Borders Are For Poor People

Our golden Tara, stolen by the British, still displayed in their loot halls

Myfamily just applied for UK visas which cost $130 each. The private company doing it charges $25 for a ‘Gold Premium Package’ and other random charges. If you want get your passport in five days (instead of two months) you can pay her Majesty nearly $700. And of course, your application has to include proof that you’re rich, or they’ll reject you and keep the money. The whole thing is a fucking scam. International borders are just open discrimination against the colored and especially the poor.

Meanwhile the rich—even those with apartheid passports like Sri Lanka’s—can buy their way out. They can jump through these hoops or even get ‘investor passports’ or other bullshit. It’s all pay-to-play, but laundered through so much dreary paperwork that it appears fair. But it’s not fair at all. The whole thing is premised on the idea that rich people deserve more freedom of movement than the poor, and they don’t.

I was sitting there waiting to collect our passports and an old lady comes up with a cane. She’s brought her medical reports because somebody told her to. The security guard—a guy who wouldn’t get a visa himself—tells her she’s in the wrong place, she needs to go to Horton Place, which is all the way across town. He asks where’s her family and there’s no one. She’s all alone. There’s no fucking fuel in the city. What’s she going to do?

I help her put her mess of documents back in her bag and I wonder. Are we not colonized, still? We still use the name ‘Horton’, some colonizing bastard, and we’re still paying money to the fucking private companies and foreign royalty that looted us so many years before. And we’re still doing this to ourselves, that’s what gets me. The colonial armies that brutalized us were us and the bureaucratic armies that now brutalize us still do.

Lately I hear about the Sri Lankan Navy ‘capturing’ migrants on boats and I’m like, what’s wrong with us? We should sail to Australia, free their concentration camp islands and ram our freedom through. Instead we do the enforcing for these fuckers. From Morocco to Rwanda to Sri Lanka, the face a brown migrant sees stomping them is usually brown. White people don’t even have to get near us to keep us far away. That’s how colonized we still are.

The truth is that people used to just go wherever, borders as we know them only emerged after WWI because Europeans were so fucking violent that they had to be contained. Then they figured out that this was a dope way to enforce global apartheid, picking and choosing what colored people they wanted to let work for them or pay for their colleges or who was allowed to visit. And they said it was because we were dangerous or might overstay, the same people who violently attacked us and overstayed for centuries in settler colonies around the globe.

But even beyond all that what gets me is the emphasis on money. Even for a spousal visa for the UK they want to see 18,000 pounds in the bank, or equivalent income. What if you’re poor, love each other, and just want to live on a farm? Then I guess just fuck you.

We make a big deal about being so far from feudalism, but I just don’t see it. In ye old days perhaps you were limited in your freedoms by a few days walk, now we’re just as limited by a day’s flight. The feuds just got bigger, more decentralized, but most of us are still living as fucking serfs, requiring papers from our masters to even move. To be honest I don’t even think feudalism was this rigid or bad. In many ways we’re more organized about the oppression and worse.

Like every other story I tell you I’m just a tourist in poverty. I have money in the bank, I paid for the visa, hell I have a Canadian passport already, I wasn’t getting a visa stamped on the global KICK ME sign that’s a Sri Lankan passport, no. In many ways I’m extra furious because I expect better.

I remember I was in some Middle Eastern airport and they told the Sri Lankans to board last, because that’s how they treat the housemaids and drivers that prop their passport-slave states up. They all moved over cause they were used to it, but I was like ‘no, fuck you.’ I mean, not really, this being an airport I just thought it and scuffled over, fuming.

I got that same feeling sitting in the visa line yesterday. Fuck them and fuck us for administering this stuff ourselves. I want to burn all these borders down. If a Sri Lankan decides they want to see our own golden Tara, our own goddess of mercy and compassion, we have to pay the people that stole it hundreds of pounds, and then they can just say no?

It’s a farce, it’s often a tragedy, and we just take it as normal. It’s just wrong. Borders are just lines on a map to the rich and white, but they’re knives to poor and colored. And we just live in this violent division, death by a thousand papercuts. Every time I get near a border I just see red. They cut my people to the bone.