Bulletin Tears

I can’t remember the last time I caught a news bulletin – on the tv, the radio, in the window of a (spectrally empty) electronics store – without an unchecked, volatile reaction spilling out of me. Sometimes in long debates (virtual or otherwise) with my family, others in a barely stifled shudder, sob or scream depending on my depth of feeling/ how much caffeine is in my system at the time. 

I just listened to a bulletin, early in the morning – the 8.30am BBC news bulletin at home – telling me that tighter restrictions are being enforced in my hometown. Reporting the lethal lack of testing, country-wide, in a place I’ve temporarily escaped from. Ending with a soundbite from a distraught medical professional lamenting the end of the ‘elastic walls’ of pre-pandemic A&E waiting rooms, wondering where she can safely hold all the sick people that are beginning to flood back to emergency rooms. As if she used to hold them all in her hands and they were slipping away between her fingers. Like she was personally responsible for them all. 

There are days I can’t think of anything worse than turning on the radio. On others I can’t bear to be away from it, to be alone, so I bring the voices, jingles, playlists with me from room to room in my empty apartment; blaring tinnily/ defiantly from my phone, filling the flat via the home speaker system, through my headphones while I cook pasta for one in the kitchen. 

I sometimes manage to allow my mood to be lifted, but for the hourly punctuation of the news bulletin, reminding me that cases are on the rise, the elderly are in danger, we’re entering a potentially lethal recession and you can only gather in a group of more than six if someone is profiting from your gathering, or you’re a shooting party. The government encouraging neighbours to report one another to the authorities for their need for human interaction that they’re choosing not to conduct in a pub, cafe, restaurant or H&M. As if meeting under the watchful eye of strung-out waitresses with sick parents at home, on the premises of these entities alone, will ensure our adherence to social distancing measures. As if we don’t each have children, teachers, nurses in our families, elderly relatives, epileptic grandfathers in the advanced stages of Alzheimers who wouldn’t survive if the virus found a home in them that we’re frantically trying to protect. 

The constant reeling off of reasons to stop giving a fuck about the essay I’m trying to write, the theory that in spite of everything I’ve loved reading and have been so engaged with, thinking how informative it’ll be for my thesis, is an existential nightmare with absolute power over me. I can’t mute it. I can’t tune it out. I must hear out every update to see whether I need to pack my bags and return to my family, to weather the storm with them. 

Sometimes coffee before 8am helps. Other times it doesn’t stop the 8.30 news bulletin tears.

no one isn’t seeing this

No one isn’t seeing this. 

Reporting on the Minneapolis protests is focusing overwhelmingly on rioting and destruction, largely without consideration of how aggressive policing of peaceful protest heightens the potentiality for violent clashes between civilians and agents of the state. This reporting does a disservice to the frustrations of people trying to be heard amid the deafening silence of a government complicit in the destruction and marginalisation of black lives. 

The protesters in Minneapolis have a constitutional right to peaceful protest. That same right was exercised by demonstrators during the Women’s March earlier this year. Only one of these groups has been met with the preemptive threat of militant state force. Hint: it’s not the (overwhelmingly white) women wearing pink hats. The officers being placed in the path of demonstrators in full riot gear are actively obstructing peaceful protest in an already singularly incendiary situation, and it has escalated. We have seen video evidence of the police escalating confrontations and repeatedly firing the first shot.

Inaction from non-black people in the face of racial injustice of this monumental proportion is nothing less than complicity in a global system that serves and protects YOUR white privilege. We continually witness how that privilege emboldens some to call the police as a weapon against black bodies (see Amy Cooper in Central Park), and others, to kneel on the neck of an unarmed black man until he no longer has the air to say ‘I can’t breathe’. 

It is very easy to think about how far away meaningful change feels, how gargantuan the actions needed to get there, and to wilt in utter despair – speaking from the sun-soaked English suburbia I’m currently living in which feels like a parallel universe to the teargas-filled, smashed up streets so many Americans are fighting and surviving in right now. Watching videos of protestors being attacked in my bed at 2am until I cry will help no one. I have felt a world removed, as though my hands are literally tied. But they are not. 

It is okay to not know how to act or where to start. As long as you engage with empathy and in solidarity, anything you have the power to do is a good thing. If you have white privilege – use it. Use whatever privilege your race, gender, religion or sexuality affords you to lift those that you see oppressed. 

You can donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, raising bail for those arrested for protesting the murder of George Floyd. Murder is a word we need to get used to using in these situations. Not manslaughter, not tragic death, not unlawful killing – m u r d e r. It should make you at the very least uncomfortable. 

