The Sad Price George Floyd Has Paid To Expose Police Corruption

Demonstration board listing the names of black lives recently lost to police brutality in the US.
Photo by frankie cordoba on Unsplash

The question of whether black lives matter shouldn’t even be on the table right now. The questions we should be asking are how the system broke and how corrupt, exactly, are our police departments.

Anyone with half a brain cell understands that the colour of our skin doesn’t determine who we are, in the same way that anyone with a basic knowledge of history knows that the majority of white people have enjoyed a privilege denied to the majority of people of colour – something for which many of us are trying to make amends.

We can’t change history, but we can try and compensate for it.

George Floyd’s death has shone another light on the cancer in the US Police Department and the plight of the brave souls that are targeted by it. People of colour in the US have been scared for a long time, but this latest death has pushed them to their tipping point and triggered a united stand against racism and police brutality and corruption.

I will admit that as I write this post I fee scared too, in a different way. As a white woman of privilege, I’m scared about adding my personal thoughts about racism and injustice. I’m worried about using the wrong terminology; I’m worried that I don’t have the authority to write about the emotions of people of colour from my ivory tower. Most of all, I worry that my good intentions will be misinterpreted. And so all I can hope is that support, in whatever shape or form it comes, is welcome.

Fear and entitlement feed corruption in the police force.

It’s not like racism and corruption are endemic to the US, after all. The unmitigated fear linked to “difference” and the power struggles that emanate from it are worldwide struggles. As author Jordan P. Peterson states in his book “12 Rules For Life,” power play is part of the human condition that we see in many facets of life. There is a “dominance hierarchy in our society”, he confirms, although (unlike in the animal kingdom where dominance is a question of survival) there is also a level of chaos that our society hierarchies should never reach. And we are seeing that now, being leveraged by idiots like Trump.

Police brutality affects many groups of people – from people of colour to the LGBTQIA  community, and the mentally ill.

In spite of the rise of fascism over the past few years, I’m not surprised we’ve reached this point. I still cling to the hope that the tide of discrimination is turning, and that ultimately we will learn to live more harmoniously together. I see signs that our sense of compassion is increasing and while social media has its dark side, this reaction has demonstrated a positive side to its visual evidence of injustices like George Floyd’s horrifying death. The harrowing footage of his last minutes must help educate us about the unfair treatment of those less fortunate than us. They also incite anger, which is needed to effect change.

It is clear that the powers of the police are too great and there is not enough accountability for what they do with them.

Watch any TV show like The Shield, In The Line of Duty or The Wire and you’ll see how easy it is for bad seeds to abuse their badge and take matters into their own hands, whether that’s out on the streets or on the inside – the justice system’s inability to jail “bad cops” is proof of that – so how can we make the system safer?

Could any of the ideas below help reduce the number of black deaths?

  1. Could removing some of the pressure off police officers – and in particular financial targets that increase the danger of prioritising economics over life – make a difference?
  2. What if we vetted applicants more closely? Without wishing to stereotype, there does seem to be a “type” that enters the police force. Or perhaps it is the nature of the job that causes “compassion fatigue” – a numbing detachment that is common to many first responders (which I wrote about here).
  3. Or if there was more training vis a vis the risks of poor impulse control and the “pack mentality” in high emotion situations?
  4. How about we reduce the number of armed police officers? We know that having a gun increases the risk of its use, and we also know that the British have one of the most successful police departments in the world – and the majority of their officers don’t carry guns.
  5. And finally, if we worked out a way to encourage more female police officers to join, could we make it mandatory for a woman to attend every crime scene in order to reduce the threat of physical violence?

It’s easy to criticise the police, I know…

And would I do the job of a police officer? Not on your life. Every one of us has been in a flight or flight situation that we’ve handled badly and the police encounter those situations every day. No one wants to find themselves with that split-second choice between their own life and someone else’s. That is also why other vulnerable young men like Elijah Holcombe died. Read Kate Wild’s coverage of his “accidental” death in her book Saving Elijah.

