Muslim Women in Hip-Hop | Alia Sharrief in conversation with Aisha Asher

To celebrate the artistic, social and political achievements of Black Muslim women, Aisha from Sisters Of Empire links up with sister Alia Sharrief, Emcee and founder of The Hijabi Chronicles.


Salaam Alaikum Alia, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few of my questions! I’m very honoured to share this platform with you and congratulations with all of the success that you have seen so far.

Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. What inspired you to become a HipHop artist and how long have you been an emcee?

Walaikum Asalaam sis! BismiAllah! Peace and blessings! I was born and raised in Sacramento, California and now reside in the Bay Area. I  have the pleasure of teaching and counseling young students of all ages, filming and editing music videos and mini documentaries, producing radio shows, and being a good wife. I became a Hiphop artist at the age of 4 years old. I named myself Homie C and my little sister Naiemah, Homie D. I was influenced by Pops who was always playing old school classics that had positive messages and frequencies in them. Around this time I began to view Hiphop as a vehicle for change and a way to use my voice to inspire and reach the masses.

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From the very onset, HipHop music and culture has been greatly influenced by Muslim emcees. Rakim, Q-tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest, Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) and Lupe Fiasco are just some of the few Muslim HipHop giants that spring to mind. Your music, however, is trailblazing. Not only because of the powerful, lyrically conscious traditions that you preserve, but also because you represent a very niche genre of HipHop music. You literally carry your faith on your sleeve whenever you write, record and perform.

How important is it for you to be a Muslim-HipHop artist, as opposed to, a HipHop artist who happens to be Muslim? Has it been challenging to reconcile these two aspects of your identity into a distinctive art form?

I appreciate that. Yes, Hiphop has been heavily influenced by Islam. Islam is said to be the unofficial “religion of Hiphop.” A lot of the NOI/5 Percent Nation’s contributions to the language within Hiphop were originally inspired by Al Islam and its historical teachings. My husband works with the Universal Zulu Nation, the organization (founded by Afrika Bambaataa) that was most responsible for organizing Hiphop as a cultural movement way back in the early 1970’s and many of their members were, and are, Muslim. The name Allah alone was dropped countless times back in the 80s and 90s, all inspired by the message that came to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the year 610. My inspiration this last 3 years has been Dawah (righteous guidance/advise). It’s one thing to know how to rap good. But what are you really talking about? It’s really important for me to make sure my music has meaning and leaves an ever-lasting impression on listeners.

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It’s very easy for me to claim my Muslim identity as a Hiphop artist. I mean, I am a Muslim before anything else. However, back when I made my first album “Mental Cycles & Mood Swings” it was a little more challenging. When you’re not on the Deen, you don’t want to necessarily be the Muslim example on such a large platform. That was a very challenging time in my life, hence the title of my last album. All praise is due to Allah that I found my true self and though I was born Muslim, it was like I found Islam again. It was a process but as time progressed I became more and more confident in my Muslim idenity because it’s the truth. Islam in its essence holds no contradictions, despite what the mass media spreads.

In general, the HipHop industry has, and continues to be, very much a male-dominated arena. Do you find the same dynamics in the Muslim HipHop movement, and if so, has it been challenging to widen that gap as one of the few female emcees in the game?

Back in the day, though Hiphop was still male dominated there were more female artist in the mainstream that were bringing strong messages, from Queen Latifah, Lady of Rage, Monie Love, and fast forward to the queen Lauryn Hill. But today, not only is misogyny worse than ever, the women being promoted in the media are still being used to push a certain agenda. A lot of the sounds are about nudity, materialism, putting other women down, hypersexuality, and submissiveness to unmarried men to say the least. The mainstream music industry has a history of not wanting to promote or put out more than one female rapper at a time. This has broken up sisterhood causing disunity, jealousy, slander, envy, and greed. Definitely patriarchy has a presence worldwide so when I see female emcees today showing unity, I’m like let’s get it! For this reason I started The Hijabi Chronicles to create sisterhood. It’s been such a journey and learning process building among women in the community.

Aside from being an emcee, you are also the founder and President of The Hijabi Chronicles. Could you tell us a little bit more about what this platform is and what it aims to do? 

The Hijabi Chronicles focuses on empowering Muslimah artists with the aim to raise awareness & serve the people through education and charity. I was inspired by the thought of creating a lane that’s been missing for Muslimahs in this industry.

