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THE REST O S First Edition / November 2020

Stories

A collection of contributions by

students of the global majority at the University of Exeter



Provost Commission Front Cover Photo Credit: Sophia El-Salahi, from a series called “Fractured Selves�


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© 2020 The Rest of Us Stories All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from the respective contributor is strictly prohibited. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

There is much debate currently around terminology, particularly the use of the term ‘BAME’. We have kept the terms chosen by contributors in their pieces, but want to acknowledge the discussions and concerns around ways of describing members of the global majority.

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Contents

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Introduction Professor Jerri Daboo

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And Now Nubuke Amoah

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Editor’s Note Charice Bhardwaj

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Their Group Chat was Called “Friends” Nubuke Amoah

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Note from the Former Editor Dr. Sharanya Murali

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White Housemates Anonymous

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Note from the Artistic Director of Beyond Face Alix Harris

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Not Nubuke 5 & 6 Nubuke Amoah

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Where Words Fail: A personal exploration of racial identity Clara El-Akiki

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To the Ends of the Earth Bryar Bajalan

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Out of Touch: A Collection of Poems Pip Uden

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A Crack on the Face Idris Yana

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50 How do you navigate a predominantly white discourse as a person of colour? Sonia Thakurdesai

Moayad’s Story Bryar Bajalan

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Scouts Bryar Bajalan

Not Nubuke 1 & 2 Nubuke Amoah

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McDonald’s Bryar Bajalan

A Salute To My Skin Ridhi Kotecha

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Not Nubuke 7 & 8 Nubuke Amoah

You’ll Never Win Alone Curtis

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Men in the British Colonial Archives Write Letters to Each Other kalli

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When the White Man Came Ridhi Kotecha

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Dating Profile Sonia Thakurdesai

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Alumni Patric Basse

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Alumni: Turning Tides Maya de Freitas

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Not Nubuke 9 Nubuke Amoah

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Credits

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Not Nubuke 3 & 4 Nubuke Amoah

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A Nation Without Borders Daniel Khaled

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Pumpkin Seeds: A Photo Series Sophia El-Salahi

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Pumpkin Seeds Sophia El-Salahi

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Fractured Selves: A Photo Series Sophia El-Salahi

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Speech from a Peaceful Vigil for George Floyd, Exeter, 2020 Linxi Camellia Doël & Simi Ojajuni

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The Rest of Us Stories

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few years ago, I started having meetings with students of colour within the Department of Drama to hear about their experiences of being in the University. What emerged from these discussions was that many of the students were feeling ‘out of place’, with little space for their voices and stories, as well as the lack of representation of people of colour within the faculty, student body, and in what they were being taught. I’d also been working on the ‘decolonising the curriculum’ initiative with my colleagues in the Department and across the University, and with other Drama/Theatre/ Performance Departments around the country, acknowledging that not only do we need to consider what we teach, but also address issues of systemic inequalities within the structures of the institution and industry. As part of this work, I have been leading an Education Incubator project in 2019-2020 called ‘Decolonising the Curriculum/Diversifying the University’, using creativity to explore and give space and voice to students’ experiences. The project has two parts, one of which was exploring these issues through performance workshops led by Alix Harris of Beyond Face theatre company based in Plymouth. The other is this magazine, edited by Charice Bhardwaj, initially by Sharanya Murali, to amplify the voices of students of colour across the University through different forms of writing and visual expression. Hearing stories and the creative expression of students in a range of departments and disciplines, including English, History, Drama, Sociology, Psychology, Law, the Business School, Arabic and Islamic Studies, and the

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Medical School, has established a dialogue between these students of their experiences and ideas. Students have taken part in writing workshops led by the editors, as well as by professional writer and activist Rahila Gupta, to develop their creative voice. The result of this work is contained within this magazine, and we hope that it will provoke awareness of the issues that these students experience, as well as action in ensuring their voices are heard, and they are able to feel ‘in place’ within the University. When we began this project, we could not have foreseen the impact that Covid-19 would have on all of us. As a result, we’ve had to limit some of the activities of the project. The contributions to the magazine are to be celebrated even more as they were made during a time of considerable stress and anxiety, heightened for these students by the murder of George Floyd. The Black Lives Matter movement has shown the vital importance of acknowledging systemic racism and inequality, and the need for real change within society. Universities have a major part to play in shaping the way that we think, what we know, who is given a voice, and how we make the future, and we hope this magazine will be a small step along the path of change and action. I would like to acknowledge funding for this project by the Exeter Education Incubator, the Alumni Fund, and the Provost Commission. Thanks to Rahila Gupta for leading the writing workshops. And I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the work and dedication of Charice Bhardwaj, Sharanya Murali, and Alix Harris, as well as all the students who have taken part in and contributed to the project. Creativity offers a way to express and embody collective action, as bell hooks says in her book Yearning (1990): ‘We are transformed, individually, collectively, as we make radical creative space which affirms and sustains our subjectivity, which gives us a new location from which to articulate our sense of the world.’

Professor Jerri Daboo Department of Drama


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When

I looked at the long list of students who had signed up to contribute to The Rest of Us in March, I expected them to be itching to speak. I assumed that they would have stowed-away stories ready to spill, diasporic artworks aching to be seen, anger to bleed, injustices to expose, poem after poem to burn onto paper; but for many, it was quite the opposite. The first group workshop bubbled with discussion. The room rang with yeah, what’s up with that and wow, that sounds awesome, and Sharanya Murali’s warmth made a new thing feel comfortable. Yet, when it came to articulating ideas further down the line, the freedom to speak was all too strange and new for many. At this wide, white university, an invitation to express your thoughts, feelings, and creations as a person of colour, can understandably feel amiss. Of course, it is overwhelming where does one even start? These conversations about our varied existences usually stay in our safe circles of friends, family, and culturally alike groups. They stay in our journals and daydreams, and sometimes, in a passionate essay. It takes deep courage to make public what is usually so private. Even so, an all-too common response to my invitations to contribute to the magazine, was “thank you, but I’m not sure I have anything valuable to say.” I beg anyone reading this to contemplate why this might be; regrettably, it makes a lot of sense. Not only were students grappling with this, but many felt like creative expression was a universe away, having not “done anything ‘creative’ since my high school play/literature classes/messing around with a guitar.” Even if students did think that they had something valuable to say, how might they express it

when creativity feels so alien? To pose a bigger question, how does whiteness define artistic disciplines and activities in this university? I definitely avoid theatre societies for this reason. Why bother auditioning for a society which has cast two black people in the last 6 years of shows? On top of these challenges, there was/is a global pandemic (in case you didn’t know), throwing up a dystopia of personal and socio-economic challenges. In the depth of this, the murder of George Floyd triggered a pain and trauma and fight for many black people/of colour which was, quite simply, excruciating. The gruelling combination of both events kept a lot of people from participating in this project, and understandably so. So, as you read The Rest of Us Stories, please think of all the voices that could not make it onto the page. Please think of all of the stories living between the lines. Please think of all the ones that were not considered valuable enough to tell. The very existence of this magazine is a testament to our resilience in the face of extreme adversity. Our daily resilience as people of colour at the University of Exeter is often silent, and largely goes unnoticed. I would like to acknowledge it in all its forms. I am exceptionally proud of everyone who has contributed to this magazine for their radical vulnerability and brave creations. I would like to sincerely thank Professor Jerri Daboo for all her efforts towards a kinder Exeter, and for making this project possible. Thank you, also, to Rahila Gupta, Alix Harris, and Sharanya Murali for their hearts and energy throughout the process. In this first edition of The Rest of Us Stories, let us reflect on experiences outside of our own, celebrate their richness of expression, and consider creativity, learning and action as a potent

combination for this institution’s future. To conclude this note - an extract from an interview with writer/actor Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You) which stayed with me for weeks: How racist do you think this [television] industry is? Oh I don’t know if it’s racist? I think it can be a bit...thoughtless. It’s got some thinking problems. I don’t think we really use a lot of energ y to really think about the bigger picture, and about people outside of ourselves. Including people - is it about inclusion? No, I don’t think it’s about inclusion, because you can ‘include’ and say “oh yeah you can come to this school”, but what if that kid spends every day getting bullied with custard thrown on his face? So, it’s more than inclusion. So, what is the problem? I think it’s to do with attention. Paying attention. I think we could all pay a bit more attention […] I think we should not coast - not just be settled and complacent in our jobs. And I think that allows you to keep thinking - making sure you’re doing what you think is right. Are you checking up all the time, going ‘is this the way I feel I should carry my job? Am I happy? Do I feel resolved in myself? Do I feel like I deserve this job and I’m acting [in it]? Am I being a good jobs person? Y’know, am I making sure I’m doing my job?’ And I don’t know, I think sometimes we may forget to do our jobs whilst we’re still being paid for them.

