Me, Myself and My Blog

Hi. I’m Claire Bale. Welcome to my blog.

A space for openness, honesty, discussion and learning. A space where no subject is taboo and no question’s a stupid question. Where I, as a British, mixed race woman in her 40s, explore some of the subjects whizzing around my head, at a time when I’ve never known so much discourse and discovery about race.

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And still we rise

A couple of weeks ago, Meghan Markle released the latest episode of her podcast, Archetypes, just as she does every Tuesday. This one was about the angry Black woman trope and it set Twitter on fire even more than anything else because of the use of my favourite poem of all time, Maya Angelou’s And Still I Rise.

I tweeted my feelings about it, and got a stronger response than I’ve ever had on Twitter before. A couple of trolls yes, but overwhelmingly, retweets from women of colour who resonated with my comment ‘if you know, you know.’ We all feel seen by the words of that iconic poem.

The podcast, Maya’s words, the Twittersphere, it all got me thinking….why have I always loved that poem so much? Why do I feel so strongly about supporting Meghan? And why does the combination of the two make the hairs on the back of my neck rise and tears spring to my eyes?

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Social Me-dia

A personal perspective on how social media works for me.

I had a healthy debate about social media the other day. My conversation partner – someone who has a distaste for grinning selfies and show offs. Myself – a fan of the more meaningful side of Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and their bedfellows.

How do you use social media?

Mindless scrolling to switch off at the end of the day? A way to keep connected to friends and family? To keep up to date with the news? For tuition on how to care for your hair type? (that’s definitely me!)

It’s a part of life that’s not going anywhere, let’s face it, so here’s how I recommend you use it if you, like me, are on a journey of anti-racism.

These are the elements that make social media about so much more than selfies and show offs.

  • Diversity – it’s the easiest way to see all walks of life on a regular basis. A beautiful and varied community is at your finger tips.
  • Representation – it’s also a simple way to find people like you if you’re part of a minority group and don’t often find others like yourself in every day life. If you ever feel that you don’t belong, you can find a place on social media and follow people like you doing great things, overcoming challenges, and just being in the world.
  • Guidance – finding bookstagram was like winning the lottery for me! A great example of social media providing guidance and recommendations, in my case, books!
  • Keeping current – I rarely read traditional newspapers, I’m too aware of their biases. Do you? Or do you, like me, find out the basics of what’s happening in the world through social media, and go deeper into the stories that you choose to investigate further?
  • And keeping in touch – if you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know how important my network is to me. Social media is a great way to stay connected, to show my support for them, and to feel their support too.

So how do you use social media as an anti-racist tool? Here are my top tips.

  • Follow a range of people – of all ethnicities, backgrounds, points of view (yes, that includes those you strongly disagree with!)
  • Learn others’ stories – understand their experiences and take yourself out of your circle.
  • Be active in your support – engage with those who are trying to make a difference. Answer their polls. Comment on their questions. Share their posts.
  • Exercise your critical thinking muscles – challenge what you see, explore alternative points of view, don’t just take it as read.
  • Keep talking – use what you learn to inform conversations. Provide evidence against prejudiced points of view, back up your arguments with the expertise you find online, strike up a conversation about something interesting you’ve read.

In many ways, social media is a way to build the five key anti-racist skills I explained in one of my previous posts, The Big Five. It helps to develop empathy and self awareness; critical thinking; communication skills; self-education and allyship.

Of course, my favourite, is that it gets people talking. But what’s new there?

Meghan, the Media and the Mania

I see #MeghanMarkle is still trending on Twitter, two weeks after her visit to Britain for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. What a frenzy it caused having a mixed-race woman step back onto British soil after choosing to leave us and our media behind.

I remember the emotional weight of learning Meghan’s story last year. You may remember I touched on it in my post Accepta-black, where I reflected on who is deemed acceptable in British society. It seems the fairer your skin, the closer to received pronunciation your accent, and the less fuss you cause, the closer to “ok” you get as a person who’s not white.

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Adultification – More than a Child can Handle

I’ve been building up to this post for a while. The Child Q case was one of those instances that really shook me. Anti-racist work is hard. There are particular instances that knock you for six. And this was one of those times.

