Launch Night Excerpts

Art by Priyanka Meenakshi

We celebrated Project Myopia with a beautiful launch event towards the end of semester 2. It was a night of music and poetry, as well as an opportunity for some of our contributors to elaborate on their essays and ideas. Our performers touched on a wide range of serious issues: from the exclusion of racial minorities’ contribution to the canon of literature, to the oppressive nature of zero-hour contracts that prevent tutors from being able to fully engage in helping all students get ahead, let alone those from a minority background who need assistance most. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who performed and shared their experiences, and we also have to thank everyone who attended and helped us drink the wine we provided! Project Myopia aims to bring marginalized people together and amplify their voices, and our launch felt like a perfect culmination of our semester’s work: people came together and shared their experiences of an academic world we need to change.

Some excerpts from the event:

It gets lonely @ night

Bettz – is – KK

(Elizabeth Kwenortey)

Kanye West did it best, my friend he already said

his insecurities in tuned time, lyrics what’s gwarning in his head,

but I took time ‘cause I wanted to see

if I could do the exact same for me,

but I feel the true me comes out after dark, 

werewolf shit init it’s kinda bizarre

how in the day I smile and I’ve got energy,

too much that it may well be deemed fake.


p.s. leave me alone I’m tryna keep myself happy for fuck sake


‘cos I see some of you oh so carefree,

and well how I wish that could be me but

it can’t ‘cos…


The Night causes shutdown

mixed with feelings I can’t stress,

one day I’ll put on my own crown.

Some friends, it ain’t their job but they try their best

to wake me up I feel down,

I often drown in my own thoughts

when I find a day to be comfortable in myself:

that will be my reward


Well – it’s South London ends in Ed,

reppin’ ends in Ed,

spew out this ghetto accent in convo I did dread,

I remember the first night I went into my accom kitchen –

looks given like “Why do you wear that thing on your head?”:

oh here we go, the culture questions:

Is it real how do they do, some peeps even tryna give suggestions 

about how I style the hair on my head,

I said “Oh it’s quite late I’m gonna pop to bed”.


I went to my room, saw the sky black.

I locked my room to avoid attack

and it was too quiet as I looked around,

I hear joy of freshers friends but I’m alone, 

smile drains to frown and then 

you may know how it goes when…


The Night causes shutdown

mixed with feelings I can’t stress,

one day I’ll put on my own crown.

Some friends, it ain’t their job but they try their best

just to wake up I feel down

I often drown in my own thoughts,

get to know me – I mean – here’s the key to my brain 

Come aboard:


In the day I’m a boss, I don’t need you anyway, 

I hate cliques and I hate crews –

I have to invite her if I want to hang with you?

Looking really hard for peeps kinda the same as me,

can’t find them – well then – what can I do?

I remember the days my mum made me wear

her royal mail shoes to school,

bare people laughed, kids are fucking cruel,

but that was the day –

I found I fight alright in the sunlight,

what was unbearable was the loneliness at night.


But don’t focus on that too much, Lizzie: you only here for one thing:

you get the job, you stack the cash, then find a man who’ll give you a ring,

it doesn’t matter if you don’t have friends

these people don’t understand you they’ll never understand ends,

they won’t know the stress of council knock on the door,

whether it be upgrade or money they want more,

they never have to worry ‘bout sending money way back home,

thousands of miles for a better life your mother did roam:

don’t entertain these fools who won’t get it,

‘cause when you tell them your reality it will be temporarily upsetting,

how can you expect to be able to walk their path

when they chat back to you make fun of how you are,

take that silver spoon and shove it up their –


their privilege scares you.

To them you’re probably just a clown,

but they never see when night comes around and 


The Night causes shutdown

mixed with feelings I can’t stress,

one day I’ll put on my own crown.

Some friends, it ain’t their job but they try their best

just to wake up I feel down

I often drown in my own thoughts,

get to know me – I mean – here’s the key to my brain 

Come aboard:


Well you know what, how will you fix it?

You can’t take back an already digested biscuit,

and so some people may have already had a head start,

but here, in Edinburgh I find it really hard to un-guard my heart.


