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Post Uni Blues: My motorboard drowned in the deep blue sea.

I  researched on depression after university, so I typed in “Depression after university ” on the search bar at Google and the results automatically popped up with many headings including: “Post uni blues”, “Post-College Depression”, “Depression after uni” and “Post-graduation depression”. The first row caught my eye was an article entitled: Post-Graduation Depression published in The Guardian in late 2001. I clicked on the link, leading me to read the interesting article. Having read similar experiences from various websites and personal blogs, I start to realised I was suffering from it.

According to the article, it is considered to be a common phase among most graduates, as they are leaving behind the culture of  lecturers, seminars, assignments, waking up late, all night partying, getting drunk on cheap cider and other alcoholic beverages at the SU, dieting on takeaways, baked beans on toast to hand in their Student IDs and NUS cards to find their feet in the big wide pond, the labour market. The labour market are quite ruthless towards new upcoming graduates who are wet behind the ears by the traditional stereotype that a degree earns you a first class ticket into the labour market. Unfortunately, I happened to be one of them.

The biggest symptom I picked up was insomnia where I find myself going to bed at 7 in the morning and wake up at 3 or 9.30 at night smelling of dried up sweat, the aftermath from every crippling anxiety attack. The minute I tossed my own cap up in the neutral warm sky, I found myself instantaneously crippled with constant anxiety attacks and bewilderment on what the future may hold.  I was forced to accept the epiphany that I was transitioning from the regressed naive mature student who assimilated to the student culture to constantly fight in a battle to adapt to the world of uncertainty and competition. Everyday, my mind has been constantly intruded by various career options including, lawyer, chef, doctor, journalist and the list goes on without giving me a chance to select a definite route that suits me.

I spent my time brainstorming on possible career options that is relevant to my degree (Criminology and Sociology Joint) so I would not feel I wasted three years of studying a subject that I’m not going to implement into something constructive. Somehow, the word “Journalism” constantly pops in my subconscious mind the most as I considered myself to be highly observant with a fascination of people, alarmed by current affairs and historical events that provides a legacy from generations to generations to come. Above all, have a subconscious passion for writing and expressing my knowledge onto paper.

However, that idea and the hope of breaking the vicious circle was short-lived by the  invasion of the “Special Needs” Label which dominated and tormented my mental psyche yelling at me: “Although you got that 2:1, you’re still the special needs boy. You’re not gonna be anybody, you’re nothing, you’re dumb and always gonna make a fool out of yourself in whatever you do!” That label had haunted me throughout my childhood, my school days,  my adolescence and now post – graduation.

The only way to escape from the blues and the harsh realities of unemployment,  competitions and discrimination held in the big wide world was to dissociate into my daydream state. At mostly times, force myself to sleep. I managed to wake up, only to join the dole queue signing on, researching and making various and numerous applications to recruitment sites or bullied into meeting up with friends who are still in university where one of them cannot take “no” for an answer and doesn’t seem to understand my circumstances.

I took a trip down to memory lane in early August to the town centre, the park where I used to socialise and play imaginatively with the other children, the schools I attended, things have changed dramatically. The park used to have swings, benches where I usually sit down by myself staring at wide scenery feeling in touch with nostalgia whenever I hear echoes of my childhood screams of glee pleading people to stop when I was span around on the rotating poles to a point I hallucinated with the bright green field.

Now, the whole park has been filled with a large mass of green grass covering a huge space of carefree innocence, another tell – tale sign that I have no choice but to enter the world of adulthood. I can have a bit of fun and relax once in a while. The only thing that concerns me as a post-graduate adult is to rather think on independently and logically rather than being dependent on others. Whenever I wake up, the first noise that hit my hears were the joyful screams coming from the lungs of children in the school playground giving me that nostalgic sense of being carefree and comforted are now permanently vanished.

The mixed feelings of sadness and resentment invades mind driving me to sleep again until those screams die out. It sent me another nostalgic feeling when I was a kid, running around feeling protected from potential grown ups who would peer through the fence. Hearing these screams made me want to jump onto the fast train reversing back to my childhood. Unfortunately, train journeys are not a fan of reversing backwards, same with the hands of time who is also not a fan of turning anti-clockwise. Both train journeys and the hands of the clock are passionate about moving forward so I guess I have no choice but to move forward even though it’s tempting to rewrite history, an easy option for those who dwell onto guilt and regret.

