i’m 6 years old, walking to school with my dad, chattering happily, when he says ‘stop blabbering in Sinhalese, speak English’
So this is my entry for this week’s Simplypotterheads Ollivander’s Challenge! I...
The answer is complex.
To me, you can never give enough or be good enough for...
“Teachers have held up Helen Keller, the blind and deaf girl who overcame her physical handicaps, as an inspiration to generations of schoolchildren. Every fifth grader knows the scene in which Anne Sullivan spells water into young Helen’s hand at the pump. At least a dozen movies and filmstrips have been made on Keller’s life. Each yields its version of the same cliche. A McGraw-Hill educational film concludes: “The gift of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan to the world is to constantly remind us of the wonder of the world around us and how much we owe those though taught us what it means, for there is no person that is unworthy or incapable of being helped, and the greatest service any person can make is to help another reach true potential.”
To draw such a bland maxim from the life of Helen Keller, historians and filmmakers have disregarded her actual biography and left out the lessons she specifically asked us to learn from it. Keller, who struggled so valiantly to learn to speak, has been made mute by history…Keller, who was born in 1880, graduated from Radcliffe in 1904 and died in 1968. To ignore the sixty-four years of her adult life or to encapsulate them with the single word humanitarian is to lie by omission.
The truth is that Helen Keller was a radical socialist. She joined the Socialist Party of Massachusetts in 1909…Keller’s commitment to socialism stemmed from her experience as a disabled person and from her sympathy for others with handicaps. She began by working to simplify the alphabet for the blind, but soon came to realise that to deal solely with blindness was to treat symptom, not cause. Through research she learned that blindness was not distributed randomly throughout the population but was concentrated in the lower class. Men who were poor might be blinded in industrial accidents or by inadequate medical care; poor women who became prostitutes faced the additional danger of syphilitic blindness. Thus Keller learned how the social class system controls people’s opportunities in life, sometimes determining even whether they can see. Keller’s research was not just book learning: ”I have visited sweatshops, factories, crowded slums. If I could not see it, I could smell it.”
At the time Keller became a socialist, she was one of the most famous women on the planet. She soon became the most notorious. Her conversion to socialism caused a new storm of publicity—this time outraged….Typical was the editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, who wrote that Keller’s “mistakes spring out of the manifest limitations of her developement.”
Keller recalled having met this editor: ”At that time the compliments he paid me were so generous that I blush to remember them. But now that I have come out for socialism he reminds me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially liable to error. I must have shrunk in intelligence in the years since I met him.” She went on, “Oh ridiculous Brooklyn Eagle! Socially blind and deaf, it defends an intolerable system, a system that is the cause of much of the physical blindness and deafness which we are trying to prevent.”
Keller, who devoted much of her later life to raising funds for the American Foundation for the Blind, never wavered in her belief that our society needed radical change. Having herself fought so hard to speak, she helped found the American Civil Liberties Union to fight for the free speech of others. She sent $100 to the NAACP with a letter of support that appeared in its magazine The Crisis—a radical act for a white person from Alabama in the 1920s. She supported Eugene V. Debs, the Socialist candidate, in each of his compaigns for the presidency. She composed essays on the women’s movement, on politics, on economics…
One may not agree with Helen Keller’s positions. Her praise of the USSR now seems naive, embarrassing, even treasonous. But she was a radical—a fact few Americans know, because our schooling and our mass media left it out.`
-Lies My Teacher Told Me - James W. Loewen, 2007
READ THE WHOLE THING!!!
At least 10% of parents of young children skip or delay routine vaccinations, often out of concern that kids are getting “too many shots, too soon.”
A new study finds that children who receive the full schedule of vaccinations have no increased risk of autism.
“This is a very important and reassuring study,” says Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer at Autism Speaks, who wasn’t involved in the new paper. “This study shows definitively that there is no connection between the number of vaccines that children receive in childhood, or the number of vaccines that children receive in one day, and autism.”
Primary source here.
