Wednesday, March 13, 2013

*Ahem* Toronto Marlies *tap, tap, tap*

Yep, that was my annoyed mom voice and mom toe tapping. So I went to my first Marlies game, it was very pleasant. I'm a Toronto girl and I cheer for my Toronto teams, particularly hockey. Yeah, yeah, insert Leafs joke, I'm a special breed of loyal and crazy, I know.

Anyhow, everyone was in a great mood, the bathrooms didn't have a lineup 40 people deep, concessions were better priced, and they let me keep my caps for my water bottles. It is in the middle of God's nowhere so that's a minus, but for the most part I had a great time.

There is one issue though...cheerleaders. Hockey...Toronto...cheerleaders. They were called a dance troupe, but it's pretty clear they're cheerleaders. Dance troupes spend a lot of time practicing and perfecting and while this isn't a personal slam on these gals, there wasn't much to write home about when it came to their dancing. However, their short shorts, tank tops and sneakers in an area where most people didn't so much as take off their outdoor gear suggested something else together. Because really, if they were there for their dancing, they could have wore way warmer clothes and still would have had to work hard for a sweat. So what I'm saying first is that I don't like being sold a line, just call it what it is, cheerleading.

Secondly, I'm a hockey fan, I know many many many female hockey fans coast to coast of every sort. Can we not go somewhere where we're not reminded of the fact that the female body is constantly meant to be on display for some men stuck in puberty? I cannot think of any place more redonkulous to have women dancing around half clothed and not have it glaringly obvious that this is sexist than at a hockey arena where it is only a few degrees above freezing. I get that the majority of hockey fans in Canada are male, but come on, give us gals a little respect. We're more than puck bunnies and the purveyors of beer and snacks for our beloveds on Saturday nights. Go to my friend's blog Tales From a Hijabi Footballer, tell her the Habs suck and you'll get a good idea of how much us gals love hockey too and it would be nice to be respected when we put money into these franchises by having a place where it is about hockey, not T'N'A and hockey.

Next, how many times do I hear that hockey games are a great family tradition. I dunno about you guys, but I don't feel like bringing my boys to places where gals are freezing their asses off as they swing them around for some insane reason (I'm getting to that). I'm trying to teach my boys how to respect women, and that's very hard when I'm putting money into something that has women in itty bitty clothes, dancing around during some scraps of time in a freezing arena. That's not very respectful to me! My 7 year old asked me why they were dancing around and why weren't they dressed more warmly. I couldn't get into a proper age appropriate diatribe there, but will address it in the morning, in the meantime, I'm burning off steam here.

And you know what is the crazy thing? I watched these girls performing, you know how much attention they got? Zip! I saw another thing, the MC type people started getting a wave going during a break, and it died the moment the game started again. In fact, people were pissed because they were distracted by the wave for a half second and the other team scored. I've watched the strange and funny creature known as the Canadian male. They do like the female variety plenty, but if they're a hockey fan and watching an important game on the tube, or if they are at the game, the gods themselves are hard pressed to distract them, nevermind some gals dancing in itty bitty clothes in a freezing cold arena.

I do understand that there are countless spaces inside a game to squeeze in a little more commercialism in, entertainment in, and I don't have a lot of problem with that, but I do have a problem when it crosses a line of being funny and silly (mascots, dumb contests, even the kissing camera) to being superficial and yet another place where half naked women have to be slipped in, to make money.

So other than that, the night was great, but it's a shame that an otherwise great night was marred by something that really doesn't have a place in hockey, it doesn't have a place anywhere, but considering this is affecting me personally and like every other Canadian hockey fan, I feel I have a stake in hockey and the way games, and the games around the games are conducted.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

As "Mixies" go...

So I came across an article which seems to be burning its way through Toronto progressive facebook pages in my network anyhow, it's a Toronto Life article titled "Mixie Me" which is either a love it or hate it type of article by Nicholas Hunh-Brown. Judging by a lot of the comments, it seems hating is winning. I went into it looking for something to be offended by, but I couldn't.

Progressives are pissed off because he suggests that he hopes interracial mixing may have a role in reducing racism and makes some links to something that may point to that eleventy million years in the future. I couldn't see anywhere where he says "OMG! We're mixing, no more racism! Lets sing Ebony/Ivory and Kumbaya together!!!"