You can also donate to the Black Visions Collective or Reclaim The Block, organisations suggested by the MFF that are working to lift up black communities and end police brutality. Donating to Black Lives Matter supports their global network spanning the US, the UK and Canada. 

Remember that it is not the job of people of colour to educate us. No person of colour is obliged to be your teacher. You can educate yourself widely about racial injustice. Sign petitions, read books, watch films, consume culture created by people of colour. James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Toni Morrison. See the world and their communities as they do and let their anger consume you. 

Read. Learn. Donate. Advocate. 

Educate yourself and put your money where your mouth is if you can. 

I don’t have any answers and I don’t feel qualified to comment on this moment. I have never been persecuted because of the colour of my skin. But my ignorance does not absolve me of the duty I feel to wield my privilege in solidarity with those that are suffering. 

We can but try, and try we fucking must. This cannot go on. 

#BlackLivesMatter #ICantBreathe #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd 

Some preliminary actions, readings + resources I have used, for folk wanting to learn and assist:

See links above for organisations and funds you can donate to in aid of those arrested for protesting the murder of George Floyd

Black Lives Matter and the NAACP – verse yourself

Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad – order and support a northern community-run bookstore at the same time 

Rough Draft NY has compiled a good preliminary reading list 

Maragang are donating 100% of profits from sales of their Hot Summer Nights tee to BLM from tomorrow. The kind of localised vocals and support we need to see. 

Some educators and activists you can find on Instagram:

Rachel Cargle

Sassy_latte

Mona Chalabi – I refer to her infographics a lot 

Munroe Bergdorf

Candice Brathwaite

^^ These educators utilise their space and disseminate their resources on their terms. If you cannot respect that, please don’t wade into their comments with your take on how there must be a ‘better way’ (with regards to rioting and looting). Civil, LGBTQ+ and women’s rights have all historically progressed from similar moments of unrest. Their virtual space is not yours to whitewash or wage a war of civility. 

tied up over tripping

I’ve been too tied up and worried about tripping over my words to really say anything for the last little while. But there’s a lot of shit going on and writing helps to straighten out my brain, so I’m gonna start spewing words onto the internet again. 

I felt tied up because I hold writing in such a sacred regard. It means something to me that I can’t articulate (GREAT START) and the thought of trivialising it with mediocre offerings nauseated me/ made me want to cancel myself before I’d penned a word. So I’ve been holding it reverently at arm’s length, always thinking but rarely writing, until something that used to fall out of me became something I feared, something I disconnected from, something I assured myself was not meant for me. 

The silent interim exacerbated my chronic reading habit. And I realised that it really is true: you don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you have something to say. Props to Fitzgerald for that sage take. It resonates.  

My something isn’t going to be read by the world or win Pulitzers. But if I don’t try to say it I might spew for real, so, here we are. Some hopefully sensical, potentially latently anarchistic unfiltered musings on whatever I’m thinking on will henceforth appear here.

I probably won’t say henceforth again.  

Take #1: Welcome to Lo on The Internet.

If you’re reading this it means I have taken the plunge and/ or taken temporary leave of my senses and put some words on The Internet.

I have been making excuses and generally skirting around the ‘Publish’ button on this blog for almost a month now. Identifying myself as a writer online seemed such an impossible and fake thing to do, and thinking about other people reading my words still makes me vaguely nauseous. But in the name of writing for myself and to give myself a break, here they are. My words, that is.

I thought I should use my first post or two as curator of Grassroots Propaganda to contextualise this online endeavour of mine, and give some kind of introduction before happily fading into the anonymous haze of online writing.

I have always loved writing and cautiously aim, with Grassroots Propaganda, to make a concrete(ish) habit of it. I hope to share lovingly articulated tales of my travels both past and present; some thoughts on books and music, both that I like and that I don’t; and musings on the evolving spectacle of current affairs and popular culture with which I am vaguely enthralled. (Read: frequently scrolls Trump’s Twitter feed in varying degrees of trepidation and incredulity – sentiments you’d think would have numbed this far into his presidency, and yet POTUS’ woefully inaccurate punctuation usage and nonsensical accusations continue to simultaneously alarm and amuse.)

More than anything I am writing for me, in an attempt to stave off my brain’s ever-imminent deterioration into Netflix-scrolling #unwoke zombie mush. A blog of thoughts and words and maybe a photo or two, curated by me, at the mercy of the internet. This is what I like to imagine Grassroots Propaganda will be.

You are warmly invited to accompany me in this endeavour and peruse my musings at your leisure, and in spite of myself and my reservations, I hope you will. Or, you know, don’t. That’s also fine. (But I get nervous and company is nice, so do stay.)

Lo x