Canadians like to think that we’re a pretty nice bunch.
Especially now, as Drumpf’s presidential candidacy reveals the racist underbelly of our neighbours to the South, we Canadians pride ourselves on being nothing like the States. We happily disassociate ourselves from the violence and xenophobia that seems to crop up at every Drumpf rally.
It’s just so incredibly convenient to revel in our not-Americanness, as though that in itself makes us not racist. We try to pretend that same kind of racism doesn’t exist here, even though the same fear-baiting tactic was used in our recent election. We try to ignore the recent hateful attack on Syrian refugees, newly arrived in Canada. We try to forget that our country was built upon the exploitation of people of colour.
In case you aren’t sure what I’m referring to, I’ve included a couple examples below.
1. Canada had Legal Slavery
In elementary school the only time I learned about slavery and Canada was when we studied the Underground Railway. Through these stories of escape and hope I, like many Canadians, was led to believe that Canada had offered an escape for Black men and women who were trapped as slaves in the United States.
What I never knew (until recently) was that Canada was not always the beacon of hope that it appeared. As historian Natasha Henry highlights in her article about Slavery in Canada,
“African slavery existed in the colonies of New France and British North America for over 200 years, yet there remains a profound silence in classrooms and teaching resources about Canada’s involvement in the African slave trade. According to available historical documents, least 4,000 Africans were held in bondage for two centuries in the early colonial settlements of New France (Quebec), New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Upper Canada (Ontario).”
Luckily, novelists have begun to draw attention to the stories that our history books have overlooked. Afua Cooper’s The Hanging of Angélique, for example, tells the true story of Canadian slave Marie-Joseph Angélique. Meanwhile, Lawrence Hill’s Book of Negros, reminds us that many escaped slaves were actually shipped back to the States by Canadian authorities. He also explores the extreme racism that drove some black Canadians to move to Sierra Leone. Continue reading
Posted in America, Canada, history, politics, race
Tagged Afua Cooper, Anti-asian sentiment, black, Camps, Canada, Canadian, Canadian encycopedia, Canadian Government, caricature, Chinese settlers, Chinese-Canadian, communal, Communist, competition, deportation, Drumpf, economic success, European settlers, Famer, farm, farmer, fishermen, forget, generations, hand tools, Hayter Reed, head tax, Henry Yu, history, hope, imprisoned, Indian Commissioner, indigenous, indigenous communities, inmates, interned, internment, Japanese-Canadian, land, Lawrence Hill, livestock holds, machinary, Natasha Henry, nice, nutritional experiment, Peasant Farming, Policy, pool funds, president, property, railway, remember, reputation, reserves, Residential Schools, Sarah Carter, separated, Sierra Leone, slavery, sold, surplus, Syrian refugees, Taken, The Book of Negros, The Hanging of Angelique, Towards a Pacific History of the Americas, underground railway, Unites States, Violence, vote, west coast, white, white settlers, white supremacy, WWII, Xenophobia
Last Friday was such an outpouring of emotions [alongside a fair amount of research] that even with roughly 2,700 words there was bound to be something I missed. While I had initially planned on making room for it, an omission was made starkly apparent to me once I began sharing the post. As those of you who read it [and you should, before continuing on with this one] it ended with a call to action: kickstarting the discussion about diversity and representation through asking others to read what I’d written [or however else they felt led].
That’s a risky thing to ask of anyone, for obvious reasons.
One of my friends shared the post on Facebook, and was immediately faced with another friend of theirs who had an issue with a small section that I’ve since amended. Here it as it was originally written:
“Chiwetel Ejiofor is an Academy Award winning actor. He’s also a Black [not African American] man, part of a demographic that has not struggled in Hollywood compared to many others.”
