Saturday, June 18, 2016

Parenting while being non-white

So I'm about to piss a lot of people off. However I've been thinking about it and discussing it in circles with various friends from different backgrounds and we've had similar observations. In the past year I've been doing my university diligence on Indigenous kids in care, and how they represent nearly half the kids in care in Canada and how this is alarming since the Indigenous population as a whole in itself represents a little piece (I think 4.3%). Likewise, a friend of mine has been researching black kids in care in the Greater Toronto Area and had similar findings. I did a quick looksee into American stats, and not surprisingly, they were similar.
So, I've been reflecting on the tragic death of the little boy in Florida due to an alligator and the almost tragedy of that little boy in Cinncinati. Both are terrible accidents the result of a choice of parents who at the time were doing their very best I'm sure. I think both are accidents, they may have been preventable, but as a parent, shit happens and I get that, a decision was made and it snowballed into horrible consequences. I guess what I'm saying is that I view them both equally in terms of accountability.
However, the media had painted these families in two different lights. (I'm not talking about comments sections) One family was pretty much vilified, the other garnered sympathy. One family has the past dug up on dad's criminal background, the other has not.
I sit back and reflect upon how much society views black and Indigenous parents as inferior and how it goes so much beyond two stories. These kids are over represented in care, not because they are more abused, but many of them are apprehended for "neglect" as their parents are living in poverty and may leave them unsupervised to go to work, or they're wearing super hand me downs. In many cases, agencies and advocates of marginalized people across Canada and the US are calling out these agencies and why they have such disproportionate kids in care. A poor kid living with a loving family doesn't need a foster home, they need resources, which these care agencies can either provide or facilitate, but time and again, these children are removed from their homes, communities and placed hundreds of miles away from people who love them, because "well-meaning" workers still view these families through a lens of superiority.
But the bottom line is, that people belonging to black and Indigenous communities are seen as inferior parents, and the minute they slip up, it's because they have a criminal background, or drugs, or abuse. The fact is that two families had terrible accidents but one family is largely given the benefit of the doubt and the other was not is indicative of a larger problem.
I welcome comments, but please keep them in the framework of we are discussing how the MEDIA is handling this and how society at large thinks of families from racialized backgrounds. If you think there is no such thing as racism or how dare I bring race into this, just don't, I didn't create the system, I'm pointing out how two families were treated differently by it. If you're tempted to tell me now is not the time to talk about this, I'm asking when? Is there ever a good time? People are being killed because the colour of their skin is different, it's never going to be a comfortable conversation. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

How does it come to this?

So I woke up from a lovely sleep after being up north recovering from an insane week. I woke up in the morning to enjoy a rare cup of coffee while my children were still asleep, signed on to read the news and like make woke up to the fact that a massacre occurred in a nightclub in Orlando. The people committing these horrible crimes usually have some sort of hateful justification, in this case, the targets and victims were gay. As the day goes on I have tasks to carry out, but check in when I can and see the death count rise, honestly though, one is too many.

We sit and ask ourselves how does it come to this. I actually had some thoughts around this when people ask themselves how Donald Trump with all his racist rhetoric gets to become a nominee for the leader of the USA. Sure we can blame extremists, or racists and pat ourselves on the back for not being that extreme and even though we may never pick up a weapon to cause harm to others, or vote a terrible person into power, we still have our roles.

Every time we let that joke fly by, or let cousin Eddy say something terrible and you don't speak up, or you for some reason feel the need to separate into us and them over an issue. You know, when you have those little statuses or complaints about "those people", "Real Canadians", "Our way of life", "Political correctness", "Hating the sin" or any complaints about "perverts" in washrooms. I'm guilty for staying silent when I should say something in "order to keep the peace".

You see, all of us different people aren't complaining and fighting and raising hell for the sake of hearing our own voices. I'd rather be doing anything than reflecting on the senseless deaths of so many people because of who they were attracted to. I'd rather be doing anything, than watching my Muslim friends make a point of saying how they are not associated with this guy. This isn't something we "Social Justice Warriors" enjoy, I feel terrible, I'm scared and sad and angry.

I'm also going to tell you that these little negative gems, are the seeds of this much greater problem. You say these little things, not really thinking about the larger picture, just that you're scared that the status quo may change, and like ripples on water it fuels other little comments, and more comments, and bigger and nastier comments, and thoughts, beliefs and values. You get people like Trump who is now validating all those little comments and thoughts. Or people like Mateen who just cuts to the chase and eliminates lives as he sees fit.

See what you don't get, is that there is power in what you say and it affects others. Words inspire, why else do we listen to speeches or sermons, read books or listen to music? You say, they are simply your opinion and you have a right to say them no matter how ugly they are. Indeed you do, but I'm going to tell you that those words, those thoughts are ugly and point out that they are a small cog in a big problem.

So where does this leave us...comments about those people, real Canadians, our way of life, all of them are related to change. Ask yourself, has your life REALLY been negatively impacted because LGBTQ people are slowly being protected by laws? Don't like that a same sex couple can adopt a child? I bet that child is pretty happy they have a family now. Don't like that they have sex...I really can't see how that impacts you. Has it been negatively impacted because people have immigrated to your country? Didn't get that job? Well maybe it has more to do with your qualifications than the colour of someone else's skin. Has it been impacted because someone whom you deem as uncacceptable as your gender, is in your washroom? You're there to pee,  so are they, get on with it.

Now ask yourself, do you have anything in common with people in these groups? You laugh, you cry, you poop, you eat. Language not being a barrier, you can strike up a conversation with almost anyone about what their favourite food or song or animal is. Is your discomfort with some change worth saying something hurtful about someone who you probably have more in common with than you think?

So how do we get Mateens and Trumps? As much as it is because we don't speak up and we don't oppose hate vigorously enough, it's also because we speak "little negative things" against groups of people or we let them slide, its because we fail to see the humanity in each other and value thoughts and institutions that maintain the status quo over a fellow person. How whack is that? Think about it, "I have this beliefs that prevents me from seeing this person as someone deserving dignity, compassion and respect". What does that say about that belief?

I tried to leave this post on a positive note, but it all sounds trite and really, I'm not feeling positive, nor should I, I doubt many who have a strong dislike for hate are feeling too positive right now. All I'm going to say is that your little words, are part of a very big problem and when that big problem erupts, a lot more than feelings or rights get hurt.