Sadly, many of these cases point to a sense of entitlement in the police force that increases the risk of violence.

Australia’s own indigenous population is targeted in the same way as the people of colour in the US, which has led to an increasing number of them being unfairly incarcerated. There have also been countless deaths in custody that remain unaccounted for – even after lengthy investigations. And to my mind, the way certain police behave on the streets – bullying young people for minor breaches of the law such as drinking in public or possession of recreational drugs for personal use demonstrates an abuse of their powers. My own son was once strip-searched in the back of a police van for looking “shady” and because he had a warning for personal possession of a small amount of marijuana on his record.

It has taken many deaths to expose the corruption in the police department, and George Floyd is one of many martyrs to lose their lives for the lives of others. But what a price he has paid to expose the corruption of the people employed to protect us!

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What’s Your Biggest Fear? Mine Is The Dental Hygienist

If you read this blog regularly, you will know by now that because I suffer from anxiety, I am scared of pretty much everything. (Spiders, anyone?) That’s why, quite frankly, picking my biggest fear for this post left me pretty spoilt for choice.

More obvious choices included ScoMo getting back into power at the next election, or Trump getting approval to build his damn wall. But I can honestly say that it neither of those horrible things is my biggest fear.

I will reserve that award for the dental hygienist. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that I would happily endure a nightly rendition from primary-aged school children learning how to play the recorder than an annual visit to my hygienist.

Since I started taking proper care of my teeth – a wobbly tooth will do that – I have suffered fewer cavities. However, poor gums (and what a friend of mine delicately calls “old bird teeth”) – another gene defect to blame my parents for rather than my copious consumption of cigarettes and sugar – means that every six months or so, I require the special care of a “deep clean” with the dental hygienist.

Sounds like something nice, doesn’t it? The term evokes the kind of pleasure you associate with a “deep” massage, or someone with “deep” pockets… or other “deep” things.

But trust me, it’s not nice at all. The “deep clean” is a form of torture stolen from Guantanamo Bay by the dental industry – who rejected it for being inhumane. It is an optional part of the service that I recommend you don’t mess with unless a) you are a sadist, b) your teeth are falling out, c) the tartar build-up around your teeth is affecting your speech or d) the foulness of your breath (rather than your personality) is losing you friends.

No matter how affable your dental hygienist appears – and they do have an uncanny ability to pretend they are your new best friend – be prepared for a psychopath. Indeed, if an urge to inflict pain without suffering the emotional consequences of that behavior, is not the reason behind their choice of profession, I have to commend them. For there are few jobs that cause quite as much human suffering – legally – other than in government.

I imagine that hygienists get a similar sense of satisfaction as coal-miners or those sickos, (Cough *my husband), who like pimple-popping videos on youtube – whilst anxious patients like myself lie at their mercy in the chair, terrified of flying tartar, or publicly peeing myself.

My irrational fear is mainly linked to THAT drilling sound made by the hygienist’s excavating tools. It is the reason I pay an absurd amount of money to get drugged up, dropped off and picked up at my visits; why I listen to “Weightless” during the procedure, and why I select the quieter pick-ax as my hygienist’s choice of weapon.

However, none of these strategies truly disguises the fact that a stranger – who may be having a period, or an overreaction to an innovative and empowering advertisement by a razor company – is hacking away at my aging teeth.

No pain, no gain, I suppose, and in all honesty, I’d love to be able to say that the experience is worth it. However, the joy factor, (thank you Marie Kondo), to be extracted from a minimum $200 spend with a hygienist, simply cannot compare to a trip to the hairdresser or your massage therapist, say, for the equivalent amount of dollars.

You never know, I might change my mind. When I can still bite the old man in our aged care home.

What’s your biggest fear?

