Trigger warning: Semi-rant follows.
So, funny thing. Not.
In the lead-up to the recent election, when the now-in-power righty-tighty gangs were outlining the specifics of what they would do if they gained power, (regressive, mean-spirited, short-sighted, and self-interested), I said to the missus, "If they get in, if they try to pass this stuff, I'll be on the effing streets protesting."
"So will I," she said.
Last time I did that here in Aotearoa was in the early 2000's over the Foreshore and Seabed Act when I waved goodbye to the Labour Party. Across the ditch through the 80's and 90's it was Land Rights Marches, Anti-Bicentenntial protests, Reclaim the Night marches and numerous events around AIDS policies, or lack of them, while we visited dying friends in hospitals and funerals every week.
BTW, and before I go any further, I don't have pretty pictures of recent projects here because a) they're not finished (handed over to the missus for lady touches, my filthy paws not allowed near fabrics) and b) the missus is busy with her own multiple projects and c) I've been hobbling after a fall (into one of said projects on ill-advised version of a "step". Dr was not impressed with the construction I described ie; cobbled together, upturned bucket and slab of wood, First job when I was semi-mobile was fabrication of a new, sturdy, hopefully H&S approved step.)
So, in the absence of project progress pics, and because the nature of this post churns my guts and sends steam from my ears but aroha to those of my fellow kiwis who're already being bashed by this govt crew, I will adorn this post with late spring blooms cos we all need some pretty. Here's some stuff Mother Nature has been working on round here...
Anyhoo, now that the Triumvirate of Toxic have hand-shaken their vows of destruction, the ugliness is underway, or threatened, or hinted at. Testing the waters perhaps? They didn't muck about did they? Seriously, can anyone bar a tobacco executive, think there is any benefit to repealing the Smokefree Laws and Regulated Products Legislation? I guess all those blue billboards and blanket-coverage political advertising came with a hefty price-tag. Whoever pays the piper calls the tune and all that. Yeh, well, we'll all be paying for this one, and it's doubtful we'll be getting our own playlist aired.
Then this morning I read this piece by Emma Wehipeihana, "We’re done with being asked to justify our ‘privilege." A painful, embarrassing and infuriating read and a response to something this household has feared would be coming. Yes, it's the brownskin-bashing and "special privileges" rhetoric that was foreshadowed in the lead-up to the election. Namely, potential wiping out of Maori and Pacific medical school admission schemes. (MAPAS)
Can I just say, I've never specifically made any of my previous blog posts political. But life is political isn't it. And, simply being alive and visible as non-binary and queer is political, but that aside...
I now quote someone I can't remember, "privilege is always invisible to those who benefit most from it."
My pakeha privilege is not insignificant. But as a non-binary, queer, working-class woman writer, I know a little bit about marginalisation, a little bit about invisibility and a teeny-tiny bit about homophobic violence.
I'm guessing that the gang who are now pulling the strings are not only wilfully blind, but also technically so because they really seem to believe that their ready access to institutions and lack of hurdles in a racist, colonialist country are down to their own hard work and merit. In the words of one of my fav You Tube guys, Derek on Vice Grip Garage: "Well I'll be dipped."
I'd like to live in a country where past injustices are put to rights because it's the dignified, proper and humane thing to do. It's not OK to turn away from the wrongdoing of our forbears. We who are pakeha benefit from the injustices of the past and present at the expense of Maori and Pacifika people. Dawn Raids anyone? Ignoring this doesn't change the facts.
If this government pushes back the hard-won but so-much-more-to-do changes required to redress the wrongs committed in the past and continued in the present, I for one do not want to stand on the sidelines and watch it happen. We need to be vigilant and we need to speak up.
I want to live in a country where the people who are currently disadvantaged by historical and contemporary racist practices are given every educational and health opportunity as of right. And that is just the beginning. There is so much to be undone or repaired or rebuilt in our race relations. It's not an impossible fix. But the threatened retrograde backsliding on Maori Health initiatives is wrong-headed and will have deadly consequences.
Lets not be silent. Setting things to rights requires the input and goodwill of non-Maori. To move forwards for the benefit of everyone, we need to uplift all the peoples of Aotearoa, starting with those who have suffered the most egregious losses, Maori, the first peoples of this land. The people whose land we stole and whose culture we demonised and silenced and tried to obliterate.
If we choose to stand with our Maori and Pacifika brothers and sisters, to fight for fairness and equity, we all benefit. The generations to come benefit. We can be proud of our country. I'm not proud today. I hope that changes.
A quote from Emma Wehipeihana in this morning's Spinoff, "Being kind is out. Being strategic is in. In the words of my Tukorehe cousin, Anahera Gildea – author, artist and aunty – we don’t need allies, we need accomplices. See you on the protest line, e hoa mā. "
For sure. I'll be there.