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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…

Warning: reading, thinking and writing about sexual abuse for four days straight could bring on some sort of general malaise. And here’s three reasons why….

1 – The numbers are staggering:

1 in 3 females and 1 in 5 males will be sexually assaulted in some way by the age of 18

3 out of 5 victims are threatened or physically coerced

90% of the time, the aggressor is someone the child knows

1 sex offender will abuse as many as 120 kids, unless yer a Jimmy Savile, who abused about 450

57% of First Nations women have been sexually assaulted in Canada

40% of children disclose being sexually assaulted

85% of the 1.5 million runaways in the USA are fleeing some form of abuse

2 – The judicial systems are often reprehensible in how they handle sexual abuse:

In Canada just three years ago, a judge asked a 19 year old female who had been raped over a bathroom sink at a house party, “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” and then, not only acquitted the offender but, told him that he needed to tell his male friends to protect themselves and be careful…

Also in Canada, another judge let an offender go free even after his admission of guilt; because the judge could not believe that the victim didn’t say or do anything about the abuse for 9 years…

In Texas, there was a recent story of a judge who granted probation to an abuser because he said that the stigma the guy would have to live with as a registered sex offender was enough punishment, this after the offender admitted to raping his sister…

In the USA, Latvia and Belgium, to name a few, there are stories of Government officials, police and judges, who shut down investigations into pedophile rings, try to cover up evidence or give lenient sentences to offenders…

In some countries there are no laws prohibiting rape, child marriage or sexual assault, or there are laws that end up punishing the victims…

In the USA, child marriage is permitted in some states with reports of 10 year-old girls being married off to 31 year-old men, even though the legal age of consensual sex is 16…

And of course, who can forget the case of the Stanford swimmer, given a lenient six month sentence for rape because ‘alcohol had impaired his judgement’… he was let out after three months…..

And 3 – the ‘culture’ is more than a bit mind-boggling:

That there is a culture with overt or covert organizations is mind boggling enough. That it seems to be an open-secret is not…

Back in 2007, the FBI released logos they say pedophiles use(d) to covertly identify and recognize sexual preferences, with a small pink heart spiralled inside a larger one representing ‘girllover’, a small blue triangle spiralled inside a larger one representing ‘boylover’, and a variation of the boylover one to represent a ‘littleboy lover”…

There was a Dutch association that advocated for the social acceptance of pedophilia and the legalization of sexual relationships between adults and children, which was only dissolved in 2014…

There are stories of people being born into pedophile rings, with a woman who goes by the name of Kendall describing how she was born to be a sex slave (as in, that is why her parents conceived and gave birth to her), who then birthed three children of her own that were taken away from her because pedophiles bought them…

Kendall also spoke about the parties, the drugs and the sick games that the pedophiles engaged in, like hunting down children on an island and forcing children to sexually abuse or otherwise hurt each other…

There are tales of children being used, abused and killed in so-called satanic rituals…

There are accounts of religious orders covering up cases of sexual abuse, with one of the most notorious cover-ups being the Canadian Indian Residential School System…

As much as the mainstream media and alternative media cover these stories, there is still a lot of silence around the sexual abuse of children. Whether it’s victims not reporting it to parents or police for years or ever, or the abusers who ‘deny, deny, deny’, or the family and friends who don’t know what to do or say.

Yet, sexual violence permeates Western culture; from TV shows, movies, news and social media that normalize it on a daily basis, to sexist dress codes that reinforce rape culture. And this Western culture has been hell-bent on blaming the female for what happens to her against her will. It has been as easy as saying words out loud. That is all it takes to throw out a red-herring, cast a shadow of doubt or smear someone. At least, it works for rich politicians, entertainers and the like.

There are stories of pedophile-rings all over the world, that all seem to involve government officials, religious leaders, wealthy elite and famous people. It is plausible that what appear to be conspiracy theories and fake news have more than some truth to them. The people involved are smart and they’re rich, they have the means and would do whatever it takes to keep something like their pedophiliac-inclinations from mainstream knowledge.

What is truly mind-boggling is that people in positions of power and authority, people who can actually make a difference and above all else, as adults, are supposed to be there to protect the vulnerable, are the ones partaking in the damaging behaviour AND also enabling and perpetuating the horrors on children. But pedophiles and sexual abusers don’t actually see their victims as ‘people’, let alone children, the victims are merely objects to aid in physical and sexual gratification.