Change, Anxiety and Crazy AF Dreams

There are some exciting changes coming up in my life in the near future. Or at least I’m pretending to myself that they are wildly exciting even though inside my organs feel as though they’re dissolving in acid, something that happens each time I go through such changes and my anxiety goes into overdrive. The other byproduct of such an assault on all my senses is that I have crazy AF dreams about what can go wrong. halloween-997596_1920 (1)

 

These current changes involve my career, and if the dream I had last night is anything to go by, I’m not completely comfortable with them.

 

Last night’s dream involved my opening of a home and giftware shop (a long-term aspiration) where all the product is white. Logically, I named the shop ‘White’.

 

The best part of the dream was I can remember the tingle of anticipation I felt at the prospect of a whole shop full to the brim of calming neutrality because if I had the choice, absolutely everything in my house would be white…that is until the complication of real life intrudes such as children and dogs and men who can’t eat without getting food on the sofa. I’ve never quite understood how such schemes work outside of Home and Garden magazines unless you make a religious commitment to “Vanish”.

 

Evidently, there’s a little OCD thrown into my own particular brand of madness.

 

Anyway, as I was signing my first orders for ‘White’ branded tee-shirts and white fluffy cushions, I got a call from the police to say that I had to close the shop because its name was not politically correct and there had been complaints from the locals. They castigated me for overtly demonstrating my privilege in the neighborhood and as a result imposed sanctions on my potential customer base from buying from my dream store.

 

The dream was intense. Not as terrifying as those ones where you fall off cliffs or are being chased, but I remember one moment distinctly where I was looking at my beautiful new business cards, weeping onto their perfect white gloss card with its perfect black font and wondering if I could change the brand name to ‘Black and white’.

 

Unfortunately, there aren’t too many black schemes in beach-style, Hamptons homes.

 

Next was the stress of actually choosing the product. One of my intentions, when I chose my white theme, was to keep it simple, because something I have worked out with maturity is that simplicity is core to my mental stability, hence survival. The problem then was that I couldn’t decide whether I was allowed to veer off-piste and include all of those different shades of white that Dulux has invented – because then, I worried, my brand might not be authentic to its racist origins.

 

The final stress of this journey to the fulfillment of my dream career came about when I gave a customer’s child a white chocolate jelly bean at the front desk and they had an allergic reaction, entitling the mother to accuse me, very publicly, of being both a bad retailer and bad parent.

 

This is anxiety, folks. It’s how your stupid brain can turn even your dreams into nightmares.

Do You Ever Feel Really Alone?

I’ve been sleeping better recently, in spite of the dastardly Sydney humidity at this time of the year – I suppose it’s one small positive to be had out of the daily bleakness associated with giving up caffeine. person-338317_1280

But the other night something woke me up at 3.30am. You know that feeling, when your eyes suddenly open and you are instantly alert and worried about something you can’t put your finger on?

 

And I suddenly felt really lonely and scared about what lies ahead for me. It was the first time I had become aware of the old man’s mortality.

 

Don’t worry, I’m not about to spout some existentialist crap about my place in the world, but there’s no doubt that the older you get, the fear of loneliness begins to set in.

 

My mother-in-law suffered from anxiety like me, and I remember how much living alone scared her after my father-in-law passed. Even now, with the comforting sound of the old man’s heavy breathing by my side at night, the slightest sound can send me in a spin, triggering my mind to play tricks on me, concocting all the worst possibilities that the noise could be.

 

It’s usually just some drunk or wildlife in the street, and living in an apartment, four floors above danger has assuaged many of the fears I used to experience living in our old, thin weatherboard house, that didn’t cope well with the sea breezes. But I have already begun to worry about going after the old man – a ridiculous concept with my tragic familial medical history – but one that can keep me awake in the middle of the night.

 

And I don’t like that feeling of dependence on him. I’m a strong woman.

 

One of my oldest friends is a GP in the UK and I remember when I saw her a few years ago her saying to me, ‘watch out, because we’ll all start dropping off now,’ and how I laughed in mock horror with her, still blissfully ignorant then about my own mortality.

