So back in August I said I would finish the library books I already had and then focus on reading some of the actual books I already own.
Because my father teased me in a dream lol
So I finished up:
Introducing Feminism by Cathia Jenainati & Judy Groves
The Truth Will Set You Free – but first it will piss you off by Gloria Steinem
Introducing Feminism was published in 2007 and is a good overview of historical stuff. Also reminded quite clearly that non-white, non-affluent individuals are often relegated to the margins/footnotes. Though there is a fair bit of Black American feminism reflected here there is very little Indigenous or non-western.
Steinem’s book was published in 2019. It’s hard not to feel her energy coming off the page. It’s mostly quotes and little vignettes so a quick read though lots to stop and think about. I would like to read more by her. Any thoughts on where I should start?
Then there was:
This Book is Feminist by Jamia Wilson and Aurelia Durand
Published in 2021 it’s meant for teens and I’m fine with that. I still learned a lot and it was nice to have everything clearly set out without assuming the reader knew it.
There were some good definitions in here including intersectional feminism, womanism, and more. And a constant reminder to look at who is being left out.
And the last of my own little mini intro course on feminism:
Amplify – Graphic Narratives of Feminist Resistance
By Norah Bowman & Meg Braem with art by Dominique Hue, this 2019 book was published by UofT Press and tells the story of 7 different people / groups and how they can be seen as feminist.
This started with the premise that the willful taking on of a feminist political identity is itself an act of resistance. It told the stories (very briefly) of Pussy Riot, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Idle No More, Harsha Walia, and others.
The backlash to feminism always seems to come from conservative governments and their innate fear of change. And just outright selfishness: the fear that giving more to others will mean less for them. Sigh.
as an aside this little exploration of feminism was brought about by trying to read Nora Loreto’s
Take Back the Fight
I’m not gonna lie. It was a tough slog. For how amazing it is to read her stuff on Twitter and what she wrote for The Maple and Chatelaine etc. this was hard. I couldn’t do it. One of the rare times I said “enough, I’m not getting anything out of this especially for the effort going in.” So I took a step back and started from the basics.
And then I picked three random books from A authors, which I’ll write about soon… thanks. love you.
And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.
James Russell Lowell
I seem to always love the idea of planning but then, stress hits and my most well-worn response is avoidance. I plan to get things done and then they don’t and the next thing I know it’s bedtime and well, that’s about it really.
Yesterday (June 4) there was a “Daily Jay” on the Calm app about “time confetti“; about how little things add up to disrupt your plans and goals and break up your day and cause irritation. Prioritizing is definitely not something I am good at – but it’s comforting to know I am not alone and that there are so many external factors influencing this that I have no control over at all. Thankfully my work is one of those places that really is not there when it’s not supposed to be there. I don’t get messages on my personal phone etc. So that’s terrific. Work is also flexible enough that when I need to take breaks during the day, that’s fine, the work day doesn’t have to be precisely 9 to 5 but also understands that work is not all consuming.
Okay – so back to trying to plan, think about what’s important, not necessarily going off on all sorts of new and fun directions. I mean, new and fun directions are great. But I don’t have to follow the path RIGHTNOWTHISVERYINSTANT. I can make a note, and follow up later.
One of the ways I thought I would do this would be to think of big themes for the month and if something pops up that fits into the theme – yippie! and if not, and it looks cool, I can make a note and maybe use that to come up with another month’s theme.
THEMES FOR JUNE
There are some easy ways for my brain to group things and also a few topics I want to learn more about which themselves have lots of subheadings so the big overall groups are:
SELF focus for June:
❶ schedule – a day
❷ mindfulness – being present
❸ health – menopause
Schedule: I’m trying to figure out what I would like “a day” to look like. Three different days actually: in-office work day, WFH work day, non-work day.
Mindfulness – just something I’m always working on; whether it’s a bit of reading about stoicism, the Calm app, yoga. Something.
Health – read the damn menopause book. That time is creeping up slowly but surely and I really want to be sure I have some sort of idea about what’s going on. We don’t talk about this stuff enough and I need to learn.
Also move more. I have an appointment with a specialist about weight management and stuff also.
OTHERS focus for June:
❶ reading – neurodiversity
❷ support – volunteering? politics?