The blatant disregard and disrespect reminds me of Dumbo… when the circus clowns are putting the elephant in increasingly more dangerous situations and someone has the forethought to say “don’t hurt the little guy”… and another clown responds that elephants can’t get hurt because they’re made of rubber…

And it reminds me of what happened after school one day when I was 6, when a pedophile lured me off my quaint suburban street and did what he did. Afterwards, when he was pushing me out the door, he said that if I told anyone about it, everyone would know I was bad, and then he was going to have to kill my family and then he would kill me.

Thankfully, like Dumbo, I learned to fly. There is hope and help out there for victims and survivors of sexual abuse. And it must be said that there is help out there for abusers too. I dunno where I stand on punishment for the perpetrators. I learned many years after the fact that my father and his friends doled out vigilante justice all over the suburban pedophile, and while I understood the gesture, there were mixed feelings. In my book, while all actions should have consequences, an eye for an eye is just gonna leave everyone blind.

The Buddha asked that none of his belongings be made into relics, yet there are stupa’s all over Asia with bits and pieces of him in them. He also asked that no images or statues be made of him, yet people are rubbing his belly for good luck the world over. Buddhism has an interesting take on that I suppose.

En tout cas, for some reason that bit of religious study pops into my head when I think about sexism, feminism and gender. Or when I think about the general disrespect to and by women. Because no where does it state that women are not equal to men and should therefore be treated as ‘less than’, who have to earn or fight for the same equal rights as a man. I checked.

After wandering for days, musing on how to work with these concepts and constructs and come up with something that hasn’t been said before, I came across this and just thought, ­”yup”.


It feels like it’s that simple. It doesn’t work this way, but wouldn’t it be great if upon being born, everyone was given the same respect and rights regardless of what was between their legs?

Interesting how the whole gender equality gap and such is only ever going to be ‘solved’ through the effort of all sides.  The whole “he for she” goes both ways. It’s all about respect. To help get in the mood, check out these songs. Because it is that simple.

Revolutionary Generation, Public Enemy – Fear of A Black Planet (1990)

This song from 1990 was way ahead of it’s time and is far as can be from the misogny associated with hip-hop.

Same Love, Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis ft. Mary Lambert – The Heist (2012)

Bold support of gay equality with pretty music and smart lyrics.

– I Believe, Stevie Wonder – Talking Book (1972)

Because. It’s Stevie. Wonder. … and cuz he never had to use the b-word to get his point across.

• PS •

– Behold A Lady, OutKast – The Love Below (2003)

Part of Andre3000’s Love Below, an ode to women and why they should be treated with respect.

enigma300ppiThe Enigma: There’s No Shine Like Mothers @wredfish

No doubt about it, we humin beans done been here a long time now. So long, that it feels like racism should have passed its “best before date”. Since there’s still so much racism everywhere, there are obviously a lot of racists out there. So, what’s it like being racist? Like, if someone is basing their discrimination on a stereotype, how many people outside that stereotype would it take to prove the stereotype wrong? It’s not one or two, so how many? What if 70% of the First Nations one passed on any given day weren’t “drunk and lazy”, would that be enough to put that stereotype to rest? And if one passed ten First Nations’ people and two of them were drunk and one was lazy, is that all it takes to make a stereotype and get some hatred going?

It can’t be easy to be a racist… to be afraid of people simply because of the colour of their skin… to feel threatened and scared because someone in their vicinity is different from them… to always feel angry, to always feel a burning hatred in the belly of their brain… to basically feel like who they are and what they are is based on the colour of their skin. That’s gotta suck.

There was that one time I was on the cusp of being racist. And it did suck. It happened during second year of university when I was researching First Nations’ education and came across the Residential School System. At the time I was still learning about all things native after finding out I had official “Indian” status and could carry a card to prove it. Being adopted (**) by a non-native family at the age of 8mths, I grew up in “white” middle-class suburbia with three older brothers and spent my formative years pretending I was a little boy like them. Anyhow, learning about the residential schools was shocking, and the more I read about how the students were treated the angrier I became. I became angry with my parents as I associated them with the white ruling class who were responsible for what happened to my native ancestors. And before long I started feeling angry in general, towards every white person.