I continue on in circles through the night 

who do I talk to being here, my background – it doesn’t seem right,

but as the tears start to dry a new day comes,

I come back to strength with the light,

but that doesn’t mean I’ll forever be alright,

‘cos guess what’s coming: 


The Night causes shutdown

mixed with feelings I can’t stress,

one day I’ll put on my own crown.

Some friends, it ain’t their job but they try their best

just to wake up I feel down

I often drown in my own thoughts,

get to know me – I mean – here’s the key to my brain 

Come aboard…

Speech by Ketaki Zodgekar

Hi everyone! It’s great being here today, surrounded by so many fantastic people, listening to the awesome music and poetry and celebrating such an important initiative. Something which struck me when writing this speech and the article for Project Myopia, was just how difficult I found the task. I found it so incredibly hard to get words down on paper and express myself simply and eloquently. I guess it’s because the nature of my Project Myopia review, and this speech, is that they are both about things that are personal to me and about my identity and my lived experiences. And, as much as I am willing to talk about myself in the personal realm of my life – to family and friends, I find it strangely difficult and uncomfortable to talk about myself, my cultural background and things I have experienced in an academic context. I started to think about why this was just so difficult– and came to the conclusion that it was because I had never had to do this before. And then, I realized how truly shocking it was that I had gone through 16 years of full time education without ever having the opportunity to academically engage with myself, my country and my identity. Project Myopia was the first opportunity I had to write about something I really love, that is really personal to me – and for that I am very grateful.

So I’ll start by talking about my experiences of erasure at school, and then at university, before talking about the consequences of that erasure, and how things are changing. From what I can remember, I spent my school years learning about Shakespeare, Orwell, the World Wars, the Russian Revolution, the Tudors, the Suffragettes, the Celts and anything and everything to do with Europe and America in the humanities. My white, English classmates learnt about their ancestors in Europe during the world wars. In contrast, although I enjoyed school, I grew up strangely absent and disengaged from my depersonalised curriculum. As an Indian person, I longed to study my country’s history. As a woman, I longed for female perspectives and authors. Seeing myself in the curriculum would be validation, and I never got this. The only time I remember ever learning about India was in Religious Studies in early secondary school, even then, I was asked to give an assembly to my year group about the ‘story of Diwali’. So, it seemed that when people like me featured in my curriculum, it was up to me to explain it to the class. In my last couple of years at school, I started to tire of my one sided curriculum. Learning about the Tudors for what felt like the hundredth time was dull, uninspiring and, above all: bad for my education. I was looking forward to going to university and studying new subjects and diverse topics– university would be different!

This brings me to University – spoiler: it wasn’t different. It’s difficult to talk about my experiences of erasure in academia because there are so many different big and small things at university that have made me feel invisible, undeserving and out of place. My experiences of erasure in academia range from the personal to the more institutional.. Common everyday examples of erasure I experience are people assuming I study medicine because I am south Asian, tutors failing to learn how to pronounce my name and so feeling awkward about it and avoiding me and the age-old problem of people asking me where I’m ‘really’ from or sometimes, in fact, deciding to TELL me where I’m from. Things like these are frustrating because they make me feel like I don’t really belong here.

On a more institutional level, obviously the lack of diversity in the curriculum is a major example of erasure – nearly all of the philosophy I study is white, western and male and I’ve found politics sterile, revolving around examining institutions and events in a way that is wholly removed from human experience and identity – two very political things.

Diversity of staff is another serious problem. In two years of study I’ve only had two lecturers of colour and not a single tutor of colour. In philosophy I’ve had the same amount of lecturers who are women, as lecturers who are named ‘Brian’. Representation is important! Simply not enough academics of colour, or women academics teach at this university, and that is reflected in the curriculum we study. Seeing other people of colour making it to the highest levels of academia has a huge positive effect on people like me, as it makes it seem more tenable that we are able to reach equivalent levels.

Another issue is that when non-white perspectives are included in the curriculum, they are often implicitly taught as lesser. Recently, I was happy to hear that last year’s un-diverse first year politics course: ‘political thinkers’ has been changed to include three black thinkers this year: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Frantz Fanon. The initial joy at this news was dampened when I was then told that these three greats were squeezed into one week, which would have normally been devoted to just one, likely white, thinker. Is the intellect of three world-shaping black thinkers equivalent to that of one white thinker? Academia seems to imply so. This implication is insulting and although I’d be grateful to study these thinkers – I am sceptical of inclusion that is half-hearted, tokenistic and comes with its own dimensions of oppression and implied white superiority. Similarly, while the history of Asia and Africa is lumped into one pre-honours course, LLC puts on a course of equivalent credit solely focused on the highland bagpipe. I’m not knocking the highland bagpipe – I’m sure it’s fascinating, I just want equivalent recognition of non-western, non-European subject matter.

