Occupy Justice: Sammi Davis

This is the second in a series of posts celebrating the women fighting for positive change in our world – starting with some of the women from Occupy Justice Malta.

SAMMI DAVIS

Sammi has worked most of her adult life in film production (save for a brief stint working in bars during and after university). She saw an article in the Times about the #occupyjustice Castille camp, attended “and it all sort of kicked off from there”.

1) When would you say your activism really began? Why?

I suppose it was Monday 23rd October 2017. I was in Malta on the day Daphne was assassinated but I had to leave for a conference in Barcelona first thing the following morning and I spent the 4 days I was there in a sort of daze.

I barely slept and spent the nights combing through the news, trying to make some sense of what had happened. When I did sleep, I had terrible, terrible nightmares. It was a very strange time and the worst thing was how utterly helpless I felt.

I got back to Malta late on the Friday of that week and I couldn’t understand why Castille wasn’t under siege, why there weren’t thousands screaming on the street – nothing made any sense. The first CSN protest was on that Sunday which I went to and then on the Monday at 3pm, I stood outside Parliament with a taped mouth and a banner.

Some people shook my hand, other people laughed and pointed, mostly people ignored me but it marked a sort of turning point for me because it was such a relief just to be doing something. Everything had changed and there was no going back. 

2) It’s a constant uphill struggle: what keeps you going?

Daphne, her family, my son and the exceptional people I have met as a consequence of the activism (and am honoured to now call friends). It is unbearable to imagine that the future is no better than the present, and probably considerably worse so whether we succeed or not, try I must. There really is no other option. 

3) What do you do to unplug/de-stress? 

Children are brilliant for this because they live in the moment and force you to as well. So I’d have to say that spending time with my son is my favourite way to shut everything else out. There’s also music, gardening, reading, snorkeling, fixing broken things and red wine (in no particular order). 

4) what have you learned/taken away (personally) from being so involved in activism?

That nobody is going to ride over the hill to save us; that this country is in real peril along with the rest of the world and we’re watching it all happen like a slow moving car crash whilst we’re fiddling with our phones and wondering what we’re going to have for dinner; that despite all the horrors, it is still a beautiful world and we need to fight to protect it every day; that apathy is an unwelcome symptom of privilege.   

5) what has been the most testing or difficult aspect of being an activist?

For me, the thing I have found most difficult is not the bad guys, you get those everywhere. It’s the amount of ‘friendly fire’ that I find bewildering and horribly disappointing. I’m not sure I will ever understand it. 

6) do you feel like you’re making a difference?

Yes. The problems we are trying to address are deeply rooted in this country, culturally and politically, so it was never going to be a quick fix and civil society, its function and responsibilities, isn’t really understood here. It’s a slow process but as long as we keep putting one foot in front of the other in the right direction, change will happen. 

7) you’ve lived in Malta for many years now – how has your opinion of it changed from when you first landed?

My partner asked me what I thought of Malta very soon after I arrived all those years ago. I remember saying that it was a very beautiful island but that it looked and felt unloved. My view hasn’t changed but there are a number of aspects that I found charming and whilst I still find them so, I now feel like they are the complexion of something much darker and deeper.

8) given you have the benefit of an outsider’s perspective, what about Malta’s culture and community to do you think helps or hinders your activism and the problems you’re trying to combat?

There is no culture of civil society or protest here – they have no role. People, by and large, do as they are told by their party and the space for non-partisan debate is terribly narrow. It is impossible to discuss political matters without being accused of partisanship and it is broadly believed that the only reason to criticise anyone or anything is for personal or party gain.

It seems to be inconceivable to many that anyone would ever act for a common good; to better society as a whole. This is very alien to me and it can be enormously frustrating. I suspect that the biggest reasons for this are the size of the country, the party controlled media landscape and the education system which does little to encourage critical, individual or original thought. 

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