The idea here is to not lose myself in my own little bubble. The Ontario election annoyed me to no end – the lowest turn out in years, maybe ever? WTAF?!? The cons killed people during the pandemic no less than if they had pulled a trigger on a gun and you will not be able to convince me otherwise. And they were rewarded with another majority? @#(P YPVDLI but rather than retreat to the safety of my world with only my people in it I want to do more.
Concrete tasks here:
① deliver egg cartons to the food bank
② bring black take out containers to the farmers’ market for re-use
③ chat with Laura about how to _do something_ about the politics stuff that’s frustrating me
④ read this: recommended by a friend:
HOME focus for June:
❶ minimalism – organize/declutter
We live in a fairly large house. The problem with this of course is that we acquire enough stuff to fill the large house. And then some. This will really probably be the focus every month for HOME but key tasks for June:
① Lisa’s Stuff – organize jewellery; what do I want to keep; offer the rest to family / friends and then sell / donate what’s left
② Q’s Stuff – a big goal for the entire summer is to get everything out of Q’s rooms and really clean and maybe repaint them etc. So we’ve got to start whittling his stuff down too
③ Art – hang more of the art I love and offer up the stuff we no longer adore. This has already started which is great.
NATURE focus for June:
❶ birds – pigeons
❷ tree – northern red oak
Y’all know I’m weird right? I wanna learn more about birds and trees but I keep going off on all sorts of tangents and, while fun, it’s really not sinking in. So, thanks to a random chat with the wonderful Abby, I fixated on pigeons for June. I know nothing about pigeons but they’re everywhere. So I’m gonna learn about pigeons.
Same with trees. There are a bazillion trees out there. So overwhelming to know where to start. But we just planted Tom in the fall – Tom is the name we gave to our northern red oak (Quercus rubra) – so that seemed like a good place to start.
Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
– Beverly Daniel Tatum
I just finished the 20th anniversary edition of this book – with an updated prologue and epilogue. Like my last Bookish entry (Memmi) this one is going to take a while to digest.
The first thing to say is this really shouldn’t be your first book on race and racism. Or even your third or fourth. It’s dense. It requires a lot of unpacking. And although she explains that she decided to write the book when she realised she needed to “bring an understanding of racial identity development to a wider audience” (pg77) the book is not something that most people will find easy to digest.
I should probably start with explaining that it’s not about “race” but how one’s own identity – encompassing race – develops. I learned a lot but I am stubborn and carried on through the stats and took notes and had the luxury of time to sit and think and read and sit and think and read. I think that for most people it’ll just be beyond them in terms of time and energy to invest. And that’s a shame. I think it’ll just be too much for all the people who could really benefit from learning what is in here.
Here are some great, big picture lessons though:
Race is a social construction.
Race is a human-invented classification system no different than the Dewey Decimal system. Geneticists agree.
Society is important
A big part of defining yourself can come from what the world around you says about you and about others like you. Everyone needs to see themselves reflected in the world.
We need to talk about race and racism
If we want to move past a racist society we all have to step up – and white people most of all. You have to work to identify your own sphere of influence and consider how to use it to interrupt the cycle of racism.
Racism doesn’t just harm Black, Indigenous, People of Colour – though obviously it effects them most directly.
We all lose – when human potential is left by the wayside because it doesn’t seem to fit with the perceived norm.
We need to talk about racism – the break the silence. White people might be afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing – I am always concerned about this – but the work cannot always fall on the shoulders of Black, Indigenous, Asian, Middle Eastern peoples (to name but a few). The consequences for me to speak out are far less harsh than for some others.
I cannot wait to know all the information out there; I can no longer wait for perfection; I have to keep taking my small, deliberate steps each and every day. In those steps I find hope.
Okay so a thing I am doing more than I used to is read. Sometimes I read light and fluffy things; other times grim and dark police procedurals, sometimes newly released stuff; sometimes it’s older. Fiction, non-fiction, heck I’ve even read some plays recently.
I am going to share what I’m reading and what I thought about it – while reading and when finished and then maybe in some cases (like this first one I am sure) I’ll have an update later when I’ve digested it more and maybe done a bunch of reading about what it is that I have read. I already have a tag for “reading” so I’m just going to stick with that for now.
