Author-Talk with Lovette Jallow "Stranger in White Spaces"
Hello, and welcome to the city library, of uppsala. Our public library i'm not sure what the binocular. Is in. English. Um. I'm very. Honored. To be here today, and to lead this discussion, with. Lavette yellow. Who's joining us today. This is, the second, discussion, or the second talk in the series called svenskatan's. Field court. The terms, of, swedishness. In which we discuss kind of the thresholds. Around. How to. The exclusionary. Practices, around swedishness. Can make you feel like you're not part of sweden. So i'm very happy, and honored to have you here. It's an honor to be here. And um. So you, are, an activist. Ex-activist. Ex-activist. Of course, uh you, have won a lot of prizes. For your activism. And. You're an author, and you just came out with or you're coming out with a new book. And we will get the chance to discuss that one today. Which is, very cool and i only got a chance to start reading it last night at five o'clock. So i've read as much as i could. And i'm very happy to be able to ask some questions about it. Um, so. To start us off. I'll listen to your ted talk from 2018. In which you discuss. Your voice, in finding your voice and it made me think about. Uh arthur lord and her your silence, will not protect you. So i guess i just wanted to know like, what does, finding your voice mean for you and. How can, other people try to find their voice. Well considering. My mom is here today i think she can confirm. That, as a child, i could speak before i could even walk. Because i was so keen on communicating. And i was around a lot of adults, and i had a lot of questions. So i found my voice, very young. And i was raised in a home. Where my grandmother, was a politician. In gambia. For 30 years, working for women's, issues, and women's health, which wasn't very popular at the time. I was raised around black women who had their voices. They didn't wait for people to give them voices they just, had their voices and they used them. However they choose. And, coming to sweden, i think that's where my voice was taken, from me so i lost a lot of my voice because. I wasn't. Any longer, le vet the person. I was lavette the african. I was lovette the black girl. I was live at the activist, at some point. It was always somebody. Voicing, what i was. And at some point you start believing, that you start believing. What people define, you as rather than being. Authentically. Who you are. And. It wasn't until i left and went to england when i was about 20.
That I actually found my voice again. So when audre lorde says your silence cannot protect you it means that some of us have actually no choice. But to speak. Because being silent, does not protect you because you will be at the mercy. Of people, with limited, perceptions. Defining, who you are, constantly. And as a black. Woman. That's a problem. That's a problem because we're always defined, by someone else's parameters. Of success, parameters. Of. Life. And it's. Tragic. So you were ascribed, a lot of uh things that you don't adhere to. And, as you said it's kind of like you were silenced, by. Uh coming to sweden. Yeah and. The just. Coming to this context, made you silence. And it's interesting what you said about how um. Like. Believing. What people say about you because if you have like james baldwin in, the beginning of his, the fire next time he speaks about. Uh the danger. For. People is just believing. Other people's stories about you rather than just, the way they speak about you yeah believing it is. Believing it is the hard part, is the heartbreaking. Part. And. That has to end at some point and i think it comes with maturity. Because i think we're in a stage right now where many people are defined. By what people think they are. But we have to also accept, that. We have many different versions, of ourselves, that exist in people's minds, i've met you today, there will be a version of me, that will be in your head. And, the people that know me, in different scenarios, will have a version and we have to be okay with that as well, we don't have to believe it we don't have to love it we just have to accept, that's reality. Yeah. Yes. Of course we uh i work at friends i'm an expert, in bullying, and we work with youth a lot so, in the question of, for. Kids to find their voice or young people find it a voice do you have any like. Advice, as to how to find your voice. I think, um sometimes, people say love, speaks for the voiceless, i don't, i never have. Because every human being has a voice i have a little niece. Um skye, and she is about. A year and a half, now, she has a voice. If you give her food she doesn't want to eat she says no. You know if she wants a drink she says. Drink. Um, so i think, my advice to children, and young people is just exercise, those vocal cords. Exercise, them in class. Exercise, them at home exercise, them in the playground. Just make sure you use it so you don't lose it as they say. Yeah don't let anything silence, you. Yeah so it's more of kind of trying to maintain, the voice that you already have. Than, finding, it, and for you it was refining, it when you came to, you will lose it many times. As a young child in a classroom, teachers will silence you. Um when you come in the workplace, you will be silenced. By your bosses. But it's also knowing where your moral, compass. Lies and if you feel like something is valuable, enough to talk about. Don't, let anybody, silence you not even. You know the king and queen of sweden, should be able to silence, anybody that has something to say. Yeah. Not even me, i shouldn't silence, anybody. That's very true. And, like moving on. Uh, in your book you talk a lot about the importance. Of having. An intersectional, analysis, and that's something that's very important in the work that we're doing that i'm doing, at friends. But can you talk about what that means, in like your intersectional, positioning. In. Being a black, woman, but also with autism. And what that has meant for you. I think every human being that you meet in life has many different identities. A white woman can for example, be, gay or muslim, as much as i am. So it's important when you meet people no matter what age they are that you actually, realize that they are so much more than what you see. But when it comes to the fight that i, fight. In education. And just trying to spread knowledge with people. Is also understanding, that i have many different identities. So nobody, can ask me. For example i'll give you an anecdote. A few years ago when i was in the beginning of activism. I was invited, by quite a large swedish, institution. That does panels. And if this panel was very interesting, it was supposed to be a feminism.
