if I’m the Other, then who are You?

I told my daugh­ter a few days ago to nev­er be afraid to use your voice, because it’s the only tool we have to change the world. This is me fol­low­ing my own advice, I sup­pose.

The out­rage, despair and con­fu­sion that is pour­ing into the streets is not unex­pect­ed. I don’t sup­port the loot­ing, the vio­lence, the con­fronta­tion: it only serves to widen the divide, to cement the image of the Dan­ger we’re believed to be. But all that rage, all that fear — where was it sup­posed to go? Under the prover­bial rug with the stock­pile of oth­er sim­i­lar atroc­i­ties? None of this is new – and it’s clear that our voic­es, the images of police bru­tal­i­ty, or the sto­ries of all those that have had their lives tak­en from them have made lit­tle impact on the dia­logue. So what was left? 

The whole thing is almost beyond sad. I say that because, even in the face of this, so many peace­ful protests have end­ed in the heavy-hand­ed, delib­er­ate dis­re­gard that the protests are try­ing to bring atten­tion to. Peace­ful pro­test­ers forcibly chased away for pho­to ops. Peo­ple cor­ralled and then tear­gassed, fired on with rub­ber bul­lets, pep­per sprayed, beat­en on the side­walk like rabid ani­mals. Thou­sands arrest­ed and detained with no clear de-esca­la­tion in sight… just the con­tin­ued stamp­ing out of voic­es des­per­ate to be heard.

No one argues that law and order must be main­tained — but all of this is a clear state­ment by those who pro­fess to run the world: this is just noise to us – signs of civ­il dis­obe­di­ence and peo­ple that need to be brought back under the heel, noth­ing more. The cries of mil­lions seem to have made lit­tle dif­fer­ence to the indif­fer­ence with which fel­low human beings are treat­ed. That’s the sad­dest part. 

I know, it’s com­pli­cat­ed. That’s one of the stan­dard par­ty lines, right? “there’s more going on than it appears”, “we can’t com­ment but wait until the whole sto­ry comes out (which rarely does)”, “it’s just a few bad apples”. To be clear, I don’t believe all police offi­cers wake up mean­ing to do harm: it’s a dif­fi­cult job, filled with all the things most of us don’t want to deal with – and an unen­vi­able amount of stress comes along with that. I get that. I do believe, how­ev­er, that the insti­tu­tion they serve allows and excus­es harm — and as a direct result, while not open­ly encour­ag­ing it or more rig­or­ous­ly sup­press­ing it, con­dones it.

I’ve known many police offi­cers –and heard the sto­ries of what they are sub­ject­ed to in order to become one of society’s Pro­tec­tors. And yet, the mech­a­nism that should be weed­ing the bad and the malev­o­lent from one of our most val­ued social struc­tures is either bad­ly bro­ken or non-exis­tent. It’s a cul­ture that pro­tects its own, even those with­in its fold that don’t deserve the hon­our of wear­ing that badge any­more, if they ever tru­ly did. There’s an odd irony in this: If that mech­a­nism worked as it should, per­haps none of this would be hap­pen­ing.

We’re only at the begin­ning of what­ev­er path we’ve been thrust down — like it or not, com­fort­able or not. The word of the day is Racism — but the true ene­my is inequal­i­ty and dis­crim­i­na­tion of any kind.

So, what now? Stop black­ing out my social media feeds. Stop telling me you see me: just see me, and the Indige­nous, and the His­pan­ics, the Asians, the LGBTQ and every­one else that doesn’t look, act or sound like you. Do some­thing to move the world for­ward: find a cause to sup­port, right a wrong, edu­cate your­self on the plight of those around you. Peti­tion your local gov­ern­ment and police organ­i­sa­tions to pro­vide more clar­i­ty into their train­ing; scru­ti­nize their inter­ac­tions with racial­ized com­mu­ni­ties until we no longer need to. Even the small­est actions mat­ter.

Most impor­tant­ly, we need to stop view­ing each oth­er as the Oth­er - the Threat, the Thing to be Feared, the Thing We Don’t Under­stand - because we’re not. We’re all human, with the same desire for safe­ty, for love, for oppor­tu­ni­ty and accep­tance.

Please stay healthy, please stay safe Face­less.

Whatcha thinking, Faceless? Share those feelings.

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