Archive for black Scandinavia

I was a first-time mother, far from home, when I discovered that my three-year-old son had a hearing impairment.

In the 12th article in our “Inside View” series Lesley-Ann Brown shares what her deaf son taught her. Lesley originally published her story on The Murmur.

 I was a first time mother, far from home, when I discovered that my three year old son had a hearing impairment.

Kai. Photo from Black Girl on Mars

I was a first-time mother, far from home, when I discovered that my three-year-old son had a hearing impairment.

It was a shock because he had passed all his hearing tests and was even one of the first babies in my mothering group to say “bye bye” on cue. I thought he was not only developing by the book, but excelling too.

In retrospect, there were signs that something was amiss. When he played alone he was so deeply concentrated that he was hard to reach (“he’s just ignoring you”, people told me), he had a deep physical attachment to me (he would never just run off on his own), he hit other kids in daycare and kindergarten (anything to get a reaction he could understand) and he had started to mouth the words I was saying (apparently he was teaching himself how to lip read).

I was relieved when we received his diagnosis. The worst part was not knowing what was wrong. It also explained so much, and of all the things that could have been ‘wrong’ with my little boy, deafness was certainly not the worst. His father took the news less well. “But I wanted him to study music!” I remember he exclaimed.

We later learned that it’s quite normal for a parent to experience this depression and mourn the “perfect” child they used to have. The trick is to see that your child is still perfect, that they are the perfect expression of what they are meant to be.

Kai’s world blossomed after getting his hearing aids. It was obvious that he needed them from the moment he put them on. Having not heard for so long, he appreciated how this piece of technology could change his life completely.

Fitting in

But even though he took to his new technologically-improved life, I needed him to know he wasn’t alone. I made sure he was surrounded with imagery of other children with hearing aids and brought him into contact with other hearing-impaired children.

Ironically, he isn’t actually “deaf enough” to join the deaf community and we did not have the choice to send him to a special needs school for deaf children. If we had, he would have learned to sign and would now be part of – what I have experienced to be – a proud parallel society with its own culture, identity and role models. Instead we gave him hearing aids and sent him to ordinary schools where he received additional learning support.

This approach is called ‘mainstreaming’ and superficially it sounds like a good idea. If we could choose to be part of a bigger society, wouldn’t we? However, studies have shown that children like my son with moderate to heavy hearing loss tend to experience a lower quality of life than children who are more profoundly deaf. The latter go to school with each other, where they learn sign language and spend time with people who have the same issues as they do. This trend has been changing, to great debate.

Ambitions

Kai is now a teenager and seems to be thriving. His father’s fears were unfounded and he has already been in two bands, playing guitar in the first and drums in the second. He is even experimenting with music production. I’ve seen him design his own t-shirts and his father told me he’s a great skier. I know he’s not too bad on a skateboard either.

He still sticks out, though. One morning, a little girl came up to us and asked me, “Do those hearing aids help him?”

She was sweet – I love it when people just come right out and ask instead of gawking at him. And I understood why she asked. I was on my way to pick Kai up from school one day, when a group of kids from the deaf school boarded at Østerport Station and sat across from me. Despite having a deaf child, and against my better judgment, I stared at them.

I stared at their hands and the speed that they signed. I stared at their hearing aids and wondered if Kai would have preferred hearing aids like the blue pair worn by one of the boys. They didn’t notice me, so wrapped up and secure in their own little world to give me notice. I wish that my son was sitting next to me so we could witness this silent beauty – the incredible ability of human beings to adapt.

Then I remembered the little girl who so openly approached us the other morning. Some day, she and Kai could get on a Copenhagen train and talk, and continue their lives together with everyone else in the city. He too has adapted and, despite his limitations, is thriving.

I remember when he first learned about Einstein and he asked me what type of scientist he was.

“A physicist,” I replied.

“Well, I want to be one like him when I grow up.” I smiled, knowing that Kai didn’t necessarily want to be a physicist; he just wanted to earn people’s respect like Einstein had.

Kai may go on to learn about general relativity. He may even study music at the Royal Academy. We really don’t know what he will do. As long as the society he finds himself in is committed to accommodating everyone, the only limits he will ever experience are the limits he chooses to accept.

Lesley-Ann Brown
 I was a first time mother, far from home, when I discovered that my three year old son had a hearing impairment.

A Caribbean American freelance writer living in Copenhagen, Lesley-Ann studied writing at The New School, NYC. Lesley-Ann blogs at Black Girl on Mars.