Panel. And. I was the only black person. So they contact, me they want me to go and be on that panel and i say yeah i would love to. Talk about what it means to be a feminist. And everything was, going on well until the day before, they gave me a call they wanted to make sure, that i was okay. What's going to happen, and then she said something that only swedish, people, know how to do best she does this. And i go oh that comedy. You know. And she goes, oh one more thing and i said oh yeah, or what what what. Do you mean or what is it and she says, it would be very nice if you didn't talk about racism, during this panel, because. It's only about feminism. And i go. That's going to be difficult. Because you're asking me to leave my blackness, outside of the room and just coming, with my. Vagina. Um that's not gonna happen. Um, i'm black. Every part of me is black, racism, is a part of my, life, so you either take me as i am or you leave all of me out of it, and i think, the. Sherman's biscuit evening probably got her a little bit nervous because she was like. That's not how i met, and i was like you mean, you don't want me to talk about racism which impacts, sex how sexism. Manifests. Against me, if i'm out on a night out and a man attacks, me. Or says something inappropriate. They may say inappropriate. Things, to me as a woman, but they'll always, add the n-word, there, so my attacks, when it comes to sexism, will always, be. Sprinkled, with racism, it's never detached, yeah. So, intersectionality. Is very important and i think those with most privilege, in society. Have to take it more seriously, than anybody. Because they're the ones that if they're not careful, if they don't understand the identities, people have will be stepping, constantly, on people's heads, if it's not black women it's brown women if it's not brown women it's trans women, you will constantly, be, stepping on people because you want to ignore. Parts of their identity, that is integral, to who they are. Yeah. It's a very interesting, like, um. Understanding. To think that you can, fully. Detach, power structure from one another, and, that would. Be a way of, discussing, reality, kind of because, exactly it does not. Fit with how, like even in the work that we're doing with friends we know that. It's not ever, solely, that you're being, subjected, to bullying, on the basis of racism, there's more things at play. Always, yeah, or other things that will, determine, your position, yeah and i think that is also, people don't understand that we can't just talk about racism. As a separate thing sometimes, racism. Manifests, in different, different, forms and racism, i look at it like a big family. Racism. Is married to sexism. But their cousins are anti-blackness. And colorism. You know there are so many levels to this i. During the black lives matter. Movement, here um in europe, i would say that. A lot of white people are thinking. I get what racism, is and it's not, just getting it there are nuances. Within it so just because you understand racism, doesn't mean if you are in a position of power. When the time comes to pick the best person for a job you won't pick according to colorism, ideas or anti-blackness. And. Helping, or, raising the voices of poc, does not necessarily, mean that black voices are being raised as well. You know hierarchies. Exist, and, you have to understand. The whole family of racism, not just, parts of it. Very true and. In your book you discuss. Um. You discuss, autism. And, how you were subjected, to bullying. Uh, and, feeling like an outsider. A lot of time not only like in primary school but, actually later as well. Do you want to get into that and how that, affects you like intersectionally. Well is there anything, in particular, that you feel you're interested, in because i think intersectionally. My autism. Doesn't, impact, how people, see me as much as being black and woman and muslim for example. But i think autism. Is something that impacts how i see the world, you know how i communicate, with the world, and it's not always, something that makes it easy for people to understand, me, because with autism there's a thing called double empathy, which means that. I can have an easier time communicating. With another person with autism, on the scale wherever they are, than i would, with a person that doesn't have autism. Is like. Speaking to somebody who, you don't share first language, with, so i think that, creates a lot of issues for me. In various. Places, whether it's with black people or white people or brown people. People are always ready to misunderstand. Me and, analyze, who i am based on. What they, consider, to be social, codes. And i don't understand, social, codes, very well not for white people, not for black people.
Not For academia. Nowhere, so i'll always make waves and, it used to make me very sad, thinking. Oh i always cause trouble wherever i go. And. Now at 36, i'm like i wasn't the problem. Society, is the problem for wanting somebody whose brain. Works differently, in a more in a beautiful, way as well. To conform. To these ideas, that are so static. That they. Suffocate, you. Yeah and i guess what i'm mostly, interested, in like and i don't want to spoil the book but there is a part where you talk to a doctor. Um. And there's a lot of misunderstanding. As to who you are. And, what you need, kind of, and so i guess that's kind of where, the misunderstandings. In your life that's come as a result, of people not seeing the full you, yeah, not the full me and also there's no imagery. When i was diagnosed, i was in my. Early to mid. 20s. So i had never heard of autism, as being a, something that black women have. And autism, is a funny little animal, as i call it because. It was created. You can only find out about autism, if you, think about it in terms of a white, boy. Which means, white women have a difficult, time being diagnosed. But also. What if you're a black, woman. You're being diagnosed, in accordance, to rules and regulation, sex for a white man, and as hard as i try i can never be a white man. So that just means you get no representation. You grow up not knowing. How a black. Woman with autism, supposed to behave, you think you're insane. You think you're depressed, you think, the world would be so much better. If you weren't in it. And then you meet a doctor, and, you tell him i'm depressed, and you have, all of these symptoms, and he tells you. Where you from. And you say sweden, and he says no really where are you from, and you say, oh my mom's from gambia, my dad's from sierra leone, my grandmother's from mauritania. Is that what you mean, and he goes. Oh. I've been to kenya, once. And you go, i haven't. And he goes, your problem is not depression, you've eaten too much palm oil you're fat. And you have to go through this process, with him, in england. Spending money each time, you go to the doctor. And you just never get any help so you lose weight you come back and he's like. Oh you've quit eating the palm oil i see, oh, you know in kenya we call it and i'm like what are you talking about i'm depressed, i want to die help. And he just doesn't understand it until i met a black female, doctor. And she was like i don't think you're, depressed. I think. Um, you're on the spectrum, and i said, heck, no. Now the whole black community is going to say i'm insane. So it's just so many levels of. Hell, that you just can't understand. And i'm still figuring, it out and i'm still speaking to parents with black kids who have autism. Being fearful, of how the world's gonna treat them. Yeah, so it's complicated. Yeah like you said it's very layered, and, uh. The reaction. From everyone in society, is going to be different but it's. You feel like it's not going to serve you kind of no not no knowing who you are yeah. Um, so moving on yeah you gave us a lecture, this summer. When you talked about, uh call from linear who's actually from the city. And. I mean. We knew parts of it and there are some parts of his legacy, that aren't as flattering as other ones.
