One thing that’s becoming more prominent to me since leaving Islām is just how Arabocentric it is. As a muslim I’d been made to believe Islām was a universalist religion that gave no priority to any cultural/ ethnic/ national background over any other, and that Allah chose Muhammad to be his final prophet for the world because Continue reading Islām & Illustrious “Arab” Ancestry™
Thulasi is a Dalit, a girl from the lowest rung of the antiquated caste system in India. If you’re not familiar with the dangers of being an “untouchable”, this piece by Dalit artist and filmmaker Thenmozhi Soundararajan paints an accurate and bleak picture. “Your family’s caste determines the whole of your life – your job, your level of spiritual purity and your social standing,” she explains. “We live in a caste apartheid with separate villages, places of worship, and even schools. It is a lethal system where, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, four Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered, and two Dalit homes are torched every day.” (Sadly, the incidence of sexual abuse among women in India stretches much further.)
Unwilling to follow a set path laid out by her country or society, 24-year-old Thulasi sees herself as a free bird fleeing from marital subservience, the “jail life” as she calls it. Boxing, a passion for more than 10 years, is her ticket to brighter days. She is in a race against time to win selection for the national games and secure a well-paid job through a national program for athletes, before she reaches her 25th birthday. The training is gruelling, an injury threatens to knock her off course and those in charge at her local boxing club seem less than supportive. Something is amiss.
Apparently, “talent is all you need to succeed” at the club, according to the head official at the Tamil Nadu State Amateur Boxing Association. And Thulasi has it in abundance: we learn that she has already defeated five-time world champion Mary Kom. However as the story unfolds we realise that these women must be willing to give a little more than that behind closed doors.
Away from the ring, Thulasi is living hand to mouth with a surrogate family, adrift from her own. “I walked out of my house because I refused to get my religion changed along with other family members,” she later explained to The Hindu. “My parents were unhappy about my decision and I had to leave. There were times when I would get back home late and there would be lechers making a pass at me. I would beat them up. No one should ever question the strength of a woman, boxer or otherwise.”
When this defiance threatens to deny her a fresh start and alienate her even more, we are left wondering whether resistance is futile for an impoverished woman living in a patriarchal state of India. But Thulasi is an indomitable spirit – taking on a male-dominated society in a male-dominated sport – and you can’t help but have faith in her to find a way through. The signs are encouraging: now a trainer at a gym called Combat Kinetics, she plans to open her own boxing club one day.
New generations using sport to overcome financial, political and class handicaps have often made excellent subject matter for filmmakers. Sons of Cuba immediately springs to mind. And like all good documentaries, Like Fly, Fly High makes us care about the star – we’re rooting for her from the off. First-time directors Beathe Hofseth and Susann Østigaard let the drama of everyday life take hold – employing a fly-on-the-wall style with minimal narration – never once trying to heavy-handedly disparage a character or engineer tension. The struggle for freedom and progress is something that we can all identify with, wherever we come from. Thulasi is a compelling subject, commanding the screen in any number of situations: contemplating life on her bed, debating the subject of marriage with surrogate mother Helenma or throwing lefts and rights in the ring.
Inspired by Miriam Dalsgaard’s photo essay about female boxers in India, Hofseth and Østigaard began thinking about making a film as early as 2005 but it wasn’t until they met Thulasi at Nehru stadium in 2010 that they realised they had to make this film. So off they went on a three-year journey to tell her story, during which time they witnessed a troubled girl becoming a confident young woman. Their ability to capture candid moments about corruption and sexual abuse (a huge taboo) is very impressive, but as they explained at a recent event, their star was always determined to change the world by being true to herself…
“In one of the very first interviews we did with Thulasi, she told us that in India most girls sit on the back of their father’s, brother’s or husband’s motorbikes. But one day she was going to drive her very own bike, so that Indian father´s could look at her and realize what their daughters are capable of. She said she wanted to show people that there doesn’t have to be a difference between boys and girls. The fact that Thulasi herself wanted to be a role model to others is what eventually made us decide that we wanted to make a documentary about her. Thulasi is a feminist, without even knowing the meaning of that word, she has a message and we felt that her voice deserved to be heard.”
