17 Years Ago – When the World Changed

Where were you 17 years ago?

Image result for 9/11 never forget

I may not be an American, but this day seventeen years ago, I remember all too well.

Seventeen years ago, I was ill.

I recall laying in my bed with the TV on. My Pops, who was still practising as a dentist, came running into my room and changed the channel to the news, where there were videos being played on replay, of a plane hitting one of New York#s Twin Towers.

I looked on in horror as we saw the second one being targeted by another aircraft.

It wasn’t long before the claims came from Al-Qaida and Bin Laden that they had been responsible for this loathsome act. The news was pouring in of the devastation, the death tolls were rising by the minute…

It was two months before our wedding. Hubby Dearest had just started a new job, in Central London, Canary Wharf.

The news then reported that Canary Wharf was on high alert as there had been reports that something was going to happen there.

I phoned him, wanting to know he was okay, that they were all okay.

It was a day that the world as we knew it changed.

A day that fear was born in the hearts and minds of many who had been previously unaware of conflicts and differences.

A day that made many begin to look at their fellow citizens with different eyes.

Suddenly, your friendly brown-skinned neighbour was looked at suspiciously, a woman with her head covered was feared, the calls to prayer that previously were celebrated, as a multicultural community, were quietened for fear of backlashes.

A whole new prejudice was born.

Since then there has been so much, with groups like Al-Qaida, and ISIS causing devastation in many countries, the UK, France, Belgium to name but a few.

Thankfully many people now see beyond religion as a motive. They don’t tar all Muslims with the same brush, understanding that those who follow Islam truly, are abhorrent of these few who are taking Allah’s name in vain.

But there are still plenty who are like a dog with a bone.

Any brown face is to be treated with caution; if they have turbans or headscarves, well then they must be part of these terrorist groups. There is no attempt to educate. Which is why so many innocents have been racially abused, attacked or killed, because someone thinks they are a terrorist.

I don’t need to step far away from my own background, where we have had Sikhs vilified because they wear turbans (because Bin Laden had something wrapped around his head, so that means all people with things on their head must be Muslim. Er no, As a Sikh our turban is a symbol of our religion, Sikhism…). And uneducated ex-army personnel targeting a Gurdwara, killing innocent worshippers because he didn’t know this was a Gurdwara, not a Mosque (not that that would have made the attack right).

It’s a shame that there is one such individual who got elected to President in the USA…

God help America.

And as for today, may we all remember those who lost their lives 17 years ago and remember those who have lost their lives in all the subsequent attacks over these seventeen years. Innocents, who had nothing to do with the selfish, ridiculous battles that have raged on. And those heroes who have stepped up in these horrible times, sacrificing their own lives in the process.

May they Rest In Peace.

And may our world regain some semblance of compassion, and sense, and stop these senseless attacks from happening.

An updated repost of an old article.

Brown Skinned and British – #Manchester

I’m brown skinned and British
That’s what I am
Don’t label me by colour
Just see me, if you can
Don’t question my religion
Beliefs don’t mean a thing
Cos in the grander scheme of life
I’m jus’ a human being
So I may pray quite differently
And eat other types of food
But to label me a terrorist
You know that’s kinda rude
Get to know me, talk to me
And then I guess you’ll see
That there ain’t no difference
Between you an’ me
We need to live in harmony
And celebrate our quirks
Jus’ please don’t judge me
By the deeds of other jerks

Ritu 2015

IMG_20170507_213005_358

I’m lucky I haven’t experienced racism because of the acts of terrorism around the world, but I know of many innocent people who have been labelled, who have suffered because of their colour, and beliefs… Beliefs that don’t condone the acts of those who use the name of God to destroy lives.

These are just my words in solidarity with the majority of brown skinned British, who are just as horrified as their pink-skinned countrymen.

After the attack on Monday night in Manchester, we have heard of many acts of ‘revenge’ on innocent muslims who are just as horrified by the goings on of that night. But they are just like all the other Brits out there…

DON’T JUDGE FIRST….TAKE TIME TO LEARN A LITTLE… THEN MAKE YOUR JUDGEMENTS.

