I’ve been listening to Public Enemy through my headphones at work lately. It’s pretty great — imagine me working in that big Korean office building with my own secret groove on.
Public Enemy clearly had their own motivations for writing this song. But the reason why I loved it the first time I heard it in 1991, when my roommate put it on her 5-CD changer, was because it spoke the truth about my life. It was the autumn after I had been stalked in a case of racialized sexual violence. At one point the stalker took some shots at my dad with a gun and it took about 40 minutes for the police to show up. I remember my mom being on the phone with 911 while we heard the shots and it surely was a (not very funny) joke to have to wait that long.
So at that time I learned the true nature of law enforcement. Law enforcement is always too late. That’s the nature of it. Bad stuff happens and then you call someone. By the time the police show up, someone already broke into your house, someone’s already been shot, someone’s already been raped. Law enforcement means nothing to a woman while she is being raped. It is already too late for her. And let’s see if the police believe her when they get there.
So that brings me to “adoption reform.” It has to be “reformed” because something bad has already happened. By the time the law enforcement folks (or reformists or international law people) show up and wave their hypothetical fixes around — and hope they get signed, eventually, and then people comply even though there’s not a lot of ways to enforce international law — somebody has already been wronged. Families have already been broken up. Women have already been coerced. Children have already been trafficked. Papers have already been falsified. Relatively rich people have already taken away the children of the poor and called it a good thing. Reform means nothing to me. It’s too late for me and a whole lot of other people, too.