This is part of a project created by Miriam Monga, a student at Cardinal Newman Catholic School.
Here I decided to use the ballerina to put across my message of equality because ballet is such an inherently white dance as such I thought a black ballerina would be very poignant and striking.
By Miriam Monga
A Portrait of Microagressions
My sister and I complied casually racist comments we’d received and I decided to apply them to a self portrait to show what it is like to receive this attention constantly.
By Miriam Monga.
What Do You See?
I stand here, tall in my majesty
My skin dark, beautiful like the galaxy
My nose wide,
Eyes filled with pride
What do you see?
Dark skin, showing only sin
Lips too thick, nose too broad
Making you sick.
I stand, a top student, filled with academic dreams
I stand here, talent bursting from the seams
Tears flowing like streams,
Shame radiating in reams.
What do you see?
A mind with limits, no motives
You see no abilities, destined for a factory or farm
You see weakness in my tears.
I speak, eloquence falling off my tongue
Clear intelligence, clear passion
Each word the same,
Filled with pain.
What do you hear?
Desperately you search for a trace of an accent
None is apparent
Each word the same-
Noise falling on your brain.
I feel flawed, as your gaze bores into me,
Inadequate, as tears slip for my duct
Unloved as you sneer-
Hated whilst you peer.
How do you feel?
Hate seething through you,
Bias flowing through your veins,
Superiority your amour-
By Miriam Monga
We know little of Stormé’s life as she was notoriously private. However this doesn’t make her any less important in both black and queer history.
Because she was mixed race her birth is not officially recorded as mixed relations were a crime punishable by death. Despite her mother being a servant under her future husband (they would later move to California and marry) they had a loving relationship. Stormé’s reprieve from constant bullying (because “My mother was black and I had a white face”) was her parents who were in fact very caring. It is not clear if Stormé lived with her parents or not as there is mention of her staying with her grandparents but this is not confirmed, equally dubious there is a single mention of a brother but his existence is not confirmed either. It is in fact not clear if Stormé is her real name either as in papers where she was beginning her singing career she was called “ Storrm” and “Stormy Dale”
She was bullied violently and relentlessly until at the age of 15 where her father told her, “If I didn’t stop running I’d be running for the rest of my life and I haven’t ran a day since” both thus and the fact he paid for her education paint a picture of a good father/daughter relationship. After this moment she fought back against her aggressors. Despite her new found attitude it was clear New Orleans was no longer safe. “My family had to get me out of New Orleans, or I would’ve been killed.”
Why Should We Remember ?
Now I’m sure you’re wondering why should we remember her? First and foremost it’s imperative we remember the black peoples of the past because each one in a way small or large has allowed us to be where we are today (although we no doubt have a ways to go). Now Stormé is even more imperative as she was was a massive part of the stone wall riots. As previously mentioned she was one of the key black queer people who allowed the first pride (a riot) and brought us closer to true equality. For some reason there is a very prevalent idea that blackness and queerness inherently clash, that they are incompatible and cannot exit in the same place. Due to this deeply ingrained idea black queer people are often excluded from Both black and queer communities. This is why the suicide rate for black gay men and black trans people are the highest. This lack of education is also subsequent of the massive amount murders specifically targets at black trans people ( at this time more than 20 have been brutally murdered). By forgetting Stormé and other black queer trail blazers you allow the prejudice permeating deep in society today.
In the light of the surge in the black lives matter movement I implore you to remember Stormé. Remember her love. Remember her mind. Remember her struggle. Remember black and queer people.
Stormé at the ripe age of 60. After being a bouncer for many a gay club Stormé decided she’d take to the street and protect her queer brethren there. Its even recorded she would not shy away from the Chicago mob’s work.
She also did plenty of chairs work she bought gifts valuing to $2000 at Christmas for aids victims.
Into her 80’s she would sing at queer events.
She went out of her way to support women and children who had been victims of domestic abuse.
She was active in social scenes way into her 90’s too.
Casso, a trans man said, “one of my first positive masculine role models I ever had, she was a life preserver especially for young people seeing someone who walked the walk and talked the talk 24/7 in a time you can get your head bashed in for leaving your house.”
