Both my reading page here and my Facebook feed are overflowing with accounts of marches from all over the world. I haven't seen this strong a spirit for resistance and change since the 60s, and I hope that the sheer size of the response means there is that critical mass of committed activists and participants to keep the spirit strong and growing.
I couldn't march here in Toronto, but friends in Boston and Victoria offered to carry my name in their pockets, so in a way i did march with them, and with all of you who stood up today for human rights, for human dignity, for cherishing the earth and all its peoples, for democracy and freedom of speech and all the other things we must fight for in the midst of this savage move toward fascism that's oozing out of the deep recesses of our past in places around the world.
We've made our opening statement, fired the first rally in this war. Let us continue as we have begun.
Kat Tanaka Okopnik, social justice activist of the first water, is considering offering an online workshop on cultural appropriation. If you know Kat at all (and if you don't, here's a link to a guest blog she wrote on Jim Hines' website -
If you are interested, please contact Kat for more information. You can find her on Facebook or at http://shadesbetween.com
In the wake of the Bernie Sanders Seattle appearance incident, I've seen a lot of white folks on the Net lecturing black folks on how misguided their criticism of Sanders is, because he marched with MLK and he's a good guy who wants justice and equality for all and they should be happy to work with him because he's far more an ally to them than all the other politicians running. And the hard thing for them to understand is that while all they say about Sanders is true, it's not relevant in the way they think it should be.
Which got me to thinking about one of the most insidious aspects of white privilege - insidious because it's primarily found among white people who are honestly trying to be allies, to work for social justice and equality, to fight the good fight.
And that insidious aspect is that we white liberals start thinking that we're doing all this work, all this fighting, "for" other people, and that we deserve something in return - gratitude, a pat on the back, a bit of slack when we backslide, some acknowledgement of what we're doing.
I totally get that. Sometimes I feel that way myself. And then, because I'm a white woman who is therefore lacking privilege on that axis (and a few others, but let's not get complicated here), and have known men who want some kind of acknowledgement for what they think of as their efforts on my behalf, I get myself out of that space of white fragility pretty damn quickly.
Because there's no way I am going to - or should be expected to - thank a man for not raping me, for not harassing me, for not limiting the work I can do, for not thinking he owns me or has some kind of natural rights to my emotional work or sexuality or submission and service, for not doing any of those things that demean, devalue, or limit me as a woman. There is no reason why I should have to be grateful to another human being for treating me, and others like me, as human beings. You don't get accolades for the basic social requirement of not being a total jerk.
It's easy to understand why white people (and indeed anyone in a position of privilege who is working to be an ally and bring about social justice) feel they deserve something in return. It's hard work, coming to understand your own privilege, rooting out all the institutionalized racism we imbibed with the very air we breathed as children. It's difficult, challenging yourself, your friends, your family, your community, your government. And we live in a society where things we define as work - even if they are things that are enjoyable, or personally rewarding, or obviously the right thing to do, receive a return. We are paid for the work we do for employers or clients, and if we do a particularly good job, we expect bonuses or promotions or raises or repeat business. If we do community or church work, we expect to be recognised for it. We want the acknowledgement of our peers for our generosity, our charity, our kindness, for the things we do for others.
But there are kinds of work we don't expect praise or perks or payment for. No one is going to reward us for keeping our house clean, for washing our dirty socks and underwear. We do these things for ourselves, because a house with shit on the floor is not a great place to live, because clean underwear feels better than crusty underwear. We do these things because they are part of the basic life functions we engage in for ourselves.
And that is what white liberals sometimes don't realise, or remember. We aren't engaging in social justice action "for" other people, like a white knight or lady bountiful, we are not saviours who deserve cheers and special considerations - we are doing it because not to do it would be to fail at the basics of being a human being.
There is no reason why anyone should be grateful when I treat them like human beings, because that is the bare minimum to be expected of one human being in relation with another. And there is no reason why I should get a break when I fail to respect the humanity of others, just because there have been times when I didn't fail. It's my own responsibility to behave like a human being, and my own reward when I get it right is knowing that I did.
Fortunately, I remembered to check my outstanding book orders - I had an open order with some unshipped items from Amazon.ca. I cancelled my order immediately, and made use of the nice little box they provided for comments to explain exactly why I had cancelled and why I would not be ordering from them again while this "adult books" policy is in effect.
