KIA ORA ANO, Laurie Penny
I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for everything you do… for your activism, writing and the empathy you sew into every piece you have ever penned. I’ve just had a hard day of reading the awful and hurtful things that politicians and journalists (who cut a pay check from their cruelty) in Aotearoa/New Zealand are saying about low waged earners and those of us who are [structurally] unemployed.
Sometimes, I wish journalists would/could understand we are real people, with real hopes and dreams and hearts which beat. I wish I could tell them the hateful shit they say about us, pushes us further into depression, anxiety, and sometimes thinking about suicide. It hurts so bad to be called a “loser” and “lazy” so often, as if a record player has broken and is stuck on repeat. Their words hurt so fucking much, you know? I am just so tired of crying over them.
So, it is rare that a journalist that hasn’t suffered long-term unemployment or done years and years of back breaking and demeaning low-waged work can relate so well to our experiences. Honestly, some of your essays have gotten me through the longest of nights on the hardest of shifts while working at the shittiest of bars. And your kindness has helped soothe my anxiety and depression.
Laurie, I feel so trapped by downward mobility and lowly waged insecure work. Precarious work, like poverty, is a trap and once you are in it for a long period-of-time it is, nearly, impossible to get out of. Your words have often allowed me to breath, when the air is being sucked out around me.
And, most, importantly a lot of your writing helped me come to the realisation that my own situation was not my fault; because unemployment and under employment is a designed outcome of neoliberal policies, bought in by governments all over the world. This realisation has relieved much of the pain and the shame I, was carrying in response to being unable to earn above minimum wage and therefore, snag upward mobility. As you have said “when hope dies everything dies” and your words have given me a lot of hope, when I had none.
Young people need to know they deserve aroha and that their depressing and miserable circumstances are not their fault — you taught me that, Laurie. The only way we can survive a world on fire – a world gone mad, where the state is ripping gapping holes (which now feel like open wounds) in social security nets, is by weaving our own safety nets to catch one another.
Anyway, thanks Laurie, you are a wahine toa.
This column was first published on Chloe’s blog, Millennial Posse.