Charice Bhardwaj Editor’s Note youtube.com/watch?v=z4QSZbyX7uQ

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Note from the Former Editor

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https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2003/10/27/ghosts-in-the-house

Dr. Sharanya Murali

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“Being a black woman writer is not a shallow place but a rich place to write from”, said the late Toni Morrison1. “It doesn’t limit my imagination; it expands it.” During the period that I was privileged to be editor of The Rest of Us Stories, I saw the truth of her words flood my conversations about writing with students of colour. There is no dearth of stories to be told by Black, Asian and writers of colour, nor of ways to tell them. There never has been. Space must be created, in art and writing, so these stories can emerge in their fullest strength, as narratives of abundance and multiplicity. When we deny young writers of colour their voices, we are choosing to overlook vital celebrations of difference—of ways to survive and bloom in the world that resist the violence of white hegemony, and challenge what we accept to be true about it. So the publication of The Rest of Us is, more than ever, an act of joy and urgent, radical hope.


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When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak. Audre Lorde Note from the Artistic Director of Beyond Face I think Lorde’s words aptly summarise our hope for this magazine and ongoing work, which we are creating with the unheard voices at the University of Exeter – the hope that in 2020, despite our fears, the time to speak is now whilst ‘everyone’ is listening. We are in a new moment in history; we are currently seeing new formations of allyship and a greater willingness to listen, but this new moment echoes a movement that has been repeated many times. As people engage with this magazine, and the powerful truths of these students, I hope that they can absorb some of those truths, gain new knowledge, and recognise that there is still much more to be done. Learning followed by

action. It takes courage to speak out - to speak your truth in a predominantly white space - in a predominantly white city, and these students have done it. They deserve to be seen and heard.

Alix Harris Lecturer of Drama & Founder and Artistic Director of Beyond Face www.beyondface.co.uk Beyond Face CIC is a South West theatre company whose mission is to raise the profile and visibility of Black, Asian and ethnically diverse representation in the South West Arts sector. www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/147275/a-litany-for-survival

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Where Words Fail:

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A personal exploration of racial identity

ecently, I have found myself in the uncertain, anxious and daunting position of wondering: am I a person of colour? This self-inquisition and self-doubt arose as I considered my role in the fight against racism. Half-British, half-Lebanese, is it possible that I am both victim and perpetrator? For my dark features, I have not been spared of the infamous ‘yes, but, where are you really from?’. Recently, in the UK, the term ‘BAME’, an acronym for ‘Black Asian and Minority Ethnic’, has appeared with increasing frequency in the media. This made me wonder, do I fall into this category? Is my racial identity defined by geography or minority status? In my confusion, I asked some friends whether I should consider myself part of the BAME community. A few suggested, to make my case more convincing, that I should get a deeper tan, or put on an accent. This was a joke, apparently? Other friends looked at me, confused, as if that was hardly a question: of course you are BAME, how could you consider otherwise? ‘So, growing up, you basically saw yourself as another white girl?’ another of my friends replied. Yes? In an overwhelmingly middle-class, rural community, we were brought up ‘colour-blind’. I never ‘saw’ my own appearance as one that set me aside from my peers. At school, when my girlfriends suggested I should straighten my hair more often or pluck my eyebrows more, I didn’t think much of it. Afterall, my eyebrow(s) do have a mind of their own. When I asked my (white) mother, she seemed shocked. ‘You’re not BAME!’, she said through the telephone, ‘why do we have to keep putting labels on everything?’. Between mother and daughter, I felt the genes that tied us together

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were setting us apart. Of course, DNA doesn’t have much to do with it. Race, it is well known, is a social construct. In the UK, I am not seen as white, but this does not automatically mean I do not uphold oppressive structures. I bear resemblance to those of the loosely defined Arab world, in which there is vast diversity in appearance. You can be Black and Arab, mixed and Arab, white-passing and Arab. However, my father would reject any attempt to identify myself as part of this identity. ‘We are Lebanese, not Arab,’ he would say. In this case, in the UK, to what community do I belong to? Those with a shared language? A shared history of colonialism? A shared stereotyped appearance as defined by the West? Physical appearances aside, the national identity that makes me a minority in Britain has a long history for racism that shows no sign of stopping today. In Lebanon, racism is a historic fact, just as it is a fact of the present day. Palestinians and Syrians are discriminated against as much through slurs as through the laws in Lebanon which deny them equal rights. More recently, celebrities in Lebanon have participated in blackface in a twisted show of ‘solidarity’ for the Black Lives Matter protests. Rich ‘madames’ have literally thrown their Ethiopian employees to the curb, forcing them to camp outside the Ethiopian embassy with no shelter during the Coronavirus pandemic. In Lebanon like many other Arab countries, racial privilege exists that allows majority nationalities and ethnicities to rule over minority ones. Ultimately, like race, nationality is just as much an imagined concept. The boundaries between racial identity and national identity are fluid, and the way they ebb and flow together will vary from person to person. Whether defined as a member of the BAME community or not, I am treated as a person of colour in the UK and as a part of the majority (sectarian and political affiliations


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aside) in Lebanon. Ironically, this close attention to words and defining terms is an example of pedantry distracting from the real issues at hand. Behind this whole escapade, my main concern was, and remains, how to position myself in the struggle against white supremacy. The vocabulary used to define or group oppressed identities together is not ideal, but remains a way to recognise the reality of living in a predominantly white space. My mother ended up sending me a video in which Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson ‘enlightens’ the audience as to why white privilege doesn’t exist. Within his bigoted and self-righteous argument that went along the lines of ‘well, whites are the majority anyways, so where’s the problem?’, Dr Peterson criticised the idea of intersectionality. Intersectionality, for him, only increased individualism by creating more labels. First, you are a human being and the next thing you know, you’ve got the audacity to claim you are a not only a human being but also female, able-bodied, and of colour. The list goes on. In its assertive bewilderment with the idea of racial oppression, Peterson’s response highlights the complexity of the question of identity. Identity will always be as layered and complex as there are people on earth. In my small and ongoing moral dilemma, I have come to terms with the porous nature of boundaries in identity. The language we use to describe ourselves is both generic and restrictive. For this reason, in the context of racism, for example, it is possible to recognise the individuality of personal experience in order to stand in solidarity with others.

Clara El-Akiki 11


A Crack

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Once a barefoot child, Walking on the sands of naïvety, Clad by the dust of hope, I paid homage to my ancestors. My grandmother; a wise matriarch Said to me, in a riddle-culled tongue, That a boy cannot see the far dunes Even if the tallest of Baobabs he were to climb.

Her twisted words Confused my naïve mind But I grasped the audible whisper: Idi, be true to thy self as you shall to others. But I am truthful, I declared With a doubtfully assuring fervour. She laughed and chewed the kolanut; Making her mouth red with words. A kid you are, she retorted Whose right he knows not yet! Go and run with the cows – You poor adventurous soul. Growing up as a man, Kaka’s words trouble the mind. Haunting the peaceful abode Of my stuffed innocent thoughts.

On The

As I wandered in the world, So wide and white and cold, I search for that “true” Which Kaka tasked me to be. Oh, dear truth – my part so elusive, Whose presence I can only feel But defied me to see, Where can I find thee? As if to answer my thoughts, Kaka’s voice sprouts From the belly of mother earth; Calm, clear and sharp.

Look at the cold face, she whispered Of that hurrying Harry And notice the crack Guised as a smile. Now listen Idi, she warned. Remember your ancestors’ way They smile from the heart Or just shut the mouth. Idi the son of sunshine Whose smile lights the world Be true to yourself: Smile from your heart.

