Monday, 30 January 2017

Some iconic pictures of Trump's presidency so far

A refugee child on the left and Ivanka Trump, daughter of Donald Trump, on the right

Thursday, 26 January 2017

"How dare I bleed"

Chimine Nicole breastfeeding her children

How dare I bleed
Chimine Nicole 

And those breasts, those large supple breasts.

It must be my fault. For having this body. For coming into this world as a woman.

It is my fault I was raped.

Because those breasts, what young girl has a body like that?

It is my fault I needed a morning after pill.

The morning after I was raped.

Because I bleed. How dare I create life?

I brought these babies into the world, they came through my vulva, out of my womb covered in my blood.

I alone raise them.

And yet its my fault their father chooses drugs

I nurtured their tiny premature bodies with the milk from my breasts into

Chunky thighs, chunky faces, that fat mama milk nourished their little brains

How dare I demand that my breasts mean more than what they have been objectified into since the summer between 7th and 8th grade when they exploded from my body

Size zero, 32 double D at the age of 13

But my body was never mine. Only yours to decide whether or not you could “grab me by the pussy”

Like any other young boy who looked up to men like you, men of the patriarchy

When I finally reclaimed my body in those countless hours staring through my babies souls, in a recursive dance of neurons healing in my brain as I gave life through my nipples into their bodies,

When I found my voice, deeply rooted in my Cuban ancestors, that inner wisdom slithering and weaving through my sexy mamihood, that serpentine conocimientos

When I recovered ancient practices of my grandmother, my great grandmother, my great great grandmother

When my ancestors started to visit in my dreams

When I spoke again, it was now the woman who wished to take my body

For so many years they burned us, raped us, appropriated our reproductive systems

So much pain, trauma, bifurcation

That we ourselves forgot.

That we bleed

We make life

We have bodies

That we feel

That we desire

That we hurt.
That we are connected

Chimine has written for me twice before and I admire the way she portrays her experiences in a passionate and resilient manner while eliciting sympathy from the reader


Sunday, 22 January 2017

One woman's story on why she did not join the women's march

Chimine Nicole
This post was written by Chimine Nicole setting out her reasons for not joining the global women's march in protest again Donald Trump. It is heartfelt and has moved me. It is a poignant 'thank you' to all the women who did march. Chimine has written for my blog before on her feelings on Trump's election win

I did not march yesterday.

The pain in my heart and body was palpable. From the moment on November 8th when it became clear Trump was going to be president, the trauma in my body became visceral. The fight or flight, the disaster scenario, the panic, the anxiety – every symptom I had endured since the day I was raped – was yet again awakened. My PTSD kept me from feeling safe enough to march. 

Yesterday, millions of men and women who were able – marched for peace. They marched for equality. They marched for me. They marched for you.

As I sit here and watch the videos of the many women of color speaking yesterday, I am overwhelmed with emotion. For my whole life I have felt alone with these views. I have been silenced by my family, silenced by our administration, silenced by my education, silenced by rape, silenced by my heritage and white passing skin.

Today, because of your courage and your ability to get out there and march – I feel safe again. I feel hope. Your job is not over, my job is not over, there is more work to do, and it starts with decolonizing our minds. 

So let’s break down a little of what happened yesterday and how you can educate yourself to be a part of the solution in the long term. 

Angela Davis, activist called for “an inclusive and Intersectional Feminism” – What did she mean?

For the past thirty some years, feminism has been critiqued by women of color for pushing agendas that only benefited upper middle class white women and ignoring the plights of the most marginalized women in our country. Women of color, immigrants, mothers, trans women, LGTBQ women. This conversation has mostly been silenced, oppressed, and delegitimized within the media, within our education system, within the patriarchy. 

This movement started by women of color was called intersectionality. Intersectionality said the needs of a white woman were different then the needs of a black woman, and the needs of a black woman would be different from a black woman with a disability. Therefore, we needed to have a critical mindset around the different intersections of oppression. It has been followed by many different iterations of feminism, black feminism, womanism, decolonial worldviews, Latina feminism, Borderlands Epistemology, third wave feminism, ecofeminism and many others.

So when Angela Davis says we need an inclusive and intersectional feminism – what she means is that it is time for the white woman to become an ally. For her to be concerned with not only her plights but the plights of the sisters around her without privilege. Bell Hooks, the famous black queer feminist said it was women who undermined the feminism movement. Not men. We forgot to uphold one another. Some of us gained privileges (the ability to work in corporate America, changed our social economic status) and forgot to help our sisters still living in the margins, in poverty, or in abusive relationships, or as single mothers, or in access to education/healthcare, low socio-economic status, or held down by the color of their skin.

But today, we get a fresh start at feminism. Today, we can choose to decolonize our minds and becomes allies to one another. We can start to LISTEN CLOSELY to the most marginalized women and take on their plights. 

Because until we heal the plights of those most marginalized voices – we will never be able to dismantle the patriarchy. 

Thank you to all intersections of feminism for continuing to be loud voices even when you continue to be silenced.

