Hiatus and Apologies

Dear Friends, Readers, Observers,

Whichever you may be..

Why Race Matters: Examining ‘Terrorism’ Through Race in International Relations

Thank you for your support. I appreciate that you have been following this blog and keeping up with my efforts to situate myself in IR.

I have been absent – due to deadlines, teaching, and just my general state of being ’emotionally fluid’.

I have been writing and publishing elsewhere as you can see on E-IR today here or my Media Diversified essay which was recently published in Portugese .

But I do have my own writing for this blog I need to catch up on.  I am particularly excited to blog a piece on my interview with historian Dr. Kathleen Paul, author of Whitewashing Britain... as soon  as I have time to breath, decompress, and think clearly.

But for now, is it not crazy how political life can change so fast over such a short period of time?

I talk about this in a recent interview  I did with my friend Farah Ahmed, an amazing person and host of ‘Racialized’ the podcast. We talk about how we felt in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and how things have both changed and not changed so much.

The full interview can be heard here:

Just the other day someone reached out and touched my hair, without my consent, because it was ‘fascinating’, in the same way elderly women used to circle  me at the shopping mall, because I was such a cute little ‘coloured’ girl.

I am now 25, looking at people who still comment on my body and take photos of me, again without consent, when I walk around, fully clothed ( though this should not matter) on the board walk. I still feel like the eight year old I commemorate and feel for in my interview.

The personal is just as political as it was in 2001….  this is exhausting but it is also meaningful . But it is wonderful to have people like you follow my work as I try to make sense of things.

Please stay tuned and look out for an in-coming meaningful blog soon.

 

Thank you.

-A.A

Reclaiming ‘race’ in postcolonialism: A personal reflection on the politics of the racial experience

Happy Wednesday.

I had the amazing opportunity to write for @Writers of Colour as part of their Academic Space of Media Diversified. This piece of writing was based on my own personal reflections and considerations and so far the feedback has been really insightful. I hope this piece of work is helpful to others writing on the politics of pedagogy in their subjective curriculums. We should always ask questions when learning, particularly about what is omitted from our lesson plans and texts, and why.

Please see the essay attached.

Thank you and best regards,

A.A

Media Diversified

Written by Amal Abu-Bakare and edited by Xavia Warren

This past October, while reading Homi Bhabha’s TheLocation of Culture, I came across the following poetic verse:

“I am standing here in your poem-unsatisfied.” (1994:xxi)

Originating from Eastern War Time, a poem by the radical feminist Adrienne Rich, this verse was highlighted by the famous literary critic and postcolonial author as an important example of a ‘peculiar political stance’ not to be undermined.[i] For myself, Rich’s words invoked a personal reflection on my own political stance, as a person of colour trying to locate myself in the academic field of International Relations (IR).

IR is the scholarly pursuit of knowledge about the international: its politics, its history, and its events. I originally pursued this area of study whilst trying to understand my own politicized experiences as a racialized Muslim woman growing up in the post-9/11 era. Despite a Eurocentric…

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The ‘Whiteness’ of alternative facts

Many individuals were shocked and appalled by Kellyanne Conway’s, counselor to President Trump,  statements yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press”. Here,Conway claimed  that  the White House had put forth “alternative facts” to ones reported by the news media about the size of Mr. Trump’s inauguration crowd.  While Chuck Todd seemed literally unable to stomach Kellyanne’s conversation ( it was exceptionally  hard to watch Conway pretend Saturday’s marches  were about Obama and not Trump..yes, we all know Trump  just got into office but he has  been tweeting for what feels  to millions of women-globally- like forever… ), major news outlets such as the New York Times tackled this Trump reality update head on, claiming that while ‘alternatives’ were interesting- maybe knowing the real facts,would be more useful?

Would it actually  be more useful  though? It is all well to criticize the new administration’s willingness to put forward an ‘alternative reality’ when it sees fit, but it needs to be recognized  that this is a daily reality for people of colour, paritcularly racialized women of colour, when confronted with allegedly ‘real facts’ about the way politics works and the true innocence of western neo-liberal democracy when it comes to racial inclusion/exclusion. Here are two  ‘alternative facts’, we’ve been subjected to this past year on either side of the atlantic:

  1. The  American election was not about gender or race, it was about ‘class’:

‘To those ignored, suffering people, Donald Trump is a brick chucked through the window of the elites. ‘Are you assholes listening now?’- David Wong

Though this excerpt  from Cracked.com, may not be representative of informed news journalism, with the sentiments of this humour post shared 255613 times on Facebook alone it is highly representative of what the general public chose  and continues to accept as fact. As noted  by Eric  Sasson,  while it is factually accurate  that many rural voters who once  backed Obama in 2008 and 2012 , voted for Trump this past election, these voters  made up only 17 percent of this year’s electorate. The voters Clinton really lost—the ones she  truly needed behind her —were college-educated whites -> White men went 63 percent for Trump versus 31 percent for Clinton, and white women went 53-43 percent, so when you see signs like …

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that is what they are candidly referring to.