I instantly became the same person before I return to college undertaking an Access course, a fast – track ticket to university, watching daytime television shows, joining the dole queue at my job centre to sign on so I can get my fortnightly benefits motivating me to search for work with no intention on what I wanted to do in the long-term but to use the benefit money to build my bank balance, whilst sending in CVs and completed job application forms to various sites and companies with no intention on what I want to do.

I spent most of my post-uni period grieving my 3 years of freedom and self-discovery by looking through uni photos posted onto my Facebook account, repeatedly reading my essays scribbled with ticks, feed-backs and grammatical errors, which led me to bully myself telling myself : “You should have worked harder to obtain a First as that was your aim” Rather than having my own best friend who who keeps reminding me: “It’s better to get a 2:1 than a low mark or no honors at all. Each day starts with me fighting off the feelings of despair, vulnerability and hopelessness into remission only for those feelings to return like an unpleasant boomerang.

These patterns continue to fluctuate throughout Christmas and into the start of 2012. I have already passed the I’m feeling “suicidal” phase and now just surviving and getting on with life struggles. My laziness and insomnia started to take a massive toll on my family as I cannot do simplest tasks, like taking the bins out to be collected, vacuum the whole house and ironing my clothes. One day, I eventually found the strength to drag out the vacuum cleaner  from the cloakroom to start my daily therapeutic outlet, followed by laundry duties. I  learnt to take things easy as it comes, like catch up the latest episodes of Family Guy, Coronation Street, Law and Order, followed by browsing the channel menu of Sky Plus for the latest movies to retreat from the psychological uncertainty by my imagination.

During the post-graduate depressive experience, I start to reflect on past mistakes I made as an undergraduate. One of the mistakes was not planning at the start of my final year by brainstorming  post-graduate routes as I was distracted by the pressures of writing an undergraduate dissertation, essays, falling  into the wrong crowd, participating political protests, and on top of that, allowing myself to be dominated by the “Special Needs” label, the main root of my anxiety and low self-esteem. Cheesy as it sounds I begin to  appreciate even the little things which people take for granted.

Three years later, I have recovered gradually, but still have some symptoms of anxiety, which lessened thanks to positive thinking. After months on a government – funded work programme, without any positive outcome, it looks like on a subconscious level, is to reinstate into academics for a master’s degree and progress onto a PhD. This sounds like a promising and optimistic idea. Although I would be aware on regards of numerous internships and work experiences I obtain, the chances to be a victim of the “catch 22” with a burden of debt is fifty – fifty. Despite of the possibilities weighed up including the risk of another post – graduate depressive relapse, I know it will be worth it in the long run.

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What is meant by race, ethnicity and racialisation and how does it impact migration?

Race is defined as a social construct rooted from the judgement of how we see ourselves, such as skin colour, hair type, facial features and other physical characteristics. Ethnicity is defined in sharing the same cultural values and norms, historical experiences, religious interests and geographical origins. It is underlined (Hall 1989 cited in Fulcher and Scott 2007: 200) that ethnicity derives from ancient experiences and events that highlights the problem of prejudice and discrimination, inevitably will embed in our minds and the minds of the next generation. Racialization is an approach where we are defined by race, country of origin and ethnic culture. Racism is suggested to be an example of racialization where one person from one racial background is treated differently than one person from another racial and ethnic background determined by knowledge, social hierarchical status and historical feuds, resembling the prejudice and discrimination experienced by those of ethnic minorities by members from the hegemonic superior society.

Three theories are used to help us concentrate on our understanding of race. The first theory is the  theory of race and citizenship that concentrates on how race can increase our chances to obtain citizenship and to our human rights as being denied the freedom and opportunity to vote, voice our opinions and access to health and education. This theory flashbacks to the African Americans’ endurance of slavery and the James Crow era seeing racial segregation between the black and white communities, the colonization of British India aka the British Raj. The melting pot stems from the notion of assimilation where a migrant is expected to adopt the norms and values of their adopted homeland.

Lloyd Warner (1936 cited in Fulcher & Scott 2007: 203) argued the ethnic melting pot affected Eastern European Jews, Germans and Irish migrants who settle in US cities including New York, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia. However, the ethnic melting pot failed to apply on black migrants as they were socially bruised and scarred by historical constraints of  racial oppression and slavery. As a result, black migrants find themselves to be at the bottom line of the racial hierarchy on an unconscious level.  The second theory is the relationship between race and colonialism and it concentrates on methods of making one racial group inferior by a group which is superior (Cox 1948 cited in Fulcher & Scott 2007: 205).  One method that illustrate this theory is the application of science to hamper their spaces for economic and social progress through racial profiling. The third theory is racial discourse, where a set of ideas, beliefs and representation where we can be manipulated into identifying ourselves as British regardless of our racial and cultural differences.

