Thursday, June 30, 2011

To Read - Every Mohawk is a Suspect: Police Raids

In this article Dan David writes about the impact of police raids on Quebec Indigenous communities, stating, "To them [the police], this is a problem community that they wish would just go away. As a result, they don’t get involved in working with the community toward long-term solutions, and instead use short-term thinking and flashy, expensive, and ultimately useless raids over and over again. It’s progress in reverse."
David highlights the obvious strategic differences used when carrying out police raids in Indigenous and non-Indigenous areas (high-volume police takeover of an entire community versus carefully planned and executed raid on a few key houses).  He also discusses the stonewalling Mohawk people experience when trying to work with the Band Council and Police.  "The massive raids are merely a symptom of more fundamental problems that don’t or shouldn’t involve the police except as a partner with Mohawks in the community. Policing that doesn’t involve the community, that doesn’t reflect the will of the majority of people, just won’t work. It never has and never will—anywhere."   
I found this article on Jessica Yee's Facebook page.  Right now I am reading her book, Feminism For Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism.  David (and Yee, I think) is writing about a very important phenomenon - US (read: White, middle and upper-class folk) speaking for and about Indigenous people in this country (and others).  What Yee's book and David's article are saying is that Indigenous people need to speak for themselves, as they have being doing for generations and generations before we came around to mess things up.  This systemic practice has real consequences, like needless police raids that only help to disrupt and further stereotype communities.  David writes, "Federal and provincial officials have attended community meetings where speaker after speaker demanded to know why their governments were prepared to spend millions treating them like criminals but nothing to identify and address the root issues that provide the perfect environment for such behaviour."  
In essence - quit reading what I have to say and check out David's article here!

Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Talk to Little Girls

This weekend I read this article by Lisa Bloom called How to Talk to Little Girls.  It hit home with me because whenever people meet my blonde-haired little girl, they always tell her how cute she looks.  Her grandparents buy her fancy new clothes, her favorite color is pink, and she is obsessed with shoes.  Some days sending her the message that she is valued for her whole self feels like an outright war against the culture we live in.  Try this approach for a change, and both her and I will be immensely appreciative.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm an Average Parent!

This article by Lori Gottlieb makes those of us 'average' parents, who exist in the hyper-judgmental world of parenting and feel guilty about not coming up to snuff, come out on top.  Although the article at times slips in to another of the "you-shoulds", for the most part the author is saying that we all need to relax.  Focusing on every minute detail of our parenting styles and our kids behaviour only serves to shield them from the ups and downs of the "real world".  That's right - as a result of the "you shoulds" directed at parents 24/7, our homes have become fantasy lands with a vigilant focus on proper child outcomes which, in actuality, often leaves children behind.  Average children, who are great and some things and crappy at others.  The author writes, "whether the fixation is happiness or success - parental overinvestment is contributing to a burgeoning generational narcissism that's hurting our kids".

This article has made me realize why I have 7192 pieces of blank white paper around my house with one or two coloured scribbled lines.  My daughter, almost 5, used to fill the page with faces and clouds and other nonsensical scribbles.  But, at least, there was effort involved.  Each time she would hand me one I would clap, give her a high-give and say, "Great job!".  As a result, she's learned that she can take the shortcut through crappy, effortless drawing in to the land of high-fives and "Great jobs!".  The author writes, "parents who protect their kids from accurate feedback teach them that they deserve special treatment".  Our Western world of parenting advice has led us into the realm of constant accommodation and praise rather than earned accomplishment.  

There are many more quotes I could throw in here but, in essence, (and what is maybe a selfish reading of the article in order to make me feel better - ha, irony!), the article is telling us all to back off, and let our kids deal with shit.  The more shit (let's not get carried away here, by shit I mean the normal embarrassment, disappointment and devastation that comes along with growing up)  they deal with now, the more able they will be to cope with it when they are adults.  By constantly protecting our children we are actually getting in the way of their natural development.

Read it here, and let me know what you think.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"In Our Own Voices"

I was originally planning a post on all of the foolishness of the Vancouver Riots following the Stanley Cup final.  But this, I think, is a much better story about Vancouver.  

The Downtown Eastside Power of Women Group has launched their amazing In Our Own Voices writing project this month.  A new story is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week on the Vancouver Media Co-Op site, making the project consist of twelve stories in total.  I highly, highly suggest you take a look, as the stories presented each week are powerful, raw and so necessary.  The stories were written as part of an intense period of writing exercises, workshops, and revisions facilitated by the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre.  Week one featured stories that brought women to the Downtown Eastside, week two drew attention to child apprehension and violence against women, week three will explore the daily lives of women in the Downtown Eastside, and week four will highlight ongoing issues of homelessness and poverty.  I'm not going to write about the content of the stories here, it's important that the words remain in the author's voices - you can find the series here.  Although, I will say that each one so far has made me go through the various stages of grief, outrage and a felt sense of injustice.  The stories are women's experiences told in women's own voices. Check it out, and find out what you can do below.