Now, of course, I will go find somewhere else to order the cancelled items from, because it's important that the authors don't suffer from our protest actions - many of them are already going to hurt enough when their books don't appear in searches and on bestseller lists - because that's one of the very important ways that authors reach new readers, and that's why this issue is about so much more than just making it harder for us, the readers, to find the books we want to read.
Authors who are writing the kinds of books that we will no longer be able to find from casual searches are going to lose sales if this policy continues, and some of them may not be able to find publishers in the future if their sales numbers fall, and that will make all of us immeasurably poorer.
So - don't just protest this.
If you can, if you have the financial ability to do so, please consider going to your local independent bookseller, or to an online bookseller that's not out to censor books and impoverish authors who are writing "adult" material, and buy one of the books that has been stripped of its sales ranking on Amazon. There's lots of good books to choose from.
Shall we call this AmazonFail 09?
It seems that Amazon.com and its subsidiaries Amazon.ca and Amazon.uk – and possibly other Amazon subsidiaries as well – have decided that books addressing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other queer issues – and a number of other books dealing with issues of sexual diversity - are very naughty books. You can still buy them, if you know how to search for them, but books that have been identified as dealing with these issues have been stripped of their sales rankings and therefore do not appear in bestseller lists or (I am told, I haven’t in the past used Amazon often enough to know the ins and outs) certain kinds of searches based on sales rankings.
One small press publisher who noticed that the titles he sells had lost their sales rankings asked Amazon what was up, and received this charming note in response:
In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.
Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.
People who have been checking out the extent of the stripping have reported that, while the exact list of “disappeared” books varies from country to country, the kinds of books being excluded are:
*Gay and lesbian romance which is not sexually explicit, or is no more sexually explicit that your typical straight romance
*Literary classics such as James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain, Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle and E. M. Forster’s Maurice
*Books on gay and lesbian parenting
*Non-fiction books on everything from theological discussions of homosexuality in the church to gay histories to reports on the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy
*Biographies and autobiographies of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trangender people from John Barrowman to Christopher Isherwood to Harvey Milk to Oscar Wilde
Apparently, fiction and non-fiction books dealing with BDSM, polyamory, and other kinds of sexual difference, ranging from Jacqueline Carey’s very popular Kushiel fantasy series to non-fiction books on sexuality aimed at people with disabilities, have also lost their rankings.
A master list of books known to be affected on at least one of the Amazon websites can be found here.
Information on how to complain to Amazon.com and its various subsidiaries is being posted in various places. On-line petitions are in process and strategising for protest is happening. For more information on taking action, look through the posts being archived here.
As for me, I certainly won’t be shopping at any Amazon website until this policy has been changed, and I certainly urge anyone who reads this to consider doing the same – and to let the Amazon website that serves your country know exactly why you are refusing to buy anything more from them.
And if you can think of anything else you can do to bring pressure to bear, the more power to you, and to us all.
Nothing makes the folks at the top happier than to see two groups on the bottom fighting each other rather than working together to challenge the whole notion of there being a top and a bottom. It's a technique that has been used for millennia as a means of social control. Foster mistrust, hate, competition for the scarce resource of attention from the people at the top, any kind of discord, any way of keeping natural allies apart, and it's a lot easier to stay in power, to maintain the status quo.
This means that the primarily white, primarily straight elite in the US right now - who almost lost Proposition 8 in California - are rubbing their hands in glee as supporters of equal marriage rights - who almost won Proposition 8 - start lining up to blame black voters for the loss. Because throwing blame around is going to make coalition work between the two groups so much more difficult, and that serves no one but the people who want to "give away" as little of their power as possible to either group.
It benefits the people in power - who have been using people on the religious right as shock troops - to stir up homophobia among racial minorities. It benefits those same people to encourage queer people to direct their frustration and righteous anger against racial minorities. It's divide and conquer, divide and rule - for the people in control.
And if you play that game as a member of a marginalised group, it means you lose.
Del Martin has died.
She and her wife Phyllis Lyon were heroes to me, from the moment I found their book, Lesbian/woman and started reading it.