And So i guess. First of all i just i just wanted to, ask you, why is it important, to. Spread the word about. His involvement, with eugenics. And categorization. Of humans, into. Race, categories. Why is that important. What was important, there is that, i think we discussed this before even coming on stage is the fact that when we go to school. We learn about all the great things white men did yeah. They did so many amazing, things. But, we never actually, get to hear the full extent of what they've done, so we grow up thinking about alfred, noble, he's done this oh well by the way he was also involved in quite a lot of racist. Stuff. Uh we talked about botanics, and carl von linnea and how he used to walk in gardens and sniff. Flowers. And we don't talk about his. Most long-standing. Legacy, with race biology, where he defines, women like me. As being, over-sexualized. Creatures. Lack of intelligence. Temper, problems. Something, that has led to in, 2020. Why so easy for people to look at a passionate, black woman and call them angry black women that's from carl, we can we can thank color for that. We can thank him for many good things but. He has done far worse things. Based on his ignorance, on humanity. And, because. We don't question, like we know his botanical. You know. Uh work is very. It's a long lasting. Is the reason why we don't eat certain flowers you know, that's fine. But again. How about his work that's still living on today, and. Harming. People that look like me, by helping, create, and maintain stereotypes. That's, leading to us being killed, and raped. Why should we hide that part, if we're going to talk about how amazing, white men are in history, let's also be honest about the truth of what they have done. And that includes, genocide. Holocaust. Rape. That includes, effects that still affect. Sweden, and how we, see the word race, and the structures, that come with it, why can't we talk about all sides of humanity. And not just one part of humanity. And for speaking, about the truth of carl, led to a lot of people. Being angry with me, threatening, my life, one even tried to set my apartment, on fire, that was fun at 3am, in the morning. All because i want the truth. Of a white man's history. But every day you hear about, every. Black person's. Worst history. Through that through that same lens, why should one race. Be allowed. Forgiveness. And whitewashing, and another race is penalized. I don't understand. You know, so that was why it was important, you know flowers. But we must also talk about the effects that affect, women that look like me. And uh, as you said it's um. It's kind of like this, good bad binary, you you cannot, take in that someone's, not done everything perfectly. When you have, such an important, historic, figure as call from limia, yeah.
People Get distressed. From the fact that there might be. Parts of the legacy that's not all positive. Yeah which is a very strange way of looking at humanity, as a whole kind of because. No such thing exists really, exactly. And i feel like if we. Continue, to whitewash, history we're going to repeat it over and over again. So me walking, past a statue of carl, doesn't, evoke, any anger within me. Um it just makes me understand, why we are in the state in sweden, of denial. And i i guess that's kind of the discussion, i want to move on to, like, what does it say about sweden, and who owns, the history, and the spaces, in sweden. To have. Monuments, of people who, have. Been part of. Creating a legacy. That still affects you today in terms of racism. Yeah, what does that mean. I think we know who owns history, we know who, rewrites, history, we know who. Is orgasmic. At the idea, of being seen as a white savior. And it's not people that look like me, that's for sure, i think it says, a lot about the state we are in where people will yell black lives matter and put intersectional. Feminism. On their bio, on instagram, but do not understand. Who carl von linear, was. It's just everybody's, so. Trigger happy. To be, woke. But some people are just sleepwalking. That's where we are. Moving on then. From this, uh discussion. Uh. No but it's it's, it's all connected, of course. Uh, in this new book, that you have strangers in uh, in white rooms. I guess, if there is an english title, i think stranger in white spaces, in white spaces, of course yeah. Um. You, discuss. Colorism. A lot. And. Colorism, being, that people. Like myself. While of course, also being subjected, to racism. On a scale. Will. Be better off, and actually benefit. From racism. In terms, of in in relation, to people with a darker tone. So, do you want to. Get into why, we need to have that discussion, we had a discussion, beforehand. And, i think it would be interesting, once everybody, reads that particular, chapter, of the book because i think you have and i haven't, really. The whole entire book is i said what i said. And it was very much unapologetic. Because i as a dark-skinned. Black woman. I think the only, group of people, under me on the hierarchy. Are black, dark-skinned. Trans women. Or persons, with, disabilities. And it's very important, and it's very fascinating. To watch. Sweden, england, america. Right now have the same discussion, of colorism. Which is i don't know if anybody doesn't know what colorism. Is it means that. People of the same race and the same ethnicity. Are graded. Based on their skin tone so patrick and i have different skin tones which most of you can see. But we're also treated, differently, in society, meaning, where. In certain instances, where i'm penalized, he would get benefit, of the doubt. And that's not just between me and patrick that's between me and anybody who's lighted in me, and anybody who's docketing, me i probably have some sort of like skin privilege, over them too, so black people aren't just, one shade we're 56, different shades, some of them lighter than even white people. So it's very important to talk about because i'm seeing this conversation, happen in sweden, and i've seen it happen, for. Four years, where, persons, with lighter skin tones or mixed-race, heritage, will get really upset. At being told that you have something called like skin privilege because they don't know what that is or how it manifests. And then people with dark skin will get really angry, rightfully, so. And then the conversation, just, implodes. And then we all go quiet. And then six months again we bring it up, so i've seen this like touch and go happen touch and go where we're not meeting, each other on the same level and yes, we may all be black, mixed. Whatever. But even filipinos. The darker skin you are, the less privileges, you have, in india, we understand, that the darkest, black indians.
They Are at the bottom of the cast system the only jobs they can take, is cleansing, public toilets. So we know colorism. Exists, we know how it manifests but sweden. People aren't understanding, how it manifests, like we can look at the demographics. Of sweden. They're 400. 000 afro suites. Out of that 30 000 a mixed race. Yet when you look at the media. Landscape. 90. Are mixed race that are representing, blackness. And that becomes a problem because. Not because of them because their family at the end of the day. But. It, it, it makes you think. Who is allowed, to gay keep blackness. Not the people it affects, the worse, but the people with privilege enough to be in white rooms because white people see them as. Somewhat, better. Than, people like me, you know where, a mixed-race, person may be called in, instead of me they're thinking. Well, at least lavette's so angry, we don't want her here not that i want to be there anyway. Because i think people white people are angry, you know, um history's, taught us that. And. It just makes you think, like how. How can we not analyze, our own, customs, our own communities. And give each other space like, we want white people to give us space to speak and be who we are but we amongst ourselves, are kind of. Not giving each other the same forgiveness. And the same understanding. And the same. Challenges. Um. But i also think we have issues intercommunally. That we must bring up we must, be brave enough to talk about and not, beat each other bloody, when we talk about it. Yeah, and it's like we were saying before, that sweden is such a young country when it comes to like, having, discussions. Of race. Not a young people listen they created the discussions. I know i know i'm just saying. The rediscussion. Of this. And the discussion, of it as a social phenomenon, that still affects people, is very young. Whereas, when we get into these, discussions, around colorism, people feel like you're dividing the movement, yeah whereas now i've found a space where i can, connect with people, and now you're taking that away a little bit why would you do that not taking, well i think, i think that's one of the issues that people have had with me because, like i told you when i i have a platform, and it's. You know hundreds of thousands of people tuning, in watching, disgust. And i was like next week i'm gonna talk about colorism. With special guests. Black people were like um. Excuse, you. You're gonna do what. And one of them even said to me white people are gonna laugh at us and i said they're already, laughing. Because we. Have we have our own issues they're not laughing at us, because we want to, deal with these and discuss, these things. They're laughing because they're in power, right now, and we cannot. We are as strong as the weakest person in the group which means if we continue, to silence, dark-skinned, women who. See, and feel the brunt, of. Of white supremacy. Every day. How much better are we, because people forgetting, every hierarchy, there are many hierarchies. So in brown people's hierarchies, there's hierarchies, based on class, on race. Sorry on ethnicity. And light-skinned, privilege, there as well. So, we have to be able to talk about these things and not just in, safe rooms not just in separatist, groups, but openly, because, on my platform there are people that watch that who are heads at companies, i'm not going to mention. Who dm'd, me and said you know what you're right because every single. Model that we've hired, has been, you know mixed race and we have never understood, why we, we are doing that, but we should be thinking about that or, the hires, that they do are people, that they deem to be you know 50.
