Woke people need to stay in their lane…

I am so tired of people who claim to be woke. They’re not very woke, they need a few more hours sleep because they’re cranky as hell and don’t always make much sense. In their minds, they are the chosen few who have risen above racism and cast judgement on us lesser people. In reality they’re harassing their allies and driving them away.

I had a friend who got mad at me for saying Roseanne Barr was a horrible person for dressing up as Hitler and pulling little burnt Jewish cookies out of a gas oven. I needed to “stay in my lane”. Several Jewish people said it was fine and they agreed with me. She spoke over them to tell me, once again, to stay in my lane. I simply said “no” and got unfriended.

And now, today, I have a “friend” who posted this…

ridiculous radicals

Gee… I wonder if a “radical” wrote this. I am a Liberal and have no interest in being Radical. I also don’t think that POC need to learn how to act like white people. I believe we need to accept people as themselves. So I wrote, “I’m liberal but don’t think that at all.” Short and sweet, right? This was the response…

Holy shitballs folks, maybe when something angers you it’s time to examine why you’re so angry…

Because I, btw, do not consider myself a liberal exactly because of how invested in white supremacy liberals in the USA are.

And because any discussion about race leads to white folks moaning about how “not them” instead of calling out other white people.

Not every generalization applies to you as an individual, get over yourselves. They apply to liberals GENERALLY.

Although I find the ones quickest to #notall are usually the most guilty need to be defensive.

That you even get to argue this shit is a privilege. Deal with the fact that you are racist and do better instead of thinking that when I complain about men/whites/liberals I’m calling you out personally.

Unless, you know, them shoes fit.

For someone who’s claiming myself and the other person who commented are angry, she sure has a lot of rage. I responded that her response was full of anger and she might want to look in a mirror. She was not happy to be told that.

People need to stop pinning labels on others and making assumptions about their beliefs and prejudices. Instead they need to treat each individual as just that, an individual. Black people can be prejudiced against other POC, southern Baptists can end up being supportive of trans people, white liberals can be open minded, and radicals can be ignorant.

If you build a big wall of intolerance between you and your neighbour, you are never going to see your similarities and you’ll never get the chance to actually know them.

Sadly, I don’t think this friend is going to try and listen but hopefully someone will because racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia are growing and the people who should be fighting against it are fighting their allies and calling them names instead.

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Yes guns kill people…

This Wednesday a young adult opened fire on his former classmates and teachers, killing seventeen of them. He obtained that assault rifle legally, despite the fact he was known to be unstable and people had warned the FBI about him.

Obviously so much went wrong. The FBI didn’t act on the warning and the store sold him an assault rifle. An assault rifle to a kid who wasn’t even old enough to drink. And now seventeen families have been torn apart. Seventeen futures are gone. Parents around the country are terrified to send their children to school. They have to answer questions like, “What if I get shot?” or “Will I get shooted in school Mommy?”

I live in Canada so the topic of guns rarely comes around in real life. But I’m also online and have many friends in the US so I get to read all the arguments every time there’s a school shooting. Which, sadly, is often. And those arguments infuriate me. Most of the reason is because people, quite often children, have just been killed by guns and part of it is because the arguments are so ridiculous.

I hope I never read another post claiming guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Followed along with, “If I put my gun down on the table, it does nothing.”

Seriously, are you that dense? Take the gun away and how many people would that shooter kill before he gets tackled? Probably none. Maybe a couple if he had a knife. Guns definitely need a person to operate them but they do kill people, and a lot more easily than a knife or other weapon.

Another argument that comes up often is that the gun is an inanimate object. When it’s left alone it does nothing, as all inanimate objects do. My water bottle is inanimate as well and it doesn’t do anything either. But if you pick up a gun and I pick up my water bottle, you have the potential to kill as many people as there are bullets in your gun. I have the potential to squirt someone and get them damp.