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Idris Yana (Idin Ummah)

Kaka: Granny

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How do you navigate a predominantly white discourse as a person of colour? Submitted for the third-year optional module Wild Performances

This is the question I’ve been asking myself upon encountering environmentalism. I will be drawing on my own lived experience, as a South Asian British Woman as an attempt to assert autonomy in a field where people of colour are underrepresented and cast out. Integrating the personal, ‘situate[s] people within power relations, and [lets] people speak for themselves [by] connecting to the larger structures’ (Erdmans 2007: 7-14) which I will do in hope of better understanding my position of discomfort. Environmentalism is a movement concerned with protecting the environment and is rooted in Romanticism- an intellectual and artistic movement in the late 18th century (Oosthoek 2015). Heise describes them to have the same ‘story template’ that: ‘modern society has degraded a natural world that used to be beautiful, harmonious, and self-sustaining’ (2016:7) with an increasingly mechanised society, humans need to reconnect with nature in order to save it. Upon first encountering Romantic ideas, a lot of my own thoughts on nature aligned with theirs. However, in realising this discourse to be dominated by white men (Pearce 2019), I felt ostracised from these ideas; echoing the disengagement of African Americans with environmentalism being ‘further complicated by “resistance” to ideas seen as “white” in an effort to construct a black identity’ (Finney 2014: 3-4). This underpins the broader issue of ‘Whiteness, as a way of knowing [and] understanding our environment’ (Finney 2014: 3), and what that does to POC. My discomfort compelled me to further investigate this. I was intrigued by the image of nature that Romantics were so enticed by and how this formed a whitewashed landscape which became integral to ‘Britishness’. When we, the British, think of saving nature, the image that comes to most minds is one of serene landscapes such as the Lake District: green rolling hills, trees, water, light. Deluca and Demo argue that this fixation on ‘preserving pristine places’ is indicative of a ‘narrow, class- and race- based perspective of what counts as nature [that] leads the environmental movement to neglect people and the places they inhabit’, consequently becoming ‘vulnerable to charges of elitism and misanthropism’ (2001: 542) which I will later discuss in relation to environmental activist group, Extinction Rebellion (XR). First, we must acknowledge this assessment of what ‘nature’ we value enough to ‘save’ and how society’s value systems are tied up in whiteness, which then permeates through the language with which we talk about landscapes. Reflecting on my trip to Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve: what stood out to me was the extent of human intervention going into maintaining a ‘desirable’ image of ‘nature’. This image is embedded

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in Englishness and fosters a language of hostility as was evident when the Ranger spoke about a plant called Evening Primrose that was referred to as an ‘evasive’ species and was ‘undesirable’ due to its non-nativeness. ‘Native’ species are more valuable. I agree with Fenton’s comparison of this “dislike of alien species” being similar to racial discrimination in “wanting to preserve the culture and genetic integrity of one’s own stock” (in Agyeman 1990: 232). Agyeman and Spooner suggest that this association with racist discourse…acts as a barrier to involvement in the countryside’ (1997: 200). Much like attitudes towards POC in the UK, alien species are ‘welcomed in strictly defined areas but “not allowed to pollute the native culture”’ (Agyeman 1990: 232). These ‘strictly defined areas’ can be read as cities, in the UK for example, London and Birmingham are seen as ‘multicultural’ areas vs. rural Devon which is predominantly white. The image of nature in the British landscape is thus one of whiteness and hostility. POC are ostracised from being ‘in nature’, due to economic and cultural barriers (Agyeman 1990: 232) and deprived of the same connection with nature that grounds environmentalist thinking. Romanticism was a reaction to industrialisation and urbanisation - a call to ‘go back to nature’ - meanwhile POC are confined to the very urban spaces which are criticised. Indirectly asserting that POC are the problem, causing further disenfranchisement. Moreover, the idea that humans have ruined nature erases the work of Indigenous folk who have lived alongside nature in harmony (Heise 2016: 7). Instead, white is seen as the superior race that can ‘save’ the environment. Binary oppositions are used to further this notion of superiority: white vs. black; educated vs. uneducated; civilised vs. uncivilised; pure vs. polluted. Exploring this idea of ‘purity’ – which is deeply founded in white supremacy - and relating it to rural areas vs. the ‘pollution of urban industry’ that sees cities as ‘aligned with racial degeneration (Agyeman and Spooner 1997: 200). Thus, we can begin to examine the inherent racism in environmentalism. Not only is being in ‘nature’ a privilege that comes with being white but so is talking about nature and engaging with environmental activity, as the ‘superior’ and more ‘capable’ race (and class). Finney states that the environmental movement continues ‘to be defined from a white, middle class perspective’ (2014: 26). XR has been criticised for this very reason. One example is the way that protesters “conceptualise the police and the state, and being arrested”, meaning that it is their white privilege that they can trust that the system will be on their side and not send them to prison, or at least not for very long (in Gayle 2019); meanwhile, black people live in constant fear of the police. Drawing from my own experience, I remember the first time I interacted with XR at Exeter Respect Festival 2019. I was excited to have one day, in this whitewashed city, that celebrates diversity. It was a perfect summer’s day in the park, full of colourful stalls for various causes. Having heard a lot about XR, I was interested to find out how I could be involved. Instead, I was met with disappointment and a deep-seated feeling of unbelonging. The white lady at the stall insisted on repeatedly asking me where I was from. She finally stopped when I gave in and said: ‘well my parents are from India’. This kind of interrogation is a classic microaggression (Daboo 2019) often experienced by POC in places like UK where ‘Britishness’ is equated with whiteness. It doesn’t make sense for me - a brown person - to ‘naturally’ be here. Like the Evening Primrose plant in Dawlish Warren, I do not belong. To summarise, my experiences mirror the wider context that is the exclusion of POC from environmentalism as a result of the racialisation of landscapes and assertion of white supremacy- informed by Romantic constructions of ‘nature’ which naturalise hostility and whiteness.

Sonia Thakurdesai

Bibliography Agyeman, J. (1990) Black people in a white landscape: Social and environmental justice, Built Environment, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 232-236 Agyeman, J. and Spooner, R. (1997) ‘Ethnicity and the Rural Environment’ in Cloke, P. and Little, J. (ed) Contested Countryside Cultures: Otherness, Marginalisation, and Rurality, London: Routledge, pp. 197-218 Daboo, J. (2019) “Where are you from?” Performing IntegrAsian, lecture given at the University of Exeter, Queen’s, LT1, 9th May DeLuca, K. and Demo, A. (2001) Imagining Nature and Erasing Class and Race: Carleton Watkins, John Muir, and the Construction of Wilderness, Environmental History, vol. 6, no. 4 [online] https://www. jstor.org/stable/3985254?seq=1&cid=pdfreference#references_tab_contents [25/12/2019] Erdmans, M. P. (2007) The Personal Is Political, but Is It Academic?, Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 26, no. 4 [online] https://www.jstor.org/ stable/40543197 [24/12/2019z] Finney 2014, C. (2014) Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors, North Carolina Scholarship [Online] https:// northcarolina.universitypressscholarship. com/view/10.5149/ northcarolina/9781469614489.001.0001/ upso-9781469614489 [16/12 2019] Gayle 2019, ‘Does Extinction Rebellion have a race problem?’, https://www. theguardian.com/environment/2019/ oct/04/extinction-rebellion-race-climatecrisis-inequality Heise, U. (2016) ‘Introduction: From the End of Nature to the Beginning of the Anthropocene’ in Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Oosthoek, K. Jan (2015) Romanticism and nature, Environmental History Resources, Available at: https://www. eh-resources.org/romanticism-and-nature/ [22/12/2019] Pearce, M. (2019) The Representations of Wildlife and Wilderness, lecture given at the University of Exeter, Thornlea, TS3, 24th September , 9:00-12:00.

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Not Nubuke ‘As a little girl, it used to frustrate me that I did not have an English/Christian name. Many people in colonised countries, like Ghana, were given “English names” when Christianity was introduced by colonisers. Eventually, whoever you were – regardless of your upbringing or religion – you would have an English name.

Photo Credit: Nubuke Amoah When my Mum refused to give me an English name, I settled for a butchered version of my name: “Norbuki”. In recent years, however, I am hellbent on reclaiming my name, and really enjoying all that it represents. My name “Nubuke” comes from the Èʋe word “Nubueke”, meaning ‘a new day has dawned’. Heck yes! When you see me, you better know that a new day is dawning, that something special is here! So: It’s not Nublokeee, Nurukiii, or whatever other invention they come up with. It’s Nu-bu-ke. Like a new bouquet of flowers (é sound, not ‘ee’). A new bouquet, a new day dawning, a deep, new love for what was once made wrong.’

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Photo Credit: Nubuke Amoah

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This skin is bronze skin Healing under the rays of the Sun, This skin is my skin Stained with sweat, toil, tears, and mud. This skin is warrior skin Yet it bears no medals on its sleeves, This skin is unshackled skin Yet still, it struggles to breathe. This skin does not mean labour! It does not mean foreigner! It does not mean danger! This skin is tough skin Been through a lot skin I mean it’s hot skin! This skin is golden skin Glowing under the rays of the Sun, This skin is my skin Painted with ancestral blood.