Black Heros is one of my favourite songs of yours. I love that you deconstruct some of the historical achievements of Black people (both in an Islamic and general historical context), as well as, some of the systematic attempts to devalue those achievements. Being a Black, Muslim woman myself, I often feel like others expect me to separate these aspects of my identity, rather than view them as intersectional and inseparable. Have you ever felt the same way, and what advice would you give to those who both perpetuate and fall victim to these narratives? 

Thank you. I received a lot of positive feedback on Black Heros but also a lot of criticism because I chose to highlight Black Heros. Even the spelling alone, I decided to leave the “e” out of Heros to symbolize the fact that Black people build this country, and who is anyone to tell me how to spell Heros lol. I know exactly what you mean when you say you’re expected to separate your Black identity from your Muslim identity and that’s another reason why my video was criticized. A lot of Black Muslims feel this way, so there definitely needs to be a discussion based around this. But like I said in the song, “I’m Black like the first man who called the Ithan”. That man was Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) and Bilal was a Black man who was a close companion to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Prophet was the one who asked Bilal to make the call to prayer, proving Islam embraced Black culture – it’s just people who have things twisted.

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Art, poetry and writing have always been an integral part of Islamic culture. Over the years I have seen more and more Muslim women turn to the arts, spoken word and blogging as a way to challenge some of the misconceptions and prejudices that we face. Why do you think it is important for Muslim women (such as yourself) to have these kind of spaces, and how effective do you think they have been in resisting Islamophobia?

It’s great to see Muslim women taking part in arts because it’s our right. It also helps in combating stereotypes and Islamophobia against Muslim women. The Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) grand daughter witnessed the entire murder of her family at Karbala and she was the only survivor and she told this story to the people in poetry form. That’s something I hold dear to me because it takes so much to express pain and the fact that she did it by using art is a message to all Muslim women in my opinion.

Finally what new projects are you working on and where do you hope to see yourself in the next few years? Any other comments or final words?

I am working on my new album “B.O.M.D” which stands for “Back on My Deen” It’s most definitely been a work in progress. Stay tuned! Also, I’m working on a new mixtape, music videos, and myself. As far as the future goes, I pray for peace and unity among the Ummah. I see myself in the future doing everything I can to achieve that.

maxresdefaulthTo find more information about Alia or to check out her music, click on the following links:

Twitter

Soundcloud

Youtube

Instagram

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AliaSharrief

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheHijabiChronicles

DALKII HOOYO, THE MOTHERLAND | SUMIA JAAMA


She was not the darkness consumed by hate,

Not dying,

Not dreaming,

Not flying,

Not fleeing.


She was not broken,

As everyone presumed her to be,

Not barren,

Not bloody.


She was not the War torn country silenced in the corner,

Not the unwanted leftovers of a meal,

Not the cold, cold winter’s night,

Not the sweltering summer’s day,

She did not chase out her loved ones,

Nor did she chase after them.

She had not forgotten her language,

Nor her name.


But they called her ‘The worlds most dangerous spot.’

Perhaps it was her love they feared.

Her laughter in the midst of all the pain,

Her shores kissing pollution goodbye

Her love found in all corners of the globe.


She did not fear the intimacy

Of welcoming back her own,

Her strength still told in stories,

That you have yet to hear

That have yet to leave your grandmothers lips.


Her beauty was indisputable.


Yet to be recognised

Untamable.

Twenty-six letters,

And yet none could fall in line,

Stumbling in awe of her beauty,

Stumbling in fear of being inadequate

Perhaps another alphabet

Is what she needs.

But,

What she needs,

Was never of significance to you,

Never a moment’s thought,

Never a sparing breath,

Never

Home.


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I wrote this poem long before I had any memories of Somalia to hold on to. I remember asking myself ‘What does it feel like to miss a home you’ve never lived in? And how does one gain nostalgia through pictures and stories?’ At first, I was very apprehensive in writing anything about Somalia. I mean, what did I have to tell? What did I know that could formulate an image of Somalia? And a ‘just’ one, at that. But in the end I chose to write for myself.

