independence – self-determination – autonomy

Your Land is My Land: Perspectives from an Immigrant

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I live in Shetland. I am a Black woman in the middle of the North Sea, raising wild children in a wild place where the winds can be so strong, you can’t stand up. If the weather is bad, your boat literally doesn’t come in and the shelves in the local shops lay bare. Here, I am confronted with the fact that although I feel married to the landscape and committed to my relationship with the natural world, the human ‘natives’ don’t always recognise me as a fellow species, let alone local.

“Where are you from?”

“Here.”

“No, where are you really from? Originally?”

These micro aggressions have happened in town, city and country. It is a familiar and draining struggle. I now have children who have a local, familial connection with Shetland – they were born here, but will they face the same challenges as me in having the right to claim belonging here on their own terms? When do you finally arrive home? When can you claim autonomy in your natural landscape?

Recently things have happened which have made this issue more urgent. My experiences make me feel that I am being backed into a metaphorical corner with the violent chant of: “You don’t belong here!” ringing in my ears. Why can’t I live where I choose? Why can’t I inhabit the countryside? Live a rural or remote, wild life?

The history of art, literature, photography, and visual images in general present European, English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish rural landscapes as being the preserve of white Caucasian people. Think of any visual representation of British, rural landscapes – how often to do you see a Black/Asian, person of colour in them? What this creates is a narrative that the countryside, the rural landscape, is fundamentally a white space. Anything that challenges that concept, that disrupts that narrative is seen as an anomaly. The perceived norm is ‘whiteness’.

Popular culture perpetuates this – on television, if there are black or Asian characters present in the predominantly white narratives, they exist in a vacuum or have a specific, transitory role to play. They appear unqualified to fully belong in the landscape. The assumption is that this isn’t their home. Home would more naturally be an urban or foreign landscape.

Even a popular, quite pedestrian, television programme such as the British ITV1 series, Midsomer Murders can’t conceive of incorporating Black British and Asian British characters into its fictional portrayal of modern rural British life. In 2011, Brian True-May, producer of Midsomer Murders, claimed that the drama was “the last bastion of Englishness” and that “ethnic minorities have no place in English villages”. One of the scriptwriters, Anthony Horowitz said that there was a “racial over-sensitivity” in criticism of the programme.

This is white fragility and privilege hijacking any potential space for dialogue or improvement. Even in the realms of fiction, imagination, where anything is possible, there are limitations. It is a reaction that is played out in my experience, subtly and obviously, across all art forms and British, and sadly, Scottish life.

I live in Scotland 2018. I live in a remote part of rural Scotland. I live, quite literally, on a small island, that is part of a small island nation. I am a Black woman living in the middle of the North Sea. I am as far away as possible from what is easily (and lazily) related to the landscape.

But this is a false representation. It is a lie. Like the idea of god (if you’re a believer) being male, bearded and white.

Alice Walker once wrote that horses make a landscape more beautiful. That is true and I think me and mine make the British rural landscape more beautiful. We belong here. We are part of a shared history (for example members of my family fought in the British army in WW1 and WW2); we make Scotland vibrant, dynamic, attractive, interesting, inclusive. We shape this landscape, add to this country. We are a plus, never a minus.

Feelings of not being welcome keep people of colour away from the countryside and rural spaces. It helps keeps white spaces white. My city friends and artists ask me why I make my home here, why I engage with this tacit, attritional struggle. I answer that the undulating hills and heather belong to me. The curlew’s call belongs to me. The sea and sky belong to me.

Yet, despite the fact that Scotland is my home, I have found myself frequently ‘invisibilised’, particularly as a Black woman writer and artist. A colleague recently created a seminal anthology of Shetland writers – I was excluded from it. When someone looks up Shetland writers, I will not be there. Caucasian writers of English heritage are included. Before some well-intentioned soul suggests it was an error, let me make clear that I don’t regard this as an oversight – I shared office space with this fellow. I consider it a passive aggressive or perhaps conscious sleight: you don’t belong here and your work has no value or belonging here.

I’m here to tell you that people of colour make this landscape more beautiful. We have the right to be here. We have, despite popular belief and knowledge, been here for a long time. I recently undertook a project that revealed photographic evidence of people of African and Asian heritage living and working in Shetland as early as the 19th century. We belong here. We’ve contributed to the hidden wealth and architecture of your cities and we’ve widespread roots grounded in this land. And we claim the right to be part of shaping a Scotland that is emotionally intelligent, rational, forward-thinking and values its assets while choosing to nurture them.

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Reference: Midsomer Murders is not racist, says Anthony Horowitz:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/8383788/Midsomer-Murders-is-not-racist-says-Anthony-Horowitz.html

Photo credit: Stephen Catlin

Author photograph credit – Laurence Winram  www.lwinram.com

Raman Mundair is the author of Lovers, Liars, Conjurers and Thieves, A Choreographer’s Cartography, The Algebra of Freedom and is the editor of Incoming: Some Shetland Voices, which can be downloaded at bit.ly/IncomingProject

Raman is a founding member of the online community SAORSA – Arts and Intersectional Dialogue for Women, she peer reviews for Shades of Noir journal, is on the board of Shetland Rape Crisis Centre and has been a member of the Children’s Panel Scotland. She writes, makes art, film and installation.

Follow her on Facebook here.

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67 Comments

  • Maggie Mellon 5 months ago

    what an interesting article, thanks for publishing. The ‘white’ identity of Scotland is changing especially in the cities, but we really need to challenge the deliberate or unconscious exclusion of non white voices and perspectives. so thank to Bella for publishing. This author made her point very clearly and eloquently – some of your other authors go on and on for pages without making any such impact

    Reply
  • Bert Logan 5 months ago

    Is it still the 60’s in Shetland?

    Any moron who doesn’t see you as a native doesn’t understand their own multifaceted lineage.

    As for the writers of Shetland? They probably only write parochial crap if they treat you with such disdain.

    Walk tall. You are a human like all of us.

    Reply
  • Gordon Bickerton 5 months ago

    1st reaction is sadness.
    I think this horrible situation could happen in any rural community where humans with an unusual colour of skin decide to settle. It’s a very sad fact.
    It takes a letter like this to give society a jolt regarding our self regard as civilised people.
    We’re a long way from that.

    Reply
  • DialMforMurdo@gmail.com 5 months ago

    Excellent article, I particularly agree with the final chapter. Anyone who chooses to live among us, is us.

    Now for the tricky part, I’m wary writing this, as issues around race are a minefield of sensitivities, as they should be, and I write from the privileged position of being a white middle aged man, so who am I to question how another person responds to a question about their identity and background?