Going back you’ll notice that it now refers to Ejiofor as being “Nigerian English”, which is of course much more accurate. The issue that the person had with the original was that by going so far as to state that other actors were “Asian” and even “East Indian” I was snubbing Ejiofor’s own background. I was even accused of doing racebending of my own by overlooking this fact. Continue reading
Posted in internet, language, race, writing
Tagged African-American, asian, black, Chiwetel Ejiofor, competition, diversity, East Asian, intersectionality, Racebending, representation, South Asian, The Martian, together, whitewashing
Congratulations Are In Order
First thing’s first, I’d like to extend all the congratulations in the world to Em Liu of Fiction Diversity for having one of her articles hosted on The Hooded Utilitarian. This is thrilling to me for a number of reasons, listed in no particular order: she’s someone I follow and who I’ve had conversations with between our two blogs , The Hooded Utilitarian is one of my go-to places for pop culture critique on the internet, and the topic she wrote on is one that is very near and dear to my own heart, namely: “Hollywood’s (Real) Problem with the Asian Male”.
I very, very strongly recommend that you read it in its entirety, because with the sole exception of one small portion I’ll be addressing I believe it to be the gospel truth. If you still absolutely refuse to for some absurd reason, and I’m going to ask you to check it out again before moving on . . . the post catalogues the portrayal of Asian men in American cinema, specifically in terms of their desirability. It was particularly eye-opening to me in that one of the earliest examples goes back to the late 1950s with The Crimson Kimono [poster on the right, obviously].
After elaborating on how things have mostly been downhill from there, Liu takes care not to shy away from the fact that one of the cultural reactions to this trend has been “a troubling emphasis on the need for the Asian male to simply ‘get the girl‘ onscreen.” Allow me to take a brief, and very relevant segue to discuss how strongly that idea resounds with me, and how badly I once wanted [and oftentimes still do want] this.
The Thirst Is Real [Leonard Nam Should Be In More Stuff]
I very vividly remember being in my early teens and watching a trailer for 2004’s The Perfect Score-
To stop you before you get there, yes, it is funny that Chris Evans [aka Captain America] and Scarlett Johansson [aka Black Widow] appear together years before their stints in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And yes, in her dream sequence she does imagine becoming a leatherclad ass-kicker, life is weird, isn’t it? Carrying on- Continue reading
Posted in Asia, feminism, language, race, relationships, sex
Tagged asian, badass, Brian McBrian, capable, competent, competition, conquest, desirable, diversity, Fast Five, Fiction Diversity, film, Gal Gadot, Gisele, Han, Hollywood, Leonardo Nam, male, male gaze, relationships, representation, sexuality, Sung Kang
So I just saw another one of those videos meant to guilt trip me into “putting down my smart phone.”
And I became thoroughly irritated.
Don’t get me wrong, I really do know what he means. Heck, for a long time I was one of those people who just refused to get a fancy new phone. I wanted to be environmentally conscious. I didn’t want to carry a bunch of blood minerals in my pocket. I didn’t want to have constant crackbook access to distract me from the real world.
However, now that I have FINALLY upgraded to a phone that has a battery life longer than 2 hours, I’ve started to change my tune. In fact, contrary to what that video says, I think my smartphone may be making me into a better person.
Let me give you an example.
I’m an incredibly lazy person. This is unfortunate because I’m also a university student who spends the majority of my time sitting. My body often screams for exercise but I’m all like “body, I walked you yesterday, and I’m kinda-sorta working on my essay while constantly being distracted by the internet.”
Then I got my new phone. It gave me access to a whole new world of things I had never really gotten into because they were too much bother to use on an actual computer. Many of these apps do more than make my life easier, they give me incentive to get off my butt. For example, my phone came with a pedometer app. I can’t really explain it, but this app tapped into my suppressed competitive side and got me taking the long route home just so I could meet my “steps” goal. Then there’ss Instagram. I mean, I still have no idea what I am doing most of the time (tagging people has definitely been hit or miss in my experience), but it makes me want to go on hikes so I can take pictures of pretty stuff.
Posted in internet, technology
Tagged app, behaviour, competition, Einstein quote, gps, guilt trip, If this video doesn't make you put down your smartphone nothing will, Instagram, internet, iphone, pedometer, shame, smart phone, smart phones save lives, technology, Tool, unplugged