I Get It Now

It seems self serving to say I’m not racist, but given the climate right now, I need to. But at the same time, I was naive.

Naive in that I don’t treat anyone different based on their gender, colour, or sexual preference. You judge others as you judge yourself. The first wake up call for me was when Trump was elected president. How could there be so many people who feel that he was the best option? God Bless the Electoral College.

Now, in the wake of the disaster that was the Charlottesville demonstrations, I get it. There is a segment of the American population that is feeling threatened. They see there has been a shift in society and they want things the way they used to be. Like 150 years ago. A demonstration to preserve a statue erected for General Robert Lee, one of the losing generals of the Civil War, was purported to be a stand for history, for the fabric of the American culture.

Except, that history was white washed.

There are countless web pages devoted to the “real” (fill in the blank general, politician, founding father). They were human, they were flawed, and many of them agreed to the accepted norm of the time; that owning another human was not just legal, but their God-given Right because they were born the whitest shade of pale.

The insult to the injury of these statues is that most were not erected at the end of the Civil War, in fact, the last monument, built in Arizona (not even a state during the war) was installed in 1975!?!?!? This was a conscious effort to remind African Americans that in spite of perceived advancements in their station in life (voting, non-segregated education, not being owned) the shade of the past was a literal and figurative presence.

The next realize for me was one it was pointed out that following World War II, there were no statues erected in Germany in honour of Adolf Hitler nor any of his evil cohorts. No schools are named after them. No bridges. No parks. The horror of the Nazis was erased from the country with only history books and the memories of the Holocaust survivors to give voice to the madness. That is why there was such shock when the Auschwitz-Birkenau Holocaust Memorial was opened; you had to see it to comprehend the nightmare.

Imagine being an African American child who walks to school every day, past the eternal monument giving tribute a man, who fought a war to separate your country, over his desire to own your ancestors, which he had the right to torture, rape and kill. Now imagine knowing that this same marker is a meeting place for racists TODAY, who still subscribe to such asinine theories as intellectual superiority based on skin colour.

Can you imagine that child’s frustration to open a history book and learn that not only is his community white-washed of any reality regarding what slavery was actually about, but also his education. White students beside him are taught the same thing, which perpetuates the Myth. White is good. White brought advancements. White is right.

We know differently now. Stories, movies, books, memories all tell of a different reality. This one involves fear, prejudice, assault, abuse, torture and a facing the reality that in the 21st Century that the first black man elected to the highest office in the land will be followed by another white man, who incites hate and fans the flames of the KKK and Neo-Nazis. Two steps forward, sixty years backward.

I turn my gaze to my own country. How easy it is to judge, but, those in glass houses…..

What of the pain of a Japanese child, separated from family and placed in housing in B.C. during the Second World War? What of the ongoing profound injustices done to aboriginals from the time the first European settlers stepped on dry land – not the least of which involved church and residential schools. Just two samples of wrongs that didn’t make into my history book, not sure about yours. Don’t understand why the Aboriginal Community is outraged? Because we still aren’t teaching what happened, so we can stop perpetuating our own Myth.

Many feel the reparations the Federal Government has attempted are a waste of time; after all, why should we make amends, WE weren’t the ones who offended. But actually, we are. As long as we force these minority groups to feel the white washing of the past lives on today, we continue to injury them. We need to see history for what it was. – a one-sided account. Recognize the imbalance and injustice, and fix it so that they are not bleeding today from the wounds of our forefathers. We need to own the mistakes of the past to not repeat them. I think that’s someone elses’ quote, but since we are talking about appropriation here….

I seriously debated writing this column on this topic, not because I’m worried about backlash, frankly, I don’t give a shit. If you don’t agree with my position, and identify with the morons who showed up with torches, chants and starched and ironed golf shirts on Friday night, keep rolling pal, ain’t nothing for you here.

But I was given pause because there is already so much talk about this topic. I feel we need action. I have family and loved ones who are Gay, Jewish, Black. The chants from Virginia felt like stabs into everyone of my people’s souls.

That’s when I realized, it might be the first step to actually do more with my white privilege than to yell at a TV screen. We’ve had several talks around the dinner table about what this all means and what our role in this humanity can be. We won’t be standing by in tense silence when there is a slur, a sign, a posting. We will not be ok thinking that we are the silent majority, and that most of “us” don’t think that way. Even one person spewing this kind of filth is one too many. We must speak up. We must push back.

Trump felt justified in saying that, and I’m paraphrasing here, “two wrongs don’t make a right” with regard to the riots in the Charlottesville park. Hmmm. If we were talking about a shoving match in the kitchen about the last cookie in the jar, I’d be onboard with it. But we are talking about the exact opposite extreme – an attach on humanity, and you cannot judge the motives of Anti-protests trying to stop hate with force, using the same stick as the Protesters who came to the park chanting Nazi slogans and instilling fear in anyone who wasn’t one of “them”. If the suggestion is that Good lowers itself when it fights Evil, then why the Hell did we have World War II? The Allies should have stood back and said, “Gosh, Mr. Hitler, we’d really like it if you pull your armies back from Western Europe, and when you are done, COULD YOU STOP PUSHING PEOPLE INTO GAS CHAMBERS?”

I think we all know what that response would have been.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” ~ used by lots of white guys

10 Things I’ve Learned from the Ghomeshi Trial

While some of you may feel the Jian Ghomeshi verdict is sooooo last week (literally and figuratively), it’s taken me a couple of days to let everything sink in.