I can’t understand why people are allowed to buy assault rifles in the States. Guns are designed to kill but assault rifles are solely designed to kill people. One person tried to argue with me on that point but stopped when I asked if he was planning on shooting a deer fifty times. There is no reason to own an assault rifle. Absolutely none.

Then you get the people arguing that everyone should have guns. Could you imagine how many bullets would be in the air if everyone started shooting after the initial shots? The body count would be horrific. Besides, even trained professionals like police men and SEALs get shot and killed while alert and wearing a gun. If they can be shot to deal while armed and ready, what makes you think an already scared teacher or teenager has a chance. Arming teenagers and teachers is a recipe for disaster.

I don’t have any pat answers. I can point out that Australia banned certain kinds of guns after their only school shooting but the pro gun people claim it’s different in the States. The only difference I can see is an accent and the attitude that property is more valuable than lives. Pro tip, the court of law doesn’t not offer the death penalty for breaking and entering so neither should you.

I can also point out that the indigenous POC in Australia get harassed by the police, similar to how POC are treated in the States. Heck, I knew as soon as I read that the shooter was in police custody that he was white (or at least appeared white). Having armed police doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safer for everyone. Yet I don’t see how having a gun would change that. Just as many people would get attacked, having a gun would mean getting treated worse, and using the gun would either end up with someone looking like swiss cheese or a lifetime in prison.

At the end of the day, I believe that if people want a gun they need to train on how to operate it safely first and pass a security check. They need to keep the gun unloaded in a place out of reach of children and the bullets secured in a second location. This would at least stop the heartbreaking deaths of small children playing with guns and accidentally killing a sibling, cousin, or friend. And there should be an age minimum. If you’re too young to drink then you’re too young to shoot. I’m sure an exception could be made for those who are currently in the armed forces.

I applaud the students who are planning on walking out on March 14th and April 20th. I hope enough of them leave to make the government take notice, although I’m not sure if Cheeto Hitler would even care. Maybe politicians in their areas will initiate changes.

But for now we’ll keep reading about school shootings until the US government realizes that “thoughts and prayers” aren’t the answer.

sketchers

Intersectionality and pink hats…

Dreadlocks. The style that White people have been wearing since the 1960’s. I’d never really thought about them other than vaguely wondering if they got mildewed in the centre after being washed. But now I was being informed, very strongly, that these clumps of hair were deeply offensive to Black people. Why? Because Black people were punished at work and at school for wearing dreads and braids and even just their hair in natural poofy curls.

I can understand intellectually that it would be frustrating and unfair to not be allowed to wear your natural hair style to work while Johnny gets to wear the same style. Although I fail to see how Johnny cutting off his dreads is going to make things more equal. It seems like an everyone loses situation.

Then there was the little girl who wanted a Japanese Tea Party for her birthday. People instantly cried out “cultural appropriation” and “racism”. At least up until Japanese people stepped up and said it certainly was not.

Cultural appropriation can be a real thing but it can also be incredibly hard to sort out. A big company took Native patterns, without payment, and put them on a t-shirt. That’s definitely cultural appropriation. But what about the average person who picks up a shirt or other garment while traveling? Is it cultural appropriation to wear it? Most of my friends agreed that if someone was given a garment it’s safe to wear but how is anyone supposed to know it was a gift? The shirt looks the same whether it was a gift or not.

The other part of cultural appropriation is the judgement. There’s no knowledge of what the individual is like or what they believe but they have beaded braids or an embroidered shirt so they’re guilty of racism. Sentenced and judged without even knowing.

And as more people learn about cultural appropriation, the tighter and more ridiculous it becomes. First it was fighting against corporations then individuals who wore certain clothes or styled their hair too similar to what a POC would wear, then it moved onto words White people can’t say and emojis that White people can’t use.

That Facebook emoji has black skin so you can’t use it.

Even yoga’s come under fire. I refuse to believe that every single White person who’s ever done a downward dog is racist.