Migrants from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds come to first world countries like USA and Britain in search of a better life. Unfortunately, they found themselves hibernating in lower class neighbourhoods and obtaining low paid menial jobs. For example, a study on Chicago conducted by Lloyd Warner who concentrated on the race and citizenship theory in America’s Deep South (Drake and Cayton 1945) saw the rates of black migration was very high during the Great Migration period between 1916 to 1919, as motivated by the heavy demands of jobs in labour. African-Americans move to northern US cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia Cleveland and New York with hopes and intentions for a better life and to escape the trauma of slavery and the James Crow era, only to find themselves living in “ghetto” communities  like the New York’s Harlem district and the Chicago’s Black Metropolis, to find a sense of belonging, simultaneously felt bullied into living in these communities by white estate agencies who hold unconscious racist ideologies and hostilities towards them.

African-American migration was unique rooting from the era of slavery, that illustrates in the transatlantic triangle where they  were abducted from Africa only to be treated as property to be brought and exchanged between slaves owners to work in the Caribbean and North America through the use force and intimidation. Although slavery was legally abolished, the exclusion experienced by black people persisted and were maintained in the lower end of the social hierarchy although they were able to progress to middle class and gain academically orientated jobs (Fulcher & Scott 2007: 209 – 11).

Shelia Patterson (1963 cited in Fulcher & Scott 2007: 217) carried out a migration study in Brixton, a district in central Lambeth and learnt that migrants especially, African Caribbeans are likely to settle there and inform their fellow relatives and acquaintances to migrate there at any opportunity. Brixton also attracted many migrants because of the large quantity in accommodation. Populations in West Indian migrants increased from 5,000 to 10,000 by the early 1960s as it had been suggested they were motivated by  mass of job opportunities available to them (Fulcher & Scott 2007: 219). Nevertheless, there was a deprivation in employment opportunities between 1956 and 1959 and thus, unemployment rates in Brixton increased dramatically. There were competitions between white and black people and the main issue was housing. It was argued  (Fulcher & Scott 2007: 219) that West Indian and African Caribbean buyers and tenants have more potential to be charged more their white counterparts and more likely to have disputes with their landlords because of racial hostility and homelessness may occur.

African Carribeans are rumoured to suffer the worst in housing by living in crowded lodgings and other poor accommodations than their poor white counterparts. Some found themselves buying property, only run down houses to rent out to other West Indian migrants to prevent them from enduring same level of racial hostility and intimidation from their white landlords. It was the same for Sparkbrook, a district in Birmingham, where Pakistani migrants were rented accommodation by Pakistani landlords (Rex and Moore 1967 cited in Fulcher & Scott 2007: 219). It is believed (Zorbaugh 1929 cited in Fulcher & Scott 2007: 219) that both Sparkbrook and Brixton were seen as the zones of transition where the values in housing have been collapsed to a point where it was certain for poor migrants with families to settle in. In Brixton, West Indians were more likely to buy properties in poor neighbourhoods and simultaneously on a subconscious level, create false perceptions from their white neighbours by making stereotypical assumptions that they are deviant and looking for trouble.

Members from Black  Asian and ethnic minorities locate to inner city areas to associate with those who are from the same ethnic backgrounds to achieve a sense of belonging and create an external “family bond” in territories known as ethnic enclaves. Those from South Asian backgrounds will settle in the London Boroughs of Ealing, in particular Southall, Newham, Redbrigde, Hounslow and Tower Hamlets where Bangladeshi Sylhet habituate in Brick Lane whereas Black Africans, Afro Carribeans and West Indians settle in Brixton, Peckham and other parts of London within the Boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth and for those of Irish backgrounds settle in Kilburn. Some however, relocate to settle in other ethnic diverse places outside London such as West Yorkshire particularly Bradford, Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool and Greater Manchester. Religion is suggested to play a part in preserving their sense of identity as West Indians are devoted churchgoers and majority of those are Christian shaped in divisions of Pentecostals, Presbyterian Baptists and Roman Catholics as opposed to South Asians who are majority made up of  Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs even though there were two central places of worship in Birmingham (Fulcher & Scott 2007: 221).

