When I got the opportunity to get involved in this project, I don’t think I braced myself for how truly saddening this experience has been. The discussions I have had with other co-researchers and the interviewees themselves about their experiences has been absolutely harrowing.
I spoke to one woman who was 15 at the time of their stop and search experience. Many of the interviews I have lined up are from women who were children when their rights were violated. At times, it was hard for me to ask certain questions regarding their experience, such as asking whether they as children knew their stop and search rights.
I found myself heavily pondering over this reality, we live in a world where we must ask our kids if they know their rights. Why would a child need to know their rights when they should be revising for exams, playing outside and exploring their identities? Why are our children being exposed to this violence and shame? It makes you think whether the police have any decorum and decency, if you’re able to go up to children and assault them, you shouldn’t be allowed to protect us.
So far, this research has exemplified time and time again that we are not safe. Men and women, specifically people of colour are in grave danger in the UK. Why must Black and Brown children be desensitised to violence which includes stop and search? Why must our children have to witness this? When their best friend Poppy and Alice at school probably haven’t even heard of a stop and search?
Our children have been criminalised from the time they have been given the independence to go and play out by themselves. Yet the police ask, why do we not trust them? How can we trust an organisation who repeatedly target Black and Brown people? How can we trust you when we are deemed a threat, sexualised, belittled, ridiculed, for doing nothing but breathing?
After being in this process, I personally already fear for my kids’ lives and I have no kids. I am 23 years old but these are the anxieties that creep up on me daily, that I could be walking home from university or work and I could be stopped solely due to the colour of my skin.
My personal hope for this research is for the world to realise what the police have done to our kids, our women, our people. They have continued to damage our community with no remorse. We have stats, we have testimonies, enough is enough, these women and girl’s heart-breaking stories need to be heard and I won’t stop till they are.
Image from YES GURL on Pinterest