Peace out Peeps 😊

A poem from my book, Poetic RITUals, that is extremely apt this week… (available myBook.to/PoeticRITUals)

Author Zone, Ritu Bhathal, Poetic Rituals, Writer

Sad But True…

Britain seems to be losing its Great…

I didn’t ever think I would be at the receiving  end… (don’t know why) but today I experienced my first Brexit fuelled racist verbal abuse. .. surrounded by 3-4 year olds who were subjected to an f-word fuelled tirade…by a large -bottle of -cider-swigging gentleman in Margate.  

Lovely. 

A child had chucked a stone up and narrowly missed him. I understand his frustration and had this child’s mother seen him, it wouldn’t have happened. 

But you know, kids will be kids. 

He started by shouting that “You lot should keep an eye on your kids. He nearly hit me with a rock! ”  then, seeing me and another Indian mother, said “And why don’t you go back where you came from!” 

The other surrounding parents, my class’s lovely parents, were predominantly English by chance. 

That’s it!  

They were on the case straight away! 

“What you talking about. We’re All English here!” 

That started him off f-ing and blinding, with no care whose innocent ears he was offending. 

A Bay Attendant was there and he saw the whole thing, went up to this lovely gentleman then came down to us apologising. 

He was aware of the stone throwing but was appalled at the man’s language.

Obviously  it was not a good place to sit and drink cider… he moved on.

All I shall say is “Britain, where’s the Great?”

…but you’re ok…

Racism…

I don’t really think I’ve ever been a victim. Well, there’s not any real incident that I can recall in my 40 years on this planet, that makes me fume and think, “How offensive! Someone’s just been racist to me!”

Then I think a little deeper. It’s not always just cut and dried, is it? I can clearly recall a conversation at 6th form, when the girls in my class were 16-18, starting the whole pub/club social life, and a certain girl, who I always got on well with, was commenting on the cab drivers they always seemed to get. “And they are always those greasy p***s! [to me] but you’re ok!”

All through my school life I was a minority. In a private girls school, and for most of the time, I was the only coloured skinned girl. A meek, quiet little Sikh girl. I’d never experienced any differentiation from my classmates and friends, though as we got older, most assumed that Ritu wouldn’t be out in the evenings (which was true, I was a good Indian girl!)

So, that comment, I laughed off, saying that geographically that was incorrect anyway, I was not Pakistani! And then I didn’t really think much of it… But, some people may have taken extreme offence to the comment.

Again, cultural stereotyping hit when I went out with some old work colleagues for the first time. So, we were showing party tricks, and when it was my turn, I, ahem, showed a lovely way of folding your napkin, to make it look like a male appendage (flesh coloured napkins made it all the more effective!) and someone exclaimed, “Ritu! We thought you were a good Indian girl!” Well, actually, yes, I am, but I’m also human too, born and bred here in the UK, grown up with the same surroundings as your average Brit ( with the Indian/Kenyan masala thrown in!)

I’ve always been taught to be a tolerant person, educate the ignorant. If someone has a question, however silly, about my culture or religion, I’m happy to answer it, if I can. I’d rather someone felt they could come to me and ask why my ‘people’ wear those things on their head, or what am I wearing that bangle on my wrist for? Or my favourite, ” How come you have so many uncles/aunties/brothers/sisters?” (Extended Indian family! A great thing! One to post about later,me thinks!)

My best friend, and someone I think of as a big sister, is Muslim, and over the years we had many comments thrown our way, about how come a Sikh girl and Muslim girl could be so close… Why not? I’d ask. We’re all human. I don’t check people’s cv’s before befriending them! Her family are like my own, (yes, I know, as if my extended family isn’t big enough already!) and when I go there, I respect their beliefs, as she does ours when she’s with us.

After 9/11, again, I didn’t really feel any negativity, but my Dear Pops, with his turban, had a few small incidents, where the ignorants assume all turban wearing Sikhs were Muslim like Bin Laden. And my brother, with his huge mixed bag of friends, seemed safe, out and about. Had he been in a group of Asian lads though, it might not have been the same.

Maybe we’ve been out, and someone has thrown an off colour remark in our direction, but I think selective hearing just kicks in, as I just tend to smile at the person and carry on whatever I’m doing.

So, have I experienced racism? I’m not sure… Ignorance definitely, but with a smile and with my words, I hope I have helped some people along the way, educated them so they don’t ‘tar’ all communities with the same brush used for a select few (extremists anyone? From any/every religion/culture)

Your thoughts….

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