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Principal Blog 6th November 2020

2 December 2020

SAFE DRIVE STAY ALIVE…

Year 11 had the annual Safe Drive Stay Alive initiative which is normally delivered in September at Greenbridge Cinema. Due to restrictions, this event was streamed to the year group via their mentors. This a poignant event that educates the students about the importance of vehicle safety. The students were fantastic; they were respectful & reflective throughout the entirety of the event.

A PERSONAL GOODBYE MESSAGE FROM MRS PARRY (ATTENDANCE/INTERVENTION OFFICER)…

Hi everyone,

I have been given a very exciting opportunity to do much more to help, support and guide students, in a new Careers role at Kingsdown School. My passion is doing all I can to improve the lives of young people in any way I can and my new role will help me to do that.

I will miss you all very much but I wish each one of you all the very best for your present and your very bright futures. I would like to leave you with some advice to help you spread your wings and fly:

  • Believe in yourself, always remember, you can achieve anything you put your mind to
  • Make full use of the support that is around you
  • Follow the advice of those you trust and respect at home and at school
  • Focus on your dreams and work your absolute socks off to make them come true
  • Quote from Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” (This is SO true).

BECOME A GOVERNOR…

Would you like a say in securing high-quality education and good outcomes for all our young people?

Can you commit to approximately two evening meetings per term and up to two full days per year (with prior notice)? Then why not become a Governor? No prior knowledge is necessary, and a range of training and support is provided.

It’s an exciting opportunity to:

  • learn new skills;
  • be part of a team;
  • contribute to the school and the wider community;
  • make a difference to young people’s lives.
  • We have a vacancy for a Parent Governor on the Local Governing Body for Ridgeway School and Sixth Form College.
  • Please have a look on the school website for the Recruitment Pack (Parents&Students\Letters&Forms) or ask at the Office for a copy of the Pack. If you would like to apply, please complete the forms in the Pack and send to the Clerk to Governors on [email protected]

Closing date: Friday 20th November 2020 (6pm)

WONDERFUL PIECE OF WRITING…

Miss Davies wanted to share an essay written by Eleri Owen in response to a project that was set for over lockdown. I think you will agree that it is staggering!

Oppression, alienation, and inferiority: how colonialism affected feminist literature

Postcolonialism – not merely a time, but a reinterpretation of race, ethnicity, and culture – has highlighted the impact of imperialism upon women, as well as how gender correlates with other components of one’s identity. Women writers of all backgrounds have been at the heart of exploring this, as postcolonial feminism (and its literature) primarily endeavours to account for “such problematic frames of thought in hegemonic Euro-American feminism,” as FEM magazine states (Kamran, 2017). In avoiding the western liberal perspective of women’s issues, we can understand how to combat racism and sexism, which has been regularised by our whitewashed and singular history. This essay shows how postcolonial literature (especially written by women) has much to offer, exploring how Maya Angelou, Chimamanda Adichie and Jean Rhys all used themes of race and gender concurrently, hugely impacting the way we view colonialism today.

Maya Angelou, recognised as one of the most influential and well-known authors in American history, explored themes of economic, racial, and sexual oppression within her works. Still I Rise, arguably one of her most prominent poems contains several poetic techniques and various kinds of figurative language: anaphora and alliteration are both used to make the poem more memorable and impactful, as well as similes, which create a vivid image in the reader’s mind. The major themes of this work are injustice, resilience, and self-empowerment. Angelou, commonly considered the speaker of the poem, directly addresses her oppressor; by using “you”, she refers to the various injustices that marginalised communities (women, people of colour, and others) have historically been forced to deal with. Yet the poem still has a triumphant tone – although society does everything to beat her down, still she rises. The sentiment is that hope is one of the only combatants to this hateful intolerance. This is expressed through the last lines (Angelou, 1978):

“Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”

In the 1950s, racism and sexism were commonplace, even encouraged. Rebellion and resistance were hardly concepts to the average person. Nationalism and conformance to societal norms and the law were dominant, even when they were at the expense of others. Angelou, however, would not suffer in silence, confronting and challenging authority. She spoke out against bigotry unapologetically and was never afraid to write about darker subjects (such as rape, sexual abuse, and other traumatic experiences) – and her work is still crucial to the modern world. She inspired many to tell their story and to always question authority, even it if meant being constantly beaten down. Her incomparable talent and raw passion, fuelled by “a past that's rooted in pain”, makes her one of the most profound authors of all time.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author, delved into fragmented identities with her novel The Purple Hibiscus. Published in 2003, it is a worthy example of such an examination of individuality. It focuses on the development of fifteen-year-old Kambili Achike (the narrator) and her life in Nigeria, where ethnic tensions and political unrest are the main conflicts. Her father, Eugene, a man with great respect within their community, is a brutal authority figure at home, and domestically abuses his family. The plot, therefore, is the escape from his vehemence, and their journey through various hardships. Themes of ethnicity, culture and gender all merge through epitomised discourses of pain, carnage, and dominion, as Adichie investigates power dynamics and the forms they take – as well as reflecting the impacts of colonialism.

