Black History Month

 “The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

Black History month is sadly coming to an end, but I really wanted to blog about it as it is not known to many people and unfortunately not everyone agrees with this celebration.  I grew up in the Netherlands, where Black History Month is not celebrated; it is very uncommon in many other European countries. So this month at University has been very educational as well as inspirational to me.

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Black History Month is a yearly celebration which is mainly prominent in the UK, America and Canada, to celebrate the achievements of influential black people and events in the history of the African diaspora. I personally think this is still very significant today, because despite what people think and expect, this month is not just about the history of slavery. In the Netherlands, the only Black History I was taught was mainly about the AIDS/HIV disease in Africa, the lack of safe drinking water in underdeveloped countries, the importance of fair trade, a brief introduction to who Martin Luther King was and, of course, a little about slavery. To me, it felt like black history was always presented in a negative way and not educational to me. They never taught us about our rich history, that the first light bulb was created by a black man named Lewis Latimer, or that Alexander Miles designed the modern day elevator, or that Sarah Goode (an entrepreneur and inventor) was the first African-American woman to invent a folding cabinet bed which provided people who lived in small spaces to utilize their space efficiently.

I already knew some things about my culture because my Ghanaian parents wanted us to know about our roots. They taught us about the food, the language, and that we export our natural resources such as gold, oil, timber and cocoa to European countries, but that was about it. When my family and I went to visit Ghana in 2007/8  I learned how bad slavery actually was when we visited the Elmina Castle situated in Cape Coast, where our tour guide explained about the history of the castle and slave trade. Many tears were shed on that day, as you could still feel the pain the people went through during that time. If you are thinking about going to Ghana, I really do recommend you to visit ‘Cape Coast Castle.’

castle

I joined my secondary school in the UK roughly during the same time that Black History Month was being celebrated. As this school was predominantly black, they took Black History Month very seriously and organised many things such as plays and assemblies to reflect on the heroes who fought for black rights. We sang songs and donated to black charities and so forth. Compared to the other students there, I felt quite embarrassed about the lack of knowledge I had about black history. During class discussions, many people would voice their opinion and share their knowledge and I remember sitting in the classroom quietly, as I didn’t know that much. But through Black History Month at this new school in the UK, I learned that there was far more than one black hero to look up to and to be proud of, I also became more aware of sickle cell, a condition found mainly in people whose families come from Africa, the Caribbean, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Asia. In Britain sickle cell is most common in people of African and Caribbean descent. This is why celebrating Black History Month is important, because it made me realise that there is so much more to our history and culture. I only wish that the celebration lasted for longer than a month because there is still so much to learn and so much to embrace.  

Not only did I learn a lot about black history in my secondary school, but my interest and knowledge blossomed when I attended to events put together by the Sabbatical Team of the university. Zoe, our SU President, has made this month very special and valuable. I would like to say thank you to Zoe and her team for putting together many activities and events this month. I really hope that the university can help us celebrate not only for a month but throughout the whole year.

This celebration has encouraged me and others to become vocal and aware of oppression, the excellence of black men and women, refugees, supporting black businesses, and  how to face race-related challenges when we face them. Black history month brings back rich black culture that was once lost and forgotten about.There is certainly more room for improvement for Black History Month and I know that this will increase over time if we continue to stay positive, patient, creative and motivated. In using our history, we can find a way to provide solutions to existing problems happening in the modern day. Black history month is necessary. 

I took the opportunity to ask a few students at the university Why black history month is important to them. 

Zoe, SU President
” In life, you go to training, boot camps , conferences to help inspire you and to prepare you for the year ahead. I think that black history month is like a month long conference that inspires us for the year ahead. I use this month as a time to learn something new about our history, celebrate the accomplishments of our history and get excited about the future.
Black history month is important to me because it gives me the boost needed to make sure that black history is celebrated throughout the year. I feel like we need to take responsibility and make sure this month is recognised and is celebrated. But, also use the month to ensure that black history month is embedded into our lifestyle. ”