 

It’s not like I think about dying all of the time…just a lot of the time… although there’s been no conclusive medical proof yet. I don’t even think I’m afraid of death as much as I am of being left alone; particularly here, in a country that I love and have made my home in, yet which is geographically so far away from the blanket of security of my extended family.

 

Even more strange is that I love my own company, and often fantasise about escaping to some hotel by myself for a few days, away from the traumas caused by family and responsibility.

 

Or I catch myself looking wistfully at tiny, one bed apartments online.

 

I assume that if Kurt ever forgives me for being the worst parent in the world, I will still have my children in my life in some capacity, if the natural order goes to plan. But who knows if they will live close by or even want me in their new lives.

 

And supposing the old man does put NC in charge of our nest egg, (as he has threatened so many times, out of frustration at my lack of interest/ineptitude with our money), and she shoves me in some awful home and throws away the key? I can’t see Kurt wanting me to tag along to his prison cell.

 

I shall just have to make sure I go first.

 

Winetime?

Time To Face My Fears and Let It Go

GodzillaI found some closure watching Godzilla with Kurt at the cinema the other day.

 

‘Closure’ in terms of facing my fears.

 

Admittedly, two hours of a CGI monster was small-fry compared to the week I’ve just survived with my son.

 

Yes, I’ve been facing my fears in more ways than one this week.

 

Now you might think that Godzilla is tame in comparison to many contemporary horror films, but after my father thought it educational to force me to watch the original version, I didn’t sleep for about ten years.

 

I’ve always had a vivid imagination and have scared easily. For the first twenty years of my life, I developed this ritual at bedtime like a lot of kids, of doing a long jump (the scale of which, unfortunately, I could never repeat in the athletics carnival at school) from the light switch straight into my bed and under the doona at bedtime.

 

This bionic feat was motivated by the paralysing fear of a gnarly hand emerging from underneath my bed to drag me straight to hell.

 

To this day, I still lock all the doors when the old man is away and take my phone to bed, because obviously I’ll have loads of time to phone the police as the murderer wields an axe above my head in the wee hours of the morning.

 

‘Jaws’ terrified me too. I still hear THAT music whenever I dip more than a toe into the ocean.

 

I’m not entirely sure if my problem stems from an over-active and very fertile imagination or from anxiety.

 

The other fear I’ve been experiencing this week is the fear of our next parenting tactic vis a vis our son. Because in spite of our best endeavours as parents, big changes need to be made in our approach to his behaviour, that don’t sit entirely comfortably with me.

 

Imagine the pain new mothers feel when they are forced to tackle the ‘controlled crying technique’ with their newborns, then amplify their pain one hundred fold and play Justin Bieber over and over again and you might get some ideal of how torturous these changes will be for me to instigate. 

English: Justin Bieber performing "Favori...
English: Justin Bieber performing “Favorite Girl” in Zurich, Switzerland. Deutsch: Justin Bieber bei der Darbietung seines Liedes “Favorite Girl” in Zürich, Schweiz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I think they call it ‘tough love’ in the States.

 

All along I’ve wanted to save my son, but I realize now that I can’t do it by myself – he actually needs to want to be saved.

 

It’s a sad truism that there isn’t always light at the end of this parenting malarkey and sometimes you bang smack into a wall and have to find other ways to deal with the concussion.

 

The thing about fear though, is that often once you confront it, you realize just how misguided you’ve been all along. I’m hoping that’s what happens this time and we all live happily every after like The Waltons did.

 

I DID watch most of Godzilla, albeit through my fingers, and its whole premise seemed quite ridiculous to me now. I’m proud to say that the only time I jumped, (accompanied by pathetic girlie screech) during the entire movie was when Kurt tapped me on the shoulder to ask for some popcorn.

 

That’s not to say that I could watch Jane Eyre even now, knowing that crazy Mrs Rochester will come down from that attic at some point and set fire to the house, or even De Niro in Cape Fear, but I realize that fear is something we create in our minds and it isn’t always rational.

