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Why are Sri Lankan passports so bad?

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 24 July 2019 00:00


Why do white people get to be digital nomads and tourists and expats while brown people are supposed to stay still?


My children have two different passports, making them a sort of case study in the stupidity and ultimate cruelty of passports. My daughter has a white passport, so no visas required. My son has a brown passport and he has to prove that he’s not trying to escape brown-town. I have to sit in consulates and bring sheaves of documents and basically grovel to get him permission to move about the earth.

We accept this as just the way things are, but why? The British didn’t show their passports when they took the wealth out of here, nor the Americans or the Australians when they plundered their new homes.

Why do white people get to be digital nomads and tourists and expats while brown people are supposed to stay still?

This system of oppression persists largely because the oppressed accept and enforce it themselves, but I’m telling you that the empire has no clothes. I can see it because my kids are very similar and they, by bureaucratic quirk, live in completely different worlds.

My son can access 22% of the world without a visa. My daughter can access 94%. This was all determined at their birth. This is our reality and we accept it and we preserve it but I’m telling you to question it. This is not fair. God’s green earth belongs to all of us, not just the rich or the well-born.

In any other context this would be called discrimination, but we just accept it because we don’t even think about it. But isn’t it weird that Sri Lankans or Ugandans can access 20% of the world and Canadians 95%. Of course if you’re a rich Sri Lankan or Ugandan we can make an exception. We claim to be a civilisation that doesn’t judge people by their birth or their wealth, but that’s exactly what we do. Our borders are a system that sits in plain sight, keeping the poor and the brown down.

This is wrong. Just because it’s accepted, because everyone is doing it, none of this makes it any less wrong.

A child from Sri Lanka has no less worth than a child from America. They have no less right to travel somewhere, and they have no less right to settle. The world has divided itself up where certain countries have more and certain countries have less, and everybody enforces it together because the rich are allowed through. And people don’t even think about it.

We all just stand in line, always missing a document or a stamp, coming back, paying through the nose, waiting, getting rejected, asking for favours. We have gotten so used to the injustice of borders that we ourselves hold them up. But if you look directly at it, this whole system is an abomination.

We live in a world where certain countries plundered the wealth of others and then closed their doors. Their pollution, however, spills over their walls, warming the entire earth to the point that island nations are over-heating (Sri Lanka) and sinking (the Maldives) right now. In this time between colonialism and climate change, the west is then telling brown people to stay put because we might ruin their countries. Female dog (pejorative), you ruined the world!

You know what we’re going to do with my son? We’re going to go to white-town and get him the passport he’s entitled to through his mom. Just so he can stretch his feet and move like a human being. But this system is nonsense and we need to look at it, and tear it down. For all the children that aren’t so lucky.

No one’s world should be defined by your passport. And no you don’t deserve whatever privileges you have because of how you were born. 

We like to think we overthrew ideas of feudalism but we’ve just changed the expression of the same oppression.

History will look back on this time the way we look back on injustices in the past. 

Like, “oh, certain people couldn’t move because of how they were born? That’s wrong. 

And people just went along with that?” I have both a brown and a white passport and I can see both sides of this stupid Matrix and I don’t want to go along anymore.

My children are no different than each other and they are no different from other children. We are all God’s children and we all have the right be free and move. Open borders is an idea that’s time has come.

Mr. Visa Officer. Tear down this wall.

(Indi Samarajiva is a writer. He publishes daily at medium.com/@indica.)

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