2020: Introspection & Identity

At around 9.00a.m this morning my eyes shot open. For me this was strange, I couldn’t believe the time. I went to bed at about 4.00a.m, I was up reading. I didn’t feel tired and in some ways I was happy to be up, and not laze in bed until gone 11.00 am! I got up and switched the heating on as we’ve had some very chilly mornings, then crept back into bed. I stayed put, listened to the soft music, looked up at the ceiling, and thought about the fact that it’s the 31st December 2020.

For many, myself included this is normally a date to celebrate, party, have a few drinks, and really have a good ol’ time! This year it’s not that I don’t feel like doing this (can’t anyway with the pandemic and restrictions on social contact), it just feels like a very different ‘vibe’ for me as we end this year.

I contemplated this and wondered why this is? Obviously, the pandemic yes. But, there was more to it. I looked up at my ceiling and tried to find the words to describe 2020 in a nutshell, from a personal first person point of view for myself. ‘Introspection’ and ‘identity’ are the two words that came to me. But what exactly is it about these words that mean so much to me? Why do I sum up 2020 as my personal year of introspection and identity? I asked myself.

According to Wikipedia: Introspection is the examination of one’s own conscious thoughts and feelings.[1] In psychology, the process of introspection relies on the observation of one’s mental state, while in a spiritual context it may refer to the examination of one’s soul.[2] Introspection is closely related to human self-reflection and self-discovery and is contrasted with external observation.’

Sounds about right to me, from the second quarter of this year, I’ve done nothing but observe my own conscious thoughts and feelings. Via journal writing each day, I’ve filled up a good few since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only that, I have been very observant of the world around me and what’s happening. You recall what’s happened this year, most of it is probably etched into your mind just like it is mine. It’s been a year of really learning about each other, how others think, feel, see others, their points of views. I found that there were a good few I disagreed with! And some I did.

Introspection: Black Lives Matter Movement and Social Justice Around The World

In terms of myself, I don’t want to say ‘I’ve learned’ more about me, as I feel I know myself well, but I have rediscovered me I guess. And got to know myself on a deeper level, thinking about things from different points of views or even deeper than I have done in the past. With regard to the world at large, I think the #BlackLivesMatter movement really struck me, and made me sit up and take note of what’s happening. I became more ‘alert’ to how minority races were treated in general. Being from London, I must say while racism is everywhere London is a cultural melting pot I am so proud of. You’ll see people from all over, being racist (personally) is something I can’t do. Because I have been brought up in a city that embraces one and all! Not only that, it’s just not me as a person, I can’t look at the colour of some one’s skin and pass judgement before I know them. Yes systematic racism with the police, and other organisations is there in London and the whole of the UK. I know this, and see it . However I never have really outright experienced it myself, in London or where I live now but I am fully aware of it and recognise it.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement caused me to really grab hold of my identity as a woman of colour, my black -British status, as well as African ancestors, and family descent from the Caribbean and be proud of it. I’m the daughter of immigrants, I am proud of my culture and what it has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved it but I became more proud. I also became much more aware that in society and some parts of the world there is a long way to go, if a man can be treated some kind of way in the street, (still in 2020) because of who he is skin deep. And while it has happened long before the murder of George Floyd I am so glad that finally the world has sat up, and now takes police brutality and the general equality, diversity, and, right to be free of pre-judgement seriously!

The conversation that has been happening world wide over race, equality, and police brutality caused a lot of introspection for me personally. As well as anger! I’m black female, I have a black son, what kind of world is he growing up in, what can I do to help change it for the better for him and every little boy that looks like him? These were and still are my thoughts all 2020. This is the kind of introspection I’ve had all year, since the death of George Floyd and all those before him, and that followed him. I looked at my son different, I didn’t see the beautiful and handsome seven year old he is. I saw a public enemy number one, and it scared me. He is a tall boy, and will be very physically powerful when he is a teen, and a full grown man. I can see it, and his father is 6’3 he takes after him. It made me worried for a moment for his future, and how people will see my son because of his skin tone, build, and pre-judgement on ‘who he is’. It also made me want to ensure that he grows up being aware that he is a man of colour, know his history as a man of colour, and should be proud of his pigmentation and not let it hold him back.