As luck would have it though, I ran into my high school history teacher one night while I was out. He was that one teacher who made school bearable, who made learning Canadian history fun and interesting at a time when I didn’t care to learn anything. We were ‘friends’, as much as a student and teacher could be ‘friends’. He knew my brothers, he had met my parents somehow, and he was funny. So when I saw him that night, I laid into him without so much as a hello. “You never taught us about the residential school system! You never taught us about what really happened to the First Nations! What kind of teacher are you?” I railed at him. I dunno what else I ranted but he finally put his hand up and said “Eh, oh. Lemme tell you a story.” And he proceeded to tell me about how he had been up for a Rhodes Scholarship back in the day. Only the most prestigious award one could get as a student. He was actually offered the scholarship by the Rhodes selection committee, “if”, they said, he would take out all the references of what really happened to the First Nations in the paper he had submitted with his application. He said no, so they threw his paper in the trashcan and he didn’t get the scholarship.

When he finished telling the story, he looked at me with sad droopy eyes and said that he had wanted to teach me the truth, but he had to teach the curriculum. And just like that, all the anger I had been projecting at a group of people based soley on the colour of their skin, dissipated. I was flooded with memories of how my family had shown again and again that they were not racist, and I knew they didn’t even know about the residential school system, and then I remembered Dr Bryce, and of course, the Underground Railroad. Dr Peter Bryce was a non-native guy, hired by the Department of Indian Affairs in 1907 to report on the health conditions of the Residential School System in western Canada. He was the first to report that First Nations’ children were dying at alarming rates from tuberculosis, amongst other things. He suggested a few easy and cheap ways to prevent the deaths but his report was not only ignored, it was suppressed. The government didn’t want anything to change as the First Nations children were dying off fast and this would help solve the ‘Indian problem’. As a civil servant of the Government, he was legally prevented from doing or saying anything publicly, thus Dr Bryce waited until his contract was over in 1922 and then published his report as a book, condemning the treatment of the First Nations by the government. So, yeah, I know that not every white person is racist and I knew it back then, but still I found myself confused by the overwhelming emotions that had me looking at everybody with scorn and anger and disdain.

Maybe it’s easy to ask “how can someone be racist?” with an incredulous tone, but the seeds are everywhere. I was lucky that in my vulnerable state I had a chance meeting with someone I respected who was able to understand and respect my anger. But not everyone is that lucky. I could easily have crossed paths with someone who could have fueled the feelings of discontent and might have ended up in a very different place. So, the problem is not just that there is racism, the problem is how do we get rid of it in a way that doesn’t cause chaos? And how do we live with what Nina Simone angrily lamented in Mississippi Goddam, that it’s going to be “too slow”?

Racism is like an illness that won’t disappear overnight. Realistically, it’s going to take years, like reconciliation with the First Nations. Buuut, we can help it along. We can keep looking to the arts and the artists, who have been breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes for years. We seem to be strongly influenced by our media and our arts, which is why movies like “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”, “Do The Right Thing” and “Straight Outta Compton” are so powerful and important. Along with television shows like Degrassi, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Dear White People, they make us uncomfortable; they push boundaries, create new status quos and force people to look at themselves introspectively. We need to see the so-called minorities in the mainstream media rather than just in the news, to see them on television shows, just doing what they do rather than being a designated stereotype. We need to stop the whitewashing.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel either. I think most racists have been denied the truth and that’s caused a lot of negative feelings that they didn’t have to be carrying around. It’s not their fault and they deserve a chance to know and see the truth, and if after that they still wanna be racist, well… But holy crap if there’s actually going to be a race war! Cuz there’s a whole lotta people out there who wouldn’t know which side to be on, like me. I’m Ojibwa, Cree, Norwegian and French. Plus I don’t wanna ‘fight’ anyone because of the colour of their skin or mine. I don’t want to fight, pointe finale… Reminds me of that saying, what if they held a war and nobody came?

** PS: my apologies as it is not clear… I am what some call a Native Adoptee – not one of the sixties/seventies scoop babies. Both my biological parents were of First Nations ancestry – one Ojibewa and one Cree, going back (many) generations there is French on one side and Norwegian on the other, and there is some Scottish in there as well but I’m not sure where… I was given up at the age of 6mths, and adopted by my parents at 8 mths. They were told I was either Cherokee or Blackfoot so I referred to myself as a Cherryfoot. It was only at the age of 18 yrs that I learned which nation I was and that I had ‘official’ Native Status.  – August 17

Ah, religion. One of the notoriously taboo topics of conversation, so someone said. I dunno why said someone decided our core beliefs should not be openly discussed. En tout cas, I tend not to follow the adage. Each religion is a world full of rich stories, fascinating people, and beautiful places of worship, amongst other things. But it seems that ‘religion’ is one of those words that people get stuck within a rigid definition of and cannot let be what it is: a series of symbol sounds that can represent a lot of different images and feelings.