    OK here we go, the big old, “Where are you from?” intrusion. Rather than a racist ploy to create division or separateness, I think this is based on an innate curiosity from Scots, particularly among the older generation. Why the curiosity? Well, we’re a people of diaspora, our kin are spread far and wide around the globe. I have generations of family members on just about every continent, I doubt I’m alone in this. My family name pops up in cemeteries as far apart as Rangoon and Santiago.

    The curiosity stems from the desire to make a connection to acknowledge a journey that’s seen a family move from one corner of the planet and end up in another, much as many Scots have done over the past centuries.

    The, “but where are you really from?” could be used as a means of differentiation, but I believe, probably simplistically, that it’s based on a need to find commonality and comes from a place of curiosity, interest and in many cases a gesture of friendship.

    The only practical example I can think of, is me inviting a mate from Uni back to my folks place one weekend, where my gran began talking to him. His parents were Malawian and Irish. He’d ended up at Glasgow Uni via a childhood in London. Gran winkled out of him, that his mums family were from Bundoran, where she had spent summer holidays as a girl. His father’s family came from Blantyre, Malawi (Scottish connection already) and his father had been a doctor in Zomba, her great Uncle had been a tobacco farmer there in the early part of the last century.

    That’s my example, my gran didn’t care a jot about his skin colour, she just wanted to find a connection.

    Reply
    • BLMac 5 months ago

      I agree with Murdo.

      When my family moved to the Hebrides, I got much the same. It always was trying to find a link, the degrees of separation. I sounded Edinburgh, but originally the family was from Harris and Lewis. I initially thought the islanders were awfully nosey, but when I got interested in my family history, then discovered what an incredible resource of knowledge many of the islanders carried around in their heads about their genealogy and past inhabitants of the islands and foreign parts.

      Many of the inhabitants of the islands are widely travelled, so a person who is markedly different will always be of interest. Basically, is there a connection? Do you know such and such? etc.

      There are arseholes everywhere, and some are racist. Shetland is unlikely to be an exception.

      I’ll read Raman’s book now, so the dirty trick of excluding her has failed spectacularly.

      Reply
    • Alan Gordon 5 months ago

      I agree dialm with your assertion that “where are you from?” is not necessarily an attempt to seek division. I have only ever worked and lived in rural areas and this genealogy, connection type questioning is routine and is one of acceptance. The social/comunity integration is far different to towns and cities. Rural friendship and acceptance carries far more responsibility and weight. The author first needs to embrace the questioning for what it probably was, acceptance.

      Reply
      • DialMforMurdo 5 months ago

        Thanks BLMac and Alan, it usually points down to the ‘who are your people’ gambit invariably there’s a connection, no matter how tenuous.

        Reply
        • worldtraveler 5 months ago

          As the old saying goes “where you end usually depends on where you start.” As an American and world traveler, no matter where I go, people ask me where I’m from. Sometimes this is because I sound different, sometimes because I dress different, sometimes I simply stand out because I am fair haired and pale skinned. But I can’t remember a place where the question hasn’t been asked.

          Even in Scotland, where I physically blended, my accent has prompted the question over and over. To be fair, I have met a handful of people that have been hostile, blaming me for the politics of the US. But 99% of the people that I meet ask me because it is a easy starting conversation for strangers. They may then share an experience that they had in the US or ask me what brought me to the area, etc. These are common, “getting to know you” questions that all people ask of new folks.

          If you start off with the mindset that people are asking about you because they are racist or that they don’t want you for a neighbor, it is pretty easy to see the world as a hostile and intolerant place. Most people just want to get to know you.

          Reply
    • Dr. Jane Ennis 3 months ago

      I will say that I am a white Londoner, and I often get asked ‘Where are you from originally? ‘
      Q Where are you from?
      Me: London
      Q: No, I mean where are you from originally?
      Me: London
      Q: No, I mean where is your home?
      Me: London
      Q: No, I mean where were you born?
      Me: (Beginning to lose patience) LONDON !!!!! St. Mary’s, Paddington.

      Oh……….

      Obviously this is not nearly as distressing as what happens to People of Colour who were born here…….the rationale behind it that no-one believes that anyone else was ever BORN in London……They think we all come here as adults to work.

      Reply
  • Richard Wickenden (ex Tory from the mid-ninetys) 5 months ago

    I am ashamed that anywhere in Scotland the views of some Shetlanders are so racially prejudices as to confront someone of colour. I was born in England in 1945 and classified as white, and moved to Scotland to live in 2005. I now class myself as Scottish, and, until this article I would never have believed this could happen in a part of Scotland like Shetland which is a small community. To my mind people should be able to live anywhere as long as they pay their taxes and respect the law.

    Reply
    • Susan Smith 5 months ago

      I don’t live in Shetland so I can’t really comment about attitudes of Shetlanders, either people who were born there of who are incomers. But here are a couple of observation from our last visit in June 2016. There were quite a few flagpoles in people’s gardens flying Union Jacks, we spoke to quite a few people who’d retired from the North of England.

      Reply
      • Alf Baird 5 months ago

        Susan, the population census and recent voting outcomes clearly tells us what is really happening, more especially in Scotland’s rural areas – i.e. the very substantial boosting and replacing of the Scots population with mainly English white middle and professional classes. The current rate of inflow from rest-UK to Scotland amounts to some 500,000 people per decade since devolution, which implies that, given lesser outflows of Scots, Scots will likely become a minority (in Scotland) within the next 20-30 years. One reason for this large inbound movement I have heard from English people is they want to move away from the more intense multicultural environment of England’s cities and towns. Hence rural Scotland is often the ideal destination, plus they gain access to the benefits of devolution – to free university education, public services, NHS protection etc, plus relatively low house prices.

        As for Raman’s “I was excluded from it” – the reality is that many Scots have been and remain subject to similar, yes racial, discrimination, exploitation and alienation in oor ain laund, in which our institutions to a very large degree are not ‘run’ by Scots, but by an English and Anglicised-Scot (white) elite. The resultant lack of opportunity (particularly for ordinary Scots) is in large part why millions of us were forced to emigrate whilst many of those who remain are aye ‘haud doon’ in a number of ways.

        Reading this article I am reminded of Hamish Henderson’s marvellous ‘Freedom Come All Ye’ which demonstrates that ordinary Scots have far more in common with Raman than with Scotland’s oppressive unionist (white) elites, and that the remaining yet ever diminishing number of Scots still need to ‘Mak the vile barracks o (oor) maisters bare’, though given ongoing population changes this (i.e. independence) may soon be a forlorn hope.

        Reply
      • Rory MacLennan 5 months ago

        “There were quite a few flagpoles in people’s gardens flying Union Jacks, we spoke to quite a few people who’d retired from the North of England.”

        An intersting observation, I have seen this in other Highland locations too.