Lewis Howard Latimer
Lewis Howard Latimer was an American inventor who had a massive hand in objects you use every day, perhaps even every hour. He was born on 4th September 1848 to George and Rebecca Latimer (George was in fact an escaped slave) despite their poor stock Lewis went to a surprisingly good school. Phillips grammar school, despite showing promise in maths and drafting, he did not go to college as his father had abandoned him and his mother forcing him to leave his enducation.By the 10th of December 1837 he married Mary Wilson in Fall River. At this time he had not began inventing but was in fact working for Crosby & Gould.
What did he do?
He actually enlisted in the Navy at 15 towards the end of the civil war, when the war cake to an end he went back to his home of Boston and taught himself mechanical drawing while working at a law firm. After this Latimer actually worked with the famous Hiram Maxim at the US Electric Lighting Company. During his time there he patented a carbon filament for the incandescent lightbulb. You may be wondering what impact that truly is but this invention allows lightbulbs to last more than 8 hours. He is the reason electric lighting is affordable and practical. Despite his massive hand to this people only remember Joseph Swan, Thomas Edison and Hiram Maxim
Along with this Lewis aided Alexander Bell in drafting the plans of the telephone. In fact Lewis’ drawings were what Alexander used for the patent in 1876.
Why should we remember him?
To forget Lewis is a disservice to black people. They myths perpetuated by the era in which people attempted to excuse racism by saying white people are simply superior. The idea black people are inferior intellectually still exist today and by ignoring our contribution to the sciences you serve to continue this. One must remember Lewis because when you remember Lewis you remember the service black people have done for technology, you remember the household comforts you use each and every day cane from Black people.
Further more black people and people of colour Are already less likely to go to university for STEM courses even with affirmative action as the space does not feel welcoming. By remember Lewis and his contribution you encourage little black boys and black people in general to remember what they are capable of and they deserve to know. Remember Lewis. Remember his intelligence. Remember his contribution.
Who was she?
Of all the great black people mentioned here Annie may be the most known, if you have heard of or watched Hidden Figures she was the main character. But before she joined NASA who was she?
Annie was born to Mary Melvina Hoover and Samuel Bird Easley on 23rd April 1933 in Birmingham Alabama. She attended Xavier University of Louisiana and then Cleveland State University where she demonstrated incredible talent in mathematics. After relocating from Birmingham she would read and article regarding two twin sisters who were both “human computers” at the Aircraft Engine Research laboratory in Cleveland Ohio. The lab needed people with a gift of maths and she needed a job. After two weeks she began a 34 year career.
What did she do?
In 1955 Easley began her career as a “human computer” she would do computations for researchers, this involved analysing problems and doing calculations by hand. At the time of hiring she was one of 4 African-Americans. During a 2001 interview she said she never set out to be a pioneer, “I just have my own attitude. I’m out here to get the job done, I knew I had the ability to do it and that’s where my focus was.” She obviously faced some discrimination and in repose to that she said, “My head is not in the sand. But my thing is, if I can’t work with you I will work around you. I was not about to be discouraged that I’d walk away. That maybe the solution for some people but not mine.”
This attitude allowed her to enthusiastically participate in outreach programs, break down barriers and expectations for both women and BIPOC in STEM fields (similar to Lewis but more recent in the Zeitgeist) her inspiring talent and hard work won her colleagues’ favour and respect.
Why should we remember her?
I think it’s imperative remember Annie specifically of all the brilliant people mentioned, this is because of the specific demographic she represents. Stormé’s story tends to resonate with queer people specifically, Lewis lives so long ago people have difficulty relating to him but Annie lived in our time. In a very real way she symbolises why although STEM still has a way to go how it’s improved in its diversity recently. Black women currently only represent 2.0% of STEM degrees earned as of 2015. Her existence serves to validate the black women who feel as if the place isn’t for them. Annie in a time arguable worse than now got notoriety and helped other get it too as later in her career she took up the mantle of EEO (equal employment opportunity) she is a beacon of what black women can do and how they can empower others. Remember her mind. Remember her struggle. Remember her work.
What is racism to you?
