Archives for the month of: August, 2017

When i wrote about racism last month, (red like me – july 13), i had no idea how close to a potential race war we actually were. Then a couple of weeks ago, whilst perusing new people to follow on Twitter, i came across a user who had written only “non-white person” on his profile. It elicited a half grin as i thought it was a bit tongue-in-cheek, like the way someone might claim to be “non-heterosexual” or something, so i followed him. The next day, he posted this on my feed, referring to my blog post on racism:

“Do you tell non-White ppl you interact with that that “card” you can carry exempts you from being a Racist/White supremacist?”

My response was:

“…?… Eh?… No.”

I could have left it at that… Buuuut I dint… I wanted to point out the ridiculousness of the question and wrote:

“do you tell ppl that ppl can carry a card that makes them exempt from being racist?”

He responded with:

“No. I warn non-White ppl about White ppl like you who claim non-White identity to deflect and avoid exposure as a Racist/White supremacist.”

Whilst sensing he had not understood or read the whole post, I engaged in dialogue. I did so only because, while I’ve been called an apple (red on the outside, white inside) in a dismissive way, I’ve never been called “white” or either of those things before and was curious. It was interesting because all responses to his questions were spun to fit the belief of his, every word of mine was either proof of my “whiteness” or a calculated white trick according to him.

We were coming from very different viewpoints, with his stance being that non-white people were not capable of racism as his definition of it was “White supremacy” and that it was “specific only to white people”. When i said that i understood “white” to be referring to skin tone, he said that i could not and would not find anything to support this. And that to avoid exposure as a white supremacist, “they’ll try to trick non-White” people into thinking that white is just a skin colour. And in response to the blog, about racism being the result of ignorance he wrote:

“White ppl (like you) express their *dedication* to Racism/White supremacy by saying their *calculated* practice is a result of ignorance.”

It felt like we weren’t on the same playing field and as we didn’t or couldn’t agree, i said we would have to agree to disagree, to which he would not agree. So i said that we would have to disagree to disagree then, and he said no…. So i thanked him for the dialogue and said farewell. Then he asked if that meant i wouldn’t show the responses from my “non-White” friends about whether or not they thought i was racist or a white supremacist – a question he had asked me earlier on to which i had said i didn’t know but would ask as i was curious. I had texted one of my non-white-skin-toned friends within hours of him asking, and so posted a pic of her response. My friend had lol’d at his q, said no and used some not so nice words. When he immediately questioned her integrity, called it a “White trick” and asked for all sorts of info about her, i ended the dialogue with:

“no, this ends here. I will not let you treat my friend the way you have treated me. good day sir.”

Mere days after that ended, Charlottesville happened. Perusing some of the news threads, i posted a response on Twitter to someone who said that he was ok with other races, so long as they followed the rules. I stated that the rules were not fair and equal for all and asked what would have happened if it had been people of colour/minorities rallying. A different user responded with:

“Riots and vandalism. Just like every time blm doesn’t get its way. If they don’t like living in a white country they can always go home.”

This prompted a days-long dialogue because in all my years, i have never engaged in dialogue with a white supremacist. I’m not saying i’ve never met one as perhaps i have, but no one has ever talked openly about their racist beliefs. It was not as aggressive a dialogue as with the other guy. Her belief that she was superior came across and she was condescending, calling me adorably naive, weak and mousy. But she did her best to explain her views, and while stopping short of stating she was a white supremacist in those exact words, she kept referring to ‘other races’ as unequal. She used the argument that “whites” were more advanced and therefore superior, then got caught in a quagmire after stating that the Japanese were “probably ahead of us”, and never responded when i asked if that meant they were superior.

She spoke in generalizations and stereotypes, stating all the counter-protestors were Antifa, alt-left and BLM, and she blamed all the violence on them, tweeting:

“…antifa/blm filth are the ones who always initiate the violence. Always. Apparently violence is ok as long as you think you’re right.”

She said that since “blacks hate us so much”, she “was sure” they’d be much happier in their own homogeneous societies, “no one” had anything to lose because multiculturalism “wasn’t working for anyone”, and that every race deserved “a homeland free of foreigners”. I ended the dialogue after she voiced hatred for all but the “polite blacks” and claimed that she had no time for people who “don’t strive to be decent and morally upright”. The irony of her statement brought out a thinly-veiled sarcastic question-comment on my part (“do you see your behaviour on this thread and out in the world as polite and morally upright?”) for which i felt shame and quickly deleted. I ended with this post instead:

“ima go strive for that. Thank you for the dialogue and your honesty.”