I can still remember how incredibly exciting and empowering it was for the teenager I was in the early 70s to read Lesbian/Woman. My memory of the contents is rather vague after all these years, but I will never forget how I felt when I read it, how it felt to realise that there were other women - lots of other women - who loved women, that there were women working for the rights of women who loved women to be treated just like anyone else. That women who loved women had a history, and could organise.
I was already a budding young activist, just beginning to get involved with political and feminist groups. And I was in the process of coming out - though I wasn't exactly sure just what I was coming out as, at the time it seemed that lesbian was the closest thing to what I was.
Del and Phyllis' story - about themselves, about the history of lesbians, about the formation of the Daughters of Bilitis - was part of what helped me make me a stronger and more committed activist for social justice, part of what helped me to understand who I was as a woman who loved women (later I'd discover that the identity that suited me best was that of a bisexual, but there are some things that lesbians and bisexual women share, and Del and Phyllis spoke to those things in me) and part of what helped me understand that being out was in itself a vital political act.
Sometimes, in this day and age, when there's a section devoted to queer studies in every self-respecting bookstore, it's hard to remember what it was like when there were just a few people - lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people - brave enough to tell their stories to the world so that other people like them, people who challenged gender roles deep in the core of sexual and gender identity, would know that we were not alone, that there wasn't anything wrong with us.
Del Martin was one of the people who gave me that incalculably precious gift when I was young and uncertain enough about myself to really need it.
I am grateful to her, grateful for the legacy she leaves us, grateful for her years of fighting for all of our right to be who we are and love who we will and have that acknowledged by the society we live in. The world is a better place because of her.
I'm pretty sure everyone on my friendslist must already know about the auction community livelongnmarry, but just in case...
livelongnmarry is hosting a fandom auction to raise donations to help organisations working to defeat the California initiative which would ban same-sex marriages and retroactively annul existing same-sex marriages.
There's all sorts of wonderful things on auction: books, art, jewellery, offers to write fanfic or create fanart, offers of professional critiques, cookies, and other neat stuff.
I myself am offering several pieces of Celtic-inspired jewellery that I recently decided need good homes with people who will wear them in places where they can be seen and admired as they deserve to be.
Plus, it's an opportunity to fight the good fight.
Auction begins July first - you still have time to put something up for bidding, and of course, to go find something you want to bid on.
From wolfinthewood (her post is here):
The British government has refused asylum to Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian refugee who fled Iran two years ago following the arrest, torture and sentencing to death of her partner. Ms. Emambakhsh is a lesbian, and under Iranian law, she too could be tortured and killed if she returns to Iran.
British authorities plan to ship her back to meet this fate on Tuesday morning, unless something happens to make them realise just how much of a human rights abuse they are about to commit.
Brits can follow the above link to information on who to contact and how. It probably won't hurt if nationals from other countries make presentations to the British governemnt on her behalf as well.
Anyone living in a country where government persecution of gays and lesbians is considered an abuse of civil rights might consider contacting their government to urge that it protest the British government's treatment of Ms. Emambakhsh through diplomatic channels. For Canadians interested in doing so, here are the contacts I sent email to (for whatever good it will do):
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier, Bernier.M@parl.gc.ca
Liberal foreign affairs critic, Ujjal Dosanjh, Dosanjh.U@parl.gc.ca
I’ve been thinking a lot about what would be appropriate for me to write about for International Blog Against Racism Week.
I thought about collecting links about Canadian racism – because there’s this comforting little bullshit mantra we white Canadians keep repeating to ourselves, that Canada isn’t nearly so much of a racist country as, say, the U.S. is, which is false, because it’s not better here, it’s just different – but due to some health issues, I haven’t had the time to search for all the links I’d want to include. So I’ve decided to save that for next year, and prepare it in advance, because it needs to be said.
Then I thought about doing some sort of autobiographical piece, on how I noticed that there were people of colour in my world and when I started figuring out that there were differences in treatment, and how being raised by a well-intentioned liberal mother to believe that all people are the same, no matter what their race, religion or ethnicity (the good old colourblind approach to racism) might have made my behaviour different from that of some other people (because, when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, there wasn’t a lot of colourblindness going around, and I think, it may have been an essential step in the evolution of white recognition of racism and white privilege) but at the same time blinded me to the realisation of how important it is to recognise and respect difference, and to realise that saying “la-la-la, this is how I think it should be in a perfect world” does jackshit about how it is right now. But then I realised that this was that kind of shifting the focus of the issue away from racism and onto me, me, me, the well-meaning white person, that so many well-meaning white persons do so very well. So I’ll do that some other time in some other post when focusing on me is more appropriate.