        I fail to understand the mentality of someone who would do this. I wonder what message they are trying to send to locals and why? It is hardly an act designed to win friends and influence people. I could partly understand it should they wish to hoist a St Georges flag, I’d take this as an indication of pride in their country of origin. But to hoist a flag they know to be of contention?

        I have lived in England, I would never have dreamt of rasing a St Andrews in my garden. If someone asked my politics, I’d be happy to discuss.

        Perhaps a future topic for discussion, why would someone moving to Scotland from England, fly a union jack in their garden?

        Reply
  • Ronald Ferguson 5 months ago

    Excellent piece, strong, well crafted.

    Reply
  • Ian 5 months ago

    It would have been more powerful and moving if this piece had focussed on the wonder, beauty and community of the island. I get that being excluded from a seminal anthology of shetland writers by a writing colleague was hurtful and unjust. In a wider perspective, you were rightly one of seven voices chosen to speak for shetland in the “writing north” project of edinburgh uni – surely that counts as something? Island communities have deep roots and long memories. It takes time, a long time, to become part of this deep life, so of course you will feel like an outsider; this is shetland, not Nottinghill. That’s just how it is….it is a part of the challenge of choosing to come and live here and you are most welcome!

    ps writing pieces like this probably won’t help that feeling of belonging.

    Reply
    • Bella Caledonia Editor 5 months ago

      What an unkind, unwelcoming and stupid comment

      Reply
      • Stephen 5 months ago

        What a close-minded and aggressive response – with “Editor” on your title.
        The macro-aggressions have consequences too.

        Reply
      • Dr. Jane Ennis 3 months ago

        I agree, that comment by Ian was uncalled for…..He seems to be saying that she should be grateful for being allowed to live in Shetland. It IS a beautiful part of the world (I visit every year for Shetland Wool Week), but the article isn’t about scenery or geography.

        Reply
    • R Mundair 5 months ago

      Dear Ian T.

      Thank you for taking time to comment.

      Can I ask what you what you think I should be allowed to say or write about Shetland? What kind of narrative do you wish me to project? Clearly you have an issue with me having a voice or perspective. Are there some unspoken guidelines about how to should speak about Shetland and one’s personal experience of Shetland that I am unaware of? You are clearly chastising me in your approach and tone. Have I been a ‘naughty woman’, perhaps an ungrateful Black woman even, Ian?

      You felt compelled to comment and remind me that I was ‘lucky’ to be chosen to part of ‘Writing the North’ – I would say that the quality of my work is the reason why I am part of that project. My work speaks for itself. (But thank you for the plug – here is the work ;o) http://www.writingthenorth.com/dialogues/rose-of-the-rock/ )

      You suggest that I should count myself lucky to be living in Shetland. I am very happy to be here but I don’t owe you or other Shetlanders a debt of gratitude for that. Shetland is part of the world, dear Ian. It is part of the UK, part of Europe (just!) and a larger world. I am a citizen of all these places. I have a right to be wherever I choose. That is my point I am making in my article Ian. The land, landscape, islands, natural world and geography belong to all human beings not to those who are white, male and privileged. Something that has been sadly lost on you.

      You point out that Shetland isn’t Notting Hill. What an odd comment and comparison! I imagine that what you are suggesting is that Shetland is white and belongs to whiteness, it is not multi-cultural, and nor was it ever meant to be. Am I right Ian?

      Well, Ian, I am not here to conform to your ideas of what a Shetlander should be. Me and mine are Shetlanders, Ian. Some of us (gasp!) were even born here! Shetland is changing. We are here…spreading our food, humour, using your dialect, marrying your Shetland men and women and our spreading our colourful un-native ways! You’re welcome by the way! :o)

      Ps. With regards to your PS – I don’t need your approval to feel a sense of belonging in Shetland – I do belong, it is you who obviously feels I don’t belong. And it is you who has the sense of entitlement and privilege and clearly feel that you don’t want to ‘share your island’ with anyone who does not look like you.

      Reply
    • Jane Baxter 5 months ago

      Your comment exemplifies the need for this powerful and moving piece of writing.
      It’s a shame you chose to focus on deep roots and memories instead of warm hearts and outstretched arms; you have branded the hostility of Shetlanders in this public forum.
      I get that you feel that the islands are yours. That others share your passion, surely that counts as something? In a wider perspective, this is Shetland, not Mars!

      P.S. Writing comments like yours, Ian, does nothing to help that feeling of belonging, nevermind making anyone feel most welcome…

      Reply
    • Jan 5 months ago

      Ian, get off your dinosaur. It’s 2018!
      Welcome to the new world old chap.

      Reply
    • CScott 5 months ago

      “You are most welcome”

      How disappointing that you cannot simply listen & learn from this wonderfully written piece! Is it so difficult to question your own beliefs & behaviours? It is our duty as Shetlanders,Scots and as citizens of the world to make one another feel welcome & at home. Having the opportunity to learn & experience from as many life experiences as we can in a multi-cultural society is a privilege, a luxury even.

      A place is not a possession, it does not belong to anyone.

      Reply
  • Jean Martin 5 months ago

    More power to ya girl.

    Reply
  • Sophie 5 months ago

    This is beautiful. Heartbreaking, but beautiful. I’m so sorry you have been made to feel anything but completely at home in your home. I moved to Shetland 4 years ago, so know that there are views in the isles that are just completely outdated and wrong. I also empathise with your feelings completely, as even as a white woman it is often made clear to me that I am not a Shetlander. I’m sure not as hard as your experiences, but it’s still there. You wonder what you have to do…

    On the other hand, you capture the harsh beauty and natural anger that this place is full of, it bleeds through your words in a way I’ve not heard from another Shetland writer.
    What I hope to take from reading this is that all this wonder and beauty that surrounds us… it’s mine, too. It’s absolutely nobody’s, which makes it belong to everyone. These wild seas have washed so many strangers and strange things to the shores, that I hope one day it becomes obvious. These wild lands are ours! Thank you for this, I’m going to seek out more of your work.

    Reply
  • Andrea Baker 5 months ago

    Brilliant piece well written and to the point. As a woman of colour living in rural Scotland I am saddened to hear of this experience in Shetland. It is not something I have had to confront personally as a musician (opera singer) or as a woman of colour (British African Amarican). Thank you for daring to open the discussion. I hope that we can as Scottish citizens and as open minded residents of this most amazing country can begin to confront this wherever we find it big city or small island. Thank you for speaking your truth.

    Reply
  • Alan 5 months ago

    Wonderful article.