I posted somewhere along that thread my belief that dialogue is the only thing that will bring about real change in the long run. And i am convinced of that now more than ever as i feel much was learned from both these encounters. For instance, the woman is a white supremacist, and while she says that “Jews are at the top” because of their IQ’s, they are disqualified from being the best because of their “vile attempt at world domination via central banksterism”… She “hates the loud, rude saggy assed black people”, but not the “law abiding self-supporting polite blacks”… She also claims that she doesn’t care which race is superior “as long as whites can have our own nations like every other race”. And while she doesn’t believe her government cares about her, she justified unequal treatment of people of colour by stating:

“The majority in any country is entitled to make the rules. Rule by majority is the whole basis of democracy.”

(FYI – the definition of democracy includes: the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges. Miriam-Webster)

As for what i learned from the other dialogue… I had a difficult time following his logic, but my main take from it is that he thinks if any people of colour feel superior, that is only a reaction to the racism they have experienced, and erego not racist in itself… And, while it felt like i was getting physically slapped or punched by his words, it reaffirmed my conviction that what people label me is not my concern, and that racism is definitely my concern.

Which is why i couldn’t just sit back and say nothing after Charlottesville. I don’t see racism as an illness of light skinned people only and i will never agree that what people of colour do when they claim “racial superiority” is not racism. If you believe one ‘race’ is better than another, that’s racism. I realize that racists/supremacists might have their heels dug in as well and will never agree that all people are equal…

In the meantime, i have heard more white supremacists rallies are planned for this weekend across the US and that the movement is spreading across Canada. I shiver at the potential violence that could erupt, as some people appear to be on the verge of losing their sh*t, to put it mildly. How many more are going to die over something as innocuous as the colour of ones’ skin? Heather Heyer was merely one more life that didn’t matter to those who feel threatened by people who are different from them. The disrespect of those who have expressed their feelings about her death is a low not seen publicly since the hatred by racists in the 60’s. I shudder to think of the evil that would have been said if she had been a person of colour, mind you I also dunno how it could get much worse… So yeah, if you aren’t outraged by it all, then you truly aren’t paying attention – or maybe yer racist.

* in hindsight, i see that the title ‘red like me’ could be interpreted as me having white skin tone as John Howard Griffin, author of Black Like Me… i used it to point out the problem with labels and how they lead to discrimination…

It has been four days since Osheaga ended, one of the many music and arts festivals held annually in Montreal. This was the fourth year in a row I’ve attended but the first year I volunteered with them, and I’ve not fully recovered from it as I’m still tired. My whippersnapper days are long gone though, so…yeah. It was simple enough: out of the 39 hours of the festival, volunteers were required to work three shifts (13.5 hours) and in return had free entrance to the 3-day festival (plus access to private washrooms and the back roads, a major bonus imo). The only other requirement being a $100 deposit that was refunded once the shifts were completed. The entry wrist band could be cancelled at any time if one missed a shift. Or in my case, if one of the other volunteers decided that, even though the team lead read off the 12 names on the list and thus all 12 people were accounted for and 12 people departed for the shift (and my name and signature were on both the sign-up sheet and the waiver form and checked off on the sign-in sheet), I am somehow AWOL and thus has my wrist band cancelled whilst I am out on shift…

En tout cas, on Day 1, before news of the wrist band nixing, about seven minutes into this first shift, the sky opened up and poured sheets of water on our totally unprepared ragtag group of four as we crossed the one area of the grounds that held the six stages where there was zero shelter… The remaining four hours were marred by thunder and lightning storms, delayed starts and a cancelled act. Unfortunately for me, it was one of the three acts that I had come to Osheaga to experience: De la Soul. *sigh* I did however get to see Sampha, Rag’n’Bone Man, plus some of BadBadNotGood and MGMT, all of whom put on amazing shows. At the end of that first day as I made my way home though, tired, wet and cold, with feet like prunes in squishy destroyed kicks, I wondered if it was worth it…

Day 2 started with the inconvenience of having to obtain a new wrist band. Luckily there was no line-up. Then luckily-er, the weather gave us a break, with only a few light showers sprinkled throughout the day. But… then came word that another act had been cancelled, unfortunately for me again as it was yet another of the three acts that I had wanted to see: Lil Uzi Vert… I may only know a couple of songs by him, like the one with the Migos and… … OK, so maybe I only ‘know’ that one song but I have heard others, and in any case, it was enough to pique my interest and push him into my top 3 as I thought he had a lot of potential and wanted to see what he could do live. *sigh* I did, however, catch Jillionaire’s set and saw Major Lazer. The other act I enjoyed was Gordi, who were the first act of the day and were purdy good despite that they had stepped off the plane from Australia only an hour or two earlier. As I made my way home that night, I wasn’t cold or wet and my feet were happy and I was feeling hopeful about the next and final day.