Instead, I’m going to post an expanded version of some comments I made in response to an IBARW post about anger on oyceter’s journal.
On the Uses of Anger and the Resistance of the Privileged
I’ve been running into a lot of discussions of anger and how it is received when it is part of a protest against social injustice (such as acts or speech grounded in sexism, racism, ablism, heterosexism, transphobia, and other institutionalised systems of Othering, oppression, repression, prejudice, and privilege), especially when it is shown by someone who is a member of the Othered group.
It seems that it’s not nice for women to get angry about sexism, or for people of colour to get angry about racism, or people with disabilities to get angry about ablism, and so on. And when your inferiors aren’t nice to you, what do you do? Well, at first you ignore them, because as a superior person, you’re too nice to pay attention to their loss of proper subservience. Then you try to get rid of them – sometimes you even have to call in the servants to toss them out. You disparage them, talk to all your equally nice and superior friends about how horrible it is that all these inferior people are going around shouting and screaming and using foul language and sometimes even getting physical. You pass laws to keep them from acting up. You refuse to have them anywhere in your nice house, neighbourhood, workplace, playground, school, gentleman’s club, and so on.
It has been argued that this is why oppressed peoples should not allow themselves to be seen as angry, because then no one will listen to them, and nothing will change.
But then, one must ask, just how far does an oppressed group get by being quiet and polite and reasonable, and never, never angry? bellatrys has, I believe, covered this scenario very well. You don’t get far.
And yes, it’s very true that, if you then show your anger, you will encounter a great deal of resistance. But resistance is part of a process. If they are resisting, that means they have been engaged. They are no longer able to ignore, to pretend there is nothing happening. And that, I believe, is vitally important for change.
It is my belief that anger is important, that anger should not be set aside in the struggle for justice and for change. It is my belief that it should be harnessed, used to fire the spirit and support the body while you fight, even while it is controlled and channelled so that it feeds the message rather than rendering it incoherent. It seems to me that anger is how people respond when they are hurt, injured, mistreated, betrayed, belittled, excluded, done an injustice. It’s a healthy response. It means that you know something is wrong, and it has to be fixed. It gives you the energy to resist, to fight, to save yourself. Anger is not something to be denied. And using it effectively does not necessarily mean using it with violence, which is something that many people seem to think is true. Anger is energy – how it is externalised is up to you.
And yes, people who think of themselves as good people may – and probably will – get upset if you tell them by your righteous anger that they have at the very least benefited and been complicit in such injustices. In fact, they will probably go a lot farther than that. They’re going to resist. They’re going to call names, to excuse themselves, to say it happened a long time ago and it wasn’t their fault. They will argue that whatever is hurting you is hurting them too, to point out places and times where you, or your ancestors, or people like you, might have done something bad, or times when bad things happened to them, or their ancestors, or people like them (and all that might well be true, but some truths are not always relevant). And they’re going to be very, very hurt and dismayed at how angry you are, and how that’s just not like you, and they’ll try to persuade you that anger is not a valid approach, that you should be nice and calm and sensible and rational, just like them. They may even talk about how your anger is a sign that you’re not ready for, or perhaps not even capable of, being treated as equals.
But they can’t ignore the anger of the oppressed any longer. They have responded, and that is the beginning of dialogue.
(Time for a shift in POV and a narrowing of focus.)
Speaking as a white person in the face of anger expressed by people of colour, our reactions to anger are our problem. Not the problem of the people who are oppressed by the society we live in and benefit from, the people whom we indirectly and often directly oppress. We’re the ones who have to work though all the bullshit our privilege allows us to think and say and do. The anger of people of colour is what it is – the only honest response to what white colonialism, racism and imperialism has done to them. The fact that it is also a gift to us, if we chose to see it, is for us to understand and use.