    I think there’s more than race going on in rural parts of Scotland (or rural parts elsewhere for that mater), although race adds an extra, very visible dimension that greatly exacerbates perceptions of identity. I’m white and grew up on a farm in southwest Scotland. My mother is a local but my dad grew up outside Glasgow and in Cambridge. Most of his education was in England. He identifies as Scottish but he was perceived as the “English, college-educated farmer”. He was never perceived as a local even after living in the area for decades. I felt like an outsider during my entire childhood (but maybe that’s just me). When I finished high school, I fled. I identify as Scottish but what that means for me is something I’ve had to negotiate and construct. My Scottishness isn’t what it is for most of the Scottish people in the community I grew up in.

    My nephew grew up in a small town in the borders (the family moved there so he was also an incomer). One summer when he was in high school he took a trip to America. When school started up again his peers asked him what he’d done over the summer. When he told them he’d been to America they called him a liar. They couldn’t imagine anyone they knew traveling to America. He might just as well have told them that he’d visited the moon. The limit of their imaginations was driving forty miles for a night living the high life of adventure in the sin city of Edinburgh!

    Mark Twain is supposed to have written: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Maybe the accusation of bigotry and prejudice is a bit harsh, at least in some cases. Not everyone has the opportunity to travel. He’s speaking of parochialism, a narrow-mindedness that comes from staying put and the resulting lack of a broader perspective on the world and its people. One might add that travel might be a necessary but not sufficient condition. If one is afflicted with a deep conservatism from which no desire to discover and explore the other or the new (even through reading) is ever likely to be nurtured, travel is not enough. The immigration of Scots-Irish Presbyterians to America, the bedrock of redneckism, didn’t exactly result in enlightenment. They moved from one little corner to another with all their prejudices intact.

    This is also the sort of narrow-mindedness that is deeply opposed to Scottish indepedence and often sympathetic to Brexit. When nationalists talk of an inclusive, outward and forward looking, progressive nationalism none of those things are big selling points for lots of people, especially the older ones, in many rural parts of Scotland. That’s not what their Scottishness is. White, British, and Unionist. It’s a box they can’t see out of.

    Reply
  • Kristie De Garis 5 months ago

    I loved this piece, it resonated with my hugely and was *beautifully* written.

    I grew up in rural Scotland, the far north of the mainland in a small town with ‘deep roots and a long memory’, just as Ian (above in comments section) describes Shetland. My mother is mixed race, I am mixed race but I look white. The difference in our day to day experiences was huge. Despite being born in Glasgow my mother was often viewed with suspicion, treated and spoken about like she was a threat. My mother lived there for 13 years and when she finally left, which I am very glad she did, she had not managed to forge a solid place for herself. Time was irrelevant, her huge contribution to the community was irrelevant, all that mattered was the colour of her skin.

    As for the ‘but where are you really from?’ question, this only draws a line of demarcation. POC consistently say that this question makes them feel singled out and alienated and yet there is still a stubborn push from white people to continue with this line of inquiry. Get to know people, listen, take an interest in experiences, ideas and feelings and you will learn soon enough the answers to your questions. If you don’t, accept that this is information that someone does not want to share with you. Curiosity is not a legitimate reason to make another feel uncomfortable and POC have no obligation to fit in around what white people seem to perceive as a right to ask and to know.

    There are many questions to be answered in Scotland about our ideas around race and racism. We relentlessly hold onto this idea that we are living in a liberal, progressive promised land and it could not be further from the truth. There are huge issues in Scotland around identity, our own identity as a nation and how we perceive the identity of others. Since I started talking openly about my mixed raceness I have lost friends who were the most liberal, progressive, intelligent, ‘I’m not a racist’ people you will ever meet. Despite being a Scot, since I chose to connect with my Pakistani heritage and to speak out about my experiences and the experiences of my family, I have gotten a glimpse into what so many POC experience on a daily basis. I feel far less welcome in Scotland as a mixed race woman than I did as a presumed white woman.

    Raman’s piece gets to the core of where these issues lie and Ian’s comment (and others) only solidifies the ideas she presents in her writing. Thank you for sharing your experiences and for giving a voice to the struggles and pain of so many. More of this!

    Reply
  • Abulhaq 5 months ago

    The original inhabitants of Shetland, and Orkney, were probably wiped out by the invading Vikings from Scandinavia. Later the islands were settled by mainland Scots who had little respect for the culture of the people they were to govern, somewhat repressively.
    I understand, following the oil bonanza, settlers from elsewhere in the so-called United Kingdom have taken up residence in ‘Hjatland’.
    That you have chose, of all the more climatically salubrious places in the world, to live there speaks volumes.
    Velkomen!

    Reply
    • Dr. Jane Ennis 3 months ago

      Actually I think the Vikings WERE the original inhabitants of Orkney and Shetland. ……there weren’t any ‘native peoples’ to displace. Orkney and Shetland did actually belong to Norway until the 14th century, when a Norwegian princess married a Scottish king and brought the islands as her dowry. The culture is still very Scandinavian in a lot of ways…….In fact, although Shetland is politically part of the UK, geographically it is closer to Scandinavia. Just in case anyone isn’t sure where Shetland actually IS……it’s a 12-hour ferry crossing from Aberdeen.

      Reply
  • Gordon bradley 5 months ago

    Im English. My wife is Scottish. We lived in Shetland for six years. My son was born there.
    The people were fine, but very insular. There is not the slightest possibility of ever being accepted as a native.

    Reply
    • MBC 5 months ago

      You are absolutely right. I’m Scottish, but once lived in Orkney and on a Hebridean island. Nobody was unfriendly but you would have to have lived there for three generations to be accepted as a local. It’s just something you have to accept if you choose to live in a remote, thinly populated place.

      Reply
  • Linda Tollan 5 months ago

    I’m originally from the Island of Islay on the West Coast and believe me we are nosy , they ask where are you from just to see if there is any connection to them or their neighbours, they are very interested in people and ask all sorts of questions . Years ago I worked in a fabric shop in Glasgow and my manager remarked that I didn’t serve customers I interviewed them.

    I hope that they were just being insensitive and not rascist. Jackie Kay ( the Makar) wrote a fab book Red Dust Road about growing up in Glasgow as a black child in 70’s

    Reply
  • Ewan 5 months ago

    “Your Land is My Land: Perspectives from an Immigrant”

    When you define yourself as an immigrant (I assume you chose the title, and not Mike), is this really that surprising a question?

    “No, where are you really from? Originally?”

    I’m sure if I moved to Orkney and Shetland, I’d be asked the same question. On its own it seems like a perfectly normal expression of interest.

    I agree completely with your last paragraph, and am not doubting that you may have encountered racist or unfriendly attitudes on ocassion, but this just seems like a very weak example, and makes me think that there is a danger that you might be isolating yourself, which would be to everyones loss.

    Reply
  • Willie 5 months ago

    I don’t have a racist bone in my body but this piece comes across as someone with an attitude problem.