Day 3 was the day I had been waiting for since hearing of the line-up. Die Antwoord was scheduled to play and was the third act I had come to Osheaga to see. The weather was perfect. The people were awesome, especially the security guards and other people working at the festival. I caught some of Bishop Briggs, Denzel Curry, Flatbush Zombies, Tegan and Sara and Run The Jewels. Then… thank goodness… Die Antwoord showed up… and it was good… and immediately after their show as I made my way along the back road to avoid the crowd, DJ God, Yolandi Visser and Ninja went by me in a golf cart. They were literally 3 feet from me. I heard myself say “great show”, immediately did a mental face palm for not coming up with anything more ‘interesting’ to say, aaaaand then I was done. Exhausted, I slowly made my way out of the grounds with a happy and content half-grin – only cuz I was too tired to get the other side of my mouth up.

I’ll be crazy honest though; my ultimate goal had been to meet Die Antwoord. I had this fantasy that we would get to shootin’ the breeze and they would ask me who I thought the best local group was and then somehow they would end up collaborating with the Dead Obies and Kalmunity Vibe Collective, along with Young Paris or Future… and this was somehow going to save the world from WWIII… … … Yes, I have a VERY wild imagination, and No, Die Antwoord doesn’t collaborate. But they say ya gotta dream big, so I figured why not let my imagination go crazy. Besides, the worst that happened was that all I could think of to say to them was ‘great show’…

Anyhow, here are a few of my “best” and “worst” of Osheaga 2017:

Best Shirt: The Smiths… with an unassuming photo of Will Smith and fam in place of Morrissey and Co… it was the punniest one I saw…

Worst shirt: My Indian Name is Runs With Beers… when the guy passed by wearing it, I couldn’t leave my post to talk with him about how offensive it was, especially as Osheaga takes place on unceded Mohawk territory. Unfortunately I didn’t see him again…

Best Quote from an artist: El-P from Run The Jewels – If you see a girl you want to meet and you think it’d be a good idea to grope her or push up on her, DON’T! cause that ain’t right (my paraphrasing)… he then called on everyone to look out for each other. It warmed the cockles of my heart…

Worst Quote from an artist: at Flatbush Zombies: “If you don’t know the words, keep showing them ti*ties and be quiet”… I dunno who on stage said it, but it prompted my swift exit, stage right…

Best Show: Die Antwoord was great with only one minor mic issue. Major Lazer put on an amazing show too, with Diplo getting into one of those big see-through plastic balls and rolling across the crowd. Rag’n’Bone Man was prolly the biggest surprise for me though, as I had never heard of him and his performance kinda blew my mind…

Worst show: … all the artists I saw put on great shows, even though there were quite a few who frequently used the word bi*ch… with one repeatedly singing “Texico bi*ch” and another talking about how he was gunna make lots of money and then “gunna fu*k your bi*ch”… due to my dislike for the word because of how it feels like a physical slap to me, excessive use would bring on my departure from that scene…

Overall, it was a great musical weekend. Despite the temporary location, the weather and the cancellations, it looked and felt like everyone had a great time. The only ‘not-so-good’ thing I saw happen – aside from a few people keeling over from alcohol consumption – was a guy being chased by security as he ran onto the floating dance floor area, which had a capacity limit for safety reasons. He wasn’t kicked out of the festival though. After he tripped and did a face plant, security grabbed him, removed him from the dance floor and simply let him go. I dunno if any reports of sexual assault or harassment have been made at this point. Last year there was, which is probably why this year Evenko hired the Hirondelles, a trained safety team on the lookout to make sure women and vulnerable people were safe. Overall, my only real ‘complaint’ is that there was a lack of vegetarian/vegan options like veggie burgers/dogs.