But, this work is bigger than me. And this case has opened up many important conversations about an extremely significant type of racism that we all need to understand if we’re going to drive change.

Adultification bias is defined as “a form of racial prejudice where children of minority groups are treated as being more mature than they actually are.” In other words, the world sees Black kids as older than they really are.

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Take a few moments to imagine….

You’re at home. In the neighbourhood you’ve lived in your whole life. Your Mum lives around the corner. Your old school friends are all within walking distance. The shopkeeper knows your name…..

A new family moves in next door to you. They’re thrilled to have bought a big house in such a cheap area. But they don’t approve of your local shops, take-outs, your skin colour and all the connotations that come with it….…

Ok. You can brush that off. No big deal.

But then, their best friends move in on the other side of your house. They look just like them, and nothing like you.

And then their business partner moves in across the street. Followed by their neighbours from their old (‘it was lovely, pleasant, quiet, safe, you know? But it was sooooo expensive.’) And on it goes…….

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What’s Your 2022 Word?

The start of ’22 has seen lots of self declarations of people’s “word of the year”. One of the most inspiring I’ve seen is in the beautiful book by Paula Sutton, Hill House Vintage. (I bought this book for my Mum for Xmas and read the whole thing myself on Boxing Day.) Her word is “Yes” – and it meant a lot me.

By making “Yes” her word, Paula has committed to following any opportunity that comes her way.

Not overthinking things. And not planning things too far ahead. Just going for it.

It got me thinking about what I want out of 2022. And I think my word is going to be “growth”. Here are the reasons why.

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Strong Enough?

Hi everyone. Happy New Year and welcome to 2022. Blimey, 2021 was another toughie wasn’t it?!

How did everyone get on over the festive period? I hope you’re feeling well and ready for this coming year. Whatever your goals I hope you reach them.

In my last post, Self Care Survival, I shared some of my strategies for looking after ourselves. It was prompted by the challenges of the festive season, but we all know that self care is for life not just for Christmas, even if we’re not perfect at practicing it.

Today, I’m collecting my thoughts on how we might define what is is to be “strong”. It’s a follow up from Self Care Survival. By looking after ourselves, through reflection, rest and recharge, we grow stronger. It’s inspired by some of the books I’ve read (always with the books…I know, I know), the things I’ve learnt and the role models I’m surrounded by.

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Self Care Survival

This time of year often gets busy. It can get tricky too – emotions surface about the last year, overwhelm about to do lists and social events rears its ugly head, there might be disappointment about the things you thought you’d accomplish but didn’t…the list goes on.

It’s no wonder there are a lot of articles out there about self care. It’s Important. And it’s not something many of us are any good at.

I’ve been thinking about self care for people who work in Diversity and Inclusion. It’s a tough gig. And it’s crucial we look after ourselves if we’re going to keep treading this long, long path towards equality.

Each time a person of colour delivers, or takes part in, training about Diversity and Inclusion, it’s involuntary therapy. They find themselves having to face into the injustices of life, the trauma they’ve experienced, their families’ history, their children’s futures. Every time they read a news report about racism, they have to accept that we’re a million miles away from racial justice. They’re forced to reconcile with the fact that the work their putting their heart and soul into may only be making the tiniest of differences, if any. Each instance of gaslighting they witness, trolling they experience, or lack of interest is is like a slap in the face.

Yeah, it’s a tough gig. But we keep going.

So today’s post is a quick reminder of some of the fundamentals of self care – the ones I’ve valued the most along my personal journey towards antiracism.

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The one and the many

Antiracism is my passion. Getting more people talking about race is my mission. (Along with reading books and drinking tea.)

But it’s impossible to work towards racial justice without also striving for equality for all people.

The Equality Act of 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on these nine protected characteristics.

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Covid Questions

Wow! I haven’t wrottien since 26th August. That’s the longest I’ve gone without talking to you guys since I started Oo! That’s A Bit Racey! just over a year ago.

Covid hit me quite hard at the start of September. While I was lucky, I didn’t have horendous symptoms, it did knock me for six, and it’s only in the last week or so that the fog has lifted and my energy levels have come back up to speed.

It’s weird, and scary, having covid. After spending 18 months reading about it, trying to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, you have it. Your loved ones are at risk. You can’t leave the house for ten days. You’re fears have come true!

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