Because people in power, people with white privilege - are, for the most part, not going to give up, or share, power and access, or let go of all the apparatus of lies and mystifications and covertly racist policies and all that shit that keeps us comfortable and unaware just because someone makes quiet, calm, logical, rational, nice arguments and appeals to reason. Because we can come up with just as many calm and logical arguments why it shouldn’t be done, why it doesn’t need to be done because the laws of god or history or the free market will do it in the right time and you’ll just have to wait for it, why it can't be done, at least right now, or why it wouldn't be right or fair or proper, or it would harm something important like the economy or national security or making whites feel good about ourselves, and all the other bullshit arguments. We have a million of them.
Most of us will not really be moved until we see and feel the anger of those we have oppressed, and understand it, and its consequences, in our gut. We are not going to change if we are asked nicely. Why should we? We have power, and privilege. It’s comfortable for us to stay that way. We might be poor, or women, or disabled, or queer, but at least we’re not people of colour – no matter how bad it gets for a white person, there’s always that little bit of privilege we can hold onto. (Of course, the intersectionality of oppressions means that many of you out there, regardless of your chromatic status, can say “at least I’m not a woman/disabled/queer/poor” – but this post is about racism, and we don’t need to fight about a hierarchy of oppressions, because there isn’t one.)
We’re not going to give this up without a struggle. We’re not even going to think about trying to give it up until we are forced to feel it. And we can’t feel a rational argument, or a polite observation. But we can feel your anger. And realise that this much anger has to come from something that hurts. That really, really hurts. And if we have any empathy left at all – and many of us do, it just that we don’t often engage it for people who we think aren’t like us – that’s going to eat inside of us, because we get angry when we’ve been hurt, and it will make us realise that you are like us, because you get angry when you’ve been hurt too. And then we, at least some of us, will start thinking about trying to give it up (in fact, some of us already have, and its because injustice makes us angry, pain makes us angry, and your anger made us understand that you are experiencing injustice and feeling pain).
Because it is about pain and empathy. This is why we make up myths about how certain kinds of people “don’t feel pain that way we do” or “don’t care about human life the way we do” or "hate our freedoms.” Because if we let ourselves realise that we're not the only ones who love life and freedom, and feel pain, that we're not special and refined and more evolved than all those other people we think are inferior, then we couldn’t sustain the illusion for ourselves any longer.
And that’s why anger will work, does work, has always worked. Constructive anger, anger that focuses the fire of justice on the pain that the unjust are trying to conceal, until even we can see how much pain you feel and how unjust we are.
I admit it freely, I watch Canadian Idol. I enjoy listening to young singers who might be interesting, some day if not yet. But I don't think I'm going to be watching it any more.
I usually shut out what's being said in between the singing, especially if Ben Mulroney is saying it. And I don't pay much attention to promos. So while I'd sort of gathered that this year's charity project was to build a Ronald McDonald Retreat House - a resort for families of children undergoing treatment for serious illnesses - it wasn't until this week that I actually heard where this retreat is being built. And I cringed.
Well, actually, that's not its real name. That's the name used by the development company that owns the mountain, which is sacred to the Songhees, Esquimalt and Malahat Nations. The people who for centuries have visited this mountain to conduct spiritual rituals and quests and to bury their dead call it Spaet Mountain - which does mean Bear Mountain, but it's their sacred mountain, we could at least call it by the name they use for it.
The developers have already destroyed at least one of the sacred caves on the mountain, and protests against the further development of the mountain, leading to yet more destruction of sacred sites, continue.
And that's where MacDonald's is building a house for sick children, with the help of Canadian Idol. Disputed land. Stolen land. Violated land.
I'm not saying the project, in concept, is a bad one. It's not. It's a great idea. But you'd think there would be lots of places across Canada where you could build a pleasant resort that isn't someone's holy ground. I mean, what would you say if someone decided to tear down your church without your permission and build golf courses and resorts and luxury housing developments on your parents' graves?
So I think I'll pass on Canadian Idol from now on. I'd boycott McDonald's, too, but I never eat there anyway.
Here's some places where you can read more about Spaet Mountain:
What is Going on With Spaet/Skirt/Bear Mountain?