Information on Chimine Nicole: 

Chimine has spent her life as an activist to end violence against woman. As a teenager she was raped by a serial rapist whom later received a 107 years to life sentence. Since becoming a mother in 2013, Chimine has been working on her PhD from California Institute of Integral Studies looking at the relationship between patriarchy, rape culture, intergenerational violence and breastfeeding. Her current work at Mental Health Systems is creating a “mother-centered” approach to curriculum to help mothers heal trauma through bonding with their children. She has received the Valor Award from Community Service Programs as well as been honored by the D.A. in Orange Country at the first annual Victim Rights Walk for her tireless contribution to the welfare of women and children.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Meet the Brit Mums protesting in London against Donald Trump

On 21 January a worldwide protest march against Donald Trump will take place in about 30 cities. An estimated 600,000 people will take part in 370 'sister marches' in a show of global solidarity with the women of America who are fighting back against Trump's misogynistic behaviour. 

A march is due to take place in London too with about 14,000 people signed up. Among them will be mothers like me who will be taking our fight to the streets against a new President (Trump will be sworn in on 20 January) who, to date, has not shown an ounce of morality in his leadership.  I have previously blogged about this. 

The swell of people expected on the streets will collectively be making known their views. However, each and every person will have her own reason for marching. It is in these stories that we can draw our collective strength from. 

Mothers protesting for a better world for their children is an act of inspiration. If we don't fight against a political ideology that condones racial discrimination and which views women as being no more than objects to be harassed a moral deficit will be created that will give the alt-right more space to further engender social divisions. 

I have had the pleasure of interviewing some of the amazing mothers who will be taking part in the London march. These are their stories of hope, resistance and resilience which I am really proud to feature on my blog. 

Morvern Rennie 

Scottish Green Party Activist, Law Graduate, Military wife and mother

I will be taking my son Marlowe Forrest (3) and daughter Rosa Forrest (1) to the march.

I want my children to see me resist in the face of racism, sexism, bigotry and prejudice. That however dark times are there is always hope. That being kind and caring for others is a radical act when the media floods you with lies and scapegoats. That love is hard and you have to work at goodness. I want them to know that it's their responsibility to make positive change happen even if it seems impossible.

Rosa is only 1. I know she won't remember this but I hope she will grow to learn the power of sisterhood.

Marlowe is 3 and I hope this will be imprinted as an early memory. I want him to remember, as a man, to respect and advocate for women's rights. Not just the women he likes or is related to but all women. I want him to be part of a new generation of men

Finally, I want my children to bring hope to fellow marchers, hope that their generation will look back on this as a turning point in the fight against the 'far right'

M. Stratton Carter (also an American)


Twitter @APentoPaper

I’m also American and have lived here for 3+ years, my youngest was born here last April and my eldest sounds more British than American. I spent a month after the election in shock/deep depression from the results, it’s good to feel like I can do something again.

I refuse to be silent, can’t sit in the sidelines waiting for this all to blow over. Not when I have two little girls and their future to think of, not when I know so many friends back home who are afraid, for their health coverage, for their lives, for their futures. Not when I know there are so many other women that are strangers to me, afraid that their religion or the color of their skin is a liability now, with an incoming whiner in chief who has normalized hatred. 

I don’t even know what I want anymore, from America. It feels like my country died and ceased to exist on November 8th, and now I’m stateless after this deep betrayal that I cannot shake, cannot let go, cannot forgive. I thought I knew what made us American, thought that this deep pride in our diversity was universal, and now I cannot understand what has lead so many people to support Trump. I feel betrayed by family I know voted for him, feel like shouting, berating, screaming at them. Did they forget I’m married to an immigrant, or did they not care because my immigrant husband isn’t dark skinned? 

I want my daughters to live in a world where they matter. Where they aren’t just pretty faces for a man to malign, where their brain matters more than their physical appearance. I want them to live in a world where they can speak their mind and not fear repercussions, where they can show up to protest and not worry about whether it will impact their families or their livelihood. I want my eldest daughter to never feel conflicted about her best friend, who is Muslim; to never know the hateful things said about her best friend’s religion, in the U.S. campaign. I want her to live in a world as diverse as the world around us, and to grow in respect and appreciation that those differences don’t make us weak, don’t divide us, only make us stronger.

I want my daughters to be proud to be American, of their roots and history and identity, but I can’t see that happening with the incoming administration. So that’s why I will march.

Eilidh Pollard

A former theatre professional from the Western Isles of Scotland. Currently working from home running a reusable nappy library in South London whilst raising Caitlin.  

Photo taken by Tam Pollard

I'm taking Caitlin on the March for several reasons. 

Firstly, because I believe that standing up to be counted is the first step towards change. 

Secondly, because marching as a method of political demonstration is something I've done regularly through the years and so when I heard about the 'sister marches' to support the women of America I decided it was time to get my boots on again! 

Thirdly, because we have family in the USA and we will march in solidarity with them. 

Finally, we will march because non violent protest fits with our family worldview of emancipation and pacifism. 

Caitlin is the great great great niece of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Millicent Garrett Fawcett (her brother Sam Garrett was my mother in law's  great grandfather) so I feel that taking her on her first march aged 14 months is continuing a family tradition.  


