Shame On Oscar


Earlier this week reigning bobbleheads at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka, the Oscars), puffed out ever so pleased with themselves chests to announce new inclusion and diversity guidelines. Ostensibly the first stage of a five year plan to promote diversity on and off the screen. Translation – Oscar consideration will be reserved for productions where people of colour, women, persons with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community are included in minimum percentage quotas. From actors, marketing, pre and post production, catering and internships to location scouts, camera operators, lighting techs and extra wranglers, every aspect of production just became a box to tick.

Initial coverage centred on warm fuzzy kudos for Academy acknowledgement of trending social issues. Were we supposed to gush praise for enlightenment of an old guard white establishment? Sleep tight knowing another behemoth influencer feigned understanding or compassion for systemic injustice? What a farce!

Lets talk fine print before weighing in on the absurdity of hollow, insulting percentage quotas. New rules don’t apply to films vying for 2021 Oscar nods. Not until Oscar 2024 will films have to meet quotas in two of four standards. The four standards cover “diversity representation among actors and subject matter; behind-the-camera staff, such as cinematographers and costume designers; paid apprenticeships and training opportunities; and marketing and publicity.” Take your pick, no pressure. Pad the crew with a sprinkling of trans black lesbians, contract first aid to a immigrant Iranian doctor formerly flipping burgers to support his family because his degree isn’t recognized in America, hire amputee survivors of Rwanda genocide to sew costumes, recruit unpaid interns at predominantly black colleges, take a page from Netflix and script obligatory same sex intimacy in every production. Mission accomplished, standards fulfilled, business as usual.

What’s wrong with these people? Do they actually think spotlight posturing makes a difference? Believe marginalized people seek validation based on arbitrary quotas? It’s SO PAINFUL! News flash -we’re all the same. Black skin the same as freckled white, same sex union no different than traditional marriage, nation of birth, faith or lack thereof – all irrelevant. Diversity quotas prevail for purposes of corporate optics. Look at us, click, like, follow and share our trending abundance of social awareness. Shame on Oscar.

https://nationalpost.com/entertainment/oscars-academy-sets-out-new-diversity-standards-for-best-picture-contenders

Worst Year of Your Life? Really?


A recent poll conducted by Leger Marketing in partnership with the Association for Canadian Studies asked – “Up until now, is 2020 the worst year you have ever lived?” 50% of Canadians, 58% of Americans answered yes, 2020 is the worst year of my life. Canadians and Americans, 41 and 46 percent respectively cited death of a loved one as reason. (Not specific to COVID-19), followed by stress, anxiety and future uncertainty at 41% for both countries.

Sure, it’s been tough. Took some time to adjust, adapt and digest, but worst year of my life? Not even close.

Pessimism flourished along geographic and demographic lines. 62% of respondents living in southern U.S. states declared 2020 worst year of their life. In Canada 56% of those aged 18-54 declared 2020 the worst, compared to 47% over 55.

https://nationalpost.com/news/half-of-canadians-say-2020-has-been-the-worst-year-of-their-lives-with-younger-people-more-pessimistic-poll

In my mind, 2020 as worst year of life represents collective misappropriation of frustration. Worst year of life internalizes external circumstance, it creates dismay rather than sparking unity. Worst year of life is a personal declaration, it’s lonely and depressing. Granted, I speak from a Canadian perspective. ( 121,00 cases, 9,004 deaths compared to 5.15 million cases, 164,000 deaths in America ). That said, cause and effect can be debilitating, or it can facilitate a fundamental shift in perspective – reevaluation of priorities leading to social awareness, empathy, government foibles and personal responsibility. Is that so bad?

COVID-19 is a cautionary tale, how humanity responds defines our future. Unexpected, devastating, inconvenient, sobering, contentious, political, alarming, needlessly fatal – yes. Worst year of our lives? Only if its lesson eludes you.