    If you look racially entirely different from every one else in an area it is maybe not a racist question to enquire where one, or more accurately, where one’s forefathers came from.

    Maybe not the most elegant of questions and especially so when you would think everyone in this very small tight community would know exactly where this person came from, since she was born, bred a d raised in the area.

    And so, the, article comes across as someone one with a grudge who perceives sleight and victim status at the drop of a hat.

    Either that or the good citizens of Shetland are alla shower of racists having to repeatedly enquire in respect of something they know.

    Something doesn’t gel.

    Maybe she she should tell them she’s the Great great grand daughter of Magnus Dubh Mor the fiercest viking to ever to visit misery on those who crossed him

    Reply
  • Willie 5 months ago

    Oh and I am a white man living in Glasgow. And a slightly overweight one at that.

    And when folks, who don’t know me because I don’t know everyone in Glasgow, enquire as to where the big man is from, I take the hump.

    But in doing so, I know fine well that my city of birth is full of wee men who in days gone by were reminiscent of talking bunnets. Bowley legged too, they remind me of a race of white pygmies. That no doubt makes me racist.

    But no, it’s endemic sectarianism against the big folks. Must write to Bella about the scandal of it.

    Otherwise, take note please Editor that we’re all Jock TAMSONS bairns.

    Reply
  • tartanfever 5 months ago

    ‘undulating hills and heather belong to me. The curlew’s call belongs to me. The sea and sky belong to me.’

    Isn’t the idea of ‘owning’ exactly the kind of white, western, christian, imperialist vision you rail against. Surely this is nature of which we are part and which we can appreciate, but never own.

    Sorry to hear your work was overlooked for a Shetland Anthology. Diversity only adds to cultural experiences and that often requires recognising people as coming from different places, however It should never be a form of exclusion, it should be an opportunity to learn and appreciate.

    Great photos with this piece.

    Reply
  • Frank 5 months ago

    I don’t see it as a ‘micro-aggression’ to ask someone where they are from, especially if that person is of different ethnicity and already identifies as an immigrant. We are in danger of relativizing (and trivialising) what constitutes aggression. I also find it fascinating why it is that the modern or new left has become obsessed with the politics of identity at this historical moment; to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr the left no longer judges people on the ‘content of their character’ but rather on the colour of their skin colour, their gender, sexual orientation and so forth.

    Reply
  • MBC 5 months ago

    I am very sorry to hear that Raman has been made to feel unwelcome in Shetland and that she perceives the question, ‘Where are you from?’ as hostile, not sympathetic.

    I have often asked ‘obviously different’ people that question, (most obviously, to white people with non-local accents, be they Poles, Irish, or English) and it has never contained the presumption that the person has no right to be where they are now. It’s true that I am conscious of asking the question sensitively, after having made my friendliness and welcome known – lest the individual perceives it as hostile or a challenge. But I absolutely reject the notion that it is a hostile question – though it could be, depending on who asks, and how they ask it.

    But on my part, it stems from a genuine empathy for the individual and curiosity about their life story and what has brought them to Scotland. It’s as much about learning about Scotland’s story too. Surely I have something of a right to know about the unfolding story of my country too? As a Scottish historian I am always interested to know what draws people here.

    PS. As a native white Scot, I am also asked that question frequently in Scotland, especially Glasgow. Glaswegians are very quick to detect it if you don’t have a Glaswegian accent! The most recent occasion was a few weeks ago in a hotel bar in Castle Douglas. My interlocutor was another ‘immigrant’ to ‘CD’ who had moved there from Central Scotland on marrying his wife, and thought he detected his local twang.

    Reply
  • MBC 5 months ago

    Further to my last, and wearing my Scottish historians’s hat here, older Scottish historians were apt to describe Scotland as one vast kinship web. That was the whole key to understanding Scottish history, they said. You could not understand the strange twists and turns and contradictions of our political history without grasping that fact. It was why Presbyterians often helped their Catholic kinsmen (despite their vociferous Calvinism) and vice versa and Whigs gave a leg up to their Jacobite relatives. It was why Bonnie Prince Charlie was never ratted on despite only a minority of clans turning out for him in the ‘45 (and Flora Macdonald was probably a Whig). It was why English observers scoffed at us for being ‘clannish’ abroad, since we tended to stick together to bat for each other. It’s also why despite the passions the 2014 referendum aroused, ours was one of the most civilised debates ever and the worst violence was an egging of Jim Murphy and a smelly dodd of keich that was found on the door handle of a Yes shop in Dalkeith. Generations of intermarriage occurred between local families, parish to parish, often in traditional patterns, e.g. the Scotts marrying Douglases, and so on,until all were connected one way or another across Scotland in this vast kinship web. In the eighteenth century if a stranger turned up in a remote corner of Scotland, they would be interrogated about their origins until at last a connection was found, which it invariably was. This enquiry was not hostile, but intended to establish a connection. It’s a variant of ‘I kent his faither’. That cliche is often cited in a negative context to show the ‘smallness of mind’ of Scots towards someone who has been successful – but equally it’s a well deserved cutting down to size of excessive pretensions (take your pick) but it stems from that fact of our interconnectedness across many generations. Even as a diaspora there are global connections. Absorbing new strands and new stories into our national story makes us a larger, not a smaller place. That was the whole point of Hugh MacDiarmid’s poem, ‘Is Scotland Small?’… ‘our variegated, multiform Scotland, small? Only to a fool who scoffs – ‘Nothing but heather!’

    The contrast with Scotland and India could not be more different. Because we are a geographically small area that you could walk across, surrounded by seas, ‘Ultima Thule’ beyond which there is no more land, with, for centuries, a hostile neighbour to the south, it acted to created that vast concentrated web of kinship and connectedness. Being Ultima Thule also meant that our Y chromosome DNA was far more varied than other parts of Europe whilst our mitrocondrial DNA is one of the most stable and consistent. In other words, the female line has been here a very long time (we are matrilocal) but the male line has continued to absorb those souls fleeing persecution and those shipwrecked here.

    Reply
  • Brian Smith 5 months ago

    “A colleague recently created a seminal anthology of Shetland writers – I was excluded from it. When someone looks up Shetland writers, I will not be there. Caucasian writers of English heritage are included. Before some well-intentioned soul suggests it was an error, let me make clear that I don’t regard this as an oversight – I shared office space with this fellow. ”

    Actually, Raman /was/ included in the anthology, and I recall that the ‘fellow’ who allegedly excluded her, read her poem at the launch of it. As a lecturer said to me in my first term at university, ‘You must read far more carefully.’ 😉

    Reply
    • R. Mundair 5 months ago

      Yes Brian, I was included in an anthology that you were at the launch of. This is the anthology http://www.writingthenorth.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/archipelagos-for-download.pdf
      It is not however the anthology I am referring to in my piece.
      Thanks for thinking of me and for your thoughtful and useful input to the debate.