Nikki – 3rd year, Politics with Human Rights

”Honestly, Black History Month reminds me of my inferiority as an individual on a global scale. In my primary and secondary education, I remember BHM consisted mainly of stories about the slave trade, MLK, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X. It really felt like black people had no identity, history or activity before the colonisation and scramble of Africa. The history books which I digested in my youth told only a single narrative and depicted black people in a way I can only describe as secondary to other cultures around the world. Black History Month is not important but fundamental to me because I am black every single day – being black is part of my identity. I was born black and will have black children and carry on my family’s legacy. Black History Month is more important for the public as people need to recognise us as human beings who are far from the image that is replayed every October through the broken education system which insists on teaching children that black people are slaves.
The public needs an awakening about the stereotype of being black and I hope that in the future Black History Month is a celebration of black excellence and provides a solid historical overview of black history which hasn’t been ‘whitewashed’ or tainted by the hands or minds of colonisers. ”

Emmanuel,  3rd year – Economics and Politics ( Spoken word artist, twitter – @EmmanuelSpeaks_)

”Black History Month is important because it allows us as a generation to look back at what the leaders and role models before us achieved and use it as fuel to achieve bigger and better things for yourself and the future generation.”

Sarah 2nd year, Psychology

“Black History Month is important to me because it is a time that we celebrate our culture and achievements. It is time to understand how powerful and amazing black people are. “

Akwasi, 3rd-year Politics ( President of  Black Social and Political Society )                                ” Black History Month important to me, as it talks about the need to understand our history, achievements and to focus and improve what our role models has done. I will be explaining what Being Black means to me which will hopefully show why Black History Month should be celebrated.

What does it mean to be Black?  James Baldwin quoted that “To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” This quote is important to me as I see that racism and oppression have affected people of class; colour and gender for many centuries.  Black History Month also highlights why we should embrace and love being black, it reminds us that we are strong, have a rich and diverse culture, have unique and meaningful names like Babe Tunde and Kwame, that we are powerful and so on. Black History Month inspires and empowers me. “

Micro Horror-story: The Beyond

Far beyond, beyond it waits

Beneath the earth, above the skies

Lock the doors and close the gates

You’ll never know, know where it hides

Just when you think, think you’ve seen it all

Behind the veil, what will you find?

Trying so desperately, trying to stand tall

Take a look inside, behind the corners of your mind

Too late, too late to see

What it is we ought to be

By Alex Kimbo

Why I love autumn and how to make the most of it

I’m one of those people who will always say that summer is the best season and there is nothing better than a bit of sun. But this year, although I still love summer, I am seeing reasons to love autumn too. Here I’m going to tell you why I love autumn, why you should love autumn, and how to make the most of it.

autumn-ball

Source: http://www.abbeyhousehotel.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Autumn-Ball.jpg

Halloween outfit planning

One of the biggest events of autumn is Halloween. Our trick or treating days may be over, but now you’re at uni a new door has opened…going out to a Halloween themed night! Let’s not pretend you’ve been thinking about your outfit since you felt that first cold breeze in late September. First year I went quite basic as a cat. However I brought cat contact lenses and my boyfriend did leopard print makeup one side of my face, so I was a pretty cool cat.  This year I think I’m going to go for a more sugar skull look, like the picture below. If you want to do this halloween look heres a tutorial I found. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV2pyPAqBKQ

sugar-skull

Source: http://img.wonderhowto.com/img/88/14/63581719832056/0/15-best-sugar-skull-makeup-looks-for-halloween.w1456.jpg

Pumpkin Carving

Another reason to love Autumn and Halloween is getting to carve pumpkins. This is a great activity you could do with your flat mates. Get a pumpkin each and carve different designs into the pumpkins! This is my pumpkin from last year based on Jack from Nightmare before Christmas.

pumpkin

Watching scary films

I hate scary films. I couldn’t think of anything worse than watching something which then means I have to sleep with a light on for 3 days. However,  Halloween is the only time you can get me to watch one. There’s something about this Season that makes it that little bit spookier, so watching at least one scary film seems appropriate. This year on Halloween (since it’s a Monday booo) I’ve been convinced to watch ‘light out’ so there’s me not sleeping for the first week of November.

Getting Cosy

I love when the weather gets colder because it means I can get cosy. It means getting my onsie and my mermaid blanket out and enjoy a cosy night in. I can also start getting out my boots and winter jumpers ready to wrap up warm. Netflix and chill it is.