Support Aboriginal Efforts to Protect Spaet Mountain, Victoria
I could snark some about the cost to the environment of staging 10 live concerts, including the flying time involved to get everyone where they were going to be performing, but I'd rather not just now. They say they tried to be as carbon neutral as possible, which is probably more than can be said for the last few dozen "issue" concert-a-ganzas we've seen.
I do want to mention some of the things I enjoyed.
I should note that, living in Canada, I was apparently more fortunate than residents of some other countries who may have wanted to see as much as they could of the damned thing, based on their own tastes and preferences rather than those of whoever was packaging the shows. One of the hosts on the main CTV network, which ran highlights continuously from 9pm Friday night (EST), when the Sydney concert started, to 11pm Saturday night (EST), when the New York concert ended, said that Canada was getting more coverage of the concerts than any other country. Don't know how true that was, but... all 10 concerts (Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Kyoto, Hamburg, London, Johannesburg, Washington, Rio de Janeiro, New York) were aired in full on five different cable channels, in addition to the highlight coverage on the broadcast network.
There was no way I could watch all of it, of course, I had to sleep sometime, and I spent most of my awake time switching back and forth between concerts occurring simultaneously on different continents, so I missed some performers I'd really wanted to see, and probably lots of stuff I would have wanted to see if I'd known anything about it in advance, but that's what You-Tube is for.
All in all, I think the Sydney concert was the best, at least in terms of my musical (and political) tastes. But there was good stuff everywhere.
Here's my list of the great, the strange, the memorable - or at least what I remember of those right now:
Sydney opening "act" was a group of Aboriginal people performing a ceremonial greeting/thanksgiving ritual for the Earth.
Toni Collette has a band called The Finish. I did not know this. They played in Sydney. The woman can rock!
In many locations, they were filling in the time between bands with videos dealing with aspects of ecology and environmentalism. One of the vids in Sydney was about how wasteful raising meat for eating is and urging people to eat less meat to preserve the environment. The visuals during all of this involved a camera closing in on something brown and indistinct at first, but obviously organic, which this city girl took a few seconds to realise was a cow's ass. Just as I figured out what I was looking at, the cow started shitting. This continued for the whole of the spoken commentary. Although it seemed that the camera crew didn't realise what it was at first either, because they kept the camera on the videoscreen until a few seconds after the cow began shitting, and then pulled back so you could just barely make out the image until after the video was finished. Then, of course, the next act had to go and talk about what it was like to be that act following the shitting cow. I love Australians.
Crowded House in Sydney performing "Don't Dream It's Over."
David Tennant introducing the Pussycat Dolls at Wembley. Best opening line of the entire 10-show extravaganza: "In 2005, when I was Christopher Eccleston..."
Listening to Hong Kong based Band Soler in the Shanghai concert. Unknown to me until now, but I really enjoyed their sound, their harmonies, and my oh my, their lead singer is wonderful to look at. (So is his identical twin brother on guitar, but he got less air time.)
Yusuf Islam in Hamburg singing "Where Do the Children Play" and "Peace Train." He is sadder, wiser, and more at peace than he was when he was young, but he's still amazing.
Speaking of amazing, Robert Kennedy's speech in New York. That was some of the most radical political speaking from someone in the US that I've heard in long time. Talk about telling it like it is. Someone please tell me he is thinking about entering politics.
Lenny Kravitz in Rio. The whole damned act. But particularly "American Woman." Think of the geopolitics of an American-born black man performing in South America, singing an anti-American protest song written by a Canadian.
Nunatak! A live performance by satellite from Antarctica. The band consists of several of the scientists working at the British Antarctic Survey's Rothera Research Station. They performed to penguins, and they were pretty damned good.
Hearing old favourites from bands that have been around for a long time, or who have recently reunited, or who came back together just for the show, or who are survivors from great old bands - Genesis, Bon Jovi, UB40, Roger Waters, hell, even Duran Duran, even though they were never really one of my favourite bands.
Oh, and how could I have forgotten the return of Spinal Tap?
In a category of their own, the Police. I love Sting. Even though The Police have always had this disturbing thread of violent sexual obsession running through their songs. Loved the team up of Sting's brand of reggae/dub/ska filtered through working class London and Kanye West's rap for "Message in a Bottle."