When people learn I studied religion, they tend to think I’m ‘religious’. I’m never sure what the scope of that word holds for them. But whatever I do, say or don’t do, will be looked at within the context of being ‘religious’. * le sigh * So, just to clarify, I will only say that I do not belong to any religious community nor do I subscribe to any religion or perform any ceremonies or rites. Not even for the official religion of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, aka the Pastafarian. Humma Kavula and the Coming of the Great Handkerchief is purdy interesting too. It smacks of what we learned in Intro to Religion at university – that there can be a religion of anything.

When brought down to the basics, religions provide guidance to three questions: who are we? Where are we going? and How do we get there? The sacred texts, the liturgy and ceremonies, the places of worship and sacred spaces, the clothing, the food – everything within the religion is there to provide direction. The head guys – the pope, the shaman, the monk, the priest, the rabbi – help provide context as the leading students of the study of their religion.

If I did have to choose a religion, like, someone was pointing a gun at my head telling me I had to jump in one of those boxes “or else”, and I couldn’t choose all-theism like Chris Martin, I would choose Islam. Despite the negative hype it gets, on paper Islam provides great answers for the 3 questions. It says that we are souls, and our bodies are temporary clothing for our souls, which will one day return to Allah. People have to do as many good deeds as they can while here, as these good deeds will have to be shown to Allah when one leaves this life. As for further instruction/guidance on how to do that, the Quran sets out the five pillars of Islam that are easy to follow: 1 – witness that there is no god but Allah, 2 – pray five times a day in the direction of Mecca, 3 – give to charity, 4 – fast during Ramadan and, 5 – make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once. Some misconceptions: the concept of Jihad is not violent, as the word means struggling or striving and in the Quran usually refers to personal external or internal efforts to be a good Muslim; women are highly regarded and respected, Islam doesn’t force women into marriage, or harems as a man is only allowed to marry more than one woman if he can prove to love them both equally and the same – which should probably be taken more tongue-in-cheek rather than as permission, as this is an impossible feat. Men are admonished from ill-treating women and told to “live with them on the footing of kindness and equity” (Noble Quran 4:19). Regarding the head scarf, whereas some think the custom is imposed upon women, my understanding is that women want to wear it, as a sign of respect and faith and it makes them feel good and safe.

And then there’s the ‘mystical’ dimension of Islam: Sufism. Sufi’s, like the whirling dervishes, are more concerned with striving for the perfection of worship to get closer to Allah, motivated by love. 12th Century Sufi poet Rumi wrote extensively about this love in what is probably THE best collection of love poems, Ever. Plus there’s The Conference of the Birds by Farrid ud-Din Attar, the story is like Coles Notes Lord of the Rings epic and instructive at the same time in terms of how to attain enlightenment.

As for having no gun pointed at my head, I think anything is possible in this universe, and I have spent many an hour pondering the possibilities. Sometimes I wonder if it was just serendipity, maybe we’re here because of some science experiment gone wild – like, a giant species of being created us human biped beings in a petri-dish of sorts in a lab in science class somewhere out there in the universe. The being got a passing grade and let our ancestors loose in the universe when class was done, ‘cuz that’s just what they did. It seems as probable as anything else. I also wonder if, at some point, another species is going to come to our planet, on a picnic kind of stopover. They’re gonna have really big feet and when they go walking around we’re going to be like iiiitty-bitty ants and they are going to squish a lot of people. I like to imagine that I pop up between a couple of well-coifed toes and survive the accidental culling.

As for God, Allah, Yahweh, the Great Spirit…. ultimately, it cannot be denied that we are here and something had to have come first that allowed us to be here. If we are all made of matter, then we are all part and parcel of the same thing, which means we are connected somehow – like string theory. Which reminds me of another thing we learned in Intro to Religion, a cool bit from Christianity; how in the beginning there was nothing and then there was light and dark and everything else. How did all these things come from nothing our Prof had asked? ‘From God’ people started to say. But our Prof smiled slyly and took it back to some basic logic. “Nothing”, he said, “means there are No Things, and all is one”. All was one until things became named, defined and separated. The nothingness was essentially one and contained the whole… which means we all came from the same thing. It’s a great big world with many languages, so it makes sense we would have different words to describe this thing we came from.