Roast Dinners

During the summer in my household, most Sundays are spent having a bbq. I love a good old bbq but you’ve also got to love a Sunday roast too. In the last couple of weeks, my mum has decided the weather is cold enough to go back to the tradition of having a roast every Sunday. She has also decided why should we just have pigs in blankets at Christmas? So is now making her own pigs in blankets too, which is making the roast top notch.  I know at uni it may be hard to get a nice roast dinner, but I’m sure if you pop home your mum will cook you one! Also, there is always the option of going to a pub in Colchester to get your roast dinner fix!

roast

Fireworks Night

‘Remember, Remember the 5th of November’, which means fireworks night! This means going out in all your fluffy hats, scarves and gloves while ‘oooing and awwwing’ at a beautiful firework display. The university also put on a fireworks display, so you don’t even need to leave campus to get your firework fix!

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Source: Giphy

And Finally… The build up to Christmas!

Once you get to the end of November into December everything becomes christmassy. The decorations go up,  Mariah is back on the radio telling me I’m all she wants for Christmas and the cheesy christmas jumpers come out of the closest. There is so much going on. Catching up with family, going out for Christmas meals with friends and of course their is the univeristy Christmas ball! There is nothing I love more than getting cosy on the sofa, watching my favourite Christmas films and saying my diet will start again in the new year!

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Source: Giphy

The King of Hearts

A thick fog lay across the table.
‘Put your cards down’ she hissed, barely breathing. Thick, sticky red knotted in her hair.
‘You’re going to kill yourself’ he cried, his hands bound across his chest.
The shadow walked behind him; with eyes down, they saw her approaching.
‘Put your cards down.’ Blood pumped out under her clothes. Dark violet stains, browning.
His wrists pulled and burned against the rope. He threw them down, one by one. A King, a Queen, a Spade.
‘You see?’ He pleaded. More red drizzled from her brain.
‘So who is she?’ Her eyes lifted to the shadow ‘And who is that for?’ Her head dropped to his last card.
His arms pulled until the ties loosened. She bled.
‘A spade for my queen.’ He whimpered as he smothered the shadow. His shirt did the job.
As she watched, she bled to death. He used a spade to dig her grave.

By Cate Triner.

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Feeling the Bern: US Election 2016

I am the first person to admit that I’m a massive politics nerd. I probably look at the news at least twice a day and I’ve been following this year’s US presidential election very closely. Although I would be ashamed to say that I wasn’t considering I am a politics student doing my year abroad in the US! Election fever has taken over the country and the run up to election day (8th November) has been a rollercoaster for  both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. I’ve even got involved with the election myself, despite being unable to vote! One of my classes here requires that I volunteer with a political organisation and myself and some friends decided to volunteer at the Democratic Party’s office downtown. I was slightly sceptical, as volunteering for class was something I’d never done before but I’ve had some amazing experiences.

It’s not all about the president

14495238_681619975322616_7896744312969524289_n With Nikki Bagley, our candidate for Arizona State Senate

The 8th November is not just election day for president, there are also plenty more local races on the ballot. US citizens will also be voting for members of the national Congress, state Congress, city councils and mayors. As part of my volunteering we’ve also campaigned for these offices. I have taken part in a variety of roles, from getting people registered to vote on campus, to some phone banking. Phone banking involves calling up local voters and talking to them about the candidates running for office. I get to talk to such a variety of people and there have been some colourful characters, most people are willing to chat but let’s just say I’ve gotten used to being hung up on and shouted at!

Young Dems on campus

dscn2285 Me and some of my fellow Young Dems

I have also joined the Young Dems club on campus. It’s pretty similar to the Politics Society at Essex. We get together once a week to discuss current issues in US politics and around the world. Me and the other British members have become the resident experts on all things Brexit! We’ve also gotten together and held presidential debate parties, obviously involving lots of food to help get us through Donald and Hilary’s squabbling.

