King Root – by Brigitte Lewis

since 1983

there has been more than one way to make a connection

an intricate dance called a three-way handshake

one way to ask for permission

one way back to ensure what we have is stable

another to acknowledge our transmission

this is the language written from every keyboard that has ever called the internet and landed on someone else’s home

funny that my job title is penetration tester

not the sex kind

the ethical hacker kind

the root boxes and finger networks kind

the kind that uses language that is not kind or ethical

a reflection of a world

where master and slave are used freely

and black hats are bad and black lists are bad

and all things white are good

like white lists and white hats

and the white goods in our office kitchens

where the only kind of attack on your network is done

by a Man-in-the-Middle

and all anyone wants to do is make things fall over

and crash

so they can exploit every service you’ve ever stood up

to own you

with a root your mobile program called KingRoot

google it

the first response you get:

how to safely root your iphone

from oneclickroot.com

 

but like all things built in this world

digital or not

the voice of the Other

has always been running across the cables since the first communication

like a long held breath that meets an exhale

a Zoom call that stutters my voice as it enters your lounge room

and whispers

I don’t want you to root my box without permission

like a 16 year old kid learning to hack with both their hands and their discourse

playing out the history of oppression through ownership and submission

 

I want a new language to describe this position

because how do we open up this boy-in-the-hoodie world

if all the moves we see are white hands pushing on black keys tapping white letters to create sentences only a few us fit into?

how do we move from a one way highway to new roads with new words that are not heavy with a history built on subjugation?

we make way for neighbourhoods that house nomads looking for a new place to rest

to wake up and resist

because the first words of the internet were not mummy or daddy but hello world

or at least the world with the means to listen

and now we know the power of the hashtag

SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA
METOO
SAYHERNAME
BLACKLIVESMATTER

 

because the world wide web launched to bring us closer

but the digital divide is getting deeper

and while we mount attacks on politicians and nation states from the streets

the missiles we launch from our beds when we hold each other

the grenades we push from our hearts when we hear each other

the bullets that rain from our eyes when we see each other

these are the parts of the story that hold us together when the internet is down

and there’s nothing left but to keep one fist in the air and the other re-telling stories of resistance that strut from our lips when we kiss each other.

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Brigitte Lewis really does work as a penetration tester. She has written on a range of diverse topics including feminisms and feminist digital activisms, lesbian and other types of sex and desire, and cosmopolitanism. She is the author of the poetry sequence Rubbing Mirrors.

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