fallon pointed out this week: “At the moment, a developer can apply to the courts for permission to drill a horizontal pipe a mile down underneath your house and needs to go to the Secretary of State to get that permission. We’ve got a solution that we think simplifies that.”(3)

(1) http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/22/west-sussex-county-council-turns-down-shale-gas-exploration-bid
(2) http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/03/west-sussex-landowners-legal-blockade-fracking
(3) http://www.newstatesman.com/law/2014/06/get-frack-my-land-reform-trespass-laws-explained

Bee Depletion in the UK- Colony Collapse

Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD) refers to the seemingly spontaneous abandonment of their hives by honeybees.

Bees have been abandoning their hives for centuries, but the rate at which such collapses have been observed started to increase more drastically in the 1970s, reaching alarming proportions around 2006. While numerous causes for the phenomenon have been floated, from pathogens and parasites to electromagnetic radiation and a proliferation of genetically-modified crops, new research from the Harvard School of Public Health bolsters the case that a certain class of insecticides seem to be to blame.

Working with the Worcester County Beekeepers Association in Massachusetts,  the researchers exposed 12 colonies across three locations to a “sub-lethal exposure of neonicotinoids, imidacloprid or clothianidin.” Neonicotinoids are popular insecticides that are chemically similar to nicotine. The scientists also observed six untreated control colonies at the same locations. The study found that all the bee colonies went about their business normally through the summer and fall, but by the end of winter six of the twelve hives exposed to the insecticide had been abandoned. One of the six control colonies was also lost due to an infestation by a fungus.(1)

Research in the UK by T.D. Breeze, A.P. Bailey, K.G. Balcombe and S.G. Potts entitled ‘Pollination services in the UK: How important are honeybees?’ makes for interesting reading.

They found that honeybee populations have nose-dived so dramatically in recent years that they can only do half as much pollination as they did in the early 1980s.

Where honeybees used to provide around 70 per cent of the UK’s pollination needs they now only pollinate a third. At worst, that figure could well be more like 10 to 15 per cent.

Paradoxically over the last 20 years, the proportion of UK crops that rely on insects for pollination has risen from just under 8 per cent in the early 1980s to 20 per cent in 2007. And over the same period, yields of insect-pollinated crops, which include oil seed rape and field bean, have gone up by 54 per cent.

This means that honeybees can’t be solely responsible, or aren’t the only important pollinator.

So if honeybees aren’t pollinating the crops, the question arises what is? The researchers think that other important pollinating insects, such as bumblebees, hoverflies and solitary bees must be making up the shortfall.

‘Our finding suggests that wild insect pollinators make a much bigger contribution to UK crop pollination than previously thought,’ says Tom Breeze from the University of Reading, lead author of the study

Insect pollination is estimated to be worth around £400 million per year to UK crop agriculture. And until now, people have widely assumed that honeybees are the most important pollinators, with a figure of around 90 per cent of pollination services coming from honeybees bandied around.

‘We had an inclination that this wasn’t an accurate figure at all,’ says Breeze. ‘Honeybees have been in decline for years, so it didn’t make sense.’

Indeed, there is a complete absence of large scale research that backs up the assumption that honeybees are the main pollinators.

So Breeze and colleagues from the University of Reading set out to learn how important insect-pollinated crops are to UK agriculture and – using data from an earlier study – to figure out the real contribution from honeybees.

This is the first time anyone has looked at the contribution from both honeybees and other pollinators on such a grand scale.

‘Bumblebees, hoverflies and red mason bees are key wild pollinators, but there are at least 250 bee species alone in the UK, which we thought almost certainly contribute more than honeybees do,’ Breeze says.

Although Breeze and his colleagues found that honeybees don’t provide the same level of service that other species do, they point out that it’s not one pollinator or the other that’s important; both types are crucial.

‘There was a seminal study in 2006 which found that you get the best pollination, best yields and best fruit when you have both wild pollinators and honeybees,’ says Breeze.

‘This study challenges the long held beliefs surrounding the importance of honeybees as the major pollinators and could potentially result in a paradigm shift in people’s thinking,’ says Science and Innovation Manager Dr Andrew Impey from the Natural Environment Research Council.

Furthering this research Professor Simon Potts from the Department of Agriculture, examined how important insect-pollinated crops are to UK agriculture and how much of this work is done by honeybees.

There has recently been mounting evidence that honeybee hive numbers are in a long-term state of decline in many developed nations. Analysis of hive numbers indicates that current UK populations are only capable of supplying 34% of our pollination needs, falling from 70% in 1984.”

In spite of this decline, insect-pollinated crop yields have risen by an average of 54% since 1984, casting doubt on long-held beliefs that honeybees provide the majority of pollination services.

Professor Potts said: “In the early 1980s honeybees provided most of our pollination services, however, following severe declines in hive numbers over the last 30 years, there are no longer enough honeybees to do the job and it is now our wild insects, such as bumblebees and hoverflies, that have filled the void to ensure that our crops are pollinated and our food production is secure.”

Many of the UK’s most valuable crops, including apples, strawberries, runner beans, and, increasingly oilseed rape, are pollinated by other insects. Tom Breeze, who conducted analysis for the study, said: “The total monetary value of pollinators to crop production in the UK is estimated at £430 million per year. This research suggests that the majority of this value is derived from wild pollinators and not honeybees.”

Stuart Roberts, Chairman of the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society, said:  “We welcome this research from the University of Reading. Though many beekeepers still believe that honeybees are the most important pollinators, they can only pollinate a third of crops at most, and in reality they probably only contribute to 10-15% of the work. Wild bees are the unsung heroes for our food security and so it is these species on which we need to focus our conservation efforts.”

As insect-pollinated crops are likely to become increasingly important to UK agriculture in the immediate future, the study will help direct new developments in effective pollination management at a field and landscape scale.

 

(1) http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericmack/2014/05/12/the-cause-of-colony-collapse-disorder-disappearing-bees-becoming-more-clear/

(2)  https://www.reading.ac.uk/news-and-events/releases/PR367212.aspx

Further Reading

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130510-honeybee-bee-science-european-union-pesticides-colony-collapse-epa-science/

http://ti.me/1k2DMYU