Conservatives are pissed off because again, another person who is non-white has the audacity to suggest, "Hey, simply being non-white gets me treated differently" Some dude asking him if the author has done anything productive with his life instead of playing identity politics. Um, commenter? Love it or hate it, the guy is writing for Toronto Life magazine and he seems to enjoy his life and job, so I'd say that's pretty productive.

Ultimately, the good thing, for better or worse, he's got people talking about race, which isn't easy in Canada because it's a topic people will go out of their way to ignore, unless to gloat about making a token friend or something like that. That and there are some interesting little interviews from kids on the topic, which I'm always interested in hearing about their experiences knowing my own. Much to my delight, I came across a kid I knew having attended the same Montessori as my boys. It would have been awesome if they got a picture with her brother, who has some seriously uniquely coloured hair and eyes. And why aren't the kids smiling? They're kids! They don't have to have the Dan Rather look on the topic that we adults do. They shouldn't look like they're about to testify at court. (Okay, petty complaint)

I'm a "mixie" I dunno, I don't like that term, I'm of mixed race. Growing up, my father insisted I was black, I didn't understand that, but granted, what 6 year old has a great grasp on colonial America and slavery, except that it was bad. My mother never really paid any mind. I didn't see another mixed race person in Toronto until I moved to Regent Park in the early 80's. When I moved there, I learned a shocking reality, I wasn't the only one of my kind, well me and Michael Jackson. All kidding aside about his issues with his skin, I was genuinely confused about his race as a kid.

So growing up, I dealt with the usual issues of hair misunderstandings with my mother, myself. I battled my father about me being mixed versus black. I battled off men, still do who fetishize me based on my races. I get to deal with people asking me where I'm REALLY from *eyeroll* or people ascertaining that I'm not really Canadian because I'm not white...stupid them, the non-whites in my family have been around for a hell of a lot longer than whites on this continent thankyouverymuch. I get to deal with the "Oh you're mixed, you're soooooo beautiful/smart/sexy/healthy" as if I wasn't so beautiful 12 seconds ago when they thought I was full blooded whatever the hell they thought I was. As a parent with mixed race children, but who are lighter skinned than me, I get to deal with questions about whether I'm their nanny (usually in areas like High Park, Rosedale, Yorkville, The Beach and the Annex). I get to deal with people wondering about my relationship and whether boyfriend is with me because he's into exoticization.

Biggest complaint, I have to choose sides all.the.freaking.time. There are few places where I can switch accents, colliquolisms, dances, foods, culture and still be accepted. When I'm with certain groups, I dare not break out into black slang and with other groups, I avoid talking about race and racism and how it affects me. When I'm in progressive circles, heaven forbid that I suggest being mixed allows me an interesting look at race and racism...heaven forbid any mixed race person does that. Because ultimately we're never going to have it as bad as this or that race, so we don't know what we're talking about. Or in conservative circles, again, we're told that we're not seen as someone with brown skin because we're just like them and they're colourblind. Um, okay. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't more pissed off at my progressive bretheren for shutting down the voices of mixed race authors, especially since we're supposed to be open to listening to different perspectives. HELLO??

What I think being mixed race has taught me more than anything is that life is not black or white. Yes, while I do identify as a deeply spiritual and deeply progressive person, some of the closest people to me in my life are conservatives in many ways, or atheists. People don't understand that. I travel in circles where I am only allowed to be one person or another. I favour circles where I can be both. While the devil's advocate can piss me off, so long as it's a respectful discourse, I can usually deal and walk away with a smile on my face and likely a new friend. What that has allowed me to do is to make many meaningful connections with a lot of great people.

Think about that, people making meaningful connections with other people because they don't want to be black or white. Because they have forced to be black or white, him or her, progressive or conservative and are sick to death of it. Why can't I be racially mixed, sometimes honouring my black American roots, sometimes honouring my Irish, sometimes honouring my Sioux roots? Why can't I passionately believe in being progressive on issues x, y, and z but think more conservatively on issues a and b? Why can't I think Paganism and Christiannity both have good points? It's not just limited to race, but everything! Why can't a mixed person have an interesting take on racism and dare hope that maybe the mixing of races in our homes and families and close communities can be the beginning of opening up discourse, hearts and minds? I'm sure it can be academiced (new word) to death, and while race theory and advanced thoughts need to be discussed, I'd bet my house that you're just as likely to get through to a closed mind with kind interactions through people as you are with tonnes of theory and there needs to be space in all forums for the recognition for that.