Academia is also very quick to dismiss and discount the blatant racism of much of the work we study. JS Mill’s On Liberty justifies colonisation on the grounds of the colonised people being ‘barbarians’ or ‘savages’ on account of their race. Yet, the lecture we received on Mill centred on how he was simply a product of his time, and declined to academically critique his disgusting views on race. This is poor practise and is symptomatic of a wider culture of brushing racism under the rug. It’s the canon! We can’t criticise it! It’s not academic to talk about race! Identity politics sucks! You’re all snowflakes! Academically critiquing this prejudice is in the University’s best interests: it teaches students to think critically, gain awareness of social issues, thus making our education a more rigorous one.

So as you can see, erasure of minority identities is epidemic in academia. Now I want to talk about the results of that erasure. For me, personally, a major consequence is Imposter syndrome: this is when someone is unable to internalise their accomplishments, and constantly feels that they are unworthy of their achievements. This phenomenon is much more common in women and minority groups. This climate of lack of representation and microagression has a real effect on my perceptions of myself. In both social and academic situations, I constantly feel like I have to work extra hard, be extra friendly and eloquent in order to be seen on the same level as my white peers. What more, even though I am a high achieving student, never in my time at university or school have I felt happy with an essay I’ve just submitted, or felt that I performed well just after an exam – even though I obviously have. When you don’t see yourself in what you are studying, or who is teaching you, or even, often, who you are surrounded by when learning, it becomes a lot easier to internalise the message that you don’t belong or deserve achievements, and will never really be good enough.

Given this erasure, it makes it even more worthwhile when things get better, and things really are getting better! In this semester’s philosophy course ‘Knowledge and Reality’ I had the opportunity to learn about the Buddhist Philosopher Nagasena, and even write my midterm essay on feminist metaphysics. These small changes to the course make really big differences to students like me. I’ve felt engaged, interested and excited by the material we’ve covered– and this is a very new feeling. But I think that the things which are currently making the biggest differences around campus are the student-led initiatives to diversify the curriculum that have cropped up in the past few months. Esme and Diva have launched ‘LiberatEd’ with the help of Patrick. And being involved with the PPLS LiberatEd group with Lindsey, Jess, Alba, Joanna and Meyra, thinking about ways to diversify our disciplines is very exciting – big changes are in the works. Writing about Swet Shop Boys for Project Myopia was really rewarding, and gave me the opportunity to synthesise the mix of feelings, emotions and ideas that buzzed through my head when I first heard the album. So much ground-breaking work has been created by minority groups over the years and initiatives like project myopia are crucial in giving these works the academic recognition they deserve. Overall, I don’t just want a diverse curriculum – I need one, in the same way I need a broad education and I need my identity to be respected and represented in the world. Lastly, I would like to thank Rianna and Toby for their really hard work creating this platform, giving a voice to those who need it most and also thank Esme and Diva and everyone who has been involved with things like LiberatEd, the BME group and Project Myopia. Its projects like this that make my university experience a really happy and positive one, and they wouldn’t be possible without the people behind them.

Time Anxiety and Queen Hatshepsut

Punk and Pussy

(Izzy Bravo)

Time Anxiety

“I wish I were studying at the library,”

said Izzy, one time too many.

I wish I could dedicate all my time to my classes

with focus and an occasional fingertip to the brim of my glasses;

sit behind shelves of books,

mind deep in the literature,

assignments in on time.


My education a pretty penny stored in my mind.


I wish I were studying at the library.

But no one can hear me,

because everyone knows that studying is lame.

But wait —

can we stop making that connection,

as if school is not the same as a free election?


In my blood line,

school is like a crime

deemed useless and selfish,

a waste of time and sexist.

Bring home the dough,

or you don’t care about this home.


And in other cases,

it is incredible how someone’s life can be controlled by one test.