8 months later and SubhanAllah. I’ve always placed great strength and belief in dua (supplication) but my belief has never been more real in action. The highlight for me personally was seeing my mother’s entire demeanor transform as we landed. 25 years since she last set foot on Somali soil. 25 years since she last embraced her mother. Hooyo was still a teen when she flew out her mother’s nest and in her mothers eyes she still remained that little girl who loved to laugh. My favourite moments would be the moments right after praying Maghrib, we’d sit in the courtyard with our radio (yh we old-school) and tea and embellish in stories of hooyo’s past, of relatives close and far (MashAllah ayeeyo’s memory is going stroooong! She can name most people from her town, and their kids too, and even tell you how you’re related) of home, of religion, of politics, sometimes she even used to break out into poetry. Those moments will forever remain engraved in my mind.

I miss everyone, and although I only got to meet like 1/6th of my family, their faces are burned into my memory. Ahmed, who in those 6 weeks became like my son. I was the last person he’d see at night and the first in the morning. If I could have held his hand and skipped through continents to stay with him forever, no doubt I would have. Zakaria, the mischievous one, with a beautiful heart, but he works hard to protect it and puts up an exterior, life forced him to put. Salma, who although 10 years younger than me, has reached my height and continuous to grow although I’m average height! Her witty and stealthy jabs will in most cases not even be detected. Shade level one hunnid. The lady I used to buy sambuus from, always praying for me extensively. The man I bought all those baatis from in xamarweyne and our debates on how to correctly pronounce Literature and Championship. The tuktuk driver who practically became my travel guide. The girls I befriended and treated me like their own. The little girl upstairs and our discussions about hijab. Her father and our arguments over Ronaldo or Messi. I could write a dissertation on the people I met and the impact they’ve had, and how their colourful souls brightened up not only my stay, but also home.

IMG_0051I spend much of my 8am tube journey (yes, the rush hour – packed, breathing up in my personal space) transporting my mind to the night time skies of Mogadishu, to call is just a sky would be to fall short, because I’m sorry but, we’re deprived out here of such timeless beauty, well I know I am. In the 5,040 seconds (approximately) I spent on that roof examining the sky, it felt like I was being transported through the galaxies, and that is no exaggeration! The colours, the constant movement of clouds, the far away bright lights, the quietness, the night time rain – Lord knows I could have camped out on that roof forever, Subhan’Allah.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this; the poem now holds a completely different level of profoundness when I read it. Not that I didn’t feel Home in its words before, but now, I am able to relive my experiences and memories within the words, everything holds a different meaning. I no longer hold a ‘single story’ of Somalia as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie so perfectly described. But more importantly, I can now attach faces and memories and stories to that narrative.

My advice, and I know this is cliché but each one of us should at one point or another travel. And I’m not talking about your 2015 definition of travel. Disconnect. (Its hard, but worth it!) Leave your instas, and twitters and tumblrs and facebooks at home. They will still be there when you get back. I’d even say leave your camera at home, but I’m still undecided on that. I probably would have missed out on several events of just timeless beauty had I remained connected throughout my 6 weeks. Most of the things I remember can’t be captured by the digital. Like my grandmothers voice, my Uncle’s kindness, Ahmed’s joy, my cousins and I’s late night adventures and the crazy things we saw and discovered.

Visit the most remote areas, learn from peoples customs, engulf yourself into their stories and language, travelling, when done right, can only ever give and teach you things and moments that money could never, ever, buy. Sketch people’s faces and stories into your memory, because we have so much to learn from each other.


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Dr. Betty Shabazz, remembering the Black woman, and how ‘Growing Up X’ by Ilyasah Shabazz changed my life | Aisha Asher

“A male student attending Medgar Evers College told me a story of my mother that I love. He said that he was hanging in the hallway one day with some of the boys when Dr. Shabazz approached. They all became flustered; they didn’t know what to say to her. But the student told me Mommy was warm and loving, and that she told him something he will remember for a lifetime. She said: “You come from great ancestors. Act like it.”Growing Up X


Most people know, and are forever inspired by, the life of Malcolm X. Thanks to his unforgettable autobiography “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” (written and completed by journalist Alex Haley, also famous for his book, turned TV series, “Roots”), it is almost inexcusable not to come out of the book respecting the intelligence and evolution of this great man. Malcolm X, otherwise known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, has not only come to be loved and revered by so many but his philosophies still remain at the forefront of modern civil rights.

