Apparently I'm supposed to care about Novak Djokovic
But I don't. Here is what I care about instead.
Apparently I’m supposed to care about Novak Djokovic—the Serbian tennis player whose visa to Australia was cancelled when he failed to meet the requirements for unvaccinated people to travel.
But I don’t. I really, really don’t.
Instead, I’m confused as to why this has been a leading story for the better part of 2022—to be fair, the year is only 15 days old—while the stories of ordinary immigrants in detention or refugees who are not given the privilege of a visa with clear cut rules to follow are pushed back by border guards are buried, or worse, happen in real time in the shadows never to be recorded, discussed or rallied against at all.
I don’t mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist or a “whatabboutist”—both of those are literally the worst—but I do wonder why we are flooded with the back and forth visa dramas of a tennis star who sounds like a dick (he’s an anti-vaxxer) when stories of pushbacks on Europes borders leading to refugees freezing in makeshift camps on the Poland-Belarus border and an average of five refugees drowning in the Mediterranean per day last year are treated as barely an afterthought.
Every single story of travel bans and quarantines is dissected in exhaustive detail when it comes to how the Coronavirus has inconvenienced people who are accustomed to freedom of movement, but the stories of how borders inconvenience the lives of everyone else are barely deemed newsworthy. Over the past two years, countless airtime has been spent on the inconveniences of the pandemic, but far less has been spent on the injustices that have been crippling freedom of movement for much longer.
Unfortunately—or perhaps, if you’re choosing to see the glass full, fortunately—we, the people, decide the news agenda. As readers, listeners, viewers we make choices about what we want to consume, which, to an extent, sends a message to editors, publishers and producers of what kind of content their audiences are seeking. I am not saying that we need to give up entirely on trash tv and celebrity gossip. But perhaps we should remember that we play a role in deciding which conversations matter?
So, in that vein, here are stories that I’ve been following, people who have been giving me hope, and conversations to amplify. British writer Sabah Hussain wrote about the striking similarities between the fire that ripped through a public housing complex in the Bronx a few days ago and the Grenfell Fire in London a few years ago, pointing out the ways that both devastated immigrant communities in their respective cities, and most tragically, would have been preventable were it not for systemic failures.
Here in the UK, protestors are continuing to stand against Preeti Patel’s proposed Borders and Nationality Bill, which could strip dual citizens of British citizenship without warning. It is supposed to crackdown on spies and terrorists, but what happens when ordinary citizens are systemically typecast as something that they’re not?
At the end of last year, many members of the Stateless community in the United States celebrated when the United States government committed to defining what it means to be stateless and expanding protections for stateless people. While those protections are still to be determined, it is a sign that sometimes, every so often, the enormous efforts of activists and advocates fighting for a better world can pay off.
With that, I’m off to continue not caring about Djokovic.