2. Brexit was also about the working class and not really about race…

“By forcing Britain to quit the EU they have given a bloody nose to an elite that views them with contempt”- 

Across the pond, the revenge of the rural voter rang a similar bell in the hearts of political commentators speaking on the  Brexit crisis ( everything is still not fine). Some went as far as to openly downplay race alogether, as seen in Adrian Hart’s elqouently titled piece here, where ‘reverse racism’ for Hart might even be the real culprit. However,  referencing Professor ‘s commentary in her interview with the Sociological Review on ‘From the UK referendum to the US election: Class, Race and History’ , both race and class  have played an intersecting role in the history of the United Kingdom, particularly in relation to the development of mulitculuralism. The idea of Brexit voter’s wanting their country  back, a notably predominately white-working class-island country, played a major role in the Brexit vote, yet in itself is a myth, as Bhambra explains in her interview. This is because, according to Bhambra, citizens of colour, those of  ‘darker nations’, have always been a part of Britain not predominantly  as’ immigrants’ or ‘refugees’, but as people with legitimate claims to rights and benefits. Historicaly, within Britiain, irregardless of whether you were born within the United Kingdom or its colonies, you have almost always  been granted the right to citizenship. Such factoids could explain why those with a higher level of education, voted to remain within the EU. Maybe it is because they have a better understanding of their own history?

brexit-1

This is not to suggest that you need to attend university to know more about who belongs and who doesn’t, but rather to  point out,  as Bhambra rightfully does,  that  with an informed  critical analysis of history  it becomes clear that race and class are not oppositional forces. To suggest that Brexit voting had nothing to do with race, is to ignore the hard truth that the history of class in the UK (and the US) is heavily racialized.

I am currently reading Richard Dyer’s  (1997) book  called  WhiteIn his chapter on the matter of whiteness , he writes

‘White people have power and believe that they think, feel and act like and for all people; white people, unable to see their particulalrity, cannot take account of other people’s; white people create  the dominant images of the world, and don’t quite see that they thus construct the world in their own image…”  ( Dyer, 1997:9).

I find this quote  significant as a racialized  person  presently watching the news and witnessing the anger and frustration on social media over the falsifying of facts in the wake of this new administration, since political news coverage has been, in my  opinion inclusive of  ‘alternative facts’ for a very  long time.  As a person  rotating between the United Kindom and North America for the past 12 months, witnessing  two  full campaigns  against ‘Muslims’, which has come to mean ‘Muslim looking-Foreign -Refugee-Maybe?’ more than anything else, witnessing a continued insistence that ‘black lives matter’ is an American problem only or even  a continued disbelief in racial bias being part of the problem  altogether despite the overwhelming amount of evidence , and lastly  witnessing a UK MP murdered over her pro-immigrant stance ( in the alleged race war ongoing in the UK) alongside multiple hate crimes occuring in the United Kingdom, the United States, and my native country of Canada….all the while still being told by colleagues/friends/students that I see ‘race’  only because I want to see ‘race’.

Why should we now be surpised that a politician who seems almost religiously guided by, surviving and thriving on  white privilege , now sitting in the oval office one of the world’s most powerful thrones, also feels powerful enough to challenge reality itself?

Maybe it is about time an institutional fall-out over ‘alternative facts’ comes knocking on all our front doors, rather than those of the select few who have had to sit patiently through a year of denial in conversation?

Introductions

“I am standing here in your poem-unsatisfied.”

-Adrienne Rich

Hi and hello, to whoever you are regardless of how you have come across this blog- I doubt I would have told anyone yet at this stage that I actually have one- and welcome.

This blog is a product of multiple emotions and anxieties over matters of race, sexuality, colonialism, terrorism, and other conflicts that I am currently coping with as result of beginning my doctorate at 24 years of age.  As a student of IR hoping to be an eventual academic, I am pursuing this writing project as a way of trying to mentally map my thoughts and anguishes in relation to my frustration with the state of international politics and the study of international politics. What do I mean by this?

I mean as a person pursuing the study of IR theory, a field still popularly marked by assumptions such as:

  • A  eurocentric belief in the utmost  significance of the nation state( government and institutions alike ) and the reinforcement of political explanations that center around  the nation state, its formation, and the history of its formation ( all from the eurocentric perspective no alternatives)
  • A  belief in a  natural state of anarchy existing outside the fault lines of states (Thank you Hobbes)
  • That that there are  two main strands of IR, Realism and Liberalism, and then there exists everything else ( This last assumption is mostly true in the North American study of IR not the UK)

With all these assumptions, there has been a lot missing for me. As a Saudi-born Nigerian-Canadian, there was an issue of national belonging that did not accord for me. As a racialized person existing in post 9/11, my experiences as a both  Muslim and ‘Black’ person were not reflected in my material. The issues of race, rape culture, and religion that I discussed in my  social and activist circles were not reflected in my reading material, even though they seemed relevant enough for international/national policymakers to regulate, so that my body and existence as a person was able to be sensationalized in the media at a moment’s notice.

After 5 years of studying IR in North America and the UK ( 3 years in one and 2 1/4) I now realize that there are three reasons that  I am insecure about my pursuits. What if…

  • The reason my personal encounters with international politics may not be reflected in IR is because I  have been reading/studying the wrong material?
  • The reason my personal encounters with international politics may not be reflected in IR is because they are instead encountered in other and maybe even more progressive disciplines like sociology, anthropology, global development studies?Maybe I should be studying them instead?
  • The reason my personal encounters with international politics may not be reflected in IR is because IR was not meant to reflect my experiences?

This last insecurity is the focus of my blog: What if IR was not meant to explain and acknowledge my experiences?

What if the dark side of IR, the IR of racial, gendered, ableist and predominately Christian hierarchies, inequalities, and power relations, disallow experiences such as mine from being the focal point of discussion?

My resolution for 2017 is to try and force ‘my personal’ into the political, specifically the internationally political, so as to see what happens. I will re-evaluate come December 2017, and see where I am. I hope not to waste your or anyone else’s time in this pursuit. Apologies if I do.

Sincerely,

A.A