Black Lives Matter

© Koshu Kunii / @koshuuu, Unsplash.com.

For a while now, I’ve been trying to stitch together a blog post about the winding-down of isolation, about the country starting up again and the difficulties of getting back to work. I’ve been having trouble with it. In the past few weeks, I really haven’t felt like writing about writing is appropriate. This is a blog about writing and reading, about art, about creativity and inspiration – but I cannot, in this moment, write something about a WIP or a book I’m reading as if nothing is happening.

“But Sophie, this isn’t a political blog.” I suppose that depends on what you mean by political. Life is political. Art is political. I can’t post about Corona and not post about this moment, about George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and too many others, about the pain and frustration, about the anger, about the horrific injustice, about the moments of triumph and hope going on across the world.

Yet my words aren’t the best ones for this moment. I’m white, I live half a world away from the USA, and there are so many people out there who have been fighting for justice and Black lives for years and decades. I have been quiet because my perspective is not needed. I don’t want to speak up when I am not properly informed, when my voice contributes so little. I didn’t add a black square to my Instagram to show I was listening… I just tried to listen. I don’t want to post something for the sake of posting it. I don’t want to do anything that for me would feel performative. What can I say that will contribute to this movement?

I thought about how I could tie my thoughts into the writing community or the book community, but I’m really not sure how. Instead I’m trying to add what I can. I wrote a thread about statues and history, because I felt like I had some context to add – though other students of history may disagree with my perspective. I grew up in a family with police and military ties, and I’ve been thinking about how that background contributes to who I am. I was a pacifist as a kid, so there were many good-natured arguments about the value of war. I don’t know how much that has leant me in terms of my perspective. My grandfather’s army photos contain series of images from a murder scene, which was a strange thing to come across while flipping through the family albums. My grandmother was a cop, too. That has actually made me more critical of police than anything else. Gran worked with the army police in Germany just after the war, and the Metropolitan Police in London. You know what the Met armed her with? A whistle. WPCs didn’t even get a truncheon. She had to toss men out of Soho brothels when they got rowdy or refused to pay, by her own damn self. She had to break up groups of men loitering in alleyways, in a skirt and heels, armed with a fucking whistle.

So I don’t want to hear that a policeman twice her size with a taser and pepper spray was in such fear for his life because of a child with a toy that he felt compelled to shoot him. I don’t want to hear that a gang of police officers was so intimidated by a woman lying in bed that they had to shoot her. It is disgusting cowardice. It is murder. It is beyond unacceptable in any case, from anyone, but especially from a group of people whose job, whose privilege, it is to serve the community. The American police are a violent street gang who feel they answer to no one. They are more of a threat to communities than the criminals they are supposedly there to protect them from. Good cops, such as they are, are silenced, harassed, and fired for trying to hold their colleagues to account.

So. For what little my voice counts, allow me to be clear. I stand with the Black community. I stand against police violence and abuse. I support the movement to defund the police and funnel that money into initiatives that support the community. Police officers should not routinely carry firearms. Police officers should not be driving armoured vehicles or using military surplus. I read yesterday that the LA schools police will no longer have access to grenade launchers. I will allow you a moment to sit with that ludicrous sentence. First of all, what are police doing in schools? Second, why do any police have access to grenade launchers? LA isn’t an active warzone, for fuck’s sake. If you want to play Call of Duty, I hear the new Battle Royale is really good. You don’t have to act out your Rambo fantasy in real life. Thirdly, of all the police groups to have access to grenade launchers, why the school police? Who are you lobbing grenades at? Are the six year olds mounting a coup or something? You need to arm yourselves to the teeth in case Becky in eighth grade looks at you funny? I mean for fuck’s sake. Sort yourselves out. Fucking shameful.

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