Last year we had the pussy cat hat, made as a symbol of protest against Donald Trump, specifically a reference to the comment he made of “grab em by the pussy”. It wasn’t a protest against trans women or women of colour, although it definitely ignored them. The worst that could be said against the protestors was they were tone deaf. And, honestly, nothing was stopping a single woman of colour from making a hat in any colour she wanted. I know someone who knit one in the trans flag colours. There were free patterns online and they could be knit in brown or black.

As we enter another year I’m noticing more and more the dislike of White people, especially cis White women. Lots of “where were the cis White women when there were Black issues to be protested”. I don’t know. But I do know that this is not the first time cis White women have protested and I do agree that there should be people on both sides standing up for each other.

I’m looking at the States from Canada and see a president sowing dissent among his government and citizens. I see cuts to health care and children’s food programs. I see LGBTQ rights crumbling and I see people up in arms about a knit hat on a statue. Yes, she is a very important figure who made an incredible difference. She’s also dead and is unlikely to care. The statue was not disfigured, the hat is not permanent. And there are so many other issues to worry about right now.

Facebook is suspending accounts for complaining about White people because it’s “racial prejudice” to the point where people are calling White people “yt people” to get around the scans. There are police disproportionately killing POC or arresting them. Judges are sentencing POC with long sentences, much longer than White people. Black preschoolers are suspended and expelled for minor issues that White children get a time out for. Black children are seen as older than their age and they’re given less pain medication when they’re sick and in the hospital. All these are more important than a hat.

I think the hardest part of the cultural appropriation issue is it leaves people feeling there’s no room for dissent or criticism because as soon as you disagree, you’re obviously racist and being judged by your friends. Most of my friends on Facebook are introverts and this is the bulk of their social interaction. Being ostracized on Facebook becomes a big deal.

I’m a firm believer that people own their own body. That means they have the right to say no (or yes), they have a right to wear their hair the way they want and the right to wear the clothes they want. It’s not my right to walk over to someone and tell them their hair is cultural appropriation. It’s hair. They’re not stealing sacred artifacts out of burial grounds. Can we please focus less on cultural appropriation and more on human rights? There’s enough of them at risk right now.

Photo from A Mighty Girl

 

 

When the PC culture goes too far…

I read the post and then reread it… twice, unable to believe my eyes. A teenager in the States had poured out his heart explaining how he understood how marginalized a teenager in Canada felt. He was gay, his family would not accept that and treated him badly. His peers at school thought he was disgusting. He had no friends. He pretty much lived his life online, waiting for a chance to grow up and get out. The Canadian teenager was horrified. How dare he compare their lives! He wasn’t trans and would never understand how marginalized he, as a middle class trans Canadian, felt.

Instantly the Canadian teen’s friends jumped in, name calling and mocking. I waded in and explained that, while being gay wasn’t a big issue in urban Ontario, where equal marriage had been around for a decade, it was still a huge issue in the States where, at the time, equal marriage didn’t exist. I pointed out that the gay teen likely was even more marginalized where he was and got back a simple, “I didn’t know.”

No, he didn’t but he never stopped to listen either. And, by then the damage had already been done.

A couple of days ago a friend of mine posted a screen shot with the name blanked out. It was discussing Harry Potter and whether he was marginalized because of previous child abuse. My friend felt he didn’t, that he was an ass all on his own. The person in the screen shot had a different opinion. All was going fine until this comment.

“She’s a POC though so I don’t really appreciate you doing this.”

The fact that POC have precedent to speak about their own issues does not translate to everything they say is sacrosanct. My friend can disagree with someone of colour over Harry Potter without being racist.

We are all people with unique views and opinions and we need to work together to support each other. If we all devolve into “you can’t understand me because I’m black and you’re Chinese” then we’ve lost. If your entire focus on a conversation about child abuse is someone commented “that’s crazy” and that’s ableist, what does that say about you? No, it’s not right but, seriously, shouldn’t your focus be on the child abuse? I’m crazy. Trust me, work on the abused kids first.