      Reply
      • Brian Smith 5 months ago

        So what new anthology are we speaking about? It has passed me by. In the meantime, the New Shetlander magazine is always available for writers – we welcome contributions!

        Reply
  • Alf Baird 5 months ago

    Language is perhaps the main key to ‘integration’, for want of a better word. There is an assumption amongst many ‘settlers’, especially those from rest-UK, that Scots speak English, which is not the case. Settlers who speak English tend not to adjust their speech to take account of their new environment where the reality in many parts of Scotland is that local people speak Scots, with varying local dialects, or to a lesser extent Gaelic. Gaelic now has official recognition (i.e. is taught in schools and universities) whilst Scots is not, and the latter continues to be haud doon, with the consequence that most Scots remain ignorant as to how to read and write in the mither tung they still speak day and daily. All Scots, more or less, can understand English, the latter being the only leid garred doon oor thrapples in schuil, so we can well understand an English speaker when they talk; however the latter micht no sae eithlie unnerstaund the wey ither fowk spik. Hence in Scotland, rural and otherwise, we hear many pleasant enough Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Home Counties voices, however this does suggest that these people who choose to live here have made little if any effort to actually learn the Scots (or Gaelic) language. Many years ago I lived and worked in rural Bavaria for a lengthy period and quickly improved my German (or rather Bavarian-German) language not least because I had to, as few if any locals could speak English, but I also saw this as being respectful of the local people and culture; the ‘British’ tradition with language is rather lazy in that we often assume and indeed expect others to understand English wherever we go. But in any event, learning the local lingo seemed to be the key to cultural integration. I can appreciate the writers dilemma here, but culture is in very large part the local language (which in turn influences the way a people think and act etc) and cultural integration seems problematic where an incomer does not learn to speak, read and write in the mither tung of the locality concerned. Just as the movie ‘Dances with Wolves’ and book by Michael Blake demonstrated, only once the local language (and hence culture) is learned and understood is cultural integration likely and indeed welcomed. So, respect for the host culture would seem to be an important factor to consider. Arguably one cannot really expect to become a part of the Shetlandic culture formed over many centuries until one at least learns how to speak Shetland-Scots, and uses that language day and daily in local discourse.

    Reply
    • Roseanne Watt 5 months ago

      Raman has, contrary to your assumption, actually taken time to learn Shetland dialect. She uses it in her poetry, in absolutely beautiful and revitalising verse. The fact she has been omitted from a new anthology of Shetland writing is completely perplexing in this regard, as well as an utter travesty for those of us who look to these publications for the narrative of Shetland’s young literary tradition. I can only hope this will be remedied with a future, and better, publication. She is a Shetland writer and deserves to be recognised as one.

      Reply
      • Alf Baird 5 months ago

        The ‘assumption’ was general, rather than specific to any individual. For clarification, I would tend to consider Shetland language to be a dialect of Scots language rather than a dialect of English.

        Reply
      • Dr. Jane Ennis 3 months ago

        Shetland Dialect! !!Different from any other Scots dialect..’peerie’ instead of ‘wee’, for a start. I am interested because I visit Shetland every year for Wool Week, and there is a lot of knitting-specific vocabulary that only exists in Shetland.

        Reply
  • Maria Benjamin 5 months ago

    As a mixed-race person born in Scotland and growing up Edinburgh, I got those, ‘Where are you from’, ‘No, where are you from originally’, questions all the flipping time! I now live in a very rural part of the Lake District where I only once had someone ask where I was from originally (at the supermarket checkout). Her response to my ‘Half Pakistani, half Canadian’ reply was, ‘Nothing to be ashamed of’!! My partner (born and bred Cumbrian) finds my direct questioning of people terrifying. You just don’t even ask someone their name here, it’s weird. You have to find out by asking someone else. So I think much of that ‘Where are you from’ type questioning is a Scottish inclination to be boldly nosey and not necessarily racism (though it always makes me feel quite defensive). However, I was reminded of a time when Countryfile got in touch, all eager to film a project I was part of. From all the telephone discussions, it was clear I would be interviewed. However, when they met me, the asked if they could interview some local people about the project and I was sidelined. It happened with another TV company recently. They were all enthusiastic on the phone and when we did a Skype call, I could tell it wasn’t going to go any further. I felt they were aiming to perpetuate a rural stereotype.

    Reply
  • Rory MacLennan 5 months ago

    “Where are you from?”

    If it were obvious that you did not originate in Shetland, I (as a visitor) would ask that question on the basis that we would have a conversation and I could become informed. I’d call this friendly interaction, please note well, this is a two way conversation. It might not be the first question I’d ask, but certainly one.

    If that question is asked by someone who has seen you about for a number of years in Shetland they may not have plucked up the courage to talk.

    If that question is asked by someone of you or your children born in Shetland (and they know it) or out of malice to isolate and verbally attack you, this is personality defect on their behalf, not your problem.

    On a small island or community any local who goes out of their way to be unpleasant to someone who may not have born there will find themselves on the wrong end of the community’s wrath. Small communities are self policing and come down on the side of decency.

    You meet someone on holiday abroad, not from that the country you are visiting, that is the question either one of you asks to get the conversation started.

    What I am trying to say, possibly in a cack handed manner is that there is a tiny percentage of ignorant people, sift them out from the vast majority of people who are genuine.

    Reply
  • Frederick 5 months ago

    What a world we live in when you can’t ask where someone is from.

    Reply
  • Colin 5 months ago

    Raman. Inspired and thought proving words. It’s easy for us go through our days dealing with our own stuff and either being oblivious to (or ignoring) other people’s stuff – wither it’s the challenges facing ‘incomers on an island’ or indeed any section of our society being badly or inappropriately treated by our fellow citizens.
    Good on you for highlighting your situation and hopefully increasing awareness for all of us. Everyone has a story – often we for forget that! Keep doing your stuff!
    All the best to you and your family.

    Reply
  • Michael Rowlinson 5 months ago

    Such a beautiful piece or writing Raman. As ever you have stirred our emotions. Far from putting me off the place you made me want to visit Shetland again.

    Reply
  • Millenial Maliase 5 months ago

    It seems a lot of the narrative below this excellent piece of work is driven by one small part which refers to the question “Where are you from? Originally?”

    I think there is large part of where Raman is coming from, that has been excluded from the discussion and a lot of people are feeling defensive or want to claim ownership of a feeling that they have no experience of. The point isn’t about being asked “where you’re from?”, it’s the non acceptance of the answer being given in response. The further probing and being forced to justify yourself.

