No, I did not leave the Lib Dems as a smear campaign against Tim Farron/The Illuminati told me to

While I don’t like the idea of a dramatic attention seeking blog to justify my exit, having seen some of the nasty comments out there I feel it’s important to clarify a few things.

I did not leave the party over a Liberal Youth march. I think the march was misguided because of a lack of intersectionality and cultural awareness. I left because of the abuse I got for voicing that opinion.

For context, at Autumn conference I invited Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the right wing think tank Adam Smith Institute, to speak on a panel on diversity. As a liberal I thought the varied views would make an interesting debate on how to improve diversity, a topic extremely close to my heart. What followed was a backlash of abuse against Sam. Yet only one person (a woman) directed this abuse directly to Sam. I received the full brunt of abuse meant for him, as well as for sharing a panel with him (other panelists received nothing). Sam asked people to direct their abuse towards him but no one took his offer up. I had had enough of these double standards and decided to leave the party.

On a regular basis over the last few years, when I have been outspoken, made a stupid joke, or voiced an opinion, I have received abuse. After joining FE this became much worse with people constantly telling me that I should have a different standard of behaviour as a member of FE. I received a call from a senior party figure telling me to watch what I say because I am a senior party activist. My outspoken white male friend on FE regularly speaks his mind and tweets stupid stuff. He has never received a call policing his behaviour or thoughts. He has only once been told that as someone on FE he should have a different standard of behaviour than regular activists. I have also not seen these attitudes towards other outspoken white men on FE. I receive a comment like this on a fortnightly basis.

I feel this double standard is because people do not like outspoken Women of Colour. I have spent many years trying to find an alternative reason but time and time again I’m forced to come to this conclusion. It is acceptable for a white man to voice their opinions, but when I do it I fit the “Angry Black Woman” trope. These days I have transformed an angry brown woman because I’ve had enough of people trying to police my behaviours, or silence my opinions. After I tried to leave in September, someone contacted the press and said things about my personal life which silenced me into staying, despite gendered abuse. (Still to this day I have no idea who this was, or why the press would care.)

When I have raised my concerns with the leadership, and named people who have targeted me with gendered abuse I was told “Oh but that’s just how so and so is” or “Is this is first time he’s upset you? You’re so lucky!” In what shape or form is that an acceptable reaction? I believe people have been “spoken to” about my concerns but the intrinsic culture to treat Women of Colour as “fair game” remains unchallenged. On the other hand, I’ve been told that I’m so reactive and rude on social media that I deserve what I get.
The comments post departure have been bizarre. A group of young men have taken to sending me non stop abusive tweets (so bad that I’ve now had to deactivate all of my social media). They’ve taken a comment I made about “smug white people”, and used it to invalidate any important point made about intersectionality. This is similar to what happens to Dianne Abbott. She makes a serious political point about race, and right wingers use her personality and character to invalidate any of her opinions or speech.
In Facebook forums people have tried to invalidate my views by saying “I’ve been looking for an excuse to leave”. I have wanted to leave because of disproportionate abuse and that’s not something to belittle. What’s worse is left wing members have been rejoicing about my departure because they’ve now got their party back, and right wingers feel my views on race are “absurd lefty nonsense.” The Lib Dems are a party with 8 MPs. Should you really be rejoicing when a young woman of colour leaves due to abuse? If that’s the party you’ve got back then good luck with the #LibDemFightback.
As a child my father told me that as an Asian woman I will always have to work thrice as hard due to inherent discrimination in society. I always believed that these double standards wouldn’t be so ingrained in a liberal party but unfortunately it is. As a white man reading this blog you may find my reasoning petty, but when this such a routine part of your activism it begins to really grate down on your self worth and mental health. For me, finally not being held to a Victorian ideal for women of colour, I feel liberated.
If you are supposedly a supporter of diversity, take a moment to consider your reactions and your views towards women of colour. When a WoC speaks up and says “things can be really shit for Women of Colour sometimes, you know”, don’t react with SHE SAID WHITE PEOPLE ARE SMUG!!! SHE H8S TIM FARRON. THIS IS ALL AN EVIL SMEAR CAMPAIGN BY THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA AND/OR ILLUMINATI. Take a moment to consider, why are spaces in the Lib Dems not safe for women of colour? Why do we hold double standards to their behaviour? And what will you personally do to change this?
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16 Comments

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  1. You’ll be greatly missed Kav 😦

  2. Sorry to hear you have gone, but do understand the reasons why. Hope that we’ll be able to welcome you back in the not too distant future.

  3. Really sorry to hear this. On both the level of you leaving (and the big loss the party will suffer because of that), and also because the situation in the party is that bad.

  4. Kind of makes me regret voting Lib Dem last year. Hope you’re OK.

  5. I have learned over a long life that being a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu etc doesn’t make you a good person… so taking this forward – being a LibDem doesn’t make you a good person either. There are objectionable people in all parties, dozens in every street, millions of haters on Twitter, pompous people who hurt others because they are self-centered and don’t think.

    Please accept the apology I make for all of us.

    I’m a LibDem and I’m now wondering if I will vote against staying in Europe – because, though I don’t agree with Cameron, I don’t see the bureaucracy of Europe coming round to LibDem principles of freedom of the individual. Nor freedom for a country. Is the compromise now too much for the UK electorate to accept? But looking to other groups of countries – where can we find what we are looking for? And from which party do we make that call?

    Best wishes Kav,
    Rob

  6. Totally understand how you feel and what you’re going through. I hope remaining lib dems work to make a safer environment for women of colour and you bounce back from the bs xx

  7. Hi Kavya, I’m not sure we’ve met. But I’d like to say how sorry I am you feel you have to leave. All the very best for the future, and I hope, perhaps, one day you’ll feel able to rejoin.

  8. Kavya. The party’s loss is absolutely your gain. You will go on to bigger and better things. Well done for speaking out and dont let this stop you in the future.

  9. I’m so sorry so many people have driven you to this, u must be so frustrated. People insulting you are massively two-faced – I doubt that they’d have turned down an enthusiastic charismatic young activist campaigning for them. Plus you’d likely have been bundled into all the photos…. Mind you, I saw a facebook thread today where someone said you were slow at delivering – i give up! Everyone’s off their heads! Good luck with everything in the future if i don’t see u tho I hope we’ll stay in touch Xxxxxxx

  10. I presume you were elected to the FE, so you can say what you like and if LibDem members don’t like it, they can vote you off next time.

  11. Oh Kav I’m really upset reading this. You may be surprised to learn this from a white male but I’ve looked up at you as a shining beacon of the modern liberal that inhabits the year 2016. If liberals cannot be treated equal in their own party, what chance do we have against our natural opponents?

    This party is far from perfect (that Rennard is still a member is proof of that), but far from the FE I can tell you that there are some honest liberal thinking equal minded people grafting at grassroots level (certainly in my local party anyway). I hope we can find away to fix things so that one day you’ll feel comfortable rejoining.

    You will be missed.
    All the best
    Steve Middleton, Bury.

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