Bernie Sanders comes to visit!

dscn2273 Senator Bernie Sanders speaking at NAU

Another great perk of being involved with the Democratic Party is getting to be VIPs at the events they organise. On the 18th October, Senator Bernie Sanders came to visit my university to give a speak on behalf of the Clinton campaign. I headed down to the auditorium after my class and there were hundreds of people waiting to get in, but luckily I had reserved seats with the Democrats and we had a great view. Now, as a self professed politics nerd, I think this will probably be one of the best moments of my year abroad! Bernie spoke about many topics including Trump, education, health, immigration and the environment. He was a great speaker and his talk was often interrupted with cheers from the crowd. After his speech he came down to the audience and I was lucky enough to meet him and take a selfie!

Living in America whilst the election is taking place is an amazing experience. I’ve immersed myself into US politics in a way that would have been impossible in the UK. Whilst it’s unknown what the future holds for both Arizona and the country I’m sure the rollercoaster ride will continue for some time!

14805642_10154592499121407_385890681_n Our (very blurry) selfie with Bernie!

Micro-horror story: The Clown

Lucy and Beth stumbled up the steps, giggling as Lucy nearly fell on her face. It was 2am on Thursday morning and the girls had just had another good night out. As they started their journey home, they saw this figure start to approach them. To the girl’s surprise before them stood a clown. “A clown!” screamed Beth. Lucy started to laugh “Don’t be silly Beth, it’s just Josh trying to scare us” as she remembered Josh saying he was going to prank them. “Josh” shouted Lucy “It’s not going to work I’m not scared of clowns!”. The girls approach the clown, giggling more. But the clown didn’t say anything. It had some sort of object in its hand which was dripping. “Lucy” whispered Beth “Are you sure it’s Josh?!” But Lucy didn’t have time to reply. The last sound that was heard from the girl’s mouths were their piercing screams. And they were never seen again.

By Lauren Tribe

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7 ways to save money on a student budget

There’s nothing worse than being a few weeks into the term and realising that you’re bank account is already severely lacking in funds. All of those nights out, takeaways and shopping trips have finally caught up with you and now entering your overdraft seems like more of a certainty than a possibility.

But before you make that awkward phone call to Mum and Dad to ask for some extra money, have a look at some of these easy ways to save money at University…

“Do I really need this?”

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Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/one-direction-harry-styles-hmm-LrRcT6zYxAMRW

This one question “do I really need this?” is what always goes through my mind when I buy stuff. Could I get a cheaper alternative or could I survive without it? You soon realise that you probably don’t need to buy as much stuff as you realise. It only takes a few seconds to stop and think about what you’re spending your money on and it could potentially save you a lot of money over time.

Cheap lunches!

leftovers

Source: http://www.holycitysinner.com/2016/07/13/leftovers-tidbits-from-the-food-bev-community-71316/

Whilst buying lunch on campus is okay once in a while, spending money on food every day easily adds up. Therefore, investing in a plastic container for bringing your lunch into Uni could be very useful.

Also, I personally find it quite hard to cook for one, so I often store my leftovers in the fridge and have them for lunch the next day. It depends on what I cooked, but if there’s not enough for a full lunch, I often make it into a sandwich or add some pasta/rice to it to bulk it up a bit! This way, you get two meals for the price of one! What’s not to love?!

Make your food shop go further

This is probably the part of your outcome that you can influence the most. It’s easy to let go a bit when you get distracted in the supermarket but if you go in with a plan and don’t get tempted by all the offers then you’ll probably save a lot… If you don’t already then make a list of meals which you’re going to cook over the next weeks before you go shopping. From this, you should know exactly what you need to buy and what you don’t.

Student discount

Whilst it lasts, utilise your status as a student to get as much discount as possible. A lot of places offer 10/20% for showing a valid student card at the checkout, so it’s always worth asking the person behind the till whether or not they do a student discount.

Also, a hub for all things student discount is the mobile app/website Unidays which offers exclusive discounts for signing up for free!

Pre-owned Textbooks

Likelihood is that you’re only going to be using the majority of your books a few times before you try and sell it on for a few pounds. So why buy them  brand new? Sites like Ebay and abe books sell books that are second hand for a fraction of the price. If you have friends that have already done your modules then ask them if they’re willing to sell theirs too. Yes, buy them brand new if you must, but consider it as a last resort if you can’t find a book anywhere else. I’ve bought quite a few books second hand in the past and they have ended up being brand new and still in its cellophane. Needless to say, it’s well worth having a bit of a search online before you get your books…

Find your own ways to cut the pennies!

