Monthly Archives: March 2012

Turns out I’ve been sick and ruminating

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I’ve been MIA recently because I’ve been sick. I’ve been sick because I’ve been tired. I’ve been tired because I’ve taken on too many different projects recently.

I’ll be honest – I liked being sick. I liked taking time off my different projects and really just focusing on myself. For the past few days, my brain literally could not get beyond doing anything but sleep and watching Ellen DeGeneres on Youtube. Literally.

This morning, I felt much better so I decided to go onto my favorite anti-racist, ‘feministy’ website and catch up on some readings. As I read the entries, I felt sick. What is up with the millions of 101 conversations that people insist on having? Why are we still not over the fact that racism still exists and that white supremacy still exists? Why are still not over the fact that sexism still exists and that women in the workforce do not get paid as much as men – no matter where we are in the world? Why do we still refuse to accept that there is ONGOING class warfare and that it didn’t end with Marx’s death? Why are we still hard-up on discussing issues of heterosexism and homophobia when we should be looking at how we and our national policies oppress these communities?

Why can’t we seem to move beyond 101 conversations on race, gender, class etc?

And can someone just please tell me why are there (still) so many idiots in this world?

Some people claim we are in the ‘information age’ and that we’re in the ‘best age to live in woo!’ because access to education is increasing etc etc. I truly call BULLSHIT on this. If we are so freakin darn smart like we think we are, how come there’s still so many idiots in the world who refuse to accept that women are still oppressed and that black and brown people are still being treated like slaves?

Don’t get me wrong, I REALLY, REALLY admire the activists, the people, the educators and the learners who are willing to continue to educate people on 101 conversations. God knows how important that is. I can only imagine how much energy it takes to keep 101 conversations going. I know because in some ways, I realize that this is what my blog is for. I write because I like to write but lately, I’ve really struggled with what I want to write, why and for whom. I feel an inordinate amount of pressure to write ‘intelligent’ blog posts when really…WHY THE HECK do I feel this pressure?

I am tired.

I am tired of feeling the pressure to educate. I am tired of feeling the pressure to be the good little activist all the time. I am tired of being the person who critiques everybody else and I’m tired of holding my tongue for fear of being critiqued.

Maybe being sick and taking time off this week was exactly what I needed.

Just for the record, I do have lots of drafts in the ‘Drafts’ section of my blog. They’re just waiting for me to ‘get on with the program’ and write something coherent on the topic. When I feel like it, the posts will go up. ‘When I feel like it’ means when something horrific enough happens and I am spurred to write something in a fit of passion.

 

Happy Feminist Friday!

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It’s our 3.5 year anniversary today. Yay for us and for all our family members and friends who’ve supported us along the way.

That’s pretty much all I have to say. My brain is dead from this week and I’m looking forward to the weekend.

Peace.

Humility, Resilience and Connection: What I learned from First Nations communities in Vancouver

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 I’m a featured contributor at the Dialogues Youth Vancouver blog today. Here is an excerpt from my piece:

“I was born in this skin for a reason.” – Lynda Gray, First Nations activist and author

“O mankind! We created you from a single pair of male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other).”  – 49:13, The Quran

I’ve been asked to share my story. My story is not unlike many others – my voice is one of many, one in a chorus.

I want to start my story by situating myself. I’m currently writing on unceded Indigenous land in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. On this land, I am a visitor….

To continue reading, click here.

Why I (and many others) won’t shut up about race

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It’s the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today! (Try saying that 5 times fast)

March 21 is marked every year as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to commemorate the anniversary of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa when police opened fire on hundreds of South Africans protesting against Apartheid’s passbook laws, killing at least 67 and wounding 186.

Racism is alive and well today. For those of you who’ve been living under a metaphorical coconut shell, please understand this. I feel like I’m going to make myself sick saying this over and over again. We are not post-race. Let’s chant this together and get this into our thick skulls. Post-race is a lie. It is a myth. It is as much a myth as money falling from the sky. When dollar coins start falling from the sky, I’ll maybe start considering that we might be post-race. But until then, I won’t shut up about this. You can count on it.

I was prepared to write a whole long spiel about how we’re not post-race blah blah blah but you know what? I’m sick of writing. I am sick of wasting my energy trying to convince people that just because their friends are black, or just because they claim to be part-Native or just because they have travelled to Africa or India or just because they took one course or workshop on racism or just because they are colorblind, that they are the best anti-racists in the world. You’re deluded if you think that and frankly, I’m not going to entertain delusion. I’m not a certified psychologist and even if I was, they get paid for that shit. I’m not getting paid for this. I am not going to waste any more energy trying to teach people, especially white people, that when I talk about racism and whiteness and white privilege, I am not talking about them as individuals. Please try to rise above your narcissism and believe that when people of color say they hate whiteness, it’s not you they hate. God forbid we have a life outside of hating individual whiteys. It’s the system we hate – remember? the system you white folks benefit from every single day of your life? Yea, that one.

So instead of a long spiel, I’ve given you a semi-spiel and a graphic below (cross-posted from here). Look at the graphic. Study the graphic. Nice graphic, nice. Now go and click on the links below the graphic. Good job! You just took one step to further edeucate yourself. And look – you did it all on your own.

