Monthly Archives: May 2014

Who Bears the Burden of proof?

Apologies in advance, my next few posts are going to be a bit behind the times, as I’ve been away so long. but there are some great articles out there that I still want to highlight – like this one by Justin Sandefur, a response to Paul Collier’s thesis (read my review of his book Exodus here) on the impact of migration on developing countries – specifically, brain drain, development and economic growth.

“I suspect many people reading this blog in Europe or North America share Professor Collier’s skepticism about skilled migration. You are not racist or xenophobic.  You are concerned about the plight of the global poor, and you welcome diversity in your community. But you worry that maybe Paul’s right.  Maybe the fate of your university-educated Haitian neighbor down the street, earning a good salary and sending her kids to good schools since moving to the UK, is a distraction from, and maybe even a hindrance to, reducing poverty in Haiti.

Before we begin, it’s important to note that we’re not really debating whether the rate of skilled emigration fro Freetown to London or Port-au-Prince to Miami is too fast or too slow.  We’re really talking about whether to deport your neighbor.  Or whether to refuse her a visa in the first place, and consign her and her family to a future of low wage employment, bad schools, and preventable disease “back where they came from.”  That is the policy proposal on the table for your consideration.

My argument is that the burden of proof here should be heavy, and it should rest on the shoulders of those who would build walls and tear apart families.  If you think the prosecution has met that burden of proof, here are three reasons to reconsider.”

Read Migration and Development: Who bears the burden of proof? Justin Sandefur responds to Paul Collier on the Poverty to Power blog.

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I can think of no finer tribute to Maya Angelou than her own words, written for other heroes that have gone before.


For Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass


I lay down in my grave

And watch my children


Proud blooms

Above the weeds of death.


Their petals wave

And still nobody

Knows the soft black

Dirt that is my winding

Sheet. The worms, my friends,

Yet tunnel holes in

Bones and through those

Apertures I see the rain,

The sunfelt warmth

Now jabs

Within my space and

Brings me roots of my

Children born.


Their seeds must fall

And press beneath

This earth,

And find me where I

Wait. My only need to

Fertilize their birth.


I lay down in my grave

And watch my children grow.”

– Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

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All God’s Children need travelling shoes

Maya Angelou died today and I’m not sad. Well… a bit sad. There are some lights in this world that leave us poorer without them. She is one of those.

And yet, upon her death, I find myself struck by how much she gave the world. Her words, her voice, will outlast her. Her poems will continue to enlighten and inspire young girls (as I once was) the world over. Her life was so rich, so layered, so well lived that it seems almost churlish to demand why we couldn’t have had longer with her.

Her family’s statement stressed that she died at peace, in her home, without any loss of her faculties. That is a fine end to a life lived with such passion and wisdom and courage.

I first encountered her work like so many others, through her poetry and specifically her poem, Phenomenal Woman. An awkward 13 year-old, I learnt it by heart and recited it to myself to exhort myself to be braver, bolder, more confident. I read all her books, poetry, essays – I devoured her work. Just two days ago I started on her latest memoir, Mom and Me and Mom. I read the introductory page and stopped, arrested by her words:

“This book has been written to examine some of the ways love heals and helps a person to climb to impossible heights and rise from immeasurable depths”

I couldn’t go on. I wanted to savour that thought, as always with Dr Angelou, so succint and beautiful and elegant and wise. I’ll read the rest eventually. Right now I’m a little buffetted by love and I don’t think I can cope with it. But I will.

Rest in peace, Maya Angelou. Thank you for your words, which will warm us for the ages.

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The N-word and nursery rhymes

I am still busy trying to finish my degree, and currently nursing a cold, but here’s a piece I wrote for Independent Voices: “Yes, call out Clarkson for using the n-word, but it’s pointless stopping there” .

I must admit, Below The Line is a bruising place. I have to consciously steel myself, see if I have the emotional energy to take it on. This article has the most comments of any piece I’ve ever written. And as you will see, that’s not necessarily a good thing (!)

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