June 30th, 2020

Words & Photos by Ruth Mckenzie-Milner

I moved to Hong Kong as protests against the Extradition Law began across the city.  My immediate reaction was visceral. I look back and I feel ashamed of the privilege that allowed me this reaction. Around me I saw chaos. There were fires in the streets and whole stretches of the city were dyed blue from the water cannons aimed at protesters. From my apartment window I saw police aim rubber bullets at anyone within range. 

I began to see how an anxiety for the future of the city is a shared link for everyone who lives here. I work with children and teenagers in a school in central Hong Kong. I would see how tired they became, both mentally and physically, as weekends of trying to protect their city wore on. As a person foreign to Hong Kong, I reflected on my own experiences of coming of age and the freedoms I had never even considered. The youngest sung and hummed protests songs while they worked in class. Lessons lead to children wanting to  discuss or imitate what they saw. I felt that a sense of discomfort was everywhere, that there was a shared mood across the city. In the central banking district, things remained eerily normal. Life resumed within the chaos of the city as though nothing was different. People would enjoy their weekends, drink in bars, shop, whilst at the same time, elsewhere in the city, the police would be teargassing those who took to the streets. 


I created these drawings because I wanted to represent the children and young adults that give so much to their city. As their voices are slowly being silenced, I feel a duty as a resident of Hong Kong to help amplify their sound in any possible way. 


Ruth Mckenzie-Milner is an illustrator based in Hong Kong. She creates drawings based on the culture of girls and women, exploring insecurities to create shared experiences. She draws from social media and advertising with the goal of drawing like her 10-year-old self. You can follow her on Instagram @imadrawer_