 

Sometimes we have to rely on our instincts more to overcome our fears. Perhaps it’s time to trust that my son will come through this period, even if to do that I have to take away the scaffolding for him to allow him to make his own mistakes, face my fears and let him go.

Hans and Elsa Frozen Dolls

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Middle Aged Woman Stalked by Sharks In Sydney

English: A Caribbean reef shark photographed a...
English: A Caribbean reef shark photographed at Roatan, Honduras. Deutsch: Grauer Riffhai (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) bei Roatan, Honduras (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a good weekend.

The sun was shining and the sky was that beautiful clear-blue that typifies a Sydney summer’s day. I discovered that grilled sourdough, avocado, feta and lime is not the gross combination it sounds like it should be and Magnum ice creams were on special in our local deli.

So we decided to endorse our travelling, Bohemian spirit and remove ourselves from the comfort of our own backyard to go to the privileged wilderness that is Double Bay in the Eastern Suburbs.

When I say ‘take us out of the comfort of our own backyard’, what I really mean is away from the safety zone of our local public pool to the complexities and dangers associated with the beach.

The pleasures of the Aussie beach are still an enigma to me.

Unfortunately, I read Bill Bryson before we migrated to Australia to become one of the next batch of lobster skinned, ‘scared-of-our-own-shadow’, whinging Poms when it comes to wildlife. I wish I hadn’t read it now. I still dwell on those words about Australia having ten of the most dangerous creatures in the world.

And I don’t think that sharks even made it to the list.

Australians have a very different attitude to wildlife to us Brits. They don’t care how aesthetically scary a creature is, (and it can be seriously as fugly as fuck); they only care about what kills them.

To demonstrate my point, some Australians keep these in the house as pets to eat the mosquitoes. And no-one thinks that’s weird.

Male Delena cancerides, Huntsman Spider or Avo...

Unfortunately, my innate fear of anything that moves and isn’t human sharks hasn’t diminished since I’ve been here. I was brought up on Jaws and like Pat Solitano and his trigger song in Silver Linings Playbook, seawater not only triggers the urge to urinate in me (something to do with fear, I suspect), it also triggers THAT music.

But as I sat in front of Redleaf beach yesterday and looked out for fins at the terrain in front of me, I decided to face my fears and I contemplated a dip.

For those not familiar, this is what Redleaf beach looks like:

Scary, huh?

You might not think so, but I’m not making this shit up. Notice that the swimming area is completely surrounded in metal bars?

Middle-Aged Woman Stalked By Sharks in Eastern Suburbs
Looks super scary, huh?

For one FUCKING man-eating reason.

So while others played and splashed, snorkelled and had fun, naively, I carried out my own personal full risk assessment. The bars looked intact, but I’d seen those television programmes where sharks bite through cages many times. My mind kept conjuring up an image of the whole of Jaw’s family lined up behind those bars, waiting and licking their razor-sharp teeth in anticipation of the white blob of cellulite about to enter the water. This would surely be their victory in revenge for the injustice on their distant relatives in Western Australia.

And to be honest, I’d give them a bit more than afternoon tea than the rest of the swimmers around me.

I remember when I snorkelled for the first time in the Great Barrier Reef where there are only Reef Sharks who, APPARENTLY, aren’t interested in tearing your body apart when their myopia makes them to mistake you for a seal. Did you know that sharks are virtually blind? So you can guarantee that death won’t be quick or easy unless you’re lucky enough to be decapitated first or they chew through an artery.

I was the only adult in a stinger suit on that trip – the only Smurf on the reef – a vivid-blue human beacon to man-eating wildlife.

Eventually had to kick me into the water such was my resistance, whereupon, after my first brush with a sea cucumber, (which are frankly GROSS), I dismantled my goggles and snorkelled in braille so I couldn’t actually see what was surrounding me.