Word is that music fests are struggling to bring in patrons around the world, but I was told that Montreal is different. So different in fact, that Evenko has been busy overhauling their original festival site to accommodate 20K more people in 2019. That’s gunna be crazy. As for me… It’s too early to say if I’ll attend next year. It’ll depend on the bill. At this point, I feel like, if De La Soul is on it again… or Nicki Minaj… or Future… or Young Paris… I might just hafta be there…

came across a quote the other day about ego traps, that if you think yerself ‘better’ than others because you think the music they listen to isn’t as ‘spiritual’ or “good” as what you listen to, that’s an ego trap… i feel shame to say that i have fallen into that some times in my life.

it sucks when people try to make someone feel bad or somehow inferior for liking a certain song or style of music. people with their sweeping generalizations and their judgements of ” i don’t like rap/country/rock/jazz/pop/classical music”. or people who declare that one genre of music is better than another, adamantly. critics with their expert opinions on what album/song/musician is best… acting like they’re being objective. like, this one guy had zero poker face and gave me an incredible look of confusion, disgust and disdain while asking why i was talking about Tupac… … it was funny to me tho, cuz, uh… music is one of the most subjective things. ever. and each genre has its own forms, its own instruments, its own rhythms and beats, its own language and its own message, that all reflect the realities from which they come.

music brings people together, it makes ‘em feel good and smile and talk and dance and sing and feel inspired by it all… as Kendrick Lamar said two years ago at Osheaga – “it’s pure energy and nothin’ else”. and it’s good energy. it incites good times and good vibes. it doesn’t necessarily incite illicit behaviour, music issa conduit to help release all the pent up energy like sadness and anger and joy and love over the honest truths and brutal realities and sense of community and collaboration and hope and inspiration and beauty that the artists share… and then all the energies combine to create what can only be described as looking and feeling like peace and love.

music is ultimately about community, where the skilled artists can get us up in the air to see and feel all the beauty in the crazy patterns of this world. it’s not a distraction so that we forget about what can feel at times like a “bug’s eye view”*, but rather helps find the beauty in it, or at least make some sense of it. sometimes it can only be found in music and the movie screen in your head and the way it makes you feel. sometimes it’s the soundtrack to what’s going on in real life, but feels like a movie… or a sit com…

in what more pithily sums up the many words i wrote about music and truth in my Religion honours thesis, (… 30-40pages dissecting how so-called “sacred” or “absolute” truths about the world can be understood as being determined through value systèmes that are created by our own individual understandings and feelings of the words and images that are used to describe these truths and therefore ‘truths’ are not simply found in so called sacred texts, they can be found in every kind of text and every kind of music and every kind of art) … if music don’t contain some sort of truth and it don’t create some sort of sacred place of congregation, then i dunno what does. and it’s not just one type of music. truth can be found in all genres of music. from polka to post-rap… just like truth can be found in all religions. and all texts… even a cookbook.

~

*Bug’s Eye View reference from the spoken word sample in the song Harmonic by Hex, off the album Cold Krush Cuts, Ninja Tunes, 1997, is originally from the album Four Dreams of Man by Dr John Furbay, Columbia, 195?.

“Now those people who fly have a different point of view of the world from those who spend their whole lives on the ground. Don Blanding wrote a poem once, when he was flying, and he called his poem “The God’s Eye View” and he said it was so different from the view he always had on the ground, which he called the Bug’s Eye View…

Now I thought about that bug’s eye view when I over in Teheran in Persia. They told me an old Persian legend about a bug, who spent his entire life in the worlds’ most beautifully designed Persian Rug… All the bug ever saw in his lifetime were his problems; they stood up all around him, he couldn’t see over the top of the them, and he had to fight his way through these tufts of wool in the rug to find some crumbs that somebody had spilled on the rug… And the tragedy, of the story, of the bug in the rug, was this: that he lived and he died in the worlds’ most beautifully designed rug, but he never once knew that he spent his life in something which had a pattern.

That’s why I want to get you up in the air tonight… to see something the old bug couldn’t see in the rug. Because even he, this bug… if he had once got above the rug so that he could have seen all of it, he would have discovered something, that the very things he called his ‘problems’ were a part of the pattern.

Have you ever felt like that bug? That you are so surrounded by your problems that you can’t see any pattern to the world in which you live? Have you heard anybody lately say that the world is a total mess? ….. That’s the bugs’ eye view… …. seeing only a little of it, we might think that….”

~
Next Week: music – part deux…