I have concluded from George’s, and every other name that will be remembered following his, that died at the hands of police brutality ( there were a few more!), because of what appeared to be because of who they are skin deep, that apart from supporting the cause, writing about social justice as a writer for Aspiring Author’s Magazine LLC, I need to also do what I can in the world of fiction. Positive writing, change the perception of people of colour, change the view that in literature that writers of colour can only offer one perspective of gangs, drugs, thugs, street life etc.

I quickly started to keep tabs on the #BlackLivesMater movement across the world too. It also made me take note of social justice in general, not just race but sex, gender, sexual orientation. Any kind of ‘movement’ for an oppressed demographic of people I followed. Even the students in Thailand who fought for their rights, those in Belarus who protested against their president, the women in Argentina who fought for abortion rights. I lapped up the view point of those seeking justice across the world. It opened my eyes. The BBC Word Wide News Service became my daily medicine to listen in to what was happening with society across the world. I love that station!

Introspection: Social Distances

The pandemic crossed my mind as I was in bed, still looking up at the ceiling. Man, fuck! That’s all I can say when I think about this virus. To think that we end the year with a new ‘variant’ of Covid-19, it is just mind blowing! I took the positives from the pandemic. While it has been very hard at times to be ‘locked down’ at home, I do feel that it has been very necessary and myself and family took it seriously, and even more so now!

‘Home is where the heart is’ they say, so with this in mind I’ve personally done a lot to keep the home in good order, cleared out clutter, made it nice and homely. Being at home did not really impact me too much as I work from home, but staying home is very different to just working. I used this time to really connect with writing, I have become a prolific writer! Journal writing, and novel writing, from fiction to non-fiction. While some may have found it hard to write, I found that it has been my ‘escape’ from the TV, news, and reports on the pandemic. Don’t get me wrong I have been glued to the media and news! But writing really helped me to ‘stay sane.’ The fact that I can’t see friends, family, or go out as freely as I once did caused me to sit and write!

Reading has also become a safe haven of mine, I read a lot anyway before all this madness. The pandemic has just heightened this. While I watch the news a lot I don’t watch TV. I have no favourite shows, or things I have to watch each week.

Generally the pandemic, social distancing, and lockdowns have caused me to let go of superficial things in life. Remain in the present, as tomorrow may just be messed up! So go with the flow and don’t over plan, just have an idea of what you want. Follow the universal energy to make it happen, when the time is right rather than force things. I’ve also really increased my value of the outdoors and nature. I enjoy it anyway, but since it has been restricted days spent just sitting in the park, or by a lake where I live have been wonderful!

Home schooling as challenging as it was and some days still is now, has been so rewarding for my son. And our bond is even more tighter than it was. In some respects I feel that he has done better at home and made more progress. I have seen it.

Overall, 2020’s introspection has made me feel that it’s not wise to waste a moment of life, it can be cut short at any moment. You must do what you feel called to do, and what your soul is pushing you toward. I read Paul Coelho’s The Alchemist this week and boy! It felt like some kind of divine timing that the book in audio version was suggested to me on YouTube, and it was free to listen to! It reinforced all that I had been feeling up to the point of me writing this blog about 2020.

Identity: 2020

Ah yes, identity. Let me just say this before 2020 I felt like I had a good sense of who I am. And what I would call my identity or what I ‘identify’ with. Be it morals, principles, etc. This year it’s a whole new vibe! First of all the word ‘author’ am I an author? Yes technically because I have authored many things from books, novellas, articles, audio books etc. But really I’m a ‘writer’ and ‘novelist’, I prefer to call myself this! This is my ‘identity’ I feel more aligned with.