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The American presidential inauguration is a good opportunity to teach your child about politics

The American presidential inauguration on Friday 20 January presents an excellent opportunity to introduce your child to politics. Being a political junkie myself, I introduced my daughter to politics from when she was a baby. I would watch the news while feeding her and by the time she was old enough to understand what she was watching politics had become second nature. 

I am well aware that many mothers would take the line that children should be shielded from politics because the news is always bad. Quite understandably these mothers do not want their children exposed to the sights of people being bombed and injured. However, I take a different view. 

As mothers we are constantly nurturing our children to become respectable citizens when they are old enough to step into the world on their own. We help them forge identities and, like it or not, this process forces mothers, sometimes quite unconsciously, to absorb the world around them and to take from it what they think are the best elements that can be imparted to their children. 

As an example, mothers restrict their children's food intake in an attempt to ensure that only healthy food and drinks are consumed. Food and drink are politically sensitive issues. The sugar industry is currently under scrutiny due to the high number of people being diagnosed with diabetes. Child obesity is another issue that has been politicised. 

My point is that politics is a pervasive and persistent influence in our lives. Decisions are made by politicians who are quite often stuck in a political bubble and these decisions do not always reflect ordinary lives. This is where mothers can play a part. Educate a child so that it grows up knowing and being fully aware of the political decision making machinery that touches us all. 

All that is required is a rudimentary explanation. The inauguration presents an excellent opportunity because there will be protests and the swearing in of a controversial man as President. All beamed live on TV. This is my suggestion:

1. Get a map out and point to America. 

2. Explain that the President's role is to 'take charge' of America in much the same way that a parent or teacher takes charge of children. Scale up this explanation by explaining that governing is country is much harder work which is why the role of President is a very important one. 

3. If you don't like Trump (like me) take time to explain that this President has been nasty to women, disabled people and people of colour. This will pave the way to your explanation on why protests are taking place. 

4. Explain that protests are part of living in a democracy i.e a free society where people can disagree without fear. 

5. Make it fun by initiating a two-way conversation. Ask your child what he or she thinks. You may be surprised by their answers. 

6. If your child shows an active interest you could take this talk further by explaining that Big Ben is where British politics resides. A trip to Big Ben would be a brilliant idea too. 


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

It is my honour to be 'black listed' by Trump's supporters

Screen shot from my Twitter account @ambitiousmamas

You wait ages for something to happen and suddenly it does. I have been 'black listed' and twice too (see screen shot above) by a Twitter account calling itself 'Pro-Whites'.

You see I have been sending anti-Trump tweets for more than a year. Sometimes I have been retweeted and other times, to my frustration, after putting some serious thought and applying political nous I have come up with blistering anti-Trump tweets that received no attention whatsoever. Then the mother of all recognition of my anti-Trump sentiment happened yesterday (16 Jan) when I retweeted what you see directly below. 

ATTENTION TRUMPERS: Here's your opportunity to speak out about this white supremacist Trump supporter. -> Cue the Trump crickets!
 To be 'black listed' is an accolade. Thank you 'Pro-Whites' and never mind that you mistakenly think that I am a 'white-anti-white' person. Being 'black listed' is plenty enough for my brown face. The double use of colour adjectives is intended to drive home the point that I am a person of colour AND I am not anti-white. 

Identity politics is important in Trump's world and serves as the starting point for many of his opinions. 

The man is a White demagogue who has used the colour of his skin to galvanise and legitimize racism. He has used his White male privilege to boast about his sexual harassment of women. Even a disabled man was mocked by Trump during his campaign rally. I certainly would not want to be close to even a whiff of being a Trump supporter.

Through it all his ardent supporters have displayed a woeful lack of a set of values and morality by buying into Trump's excuses. Trump mocked one of the women who accused him of sexual harassment by accusing her of being too ugly and, thereby, not being worthy of sexual harassment. The twisting of a serious allegation into a parody was applauded by his supporters. 

Trump's fans urge him at every turn to scale even greater heights of irrational and reckless behaviour with no regard to the cost of it all. 

These far right wingers abhor communism but love Putin because Trump adores him. There is no analysis or thought given to how such a politically dangerous alliance would play out in terms of global security. 

Trump dislikes NATO because it was set up "many, many years ago". Never mind that Trump is 70 years old and NATO is, well, two whole years younger at the age of 68 and that the problems which NATO was set up to deal with have NOT gone away. 

As it gets closer to inauguration day on 20 January the world seems to be on tenterhooks wondering and waiting for Trump to start dismantling the liberal democracy and superpower status of America in his folly to make America 'great again' through an insular and inward facing polity. 

He is ignorant and pompous beyond belief in an infantile manner and I strongly suspect that he will, in a perverse way, take every opportunity to demonstrate that he doesn't need Presidential status to make him any greater and that it is he, instead, who brings prestige to the role. Witness how he intends to take a break after being sworn in rather than working to justify the support that his voters have vested in him. The fact that his ratings have slipped even before he takes power says something. 

In many ways I feel sorry for those who genuinely believe that their lives will be improved by a billionaire who lives in a gilded home. This is the world where fact and logic have been thrown out to be replaced by rants and more rants masquerading as high political thinking.