When I was three years old – Kohanga was considered a set up to “live on the dole”.
When I was five years old – “key-yo-rah” was only spoken in the bilingual class.
When I was seven years old – the black and brown crayons were always left untouched.
“I’d love to go back to when we played as kids, But things changed, that’s the way it is”
When I was 13 years old – Sneezing into a hanky was considered sniffing glue.
When I was 15 years old – Sitting down with my friends for lunch was gang-related and frowned upon.
“that’s just the way it is”
When I was 16 years old – excuse me, sir, I need help. Donnella, take it to the Waitangi tribunal.
“I see no changes, all I see is racist faces”
When I was 18 years old – I was driving with a hoodie on, “please remove your hoodie or risk receiving a ticket”, why? The community feels unsafe when they see drivers like you.
“Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races”
When I was 21 years old – Taking two steps into Briscoes caused a “security check at the entry” why? Because I “fit the description”.
“The penitentiary’s packed, and it’s filled with blacks”
When I was 22 years old – would you like me to hold them at the counter while you continue shopping?
“And still, I see no changes, can’t a sister get a little peace?”
When I was 26 years old – My brother and I were arrested for walking past the police officers a certain way. They needed ten male officers on each of us to make an arrest. I was separated from my brother into different vehicles. The officer assured me everything was going to alright, as his hand went up to my skirt.
“Is life worth living should I blast myself”
Now I am “every day” old – Every part of the shop I walked past needed to be straightened up, hangers needed to be dusted, and I needed to be asked every minute “can I help you with anything?
“Coming’ back after all these years, that’s the way it is”
Not a typical introduction; however, Tupac Shakur and Bruce Hornsby are not your typical collaboration. So it only felt right to collaborate similar backgrounds together to paint a picture of racism, police brutality, and inequality in line with my experiences.
I’ve been sitting here for 12 hours repeatedly going over the emotions and figuring out the best way to execute a piece of this magnitude. It has been 11 days since a “first-degree” murder unfolded in front of the world, and every time I push a key to unleash my thoughts on to this doc tears build-up, I tense up and triggers of personal experience come rushing to the forefront.
The audiovisual was brought to my attention via social media procrastination. I called my family into the lounge crying “see what I mean” – that 360-word intro above is what I meant and should be a clear indication of the types of conversation and protection measures that are put into place in this household. I demanded they sit down and listen to what I have to say — Why? Because I refuse to sit back and do nothing, the best thing I knew was to talk, let your emotions out, and find a solution moving forward as a collective. (I must repeat It’s 11 days and we are still at a standstill wondering what the fuck do we do.)
I began to express my hurt and frustrations from one minority to another; you know that pain. Direct bloodline is not a criterion because the flashbacks of your own experience have you conditioned to feel that instant connection. I poured it all out. We went around, expressing our anger and frustrations out, then this happened…
Nephew: Far, we are lucky to be in New Zealand
Aunty: Are we? It’s happening here too
Aunty: I was 18 years old – I was driving with a hoodie on…(The conversation continued)
Nephew:That’s nowhere near what George went through, though?
Aunty: We don’t have the same intensity son, but as indigenous peoples, the minorities, the oppressed – fight the same fight. We hurt the same, and you must understand this. Black lives matter no matter what shade of black you are – that is us too. Solidarity is essential, especially times like this.
Nephew: What about the white lives and the rest of them?
Aunty: What about it? No one said they didn’t matter. Right now, they don’t have to justify their actions; they have the chance to explain their innocence; they aren’t the ones in trouble. Ask George Floyd if his life matters.
We sat in silence, lost in our thoughts, and wiping back our tears.
In all honesty, I am fucking hurting for our brothers and sisters in Marika, and no amount of positivity will balance the hate ratio.
Hand on heart I am thankful for George Floyd; his life was taken in exchange for a platform that minorities can step on.
Hand on heart I am thankful for George Floyd; his life was taken in exchange for a global spotlight on police brutality, racism, and inequality.
Most importantly, I am thankful for George Floyd, a life taken in exchange for solidarity.