Wonder Woman is an Immigrant!

I hate doing topical posts, but this feels important. There have been any number of thinkpieces about Wonder Woman and the movie’s importance to female representation on the silver screen. There have also been thinkpieces about the inadequacy of Wonder Woman in that way (a white, cis-gendred, rail thin, young woman with symettrical features is hardly the Every Woman).

But before I get to Wonder Woman, a little story.

Continue reading “Wonder Woman is an Immigrant!”

Pet Causes

Five years ago, I got a dog for the first time. He was rescued from a puppy mill up up in King City. He was shaved down from his first ever trip to the vet. Friends described his gaze as a thousand mile stare. Among his many medals was an odd gait from a broken leg in puppyhood that didn’t heal properly. Another was a series of scars on his chest. His tail had been cut off.

Over the first three days, he subsisted exclusively on treats and garbage that he stole when we weren’t looking while a bowl full of kibble sat untouched in our kitchen. The first time we turned on the sink in the tub, he created what we lovingly dubbed a poop circle in the living room.

In no particular order, things he’s found frightening are plastic bags, parking meters, a mattress unexpectedly perched on a table, white haired white people,  men, smokers, buses, subways, my Mac, brooms, a tree he wasn’t expecting, a five pound puppy, a swing, feet, a loud fart, a squirrel that decided that it wasn’t going to run when given chase.

It’s been a few years. He is a much braver boy now. He doesn’t skitter when we try to step over him when we’re cooking. He loves my mom, who’s a smoker, and my father-in-law, a white man with white hair. He LOVES kibble, even if he prefers shrimp. He loves everything that moves for him, including subways and buses.

But he still can’t walk up on the metal stairs in a playground. He still freaks out at sudden noises and tall white men and has a cautious distrust of the broom. And this trauma didn’t have to happen. It didn’t. But it did, and it continues to happen to animals the planet over. And Ralph, while adorable, is the tip of a much larger problem.

When bill C-246 was being debated, people I spoke to, even those deeply committed to social justice, couldn’t understand why anyone would care about “some animal stuff” when there are “bigger issues” at stake. Some campaigned against it because Parliament shouldn’t debate this until other things were settled. The bill was handily defeated.

This is emblematic of a bigger trend I’ve noticed where there are “correct” things to worry about and the small potatoes that everyone else worries about #firstworldproblems. That sort of ideology is problematic on a number of levels, including the inference that one is only capable of worrying about one thing at a time. I don’t know about you, but I usually worry about 5-10 things minimum at any given time.

The biggest problem with this type of thinking though, is that it divides us. Those in power are united in their goals of retaining their power, increasingly at the cost of our rights and freedoms, at the cost of our already fragile democracies.

Meanwhile, we squabble amongst ourselves because for one person, standing up for animal welfare resonates most strongly, while for another it might be the eradication of a certain disease, upholding civil rights, defeating white supremacy, demanding a more equatable political system, undoing colonialism, protecting the environment, education reform, providing access to sexual health services, demanding gender equality, supporting the sciences, promoting your faith and the good works it requires, and on and on.

The fact is that for the most part, when decent people are exposed to an injustice, any injustice, they’ll probably say – “hey, that’s bullshit. Don’t do that.” There’s just only so much time in the day, and you’re generally most effective when you take on a small corner and keeps nipping at it till the needle moves. I think perhaps this need to create a hierarchy of suffering is a response to this desperate need to make sense of our beautiful, messed up world.

So there are a LOT of things that you might care about that you, for completely legitimate reasons, just don’t have the bandwidth to add to, and that’s okay. There are so many things that need fixing, and we can’t all do everything.

BUT.

We can hold each other up. We can support each other. We can say, “this isn’t my baby, but it is an important thing nonetheless, and I am happy someone is working on it. When one injustice is addressed, it makes everyone else’s battle that much easier.”

The next few years are going to be difficult, frustrating, and scary. The list of things that need doing is enormous and grows daily, but we can get through it if we help each other out when we can, and get out of the way when we can’t. The sooner we realize that our goals are not in competition but in harmony, the stronger we will be.

A Moderate Perspective of the Black Lives Matter Protest at Pride

There has been a lot written about this protest already, but it seems every article falls neatly into one of two categories – either the author is calling BLM Toronto a bunch of wanton criminals or unquestionable heroes. To be honest, I think most people actually fall somewhere in the middle, and don’t really know what to think.

