Lola on Brexit: A sad day as Britain decides to leave the EU

On June 23rd, 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Although the vote was close at 59.1% in favour of leaving and 48.9% voting to stay (plus quite a lot of regional variation), the reality is that the majority of Brits voted to cut ties with the European Union, a significant economic and political body which Britain has been part of since the early 1960s.

Very few, including those who campaigned to Leave, saw this result coming, a fact that has been made all the more clear by the about-turns and jumping of ships which have been taken place since, including the abrupt resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron.

Needless to say, I voted to stay in the EU and do not think that leaving is a good idea. Although the EU is imperfect, the solution from my perspective would have been to work on making things better rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water. There is simply too much for the UK to lose by leaving, and too many variables that have the potential to be damaging to the nation as a whole. I believe that those who voted Leave have overestimated the UK’s importance to the EU by assuming that the EU will somehow crumble without the UK, and that the other member nations will be so keen to keep the UK that they would concede everything when it comes to negotiations, and have, conversely, underestimated the importance of being within the EU to the UK, particularly economically.

From a political perspective, all I can say is: shame on David Cameron for bringing this nationwide chaos to the fore. Being desperately shortsighted, he traded common sense for UKIP votes (UKIP being a right wing political party) and has now unleashed major damage – and perhaps future destruction – on his own country. Seeing the unapologetically bigoted Nigel Farage smiling with glee and claiming a victory is enough to make any rational person sick to their stomach; the irony is that Farage himself didn’t expect the UK to vote to leave the EU, despite encouraging them to do so!

Looking at the breakdown amongst age groups, it’s clear that the oldies of Britain have voted for a future that the young ones don’t want. Sadly, it’s the youth who will suffer from the results of this short-sighted, fear-based, low-quality-information orientated referendum – a referendum on *their* future, a future which them and their children will have to deal with long after these older people are gone.

Once the Leavers’ celebration is over, what comes next? What exactly is the plan? With the uncertainty over the direction of the UK set to continue for the foreseeable future, how do Leavers expect the markets to respond? Have the Leavers thought through the possibility of the UK entering another recession? Will this vote be worth that?

Leavers – what is your vision for the future of the UK? Both on its own and in terms of its relationship with Europe? Do you think that you’re in a strong(er) position now to negotiate with Europe? Exactly what incentive does Europe have to gain from negotiating with UK at this point, when they need to try and stop other countries from doing the same thing?

And, what about the social fabric of the UK? Have Leavers not just opened up the door to open and overt xenophobia and bigotry? Do Britons really want to live in an openly nationalistic nation: a land which has essentially been given permission to be hostile to people they don’t like?
I hope that the people who said that Brexit would be good for Britain will hold true to their word on behalf of all those who have followed what their claims and statements. If not, Leave supporters may find themselves having to come to terms with what is a massive hoodwinking.
And, finally, with so much fear about being controlled by elites, perhaps the next referendum be on the future of the monarchy?

What a time to be alive…

Lola in Buzzfeed: A “Slave Candle” Has Been Pulled From Sale By Selfridges After Complaints by Lola Adesioye

Responding to the backlash, the high-end department store said it agreed the candle, priced at £160, could be viewed as inappropriate.

Luxury department store Selfridges has removed a £160 “liberated slave” candle from sale after customers complained it was inappropriate.

Twitter

Lola Adesioye, a writer and commentator from London who now lives in New York, told BuzzFeed News she was browsing the candle section of the Selfridges website last week and was “taken aback” when she noticed the “unusual-looking item”.
Selfridges’ website provided little context or background information about the object apart from the caption “Liberated Slave wax bust” and a brief description suggesting it should not be set alight as it is “essentially decorative”.
Selfridges
Adesioye, who read social and political science at Cambridge University, then visited the website of the candlemaker, Cire Trudon, to find out more about the item. She discovered it was part of a collection representing key figures from French history.
Cire Trudon, which was founded in 1643 and describes itself as the oldest candle manufacturer in the world, was granted exclusive rights by the French National Museum to reproduce in wax a series of busts created around 1870 by the French sculptor and painter Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux.
The company had chosen to reproduce Carpeaux’s Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, and Benjamin Franklin, as well as “Pourquoi naître esclave?” (Why born a slave?) – which is the piece that has proven controversial.

Adesioye believes the slave sculpture was not an appropriate piece of art for Cire Trudon to re-create as a candle or any decorative item.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

According to @Selfridges this ‘liberated slave’ candle is a nice gift item for any occasion.

