Article published in The Funambulist 26 (November-December 2019) Kids of the World, Unite! Click here to access the rest of the issue.
The children of violence never just carry their own pain and trauma. Often we are not equipped to name violence we experience so we accept it as a part of our lives. The young people living in Britain today have grown up witnessing and experiencing violence all around them, both near and far. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bombing of Libya. The murders of Stephen Lawrence, Mark Duggan, Sean Rigg, Rashan Charles, and hundreds of other Black boys demonized by the police, media and public in their deaths. Racist and islamophobic rhetoric being used to pathologies and turn away refugees. The death of Sarah Reed. The creation of the hostile environment policy. The Grenfell fire. The cuts. I have spent over half my life living through Austerity as introduced by David Cameron and George Osborne. At the age of eight years old, I was too young to understand what austerity was but now I know austerity is about the shrinking and disappearance of resources, space and people.
Austerity says “nothing belongs to you, so you do not belong here.” The state takes everything it can and expects people to give up more. The state says “only some people deserve to be safe.” The state defines safe, and creates prevent, targets working class Muslims and threatens to deport those who do not assimilate. The state deports and detains thousands of people. The state destroys the records of Windrush Citizens. The State cuts funding to specialist domestic violence services. The state closes refuge after refuge and turns women feeling violence away. The state displaces people from their homes to “regenerate” estates. The state introduces new tests to see who’s really sick and disabled. The state rolls out universal credit. The state turns schools into academies and closes youth services and says “we have done too much for too long you must take care of yourselves. If you can not take care of yourselves you are not working hard enough.” Against our own wills our bodies become vessels expected not to bend or break under the weight of state violence. Expected not to flinch as cut after cut is administered to the services and communities that should keep us alive and safe. The State makes Black and Brown bodies, Working Class bodies, Muslim bodies, Disbaled bodies, Undoumented bodies, Women’s bodies, Queer bodies and Trans bodies dispensable. To live in a body that holds one or more of these identities is to grow up in a world that makes you feel like a disappearance waiting to happen.