One Of us and 50, we don't know. Like, it's, they're the ones dividing. We just have to. Fix the mess now because it's affecting, us. You know. And these conversations. Aren't new black people aren't new to sweden. Listen if you can create race biology, you can you can allow black people to talk about it. We can't give them no more excuses, no more passes, we gotta fix this, yeah yeah very much true and like. It's a new one's discussion, that's, been lacking for a very long time. And it's something that. I feel, as a mixed person that we've, not taken the responsibility. Of speaking about, enough, yeah, and i would like you all to take more responsibility. So i don't get threatened, anymore. Yes yes. Thank you. Um. And. So yesterday. I watched the film. And, that was called. Mothers, of, and it's part of. Cinema africa's, festival, so shout out to, uh. Summer girmain, the people that's in africa, yeah, and it was talking about, um. Radical. Self-care. And, finding, space. To. Within your activism. And within all of the things that you're taking on. Um. Being able to find a sustainable, way of. Doing all of that. And. A few weeks back. You wrote. Or you went out on your social medias, and talked about. The end of your activism. So. I guess i want to ask you. How, does one do activism. In a sustainable, way and how, would you. Um, if you were to talk to. Young black people, yeah young black girls mainly, yeah, uh. How would you, address, them and, advise them to take on their activism. I don't think activism, for black people is sustainable. I think, the radicalism. In activism, is to be able to rest, not just go according to what capitalism, says you should do do do. Because black women. We stand up for everybody, like if you go through my platform, seven years, there isn't one group of people i haven't been at the forefront, like championing. As long as they're marginalized. I'm there. And black women do that every day we want to save every tom. Dick and harry. And their grandparents. And their grandkids. Because we're so used to being. We're so used to being, the stereotypically. Strong person. That we as black women do not understand, that it's a trap. They need us to be strong, so they can be weak. And. White people. And brown people. Need to stop, stepping, on black women's shoulders. I see that during all the years of activism, even when i'm, taking a bath and i, accidentally. Opened my mobile, phone. Someone, would will be like. Oh well. You were kim lundell, you've heard you can't brought on there i'm like andish. You know how about you do that because that's not my problem is it. But before, i would just do everything, you will send me something so-and-so, said the n-word, then it's my job to educate them, and then. Along the way you forget that you're also a human being. That you're also flesh and blood, you allow people to dehumanize. You by giving you a title of an activist. When you're also, le vet the human being. You should be able to have the freedom and the power to pick, your battles. And know when you need to take a step back. Because activism, is not a pretty sight. There are, external, factors, that affect your well-being. You also then have to go out in real life and be treated like a black woman on the streets of sweden. And then you also have a family, and you have a friend if you ask my mom. I can be in my home for weeks without seeing another human being because i'm constantly, working. My brother will call me and say let's hang out and i'll be like i don't have time, because i have a lecture then i have to do this instagram, live then to do that, it's about picking ourselves, first because nobody's, gonna pick us first. So we have to pick ourselves not even black men will pick us first. So we have to pick, ourselves, we have to set boundaries, and be radical. At the boundaries, we set and be prepared that we will be hated, for the boundaries, that we suck because i see. People in my black community, hate me, because i set clear boundaries, you mess around you get blocked.
Out Of all my spaces. You spread rumors, and lies. You get blocked, out of all of my spaces. So. It's just. I think, i wouldn't advise, any black person, to be an activist, because i also know it's not a choice. Because, we don't speak, because we want to be activists, we speak because we have to speak and survive. So for black girls, is just, always pick yourself, first, in every battle. And when you feel like you have to speak speak according to your own terms. Don't let anybody not even another black person set that standard for you. Because you know you and your limits, and the last thing we need are more black women activists, dying at 37. Killing ourselves. Because sometimes, the mental, stress is too much. And you can see statistics, upon statistics. You know from ericana's. Sister, who took up activism, when her own brother was killed, she just died. We, every week i hear about an activist, i respect. That's dying and that's what i said i'm not going to break my back anymore. For people that won't. Break a nail for me. I'll educate. And then it's up to anybody to take that info, and do it as they wish, but for black girls, for black women. Pick yourself, first, please. Yeah. Wow and, i think like. About, the. Option. To activism. Would of course be silenced, and i feel like we're almost back to your silence will not protect you, and the need for you to speak up for yourself. But doing it. At a level where you also get a respite, from time time, i think speaking, like i said i may not be an activist but that doesn't mean i'm going to be quiet about things that affect me or or people that i care about or. My country, which sweden, is. It's, almost, that you have to. Pick battles, and know that you have the energy reserves, to handle it, because i know when i finish certain battles, i'm out for the count for a month, sometimes people won't see me online for months and they'll be like i should quit, no. I, literally have nothing more to give. I have to have space, so this the opposite of activism, is not silence it's accountability.