I immigrated to the UK in 2004, when I was 8 years old, with my parents and my four year old brother. England was this mythical, magical land that I had always dreamed about where everything was perfect and I would be happy.I was born in Pakistan, but my parents are both from the Indian side of Kashmir. My paternal grandfather served in the British Army and was deployed in what is now Pakistan when the border closed. He and my grandmother found themselves stranded in a foreign country, with limited grasp of the language and hundreds of miles away from their family with no hope of ever going back. The story for my maternal grandparents is different in the details, but essentially the same.Fast forward 60 years and we are on a plane, dreaming of a new life, with new opportunities. I was too young then to properly understand the discrimination my parents and grandparents had faced for their faith. Part of a Muslim sect that is a minority and regularly persecuted in Pakistan, my parents not only felt that immigrating to Britain would grant us, their children, many more opportunities, it would also mean that we could practice our faith in peace. Here was a country welcoming us with open arms, with no restrictions on what we could and could not believe in. My parents jumped at the chance.Even at the age of 8 I was old enough to get the general picture. Pakistanis systematically oppress people of my faith. They are demoted from their jobs, put in prison without any judicial process, and sometimes even killed. They are regularly discriminated against. No person of my faith has ever gained a position of authority in Pakistan. In fact, the only Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate is not acknowledged in most schools due to his faith. His grave was even vandalized a couple of years ago. Can you imagine? I am old enough to understand it all now. My Pakistani passport explicitly states my religious sect and this prohibits me from performing pilgrimage to Makkah. Pakistan’s CONSTITUTION includes Ordinance XX, an ordinance that restricts freedom of religion and has been called to be repealed by the United Nations. People in Pakistan openly and regularly discriminate against Ahmadis, believing truly that violence against us will grant them a place in paradise. It’s only now that I remember my mama sitting me down one day when I asked her why I don’t see any of my friends at mosque, and explaining why I shouldn’t tell people who I am. I remember the look on her face when the owners of one house we rented made us leave when they found out our religion. I remember my daddy coming home exhausted every night, always receiving less of all of the company benefits than the rest of them, even though he was their senior and more qualified.So I began to hate my identity. I hated Pakistan and what it represented for me. I hated the cursive lines of Urdu and the way it sounded in my mouth. Whenever anybody asked me where I was from, I would point to Kashmir on a map, a land I have never seen or set foot on. Our move to England only strengthened that belief.Then one day on an English playground a boy laughed at the way I spoke, my pronunciation of the word “war” with a “v” was hilarious and so weird and for the first time I felt those feelings of rejection yet again. I was bullied for being one of two brown kids in the whole school. I was the typical Indian/Asian stereotype: submissive, smart and to top it all off I wore my long hair in a braid, and brought curry to school for lunch. My mama and my baba were working constantly because we were receiving no welfare benefits, we had immigrated on a skilled migrant program and we had to survive on our own. My mama would walk from one side of town to the other with us to our primary school, no matter the weather because we couldn’t afford a car. We’d wake up when it was dark and we’d get home when it was dark. We worked hard and at one point, my dad had to have a major operation for a neurological disorder (hydrocephalus) and was without a job. We lived off barely nothing for six months. And yet still people called us “dirty immigrants stealing our jobs and our money” and “living off our taxes” when we hadn’t received a single penny from the government, assuming we were asylum seekers. One time me, my brother and my mother got on a bus and a woman loudly said “it smells like curry in here, I hate that f*cking smell”. Racism was something I had never experienced before.It felt like no matter what I did, no matter where I went, I wouldn’t be able to escape this feeling of rejection for being WHO I WAS. So most of my teenage years I spent being disconnected from my culture. My friends were mostly white and I felt like they couldn’t (and wouldn’t) understand a lot of my culture. I was trying so hard to fit in, not bringing curries to school and anglicizing my name. In my head, I felt like I was white too. I rejected my culture, referred to any religious festival as a “religious thing” and any cultural object as a “cultural thing”. I didn’t realise how ashamed I was of my culture and religion and therefore, of myself.And then a couple of years ago my mama got made “redundant” from her job. She was the only one, and no other cuts were made to the whole staff. It gets interesting here, because she was the only POC working there. Next thing you know, she’s checking job sites and there’s an application from her employer FOR HER EXACT SAME JOB HE MADE REDUNDANT. I realised then that it wasn’t going to get better. I wasn’t going to be taken as “white” and “English” because every time someone looks at me, it is obvious to see that I am not. I will never, at first glance, be English to someone, no matter how badly I wanted to identify as that. My mama filed a lawsuit against the company that took two years and was settled out of court. She told me every detail, every microaggression she had faced at work every single day and it broke my heart. It could make the most peaceful person violent, hearing about how badly some f*ckers treat your mama just for being brown. I wanted to burn them all on the stake. I wrote it all down, trying to be as articulate as I could because she said her English wasn’t good enough, while I felt my heart break and my empathy for them dissolve. My mama is a graduate, she has spoken English from age 6. And yet these people, made her feel like she couldn’t speak, couldn’t articulate her thoughts except for at home. How must it feel, I thought, to think in one language and speak in another, and yet still have people make fun of you? To be trapped every day inside your own head, people deliberately misunderstanding what you’ve said just to spite you? I understood what my parents had done then. They had been discriminated against before, but that was different because it was their home and their people and their language. They had given up everything: their family, their home, everything they had ever known for us. They had given us everything, and I was repaying them by rejecting what they held most dear.Now I have embraced the culture of my parents and my ancestors, and I realise how beautiful and special it is, but I am still in limbo. The countries I belong to do not want me. It is in light of terrorist acts by extremists in both countries that I realise that I am not wanted anywhere. And it tears me apart trying to figure out where I belong. A part of me is Pakistani by birth, by culture and by language. Another part of me is English, the majority of my life now I have lived in England - so much so that my thoughts are in English. Yet another part of me is Kashmiri, wholly longing for the land my grandmother described as “paradise” and wearing pheran and drinking Kashmiri chai at Eid.Cultural identity is a difficult, constantly evolving thing. I don’t know where exactly I belong yet, but reading the stories of other immigrant kids and how they have faced adversity is inspiring and humbling. I feel a lot less alone because of you all sharing your stories, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you for sharing this. You are amazing!