So I’m here to offer the perspective of a hard core moderate that might help you with your own thoughts on this. Continue reading “A Moderate Perspective of the Black Lives Matter Protest at Pride”

Totally selfish reasons to care about #blacklivesmatter and #oscarssowhite

With the drama around the Oscars controversy and the pretty terrible things some have said about it, I thought it would be a good idea to write a post to help people who do not see the effects of racial inequality understand why it matters, even to you.

So, if you’d like to know why, dear white reader with zero personal stake in racial equality, you should still really really care about it nonetheless, read on!

Continue reading “Totally selfish reasons to care about #blacklivesmatter and #oscarssowhite”

I’m racist, but I’m working on it

When I moved to Canada, some 14 years ago, it was the first time I heard racism as a word. Growing up in Israel, I had plenty of black friends and never thought of them as even remotely different, so I was pleased that I could check racism off as a non-issue for me.

Then I met an Arab student and was stunned that he wasn’t throwing rocks at me and my family. So, you know, probably not a non-issue after all. As a spent more time in Canada, something else started happening. I could feel it, but I couldn’t quite work out what it was. I would feel guarded if a black man walked by, watch my stuff more closely, even cross the street. It wasn’t even conscious. I definitely didn’t think I was being racist. I was being pragmatic.

Fast forward to today, I’ve attended a #blacklivesmatter protest, I’ve spent literally hours trying to undo the racist knot in the minds of even people close to me, and looking out for institutional racism has become almost second nature to me.

As I think about how to move forward though, I think back to that 13 year old girl. That girl who believed that the only solution to the conflict in the middle east was the elimination of all Arabs (I grew into my sense of irony). That girl, who was changed one day, by the realization that she was a work in progress.

So now, as I try to be a better ally, I realize that it starts with taking a page out of 13 year-old-me’s notebook and calling myself out.

I’m a racist, still. It’s probably mostly in the stuff I don’t notice. Crap I see today as pragmatic that in yet another dozen years will seem completely idiotic. I learn every day of things I thought nothing of that are hurtful to people of colour.

We are born into a world that infects us with this condition and lever lets up, but all it takes is for us to be brave enough to seek out the treatment. It might involve invasive surgery into your psyche, daily doses of brain food, and external help, but it can be beaten.

All of that though, has to start with an honest conversation about who we are.

My name is Tali, and I am a racist, but I am trying really hard to be a bit less so every day.

 

If you have some time, this article walks you through the evolution of racism and its place in history through the lens of a diagnosis and it’s a terrific read.

If you’d like to learn about the history of the N word and how it has come to carry the meaning it does, this is an excellent (and heartbreaking) essay to read. It helps to know why words matter.

If you’re interested in becoming active in combating white supremacy, check out some information about what the community is seeking in their allies. This is a decent place to start, but there is lots out there. Then find a local group, and ask them specifically what they’d like from you.

Why everyone should live in a “poor” neighbourhood

They say money is the greatest equalizer. I think that’s barely even half right. Unfortunately, being rich really doesn’t insulate marginalized communities from discrimination. Really, even poverty isn’t a total equalizer, but it’s about as close as you’re going to get.

That’s why I think everyone should, even if you can afford a “nicer” place, spend some time living in a neighbourhood that people cringe about.

Continue reading “Why everyone should live in a “poor” neighbourhood”

The Book of Mormon: The Musical and White Privilege

I should start by saying that I really enjoy South Park. I have never taken issue with their brand of humour, and tend to find their satire, while rarely nuanced, very funny. So I went into the musical with fairly high expectations.

The thing with satire is that not everyone will get it, and maybe it was just too subtle to for me. Some people are complaining about the religious jokes, but obviously that’s not what bugged me. Continue reading “The Book of Mormon: The Musical and White Privilege”

What’s up with anti-feminists, anyway?

You’ve seen these posts, I’m sure. Women who are proudly rejecting feminism as an outdated concept based around a hatred of men and a sense of entitlement.

Our response has been one of either anger (no one likes to be called entitled) or pity (how sad for these women that they don’t realize all the great things we’re doing for them).

I’d like to propose a third option – understanding.

Continue reading “What’s up with anti-feminists, anyway?”

So what’s up with the music industry, anyway?

So John Legend and Colbie Caillat have new videos out. You’ll notice that I don’t talk much about music here, and that’s mostly because I’m very much a casual music listener, at the best of times, and certainly nothing modern, because I’m an old fogey like that.

BUT this has a social justice slant, so obviously I have to pay attention. Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that these songs are so similar I find it difficult to believe one was not ripped off of the other (which, I don’t know). Continue reading “So what’s up with the music industry, anyway?”