Why Should it just be on black women, to save the world. It must be on everybody, with those, the more privileged you are have the more accountability. I demand. And we should be demanding. So when protest time comes i don't want to see just black women at the forefront. Because we know white bodies. Ain't going to get touched by the police, put yourself, there be an ally, be next to me be in front, when it's required. Don't be silent. Their silence, is not going to protect them is what i'm saying, because we're getting, tired. Yeah. Yes, all that. And. So you spoke, a little bit about it already. But. Kind of the hate that you've received, in social media. And, uh there was a quote, in your book, in which i've, translated. Um, yeah so, you, bear with me, uh you become le vet the activist, rather than levet the human. If on top of that, you're black, it makes it that much easier for people to dehumanize. You. And. So i guess i just wanted, to. Hear your thoughts on. Receiving, hate online, and what that means, for, your energy levels, and, for. I think. You know you work with bullying, issues as well i think hate online, has just become commonplace, for most people. I've had to speak to students, white black and brown, and they tell you, you know when the bullying goes on and their classmates. Put their, pictures, on snapchat, how it affects them. And they are just going to one school, and not dealing with one class, then you look at me somebody who never chose to be a public person because i'm the most antisocial. Person. You probably will find. Suddenly, people are creating, ideas, of who you are and hating you based on it. And it's not even based on facts. It can. It can drive people to suicide. It can drive people to kill themselves. And it has. We see that every day public people. Persons, killing themselves, and i'm no, different from them because i've had my moments. Where i'm like, is this even worth it. Should i just die. Because you've seen, these messages. Upon e these messages. Die, lynch yourself. Shoot yourself, you will get shot you should get raped, and you're just like, wow. One person. Can evoke, all of these. Negative, feelings, in people who, have never met you. And you ask yourself why. So, social media has made it so. Easy, to just attack. Anybody. And not think that if you met that person in real life. You would never open your mouth in the same way. I think social media has made it very easy. To spread lies, we see that with you know trump. Um, but you also see that with regular, people that, you know, you'd be surprised. And i like accountability. So when i go online and i see, a family member, or friend. Writing, things that i'm like, yo. I will call them and be like why are you writing this under, aftonblade's. Commentary, felt. You do know you have a black friend and family member right. But i don't think everybody, does that i don't think people hold. Those, around them accountable, for what they do online, either. You know i have my mom, she will, smack my mobile out of my hand, and she's logged on all of my platforms so she knows when i'm misbehaving. As in just, you know going off on a ranch or something. But most people don't have my mom, who is very you know, has oversight, on everything that's happening. And hold you accountable. And i feel that's a bit sad, because we don't know what our friends and families are doing online anymore. Until we hear someone kill themselves. And then boom, you might just realize that your family member was involved. In that, abuse that they were, receiving. What do you think it is that people are so scared of just the calling out. Of, of people. Well i can't speak for other people, i don't know what people are scared of, but i know i'm scared of some people definitely. Yeah. Because, it's interesting, because you have societies. In which like the communal. Way of raising, people is commonplace. Kind of, whereas here we have a normalized, way of just not calling people out when they do things that we, like. We will feel like it's wrong yeah but it's not worth my energy to call them out for doing so. And that becomes a danger, in the long run, yeah and i think i write that in my book because there's a social. Psychological. Theory called the spiral of silence by elizabeth. Newman. And, i think that's what happens, a lot in sweden because we're ruled by young. Which is you know nobody's better than anybody else but also if you see somebody being hum, keep your mouth and keep walking because you don't want, the smoke. And the spiral of silence is basically, that. People who say, and write destructive, things online, say it because. Even people who seek and remain silent, are giving them power, to continue. But when you actually. Ask the question like why are you talking.
Like That about patrick. What proof do you have, you're making them have to prove, what they're saying. And that stops, people a lot more than if you just let someone say oh patrick's, horrible at his job, and patrick, is this and patrick, is nine foot eight or whatever. If you don't question, people. On why they're writing and saying certain things you're also giving them you know, a laissez pass, to continue. Doing what they're doing, and that's, something i have been, you know, a victim, of, where someone will say oh. Lovette is this. And. Nobody will say anything against, it and then it will spiral, and spiral, and spiral until it reaches a point where. Now they're claiming, levat. Has put babies, in a container, and taken them to, ex-country. And still nobody's questioning, it, are they just like. Yeah you know maybe i'm not going to talk about it because also in our community. People understand, that if you. Defend, the vet or if you defend this person, you're next. They're going to turn it on you, and nobody wants to be in that position, of. Just getting, hate, and hate and hate and accusations. For nothing. It's uh, like. Sarah ahmed wrote about, uh if you name the problem you become the problem. Which is, kind of what this is and in bullying research we talk a lot about. Bystander, effects. Which is, that people feel like if no one else is speaking up then i don't have to either. And um, like the way i'd normally describe, school, culture is around. Uh so if you have a group of friends standing around. One of them cracks a racist joke. And the rest of them. No one else like intervenes. Or says anything that means that it's accepted within the school culture, to crack, racist jokes, exactly, but if people, will endorse this. By. Laughing along, and so on that means that it's something that's actually. Giving you social status, yeah so more and more people will do so and that goes into social medias as well. If there is a way for you. To put a comment, on lovett's. Instagram. That's hurtful, in some way and people, like that and means people more people do it yeah, so. And i used to i noticed something funny, back in the day when i started social media, seems like a million years ago. If i get like a hate mail. I would post it just to show people that this is not acceptable. The more i post it and show the hate i got the more people sent hate. And then came a moment when my mom was like give me the job i will scan your your instagram, and your facebook, and your twitter. 6am, every morning so you wake up at 7 30 all the hate mail is gone. So that's what my mom used to do she would actually wake up and do that because it was getting to me then we started getting to her then i had to bring in an assistant, she's like. It's bad enough to know that you get hay but as your mum, i still see you as my baby, and i see people want to hurt my baby. So i was just like yeah, we get assistant. They're not connected to us by blood, they'll just, block and delete. Yeah, so that was the, solution. Um. And the fact that you have to like have, someone. Be the kind of, the wall in between or the shield, before, you even, wake up in the morning is. Part of a bigger problem in sweden, and in the world, yeah. And i think amnesty. Released a report, i think it was called troll patrol. And it shows that women like myself, who, are public people, on online. We get 85, percent, more hate than. White women who do, anything else in a public. So a white woman with the same amount of platform, of like half a million spread out. I get 85, percent, more hate than her. Simply for being black and female. And people, when you see activists, and white activists in sweden, write, their insander. Articular. They're just saying oh. No they don't say many finns, there's levels of hell to this which means if i. Get this much hate. Black women get, even more, 85. More so people aren't being honest about the reality, either people i expect to be.