It is argued (Fulcher & Scott 2007: 221) that the black race symbolises evil, filth and demonic  threat to the white hegemonic society, which can be suggested that the media, mostly influences from America that  injects massive dosages negative stereotypes into the veins of the white society blinds our eyes on we see the black  and brown people rather than our personal views and experiences. There was limited contact made between the black and white communities in Brixton, influenced by an unconscious level of segregation. As for example, black men would attend dance clubs held at the Lacarno Ball in Streatham Hill, but the white women there reject their offers to dance. National policies were set up to prevent black men attending rock and roll festivals unsupervised and it was a similar situation in the USA in the 19th century where states implemented acts that would prevent black people from having the same access to public services as their white counterparts. This was seen as one of the reactions to the new-found freedom experienced by black members since the eradication of slavery and hence, opportunities in jobs and education increased.

Immigrants and racial groups were prone to be victims of racial hostility by the white society especially, those who live in predominated white areas who joined the “white flight”, leaving them experiencing feelings of  vulnerability, alienation and intimidation and those who are victimised by ethnic melting point could lose their ethnic identity. A study conducted in 2005 (Fulcher & Scott 2007: 223) stated that the majority who fully or partially identify themselves as British, although they acknowledge their ethnic origin. However, 22 per cent of black people feel they do not feel British at all. Racial prejudice was also reported in study. 60 per cent of black people and 54 per cent of Asians tolerated verbal abuse. 24 per cent of black people and 18 per cent of Asians experience physical assaults and racial harassment and thus, they contemplated of returning to their home countries the motherland as a result.

Racial minorities and immigrants are targets for resentment for the causes of poverty and unemployment suffered by the members of the white society rather than being admired for their strong work ethic . As a result,  found themselves a potential risk of racially motivated victimisation.  White people retaliated against black people in events like the Notting Hill riot in 1958. Racial violence against Asian Muslims have exacerbated by the 9/11 and the 7th July London Underground bombings created a plague of moral panic where Muslims are branded as “terrorists” and would be stopped and searched in the London streets and train stations (Fulcher & Scott 2007: 226). It was argued new a form of racism emerged in the 1970s that covered the biological racism of dominance known as xenophobia, prejudice against those who are culturally different (Barker 1981 cited in Fulcher & Scott 2007: 224). Attitudes among members of the British society associate with the British way of life, consisting of team spirit and harmony. Migrants feel they will be spared of cultural hostility if they are willing by subconscious force to assimilate into the British way of life, resulting them turning back on any customs, beliefs and values their way of life that associates with their ‘Motherland’.

The murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 was one of the profilic racially motivated murders in the UK and was recorded in the MacPherson report as evidence of institutional racism. Institutional racism is defined as mistreatment and denial in providing services to people because of their racial and ethnic backgrounds. It is obvious that institution racism is to blame for academic under achievement in ethnic minorities particularly, those who come from African and Afro – Caribbean origin as they are classified as educationally “inadequate” and  “troublemakers” (Fulcher & Scott 2007: 226). It illustrates that racism is not only seen the public sphere, but is more seen in the private sphere by members of authority who are subconciously fixated with the negative racial stereotypes particularly in schools and in policing.

On the whole, this essay highlights more on the negative issues concerning race, ethnicity racialisation and migration rather than the positives, on the basis of globalisation, which was ignored. It appears to be obvious the unforgettable events of slavery and racial segregation continues to be the main catalyst for persistent hatred among the black and white communities although it continues to neutralise overtime. The media tends to exaggerate the negative stereotypes influences on our ways of looking at race and ethnicity rather than influences from narratives and experiences shared by members of our adopted external families, friends and members charitable oraganisations and think tank policies that aim to tackle and neutralise racial prejudice and discrimination. Race and racialisation has affected migration in various angles particularly, being denied of our human rights, the opportunities to progress from one social hierarchy to another regardless of employment and education, the loss of identity among migrants who felt had no choice to make distressing sacrifices to cope and survive in a foreign environment that is turning against them.

[1]Barker, M. (1981) The New Racism (London: Junction Books).

Cox, O.C (1948) Caste, Class and Race: A Study in Social Dynamics (New York: Doubleday & Cox.)

Drake, S.C and Cayton, H.B (1945) Black Metropolis (New York: Harcourt Brace).

Fulcher, J and Scott, J (2007) Sociology 3ed Oxford University Press, Oxford, Ch12

Hall, S. (1989) ‘New Ethnicities’ Black Film, Black Cinema, ICA Document 7 (London: Institute of Contemporary Arts).

Patterson, S (1963) Dark Strangers (London: Tavistock).

Rex, J. A and Moore, R (1967) Race, Conflict and Community: A Study of Sparkbrook (London: Oxford University Press).

Warner, W.L (1936), ‘American Class and Caste’, American Journal of Sociology, 42.

Zorbaugh, H. (1929), ‘The Gold Coast and the Slum (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

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