Ultimately, as the global community grows, we would all do well to learn more about the worlds’ major religions. Because where one thinks there could be no-thing, every thing might be found.

When Donald Trump first aired in my orbit in the 90’s, there was no connection so I distanced myself from all things Trump. Then he got into politics and was everywhere on my radar, I couldn’t escape him. Every. Day. In the news, it was something even more wild and absurd and crazy that Trump was purported to have said, and every day it got my eyes bulging and my fighters’ cap on. And as everyday it’s the same thing and it’s creating a world of chaos, and there is no way to escape it, what does one do? How does one like myself, like yourself, like anyone, live in the same world as Trump, in a world where everything that we are, believe and represent is the epitome of everything that he fears, simply because we are not like him?
At first I was leaning more toward the haters’ bandwagon. But I had a moment like Pacha, with the llama in Emperor’s New Groove, I said to myself that no one could be as heartless and disrespectful and horrible as he was being made out to be. So I suggested, as Trumps’ daily tweets made it seem that he was becoming so absurd as to be bordering humour, he had to be PUNKED-ing us, punking the world. It’s like, The biggest punk or practical joke. Ever. Because no one could be as bad as the media makes him out to be, and that’s all I have to go on, as I have never met him before and only heard of him and his locker room talk. Buuuuut, if you can’t believe half of what you hear and less of what you see, then the news could possibly be biased. There are fake tweets purportedly from Trump that made him out to be showing disrespect to veterans, but they weren’t actually made by him. And even if a lot of the bad stuff is true as reported, his behaviour is all for show, he’s hiding something. That is the purpose of the red-herring. And he is the king of red-herrings. He didn’t invent fake news but it seems to follow him like stink on a skunk.

Let’s be honest, the press has not been nice to him. Whenever there is the opportunity to put a photo of him, it is never a flattering one, it usually makes Trump look uncomfortable, or is otherwise unflattering, and not like the angelic photos they would post when Obama was in office. I reason that it just cannot be as painful as it looks, that he is not as bad and horrible as he is made out to be. Like, all the books, comics, stories and otherwise sacred texts I’ve ever read, whenever something looks that bad, it’s a ruse.
So I reason that Trump, and his new verb, being Trumponian, in not reading what yer commenting about but insulting it after admitting to have not researched it, I think that what he’s done, and continues to do, is throw out so many red-herrings that it’s forced people to examine what is the Truth and look into the foundations of what is being said.  What this activity could be doing is keeping people busy on so many fronts that we don’t have the resources to look into what his true goals will be or where it will be or what it is. It could all a part of his plan to get people to come together and realize how we all want the same things and how it’s better if we work together and how we can work together. But, like how sometimes people use negative reinforcement to teach,  he’s using absurdity.

IF that’s his plan, it’s inGENious. Like THE best play from Barney’s Playbook. Because what Trump has done and continues to do with every tweet, is uniting the world. Plus, when the ruse hits the fan, he’s ultimately going to come off as some sort of Willy Wonka kind of character.  Peruse Instagram for half an hour and you’ll see people from all over the world talking about and supporting each other in their truths and the struggles they have had to endure simply for being. It may appear to be only a bunch of photos and emojis, but they are challenging the truths we have been spoon-fed since birth, and sharing it with the world. They are dialoguing on politics, religion, sex and music and books and ideas. Trumponian politics has opened a lot of people’s eyes to what truth is and what it means. He’s made people actively question what is best for us and the answers are causing revolutionary activity in people coming together, in person, in large groups, for good.
There’s a character in some First Nations stories called Coyote, he’s known as the Trickster. He’s a shape-shifter and likes to laugh and have fun. He can be cool but you can’t win against the Trickster; you don’t end up getting what you want when you think he’ll give you what you want, you get something worse. I think Trump is like the Coyote. The Coyote’s nature is to trick, to have fun, to make one believe something that isn’t based on truth. He pretends to be someone he’s not. And the others watching either do or do not know he’s the trickster. His purpose is to reveal cracks in one’s character to help better that person. The Trickster is ultimately not evil or bad, just bored, who doesn’t take into consideration the results of his actions, doesn’t care about them. So, I reason that if Trump is the Coyote, he isn’t a bad guy. He’s trying to trick us into thinking he’s this sexist, racist, narcissistic tyrant by what he’s doing, but he’s ultimately not that, and so those who support him are being tricked into believing he’s being honest and speaking the truth. It’s going to be difficult for those who really believe what he has been tweeting and refuse to see the humour in the punk… there are always those who can’t handle the meme… If he’s punking us, at some point, something’s going to happen like in the Wizard Of Oz, a screen will be pulled back and he’ll be like “Oooooh. Hi!”. And then all the craziness will stop. There will no doubt be an awakening/adjustment period, because it’s going to be the punk of the lifetime. On the world.
Slowly, he’ll start pulling back in each one of the red-herrings he flung out and we will no longer be adrift in this harbour of fog caused by real or fake news.

