I’ve been a little late on the uptake of new year blog posts that are full of all of the resolutions that people generally have every intention of keeping but in reality only end up lasting a few months. Maybe it’s the hype of a new year and wanting to change everything about themselves which makes the failure somewhat like an impending doom? I often find that if I try and change too many things in one go it isn’t sustainable for me but fewer changes are more manageable for me. Maybe that’s why I’ve been so reluctant to come up with resolutions straight away?
Resolutions or not, I think it’s important that we take the time to reflect on the year which has past and have goals for the upcoming year. I find it very life-affirming to just stop and think of how far I have come in my own personal journey in life while also considering the impact of my increasing visibility within my own activism.
Okay so let’s start with the reflection side of this post. What have I been up to this year?
– I’ve finally graduated! I’m currently rocking my BA (Hons) International Relations and Politics with the intentions of pursuing a Masters in Human Rights at some point in the future. Graduating later than my peers sucked a little for a bit but the time-out while rather unwanted was actually very much needed… I often underestimate the importance of self-care sometimes.
– I romanced a little which very exciting and fun too! The excitement was in part from the fact that it was somewhat undercover and secrecy in romance always give it that edge which I can’t help but find a little exhilarating. I’ve actually got one of those smug smiles on my face right now (yeah, you know the one I mean!) I’m a firm believer in a romance, flirting and banter being great for the heart, soul and of course, one’s self-esteem! It really does wonders and I can’t help but feel so alive. I know it sounds a little exaggerated but don’t you think it’s so life-affirming?
– One Billion Rising Nottingham
While incredibly problematic in some ways this was still an important event which happened in hundreds of cities around the world to raise awareness in ending violence against women and girls. The ‘one billion’ denotes the 1 in 3 women who will be raped or beaten in their lifetime which equates to one billion women around the world. As I said, while problematic which I’m not going to go into now, it’s important that we utilise such events to further causes while also changing them in order to address the problematic issues within them to make them more inclusive while also addressing the root cause of such violence which must be considered intersectionally. You reading for an Audre Lorde quote?
‘There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.’
– Election for NUS BSO
I ran for NUS Black Student’s Officer. I never thought that I’d ever find myself running for such a position but unfortunately needs must sometimes. This was one of the most intense and yet fulfilling things I’ve done in so long. What made this election important was not my running but the sheer amount of people it brought together who supported me but also the fact that I look up to them in terms of who they are and their activism. Diversity is a brilliant thing and I was so humbled to have the support of such great people. Whilst I didn’t win, the election itself proved just how much people want change to ensure that unions and organisations are reflective of their membership, that they are intersectional and accessible and that they are also doing what the members mandate them to do.
– Nottinghamshire Pride
My LGBTQI activism and indeed visibility took a massive step-up when I somewhat nervously foudn myself on the organising committee for the Co-operative Community Stage at last years Nottinghamshire Pride. I have never been on such a diverse and mutually supportive committee with a fabulous bunch of activists. It was an honour and such a privilege to work alongside them and the phrase – ‘friends for life’ comes to mind. It sounds so cheesy but I really don’t care… They are such a wonderful set of people and I couldn’t be prouder of what we accomplished.
All to often Prides are essentially cis, white, gay men and we wanted to change that narrative. Our aim was to represent the LGBTQI community in all our diversity on stage and while we didn’t get there 100% in terms of the lack of representation of some pockets of our community we made a great attempt and our outcome was an enjoyable, diverse and important an accessible stage (we have 2 sign language interpreters). In any project there is always scope for improvement but given that this was our first project together working with a new team I couldn’t be prouder of our achievements and the feedback we received reflects my very biased opinion!
Oh and in terms of stepping-up my visibility, not only did I get involved with the organising, I actually spoke on stage… I NEVER thought I’d have the guts to do that especially in my home city. My speech titled ‘LGBT Muslims. Yes We Exist!’ went down a storm! The applause was very welcoming and a little surprising given the racism and Islamophobia which exists within the mainstream LGBT community.
(A link to the talk: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10153071221555252&set=vb.524895251&type=2&theater – I’m watching this as a write and can’t help but cringe a little, still, I can’t believe I did it and I’m so so proud that I did and even prouder of the support I received from my friends and co-organisers!)
– Photographing a Civil Partnership
Being asked to be the photographer for a civil partnership was one of the coolest events I’ve been asked to photograph! It was actually my first ever civil partnership too which seemed to be a mile stone for me. It’s the second wedding I’ve photographed and I hope to do many more. It was such a wonderful ceremony full of love, life and so much happiness! The story of the two getting hitched is something out of a movie – like one of those once in a million type things which deserves a dedicated blog post so I’m not going to go into now.