    As a second generation immigrant I always find that if I’m asked where I’m from, then I will respond with where I feel I belong at that given time. That might not be the place I was born (Manchester), it could be London where I lived for ten years or perhaps the midlands where I spent a lot of my formative years. To be probed further than this, means that the question is actually “What race are you?” “What is your ethnicity?” To be asked the further question “Originally?”, to delve deeper is intrusive. Most people would accept the first answer. Raman feels she belongs to the Shetlands and therefore that is where she is from.

    The country from which my parents originate, feels very far removed from who I am as a person, therefore it is not ever going to be a response to “Where I’m from?”. If I was there now, I’d be an absolute stranger in my “homeland”. Talked about in the third person, even though I’m present, based on how different I dress and the way I talk. So where do I belong then? That’s what you begin to question when somebody is intrusive enough, to not accept your initial response. That is the essence that is being conveyed, the idea of belonging and being forced to justify your position within society.

    Reply
  • Rose 5 months ago

    As a Glaswegian who chose to come and live in Shetland 12 years ago, I feel privileged to live here but have never felt that I ‘owned’ any part of these beautiful islands. Not having a broad Glaswegian accent, I am often asked where I am from. I have never felt the question to be intrusive. Happily, the majority of people I have encountered here were welcoming, Shetlanders and others. Some were not. That is life. Not everyone is going to like you. To expect to come and live here, with a population of somewhere around 24,000 and never to encounter racism, is I believe, somewhat naive. I abhor racism. It is not always about the colour of ones skin. I feel that those people who are not welcoming of ‘incomers’ react the same way to anyone who was not born here, regardless of their skin colour. Thankfully, in my experience, they are very much a small minority.

    Reply
  • Ragnar 5 months ago

    ‘the older I get the more I realise that being an insider is not necessarily the best place to be for a writer, poet, artist or any creative person. I think that my outsider status allows me the possibility to transcend man-made boundaries. I am not confined by nationhood, religion or cultural expectations. I can choose to relate from the margins and observe. From this place I can start a dialogue – a conversation which I hope extends outwards to my readers.”

    Reply
    • Goddess Kali 5 months ago

      Ragnor! I love this quote by Raman – I think it sums up how thoughtful and well considered her observations and writings are. Yes indeed, let the dialogue begin. Thanks for sharing. From one God to another – Cheers! Kali

      Reply
    • Alf Baird 5 months ago

      “‘the older I get the more I realise that being an insider is not necessarily the best place to be for a writer, poet, artist or any creative person.”

      This statement rather suggests a personal preference to remain as an outsider whilst living within a distinct unfamiliar (foreign?) culture. Remaining an outsider may, by implication, imply a personal rejection of, or at least a refusal to absorb and hence be able to fully appreciate/respect the local culture.

      “I think that my outsider status allows me the possibility to transcend man-made boundaries.”

      This seems rather woolly, for want of a better word, or perhaps vain even, in that the writer assumes an ability to remain outwith, above and/or beyond the local culture, which may lead to an inability to fully comprehend a culture by not absorbing (much of) it.

      “I am not confined by nationhood, religion or cultural expectations.”

      Are nationhood, religion or culture necessarily limiting factors? Surely these can also be enlightening, liberating even for those who remain oppressed?

      “I can choose to relate from the margins and observe.”

      This implies again a personal rejection of (living amongst/within) the culture, and instead the taking of a marginal and ‘observational’ posture that is almost like peering in from the outside, or even ‘poking one’s nose in’ and having a keek. Such a strategy may inhibit one’s full comprehension of a culture, more especially for one who otherwise aspires to live to some extent within it.

      “From this place I can start a dialogue – a conversation which I hope extends outwards to my readers.”

      Yes, but can this really be a meaningful dialogue without a detailed comprehension of the culture (i.e. language, way of doing etc)? Are the ‘readers’ mostly beyond Shetland? Is the writer simply influenced more by the landscape/nature than by the people/culture?

      Orwell did some of his writing whilst living on Jura; it did not necessarily make him a ‘Jura writer’.

      Reply
  • R Mundair 5 months ago

    Hello people taking the time to comment!

    I’m not going to reply individually to all but I will leave these excellent articles here in case anyone is interested in learning more and listening.

    THIS really covers the wider context for the Bella article. It is a great read as is her book. There is a free audio version there too for these of you who haven’t got time/can’t be bothered to read in detail. :o)

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/30/why-im-no-longer-talking-to-white-people-about-race

    This explains in a light way what micro-aggressions in terms of being questioned around belonging when you are not white. It will hopefully dispel any idea that is being flaunted here that I am unfriendly or unopen to conversation with people getting to know me. This is far from the case.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/20/opinions/where-are-you-really-from-vega-opinion/index.html

    and more here:

    https://thoughtcatalog.com/sara-kim/2017/01/the-hidden-aggression-of-asking-someone-where-are-you-really-from/

    Finally, for the folk half asleep at the back – as C.Scott says rightly notes in her comment – no one owns an island. I am clearly not being literal when I say the sea and sky belong to me – read some poetry please and dwell on metaphor, feeling and simile! :o)

    Best wishes to all for 2018!

    ps. and yes I am well aware I made typos in my first post…hope you can see past them to the essence of what I am saying. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Jaz 5 months ago

    I do not for a moment dismiss Ms Mundair’s experience, it is her experience to own as she sees it. But it is not a Shetland that I, as non-white former resident of Shetland, recognise.

    I spent many years there, I remember vividly how the Shetland public got behind a young Thai man with a criminal record when he was facing immediate deportation. I was also there when a Burmese woman and her two young sons were under threat of being forced to return to Burma, and the backing that they received from the Shetland community. Because of the support of the people of Shetland, all were allowed to stay.

    I, many times (in Shetland and not), have been asked where I come from. Never has that been that an aggression – rather, it was a conversation starter. It was someone showing interest in another human being, regardless of ethnicity. Sometimes they were curious as to why I came to Shetland. Other times people were curious to find out if I was from anywhere close to somewhere they had been on holiday or for work. (The answer is usually yes – I’m from London – but I would usually expand that by stating my parents background too). Shetland has a strong identity. To be from Shetland means to have been born there or to have grown up there. I know of a (white) woman who moved to Shetland as a teenager who was told that her children (Shetland born-and-bred with 50% Shetland heritage) were not from Shetland as she herself was not from Shetland. Now of course this is a nonsense, but if that is how some people define what ‘from Shetland’ means, it’s little wonder that, when Ms Mundair answers with ‘here’, it is followed up with another question.