Short digression – Trump reminds me of the guy from the movie Robots, of the big ol’round CEO robot, the old guy who had started the company then got lost and then lost hope on making a difference and was found playing with dominos to pass the time when the younger Robot came along and woke him up.
All this to say that while Trump seems to be a head scratcher or face-palmer, and the only plausible explanation to be able to live in the same world is to think of him as the Trickster, it could be a warning, like the ‘end-is-nigh’ à la Whoville in Horton Hears A Who.  One of the good side-effects of Trumponian politics though, is that it’s also causing a lot of self-examination. People are being forced to look at their own biases and shortcomings, and are seeing how we are each imperfectly perfect. Which, is creating a whole new world order of sorts, based on reality and respect and equality. People are standing up for what they believe in, and the joy ride while surfing Instagram that he’s caused is bringing people together.

And if it turns out that he’s not the Trickster, maybe some of his freinds could chill and watch The Meaning of Life with him by Monty Python. I’ll keep watching it play out on social media. And twitter…. And will hafta come up with another way to make sense of it all. Cuz it’s Trumponian.

Next Week: Religion

Knowing the danger of choosing words that could inadvertently cause disrespect, where does one start writing when one doesn’t know which words will cause pain, because when using descriptive words, many of those words used have become stereotypes, and often times these stereotypes create images that are not flattering or nice, and thus the word creates an image and the image does not reflect the actual person or thing.

Recently I’ve become hyper-aware of disparaging words being used synonymously with stereotypes, or meant as insults, and how prevalent these words are. Like all women are bi*ches: on tv and in songs, rather than refer to women or lady, all women are referred to as bi*ch or ho. Ya know, swearing is fine in context and even saying nig*er if yer black, or even bi*ch if yer a woman is owning it. Yet it’s gotten past the point where Kanye commented on it years ago, “Stevie Wonder never had to use the word bi*ch to get his point across”.

The origins of using the word as an insult comes from referring to women as female dogs, and comparing women to dogs and in the use of this word, stating that all women are dogs. Unless one is actually referring to a female dog it shouldnt be used. It’s disparaging and insulting, like the use of nig*er and redsk*n. The words were historical insults, when people they were referring to were thought of as the everyday farm animal because of the colour of their skin or where they came from or what they had between their legs.

In any case, it came to the point that I had to start deleting songs from my playlist, because every time I heard the word it felt like the people who were saying it were physically slapping me across the face. And while I don’t think they mean for it to feel that way, it hurt enough to have to delete it. I’ve had to delete 9 of my top 50 fav songs, I miss Death Around The Corner by Tupac the most. It was like saying goodbye to a friend. I feel like if I didn’t delete it though, would be like saying that it was ok for any man to ever refer to any woman as a bi*ch, and I don’t believe it is. If someone is being referred to specifically, that doesn’t need to be aired publicly.

One area where men and women are questioning and defying the stereotypes and, challenging them, is on Social Media. Gil Scott-Heron was right, the revolution isn’t being televised, it’s being social-media-eyezed. All over the world, people are posting what words and truth mean to them with their emojis, images, songs, books and people, and their words. The way they use words, it’s as if the word was  a sqaure peg that is now being made round by showing us a different perspective.  They’re changing the face of the world, creating a universal language, forcing us to look at the good, bad and ugly of ourselves, and i like to think we’re changing for the better because of it.