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Lola Akinmade Åkerström’s bird’s-eye view of Stockholm

An urbanist’s guide to Stockholm: ‘Find your own secret space and own it’

 Lola Akinmade Åkerströms birds eye view of Stockholm

My name is Lola Akinmade Åkerström. I was born in Nigeria, studied and worked in the United States, and moved to Stockholm for love many moons ago after giving up my life as a system architect working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). That was in 2009. Coming from two boisterous cultures – Nigerian and American – Sweden as a whole was an initial shock to the system. Life slowed down tremendously and the words “work-life balance” slowly crept into my psyche.

Today, I’m a freelance travel writer and photographer who contributes to many major publications. My photography is represented by National Geographic Creative and I’m also the editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm – a site that encourages travellers to my city to slow down, re-examine their motives for visiting, and get to know the city on a much deeper level. Yes, Stockholm truly is that superhot person who is also a modest rocket scientist. Getting beneath its surface is challenging but rewarding.

Read the full story on The Guardian.

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Powerful Woman – Alice Bah Kuhnke

Alice Bah Kuhnke

PWL.2014 IMAGE.007 300x225 Powerful Woman   Alice Bah Kuhnke

Alice Bah Kuhnke is the Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy since October 2014, a former television presenter, Board Professional and one of the founders of the think tank Sektor3. On October 3 she was elected to Minister of culture in the Löfven Cabinet, just three days after becoming member of Miljöpartiet (the Green Party of Sweden).

BioBah grew up in Horda in Småland, Sweden with her father from Gambia and Swedish mother. She went to a track and field athletics oriented high school in Växjö, and was one of the country’s best female sprinter runners in the late 1980s, with 200 meters being her speciality. Her television career began in 1992 with SVT’s Disney Club. Between 1998-99, she had her own talk show at TV4 and many other television assignments including current events show Kalla fakta.

After she left television to study political science, and has, among other things, been Director of the Department Ideas for life at insurance giant Skandia. In 2004-2007 she worked as Secretary General of fair trade organization Rättvisemärkt.

She was a member of the Swedish Church synod 2006-2010, member of the Board of Dramaten Theatre, as well as Vice President of YMCA-YWCA Sweden.

In September 2009 she started as the Environmental and Corporate social responsibility manager at ÅF. Alongside her job at ÅF, she also serves as a board member for internet consultancy firm Doberman.

Source: Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Bah_Kuhnke

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Powerful Woman – Cecilia Gärding

Cecilia Gärding

PWL.2014 IMAGE.006 300x225 Powerful Woman   Cecilia Gärding

Cecilia Gärding is Swedish and South African and was born in Sweden. Her background is both in academia and the arts. She has a Bachelor of Arts in ethnology and a Master’s Degree in political science, where her main interest is integration and diversity issues. She is a film producer and director and a member of the band Khumalo.

Her essays have focused on youth and integration policy and education issues. She worked for the Ministry of Justice in 2006 for then Integration Minister Jens Orback as a political expert focusing on the labor market, education and youth.

She continues to developing cultural projects that strengthen vulnerable groups in society and also create international projects in countries with conflict zones to use culture as a means of conflict resolution. Cecilia created “Innovate4peace” as a forum for innovation in peace and reconciliation work where partners together with industry and other stakeholders are using innovation for a better society. Cecilia was name one “Women Inspiring Europe 2014 and is the ADYNE Ambassador for Sweden.

Sources: ceciliagarding.se and wearelikeoranges.org
http://www.ceciliagarding.se
http://www.wearelikeoranges.org

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Alice Bah Kuhnkes is Sweden’s new Minister for Culture and Democracy

200px Alice Bah Kuhnke Alice Bah Kuhnkes is Swedens new Minister for Culture and Democracy

Sweden’s new Minister for Culture

Many people were disappointed with the election results in Sweden. Seems there may not be many if any mandates over the next four years. However, in my opinion, one bit of good news is the appointment of Alice Bah Kuhnkes as Minister for Culture and Democracy. She became only the second black minister in the Swedish government following Nyamko Sabuni.

Alice Bah Kuhnke 300x188 Alice Bah Kuhnkes is Swedens new Minister for Culture and Democracy

Click on the photo above to view her career in pictures on the Svenska Dagblaet website. Sure, it is in Swedish but a picutre paints a thousand words, right?

 Alice Bah Kuhnkes is Swedens new Minister for Culture and Democracy

Alice Bah Kuhnke till TV4: Det var slagsmål om kulturministerposten. FOTO: Yvonne Åsell

The new Culture MInister was born and raised in southern Sweden, had a successful career in media, founded a think tank for civil society, Sektor3, worked as a sustainability manager at a technology consultancy company and was General Director of The Youth Board.

You can find out much, much more at her website:
http://www.mp.se/om/alice-bah-kuhnke

Editor’s note: The former culture minister disappointed a lot of people when she was photographed laughing while cutting a screaming, human black face cake.

pixel Alice Bah Kuhnkes is Swedens new Minister for Culture and Democracy

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