Eugene (or Papa) seems to be imperialism personified: outwardly charismatic and charming, but secretly dictatorial and violent. Taught to believe western culture is superior, he holds many Eurocentric values, and acts very “British” around his superiors in order to please them, as this extract states (Adichie, 2013):

“Papa changed his accent when he spoke, sounding British, just as he did when he spoke to Father Benedict. He was gracious, in the eager-to-please way that he always assumed with the religious, especially with the white religious.”

This signifies that, even though he is assertive within the patriarchal power structure of his household, he still has to conform to the “white religious” norm to keep his reputation - an impact of Britain's colonisation of Nigeria. However, western religion also partially contributes to his abusive tendencies, as he was taken in by the Catholic Church as a child and conditioned by a Priest. By being punished when sinning, it normalised the idea of negative reinforcement; although Papa’s hands being dipped in boiling water was a short-term way to prevent sinning, it ultimately proved to have profoundly serious and dangerous long-term impacts - him abusing his family. Religious and generational trauma still affect former colonies today, and Adichie captures this within her novel, as the protagonist navigates the fallout of Britain’s tyrannical reign of her homeland.

Dominica-born British author Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea explores the idea of nationhood and alienation, focusing on Antoinette (the protagonist) and her life in the oppressive patriarchal society of the 19th century, whilst she neither belongs to Jamaica or Europe. Initially published in 1966, the novel was a feminist and anti-colonial response to Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë; Antoinette's story is of her life, from her youth on estate in Jamaica to her unhappy marriage to a certain unnamed English gentleman – possibly Mr Rochester – who takes her to England, renames her Bertha, declares her mad and therefore isolates her from society. Wide Sargasso Sea criticises the relationship between men and women within Victorian society and develops postcolonial themes (such as racism and cultural assimilation).

In Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys draws attention to the slave trade and colonialism, specifically focusing on the uprising of their disgruntled servants. They accidentally set the estate on fire during their rebellion, which is symbolic of this postcolonial reimagining of Jane Eyre. Although Thornfield Hall’s destruction occurs in both novels however, Rhys incarnates the fire as a liberating experience for Antoinette, as she describes it vividly and with passion (Rhys, 1966):

“The house was burning, the yellow-red sky was like the sunset...Nothing would be left, the golden ferns and the silver ferns, the orchids, the ginger lilies and the roses...When they had finished, there would be nothing left but blackened walls and the mounting stone. That was always left. That could not be stolen or burned.”

Within the two novels, there is a strong juxtaposition of atmosphere regarding the event, which reflects a lot about the postcolonial perspective: Bronte’s book may have presented the event as horrific, but Rhys interprets it as a positive event for the protagonist, as she was locked away from society before. However, if you reflect on it, you can also draw parallels to the idea of empire; if Thornfield Hall is a representation of domesticity and British culture assimilation, then its destruction is a vengeful attack, leading to the liberation of the colonies.

In conclusion, these women contributed significantly to the understanding of postcolonialism and its literature. They, with their writings, encapsulated what it means to be different, or oppressed, or alienated – but how we are not defined by these labels. They understood the effects of history, and how they could help others with their writing. Now, more people are embracing their heritage, and assisting with the fight against discrimination – such as through the recent Black Lives Matter protests – and how imperialism normalised it. Thanks to these strong powerful women, we are finally beginning to recognise the fundamental systemic problems within our society. It may be a painful awakening, as systemic racism and sexism are integral to the functioning of our capitalist society, but it is one long-anticipated by marginalised groups.

References:

  • Adichie, C. N. (2003) Purple Hibiscus. New York, NY: Algonquin Book
  • Angelou, M. (1978) And Still I Rise. New York, NY: Random House.
  • Kamran, G., 2020. Feminism 101: What Is Postcolonial Feminism? – FEM Newsmagazine.
    [online]femmagazine.com. Available here.
  • Rhys, J. (1966) Wide Sargasso Sea. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins Distribution Services.

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