Ridhi Kotecha

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You’ll Never Win Alone

I have been a student at Exeter University for four years, so I feel like I have made this city my home. I have made a lot of friends along the way and wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else. Although I was born in Hong Kong, I have spent a large portion of my life in the UK. I speak English as my first language, and I do feel quintessentially British. I must say that I do not resent the white people of the university or this city; I only speak of some individuals and the institutional discrimination that I have felt. One of my greatest passions, and an important reason why I chose to come to Exeter, is hockey. I have always enjoyed playing the sport and I had excelled prior to coming to the university. I had played for Hong Kong for many years with genuine aspirations of making money in the future. I started, like every other new student, by attending trials with the hockey club. From the offset, I was denied a fair opportunity to show what I was capable of. In my first session, I had to speak out just so that people would come watch me play. I had to fight my case, just so that I could be on an equal playing field to the people around me. Despite battling, and giving a good account of myself, I was placed into the lowest team in the club. This was disheartening, but I viewed it as a challenge to better myself and work my way up the teams. Hat-trick after hat-trick in my team, but still I received no recognition, no encouragement. I pleaded the leaders in the club to advance me, but I was repeatedly rebuffed. They cited reasons such as my need to improve

and that I needed to “slow down” in gameplay. This was very puzzling. If the pace of my play was too great then, surely, I would be better served in a different team. No-one listened. I feel I was naïve at that time, naïve to the insidious motivations that brought about such empty feedback. It was not just the leadership that I felt hostility from. The players around me hardly acknowledge my presence; they would barely speak to me. They saw my agitation and desire to improve as a challenge to the order of things. I wanted to go beyond the position that had been predetermined for someone of my skin colour. During my time with the hockey club, I often went back to Hong Kong to play with the team there. What struck me, aside from the obvious difference in quality, was the difference in their attitude towards me. I was chalenged physically, but also consistently encouraged, and felt that I was being treated fairly. This was not the case at the university. Going into my second year, I had hoped that a new year and new leadership would bring a change in culture within the club. I was initially encouraged; I began training with a team more suitable and felt that I was beginning to improve. After pre-season, though, I became injured and was forced to take an extended period away from the sport. When I returned, I was berated for my lack of fitness, accused of faking injury and was immediately returned to the bottom team. “No room” for me in any other team, was the excuse that I was given. Over and over, I had had to accept the empty excuses that were offered to me. After a while, the accumulation of knocks became too much. I thought back to some things that had been said to me a year before, at the start of my first year. During a typically boozy and humiliating sport society social, multiple people approached me to criticize my ability-

something I had become accustomed to. Then something was said to me that, although was horrible, I think was the most honest anyone in the club had ever been with me; he said that I was shit because I was Chinese. I didn’t know what to say. To have my ability in something I had devoted so much of my time to criticised, purely on the basis of my race, was too much. I immediately left and went home, not that anyone there would have cared. This had been something I had tried to forget, but I feel that incidences like this had made me cynical. I left the club in the second term of my second year. I was still slightly injured, but the reason I left was not physical. It was clear that I was never welcome in their fraternity. Socially or competitively, they didn’t want me there and they had said as much. What hurts most is the self-doubt. It was always my fault - it was always my inadequacy that meant I was overlooked. But it was always vague too, always something different, always a standard that my teammates were not held to. Coming here seemed the perfect place to prove myself in one of the highest-performing universities in the country. I realise now, that I never had a chance. I was constantly discouraged and overlooked by the white faces around me. I don’t want this to be the experience that other people like myself have. It is difficult being not white in this university - in this city - in this country. Racism and discrimination are things that remain around us every day. It is a malevolent force that affects individual thinking and seeps into our institutions, our culture, our sports teams. It needs to be acknowledged and rectified wherever it is found. If we do not do this, it will continue to penalise anyone considered ‘different’.

Curtis

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Photo Credit: Nubuke Amoah

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Photo Credit: Nubuke Amoah

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A Nation Without Borders After the first World War ended, the Treaty of Lausanne was eventually signed in 1923. Subsequently, what are now known as the “modern borders of the Middle-East” were drawn, creating the countries that are currently recognised. Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey have sought their own homelands ever since. A Nation Without Borders establishes what should have been the reality for the 28 million Kurdish people living across those areas. A Nation Without Borders explores the cultural oppression suffered by the Kurds, which they continue to suffer at the hands of other states. By borrowing visual elements from J. R. R. Tolkien’s maps of Middle-Earth from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, it was possible to create a fantasy map to include the 28 million indigenous people of the rocky region of the Middle East into the map of the world. The redrawing of the borders also includes important Kurdish cities and cultural references. The fourth largest ethnic group of the Middle East identify as ‘Kurdish’. They speak their own language, tell their own stories, and live as a community scattered mainly through four separate countries a nation without borders. Submitted for the second-year optional module Art and Law.

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Pumpkin Seeds:

Photo Credit: Sophia El-Salahi

A Photo Series by Sophia El-Salahi

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Pumpkin Seeds Her nails, long, clacking against the pumpkin seed husk Pick up salt like diamond dust As she cracks them beneath her jaw Molars spiralling, she reminds me of you Displaced on our white sofa, cradling the blue mixing bowl Like an infant; scooping the seeds, overcatch in a bountiful sea Slanted between your teeth, knowing the pressure needed to split them, You crack them out of their cocoon. Meat marinating heavier than rainfall, doum fruits drying drier than dust, peanuts cowering in the cavern of your bag They do not nurse me Like karkadé chasing my throats’ dryness Like fuul, cumin, sesame, cardammon coffee Dancing on my senses The way that if the earth was flat, it would be your tamiya in the palm of my hand Scorched and hardened to protect itself, soft and green as moss inside Sweet, and spiced, bursting with life. Her hands, these strangers’ hands, pick at a gold mine In her blue plastic market bag. Whose else too? Did my grandfather, more swiftly, with his lutenist fingers? Did my grandmother carefully, a way only known by raising seven children, Sift through seeds delicately or firmly or efficiently to eat in the rare hollows of her time Did my Uncle, in the hospital, after making those magnetic images, on a break, chew the seeds In the hospital, lose his taste, tired now to break them Different ward in the hospital, Arabic floating out your mouth Softer now. Quieter now. No more. Who more, will I only be able to imagine? I want to know more than how to eat.

Sophia El-Salahi

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Photo Credit: Sophia El-Salahi

Sophia El-Salahi

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Fractured Selves:

Photo Credit: Sophia El-Salahi

A Photo Series by Sophia El-Salahi

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Photo Credit: Sophia El-Salahi

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Photo Credit: Sophia El-Salahi

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Photo Credit: Sophia El-Salahi

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Trigger Warnings: Graphic violence, physical violence, police brutality, slavery, racism, discrimination

A speech written by Linxi Camellia Doël, and recited by Simi Ojajuni, at a peaceful vigil held in honour of George Floyd, which took place on 10th June 2020 at the Flowerpots Playing Fields, Exeter.

There is a need for anti-racism from communities because the continuation of racist violence and racism in any community is unacceptable; white indifference is complicity. George Floyd’s death feels very heavy and has impacted so much because black people have had enough of seeing their oppression as a headline, and no change, decade after decade. There is a long history of police harassment to black communities in the UK. Black people are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched by Devon and Cornwall police than white people, according to figures from 2018-2019.

One way of tackling this issue is knowing the history of racism. Exeter is not immune to these issues and Exeter is not irrelevant. Exeter has a history of slavery, being one of the slave ports in the UK. Exeter merchants invested in slave voyages in the 18th century and received compensation after slavery was abolished. The Bishop of Exeter in 1833 received the equivalent of over £1m for the loss of 665 slaves. A factory on Goldsmith Street processed sugar from slave plantations; Exeter Manufacturing Company relied on cotton from plantations; Exeter’s weavers and spinners created cloth that was traded for people, of which some were exported to plantations. Exeter’s metal workers produced slave chains, ship builders made ships, Exeter provided the day to day things sent to plantations; many families in Devon benefited from the slave trade. The British began trading in African slaves in 1562, slavery as a British institution existed for much longer than it has currently been abolished - over 270 years. Black soldiers served in WWI as soldiers of the Empire and settled in Britain, despite segregation and abuse. African American G.I.s stayed in Exeter during WWII and the city was divided to facilitate the American policy of segregation. White soldiers stayed in the Topsham barracks while the black soldiers stayed in tents on County Ground. Black soldiers were allowed in St Thomas and West Exe and white soldiers in the city centre. 15% of children with Black American and White English parentage were born in Devon. Across the UK, black people built communities in Britain following the abolition of slavery, as seamen in port cities, as workers coming to support the ‘Mother Country’ from the Commonwealth, or more recently as workers, academics, doctors and experts, but to deny their integral part of British history exacerbates a rhetoric of unbelonging that is damaging and encourages extreme rejection, leading to racism and violence. The UK has a history of violence between the police and black communities. An early example is on 4th June 1919 in Liverpool where the police ransacked homes where they knew black people lived; this followed attacks sparked by a Caribbean man being stabbed in the face by two white men over a cigarette. There are many other instances since and it continues today predominantly with humiliating stop and searches and other acts of discrimination. The UK has had its share of race riots: 1958 in Notting Hill, when an argument between a married couple of a black man and a white woman was misinterpreted; in 1981 in Brixton after performing over a thousand stop and searches in just six days; in 1981 in Toxteth in Liverpool after a police officer chased a motorcyclist believing his vehicle was stolen; in 1985 in Brixton because the mother of a suspect, Cherry Groce, was shot in the chest in front of her children while being demanded the suspect’s whereabouts; in 1985 in Tottenham’s Broadwater Farm es-

