We carry on

C came home the other day and said, “You know, we shouldn’t laugh at Donald Trump, even though he’s a bully, because he’s the president.”  That one sentence made me realize that these are indeed the times we’re living in, when a 4 year old can understand the concept of integrity and decorum more than the most powerful head of state in the world.  The reactions to the Women’s March also got me riled up so I feel like the following needs to be said.  This post basically wrote itself.

I was not at the Women’s March but I would have been there in a second.  I couldn’t attend because C had his skating lesson and T naps at that time of day so there I was, at home.  But you know, I knew that these women would understand that my commitments to my family prevented me from driving into Boston and standing with them.  If anyone would “get it” it would be these women.  So, I was there in spirit and was so appreciative of their efforts to bring attention to the fact that we are not going to be still and watch by as human rights and any sense of decency slowly gets burnt down.  You know why we are so attached to these rights?  It’s because the women, men, and racialized people who all took part understand the struggle and sacrifice that was paid to attain them in the first place.  So, the people turning their nose up at such a demonstration of strength and solidarity need to wake the fuck up.  I despise people who want the liberties but don’t want to continually safeguard and work for them.

Do you know when I woke the fuck up?  When I took gender studies classes in undergrad in my early twenties.  The department was called “women’s studies” at the time and even people in my family wondered why the hell I was bothering.  With those professors, writers, theorists, and activists I learnt that the misogynistic shit that we endure is not “normal” and it’s not “right.”  My graduate studies was on the conceptualization of home at various scales but one of the most painful aspects was learning about all of the violence within that space.  Of course there’s physical abuse and the scars they produce but what about the emotional ones?  What about being told constantly that you are a lesser person, that you are stupid, incapable?  Sure, it might not bother you but you know, staying is partly inflicting that violence on yourself.  This gets me to the concept of choice.  Though I fully respect the right to have spiritual beliefs, my religion is founded on the laws that grant me my rights and freedom.  My religion is feminist theory and the people who continue to build it.  So, no orator, religious text or government official is going to sway me in my belief that women have the right to choose.  They lawfully have the right to choose what to do with their bodies, where to walk at night, their occupation, education and when to end their romantic commitments.  There may be danger that comes with these choices but as whole human beings they are able to make them.

So I’m going to end this in a positive way because if we let every little thing in this current state of being get us down, we wouldn’t get out of bed.  Life is beautiful.  I truly mean this.  The most beautiful thing in this life is that even in the most difficult of circumstances women, men and children begin their days and do the best they can.  They work hard to have a life they are proud of and are kind to those in their community.  So let’s all do our part to be respectful and protect what we all rightfully deserve.  In solidarity.

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View from above

P.K. Subban is a player in the National Hockey League and is of African-American descent.  When he scored the winning goal against the Boston Bruins on May 1, allowing his team to advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, people threw garbage at him and called him the n-word on Twitter.  When asked by journalist Chris Johnston to comment on these events his response was: “I don’t know.  It doesn’t even matter.”  My gut reaction to this is, but P.K., it does matter.

This reminds me of a scene in the Mira Nair film The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which chronicles the pursuit and eventual disenfranchisement with the American dream for a South Asian man.  The book is brilliant but unfortunately its merits didn’t quite translate very well on screen.  Really, you couldn’t put one more light in the Islamabad scenes which are predominantly set in the restaurant?  I can barely see their faces and it’s veering dangerously close to the problematic “Heart of Darkness” imagery.  The saving grace is Riz Ahmed and his charisma, talent and bone-structure.  As an Oxford-educated British actor and musician, Ahmed is definitely contributing to his craft in very interesting ways.  To return to the film, I want to discuss its most poignant scene because it relates to what life is like for all of us at the margins.  The protagonist named Changez is interviewing for a very competitive position with a prestigious bank.  The interviewer (Kiefer Sutherland) will eventually become his mentor and biggest supporter but in this instance he mainly discusses where Changez is “from” and how the scholarships must have really helped him attend Princeton.  God forbid that a racialized man would come from a family of means and social standing.  Finally he questions him on why he just didn’t attend school in Pakistan, I mean that’s where he belongs right?  To this Changez replies, “Because in America you can win.  And I will win whether you give me the job or not.”  That’s it, with that moment right there I feel like he summed up how we, the marginalized, are conditioned to think.  It’s like we constantly say, “What, you’re not going to let me earn it in one step?  That’s fine, whether it takes 5 or 25 steps I will get there.”  We learn to get the job done.

So perhaps P.K. Subban is right and it doesn’t matter.  I don’t know his story but I can imagine what it was like to try to breakthrough in a sport made up of predominantly middle-class White boys whose parents can afford the lessons and equipment.  I’m not suggesting that the Subban family could not, I just bet that the locker rooms weren’t always the easiest places to be.  What P.K. Subban is saying is that he will not be defined by people’s ignorance or the labels they are forcing on him.  His identity won’t be reduced to the colour of his skin.  He won’t be put in his place.  There’s poetic justice in it right?  In rising above?

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