Over time, you’ll eventually find your own easy ways to save a little bit of cash here and there as you become a seasoned student. For example, I’m a fan of getting a lime and soda at the SU bar for 30p instead of spending £1.40 for a pint of coke. Going to the supermarket in the evening is also a good idea as they try to sell their fresh goods off by offering massive discounts before they become unsellable.

Make your own money

employability-and-careers-centre

If you find that you have a go at all of these tips and you still find yourself strapped for cash, then it might be worth trying to get a part time job alongside your studies. There are various part time roles and frontrunner placements available on campus through the University and the SU, so make sure you keep your eyes out for when they advertise. Also, keep an eye on career hub, an online vacancy board run by the university, to keep updated with what the wonderful people at the employability and careers centre are doing.

 

Micro-horror story: A night to remember

When I was young, I used to hide behind my mother’s skirt
But mom never wore a skirt
Her last words about life were
‘Honey stop!’ But no one was there…
Just me, covered in a thick layer of dirty blood
I stopped when the screams died,
But they kept on devouring me
With thirst. Like maggots.
Whispers to my ear ‘what a childish joke!’
I put the knife down and forgive the tarot reader for making me feel insecure.

By Dragos Gruia

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Easy Autumn Recipes

Here are some cheap and easy Autumn recipes to get you through the season 🙂

This blog will include a list of ingredients to buy, the cost (from Tesco) and step-by-step instructions on how to produce some great Autumnal meals!

Spaghetti Bolognaise (for one)

Ingredients:

  • 100g beef mince
  • Half an onion
  • Half a garlic clove
  • 25g carrots
  • Half a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml of stock (ideally beef)
  • 100g dried spaghetti
  • Salt and pepper

Recipe:

  1. Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the beef mince and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook the mince until well browned.

  2. Add the onions and fry for 5-6 minutes, or until they are soft

  3. Then add the garlic and grated carrot and cook for another 2 minutes.

  4. Add the tomatoes and stock to the pan and stir well to mix. Simmer for 45 minutes and then season to taste.

  5. When it is ready cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet and then serve. It is great with grated cheese on the top!

And there you have it 🙂

Cost: £1.29 per serving (est.)

quorn_spaghetti_bolognese

Chicken Tikka Masala (for one)

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Butter
  • Half an onion
  • 1 teaspoon of Chicken Tikka Masala paste
  • Half a red pepper
  • 1 chicken breast diced
  • Half a can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon of mango chutney
  • 15ml of double cream
  • 15ml of natural yoghurt
  • Chopped coriander leaves

Recipe:

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a pan and add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook for 15-20 minutes until soft and golden. Add the paste and peppers, then cook for 5 minutes more.
  2. Add the chicken and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes and then tip in the tomatoes, puree and 20ml water. Cover and simmer for 15 mins until the chicken is cooked.
  3. Stir in the mango chutney, cream and yogurt and leave to heat. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve with basmati rice and naan bread.

Cost: £1.38 per serving (est.)

chicken_tikka_masala

Tomato Soup (serves 4, but suitable to freeze)

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • Handful of basil leaves
  • 600ml milk

Recipe:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan, then tip in the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion has softened and stir in the tomato puree.
  2. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and basil leaves, and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about 15 mins until thick.
  3. To finish the soup, tip the tomato mixture into a pan. Pour over 1 tbsp or so of the milk and mix together until there are no lumps.
  4. Bring up to a boil (the mixture will froth, but don’t worry, it will go away).
  5. Simmer until ready to serve!

Cost: 30p (est. per serving)

roastedtomatosoup

I hope that you enjoy these recipes, that are relatively easy to make from scratch and are a lot healthier than buying a jar or a ready meal version, whilst also being cheap!

Micro-horror story: The Dream

I was having a pleasant dream when what sounded like hammering woke me. After that, I could barely hear the muffled sound of dirt covering the coffin over my own screams.

“I can’t sleep,” she whispered, crawling into bed with me. I woke up cold, clutching the dress she was buried in.

By Bohua Yang

Send your own scary submissions to digitalmarketing@essex.ac.uk