Some writings of mine you might like to read:

White defenders and internalized racism

Interracial relationships for a post-race future? My ass.

Coming to terms with the whiteness in me

Negotiating my Muslim identity

Links you might be interested in reading if you gave a crap about the state of the intersectional political activism today:

Deconstructing White Privilege

No Feminist Wedding For Me, Thank You

Men, Sexism and Faux Oppression

Proud to be white? You’re a racist.

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An excerpt from the Africana – a blog started by two young black feminists in Toronto. Something I stumbled upon while on my adventures in the Internet. Thought I would cross-post and share.

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“Yes, being “proud to be white” makes you a racist.

Let’s go back to Sociology 101 here for a second. White people, you have this thing called white privilege. You’re born with it. You live with it. It benefits you every single day. When your car is broken into and you feel comfortable enough to call the police, that’s white privilege. When you take a standardized test in school that was most likely written by someone who looks and speaks like you, that’s white privilege. When you’re able to see that the vast majority of wealth in this world is controlled by white people, that’s white privilege. Whites have amassed a great amount of power in this world, both concrete power and abstract power.

Now let’s go to History 101. How do you think white people have amassed this power? Hard work? Self-reliance? Swag? Nope. The power whites have amassed is almost universally through the oppression, genocide, occupation, and imperialism of people of color.White people have accomplished some amazing things, but mostly because they’ve established a power structure that benefits them at the expense of other human beings.

And you’re proud of that? You’re proud of an ancestry that has slaughtered countless people of color for their own benefit? True, every race has violence in its history, but none of those situations are even close to being comparable to the worldwide white supremacist structure that has been responsible for the oppression of pretty much everyone else on the planet for pretty much as long as anyone can remember.

When you say you’re proud to be white, proud of white history, proud of what white people have accomplished, you’re saying you’re proud of the genocide of the Native Americans (of Native Folks the world over), the enslavement of black people, the colonization of Africa, the Holocaust, the internment of Japanese-Americans, the oil wars in the Middle East, and a host of other violent tragedies, tragedies perpetrated through white privilege and white supremacy.

People of color have pride movements because we have been so dehumanized by white people, we need to reeducate ourselves on how to take pride in our accomplishments. These accomplishments have been made in spite of white privilege, whereas white accomplishments have been made because of white privilege. It would be like if you were in a race with someone, and then before the race, you busted their ankle with a tire iron, and then after you won the race, you acted as if it was ingenuity and talent that won you the race. No, you won the race because you (severely disadvantaged) your opponent.

White people, you’ve spend your entire history (severely disadvantaging) every other race on the planet. You as in individual may not have done anything wrong, but when you say you have white pride, you’re explicitly stating that you’re OK with the tragedies that have been committed to create and maintain white privilege.

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Strong words. Powerful words. True words.

Race is not a dirty word

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In commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination tomorrow, here’s a video I would like to share that I found on the Africana, a blog I recently stumbled upon:

“We self-named ourselves. This is a term that has alot of power for us.” 

Yes, yes it does have a lot for power for us. So why do so many of us shrink from this term? Why do so many of us shrink from talking about race like it’s a dirty word?

Race is not a dirty word.

Race is what we live everyday, it is how others see us, it is how we see ourselves. It is how our ancestors saw each other and saw themselves and how our great-grand children will see themselves.

Race is not a dirty word. It is an essential word.

Pride is a dirty word. Arrogance is a dirty word. Refusal is a dirty word.

Race is not a dirty word.

Just like…

Humility is not a dirty word. Understanding is not a dirty word. Resilience is not a dirty word.

Race is not a dirty word.

Speak loudly.

Monday Mayhem: We are not post-race

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Woke up today feeling satisfied. I’ve been feeling tired lots lately…which is why I haven’t had the chance to blog at all last week except for Monday and Friday. As I write this, my head still feels a bit woozy. Maybe it’s the weather.

Yesterday, C and I attended the annual community march against racism organized by No One is Illegal . I approximate about 700 of us gathered at Clark Park at 14th and Commercial and we made our way down Commercial Drive. It was really cold but the event was beautiful. We stopped along various intersections to commemorate what happened at those places. There was one place we stopped where we remembered a Filipino man who was set on fire for being Filipino and sleeping on the couch back in 2009. And another place where a black man was kicked and punched for well, being Black. Works of a neo-Nazi group called Blood and Honor.

Vancouver likes to think that it’s a post-racial city, as do many other cosmopolitan cities across North America but nothing can be further from the truth. The acts of the organization ‘Blood and Honor’ is a symptom of a city, a society and a community that refuses to discuss race and instead, insists on its multiculturalism by pointing to the several ethnic ghettos around the cities and ‘our high rate’ of interracial coupling. Puh-lease.

While Vancouver is better than many other places around the world (I’ve lived in Dubai and let me tell you the racism in that city is atrocious) - that doesn’t mean our work is done. Why fixate on something that is normal and that should be? There is no need to continue celebrating what is normal i.e. that a place should be anti-racist. Of course a city should be anti-racist. Stop fixating on how ‘Vancouver is better than other places’ and let’s focus on what we can continue to improve and move on from there.

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