Truthful. Are not when they get the opportunity, to, disseminate, this information. Um in media, they will make it always me as a woman, rather than realizing, different women, have different world as me. As well, so it becomes. Denial. And that's where intersectionality. Comes in, because if i'm supposed to write an article, about anything. I'm always going to add that but also, trans, women who are dark skinned, are less, privileged, than me. Because. There's levels, to it, it's nuanced. And people don't want that nuance. Yeah, yeah. It's really interesting, and. Yeah. So we had a, quick discussion, beforehand. About. Kind of. A lacking discussion. In. In sweden, about, race, being. Situational. And being contextualized. And how. We, having. Grown up in different contexts. Like i myself. Mostly grew up in. Sweden, but lived in kinshasa, for a while during my upbringing. And. Coming across and understanding, myself. In those racial terms, changed me kind of yeah so, do you want to get into what that means as a contextual. You want to give me more of an apple to go by because this could just get smaller. Like, yeah. Less limited, for my autistic, brain please. Okay, um. The problem is that sometimes you will feel like okay so you're black and you're always black, but there are layers to this. And you, are. Of course in terms of colorism, that we've discussed, kind of but colorism, for me made something meant something different when i came to congo yeah because. I was. Instantly. I understood, that i was more, privileged, in this context, yeah in terms of like meeting my cousins, i understood. Yeah, that they look up to me and they value me more because of my lighter. Shade, what you just said is profound, for me. Because i have cousins, who moved to gambia, when i was young. And i saw how our teachers at school, treated, my mixed race um, cousins. Where in school, if i got less on a mat like the rule was if you got below 50, you're gonna get kinked, which means you get hit on the hang, and i always wondered how come my mixed race cousins who are in the same class never get caned. So me being a loudmouth, girl i was like. Sir. Why didn't they they got 42, per stack. I wanted them to get caned. Um and the teacher was like their skin is more sensitive. They could not afford to, beat the mixed race kids, because they would get really wrecked. And i was like. Hey. I'm also pink on the inside. Like what are you saying. And i complained to my grandmother, because i was like the white kids we had four of them in mrs nause in gambia. They don't get caned, they never get hit, they never had to do the monkey dance, which was you have to do, um, sit-ups. Like at school you would have to cross your hands, and then you bend up and down like 300, times. Like things that gymnasts. Don't even have to do. You know i was just like why don't the white kids get that and the mixed kids get that but we get that because our teacher who was blacketing, me, was valuing, people based on race, so things like that. Always made me question because as an autistic, child. I never look up or look down on anybody, but i like to analyze, why, people do the things they do. Much to the annoyance, of my teachers because i want to question, everything. And. I remember speaking to my grandmother, about it and she was very. Like my grandmother, doesn't, she work with swedish people back in the you know 50s. So she definitely, does not value whiteness, as anything, special. And she was just like i will speak to mrs now who is the, principal, because if you get king for, 45. They should all get king or nobody gets king, so she took up that conversation, and i was never caned. Since. I got like skin. Privilege. So that's the anecdote, i would like to share with you today. Thank you but but everything else was it was a mess because i think even, in, when we were like in our early teens. My mixed-race, cousins, would get boyfriends. And all of that whilst i was always like you know, the third wheel which suited me just fine. Um but it was peculiar, to see, the desirability. Politics, of they had nice, hair. And i had you know like. 4c, type hair which is amazing, by the way. But i just didn't see how people could value all of these things then i came to sweden, and it clicked. It didn't click in gambia, it clicked here. When i realized, that, this social construct, that my grandmother, told me about, because when i was leaving.
Gambia. And i always talk about this my grandmother, said something at the airport she said. All my cousins went in and she pulled me back she was like you're going to sweden, you're going to be with your mom. I want you to remember one thing and i was like what. What, and she says no matter how, long. A stick is in the river. It will never be a crocodile. So what she meant was. You is black. You will remain black. You will die black. So don't try to be a white person. And that was a lesson i lost. Coming to sweden, because. I. Internalized. A lot of the hatred, i got i bleached my skin for 10 years. To be lighter. Without really understanding, what that really meant. So when i came out of that i made a video that went viral and was played on bbc, africa. Talking about how it impacts your mind. Being around. White people all the time. But white people never get. That. It's not con, contextualized. For them because they go to africa they're looked, upon as higher, in sweden they're already higher, they're using any country in the world that doesn't value, whiteness, as a sign of beauty, or. Gives you privilege, so that's why reverse racism, doesn't exist as well but it's really hard for white people to understand. Yeah. Very, very hard. So it's contextualized. For us. But whiteness, wherever, it goes asia, africa. Middle east, is always higher up. Yeah, right. I'm opening up for questions from, floor. And also thank you, for, thank you patrick this won't be the last conversation, we have i'm sure. We're glad. So any questions, and make it hard. We have to repeat the questions as well, yeah. So. I have, a daughter. Um. That's six years old, and she does not want to be black. Because she's been told, that. Black people are. Ugly. And. And therefore, she does not want to be black, so the question is. How do i deal with this, yeah. First of all i don't have any kids but i love kids. Um, i think this is where i feel like, people like you and my mom. This is. Having to, protect your child from, whiteness, as a parasite. And i'm not saying white people are parasite, i'm saying whiteness, as a social construct. Is parasitic. It enters your mind, and it makes you hate everything, that you are, you as a black mother. Have to make sure your entire, house. Is filled with books of dark-skinned, beautiful, black. Children. Um, you have to monitor what she watches on that television, show because. Trust me even bobby, sneaks in a little bit of anti-blackness. There every now and then, you have to make sure every single day she doesn't leave your house without you telling her, how beautiful. Her black skin, is, you have to be her barrier. Against all the hate, because, when you have a child. Which is why i don't have some. This is your full-time, job now until, she actually. Manifests, her own personality. And understanding. You have to sit down and talk to her about. Whiteness, as a social construct, you have to, explain to her how whiteness. As a social construct needs every single human being, who is not white to be on their knees, so it can feel tall. And it only does that by erasing, your history. By erasing, and disintegrating. Everything that your daughter is. Other than that, you're gonna have big problems the older she gets because that self-hatred. Only gets stronger. So you have to be, the mother. That. You know. You can be. And when in doubt, until the vet's always ready to pop it, you know tell me what school she said like text me.