The reason I am starting this now is that my current library book is making my brain hurt so I wanted to get my thoughts down etc.
The Colonizer and the Colonized – Albert Memmi
Memmi was born in “French Tunsia” in 1920 (he only just died in 2020 at 99 years old (link is to a NYT obituary – you may need an account). His mother was a “Tunisian Jewish Berber” and his father was “Tunisian-Italian Jewish.” Lots of divisions there. He was actually in a forced labour camp during the Nazi occupation of Tunisia.
In the preface of The Colonizer and the Colonized he writes:
…oppression is the greatest calamity of humanity. It diverts and pollutes the best energies of man – of oppressed and oppressor alike. For if colonization destroys the colonized, it also rots the colonizer.
I wonder how Memmi would have responded to a suggestion that he say “the best energies of people” or “of all” instead?
Memmi is very cognizant that in some areas he is more akin to an oppressor than the oppressed: Yes, he was Tunisian and thus “treated as a second-class citizen, deprived of political rights…” BUT he was not a Moslem [that time I learned there were different ways to spell Muslim]. “The Jewish population identified as much with the colonizers as with the colonized.” The Jewish population were just as badly off as the Moslem population but they turned to the west as saviours really so that “the Jew found himself one small notch above the Moslem on the pyramid which is the basis of all colonial societies.”
So he acknowledges that, as Jewish, he has some perch to hang his colonizer writing on; the Tunisian heritage is the perch for the colonized writing. But what about male? Are women of no concern? Well, in brief, nope: “A woman is less concerned about humanity in an abstract sense, the colonize mean nothing to her.” Oh FFS. Sigh. And on I go.
There is that fundamental idea of a pyramid – Memmi returns to that: “such is the history of the pyramid of petty tyrants: each one, being socially oppressed by one more powerful than he, always finds a less powerful one on whom to lean, and becomes a tyrant in his turn.”
This is seen so much in the US south – there are lots of books / research on the idea of driving a wedge between impoverished white and Black people in the south so as to keep the Black people oppressed and the whites constantly striving for acceptance by the rich whites – never recognizing (a) that acceptance will never come and (b) they have far more in common with the poor Blacks than they ever will with rich white Americans.
Some points truly hit home – “
…the few material traces of [the colonized’s] past are slowly erased, and the future remnants will no longer carry the stamp of the colonized group. The few statues which decorate the city represent (with incredible scorn for the colonized who pass by them every day) the great deeds of colonization.
A reminder – this book was first published in the 1950s. But people still argue today – in 2021 – that removing these statues would be “erasing history.” *insert eye roll here*
Memmi goes on later:
if only the mother tongue was allowed some influence on current social life, or used across the counters of government offices…but this is not the case. The entire bureaucracy, the entire court system, all industry hears and uses the colonizer’s language.”
I have never been good with languages – my brain doesn’t seem to like studying them and I always found other things more fun – but what joy it would have been to hear Indigenous languages as often as I heard French and (because I grew up in the west end of Toronto/Tkaronto) Ukrainian and Russian and Polish and Maltese (though I probably should have tried harder with that last one).
Most Canadians came here from somewhere else: my dad immigrated in 1968. My mom didn’t have to – she was born in August in northern Ontario only a couple of months after her mother and my oldest uncle arrived in Canada on a Polish ship. Lots of people fled war and famine and disease, seeking a better life. But a better life for us shouldn’t be at the expense of other people – there has got to be a way we can make it a better life for all of us.
We have no way of knowing what this land would have looked like had colonization never happened; but we can certainly see what has happened because of colonization. And it’s up to us now to work to make it better.
Why can’t we give back? Schools, streets, parks. Why do they all have to be named after colonizers? Why can’t we invest more time and energy into learning about Indigenous peoples and their histories and names and customs? Why are 57 versions of desperate housewives an option instead of more like First Contact or just opening up to more Indigenous creators?
Why can’t we tax churches and the wealth of the top 1% and actually collect those taxes and use that money to give clean water to Indigenous communities? Why can’t we impose term limits on elected positions so that people stop looking at that as a career that they can coast through and not actually accomplish any meaningful change for the people of this place? Why can’t we stop throwing money at police and carceral options and start throwing it towards education and health care?