I don’t understand racism. Why should the colour of your skin affect the rights you get? As a person of colour myself, people tend to make jokes about my race a lot but i shrug it off, almost as if it’s normal. People shouldn’t have to fight for the rights that they should’ve had since the beginning. Its not what they want, it’s what they deserve. At the end of the day, we are all people trying to live a decent life. Trying to find happiness. Trying to achieve millions of things. People say “I don’t see colour,” and that’s fine, but if anything, you should see colour and respect it. That’s why I don’t understand racism- because people don’t understand its that simple to respect other races.
Hatreena Sritharan, Sri Lankan
It’s absolutely sh*t.. All of us are human beings who have been created by one god. The thing is people forget to see the value in others instead they see colour without thinking we are all equal and deserve better. Where there is racism there is no love or peace or equality. There is no respect. It makes me angry because we’re all human and we all deserve the same treatment, dignity, love, protection, rights and equality. It’s a shame why black people get killed, undermined. There is no respect for our identity and dignity, at the same time all our identity and dignity has been stolen. Once it has been stolen it’s not easy to get it back, it will take generations. For this reason a lot of us have nowhere to call home. All people should be treated with equity no matter the race.
Joycelina Monga, Burundian
Racism is unfair treatment or bias against someone due to skin colour. Whereas someone can be treated as a higher in terms of social class because of skin colour and someone can be lower because of their race. For instance, you go to apply to a job someone is given priority because their skin is lighter, whereas a black person is considered lower and not a priority in employability terms. When people talk about racism, it’s a wider term it touches almost every aspect of society. It’s everywhere. You go to a shop and shopkeeper doesn’t give attention to you in the same way they would to a lighter person. You are not respected or counted as the same value. But also in many ways it’s segregation based on skin colour and ignorance. There’s a stereotypical mindset to some people for instance the belief white people are superior which I think should be challenged. I was called a black dog, inferior to this white person due to my crime of being black, this is how they’ve been taught.Yesterday I was reading somewhere a professor from Bristol was invited to speak at a uni in Scotland, at the reception the receptionist refused to believe he was a real professor, she claimed the lecture was cancelled just because he was black. In her mind that job should only be done by a white person. Due to that mindset she held his quality of expertise and knowledge below the value as of a white person which is ignorant. Some people in society when they see a black person never believe a black person can be intelligent as them, they only view the world through their guise of superiority. There is a superiority complex ingrained into society’s mindset, to fix this society needs to be educated because ignorance is a disease upon society.
George Monga, Burundian
Taking the time to have conversations about what black people are facing everyday, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable they may be, are extremely important to ensure that everyone is informed about why the protests are so necessary. Although it is no excuse, older people may be more opposed to accepting the need for the black lives matters movement and experiencing the trouble of some of my family members thinking terrible things I do not agree with is exactly why we must be urged to educate others. Ignorance will never change but by shifting people’s opinions through teaching them that what they say/believe is wrong we can help to raise awareness for movements like these and feel that the message is heard.
People believe that racism does not exist in places and countries when really it happens everywhere. This is because regardless of location people will judge others based on race and appearance. This is not okay and should not be acceptable in the Zeitgeist. A small part of me believes that racist fair people of colour and did not want them places of power to make real important change.For example many people were against a bummer but when he was in America he did a lot of good. If you are treated equally and everyone’s beliefs and races were excepted we can solve so many of the worlds issues. We are tired of waiting for society to realise how they should treat us and we want and need and will make change now we are here to take the freedoms and equality we have deserve this whole time.
To me racism is a lot bigger than people seem to realise. Racism is my sister being scared to have sons because she knows what society does to little black boys. Racism is the stereotypes I have to go out of my way to break. Racism is the most powerful country in the world having a black president and yet still the KKK exists. Racism is the fact that even if you put some people of colour in powerful positions nothing will change, to me racism is the fact that in this system people like me simply cannot prosper and I think the worst part to all of this is that people who don’t have to experience the same thing as me cannot begin to fathom a world in which I can be treated equally. I think first and foremost personal experiences of racism is inexplicable, the emotion I feel as I scroll through social media, tears welling in my eyes as I’m reminded of the six people hanged this year alone, knowing your skin signals murderers is a feeling that doesn’t leave, just gets heavier the more you focus.
Miriam Monga, Burundian