London’s Youth Poet Laureate Attacks Britain for ‘Unbridled Islamophobia and Established Racism’

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 17: Anti-racism demonstrators with 'No to Trump' on them are displayed at a rally through the city centre on March 17, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland. The event, organised by Stand up to Racism Scotland for the UN's international anti-racism day is highlighting the rise in racism …
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This year’s Young People’s Laureate for London Momtaza Mehri has attacked Britain in her writings for its alleged “unbridled Islamophobia” and “established racism”.

The Somali-heritage 24-year-old is described by Media Diversified as being interested in “capitalism and colonialism” and “decontextualizing knowledge production” to explore “how it informs race, gender and nation theory”.

In her essay, “Black, British & Muslim; We’re not just a ‘Complication'” in 2015, Ms. Mehri writes that, “We [British Black Muslims] navigate a precipice few would want to tiptoe in 21st century Britain: the two-pronged realities of unbridled Islamophobia and established racism.”

Condemning the 16th-century monarch Queen Elizabeth I for writing of the “need to control the number of ‘blackmoores'” in the country, she goes on to describe the alleged reality of English major cities in the 1500s as substantially “multi-ethnic and certainly multi-faith”, with notable African populations. 

The poet also attacked the Office for National Statistics for failing to have a distinct classification for Black Muslims in what she interprets as “Black Muslim erasure”, lamenting that the Muslim label is dominated by “Asians”.

In another 2015 article for Media Diversified, “Why I’m Staying in on the 7th of July”, Ms. Mehri reflects on being a Muslim on the anniversary of the UK’s first Islamic fundamentalist-inspired suicide terror attack on July 7th, 2005.

Writing that “Muslims today know of our own demonisation”, she fantasised “that being whisked off into the night” – presumably by counter-terror police – “is a very real possibility” for the average British Muslim.

Adding her support for the fake-hate crime reporting body Tell MAMA, she also called British foreign policy think tank The Henry Jackson Society “hateful, imperialistic” and a “career-Islamophobe” vehicle. 

Following her appointment as youth poet by London’s writer development agency Spread the Word, Ms. Mehri will be spending this year setting up ‘youth-focused’ residencies where she hopes to “lead conversations” with young Londoners.

Spread the Word’s trustees’ chairman Rishi Dastidar called Ms. Mehri an “inspired voice” and said that “Becoming Young People’s Laureate is a sign that this is a poet to watch.”

Described by BBC Radio 4 as a “successful millennial poet”, Ms. Mehri has written such poems as “Netflix & Chill”, “Wink Wink” (in reference to the texting emoji), and “I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside” with opening lines that compare an orgasm to the War on Terror.

Portraying her participation in expensive poetry workshops and her guilt of the deprivation faced by her relatives in Somalia in “I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside”, she writes:

I complain about white men tugging at my self-worth

while the well of my grandmother’s village dries up.

I can’t stand the smell of my words.

Then comparing her brother’s appearance to that of African migrants drowning in the Mediterranean attempting to reach Europe, she writes that “Everything sinks to the bottom. / Even the monthly shreds of my uterus.”

Joelle Taylor, Young People’s Laureate for London judge, explained the importance of such laureates as Ms. Mehri for London’s youth, saying: “A dynamic and diverse city demands a poet that can speak for it and help others to find their mouths too – and that is at the heart of why the role was created.”

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