We live in a world filled with differences and that’s what has divided us through history. Dividing right into war. If your zeal for human rights blinds you to actual human suffering, you’ve lost what you’re fighting for. Aren’t we fighting for equality and acceptance… not dissonance and separation?

I’m watching as a drive to unite is slowly turning into picking at differences. Can we please acknowledge our differences and celebrate our similarities? I can listen to your struggles with being black and celebrate our kids playing in the living room together. I can listen to your fears of being trans and celebrate a mutual love of Doctor Who. You can listen to my struggles with insanity and celebrate our love of nature.

We need to work on being a tapestry; different threads all woven into one beautiful whole. And we need to stop picking at the threads and deciding which ones have more worth. We all have worth. Our tapestry wouldn’t exist without us.

Signed  ~a life long snowflake~

 

Remembrance Day revisited…

CN: discussion of violence and prejudice

I stand on my balcony and can see Lake Ontario. On a clear day we stand on the shore and look across the lake at Buffalo. This has never scared me until now.

I went online yesterday and my news feed was flooded with stories of hatred and violence. A friend of mine has an openly gay ten year old who was terrified to go to school… to the point of stress vomiting. He’s been taunted since kindergarten, this fear is something new.

Another friend of mine had a pick up truck, with a poorly shored confederate flag, nearly hit him at high noon. The driver stopped and jumped out screaming “fucking faggot” before heading into the nearby post office. My friend wasn’t sure who he was more scared for, himself or the solitary black woman operating the office. Luckily both were fine.

After my friend posted, one of his friends chimed in to say she’d just had passengers tell her to flash them in order to get a tip. Pro tip, that’s not how taxis work. But maybe that’s how they work in Trump’s new United States… if the driver is female and the passengers are male.

Yet more friends are panicking about getting IUDs inserted before January 20th or getting married before that time. One’s researching nursery schools in Canada while others half joke about marrying a Canadian citizen.

I’d expected the hatred and violence to start slow and increase. Instead it poured out as if a flood gate was opened, starting with a bottle bashed over a gay man’s head because this is Trump’s America now. It moved on to school children drawing and shouting “build a wall” while their classmates cried. To high school students scribbling racial slurs and graffiti about white pride. To grown men harassing and groping women because it’s their right under Trump.

And, through it all, Trump stayed silent.

Well, not exactly silent. He complained about people being mean to him on Twitter and placed Ben Carson, the man who thinks the pyramids were grain silos, into the position of the head of the Department of Education. The masses will now become even more uneducated but they’ll know the Bible right down to every last hate filled corner. I don’t think the more positive and altruistic verses will have a place in Trump’s world.

I’m terrified for my friends. For my black and brown friends and my gay and pan friends, for my friends who “don’t pass” and my friends who do, for my friends who hold their LGBTQ children close and hope for the next four years. And I’m scared for those of us living in the US’s shadow, because if Trump starts lobbing bombs, just because they’re there, that border is not going to hold back retaliatory radiation.

On this cold and quiet Remembrance Day, I feel like history is repeating itself.

poppies-and-full-moon

Poppies under the full moon

Celebrating differences…

“He’s that black kid, isn’t he?”

My mouth snapped shut. I looked at my Mom and had no idea what to say. He was my friend. He swore to me that the spiders in his front garden sang to him every morning as the sun rose. My sister and I mostly didn’t believe him but one morning we got up really early and crept into his yard just to see. Maybe we showed up too early. Maybe the spiders were still sleeping.

“He has a yellow coat,” I insisted stubbornly. Mine was a quiet stubborn; I didn’t throw flashy tantrums, I simply did not budge. Yes, he was black but no one pointed me out as the white kid. I couldn’t understand why he was known as “the black kid” even above his own name. That didn’t seem right.

Mom went out and took a look, returning a few moments later.

“Yes, he’s the black kid. Apparently Michelle just doesn’t notice colour.”