This is one of those books I will definitely have to go back to in the future – I probably really should take a poly-sci or philosophy course to truly understand what Memmi is getting at. He explains the book wasn’t intended to be a work of protest or even a search for a solution – instead “it was born out of reflection on an accepted failure.” He says right at the start that it wasn’t true that he knew how impactful the book would be.
I’m including a list of online resources I found when googling the book. Like I said, I’m setting aside the book for now – returning it to the library even; but in a bit I’ll read some of these writings (and any others that come up) and maybe even re-read Memmi.
I’ve asked my friends on FB why they’re voting for the PCs under Ford. A couple were amazing enough to answer but I still can’t seem to shake my intense “flight” response.
I don’t always read NOW Magazine but I stumbled across this article.
There’s so much I want to say but don’t really know how. I’ve crossed paths with Doug (and I mean literally, I was going in one direction, him another, across NPS plus other general public in-the-same-place-at-the-same-time kind of thing that happens in a major city) and even just crossing paths in downtown Toronto was one of the very few times in my life that I felt physically unsafe. And the interaction, if you can even call it that, was fleeting.
Toby was saying that maybe I should try and put myself in someone else’s shoes and see that they remembered how the last NDP government was SO VERY BAD for the economy and Horwath is not personable. And basically that Horwath and Doug are both incompetent.
Okay, first, the NDP was in power in 1990 to 1995. 23 years ago. That is almost exactly half my lifetime ago. WTF?!? Harris was in power from 1999-2002 and I’m bitched at for going that far back to complain about off loading of public transit and public housing to the city? The economic problems of the 1990s started long before Rae took power, he was just the effing premier who got the shaft for them.
Second, assume A and B are both equally incompetent AND everything else is exactly the same. And now assume A is racist. And homophobic. And almost never showed up for work. Which would you pick? B right?
But now you’re told everything is the same as above BUT A is male and B is female. Hmmm. Did you change your answer? Well, there’s a whole other issue to work on then.
And others are saying the NDPs will run too many deficits! But all of the media – including the right wing Toronto SUN! – say the PCs platform, such as it is without details or costing etc, will actually cost the most and run the highest deficits. $1 beer sure sounds good until it’s balanced across from closing hospitals and libraries, homes for people with autism, and increasing racist and homophobic police practises.
What’s the last thing you remember about the Fords that came out in the press/media and was later found to be false? I’ll wait. Seriously. Let me know okay?
Before the Ontario PCs even take power we have:
a lawsuit from his sister-in-law calling into question his business dealings (and acumen)
a data theft investigation regarding the 407
a candidate under investigation for immigration fraud (misleading new immigrants)
at least one candidate under investigation for professional misconduct by his professional body (and he’s a freaking police officer! who allegedly threatened a constituent)
And then we have reports of PC signs being put on lawns without permission; a PC platform without any costing information at all. A man who, as a city counsellor, referred to female journalists as “little bitches,” and responded to going against two women opponents for the PC leadership with “I live with five women at home.” Think about that. How is that any different than “what?! I have a gay friend?” “I’m not racist, I work with a black guy.” I can “handle” them. Oh and that woman with two masters degrees? “nice smile.” FFS! Oh and he’ll get back to us on whether he’ll attend Pride.
Everyone has examples it seems of candidates they’ve never met or seen. “The NDP candidate is a no show in my riding” “I don’t even know who it is?” Maybe they missed them? My door has only been knocked on once. At 2:30 on a day I happened to be working from home. No flyers or calls or anything from anyone else at all. BUT I called the others to ask about their platforms, what they stood for. The PCs never called back. The Libs answered when I called and we had a nice chat. The NDP? They were the ones who came to my door. Otherwise for formal debates over 20 PC candidates didn’t bother. Including many Ford didn’t attend.
We’ve lost manufacturing jobs – but don’t lie (as Trump has done) and say “we’re going to get them back.” Bring in something better. Some manufacturing is never gonna come back.
How are taxes going to fall by 20% and yet services NOT get cut? Maybe he’ll just print it up? at his barely functioning company? Instead, what I fear, is that public services – from help for the elderly, disability support, child care – will all be hollowed out. Carding will come back, anti-immigrant sentiment will rise, “fear of the other” will lead to greater and greater insulation.
Someone told me this is all just “fear mongering.”