About the Downtown Eastside Power of Women Group:
We are a trans-inclusive group of women who live in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories, the poorest off-reserve postal code in Canada. We are or have been homeless; living in shelters and on the streets. Many of us are single mothers or have had our children apprehended due to poverty; most of us have chronic physical or mental health issues; many have drug or alcohol addictions; and a majority have experienced sexual violence and mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional abuse.  For Indigenous women, we are affected by the racist legacy of residential schools. We are from all walks of life, surviving in extreme poverty and building a family with each other.

For More Information about the DTES Power of Women Group: 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Halifax: I Am Ashamed

I'm from Nova Scotia and yesterday I spoke with friends from back home who informed me that a local performer had been shot in her home.  At 1:30 am men impersonating police officers knocked on her door.  When she opened the door and realized they were not who they said they were, her and her roommate struggled to push the door shut, locking it.  They lay down on the floor and heard a shotgun blast right through the door.  More bullets followed, one which hit her in the arm.  When interviewed from her hotel room the woman stated that the attackers were yelling, "Tranny faggot, open the door, let us in, let us in".  It's baffling to me that a hate crime of this magnitude could happen in my home province, my country, or my world even, at this time.  Interestingly, the CBC coverage is the only one to mention the woman as a drag queen.  Whether this is erasure or not I can't tell.  Is her occupation and gender irrelevant in the news reporting, or is does it's absence speak volumes?  There's a certain responsibility to highlight hate crimes mixed with an unnecessary sensationalism in the media.
Read the coverage and let me know what you think.

UPDATE: Here is some audio of Chris speaking about the incident on CBC Information Morning.

UPDATE 2: CBC article with the headline, Drag Queen Was Victim of Shooting.

UPDATE 3: Police Denying Hate Crime Claims Despite Slurs.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Home Birth Put Simply

In the trend today of sharing articles with you, I bring you this article written by Susan Heavey about her home birth and why she chose it.  I have read a ton about birthing, am in the process of being registered as a doula, and have had one hospital birth, and so have many reasons why I want to give birth at home next time (more autonomy, respect, a better environment for the baby and myself, lower risk, etc.).  I appreciate this article because it lays it out so simply, and therefore is accessible to readers who have no involvement or knowledge of birthing culture.  Enjoy :)

Queer Literature for Teens

I wanted to share a great piece I read today entitled Teenagers in Love, about literature that tells the coming out stories of lesbian teens.  The author speaks about several books which detail the struggles of young women coming to acknowledge their identities.  Although at first, for many, these battles take place privately and intimately, the characters (and many of us actual lesbians) have to come to terms with the political implications of those private yearnings.  This clash is difficult for many, as we watch our straight friends seamlessly transitioning from the very personal time of budding sexuality to the more public displays of first boyfriends and first kisses.  Although these transitions are not always smooth, they are met with acceptance from wider society (for the most part).  Folks with marginalized identities, on the contrary, inevitably have a moment of realization that these feelings once experienced and mulled over only in ones own head must be expressed outwards.  At that moment a young (or older) teen is also confronted with the political implications of such inclinations - shame, and a nagging sense that we are doing something wrong.  Although many of these books are meant to imbue young queers with a sense of strength as the protagonist battles seemingly insurmountable opposing forces to come out proud, and with a smile, the reality is often, and unfortunately, more difficult (and more mundane).  

It's extremely important for those of us who have come out to tell our stories (along with those of us who can't), with all of their foibles and boring details, as we have been written about and talked about and conjectured about by others for so long.  We should work to encourage libraries, publishers, and readers to invite and support peoples stories of being queer so that these stories can be made available to younger teens of all identities.  Coming out stories can be successful, devastating and everything in between, but one thing they all are is ongoing.  Read the piece and tell me your thoughts!  

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Page Engaged in a Little Civil Disobedience

I saw the news today about a Senate page holding up a sign saying Stop Harper during the Throne Speech and it warmed my heart.  You see, I used to be a Page (yes, I wore that uniform) at the Nova Scotia House of Assembly where we were mandated to be apolitical.  We were seen and not heard.  Especially so during the Throne Speech, the holiest of holy days at the House where we broke out the white gloves for the Lieutenant Governor's visit.  (In NS her name is Mayann Francis and she always looked somewhat like a wax statue).  I loved the job, but this girl has some guts.  She was immediately escorted out, fired and issued a statement shortly after.  She says, "This country needs a Canadian version of an Arab Spring, a flowering of popular movements that demonstrate that real power to change things lies not with Harper but in the hands of the people, when we act together in our streets, neighbourhoods and workplaces."  Awesome.

Picture taken from: