Since I was off twitter while this was going on, I wasn’t really sure how the message was being received. Think it’s a bit of a blessing though because I’ve never really known how to handle attention and if I was on twitter I may have cracked some jokes just to deflect the attention from me but it meant I probably wouldn’t be staying on message. Anyways a few thoughts on the whole thing.
Where are the girls? Almost everyone has asked this question. Even my mum told me it wasn’t fair that we didn’t include girls.The answer to this actually simple, it was based of the Yale photo which was also all men. But I read other people trying to justify it and whatnot so I had a few questions. I’ll be honest here and say when people commented about “where are the girls” I sometimes read it as people (read white people) trying to detract from the message when they couldn’t care less about diversity but I do understand there is legitimate problem of black women always being underrepresented and their problems being treated as secondary to white women and black men. . Male privilege does exist but the numbers are worse for black men than for black women. In such a case is it okay to promote only black men despite the privilege we already have over black women? Also doesn’t this question lead to whataboutism, what about black LGBTQ+, what about disabled people, what about mixed race people, what about other underrepresented minorities what about that. Is it really wrong for the focus to be only on black men? I guess this is a lesson for me in inclusivity. The fact I only found out about the photo shoot hours before and I was in the middle of exams is probably an excuse but in those hours, it didn’t once cross my mind that we should include black women. I guess I’ve learnt to keep an eye out being more inclusive in general. Sidenote: would the photos have been as viral if it had women as well? I honestly don’t have a clue, who knows why things go viral.
Salt from within. Some black students/ ex students didn’t seem to be too happy about the virality of the shoot. There were guys who never do ACS stuff, that were like “must have missed the memo”. To those people, gerrarahere my friend. There were those guys who do ACS stuff who weren’t in it that supported it, to those guys, respect man. Not going to lie. I would have been pained if I wasn’t asked to be in it and it when viral. Would have been like that time H.D. bought JA shirts for a couple of people in our set and Akra and I didn’t get one. It pained me. There were people who come for ACS events and weren’t invited. I understand the sentiment. Would the post have hit home if all 60 (or however many of us there are) were in it? Again I have no idea but if I had to guess I would say no. All the logistics of handling 14 people and picking a time that work was already tedious (s/o to Ore again). Others didn’t support early on probably because we didn’t support them in their own similar endeavours, which again I think is understandable. No hard feelings with anyone in this paragraph, I’m not going to hate on anyone for not sharing anything on their personal pages for whatever reason. I, for one, am not comfortable promoting anything on social media apart from on Twitter and Snapchat .
The more insidious (not sure what this word means) group came from the “student activists”. Some criticisms felt way too personal so I’ll bare it in mind for future interactions. One of their criticisms was that black women are behind most liberation movements but never seem to get an of the credit. I get that valid criticism, but firstly it was a black lady (want to say black girl but that seems to young, and woman seems to old. At what age do you move from girl to lady to woman?) that organised it. They kept talking about women doing emotional labour for men, but in this case the women who organised it did not mind and did not share their sentiment. Taking panadol for another person’s headache. Secondly, the people involved that did interviews did point out the work being done by the black women in Cambridge so I don’t get it. Their second criticism was that we don’t write articles, lead protests, write petitions. My response to that is that not everyone is gifted enough to do that, not everyone has the time to do that, not everyone can do that and I think it would be a problem if everyone tried to do that (too much of anything is bad, diminishing returns etc). Secondly, that isn’t the only way to “make an impact”. I’ll happily speak to a group of kids if I’m asked, I’ve volunteered to help people with applications, internships,etc and many of the guys involved do similar things but we don’t shout about it. One of critics said [paraphrased] she would bend if any of us ran for CUSU Access Officer. Now I know the current access officer and I think she is a great person and is doing a great job but like why do we have to run for any post to prove anything.
Sometimes, the general sentiment felt like they were salty about the exposure we received and they probably won’t have been salty at all if the post didn’t get the exposure that it got. It felt like they were saying, do this activism thing but just don’t get more exposure than us. Someone accused us of doing the bare minimum. That is true but can’t hate us for being more efficient. What do you want us to do? Do things that require more effort and produce less results? The other criticism was that we don’t do enough, which is maybe true for some of us involved, but in my opinion your criticism of someone that doesn’t do enough should not come when the person is trying to do said thing. Like my mom saying, I never clean your room while I’m cleaning my room. Not saying some of this criticism isn’t valid but a lot of it felt personal, the timing and public nature of it also irked in all honesty. The student activism in Cambridge gets a bit too much for me sometimes, I won’t lie. Some people are very lovely tbh but some come across as very militant. I mean this to the point that one of them was literally standing next to me on a night out while I was talking to a mutual friend I did not even try to introduce myself before she calls me out for whatever offense I didn’t know I was committing. More on this at some other time. My theory is that is any of these people in this “group” planned to do this, not many people would have turned up because a lot of people are scared of walking on egg shells around them and their message would probably have been a lot more different.
Interviews. I didn’t do any interviews for two reasons. First, I had exams and my brain needs to be tuned in to a particular frequency during exams. Any interview I would have done would have been lacklustre and I could potentially have been caught out by random questions. Also it takes time for me to come up with my inspiring bars. The second reason was that I’m an international student so I wouldn’t have counted in the stats being touted around. More importantly, my experiences are vastly different from Black British students and I think it’s easy for people to forget that. I didn’t think I had the right to go in the media and tell people to apply to Cambridge. From what I’ve heard some black students do not have any support systems. Nobody telling them, they can make it at Cambridge etc. All my life, my parents, family, friends and teachers have always believed in me which rubbed off on me. It’s why I applied to MIT and other Ivies at 15 and hoped to get in (I didn’t). As soon as my mom told me I was schooling in the UK, I knew I was applying to Cambridge and Imperial, it wasn’t even a question for me. I know nothing about going into life in the streets, knife crime, etc. My parents can afford international fees (God bless them) and I’m not sure I understand the whole race-class-socioeconomic dynamics here well enough to speak on it.
To be continued…
Warriors just came back from 25 points down against Spurs wow. Started writing this at half time and I’m mad I missed the comeback lmao.