Sound Pollyanna-ish? Yeah probably, but I think throughout history, productive leaders have motivated people to do massive things through 1 of 2 means. Fear or a great deal of respect, and for that great deal of respect, there needs to be that connection whether someone is personally connected or not, they still feel that. And you rarely get a connection with good diverse groups of people by being black or white, but by recognizing that shades of grey isn't a poorly written book, it's life and we need to respect that from various angles, and especially when talking about race, race relations and moving forward.

So this my shout out to listening to people who live in between the binary, whether they have been forced to, or choose to, try to listen, that middle place is uncomfortable for many, but all in all, if we all inhabited it respectfully, I doubt that there would be much space left for those who choose to live or die in the black and white.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I love Pink

Well anyone who knows me, knows that I make no bones about the fact that I'm a girly girl and love the colour pink, red too, but in a household with three small boys a boyfriend, two male (albeit neutered) cats and even the freaking snake being male, pink is not only a colour preference, but it's a stand I have to make to keep something feminine in my home world of Joytopia!

However, I'm not here to discuss colour preferences, I'm here to be far more of a geek and discuss one of my favourite musicians by the same name P!nk. I'm sure hipsters, wannabe hipsters and indie folks are rolling their eyes, but too bad!

I started listening to her at least 10 years ago. I appreciated the fact that her songs looked within, but at the same time provided social commentary, a great energy and a unique sound for the time. I also admired that in the era of young women gyrating around in schoolgirl uniforms, she was presenting something counter to that in music and entertainment. Life marched on and I started having kids, which meant that my attention to pop culture pretty much took a nosedive. I heard songs here and there, but never really had much time to devote to anything outside of my kids and trying to survive...really, my soundtracks were Sharon, Lois and Bram, Raffi and the Backyardigans. Sad...well, secretly, I still enjoy them.

Anyhow, fast forward, or rewind to a couple of years back when my life went kaboom and I found myself single again after 17 years of partnership. Like many people, which created an entire genre of music, I started listening to the Blues and some Jazz. That got me through the initial period of lying on the floor, not wanting to get up and face reality bit. Then I started getting pissed, so I switched over to Adele, who was just becoming very popular at the time. Adele didn't last long for me, because while I was angry, it wasn't something I wanted to sustain me because its so negative. Then I ran across "So What" by P!nk. I remembered the song from a little bit ago, but decided to listen to it again, and WHOA! Totally made me feel freaking awesome and I remembered why I loved P!nk so much 10 years prior. Then I came across "Fucking Perfect" and literally cried the first time I heard it. I guess there are a few times in life when you hear a song you so badly need in life, and this was one of those moments. Thanks to itunes, I quickly downloaded every P!nk song I could get my hands on
I love that she can be self depreciating while still recognizing how awesome she can be. Canadians are nothing, if not self depreciating and proud and since she's from Michigan, we're pretty much countrywomen. I love the fact that she has no problems talking about social issues and it certainly helps that she falls on the right side of the coin in that regard. Love that she's been through breakups, is a mom, is a woman, is determined, wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth and an auto tune at her beck and call. If I had a daughter, I'd be plopping her down in front of a few videos, bad language and all as the pop culture role model. Even down to aesthetics, it's great to have someone with their own style, feminine and strong, quirky, pretty, masculine, everything. In the days of so much cookie cutter musicians it's really nice to have someone different.

I realize this sounds like a fan letter, too fucking bad, my blog, my rules! Did I mention that I love how much she swears, it's like it validates my own colourful language. Yeah....that's it, I swear because P!nk tells me to...*shifty eyes*. Anyhow, I will be expressing my fangirl love this coming Monday at the ACC with P!nk in concert and it's something I've been eagerly waiting for for 2 years. I splurged on tickets and cannot wait to join a billion other screaming fans listening to some awesome music by a talented artist who has carved out space in the mainstream to be different than what typically sells.

So I'm gushing, I'm appreciative, I'm excited and I have yet to be disappointed by a celebrity in over 10 years, which is saying something. Thank you P!nk for providing musical love for all this time and I cannot wait to finally see you in person.