As I looked out to the water in Double Bay yesterday, I felt calmed by the knowledge that there were a lot of children out there at the back of the pool, as well as the over-nourished proportions of the old man who was making a complete pratt of himself diving in and out of the water like a child.

Those kids might just give me the chance to get out of the water quickly, I rationalised.

Lost in my thoughts, the anguished peal of an infant cry suddenly broke through my reverie and my fight or flight response set in. Before I knew it, my body was hurtling up the sand quicker than it does at the start of Happy Hour at our local pub.

‘It’s a fish!’ aforementioned ugly child squawked, proudly holding up something the size of a tadpole in his chubby little palms.

And I realized then that I’m still not quite ready.

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What’s Your Biggest Middle-Aged Fear?

Aside from losing your car in the car park, walking around with your skirt caught in your Bridget Jones knickers in public or having spinach in your teeth when you’re talking to someone hot, what are your biggest fears now you’re getting older?

Mine is still the dentist, in spite of my propensity for ALWAYS having spinach caught in my teeth whenever I talk to someone ‘hot’.

English: Using Internet Explorer, I made a clo...
English: Using Internet Explorer, I made a close up of the chimp in File:Knoxville zoo – chimpanzee teeth.jpg, and that file is licenced cc-by-2.0. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my experience, going to the dentist is worse than getting on the scales after three bags of Snickers Pods.

Before we moved, I used to see this lovely dentist who had a poster of a map of the world on the ceiling above his torture chair – I think it was supposed to distract you from the pain.

It didn’t, of course.

But luckily he took pity on me. He obviously came to the conclusion that using the screeching, scraping drill that made my insides somersault and my nerves jangle, (rendering me completely irrational), was actually a potential health and safety issue, and so he settled for just picking away at my tartar with the the mini pickaxe thing.

The only reason I went to the dentist at all was to be a good role model to the kids. It still astounds me the level of sacrifice us parents put up with for their kids.

I hate my teeth now. When I look in the mirror at my old bird teeth these days, I shudder to think of the money my father parted with to get me braces in the days when braces were still avant-garde.

And I did have straight, model teeth….for a while.

But as my body changed shape so did my jaw, and then my teeth moved and created all these gaps and gum pockets, and irritating food crevices.

A huge part of my daily exercise regime is spent picking food out of my teeth – it’s really attractive.

Obviously, I thoroughly vetted my new dentist before I allowed him anywhere near my phobia last week ie. I told the receptionist that I became psychotic in the dentist chair and then asked her directly if they still wanted my money.

I let NC go in first, because I figured that witnessing her pain might alleviate some of mine.

When they gave me the new patient form, where I had to mark on a scale of one to ten if I was going to enjoy the experience or shit my pants, I marked 10.

So he had been warned, before I dragged my feet into his chamber.

The check up part was the usual bitch fest about the state of my teeth? What happened to positive reinforcement? And what the fuck is an occlusal or oclusal watch anyway? I think he was just trying to impress me with his fancy schmancy dental school vocab.

Then, without warning, he brandished the pickaxe in front of my face and started gauging between my teeth – I’m still not sure if he was trying to test the pain threshold of my gums or to search for left-over Mussaman Curry.

My gagging reflex is probably my best reflex these days, but it can prove problematic at the dentist. I mean, I gag when I put the parking ticket in my mouth for those few seconds between entering a car park and parking my car.

So having to keep my mouth open for something heinous is awkward. As the old man knows.

I gagged when he did the check up, I gagged when he did the X Rays and then I gagged again when the dentist’s assistant pushed that sluicing tube a millimetre too far down my throat.

When he suggested doing a ‘clean’, that was all my body needed to spasm, shut down and lose complete control of my bladder.

In the word association game, we all know that ‘clean’ is synonymous with that scraper thing which has a particularly odorous whine that harmonizes so nicely with nerve pain.

I took a rain check. I don’t need to spend $100 on pain when Kurt can provide it for free.

What’s your biggest fear?