Words are powerful things and need to be handled with care and respect. Because like stones dropped in a lake, they create ripples that cause waves to hit beaches on the other side – who knows what damage will be done. Words are sounds that are ultimately felt and sensed with the whole body, not just the ears or the eyes. Thus, all this to say, that in choosing my words, I hope you dig le shit meme si tu get pas tous les lyrics. And I mean no disrespect and apologize in advance if I choose a word that inadvertently causes pain.


Future posts include racism and feminism.

The title of this blog comes from the undergrad thesis I wrote for an honours BA in Religion. It was actually pithily called the Myth of Myth and Native Mythology, but the subtitle was “a booklength string of words, or, a bowling ball on a trampoline”. The subtitle came from the conclusion, which after 60 pages of examining value systems, words and how truth is determined, stated rather simply, that essentially a myth was a string of words that was meant to reveal a truth, or some aspect thereof. While the word myth comes from Greek mythos and means story, for some reason, myths are generally understood as being stories that are exaggerated or untrue. And it seems as though a lot of people can’t get past that understanding. If you think about how and when you use that term, and what you mean when you use it, what does it mean to you, honestly?
Anyhow, in my thesis, I propose that the words we use to understand the world are heavy with cultural baggage. Thus, when we try to understand something outside our culture, there is the risk that things are going to be lost in translation. This can make communication difficult even in the best and easiest of times. I’m using English and therefore have some assumption that English speakers and readers will understand the words the way I mean them. But, that’s not how it always works.
The thesis points out that sometimes people get stuck in the words and their definitions – or the shape of them if you will, rather than letting the words be what they are, which is a group of symbols or signs for auditory sounds, which technically are felt within our ears. For example, an A is a visual symbol that represents that sound, which many have learned is the first sound in apple or ape, and thus words are a series of symbol-sounds that represent objects, thoughts, feelings – everything that is. Where things get lost in translation, is when we apply our cultural baggage which can result in thinking there is only one understanding, or feeling, for each word. For some an apple is red and juicy and tasty, but for others it’s sour or rotten and riddled with worms. Both are right, so neither is wrong. If we don’t allow that a word can mean more than one thing, it’s kind of like thinking that the EXIT sign means we have to crawl through the sign to get out. But if you’ve read American Psycho, it’s not an exit, it’s just a sign, guiding one to where the way out is. So it makes sense to let words point us in general directions, and let the shapes of the letters and sounds wash over us in feelings and fade away instead of getting stuck within the rigidness of them…..That, and hope the writer will provide context.
That was perhaps a rather long intro to the topic of labels and what you can expect from this blog. But context is important. There’s a scene in Dear White People ep. 2 of the television show when the journalist is told: “trust me: find your label” because “labels are what prevent people in Florida from drinking Windex”. That’s what came to mind when I decided to jump into the blogosphere. Because when I first saw the scene, I did that head pull back, half squint wha-you-talkin-bout face and went full-on defensive talking to myself about how labels are bad and how we have to defy our labels, in the way we have to fight the power, (also wondering why people in Florida were singled out 🤔). I reasoned that labels pigeon-hole and constrain and limit. Which, I realized, as I took off my armor and let myself feel the signs, makes sense… for how many times have I googled something so specific that was found on a blog written by someone who specializes in the nature of my query.
So at first I didn’t want to apply a label because I didn’t want to scare people off or give unrealistic expectations, anne frankly I worry that if I say who or what I am, instantly images will form in the readers’ head and then the round peg of what I’m doing will become whittled away by a readers’ understanding of what that word means to him/her. But I do also see the point in terms of wanting people to think this is not Windex. So, about me, I will say that I’m a verb. In the words of Buckminster-Fuller, I’m an ‘evolutionary process – an integral function of the universe”. I have two BA’s (sociology/political science and religion), and I have previously written for film, television, press and social media. I love words.

And as for category… perusing the ‘top 42′ lists complied, I dint see anything this will fall under, so ima say it’s a post-existential look at verbs, like being and doing. I see and live in the world and write about it. A couple of years ago, as a national news reporter, I interviewed a graffiti artist who pointed out the need that graf artists’ work had to be public. I think it’s because we all wanna be heard in some way, we want to be seen, it’s confirmation we are here, like our voice is important, like “Killjoy was here”. Or like the little guy in Horton Hears a Who who finally declares “I am here, I am here, I am here”.

New posts will go up every Thursday. Future topics include politics, religion and racism.