She questioned why the department store thought it was a good idea to have the item on sale – especially, she said, “given the history and awful nature of slavery and the kinds of responses and even triggers that it can provoke in people”.
“I don’t think Selfridges should have been selling it – particularly not without providing background as to why they were doing so,” she said. “And particularly not without thinking that some people might have found it upsetting – even if the woman is supposed to be liberated.”
“If there had been an artwork of a Holocaust survivor, would Cire Trudon have made a candle out of it, and would Selfridges have sold it?” she added.

After sharing a screenshot of the item on her social media accounts, Adesioye said people were “shocked” and also found the candle to be “strange and offensive”.


Twitter
Twitter

A Change.org petition was launched urging Selfridges to stop selling the slave candle and was backed by signatories who called it “insensitive” and “insulting”.

Shortly after that, a statement was released on the Selfridges Twitter account saying the store agreed the “candle could be viewed as inappropriate” and that it would be removed from sale.



A spokesperson for Selfridges also confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the item would no longer be available to buy online or in store. They declined to comment further.
Cire Trudon’s executive director, Julien Pruvost, told BuzzFeed News that the “Liberated Slave” decorative wax object is an image is of “positivity and hope” and that each piece was chosen as a tribute to the period of time when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was first written.
Cire Trudon
“Carpeaux always attempted to give a faithful representation of human movements; he sculpted the slave figure with a bust holding obliquely in order to express revolt,” Pruvost said in a statement.
“The figure expresses freedom and the breaking of bonds, and was created against the political and social backdrop of the revolutionary century as well as the abolition of slavery across the world. Carpeaux’s talent serves a powerful idea.”
Pruvost added that “it was never our aim to hurt anyone’s feelings”. And, since the context of the candle wasn’t provided on the Selfridges website, he believes “many reactions might have been sparked by a lack of complete information”.

However, Adesioye believes a candle depicting a “liberated slave” has no place in a department store.

“Pieces like that which have a lot of unpleasant history behind them and that provoke a lot of questions should be handled more sensitively,” she said.
“While this bust is supposed to be a piece about resistance, slavery is not a joke topic, nor something for people to commoditise and make money out of in 2016.”

What England means to me

[Essay originally published on What England Means to Me]
England to me means home. It means fond memories of school days; Sundays holed up in a pub drinking wine and eating a succulent roast while discussing the state of the weather with good friends; running to catch a train from Victoria station after a hard day’s work and breathing a sigh of relief once I’m on it and as the train rolls out of central London into the leafier suburbs.
England is what I signify to people when I’m abroad. My accent, my sarcastic sense of humour, my values and politeness (such as saying sorry when I really don’t need to) are all products of being brought up in England. “Oh! You’re from England!” people exclaim before asking me whether it really does rain all the time.
England is also a part of me that non-English people sometimes don’t understand. “Are there black people in England?” I’m asked that on a regular basis. Yes there are, but we clearly don’t fit into the idea of what Englishness means to others, nor are we often visible in mediums of communication such as TV and film so some people abroad really do not know that we exist.
The Englishness in me is sometimes an anomaly to people who don’t expect to hear a black woman speaking with an accent which to them sounds like the Queen’s. England is a part of me that sometimes forces people to change their perceptions, to do a double-take and to look and listen to me differently.
England is the ‘green and pleasant land’ described in Jerusalem, one of my favourite songs. At the same time it is also – being that I come from London – inner city and urban; a metropolis of sky scrapers and polluting cars and buses; a landscape dotted with parks which sit alongside historical buildings and cultural landmarks. It is at once inclusive yet at the same time, at times, hostile to immigrants and foreigners. It is both a melting pot and apparently tolerant yet also the country that has colonised and oppressed large sections of the world and gave birth to figures such as Enoch Powell.
What does it mean to be English? Is it interchangeable with being British? That’s a tricky question. I will always have a sense that although I was born and bred in England, I am not considered to be truly English. English is not as accommodating a concept as say, American; being “English” still has a connotation that does not fully encompass black people – I’m not sure that it ever will. It’s very possible to be both an insider and an outsider at the same time. “British” however – thankfully in many ways – is an all encompassing term, meaning everything… and at the same time very little.
In any case, I am proud of having being born and raised in England… I know and am well aware of England’s colonial roots and no doubt England has, for such a small place, created a lot of havoc in the world! As a person of colour I would be silly not to acknowledge that. But for all it’s sins, contradictions and paradoxes, it’s still home.
Lola Adesioye is a regular contributor to the Guardian who hails from London but now lives in New York