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tate after police officers let themselves into the home of a mother of an innocent suspect, Floyd Jarrett, to look for evidence, resulting in her death; in 2011 after the police shot Mark Duggan during an attempted arrest. I need not say all the victims named were black. “The extremities of a riot only ever reflects the extremity of the living conditions of said rioters,” says author Reni Eddo-Lodge. Britain is built on looting black lives, looting black resources, and looting black culture. Our wealth comes from an empire that colonised most of the world, stunting the growth of other countries, stealing and keeping their resources without present day acknowledgement or apology or compensation. “Britain built an entire global empire, nourished in no small part by the assumption that white humans were superior to all others,” says author Akala. “More recently, we’ve seen charter planes full of Jamaican nationals, Kenyans, Nigerians, Ghanaians and others, from Commonwealth countries – many of whom had spent decades in Britain, indeed most of their lives, had British children and British partners – being sent back to countries that some of them had not visited since childhood. There will be no planes full of Australians, Swedes or Germans, I can promise you that.” The reason George Floyd’s death has resonated across the pond is because we share many cultural aspects with America, shared issues of systemic and institutionalised racism, and inherited wealth through slavery. America is a superpower and US and UK artists dominate global charts, US and UK actors dominate global cinema and television, US pop culture is world pop culture or youth culture. There is a dissonance between the black culture consumed and the indifference to black lives. Black (American) culture in fashion, music, art, dance, comedy etc. has an astronomical presence in white (UK) spaces, often appropriated and monetised for white profit.

What is jarring is the country that is largely providing our cultural consumption through black culture is the same country displaying a flippancy to black lives inherited from the foundations of that country. That is why it should matter to us, as UK cultural consumers and collaborators. UK culture celebrates black artists similarly, rejecting black culture until it becomes pop culture and suddenly accepted as if it was always recognised, and often appropriated. When Black artists share their experience, their truth, the truth of many black people in the west due to structural racism which has led to impoverished communities, they face demonisation. Yet white artists have the liberty to express themselves in any way they feel fit, even if it perpetuates violence, they are praised as unapologetic artists. One example of this is the congratulatory response to black rapper Dave’s superfan Alex. A white teenager was invited onto the stage during a Glastonbury performance to rap with Dave. Later, Alex was invited to rap on Good Morning Britain to perform Dave’s lyrics of a violent and impoverished experience, praised in the mouth of a white boy. No such attention was given to Dave who started rapping at a similar age, as many black men do about their experiences; it is hard to imagine this happening to a black fan or rapper who would be encouraged to rap about weapons on live television. (Someone in the crowd) “He got a record deal!” The UK shares the hypocrisy of celebrating black culture while perpetuating racism against black people. We need to recognise our privilege as white people or white-passing people to be able to walk freely without harassment, walk in large numbers without seeming threatening, not adjust our appearances to deflect a stereotype, not worry about being profiled, not worry about police violence towards us, not worry about being discriminated against, not worry about the limits to our future because of systemic or institutionalised privilege.

We hold this vigil to remember and respect the lives lost, the abuse of police power, the oppression of our black brothers and sisters and to show that we have had enough. We don’t want to see racism in the country that we collaborate with, we don’t want to see racism in the UK and we don’t want to see racism in Exeter. We hold this vigil to acknowledge that black lives matter.

Written by Linxi Camellia Doël and recited by Simi Ojajuni

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And Now Nubuke Amoah 34


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I rack my brain to find out why, But in the quiet, all I hear are lies, That if there is something wrong, Then I, Then I am the reason

*breathes in* *breathes in*

The truth is that you can’t handle my truth, That simply, from the hair on my head, to the essence of my soul, You cannot grasp that I will never be like you, and although that’s not okay, The important thing is that I know that I am okay. And maybe one day, you will understand that there is a world where I can still sit at your lunch table and still hang out with the others. And maybe right now, that’s uncomfortable for you, But I promise you, from now on, it will never be for me, That I will not second guess myself, That all the validation I needed to give you, I give to me, So to your uncomfortable smiles, I will return a genuine one in its place, To your gentle words, I return soft kisses of joy, I wish you all the best from the bottom of my heart, But there is a limit to the access you are now granted to said heart, And that is just a start 35


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Their Group Chat was Called “Friends”

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Their group chat was called “friends”

[somewhere along our friendship journey, I had to realise that] I wasn’t a part of the squad

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It was my first year of uni [this “friendship” thing was getting to me] and I didn’t like the mindset I was in where I had to think “is there something wrong with me?” [that makes these people not want to hang out]

I didn’t think I should live with them anymore because I didn’t think this was something that was going to stop, me constantly feeling this excluded


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Their Group Chat was Called ‘Friends’ is a selection of screenshots from a vlog on Nubuke’s YouTube channel called ‘I AM HOME-LESS’ www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYpXNUj7E7k

Nubuke Amoah

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But then again, nobody wants to be left out of things, and if you make several attempts to be included in things and you’re still left out [it’s like something is screaming at you to get the hint]

I think I got the message

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[As hard as it was to tell them I didn’t want to live with them anymore because I constantly felt left out] I would do it all over again if I had to [Because that move right there, identifying how I wanted to be treated, and prioritising my wants over, trying to please others, that set the tone for my university life] 37


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White Housemates

Trigger Warning: References to self harm and sui**de.

was put into a halls with only white women, which was fine, I’m half white. The best friends I had in Freshers Week were three working-class black boys - some people take issue with the term ‘BAME’ but when you lump us all together like that you create community. A few weeks in, the boys stopped coming over and stopped replying. When they showed their face again, I asked them why they blanked me like that.

“Has your relationship with the girls improved?” Yes, it had - I had stopped bringing over Scary Black Men late into the night to sit in the kitchen and giggle about drinking water out of saucepans. These Scary Black Men were afraid of a wasp that flew into my room and marvelled at my Chinese skills to airbend it out the window. I told them I was excited about my menstrual cup, and they said “why are you telling us?” I said that I didn’t have any close female friends. Turns out that the boys had stayed distant so I could be one of the girls. But I was never one of the girls. In my second year, I lived with only black students and it was the best. It was a place for people to come home and complain about the racism that nobody else could see. I was the least ‘threatening’ in the

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house and would be used to liaise with the neighbours. We went from “the quietest students they ever had” and “come over for tea” to passiveaggressive nonsense-talkers after they saw us. My best friend on my year abroad was another mixed race girl. She wasn’t even working-class (like me) - she just needed to escape the drama at Durham for a bit. How refreshing it was to not be the MixedRace One or the One from a LowIncome Background for a year - just British. Then when there were racial attacks against Chinese people at Exeter, I was almost glad - this is it. This is the sentiment that is dismissed as bullshit - it’s out here for all to see. This is what you think of us. In my final year, in the heat of Black Lives Matter protests and the global spike in anti-racism discourse - mid-pandemic - I got kicked out of my house by three other white women. I had made the mistake of thinking that they were allies, but they were wolves in sheeps’ clothing. I was gaslit to believe that I was mentally ill. My crime? I got them a present. I had an asthma attack and bought them a gift to thank them for their care towards me. They interpreted this as an apology for faking an asthma attack, but they didn’t tell

me this. First, they stopped making eye contact with me, started excluding me, locked themselves away from me, and slept together out of fear that I would hurt them. Then, they called my white middle-class boyfriend to pick me up or they would have me removed by “mental health services”. I was treated like a patient - an incompetent child - and my friends believed them because “all I saw were three girls absolutely beside themselves” who were “shell-shocked”. Since school, I’ve had issues about switching accents; teased for sounding like a ‘chav’, then berated for sounding too posh. It’s not a personality disorder - it’s called code-switching. But I couldn’t even stand my ground with my housemates because to appear threatening makes me an Aggressive Person of Colour. In fact, I couldn’t say anything because how can you if you are accused of being a pathological liar and a manipulator? Still, when you accuse someone of intentionally hurting others or themselves, you don’t hide away from them; you don’t kick them out and ship them off to a train station where it’s much easier to harm oneself; you don’t remove an asthmatic from a safe environment during a global pandemic; and you definitely do not gaslight them enough to believe that they “need to seek a mental health