That interview obviously made a huge impression on the directors. Look at the opening and closing moments of the film and you’ll see what I mean. Highly recommended and compelling to the core.
‘Light Fly, Fly High’, winner of the 2013 Oxfam Global Justice Award and the Best Documentary award at the 2014 One World Media Awards, will be shown at selected film festivals throughout the summer. For forthcoming screenings, click here.
(based mainly on David Mac Ritchie’s Ancient and Modern Britons Volume 1, ISBN 9781592322251)
In keeping with accuracy, Britain does not mean just England. I mean it as synonymous with British Isles (the collective name of the island containing England, Scotland & Wales – what used to be called Albion/ Prettania/ Brettania/ Alouíōn), Ireland (Northern & Republic – what used to be called Ierne/ Hibernia/ Iouernía), and the surrounding smaller islands.
When I first heard of this book I knew I wanted it. Now I’ve got it, it’s quickly becoming one of the most fascinating books on ‘race’ I’ve ever read. Mac Ritchie was a ‘white’ Scottish historian & folklorist, yet the information he delivers will probably be nothing short of miraculous to ‘black’ people interested in ‘black’ history.
Disclaimer: As informative as it is, it must be remembered it was written in the 1800s before knowledge of DNA was available to corroborate. It was also the time when scientific racism was at its peak. I just present this info as a potentially useful guideline and insight into the mindset of the past. If you want to see how true the claims are, please do your own research to independently verify.
You read that correctly. There have been all sorts of theories as to why discrimination towards women seems so pervasive and near-universal, and from where it comes from to begin with. But a crude farming tool is by far the most interesting and unexpected origin. As the Economist – my most cherished and regularly read source – recently reported, a team of economists, of all people, set out to prove that the adoption of the plow coincided with a change of attitudes towards women that persists to this day.
Specifically, a move towards large-scale and labor-intensive agriculture – defined by the adoption of the heavy plow – created an economic system in which one’s physical strength and endurance became a major basis for productivity, and they key to society’s survival. Men were naturally more adept in this new function, and from this crucial role they would subsequently come to dominate…
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They say London is a bubble
A cosmopolitan melting hub of cultures, colours, tongues
But something feels wrong
An intangible crown of barbed wire wrapped round my head
An intangible coat of shackles round my torso
Cleverly leaving limbs free to move
To make me think I’m getting somewhere
To make me think I’m handling shit
But I can see the signs.
This empire is imploding,
Every new inch of virtual ground it gains it hoists itself toward its own end
A black hole whose epicentre is so strong good & evil are forced to
Into a whole new species of social values.
These chains of
Fear of terrorism,
Commercialised capitalist Christendom,
Moaning about our schizo weather,
Resigned to the rise in loneliness, depression, suicide and DV,
Disgust of pigeons and uneasy tolerance of foreigners who’ve been here longer than them,
McDs, Nando’s, Starbucks and chicken & chips,
Mortgages, taxes, credit card debts and mis-sold PPIs,
NHS doing less and less to serve the nation’s health,
High-rise flats and homelessness increasing simultaneously,
Under-age geniuses educated on a curriculum
Where social skills are ancient history
As new technologies march in to talk for them,
The still-not-finished Brexit deals
But they’re rusting
Trying to gloss it over with another worst economic downturn since records began
It doesn’t fool me anymore
The blackness calls,
The chaos invisibly chameleonically shape-shifting the borders of space and time
What goes up must come down
This time it’s not just London Bridge
Fossilised winds of pseudo-monocultural Britishness
Are blowing change into parched lungs again
It can’t be stopped.
Regardless of whose beliefs, lifestyle or hegemonic socio-economic policies it hurts,
Regardless of how far the human race wishes to overtake the borders of its origin planet,
Regardless of how badly they – & we – need this system to continue
Because it’s our proof of man’s superiority over nature herself,
Progress breathes on.
Time to loose the chains,
Let the bubble implode,
Feel the level playing field on which we really stand,
Remember the lessons that global domination taught us,
Re-nourish our spiritual evolution in love
Of the world,
© One Tawny Stranger, January 2018