I'll Have a word or two, yeah, yeah and i feel like for myself, that i was blessed with the fact that my family. Started this, african film association, when i was a kid so i was able to see black faces, i was around to be around. A lot of people, that valued, these things and, saw that it was necessary, for us to have that around us and i think that that is something that could also be like helpful, to have, yeah uh so again shout out to cinema africa, yeah definitely. So we just go, all black. All day, every day. Like only gambians, can do sometimes. Just make your house. All black making her safe space. Let her watch youtube videos, of, little dark-skinned, girls doing their hair. You literally have to over feed her to overcompensate. For what, society. Teaches, us. You know. Control what she consumes. And have a work with that school please. Yeah. Yeah, and also like in terms of how, uh. I guess this question wasn't really addressed to me but yeah i work with bullying so. Just go. Like it's a good thing that she's telling you this. Not a lot of people do. Like sometimes you will internalize, it and feel like this is something that i had to bear myself. And coming to your own family, and telling them that someone said that blackness, is ugly. Will be a slide on your whole family as well, so people will feel reluctant, to coming home and talking about, the racism, that they are treated, yeah but, yeah so. Next question. So the question i got now is since you've lived in other european, countries, how do you rate. Being black in different cities. Um i'll tell you that it's, um if i compare sweden to england, it's definitely, worse being in sweden, because in england. Which is history, of transatlantic. Slave trade and actually, building a whole. Empire. On black bodies. There is more of a willingness, to have that conversation. In sweden, we try to say well we've never had slaves, we didn't have colonies, so. We we don't have the word race even though we created race biology. Um, like there's a lot of things swedish people. Do as a culture, not individuals, but as a culture, that makes it difficult. For a black person to even say, ouch. That hurts. Like there is no um. The moment you try to talk about race, you become the problem. So people say oh. I don't see color. And you go then you don't see me. But it just continues, i think if i have to rank living in sweden, compared to england, compared, to, germany, or paris. Sweden takes the cake. And denmark, takes the cake, fin like the nordic countries save the cake, because here, we are so used to the whole world seeing us as, better than in socialism, for example. That we can't imagine, that black people aren't happy here. Are we like, what. We have high taxes, and you get free, schooling, and you get free, healthcare. Racism, doesn't happen here you should be happy you should be grateful, and shut up, so i think that's more of the attitude, in sweden where you should just shut up and take it because you should be grateful, that you're even here whether.
Than Than somewhere else, but i left sweden, when i was 19, and a half, because. Sweden, was. Whiteness, as a construct, was strangling. All of the air in my body my lungs, my soul. I had to go to, the closest, country i could run to. England, and i stayed there for 10 years. Because i saw people that looked like me. And i don't mean. Me as in light skin, versions, i saw. Versions, of me in all shades 56, shades, being lawyers, being doctors, being barristers. Being. Their authentically. Black, selves, something that i. Never saw in sweden. I never turned on a tv and saw anybody that looked like me, growing, up not even alice. To be honest. They don't look like me, they don't, speak like me they don't think like me i was a stranger, in sweden, from day. The playing landed, until i left england, is now that i'm making sweden. My bi2ch. Like is now i'm saying. I don't need swedish, people to accept, me i'm, here. And i'm going to continue, to be here, and you'll take my taxes. So you're going to like me here, that's where i am now nicole ellis. Reagan but i'm still going to be here. The new year vogue. I cannot say yeah. Yeah. Any more questions. Yeah. Yeah, what are your thoughts on the blackout tuesday, in sweden and how it came across. I think it's very performative. I think it was very much a let's do a blackout tuesday, then we don't have to do any more work, we don't have to hire black people, we can just say we did blackout tuesday. Typical, swedish. Yeah. So i don't see, a lot of effects the effects are coming now that people are calling out companies, who black out tuesday. And having. Looked over, the. Homogenous. Workplace, they've created, or how they interact, with black people or black suites. I think the effects, are coming now, where people are like okay. What happened after the black square what happened after blackout, tuesday. Are you educating, yourself, because everybody went out and bought anti-racist. Books. Nobody's, read it. They just put it to the best seller list but nobody's read it, so it's a lot of performative. And smoking mirrors, whilst we need people to do, more, and we've been asking. For allies, for 400, years. We're not asking for allies anymore, because, if in 2020, you're not an ally. You are like 300, years. Past. We need accomplices. We need people to stand up, and feel what we're feeling and, not just empathize, but do something about it, so, i mean i think allies is a word that we should just remove because we don't need allies anymore we need people to, clean up their. Yeah. Yeah. I agree. On. On a big but then i, what i've seen in my work, space, is that. Um. Come, june. A lot of kids, who had been subjected, to, racist bullying in school, started speaking up and writing to us. And came in with their stories. And that is because. Adults, were now, well, discussions, were forced kind of yeah so it. For a little, while, created a space, where, people were emboldened, to actually speak up about the racism, that they received so i feel like i think that is the only positive, effect but again it's on us the marginalized. To continue, speaking out even louder. Like i've seen a lot of uh, marginalized, communities, um and especially, marginalized, black communities. Speak out after blackout tuesday, because, we are emboldening. We've been more emboldened, than ever before because we're realizing this is a global, scale there's a global problem, we're not alone if your child is going through that in school, they know that a child in america, and england, and denmark, is going through it because they've seen the protest. So i think it's more of. We're realizing, that we're all as black people interconnected. Despite. Any. Country. Divisions. And that is emboldening, us we're knowing we're not alone, globally, exactly, yeah well. This might spiral. But just, go out. Just go on if they're tired they can just switch off the cameras but, you can leave if we get too ready yeah if you want to leave it's fine just you could just like so what i want to say is yeah what forces, this is a black man in the united, states. Dying at the hands of the police. And, i feel like it being in the united states, made it safe for people to, take part in this, if this was something that happened in sweden, people would be more reluctant, to take part of this because it becomes. A bigger issue, it comes too close to yourself. I don't know if i agree with that because i remember.