Macy Grey in Rio. Magnificent. Also, she and her band were wearing co-ordinated protest clothing. Her dress read "Darfur Red Alert," other members wore T-shirts with words/phrases prinnted and crossed out on the front. Some of the things the band was saying no to: Racism, Global Warming, George Bush, Dick Cheney. Everyone also had a huge peace sign on their butt. It was great political theatre.
Speaking of political theatre and T-shirts, many of the performers and presenters in Sydney were wearing anti-nuclear power T-shirts.
Keith Urban and Alicia Keyes performing "Gimme Shelter" in New York. Oh my gods and goddesses. I have always loved that song.
Australian bands I'd never heard of but really must hear more from: Blue King Brown, The John Butler Trio.
Shakira dancing in Hamburg. She rocks, and oh my, can she dance.
John Mayer in New York performing "Waiting on the World to Change."
I'm absolutely certain that there was a great deal more that I could mention or even that I should mention, but it's slipped my mind - not because it was any less good or interesting or strange or memorable than anything I did mention, but just because there's a lot to remember and I didn't take notes and I'm only human and there was at least 60 hours of concert squeezed into 24.
If you watched any of it, wherever you are, let me know what you liked or thought was interesting or noteworthy - if I missed it live, maybe it'll be up on You-Tube.
Today, June 29th, is a National Day of Action in Canada.
It was called for by The Assembly of First Nations, and summons "First Nations, Canadian citizens and corporations, to stand together to insist that the Government of Canada respond to the crisis in First Nations communities."
This is me, a white settler woman, standing. I do not comment on any of the choices that Aboriginal and First Nations people may take today, because I am not qualified to judge their actions. I have not lived their lives.
I am qualified to judge the history of violence, greed, arrogant colonialism, deliberate exploitation, and calculated oppression committed by European settlers in the lands now called the Americas. To judge the way in which people of settler backgrounds came to the Aboriginal and First Nations people of these two continents and killed many of the people, eradicated some nations forever from the face of this earth, stole their lands, tried to destroy their culture, break their spirit, confine them, exploit them, assimilate them, isolate them, reduce them to the least of the least. To judge the history of callousness and inhumanity, dishonesty, deceit and self-serving paternalism behind the relations between the government of Canada and the Aboriginal and First Nations peoples living in Canada. And I condemn this history, and accept my responsibility for working toward negotiation, reparation, reconciliation, and whatever is necessary for the renewal and regeneration of the Aboriginal and First Nations peoples.
I do not know what form this working will take, but I do know that, on the side of settler culture and organisations, it must begin with respect for Aboriginal and First Nations peoples, and an acknowledgment that we have to start listening and taking the actions that are needed, rather than imposing "solutions" from a position of continued racist paternalism, colonialist thought and settler privilege.
I do know that one place for settlers to listen and learn is from the Wasáse movement. I quote here from the Statement of Principles of Wasáse. I hope this may serve as food for thought on this day, and those to come.
Wasáse is an intellectual and political movement whose ideology is rooted in sacred wisdom. It is motivated and guided by indigenous spiritual and ethical teachings, and dedicated to the transformation of indigenous people in the midst of the severe decline of our nations and the crises threatening our existence. It exists to enable indigenous people to live authentic, free and healthy lives in our homelands.
Wasáse promotes the learning and respecting of every aspect of our indigenous heritage, working together to govern ourselves using indigenous knowledge, and unifying to fight for our freedom and the return of our lands. It seeks to liberate indigenous people from euroamerican thoughts, laws and systems.
Wasáse is a resurgence of diverse actions. It works by awakening and reculturing individuals so that indigenous thoughts are restored to their proper place in the people’s minds and their attachment to false identities is broken. Members of the movement are committed to the restoration of indigenous traditions, ceremonies and knowledges; reconnecting to and loving the land; and, revitalizing indigenous languages.
Wasáse challenges indigenous people to reject the authority and legitimacy of the colonial system and to rebel against its institutions. Wasáse is not a political party or governmental organization, and its members do not seek or hold political office. The movement does not use violence to advance its aims. Its political struggle is conducted through intellectual confrontation and mass communication; revealing the corruptions, frauds and abuses of colonizers and collaborators; and, supporting direct action in defense of indigenous communities, their rights, and the land.