Yet, with so many of our great leaders, we tend to know less about the equally great women behind them. As Sojourner Truth once put it: “There is a great stir about colored men getting their rights, but not a word about the colored women”. I use this quote, only because I think it can be applied in another context: the right of the Black woman to be equally recognised, and paid homage to, in matters of liberation and civil rights. Black women have (and continue to be) at the forefront of grassroots movements. The Black woman has fought, and taught, and talked, and endured to ensure that the legacy of resistence is never lost to time. We know it, and yes, we do acknowledge it. But I think there is room to acknowledge it even more, particularly when teaching Black History on an academic level.

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Dr. Betty Shabazz will always be one of my personal heroes. I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that her daughter Ilyasah Shabazz had written her own autobiography. What I loved about this book – notwithstanding what it reveals about growing up as the child of Malcolm, without Malcolm – is just how much more I learned about Dr. Betty Shabazz.

I find that history becomes so much more valuable when it comes from somewhere intimate and personal: not boring textbook regurgitations but actually hearing and being in conversation with the stories, and memories, and life experiences of the individual. I relished in learning the different pet names that Malcolm X had for Betty: “Brown Sugar”, “Girl”, “Apple Brown Betty” and so forth.

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It was refreshing to have experienced the domestic narrative of family, marriage and widowhood, rather than the political narrative that we tend to hear. I learned that Malcolm X left this world with only a few hundred Dollars to his name; meaning that Betty had to take on identities and roles (widow, single mother of six children, matriarch and breadwinner) that were before unfamiliar.

Still, her convictions were clear. Betty Shabazz went back to school and ended up completing not one, but two, PhDs. She continued to champion the civil rights of African-Americans and other marginalised peoples. She established the Malcolm X Boulevard in New York and she represented herself and her family as an ambassador, meeting with Louis Farrakhan in what became a monumental symbol of reconciliation between the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X.

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She held onto her Islamic principles despite the assumption that she would revert back to her former Christian faith, and following in her husbands’ footsteps, she took her pilgrimage to Mecca in 1965.

Although her death was incredibly tragic, it bears witness to her strong sense of character. Dr. Betty Shabazz departed from this world after running through the flames of a fire in her apartment: an act that testified to her maternal inclination to save, what she saw as, her endangered grandson. I don’t want to give away too much of her story (simply because I encourage everyone to buy this book and experience it for themselves) but it changed my life forever. I saw a woman who deserves to be written, and recognised, and respected, in exactly the same way as any of our other heroes.

Dr. Betty Shabazz was a woman unashamed to defend her convictions.

A woman who remembered to give back to others.

A woman who loved.

A woman who saw value in education.

A woman who strove against all odds.

On this day, the anniversary of her passing (June 23rd), we must not only continue to be inspired by her greatness but begin to view Dr. Betty Shabazz as a philosopher and a fighter in her own right.

*Have you read this, or any other book, about Dr. Betty Shabazz? Is she one of your personal heroes, and if so, why? Feel free to drop a comment below and let me know.* 

‘BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM’: 16 MEMORABLE MOMENTS | AMRA HUSSAIN

‘Bend it like Beckham’ is a pretty well known 2002 film, which centres on the character of Jesminder (Jess) Bhamra. This was the first British film I had ever watched with a brown girl as the leading character. The following are some of my thoughts while watching what I consider to be the most memorable moments within the movie.