I Think it was. 2019. January. There was a pregnant, eight month old, eight month pregnant woman janine. And. That spiraled. All over istanbul. That spiraled, to germany that spiral to england. Everybody, knew what was happening in sweden. Because of that incident that i was. The the manager, of or project manager i was involved in it basically. The legal work behind it, and the social media, strategy, as well. So i don't know if it's because it's america, because we have examples, in england. We've been we've been marching for shukri, abdi. A young school girl that went to school and was killed in a racist, attack. And the police didn't want to investigate, it she was a young somali, girl, so there are many names, i don't think it's just one name that sparked, it, because the blm, has been gaining, momentum. Yeah. And uh patrice, has been doing an amazing, job she started. You know blm. In america. And i just feel like the whole world, is now seeing that black lives need to matter, black lives need to matter. And you don't want us to get any louder because we've been asking. To value our life same as white people. But now that is gonna, change to be like it must. Be, as important, as, all lives. We i mean the discussion is just going to get more and more. So all the, good companies, and the blackout, tuesday, participators. That want to do, something, they better do something, tangible. In real life not just a symbolic. One, yeah, yeah. Anybody, else, any white people want to ask a question. Uh. I'm a makeup artist, and, uh, a lot of the work that you are basing, on is, sorry. You wanted to know about your academic background. Yeah, okay so i mean how far back do i go, in gambia. I was i have a very high privilege, in gambia, my grandmother, we're upper middle class, so i had private, education, in gambia so i went to private schooling. And when i came home i had quran, school, and i had you know sunday, school and i also had maths because i was terrible at that so i had private, tutors.
As Well as school, and then i had afternoon, studies so my whole. Upbringing to 11 years old was basically, study study study, because my grandmother, said, beauty fakes. Intelligent, stays. And i said look i got both. But she never thought that was a funny joke so i don't even know why i took that again. But, she was very much invested, in my education. I came to sweden, and it turned out i was far ahead. Than any of my classmates, so they put me a few classes, higher. And, everybody just wanted to play in sweden but i wanted to study so i graduated, quite early than my class because i was bumped up a class as well. And then i chose international, baccalaureate. Because i wanted to. Get out of sweden. As soon as i could, so i picked an english. College, level. And then i went to stockholm's, university, i did psychology, and a little bit of law. And then i quit that and i went to england, where i did property. And law. So that goes together which means i'm not a lawyer. As in human rights but i am very, knowledgeable, i'm a lawyer in terms of property. Commercial, property like this and negotiations. And then i have several diplomas. Makeup artistry, is one of them, but i also have diplomas. A few in human rights and some in property rights as well, so i continued, educating, myself, and, next year i'm hopefully going back to university, to get my law degree. Here. In human rights, finally. Geez, yeah so that's why that's my background, ish. What do you suggest people study that want to make a change. Law. It's good to know the law, because we know. We need more lawyers. Yeah, we need more people of color in every sphere, so if you want to be a psychologist. Kudos to you, we have a we need you, um but i would say. To make a change you can be a dishwasher. And you can be a barrister. Making a change in the world is not based on your academic, background, because i've seen a lot of people, who've never set foot in school. Being written down in history, as people that make changes. If you look at tony morris and maya angelou a lot of us have, had difficulties. In academia. Because of one thing or another, so don't. Don't buy the lies that white people tell you that you need degrees, because you can be successful, and make lots of changes. Without, one degree. Just read a lot educate yourself. That's all i can say i know schools won't like me saying that but you know um yeah it's the truth. I would be doing what i'm doing if i wasn't, didn't go to university. Because i've. Changed careers. Dramatically. You know. What do you, have to say about the relationship. Between, racism, and capitalism. I think um, capitalism. Enables, racism, just like every, other problematic. Structure in society, does, capitalism. Just. It makes us work, to the bones but who works the most. You know i think we were discussing, this because my mom used to work in a camus. And. She was underpaid. And she had to go through. Racist. People, day in and day out, so when she finally, got you know psychologically. Utmarked. Exhausted. Um and quit the job they had to hire three white people to do her, one black woman's job and pay them twice the amount that she was being paid, that shows you how capitalism, kills us from the day we were, cutting picking up until now. Black people, and brown people are going into positions, of work being underpaid. And if your woman is even worse so what does that tell you capitalism, is a structure. Just like, you know racism, and sexism. They all sleep in the same bag each night and have a threesome. Yeah. So, how do i ask. A person who came from africa. Five or six years ago, find my space within the discussions, around racism, in sweden. Is that it, yes. Okay oh and you did mention you like you know you're coming into contact with this for the first time one thing, being. An african, myself, um, who has spent 10 years in africa. 10 years in sweden 10 years in england. Racism, exists, in africa. White people are still plundering, you know from the mobiles we use to everything. It's just that maybe we, are blinded, by you know the white privilege, that we, are not having these discussions.
I Know this because a few weeks back i was working in lebanon, and getting home gambian, people back to, gambia who were, trafficked. And i remember speaking about the racism, lebanese, people, enact, in gambia. And i realized, how, how scared, the lebanese, people were in gambia that i was talking about, how many, women they rape how many people they they plunder, and they're still making money in businesses. Yet when black women go to lebanon. We are sold. Into slavery, pretty much. So when i was getting, my people home. I realized. How little. How my video of 40 minutes educated. I think that video made the rounds of 780. 000. People. 90, of them were from the african continent. People started speaking, out so when you ask me where do i stand i look at it as where do you stand as a black man. Which should be always supporting. Our liberation. Because our liberation. Is your liberation. Um it's always, not. Waiting to speak about because if you're new to sweden, or you came here four years ago. Structures, are still punishing you every day whether you see them or you don't, it unilaterally. Affects all black people. It's not a choice, so, i would say don't, don't ask where do i fit in you see something you say something, you want to talk about something. Be in the middle of the party and be like, shut down the music i just want to say structural, racism. Is can you hear me yeah structural, racism. Is the reason w