“and then your eight-year-old was in prison”
– Ku[to]starehe, The Cost of a Playground
Now we are tear-gassing school children?
– Phyllis Muthoni
It could always be argued that,
having been shot
it was really
the hearts fault
for not beating.
After all, hearts have been
known to beat on with holes
in them for years.
How many letters would it take to spell out a gasp?
“37. Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to resent petitions to public authorities.”vs
“This is to say to persons who are here: You are not here.
You are not permitted to be here.
You are un-here.
You are un-persons.”
Perhaps it is only in looking at children that we are truly forced to look beyond ourselves. To imagine the world beyond desire, beyond the self.
Perhaps it is only in imagining that we can change.
Perhaps change [redacted by a canister and lactose intolerance]
“We are all connected. We are Baga. Some of us are Charlie.”
– Brenda Wambui, Injustice. Everywhere.
“Names are gathered; Trayvon, Kwekwe, Nyamweya, Osebe, Marrisa, Brown, him, her, them, they. Humanity aches. We feel the pain, share the pain.
A people in mourning.”
What does it mean to centre the margins?
A picture circulates – a child wails.
The first thing you hear when they shoot a teargas canister is the pop. Then for a lingering second you watch as the canister lands spinning and sending the white gas everywhere. If you’ve ‘experienced this often you know exactly what’s going to happen. If it’s your first time you are heavily panicky- this is fine. If you have experienced this once or twice that’s the most dangerous. For a few seconds your mind tells you that it’s okay. It isn’t that bad.
Then it begins to sting.
At first it is a slight burning in your cheeks, like you’re blushing really hard. That quickly escalates to a burning sensation. Your eyes start watering and your nose starts running. You start sneezing. The more you sneeze the worse it gets. Nothing seems to make it better. Your brain sends floods of adrenaline through your body. In the moment it feels like it will never end.
When I was a child I went swimming with my parents often. Having recently received permission to go to the deep end in school I was very excited about the next family swimming trip. As soon as we got there I dove into the deep end.
I sank like a rock.
For about 6 seconds I flailed about in the water panicking. Every time I tried to take a breath I swallowed more water. Eventually I remembered the secret – kicking. I pointed myself to the nearest wall and kicked as hard as I could. I didn’t tell anyone.
For 6 months I had nightmares about drowning.
Everyone remembers the first time they were hit by teargas.
Surely, this isn’t normal.