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professional as soon as possible”. It was three against one. They spent three hours convincing my friends, and said that my boyfriend “betrayed their trust” by telling me what they told him. They spent 12 minutes with me - explaining nothing - only that there was no indication that I would be welcome home. It was just “Everything we did was out of care for you” and “I’m not angry at you”. They packed all my belongings and put them in the garage for collection, then made themselves scarce when I came. What they will never know, because they will never accept that they are not True Saviours, is that their behaviour was racist. “The heartbeat of racism is denial,” Ibram X Kendi writes, “the heartbeat of antiracism is confession” (2018). Harbouring the guilt of being unable to fulfil the moral duty of antiracism flared every time they came across their one POC housemate and realised that, despite their best efforts in the past week, they had not managed to eradicate racism! This POC’s presence then becomes an embodiment of all the guilt this ideology lumps on them, reminding them they still benefit from their ethnicity, and their inaction to change this ASAP makes them racist. This is so overwhelming and impossible to live with, that they have to get rid of the POC. I became the problem. Just before getting kicked out, though, the house and I put on a high-profile event in May - a vigil for George Floyd. For my housemates, I became the resident expert of ‘all things POC’, yet at the same time, they continued policing my expression because they were confused about my authority to speak on racism as a non-black POC. Their desperation to appear ‘correct’ was stifling and hostile to my ease. I was berated for writing a speech, and then I was berated for messaging a black collaborator who supported it. Black

people need to rest! the internet told them. When I told the black collaborator, she laughed.We had been so utterly categorised to become their cause for a freedom fight. I had become their Poor Mixed-Race Friend. I got questions like “don’t you think you confuse people when you say you’re white?” and “wow, it feels SO good to put something on that isn’t for ourselves”. Then they collectively turned to me and said “You should be so proud of yourself ”.

Wow. They detested all things ‘white’ (excluding working-class white people somehow, and denying that nonwhites could be racist). They battled their relatives online, celebrated how many friends they lost each day, slinging CAPITAL LETTER COMMENTS across social media. They had forced upon themselves a responsibility to rid the world of racism once and for all, and yet, they couldn’t decide if I was exempt from it. They were exhausting themselves; it was like they were competing for lack of sleep over their selfless crusades. They resented my experience, as well as my agency over it: “I feel like only you can say that” and I think this was the start of how I got kicked out. White guilt starts off with sympathy and then turns into rejection. Some friends said they were jealous of my whiteness and non-whiteness; they wanted to gatekeep saviourism but envied the authority to speak about lived experiences of racism - which they had read so much about! They had such intense white fragility, even changing their appearance to appear less blonde, harbouring a severe shame of stereotypes. Their favourite meme was that is the whitest shit I’ve ever seen because they believed they were Self-Aware. Well, the whitest shit I’ve ever seen is your nonsense! It is the typical Karen entitlement which allows a white woman to behave scared and threatened, call for

help by way of ultimatum, armchair diagnose someone for aggressive and mental health issues, and kick someone out their own home (even if they themselves don’t live there). This entitlement, which they had self-flagellated themselves for, was the very reason why they rejected me so extremely, and to some extent, why my parents and I believed them in the first place. My parents and I held them in high esteem over ourselves because that’s what we are taught to do - what could these white women possibly be wrong about compared to me, who has screamed ‘problem’ to society since birth, if not truly, then certainly through the media? Implicitly, you would believe mildmannered wealthy white girls over the way you perceive your own family. I have spoken to other people of colour and I think there is a phenomenon of believing white people over your own family or your own people. If I had any advice for white people trying to engage in antiracism, it would be that it is okay to acknowledge that you are a little bit racist! Everyone is implicitly racist - we all consume a lot of racist science, media, education, culture etc. Acknowledge it. Learn about it. Learn about yourself. Right yourself each time you learn about it, and keep moving forward. You don’t need to strip naked and walk through town getting egged while bell-tollers cry ‘Shame!’ Also, fast internet information is not nuanced enough! The girls were like Pharisees who drew their authority from the law - my housemates had read bite-sized information by black writers online and decided that they could now school me on racism. The Pharisees persecuted God on God’s behalf - what it’s all about vs. this is the law. The girls read that “this is correct procedure”, so they righteously stripped themselves of authority to

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speak on the matter, but on behalf of black people, could tell everyone what was right and wrong. I’m not black and I’m not claiming to understand black experiences, but this righteous, un-nuanced policing prevented them from realising that they themselves were more of a hindrance than a help. The vigil was their idea - suddenly racism was an emergency - they rushed to their laptops and dropped all other commitments. There is a danger in the impulse to act, before listening and processing. Look! We’re doing something, look! We don’t want you to do something yet, because first, you need to deep it. I feel like they felt a pressure and subconsciously pushed it onto the POC around them - myself and the black collaborator taking roles we didn’t want - as if they had facilitated a space for us. This is what you needed, what you have been waiting for. Black friends of mine said they felt a pressure to speak when they didn’t actually want to. Quick, this is your time before people stop caring! Kicking me out came at a crucial time - literally one month before the date ending my degree, which had been four years of a hope for a better future - and who knows what my parents did or didn’t do to ensure that I could have this. I assume that my housemates will be able to go home to a house and not pay rent for it. I’ll have to start paying rent for my council flat immediately after my student status ends. One housemate teared up when I told them that I grew up on benefits and this degree was imperative for a better future. It’s not that deep; if you’re the type of person to be moved by someone else’s circumstances because you feel guilty or angry about privilege or class disparity, don’t go kicking them out when you could literally put up with them for one more month until they bag that sweet social mobility paper. Just relax about your privilege, ski, (dis)continue your weed addiction, feel Gucci that you can go home and

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look for a job quite comfortably. Eat your salmon and drink your prosecco. I literally never bore any ill will towards your circumstances you were the one that made jokes about yourself, the one that hated White Girls and White Girl Tropes. The hate you bore was all your own. However, you don’t need to meddle with my circumstances please - as it is the so-called oppression you’ve been crying from the rooftops about, and coercing all your peers to care about. You think you’d have the decency to leave us well alone. I made a lot of POC friends afterwards; they knew me for a minute and completely understood and believed my situation, because it was familiar; it was believable; they had had it before, encountered these people. I don’t believe white people are ‘bad’ or white middle-class women are ‘bad’ like these girls believed that’s stupid. For some reason, Exeter attracts a certain type of student that made all of our experiences at this uni uncomfortable at times, and for Pete’s sake, Exeter - sort it out!

Anonymous Bibliography Kendi, Ibram X. 2018. The Heartbeat of Racism Is Denial. The New York Times. [Online]. 13 Jan. [Accessed 17 August 2020]. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/13/ opinion/sunday/heartbeat-of-racism-denial.html


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Photo Credit: Charice Bhardwaj

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Photo Credit: Nubuke Amoah

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Photo Credit: Nubuke Amoah

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To the Ends of the Earth

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My short film, To the Ends of the Earth is about Jamīl Sidqī alZahāwī and the café in Baghdad where he used to recite his poems. Al-Zahāwī was a prominent Iraqi poet, philosopher and translator from the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. Al-Zahāwī is today regarded as one of the most important poets in the Arab World, but unfortunately his café in Baghdad, which dates back

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to the early 1900s, has been neglected. Today, it is difficult to find anyone there who has read a single line of his poetry inside the café. However, you can still see al-Zahāwī’s personality in every corner of the café, including the Umm Kulthum songs that make up its constant soundtrack. During my visit to Baghdad in May 2019, I decided it was important to preserve a record of this place, which was


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once a cultural hub for himself and other Iraqi poets and intellectuals; but most importantly, this act of preservation was a way to bring al-Zahāwī’s poems home! Over the past two years, I have collaborated with Dr. Alana Levinson-LaBrosse, a PhD Alumni at the University of Exeter, to translate al-Zahāwī’s poems into English. While the primary language of the film is Arabic, our English-language translations feature as subtitles. The film was award winner in the Tagore International Film Festival. The film is available to watch at https://vimeo.com/356465383

Photo Credit: Bryar Bajalan

Bryar Bajalan

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Photo Credit: Bryar Bajalan

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Old Man Each flame swayed like the palm trees. Your skeleton fingers gripped the wooden table as the candles burnt shadows into your wrinkles. I watched the decades stare you down, until your elbows trembled and your veins inflated like balloons against your skin. Like the wolf in retirement, your chest crackled and heaved into a tired puff. Each flame swayed like the palm trees. The closest kindly delivered a pink wax bead down its white-striped helter-skelter, and when the tide’s breeze rushed through your combover, into your lungs, you could glue in your dentures and shut out the sea air. I wanted to waft the smoke away, like your habits before I was born. “Well, I’m not getting any younger!” you said. Mummy told me to save my breath. You let go and watched the sun scorch your sand-covered kids into the horizon.

