Immigrant Life

Hushtag and the IShItS

(Warning: thoughts in this post may be disjointed, arguments poorly constructed, and the whole downright weird. So, just another day…)

I’ve been stopped by the police – or, to use Toronto lingo, “carded” –  once in my life. I was in my mid-teens, minding my beeswax as I walked down a road about a block from my home, when the La Police cruised up beside me and asked for ID. I wasn’t too surprised because some guy from my class – one of those “bad boys” – was mixed up in something with some girl in a grade below us, who was a Russian diplomat’s daughter. I forget whether it was he or she who used to live in my area, and whether it was actually Russian mafia. In any case, whatever they were up to was a no-no, or had the distinct makings of such, so there had been some minor excitement at school. But not because of the girl and the guy’s backgrounds – everyone at that school was a dignitary/diplobrat either directly or by association – but because it had actually got the police sniffing around.

Anyway, I showed them my resident card, they looked it over, gave it back and we went our separate ways. I don’t remember if they asked me anything but they must have. It didn’t occur to me to be scared because I was busy smirking inside with thoughts along the lines of you just messed with the wrong kid, dummies. Sure enough, I promptly reported the incident to the parental units, and within days the Permanent Mission of Ethiopia had extracted a formal apology from La Police.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and if the scenario had repeated – not high school, but having police roll up on me to chat about ID  – and I probably would still forget to be scared or even apprehensive. Part of this is the perk of being a female, I suppose. (The “diplo” status has expired, as has the “brat”, though some might beg to differ.) Another, stranger, part is that at some point my brain got wired to find police cruisers anything but intimidating, unless you mean in the “wow that’s hot” sense. I have no idea how I came to be someone who ogles police cruisers – less so their occupants – whenever they swoosh by, sort of the way men get all hot and bothered by loud Batmobile-lookalikes. This revelation should probably have stayed between me and this site. Too late now.

I don’t know if it’s something I picked up from early exposure to action films where the police rushing up, flashing blue and red (though they always show up way at the end when everything has been resolved) signalled that all would be well from here on and we can stop and rewind the VHS and go back to the store for the next crisis, which they will reach also just at the moment of its resolution by the reluctant hero. Perhaps my deep sense of comfort (and then some) at the sight of police cruisers is something developed during this young impressionable time. Strange organ, the mind.

Note: I mean Canadian and American police cruisers. (There’s enough of a visual similarity on either side of the 49th parallel.) It must be some combination of the width, the length, colour combination, and all that caging that just clicks. Euro police cruisers? Barf. The fellas who operate them? Meh. I have to take it on a case by case basis. No blanket “man in uniform” thing for me. Though when I appreciate, I do so appropriately. I have been known to take a shot of a French policeman’s ass as he stood by the Eiffel Tower. No zoom was needed. I was close enough.

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Désolé, not!

Would I do that in Africa, or Asia or South America? Provided I have put a death wish in writing first and had it notarized. The only police/law enforcement that really strike me with fear and dread, whether or not I’ve done anything wrong, are the Ethio blue federals and any Third World police, in that order. Race has nothing to do with it. Zilch. Ethnicity? Maybe. Class? Possibly. Gender? Bingo. As the saying goes, wherever you go, there you are. Now you’re black. Now you’re a female. Now you’re a female. Now you’re black. A little-discussed aspect of that in-betweenness we diasporas like to bohoo about.

So what does this have to do with the IShItS, you say? Nothing exactly. On my scare-o-meter, they rank low and will continue to do so until they invade Europe and then we’ll all have to get our shit together or start dropping it involuntarily. What does scare me about them is what they bring out in some of those on the other side who, full of extreme goodness and patriotism and loving and caring, feeling helplessly indignant, scream and scream and scream virtually (fine if it works for you), and feel justified in broadcasting images of corpses of somebody’s somebody, and then when they don’t feel that their hashtag has garnered enough heat, turn to you and say, more or less: hey you, what are you waiting for? feel how I feel and express it how I want you to express it right now. That sends chills up and down my spine. I’m not a history buff but something tells me that’s how this whole trouble gets started, every time.

If a tear falls offline and no one is around to see it, does it make a splash?

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