The last was said with a mixture of exasperation and pride. Was it a good thing not to notice colour? To ignore differences? I wasn’t sure. This was something I struggled with for years.

I had a friend in high school. We weren’t close, despite knowing each other for years, we simply walked to school together in the morning and chatted if we shared a class. Our drama teacher was late one day and a large number of classmates decided to share jokes. This was the mid 1980’s and the popular jokes at the time were the “Paki jokes”.

I hated those jokes. They made me feel dirty just listening to them; they made me want to vomit them right back out again. I was the only one in my family who felt like that.

“Dad! I learned a new joke in school today,” my sister announced at the dinner table the night before. “What do you do if you see a Paki drowning? Throw him his wife and kids.”

Everyone laughed while my stomach twisted.

“I’ve got one too,” my Dad replied. “What do you do if you think you’ve run over a Paki? Back up to make sure.”

Once again the whole family laughed hysterically, like these were the funniest jokes ever. I felt like throwing up or crying… or possibly both.

“I’m not hungry,” I murmured. “May I be excused?”

My Mom sighed. “Michelle, don’t be so sensitive.”

“Yeah Michelle, they’re just jokes. They don’t hurt anyone,” my youngest sister added, parroting phrases from previous conversations.

My Mom gave a gesture granting me permission to leave and, as I pushed back my chair, my sister (the one who told the joke) rolled her eyes. “Well, we all know Michelle has no sense of humour.”

Everyone nodded agreement. The so-called jokes continued before I’d even left the room. Once again I headed upstairs in tears. Were they right? I didn’t think I had no sense of humour, although I’d been told that multiple times. I enjoyed jokes as long as they didn’t make fun of anyone but those were generally aimed at children. Maybe those didn’t count. And maybe my family was right. If I was the only one being offended then I was the only one being hurt, which made it my problem. I listened to my family laugh downstairs and felt incredibly alone.

Now I was in class and listening to those jokes again. I lurked at the back, not wanting to be mocked for being oversensitive and ruining everyone’s fun but not wanting to listen either. Then I noticed my friend leaving the group. He went to the other side of the room. I quickly followed.

We slipped in between an assortment of room dividers then my friend turned. I was surprised to see tears in his eyes.

“I hate those jokes,” he hissed. He swiped the backs of his hands across his face.

“I hate them too,” I said and he nodded.

“I was born in India, right on the border between India and Pakistan. If I was born just a few miles further then I’d be from Pakistan and those jokes would be about me. Would they really find it funny if I died?”

“I don’t find them funny,” I replied. I patted his shoulder then we stood in silence, surrounded by grey dividers, until the teacher arrived and broke up the jokes.

It was a weird moment. I had proof standing right in front of me that I was right, those horrible jokes did hurt people. The flip side was being right meant people were being hurt. Talk about a hollow victory.

I could keep tossing out examples but that would bring my word count up to a billion and nobody’s got time for that. Even I can’t procrastinate on my real writing for that long. But each experience brought about a little bit of change.

Over the years I’ve realized that we’re all like stained glass windows, each little piece connecting together to form a picture. You can’t ignore parts of someone and still see who they are; you can’t focus on one or two parts and see their entire picture; and if you spend all your time looking for how their glass is different from yours, not only will you never find their similarities but you’ll miss their beauty.

“Michelle? Which outfit do you think looks better?” A friend of mine held up two dresses. She was heading out somewhere and wanted to look good.

I shrugged. “They both should look good,” I pointed out.

“A friend of mine said she likes this one better because it makes me look white.”

“That would be an interesting trick,” I said dryly and she laughed.

“What do you think of this one?” she asked, as she held the other dress up.

I looked at her appraisingly. “It’s a good colour on you. It brings out highlights in your hair and face.”

She nodded. “I like it too,” she agreed. “My other friend didn’t like it, she said it makes me look black.”

“And this would be a problem because…” I let my voice trail off as I stared at her in bewilderment.

“You’re right,” she replied, grinning, “It’s not a problem.”