  1. Jesminder’s grandmother reassures her after her sister Binky’s wedding, “it will be [her] turn soon”. As a brown girl, I’m very familiar with this phrase, and it’s slightly annoying to have older women in your family constantly ask you when you plan to get married, as soon as you hit 18.
  1. When a white boy said “I’ve never seen an Indian girl into football” *cries in Pakistani* It’s exasperating how people are so shocked at the thought of brown girls possibly being interested in everyday things like sports, music, poetry etc. and after a while it just gets annoying because why so ignorant?
  1. All I thought when Jesminder skilfully changed her clothes without showing any skin was that is me. Going to a school where 95% of the students were white girls who were comfortable with changing in front of each other was new to me, my friends and I always changed in the cubicles.
  1. When the football coach, Joe, claimed he understood what it was like to be called “paki” because he was Irish. *rolls eyes*
  1. On the topic of eye rolling, when Jeminder’s mum said: “look how dark you’ve become playing in the sun”. Colourism is something which women in South Asian communities know too well, from seeing adverts for ‘fair and lovely’ creams to mothers scorning us for sitting outside too long. It is always the darkest of South Asian women who suffer the most at the hands of their communities.
  1. Jesminder’s mother praises her for her round chappatis –bilb 2 a goal for every brown girl.
  1. ‘Now exams are over I want you to learn full punjabi dinner’: every Asian girls fate during summer (also currently me, tonight I’m cooking lamb).
  1. ‘She’s divorced, cast off after three years of being married to a white boy with blue hair’. This fear is very evident amongst South Asian families, the idea that marrying outside of even your caste, let alone ethnic group, will inevitably lead to divorce and ruination.
  1. Jesminder’s mother continues to speak of the brown girl married to the white boy: ’Her mother hasn’t been able to set foot in that temple I don’t want this shame on my family’. In South Asian families, women are held up to certain expectations and bear the weight of their families honour, one step against cultural expectations and traditions, and she will have shamed her family/ be humiliated by each and every whisper at religious and family gatherings (if she isn’t disowned by her family that is).
  1. Most, if not all, brown girls have been asked the question “so are you like promised to someone?’’ whether you were 12 or 17. Non-South Asians always presumed you were already engaged to your cousin back home and that as soon as you were 18 you would disappear off the face of the earth. (I would know I went to a secondary school with a majority of white girls, and even the teacher’s thought every brown girl was going to be married off to some 50-year-old back in the motherland).
  1. Jesminder addresses the idea of suitable men she could marry, she reminds her team mates what is and isn’t acceptable for brown girls: ‘White boy no, black definitely not’. White boys are just a no-no for brown parents because they seem to think every white person is out to get lashed and is racist. And black boys, well I think the “definitely not” just explains that one. It is also assumed that our parents are “fixing [us] up with a handsome young doctor’, we wish mate.
  1. When the random aunty ji reassured Jesminder that she could make even her “Mosquito bites look like juicy juicy mangoes”. Sigh. For a people that slut shame so easily, aunties will still want you to attract attention at weddings because apparently that’s the only way you can find a nice brown boy.
  1. When Jesminder got called out for kissing a white boy thanks to the one aunty who lurks around corners waiting to make up an imaginary boyfriend for you and your sisters. Not everyday slut shame, some days just understand I don’t care for boys.
  1. “Bring me back some langhar” – me whenever my mum goes anywhere.
  1. The look on the Irish boys face when he was like: “Your dad’s not here is he”. Men. Listen. If you want an Asian girl and you’re white or black ask yourself: can you fight her dad? bilb 3
  1. And finally, I had to question how Jesminder was brave enough to kiss the Irish boy in the airport, her mum would’ve ended her life then and there and happily gone to jail for it. I know this because my mother has threatened to do this if she ever catches me with a member of the male species.

Whilst the film ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ did allow us to laugh at some of the most embarrassing things most South Asians can relate to like: fear of white boys, lesbians and kissing, it is important that we recognise how dangerous some aspects of South Asian mentality can be. Issues like misogyny, colourism and anti-blackness are still swept under the carpet and are not openly discussed within South Asian communities, but rather met with hostility. We may laugh at the comments about marriage and the policing of women within the movie, as it is represented in a light hearted manner, however, brown girls still feel the full force of misogyny and living under a microscope in their communities and households.

I feel that the current young generation of desis must stay connected to, and embrace their culture and heritage. But at the same time, we should not be afraid to discuss problems within our own communities, and should amplify the voices of brown girls as it is the women who often suffer the most.

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One of my favourite moments from the film 🙂

Feel free to leave some of your thoughts (in the comments section) on the film and whether you agree or disagree with anything I’ve mentioned.

(Disclaimer: I am not in any way suggesting that this movie represents exactly how every South Asian family operates, nor am I suggesting that it is representative of all ethnic and religious groups in South Asia).

Caribbean Hands: A story about Pain, Sacrifice and Hope | Aisha Asher

“Caribbean hands recruited for the motherland, navigating potholed streets, no gold in sight” – Yemisi Blake & Jay Bernard


It is 9.30am. I am rushing to catch my Central Line train hoping that, by some divine permission, I will make it on time to my 10am lecture on Medieval Literature. But the dashes, and the dodges, and the quick movements seem to make little difference: Mile End Station is a lifetime away from Greenford Broadway. Still, I reach the platform. Two minutes until the next train. Not too bad. I should only be 10 minutes late at this rate. Then, just as I turn to face the track, a poster – red, like the potent glow of ancient henna, catches my eye:

“Caribbean hands recruited for the motherland, navigating potholed streets, no gold in sight”.

