Part 1: Debunking criticisms about me from NUS BSC Conference 2013

1. ‘She talks about feminism too much.’
2. ‘She talks too much about LGBT issues.’
3. ‘She needs to talk more about Black issues.’
4. ‘Her politics are dodgy.’
5. ‘NOLS are backing her.’
6. ‘She’s divisive.’

These are just some of the feedback that my campaign team gave me from the NUS Black Students’ Campaign with regards to some people’s perceptions about my candidacy in the Black Students’ Officer elections.

Here are my responses:

1. ‘She talks about feminism too much.’

Feminism is the only antidote to patriarchy. Feminism liberates us all from oppression.

2. ‘She talks too much about LGBT issues.’

Well, I would be worried and expect to receive a severe backlash from Black LGBT students if I didn’t discuss and act on these issues considering I am the LGBT women’s representative on the Campaign’s committee…

3. ‘She needs to talk more about Black issues.’

This suggests that Black is its own entity in which one cannot be a feminist, a women or LGBT while being Black. This is an odd and an incredibly concerning mentality. Also, if you read my manifesto you would discover that I covered a whole range of issues which concern Black people.

4. ‘Her politics are dodgy.’

Oh, so you mean dodgy like telling people that I’m leading the fight against the savage cuts this government is making against the most vulnerable in our society but all the while as a Labour councillor I voted for them?

Or perhaps it’s because I call myself a proud feminist and spin the rhetoric of ensuring that Black people, women in particular, aren’t made to sit at the back of the bus but instead I’ll run over Black women with the same bus by being a rape apologist and voting against no platforming them because I am unable to acknowledge my own privilege and so creating a hierarchy of oppression which says that sexism, homophobia and disablism are not as important as fascism.

Oh wait, I do apologise, that’s not me but the current and next year’s BSC leadership. Get your facts straight. In fact, you may need to learn them in the first instance before trying to tar me with such a disgusting brush.

5. ‘NOLS are backing her.’

Yes they were and so were other factions and groups. It’s one of the positives about being non-factional. Even though they were backing me, it in no way means that we agree wholeheartedly with each others politics; in fact, far from it.

In any instance NOLS shouldn’t be a problem considering the fact that the current and next year’s leadership is a Labour councillor.

6. ‘She’s divisive.’

How am I divisive by speaking the truth and fighting against the current factional stranglehold of a Campaign which is a front for a political faction (Student Broad Left/Socialist Action) that cares more about delivering their goals than delivering the Black students’ goals? Apparently pointing out the failures of BSC not being intersectional and actually wanting to fight for Black students is ‘dividing’ the movement…

I am incredibly saddened and ashamed with the outcome of conference. It was not a safe space because of the vehement support of the rape apologist leader who also supports and condones other rape apologists which is a categorical attack on Black women. The NUS Women’s Campaign recently published the ‘That’s What She Said’ report which found that 1 in 7 women will a victim of serious sexual violence while a student.

I will never ever apologise for intersectionality being the core of my being, of my politics, of my campaigns and everything that I do in my life. I will not be silenced by those who are unable and unwilling to acknowledge their privilege. I will not be silenced by those who pander to patriarchy because it suits them just fine. I consider myself to be in a privileged position to be able to speak up and on the behalf of Black LGBT people in the UK and around the world who are unable to do so because of the fear of violence, whether actual or perceived.

I will never apologise or be silenced for daring to speak out against injustices within BSC and within society at large. I will never compromise my principles or integrity even in the face of such lies and damnation about my views, beliefs and ultimately, my character.

‘You who believe, uphold justice and bear true witness to God, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or your close relatives.’

– Qur’an 4:135


6 thoughts on “Part 1: Debunking criticisms about me from NUS BSC Conference 2013

  1. If I had known that my personal support as a Labour Student -who had no input in my decision- would somehow go against you in your campaign I wouldn’t have done so as loudly, I think it is a weak excuse against you however 🙂

    1. If that would have been something you decided and have told me in advance, I would have persuaded you against it. I will not allow the silencing of those who want to speak up.

  2. Solidairty with this. The hypocrisy demonstrated by leadership here is replicated in every part of our movement e.g. classism in discussion of access at national conference & disregard for survivor safety in the amendments to the the NEC No Platform to Rape Apologists. motion.
    Only with aan intersectional approach will we make change. Well done for standing strong!

  3. “but all the while as a Labour councillor I voted for them?”

    Maryam, I think you make fair criticisms and points here, but I have to comment on this bit. Activists on the left know full well that Aaron Kiely voted *against* cuts in the last budget. Yes – that hasn’t always been his position, but we have to acknowledge that as we attempt to bring councillors to our view that voting against their Party is a powerful, principled and right thing to do, we also have to accept that this may not have always been their view, and some will have indeed voted for cuts in the past. The anti-cuts movement won’t get very far if we spend more time calling out converts for their previous actions and we do celebrating the fact that there are some Cllrs, yes, like Aaron, who are rebelling. xx

    1. S, thank you for your comment. Apologies for taking so long to reply to this!

      You’re right to some extent, perhaps we should be more forward looking but I honestly believe it is important to look at people’s pasts especially when they say and do one thing and then actually do something contrary to what they are saying/doing more publicly. That’s why I put that specific part in there because it was relevant to my point overall.


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