We don’t eat; we sacrifice our sleep

just to make sure we’ve filled our memories

with materials we will never see.

It’s incredible,


incredible how I wish that I could join this world.


I wish I could be among this world that you call academics:

go to school like the other kids,

like the other kids.

I want to be like the other kids:

lunch box in hand,

walk to school.

But when there are other things in your life

that have you wondering why you can’t be like the other kids,

why you have to deal with another problem before you can hit the books,

stressors and items piled high above the achieved look,

like a quest game to be done before you reach the actual tasks;

when there are other things beyond your control,

all you do is wish to be immersed in this academic zone.


You see, when you study at a university,

a generic image of a student is all you see.

We students are supposed to be dedicated to our studies;

we are supposed to be focused on lectures,

point our pens to paper,

turn in our thoughts to the collection basket,

giving consent to be judged,

to be judged,

to be judged like the culprit of my anxiety.

Thanks, Saint Peter, but I’m far below your expectations.

Don’t expect to find me on that book of names.

If this is based on the basis of how well we put our thoughts on the sheet

and your only stressor is a deadline,

well, I must say, you are one privileged fool,

one privileged fool.

Oh, I’m sorry — one responsible model who follows rules,

who gets to sit at the library

without having to worry about what to do about your health

or whether your meal for the day will be on you or up for sale;

whether you can go home that night

or if your bed will be infested with mice;

whether you can shut your mind

before your eyes reveal floods of cries.


Before sitting down to write this damn thesis,

some of us have to make sure our nerves are at ease,

make sure we can feel the ground under our feet.

Is our blood still flowing through our veins?

Can my mind stop playing these never-ending games?

I am a student.

But when classes are not my biggest worry,

well, now that is a problem, because I am here full time.

Here’s to you, matriculated student with a million monsters hidden under your bed.

You dream of sleep.

Dream. Dream. Dreams have never felt so far off my plane of time.

Queen Hatshepsut

In the 6th grade I did a report on Queen Hatshepsut.

I spent hours on Ask Jeeves,
found texts about the life of this past queen.
At a young age, she reigned Egypt;

don’t ask when — I only know the region.

When I learned about this Egyptian,
not once did I imagine her in a kitchen.
Not once did I think about the kids she should have
or the recipes she adjusted to trim her waist in half.

I molded her with clay,
careful to craft her tiny face.
She stood guarding her palace
with a smooth face and no sign of malice,

because she was a good queen that cared about the people.
Young Izzy was intrigued and wondered why, upon entering the holy education standards’ steeple, did all this jargon text
only include white cis men?!

In the 6th grade, Queen Hatshepsut taught me to think,
see how my education system is linked.
We’ve been conditioned to show off what we can memorize.
Well, keep your hands down; stop spitting back lies.

They’ve tried to shove these outdated textbook ideas in our heads,
but little do they know that critical thinking also includes analyzing the men

who wrote these concepts,
finding out what was left out,
and then calling them out on what they’ve tried to hide.
Someone’s gotta be the underdog,
the slave,
the witch,
the enemy,
the threat meant to be burned at the stake,
The oppressed are only oppressed because society has been conditioned to oppress them
using tools like media, the news,

money, materialism, food,
idols and educated fools
too distracted to see that they’ve been contributing to this vicious cycle, fucking tools

like puppets on strings still controlled by state education’s standards.

And this education system is only a part of a wider image,
used to condition us to be well-behaved children who won’t question the rules;
and then, as an adult, you’re society’s tool.
We’re taught to believe that behaving is good and rebelling is bad,
and if you disagree, they’ll frame you as mad,
conditioned to seek praise each time we obey.
When will we call for this system’s decay?

And according to the books, I’m already in my grave,
because if there’s a threat,
they target your head.
Queen Hatshepsut died centuries ago;
a history they don’t want you to know,
because if young girls are taught that they can achieve
more that the strictly defined box they’re all taught to believe
they’ll feel free to open their legs; our vaginas need to breathe.
They won’t fear the idea of having a voice,
because it would not be a question whether they have that choice,
making it harder for the patriarchy to exist, flourish, and oppress
the hem of the feminine dress.

A woman ready to fight her battles is not what they want,
a threat prevented from the start of the sacred and praised education jaunt.

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