    I am not saying there is no racism evident, of course not. But of the places I have lived, Shetland stands out as a place where class, race and religion matter least. I did experience negative attitudes – but they were few and they were indeed significantly fewer than a white English colleague had to deal with. I would say, however, that there is a naivety in Shetland about racism. I have heard people say, without thinking about it ‘Do you want to go for a chinky?’ meaning a chinese takeaway. Or ‘you’ll be able to get that at the Paki’s’ (meaning the Bargain Centre, a shop that was then and may still be run by a family with Pakistani heritage. I did of course pull the people up on it and all three, without exception, were mortified to realise that they were using terms of racist abuse. Awareness grows with time and with increasing numbers. But there are ways and means of dealing with it. Saying ‘do you realise that the term you used is offensive?’, is much more likely to be taken as well meaning than ‘that’s racist!’.

    I firmly believe that everyone’s experiences are tinted with the glasses they choose to look through. If someone chooses to perceive an innocuous conversation piece such as ‘where are you from?, even if followed up with ‘where are you from really?’ as an aggression, then they will probably experience a lot of aggression and a lot of racism where none may have been intended.

    Reply
  • Brian Smith 5 months ago

    It’s a pity that Raman’s interesting article got mixed up with the phantom ‘anthology’ and the ‘fellow’ who allegedly promoted it. Shetland editors and anthologists have been publishing Raman’s work since 2003, and rightly so. There’s no doubt, on the other hand, that Shetland poetry, and Shetland cultural life, are sometimes insular. That needs to be challenged, constantly, and conversations like this are a good way to do so. I hope this doesn’t sound ‘peely-wally’; it is heart-felt.

    Reply
  • James Mackenzie 4 months ago

    Thanks to Raman for opening this conversation. I can’t help being reminded of three artists’ work:

    1. Photographer Ingrid Pollard’s remarkable “Pastoral interlude” : “…it’s as if the black experience is only ever lived within an urban environment. I thought I liked the Lake District; where I wandered lonely as a black face in a sea of white. A visit to the countryside is always accompanied by a feeling of unease; dread…”

    http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O107865/pastoral-interludeits-as-if-the-photograph-pollard-ingrid/

    2. Helen Macdonald’s “H is for Hawk”, chapter 28, “Winter Histories”, in which she confronts her attachment to English chalk landscapes, and comes to understand ”that chalk downlands held their national, as well as natural, histories. And it was much later, too, that I realised these myths hurt. That they work to wipe away other cultures, other histories, other ways of loving, working, and being in a landscape. How they tiptoe towards darkness.” Later in the chapter she meets two familiar dog walkers, one of whom declares, about a herd of fallow deer recently seen by them all: “Isn’t it a relief that there’re things still like that, a real bit of Old England still left, despite all these immigrants coming in?”

    I have no doubt that these experiences can be transposed in essence to Scotland, and to Shetland also.

    3. Raman herself and her lovely poem “A Choreographer’s Cartography”, which I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her read out loud, and its refrain: “This earth, our sanctuary.”

    Reply
  • Theresa 4 months ago

    What a bunch of tripe! People like you and your artsy cabal who are constantly on a race and identity diatribe are racist.

    You’re Indian. Not black or anything else that you claim to be. Indian, born in India and emigrated to the UK. The fact that you are confused about yourself is enough to discredit your opinions. Get a grip, Dolezal clone!

    I’m an immigrant too and your article is so left of centre, it’s bordering on a hippy communesque superficial chatter. Sick and tired of seeing such stupidity and wilful ignorance. Sadly, you’re one in a sea full of many like minded fools.

    Reply
    • Bella Caledonia Editor 4 months ago

      ‘Artsy cabal’. LOL

      Reply
    • Brian Smith 4 months ago

      Is that Theresa May?

      Reply
    • Kristie De Garis 4 months ago

      Oh Theresa, People like you, and your diminishing, aggressive gatekeeping, who are constantly refuting the identity and experiences of others are truly part of the problem!

      Racial identity is obviously something you think that you personally have a right to define. I imagine you would say you are very sure of your own identity and you seem happy to be very sure of other’s identities too. Here’s a great and relevant quote from an article on gatekeeping from the Establishment.

      People like you ‘who act as gatekeepers rarely challenge their own position. They are simply right. They are more knowledgeable, more level-headed, more experienced, and more invested in the future of whatever movements they belong to. They know what is best and will enforce it for the greater good. They find themselves saying, “That is not appropriate,” or “That is counterproductive”.

      My problem here writing this reply is that I am unsure if you are white or a POC. Based on what you have written, who knows? What I do know is that you are angry and ignorant and willfully mean. Happy to try to shame others to solidify your own ideas of who you are and who ‘immigrants’ are. I am so happy that in reality you get absolutely no say at all. Enjoy shouting and kicking into the abyss!

      Reply
      • Bella Caledonia Editor 4 months ago

        Well said Kristie

        Reply
    • Goddess Kali 4 months ago

      Theresa, calm down dear! What a disproportionate response. That red neck will burst a blood vessel if you’re not careful! Poor soul, you’ve clearly been triggered in some way. Are you a relative or pal of Ian & co per chance?

      I am aware of Raman’s work and activism (she has worked with refugees, survivors of domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse and people with mental health issues. And she has campaigned for changes in the law around women and domestic violence, for example, as part of her ‘artsy cabal’ remit) and I know that she has always identified as Black British Asian, Black British or British Asian because she recognises the political nature and power of language.

      It has absolutely nothing to do with being ‘artsy’ – it has everything to do with recognising that there is a common experience and struggle that people who are not Caucasian share and having the intelligence and compassion to make an intersectional connection between cultural experiences and oppressions. Unlike yourself ‘Theresa’ who can barely hold one idea in your mind at any time and that too incoherent with the hate you marinate it in.

      FYI: Black British is a political term not just a ‘racial category’ or BAME category.

      For your further reference – UNISON states that:
      “Black activism, African, Arab, Asian and Caribbean communities had come to realise the importance of unity in our common struggle against racism and under- representation and campaigned under the political term ‘Black’.”

      https://www.unison.org.uk/about/what-we-do/fairness-equality/black-members/defining-black/

      Because the sad fact is that when racism is in action, when it is employed, it really doesn’t matter how much melanin you have in your skin. Ultimately, as long as you are not Caucasian, you will face discrimination and difficulty on some part of the scale/spectrum of racism.

      Please go find some happiness and compassion in your life, wake up from your ugly ignorance, get out and enjoy your weekend rather than posting hate.
      Xxx G.K

      Ps. By the way, are you really a ‘Theresa’? TBH you sound like a white van Dave or an irksome island Ian (& co) 

      Reply
    • Dr. Jane Ennis 3 months ago

      I would be perfectly happy to belong to an ‘artsy’ cabal…..i. e to associate with people who are open-minded, tolerant practitioners and/or supporters of the arts. Is it a coincidence that most of us are ‘left of centre’??!!

      Reply

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