“Crisis Response Once you ask if a Facebook friend is safe, they’ll receive a notification and be able to mark themselves safe.” Facebook Help Centre

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Out of Touch: A Collection of Poems by Pip Uden

Out of Touch Até Agnes died this year. She was lifted from the pavement’s motorcycle debris, and lowered into the ground. In 2013, she translated our surname, went by blonde hair and took selfies in the States. I performed her character once – we never met. Further west, she marked herself safe. Tita Maria, my youngest auntie, decorated school to celebrate her Headteacher’s award. I remind her of Mum. She suggests I enjoy my studies. “San Pablo has heavy winds and lots of rain,” when I called, “the roads aren’t bad – I still drive.” She marked herself safe.


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Koyo Joseph challenged me to basketball. Now, he’s in a band. He plays his indoor gigs in sunglasses and laughs when I envy their weather. As the typhoon hit mid-land I rang to remind him, winning by far at Southern trials, “to go online and mark yourself safe.”

And Koyo Marlon has been camping. Night-walking, always online, now I know Tagum and its outskirts like he does – forests, with healthier signal than my bathroom. As if he waited for the warning, his bag was pre-packed, and his trip was planned for long enough – miles, in fact – to mark himself safe.

Tito Benedict uploaded an album after his birthday. I left belated wishes and cooked the pancit, adobo, and lumpia I saw frying along the back-wall. When his son lived in Tacloban, he was caught and submerged in his house. Tito Benny went dark for weeks before marking himself as safe.

I keep my family updated. They love to see my good grades, city visits and pretty dresses. It makes up for my promises to fly over. That morning, my teacher saw the news and hoped for me that I could call them here, since the worst we get is acid rain. There was no use marking myself safe.

I grew up as fast as Até Gabrielle. Graduate, psychologist, it would be more like England than the Philippines to take her passions for mental health – I am lucky. She lost her Mama, and Nanay took Gabrielle in the warm. She waited, until she reached some internet to mark themselves both as safe.

He runs a tap into glass and approaches the window. He takes one, long sip, and swirls the cup. Its tumble calms to a lake placed on its coaster. His chair tucks his legs under his table, he starts his homework, and decides if he unplugs the sink, he can drain the money from elsewhere.

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H

ours have passed since we left Sulaimani to find the Nergizly Camp, which was supposedly near Mosul city. The search for the camp has exhausted us. We point to anything that looks like a camp. We are looking for the blue tents - anything blue. We stop at a petrol station to ask for directions. We reach a checkpoint where a sergeant sits, watching a TV show. I interrupt to tell him that I have arranged a meeting with an artist from Mosul - a man named Moayad who lives in the Nergizly Camp and uses

“Moayad, do you paint?” We hear Moayad reply,

the tents as canvases, the camp dust as paint. His eyes still fixed on the TV, he mumbles “Yeah, sure, go.” We still don’t know where the camp is. A road sign says 44 km to Mosul, 31 km to Ba’shiqa. On the left, we see a building surrounded by some tents, guarded by Peshmarga. I turn and drive towards it. I roll down my window to speak with the guards.

Then, right there, we see a huge sign: Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Shaikan Oil Field. We turn back again for the main road. Blue water tanks of an IDP camp appear on our left and finally, we enter the camp. A guard calls Moayad, asks for his tent number, and ushers us in.

“We are here to meet Moayad, a painter.” The guard lifts his walkie-talkie to his mouth,

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“What?” “There are some journalists here to interview you.” “What are you talking about? I know nothing about this.” A man steps out of the guard house and walks over to us. “Aren’t you Moayad? Isn’t this the Nergizly Camp?” “My name may be Moayad, but this is the Shaikhan pipeline.”

Moayad’s influence becomes apparent as a few children draw along their tents. We reach his area, where a dustsewn dress, t-shirt, pair of pants, and a sewing machine

are drawn tenderly into the tent canvas – a small tailor shop. We pass the tailor shop to find that Moayad’s creations adorn every tent closest to his; figures, horses, flowers, butterflies, and even phrases. Above an intimate portrait of a man and woman, it reads, “Security is a blessing, preserved by justice and disappears by injustice.” The next tent says “from death we make life.” We reach Moayad’s own tent. The shoes outside are tidy, lined up on three bricks. Moayad is waiting

and he welcomes us warmly. The tea pot boils on the stove, the cups wait on a serving tray. A yellow-embroidered cloth adorns the table. Everything is in place. Well, everything which remains from the home they lost.

Bryar Bajalan Social media links to MosulLives oral history project here: www.facebook.com/kashkulistan instagram.com/kash_kul


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One of Moayad’s many tent-canvas creations, translated as ‘smile because you only live once’ Photo Credit: Aska Osmani MosulLives is an oral history project that gathers stories of daily life in Mosul, before the Islamic State, before the American presence of 2003. As so much change comes to one of the world’s great cities, Mosul Lives strives to preserve what was and can still exist again. This project is conducted by the researchers at Kashkul, the centre of art and culture at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani.

The Tailor’s Tent.

Photo Credit: Aska Osmani

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‘Security is a blessing, preserved by justice, and which disappears by injustice’

Photo Credit: Aska Osmani

Moayad’s flowers

Photo Credit: Aska Osmani

Shoes outside Moayad’s tent

Photo Credit: Aska Osmani


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A man enjoys the traditional raisin juice in Mosul, Iraq.

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This is the first Scout activity in Mosul after being liberated from ISIS. A year after the war, young Iraqis have begun trying to return their lives to what they had been before the conflict erupted in 2014. The Scout activity was held in the Ghabat district after cleaning the area from war remnants such as explosives, mortar shells, and ISIS warehouses. At the end of the activity, four teams were competing to be champion, al’amal (hope), al-ta‘āyush (coexistence), almustaqbal al-jadyyd (bright future), and al-mahaba (love) teams. The photo is of the final game between al’amal and al-mahaba. Al-mahaba team was the champion, but I believe that all of them are champions because with love, there is hope, coexistence and a bright future ahead!

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The First Scout Activity in Mosul After Being Liberated from ISIS.

Bryar Bajalan Photo Credit: Bryar Bajalan


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Standing, waiting for my sandwich Packed with people They better be quick Delivery Delivery number 181 Guest number 181 please 1 8 1 Here I am. Excuse me--you know delivery takes time Giving us a few extra minutes of life generous A moment to take a last sniff A moment for goodbye kiss A moment for the last lick of the lollipop A moment to give Barbie a last stylish look A Moment Allowing God to finish his last sip of champagne And watch As he crushes us like junk food This is what God does Just watches He never tried his own hell once Just watches Never had a family to care for Just watches Never had kids to cry for Just watches The delivery guy quickly collected what he got The ketchup packets crying Release the flame But he didn’t ask for an address Confused Delivery Sent Heavy Meals for kids!

Bryar Bajalan

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Photo Credit: Nubuke Amoah

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Photo Credit: Nubuke Amoah

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Men in the British Colonial Archives Write Letters to Each Other kalli

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have been. I do not suggest that these men s

T

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Trigger Warning: Racism and colonialism. References to graphic violence and sui**de.

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The white man came to my country And left with red hands. The white man came to my country And left no longer a man.

And if we refused to pay up? In cages we’d be confined. And if we refused to pay up? He’d double up the fine.

He came and conquered And for centuries did he reign, Guzzling the pure waters of Ma Ganga And throwing it up on the Thames.

Or leave us in the sun to burn, ‘Til fathers had to sell their children to earn To pay the undue taxes, We got no second chances.

His factories converted into forts And his lies became the law. He triggered our systematic destruction, Putting us behind for sure.

Everything and everyone Was on sale. All hail The Empire! All hail.

Our princes became his pawns, He squeezed the Indian peasant dry, He made us pay for our own oppression While his Empress did nothing but stand by.

He understood the price of our land But nothing of its value, He understood our riches And came to collect the revenue.

He monopolised our textiles As it made our economy boom, Crushing the Indian labourers, Breaking their thumbs and looms.

And then he found our diamonds And blinded he was with greed, That he plundered and he pillaged ‘Til our bodies littered the streets.

He made our master weavers into beggars, Our leaders into slaves, Slowly taking over our industries And to him? It was just a game.

Proudly he painted his flag across our land Using the blood he drew from our mothers’ hands. Our sacred soils, our holy ground Stained red, by the white man.

Like monopoly in fact Except, most of the squares were for tax. No chances or community chests Just our properties being robbed of their rent.

My country was of wealth No man has even dreamed of! My country was of peace Every mother has conceived of.


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My country was Great! And we held our flag high, Until another stole our Greatness And dragged it down from the sky.

For the death of a Briton by an Indian Was one of full intent, Whilst the death of an Indian by the hands of a Briton Was always an accident.

Who knew that the spices he sought to find Would soon collect tax from our own kind? Who knew that the silks he came to seek Would soon be stained with the blood of our cheeks?

Or should I say by the feet of a Briton? “The Stout British Boot” Wasn’t that a song Your folk had actually written?