I feel that my identity as a person and woman in her late thirties, not just my profession (writer, novelist) will now probably influence a lot more of my writing. From what I want to write, where I write, to the characters I create or won’t create. 2020’s introspection, observation of the world, realisations internally and externally have helped to firm up my ‘identity’, and how I connect with others, my profession, and what I create!

I feel like as the year has been such a creative year in one respect that moving forward, I feel more compelled to ‘live that creative life’ more than I was before LOL I don’t know if that makes sense, but it does to me I know what I mean by it.

So whatever you do tonight to see out 2020 just be safe, consider the risks, and do have fun! Consider your own personal introspection, observation, and identity that has happened in 2020 for you. How you will move forward from this? It certainly could help to ensure that 2021 is a better year, improved year, important year, pivotal year for you, while it will remain a tough year in the background with with Covid-19.

It’s early afternoon for me as I write this, but I will say in advance happy New Year! And thank you for connecting with me via my blog in 2020!

International Women’s Day 2020: Equality In The Work Place, My Story #IWD2020 #EachforEqual

womens-day

So it’s International Women’s Day 2020 today! #IWD2020 Yeah! While I believe in celebrating women and the contributions we make to the world and society at large daily, I’m always pleased when the day rolls around. This year’s theme is equality,  or #EachforEqual. I actually have an experience of being a woman in the world, battling for equality personally that I thought I’d share.

So let’s step back many years ago I was a pregnant woman in my late twenties, working extremely hard in the work place.  One as my department was being restructured and my co-workers and I was at risk of redundancy, two the department was in a shit load of mess anyway! And me being typical me, I wanted to do what I could to help clean it up. We all had to in away reapply for our jobs, to  ‘prove’ our worth to not be selected for redundancy and have our jobs merged so some went jobless. It was very stressful I tell you! Especially while pregnant I feared for my growing family’s stability.

While all this was going on, just before I started my maternity leave I started to take on ‘extra responsibilities’ in the work place, I was doing my job and another. And, yes you guessed it I wasn’t being paid for taking on the roles of a job above me.  I was not even formally asked to take on the extra work, it was just dumped on my desk by management. We had a change of management also. A man stepped in, one who had a reputation of being very harsh, unfriendly, awkward, not a people person or in any way emotionally intelligent and a ‘hard task master’.  The whole organisation was in such a mess, and going down hill I think they brought him in to try and ‘shake things up’. He never bothered me as I thought well I’m on leave soon, and anyway it’s not like I don’t do my job and then some, so whatever! Is all I thought. So anyway I did what I could, stressed, worried and about to give birth any time soon, I was in the final weeks of pregnancy.

While on maternity leave the department was restructured, I did keep my job, but during the restructure  of the organisation and department the job that I was doing ( the extra part with no pay) ,was made into an actual new role.  With higher pay and more clout… so they notified everyone internally and I heard via  post ( as they legally had to tell everyone who remained an employee of that department).  Naturally,  I put in an application for the job. Why not right? I was doing the job for nothing, no pay or anything! Before I went on maternity leave, I did it well even though I was very stressed and glad to get out of the place. I also was highly qualified for the role, in terms of experience and academic achievement etc.

This happened a few weeks before I was due to return from maternity leave. When I did  return from leave, I found out I was not even shortlisted for an interview. *face palm* Hold on a minute…. who was doing that job before leave? Unpaid? And helped to clear up a lot of the mess left, by employees that really didn’t give a hoot, left, and just were down right lazy? Muggins here, me that’s who!

Yeah, I put my male boss on the spot about it  one day when I returned and asked, “why was I not shortlisted for an interview at least?” Do you know what that ass-hole told me, “you’ve been on maternity leave that’s why, you can’t do the job?” I raised an eyebrow and left him to run his mouth as I knew then and there, I was filing a claim for discrimination on the grounds of gender, and maternity leave.  Totally illegal in employment legislation. Lucky, one of my master’s degrees covered law too… ya girl was clued up! I dread to think what would  have happened, if I were a female who never understood the laws of discrimination in the work place.

