Editorial


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<<< SPOILERS WITHIN >>>

I’m a Star Wars fan.  Though, if I’m completely honest, there are only really two excellent Star Wars films, with the rest ranging from horrible to slightly-better-than-meh.  The latest installment unfortunately falls into that latter category.  It’s a more enjoyable movie than any of the prequels yes, I alternated from annoyed to entertained while watching The Force Awakens.  Seen as an action-fantasy-in-space—and seen from an ‘I-really-want-to-like-it’ POV—it’s ok.  Seen as a Star Wars film—or more accurately, seen as the Star Wars film I wanted it to be (ie. a continuation of the first two)—it was a disappointment.  (more…)

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Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 12.23.30 AM<<< This is a piece of mine that was published in the Nov/Dec issue of Canada’s Briarpatch Magazine >>>

The controversy around the temporary foreign worker program (TFWP) hit in late spring while I was doing fieldwork for research on Canadian mining in West Mindanao, Philippines. My mind quickly became entangled in the systemic knots that lock together seemingly disparate issues.

At what locals call Ground Zero in Zamboanga City – where urban warfare between Muslim separatists and the army one year ago claimed lives, destroyed a neighbourhood, and has left tens of thousands homeless – there hung fresh ads in the streets about finding work abroad.

>>> CLICK HERE to continue reading…

<<< *note: the below was originally delivered as a talk at THIS Human Rights Day event in Toronto >>>

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photo by afelipe

2014 has been a hellava year.  We have seen our communities besieged by horrible new atrocities, the continuance of others, and the growth of public rage.  From the continuing occupation of Palestine, to the never-ending war on terror.  From the police impunity seen in the the murders of Michael Brown & Eric Garner, to the continuation of the two tiered justice system for our First Nations sisters and brothers.

Meanwhile in the Philippines climate change disasters, partner with militarization, the return of US bases, attacks on activists and the poor, and a worsening economy to increase the peoples suffering. And here in Canada (where the Philippines has been the number one source country for migrants since 2009) we’ve seen legal changes that seek to punish migrant workers for the sacrifices they are forced to make due to poverty

Against all this our peoples have been fighting back.  Through acts of anger and acts of organized resistance. (more…)

In the video podcast above I talk about the beginnings of family dynasties.  Let’s now briefly discuss why they persist to this day.

As you can see from the opening slide 94% of the provinces in the country have dynastic family rulers.  Despite a lot of talk & media attention, despite the stalled attempts at legislation, they remain an immovable political object–and will remain so for the near future.  Why?

(more…)

[*this is a follow up article to “Anti-Racism/Sexism & Individualism” where I liken postmodern politics to a modern form of divide and conquer.]

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A bomb in Boston:
   – Outcry! Terrorism! Bad!
   – What terrorism? The US is the real terrorist!
   – Why are they blaming brown people! That’s racist! Racism is bad!

A school shooting in America:
     – Tragedy!  Ban guns!  Guns are bad!
     – Arm the teachers; bad guys are bad!
     – I hope it’s not a shooter of colour.  [see: “Racism is bad.”]

Here’s the thing.  I’m equal parts sympathetic, and confused and saddened, by this standard Western outcry.

I’m confused because of the gap between the reaction and the root causes.  And I’m sympathetic because it’s a fully understandable reaction—if not for accidents of personal history I would most likely be of similar mind.

Looking at media (mainstream and social) after moments like these, it seems to me that we in the West live with a cough syrup political mentality.

Millions of people swear by cold medicines, good people, friends and family even.  They feel a cold coming on and they pop the pills, or gulp down the syrups.

And yet–
–they don’t work. (more…)

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Oh. I wish someone had told me earlier they were just waiting on me… sorry all!

I was in the car and in slow traffic, the DVP (the major highway leading to downtown Toronto) was closed for the weekend and the local streets were jammed.

Along the way I was listening to talk radio on a college station.  It was playing a lecture by a black feminist from the States (I came in late so I don’t know her name).  She was your standard post-modern, identity politics, POC scholar.

The lecture was about the problems of racism and sexism.  The issue basically boiled down to individuals not having done the personal political work to liberate their minds from patriarchy and white power (with passing mention to intersections with class).

I didn’t agree with much of the lecture.  In fact it mostly saddened me.  I saw it as divisive and supportive of the current power structures that use racism and sexism as tools of oppression.

But of course I did listen.  It was like an aural car wreck, and as one is wont while driving, I was transfixed. (more…)

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Another Halloween is past and you know what that means my POC friends.  Yup, we just did another round of muttering “that’s racist” over and over again to ourselves.

… and while I fear I might be (ok, am) a minority on this one (see what I did there?):  I don’t entirely get it.

Now ruling out the extremely obviously racist costumes like the buck toothed Asian (a la Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Jim Crow era Black caricatures, or Islamic “terrorists,” which clearly are unacceptable, I don’t particularly agree with the uproar and activism over “ethnic” costumes.

When I say I don’t ‘get it.’  I mean that I don’t accept the rationale behind why the outcry is focused on the costumes themselves.  I don’t understand why the call is basically for White people NOT to do it.  Full Stop.

I mean why is it that we see costumes based on traditional dress racist?  The usual refrain is:  “we are a culture, not a costume.”  But if this is the case, would it not also be proper for Whites to decry costumes based on horned Vikings (which are historically inaccurate btw) or medieval knights?

Now the answer to my question is obvious: It’s not the same because of the disparity in power relations, and the vicious history of colonization that has imbued on to these images a different connotation.

I get that.

What I don’t get, is why this translates simply into:  Don’t wear that Whitey!  (more…)

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