We put on shows like circus animals For your Lords when they came, To check up on their little project Of taming us “untamed”.

And you said you came as traders But exploited out land for tea You said you came to free us But all you did was take for free.

We wore your ties Like nooses around our necks, While you studded The Crown With the stolen jewels you still protect.

So don’t tell me to speak my language When you stole our words to make your own. Don’t tell me to wear my clothes Because our people have yours sewn.

You claim you brought upon us education, But if any Indian gained A worthy position, You’d reject them on the basis of their complexion.

Don’t tell me to eat my food When you eat more rotis than you eat rolls. And don’t tell me to go back to my country, Because it was once your ancestors’ home.

You claim you brought upon us democracy, But if any Indian held The majority, You’d dismiss them on account of their inferiority.

Our soldiers fought your wars Our money aided your games Our resources supplied your armies, So in your textbooks, where are our names?

You claim you brought upon us free press, But if any Indian dared To protest, Their entire family would be suppressed.

We were treated like subjects, Never citizens in our own towns, So why, if my ancestors weren’t given the decency of saying ‘I am British’ Why, should I be proud to say ‘I am British’ now?

And just imagine! How immoral must one be To introduce the “Rule of Law” Yet manage to rule so lawlessly. Behind your closed office doors In faraway London, You decided the fate of our people For which most, was the dungeon. Claiming you had a “God-given right” To dispense your authority upon us, Claiming you were the superior race That was sent to civilize us.

‘God save the Queen!’ But don’t save their people. Down came our shikhara And up went his steeple. The white man came to my country And left with red hands. The white man came to my country And left no longer a man. Ma Ganga: The Sacred Ganges

Ridhi Kotecha

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dating profile

for all you chewbacca fans out there looking for some indian spice xoxo if you love vindaloo, then this bearded cunt is for you. hairy fem dom on the side- want me to tie you up with my pit hair whilst I fuck the patriarchy out of you? don’t worry it’s not unhygienic i bathe in curry.

Sonia Thakurdesai

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Photo Credit: Sonia Thakurdesai

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Photo Credit: Florence Basse

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Patric with fellow Drama students, after their final assessed performance ‘Practical Essay’ at the RAMM Exeter, March 2019.

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Alumni Starting at Exeter as an excited “fresh”, after two long years of A-Levels, I can honestly say that I was not expecting to come out of the other end having taken such a journey within myself, and my very identity. When I was applying to study at Exeter, I had come across a multitude of opinions on various forums and social media websites about the university itself. I was aware that I would be stepping from the comfort of a multiracial sixth form to a university where I would be a minority. A place where my race would make me stand out. Unsurprisingly, the comforts of living in a diverse city like London were slowly stripped away as I began settling into life at uni. Both course life and university life had their unique challenges. I found myself delving deeper into theatre craft but often it felt like it was from a Eurocentric gaze – I eagerly awaited for people who looked like me to appear on a lecture slide. Wider university life also found me sometimes feeling a little alien, most significantly in casual conversation where I realised that even culturally, I was different from the overwhelming majority. It wasn’t until my second year, as the element of personalisation through module choice became more prevalent, that I began exploring my own identity. I was lucky enough to enrol onto my first-choice modules in both second and third year. It was within these modules, particularly those in culture, choreography and Black British theatre, that I began to explore my blackness within the framework of academia. My own perception of theatre being a traditionally white space was challenged, and then dismantled. I was allowed to think and grow beyond my preconceptions and it allowed me to come out the other end more wellrounded and with even more questions to explore. It was even within the simple pleasures of deconstructing the very idea of museums or reading plays by Black British playwrights like Roy Williams, Arinzé Kene, Kwame Kwei-Armah, debbie tucker green, Bola Agbaje and so many more. I realised that the independence of university meant that it was partially up to me to expose myself to these topics and tailor my learning to fit my own needs for development. This all culminated with my dissertation; an exploration of how an underground culture created by queer black and latinx people in 1980s America, spoke on identity and how performative it was. I was also lucky enough to be part of a group that put together a piece based in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum that explored the idea of Britishness

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from different lenses, focusing mainly on topics like migration, journeys, family, preservation and artefacts. By expanding my horizons, I was also able to see the existence of stories of people like me on stage; The Barbershop Chronicles, Antony & Cleopatra, The Scottsboro Boys, Misty, The Brothers Size, Revelations by Alvin Ailey, as just some examples. Before the pandemic, I had tickets booked for Monsoon Wedding and Small Island for over the summer, as well as newer writing like Jeremy O. Harris’ Daddy at the Almeida. Studying Drama at Exeter gave me the foundation to think critically and delve deeper, but it also gave me the confidence and independence to explore my own interests with curiosity. This course is truly what you make of it. With a handful of transferrable skills and the ability to sell ideas and present myself, as well as my own thoughts, I managed to successfully find a job in the fashion industry. Since graduting in 2019, I have been working as a Buyer’s Assistant for an online retailer. The course was challenging, and at times even harder as a black man at an institution that has traditionally been very white. It did, however, stretch me enough to really tackle these issues head on and it gave me the time to think and explore – for that I am grateful. This year has been a real catalyst for change and I’m already aware of some changes happening within the university, specifically within societies, to build a place that is more inclusive and diverse. I’m thankful for these pioneers who are driving great change. My time at Exeter was truly life-changing.

Patric Basse BA Drama, Class of 2019

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Photo Credit: Florence Basse

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Turning Tides I used to be scared of dogs. I love dogs, All kinds of dogs, My favourite type are staffies, pit bulls and Akita’s. Street staffies, Misunderstood pit bulls, Big squashed-face, half-bear looking, and generally awe inspiring akitas. Monoliths. Shake the earth as they strut. I used to be scared of dogs. I’m not anymore, Not now. It’s like a small victory against an oppressor. Mastering the sword they used to strike you with. Turning the reins onto them. Embracing the thing that once struck fear into your heart. Ruffling the ears now, You would notice when they pricked up. Stood up like the lead in your pencil, as you pen the words now. With not an ounce of that dread you once felt. Hiding on countertops, Climbing the walls, Pulling the corners of the room over you like a blanket, A shield, Terrified, Scanning the room for help, A friendly face, A care giver.

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Instead you find a jesting onlooker. Goading the dogs to jump higher, Bark louder, Run faster, Play bite, Play fight, Keep me awake at night, Wondering why he didn’t help.

Don’t be soft, In these turning tides Your tears will freeze over, And they will use them as ice picks against you.

I used to be scared of dogs. Not now.

I used to be scared. Not now.

I interlock my fingers in their fur as a reminder. I ground myself in unwavering comfort. Where their cells end, mine begin.

Embrace those you don’t know, like you have always known them. Grab their hand, hold it there and walk with them. Remind yourself there is beauty in this life. This world is gentle, you might not see it now. Smile, even though it hurts. Kiss them, stroke their face, the tides are turning in your favour.

I used to be scared of dogs. Not now. I notice now how easily fear is imparted, How easily he told me to run, How easily they told you to hide, How easily they tell us beware, Whip us up in a frenzy of fear. Slapstick headlines. Go to the pub now, Have a few beers, Argue with your mates about the immigrants, Argue with your mates about the family down the street, The woman that lies with another woman, The person who doesn’t fit inside the box, The sex worker that is studying for a degree, Argue with your mates about threats they pose. How easily he laughed. They’re coming here on boats, They’re stealing our jobs, Don’t trust that little boy crying there. The threat of violence is never far away, Don’t stray away from the lines.

They say the pendulum must swing the other way. It’s your time now.

Maya de Freitas BA Drama, Class of 2017

Alumni

We were once both pawns in a game. Both used with as much regard as a match, Served a purpose, After the fire, Discarded. Make him feel more like a man.

I am your father, I made you. How little he cared.

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Photo Credit: Nubuke Amoah


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Cover

Sophia El-Salahi

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Idris Yana

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Freepik - Kamimiart

16-17

Nubuke Amoah

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Unsplash - Muillu

20-21

Nubuke Amoah

23

Daniel Khaled

24-31

Sophia El-Salahi

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Nubuke Amoah

36-37

Nubuke Amoah

41

Charice Bhardwaj

42-43

Nubuke Amoah

44-47

Bryar Bajalan

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Aska Osmani

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Bryar Bajalan

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Bryar Bajalan

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Pexels - Polina Tankilevitch

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Nubuke Amoah

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The Berkley Graphic Design Co.

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Sonia Thakurdesai

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Florence Basse

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Florence Basse

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Nubuke Amoah

Credits

Photography Credits

Written content created by students of the University of Exeter. Editors and further contributions by Jerri Daboo, Charice Bhardwaj, Sharanya Murali, and Alix Harris. Design by The Berkley Graphic Design Co.

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