So once my sexist, abrupt, white, discriminatory,  male manager ran his mouth, I smiled sweetly and said, “okay, just to confirm because I’ve been away exercising a right that I was entitled to legally, as a woman, you’re telling me you decided not to shortlist me for an interview, and dismiss me for a job that I was already doing and can prove I was, before I went on maternity leave?” His face went pale, and he said, ” yes, you’ve been away.” I stopped there, went home then drafted up my complaint for inequality, sex and gender discrimination in the work place against my boss.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but did it turn into a legal battle? You bet your bottom dollar it did? Did I win my case against my boss and this organisation? You bet I did! And I was proud to present my case and win! I felt a sense of justice not just for myself, but for all the woman around the world over looked for jobs, by employers using measurements that impact on only them as a demographic of society, and therefore they miss out. By being marginalised and excluded from promotion, pay, and career progression. It was inequality and discrimination at its worst! So many laws are out there against this, it’s not just race the common one we hear about.

I ended up during my battle being head hunted for a better job than the one I had applied for, with better pay! I had an interview and got it. I left that piss-poor organisation a happy woman, who fought for justice, and never looked back.

Moral of the story is, in this day and age there is still a lot of work to be done for women when it comes to equality. Any statistic will tell you that, pay, promotion, etc. It makes ugly reading when you go through all the write ups, articles, and research into discrimination around women and equality. Quite frankly, I’m disgusted to read it, and to have experienced this a young woman myself, working hard, trying to balance work and life. And not miss out on the wonderful chance to be a mother, in fear of missing out on career progression.

So many woman are faced with this decision I was in, do I start a family and risk taking leave that I am entitled to? Or put it off and stay at work?  At the time as a woman in my late twenties I was proud of my achievements I was being paid well for my age, but did not let that stop me from the decision to take a long period of maternity leave I was legally entitled to and have a wonderful new chapter of my life open up.

From this experience I’ve learned first hand how we can be overlooked in the work place, at times I asked myself if I had not taken maternity leave, would my male manager have shortlisted me anyway? Based on his track record, and reputation he had would he  have wanted to even have placed a woman in that job that was created? Would he have felt “I could not do the job because of who I am?” Anyway, fuck him, and any employer or manager like him. All I know is, my name is one he’ll never forget. And I hope he has learned from the professional discipline he experienced, from bringing the organisation into a legal dispute, based on his discriminatory views against woman in the work place… the shit bag! Fuck him!

Have a wonderful International Women’s Day 2020 #IWD2020 and let’s continue to fight for #EachforEqual in whatever way you feel is needed, at work, in life and just generally.

I’d also like to take a moment to shout out these females who I respect to the max, for their outspoken, feisty, female empowering lyrical content…

P!ink-  what a rock star, love you and your personality from the bottom of my heart. I have been to every London based concert you’ve done, and I love how you fight for what’s right!

Pink

Christina Aguilera- “Can’t Hold us Down” is an anthem of female empowerment that never sounds old! Thank you for those words. “Fall in Line” is such a great song of empowerment, and the way you sing it you can’t help but feel the uplifting energy for us women!

xtina

Beyonce-  You’re just a boss when it comes to females staying on top!! Some of your songs have really resonated over the years.

Beyonce

Sia- “Unstoppable” when I first heard this song, I knew it was you singing it a totally unique voice, singing such an empowering song. Thank you.

Sia

Rhi Rhi – The line up of empowering females would be incomplete without you! You make being a woman of colour a beautiful thing, and do so much for women in general  regardless of race, and fight for what’s right. Your music, make-up line and personality are great. Very inspirational!

RhiRhi

 

Happy International Women’s Day March 2020!

#IWD2020 #EachforEqual