– Reclaim the Night Nottingham
Getting my sister more clued up about intersectional feminism and attending her first EVER political march – Reclaim the Night in Nottingham. After years of pestering her to come to a political event, her agreeing, at the last minute backing our and me being a little heart-broken she FINALLY agreed to come to one and what greater first political event could she have gone to than a women-only march to reclaim the streets?! At the start she was so nervous and kept asking me not to leave her and got more nervous was I started to steward in the middle of it. Towards the end of the march she was right up front chanting away and totally in her element! It was so wonderful to see her being at ease in that environment and in a way, finding her voice. She enjoyed the march and rally at the end so much so that she asked to go to Nottingham’s Women Centre where everyone was heading and even while being tired I just couldn’t pass up her intrigue.
Her understanding of intersectional feminism and human rights in general has grown so much this year and she is understanding concepts and ideas that I simply wouldn’t have been able to at her age (she’s 12). I am so proud of her and love her for the support and solidarity she gives to me. Moving home after university has been a difficult transition but having such a wonderful little person as my ally makes the world of difference and I can’t help but think she doesn’t understand quite how valuable this is to me. I
– BBC Asian Network – ‘The Asian Silence? Are crimes against women the last taboo?’
I contribute every now and then to BBC Radio Nottingham for their Asian programmes and they had passed my details on the BBC Asian Network for this particular discussion.
I participated by reminding people of the importance and indeed the lived experience of intersectionality and the reality of living multi-faceted identities – ‘There is no such thing as a single issues struggle, because we do not live single issue lives’ – Audre Lorde. Further to this, I outlined the importance of looking at all of the intersections of oppressions in order to be able to defeat violence against women and finally identifying the role my religion plays within my activism.
– DIVA Magazine
I was featured in the latest issue as part of their article ‘Generation Queer’ which looked to prove wrong Suzanne Moore’s claims of the British being actively hostile to young people by looking at leading LGBT+ women activists and how we are changing the world around us. It was an honour and privilege to be featured in such a prominent magazine and one in which I have been reading for a few years! It was such a cool way to end 2013 (even though technically it was for the January issue but it went out in December so I’m still counting it!)
(Re-reading the post so far I didn’t anticipate it being so long. This ALWAYS happens when I haven’t blogged in a while! Sorry, not sorry. :P)
Okay, so now for looking forward to the year ahead. Rather than coming up with resolutions which I have done before and have often found themselves unfulfilled, I’ll do a to-do/action list instead. I can’t help but think that that will be much more productive and an easier way to track my progress throughout the year.
1. Get more into my deen (faith). There’s a few ways I can do this… Learn to pray properly and do at least 1 a day and then build up to the 5 a day inshallah (God willing). Kinda sounds like fruit with the ‘5 a day’ but instead of this is a necessity for my spirituality and my religious observance of my Islamic faith.
2. Learn Arabic.
3. Read the English translation of the Qur’an in its entirety. I’ve read passages but never the whole thing.
4. Fulfill my either one of my short term goals or make a good crack at getting it under way this year… At the moment it consists of an internship in New York which I still need to apply to and failing that continuing with applying and completing a CELTA course and teaching English in an Arab country which also ties in with increasing my deen and learning Arabic.
5. Spend more time with my mum and sister.
6. Do more things for me, as in ‘me’ time and allow myself to take the time out to self-care as often as I feel the need to.
7. Spend more time with friends and family.
8. Continue to get more involved in my local community and with activism too! There’s so many cool organisations in Nottingham that I’d love to work with! It’s so important that we share our knowledge for the betterment of the society in which we live and indeed the world at large.
9. Continue and indeed increase my visibility as an intersectional feminist activist.
10. Photograph more… More events and more wedding photographing. This is something which has fallen on the side a little. I have a great eye for photography but I need to learn how to edit photos properly and the techniques of photography in general. I have much to learn and I’m eager to do so!
11. Blog more regularly (so they don’t end up as long as this one!)
12. Get involved with an activist/human rights organisations. I miss being a part of an organisation. I have one particular organisation in mind that I’d love to work with. Keep your eyes peeled to find out more!
So that’s all I can think of at the moment. I’ll be crossing them off the list as I go and no doubt I’ll be adding more to it!
Do you have any new year resolutions?