I am struck still. Where did this come from? Why have I never seen this before? I take a picture. I miss my train, but I don’t care. Beowulf can wait. In a single moment, I feel like I am staring into a portal between the past and the present. Between pain and promise. Between old stories and new. Between my Grandparents and myself.

And suddenly, I am so sad.


This short story captures a more than true experience. In essence, I came across a poster at Greenford Station with a poem written on it. You probably have seen them scattered around the tube: TFL launched a project called “Art on the Underground” to champion contemporary artwork. And it certainly does. Each poem, in my opinion, offers a refreshing wisdom that alleviates the mundaneness of daily commute.

But this poem was special, powerful even, because it literally stopped me in my tracks. Why? Without trying to sound too dramatic: because it captures my very existence. In fact, it captures the existence of thousands of Britons who, growing up, have continually been asked: “where are you originally from?”

“Where are you originally from?” is an innocent question and it often acts as a bulwark against countless other curiosities. But it is also heavily loaded with other concepts and experiences:

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“First Generation. Second Generation. Third Generation. African. Caribbean. Asian. Arab. Eastern European. Them. Us. Identity. Race. Language. Culture. Colonisation. Britain. Home. Go back Home. Stories. Memories. Migration.

Although this poem is in conversation with it all, it does, however, capture a very specific migration story: Caribbean migration. What most people tend not to realise is that Caribbean and Indian migration to Britain was something quite unique. We were pursued by the British government in a bid to repair “Broken Britain” – a Britain, whose economy had been damaged by the ravages of WWII and the ever-increasing collapse of the British Empire.

“Caribbean hands recruited for the motherland”.

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The Caribbeans and Indians were at the forefront of public services in Britain, championing many of the developments that were made to London Transport and the NHS. Both of my Grandparents worked in Transport: my Grandfather worked for British Rail, and my Grandmother worked at the Head Office for London Underground as the senior supervisor for its Catering Department. I grew up hearing countless stories about their life as Jamaicans on British soil: my Grandfather, who, would often leave the house at 4am, would trudge through inches upon inches of snow just to get to work. (Picture of my Grandfather’s passport after migrating to Britain).

In fact, there is a novel (one of my personal favourites) that explores this migration experience. It is called “Small Island” by Andrea Levy. Although I read it a few years ago, there is a very poignant moment in the novel that I can never seem to escape: Hortense, an educated Jamaican woman with hopes of becoming a teacher, has just arrived in England. Prior to leaving Jamaica, Hortense was sold a dream which many,  my Grandparents included, soon discovered was nothing more than propaganda. England was far from a Utopia: there were no gold-paved streets, and most migrants found it almost impossible to acquire basic residence.

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Hortense, disappointed that her husband could only acquire a single bedroom, finds solace in sleep. The next morning, as she moves her hand from beneath the warmth of her bed sheets, she finds herself confronting an unexpected demon: the sharp, winter cold air. Her hand is left paralysed in mid-air at the discovery.

bookgroupsmallFor some reason, I found this incredibly profound (okay, it might not be that profound, but Literature students have a tendency to be inspired by the most irrelevant things). Still, I can imagine this was something that my Grandparents had to learn to acclimatise to over time. The image of Hortense and her paralysed arm remains with me forever. I am even more humbled that my own Grandfather and Grandmother trudged through unfamiliar territory, having only faith on their backs and an unshakeable determination to see their family prosper.

“Navigating potholed streets. No gold in sight.”

I love the poem by Yemisi Blake and Jay Bernard, simply because of the stories, experiences and realities that it captures. It is a story about pain and loss. It is a story about sacrifice and uncertainty. And it is a story about hope and prosperity.

*Note: There is currently an exhibition at the Southbank Centre called: “Adopting Britain: 70 years of Migration”, which documents the history of migration to Britain, including the migration of Caribbean and Indian peoples. Amra, Alliyah and myself had the pleasure of attending the exhibition, and we would definitely recommend it to anyone else interested in these conversations.