Reflections

Queenie: Respect isn’t unreasonable

I hadn’t read a book properly for ages, so quarantine is a perfect reason to cram a lot of imagination into my day. Like a novice I had only just finished Malorie Blackman’s ‘Noughts & Crosses’, so reading a book from an author amongst the new wave of female Black British author’s ( who is also from Jamaican descent wood woop!) was a logical step. Thank you Candice Carty-Williams! I’m very glad I took a chance on the rave reviews, Queenie is a great story and one that needed to be told.

On my first introduction to the title character I found her quite agitating, her neediness and limp rationality of life made me want to shake her. However, like everyone else in the world Queenie is a multi-faceted human. Even though we try to portray ourselves as unproblematic beings with only two sides, strong & strong in vulnerability. But what about those awkward edges and our personal ‘-isims?’ Queenie laid hers shockingly bare and although she didn’t want to it does require more strength and gives power to her name. I suppose that’s why she was easy to pick on- guilty. I also grew annoyed when she insisted on being desperate for her ex-boyfriend Tom. Rejection is a painful lesson and its good that she saw her faults however, he could have done more to stand up for her. Not all of her desires were UNREASONABLE.

One of my preferred elements of the book was how the black female characters were recognisable in my own life. My favourite was Kyazike as she is an amalgamation of myself and other friends. I commended her fierceness, authenticity and loyalty. I was ready to back her beef when she wanted to duppy certain man! To the untrained eye (and in my opinion) she is a caricature of a young black female Londoner, but I saw as a woman who was simply herself and we should not be apprehensive of this quality.

Furthermore I appreciated the growth of Queenie’s grandma. Many old Caribbean’s diminish the woes of our generation as they don’t feel it compares to their own traumas. Therefore I was glad she made the step to even believe in mental illness and that our version of suffering is valid.

Simply put, we as readers are put in the mind of a young woman as she combats and embraces her life. I’d need a podcast to scratch the surface of the book but hopefully you understand the reason this story normalises Black women’s lives and the different shades it comes in.

Reflections

Queen Vashti: ‘Boy Bye :)’

Queen Vashti, one of the first women recorded to say ‘Boy bye’. She gracefully took her crown and stepped into her new future after she was banished from her kingdom. You can find her cameo in the book of Esther in the Bible.

Vashti was the queen of Persia, wife to the mighty King Xexses and regarded for her beauty. One night her husband drunkenly demanded she showcase herself to his party guests, so he could gloat and they could salivate. A request she firmly rebuffed. She refused to prostitute her dignity and paid for it in full. Enraged at her audacity, along with the advice of his circle, he demoted her. They were convinced if the story got out women would despise their husbands and the world was likely to go up in flames. How dramatic. The King’s word was law and couldn’t be reversed even by himself, something he probably regretted it in the morning. Vashti would have felt violated, unprotected and grossly mishandled. Someone who claims to love you wouldn’t draw you out like that.

‘The room was brimming with sweaty abrasive men, eyes bright with lust and leaking obscenities. They daren’t say anything disrespectful out loud but their ferocious presence was unnerving. I hope that not everyone agrees with the king’s obnoxious behaviour but no one will fend for me so I’ll have to do this alone. I have not been considered.’

The scenery and culture may have changed but the acts of men high in authority hasn’t. For all we know this wasn’t the first time Vashti was hung out to dry by Xerses. I don’t believe she took an L here, I feel she stuck it on his forehead and it hung in a corner of his mind forever. It could be interpreted that she was being difficult but seems far too simple and insulting, we almost always have a reason.