First there was the frustration with the verdict.

Second there was the need to understand how that verdict came to be. Let me tell you folks, it’s a lost day when you don’t learn something new. And in that spirit, I present to you:

THE 10 THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM THE GHOMESHI TRIAL

If I ever find myself in the terrifying position of testifying in my own Sexual Assault case, there are some key points I will need to remember if I want a successful outcome from the legal process and the Court of Public Opinion.

  1. “Justice” System is a bit of a misnomer in this case. Let’s go with “The Courts”. Our laws make it rather daunting for victims of Sexual Assault to come forward.
  2. Although more women have come forward to report their own sexual assaults following the exposure of this case, critics say it will take many more women to report sexual assault before the standards change. THAT’S encouraging. Can we get some more outrage brewing out here ladies?
  3. I have to depict myself as being sexually worldly, but not a “freak”, and certainly not a puritan. I will have to be comfortable talking about sex, but I better not make other people uncomfortable when I do it. (Note to self – look up definition of “Slut Shaming”.)
  4. I can’t show that I own or enjoy my own sexuality. Remember, it’s up to other people to objectify women, but we cannot be seen as using our bodies for that very same outcome. (Note to self – make sure to delete all photos where I’m wearing a bathing suit. Both of them.)
  5. I cannot allow myself to contact the accused following the alleged incident. After all, no one would reach out to this person again, right? I’m not entitled to demand clarification? Explanation? Frustration? I will have to hope I’m never in the same line of work, social circle, family, etc.  so I don’t have to interact with him. ‘Cause I’m not supposed to.
  6. I need to become an expert on automobiles. No one likes to be called a liar because they cannot remember the type of car the accused drove at the time of the incident.
  7. Same goes for houses, geography, cuisine, fashion, public transit. Basically EVERYTHING. If you can’t answer with authority, you must be fabricating.
  8. Don’t look like a know it all. You will look rehearsed and convey that you are trapping the accused. Yes, I realize this conflicts with #7 – deal with it.
  9. Never forget anything I have told others about this incident. This includes, but is not limited to: police, family, friends, colleagues, other victims. Again, basically EVERYONE. Additionally – make sure I commit all social media and electronic communications to memory so that it doesn’t look like misleading police or the courts. I will have to have the world’s greatest recall, without looking like I was deliberately creating the evidence and framing the accused.
  10. Understand that even though one of the hardest things I will ever do is to come forward to police to discuss one of the most intimate, and therefore traumatizing events of my life, that I will be dissected, insulted, maligned, vilified, labeled, scrutinized, criticized, objectified and ostracized. And the alleged attacker with never have to utter a word to defend his actions.

“Innocent until proven guilty.” Who? Of what?

Letters That Need To Be Written V

Dear Judge Jean Boyd,

Your Honor, with all due respect of your station as Juvenile Court Judge of Burleson, (near Fort Worth, Texas), are you out of your ever-lovin’ mind?

You had an opportunity to send a message to a clearly overly indulged young man; one who has obviously had every opportunity given to him by his misguided, yet financially comfortable parents. You could have given a sense of closure to the families of four people who tragically lost their lives when this youth, who was practically pickled with three times the legal limit of alcohol in his body, mowed them down on the side of the road with his pickup truck. You could have given some sense of justice to the two other victims, “friends” of this youth, who were in the box of the pickup, one of whom is unable to speak or move thanks to the traumatic brain injury sustained in this  preventable, AVOIDABLE, motor vehicle collision.

But instead, you created a victim. The accused himself! How he must have suffered being the son of parents who never gave him boundaries! How horrible for him to have gone years with his every whim catered to! We will never know his agony! Thanks to you Judge, we now have a new trendy condition “affluenza”. WTH? I can guarantee you, no one in my home will come down with this quasi-condition.

Way to reward the guilty! And his sad excuse for parents! Junior gets 10 years of probation, starting with a rehab program (I’ve never been to a resort that is as nice as this rehab facility people! Check out the Newport Academy here. BTW it’s putting his daddy back $450,000 a year.) and keeping him away from his parents for at least two years. Whew! What a relief for them! They can continue NOT PARENTING him just has they have been for the past 16 years! At least they won’t have the burden of dragging him around down like a walking, breathing scarlet A on their chest. They can continue ignoring their role in this travesty.

I’m sure you will be getting Christmas cards from other affluent families, whose spoiled brats are looking for loop holes in the justice system. You just set a precedent with a big enough loop-hole to drive a big ol’ Texas-sized pickup through.

Once again, the self-proclaimed “Land of The Free and Home of the Brave” (Land of the Spoiled and Home of the Self Indulged?) is getting it wrong, because even though this sentencing is a farce, the possibility is slim that the sentence can be appealed, because of the finding of guilt and a sentence being handed down. I guess US lawmakers didn’t allow for “not enough” sentencing. The prosecution asked for 25 years in jail, so with the exchange on the dollar, four, eight, carry the one….yup you are looking at 10 years probation.

My heart goes out to the families of the true victims; a young woman with a broken down vehicle, who was being assisted by a youth pastor and a middle-aged woman along with her teenaged daughter – all providing help, trying to do a good deed.

I hope their memories haunt this young man and his family.

And the judge with her misguided sense of “Justice.”