You Want A Confederate Monument?


confederateBody.jpg (615×820)

Yesterday Trump tweeted – “I will veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren (of all people) Amendment, which will lead to renaming (plus other bad things) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E Lee and many other military bases from which we won Two World Wars is in the Bill!”. Pocahontas of all people, other bad things? WTF! Appalling disregard for minorities, historical ignorance, calculated right wing campaign fodder – you decide, I’m speechless.

Last Sunday, editorial opinion by Caroline Randall Williams appeared in the New York Times. Amid Trumpish support for white nationalism, Trump outrage over NYC Mayor de Blasio planning to paint Black Lives Matter on 5th Avenue in front of Trump Tower (Trump tweeted – “de Blasio is going to paint a big, expensive, Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating the luxury Avenue” ) and widespread initiatives to remove Confederate symbolism – Caroline Randall Williams penned perspective every American should read and take to heart. Quoted in part below, full article link after that.

“I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South.

If there are those who want to remember the legacy of the Confederacy, if they want monuments, well, then, my body is a monument. My skin is a monument.

Dead Confederates are honored all over this country — with cartoonish private statues, solemn public monuments and even in the names of United States Army bases. It fortifies and heartens me to witness the protests against this practice and the growing clamor from serious, nonpartisan public servants to redress it. But there are still those — like President Trump and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell — who cannot understand the difference between rewriting and reframing the past. I say it is not a matter of “airbrushing” history, but of adding a new perspective.

I am a black, Southern woman, and of my immediate white male ancestors, all of them were rapists. My very existence is a relic of slavery and Jim Crow.

According to the rule of hypodescent (the social and legal practice of assigning a genetically mixed-race person to the race with less social power) I am the daughter of two black people, the granddaughter of four black people, the great-granddaughter of eight black people. Go back one more generation and it gets less straightforward, and more sinister. As far as family history has always told, and as modern DNA testing has allowed me to confirm, I am the descendant of black women who were domestic servants and white men who raped their help.

It is an extraordinary truth of my life that I am biologically more than half white, and yet I have no white people in my genealogy in living memory. No. Voluntary. Whiteness. I am more than half white, and none of it was consensual. White Southern men — my ancestors — took what they wanted from women they did not love, over whom they had extraordinary power, and then failed to claim their children.

What is a monument but a standing memory? An artifact to make tangible the truth of the past. My body and blood are a tangible truth of the South and its past. The black people I come from were owned by the white people I come from. The white people I come from fought and died for their Lost Cause. And I ask you now, who dares to tell me to celebrate them? Who dares to ask me to accept their mounted pedestals?

You cannot dismiss me as someone who doesn’t understand. You cannot say it wasn’t my family members who fought and died. My blackness does not put me on the other side of anything. It puts me squarely at the heart of the debate. I don’t just come from the South. I come from Confederates. I’ve got rebel-gray blue blood coursing my veins. My great-grandfather Will was raised with the knowledge that Edmund Pettus was his father. Pettus, the storied Confederate general, the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, the man for whom Selma’s Bloody Sunday Bridge is named. So I am not an outsider who makes these demands. I am a great-great-granddaughter.” – Caroline Randall Williams

Confederate Monuments – Another Perspective

Beryl Dickinson-Dash


In 1949 Beryl Dickinson-Dash was a third year arts major attending McGill University in Montreal. At the time, only 150 of 8,500 McGill students were black. Most blacks were international students, Beryl Dickinson-Dash belonged to a handful of Canadian born black students, notedly a black Canadian woman who knew of no other black female Canadian students.

Beryl with her mother Maisy

Winter Carnival was a big deal at McGill, a mid-winter festival presided over by Carnival queen and four princesses. Keen beauties required 25 signatures from male students to secure nomination. Without her knowledge, the roommate of Beryl’s boyfriend (whom she later married) submitted a photo she’d given her boyfriend on his birthday along with 25 signatures from black male students. Beryl was shocked to find herself one of 26 official candidates.

Next came the ceremonial tea, an afternoon of polite white glove decorum and radio interviews. 26 were cut to 15, 15 became 5 finalists after a second round of interviews and struts. Beryl made the final cut. Each candidate was assigned a campaign manager.

Campaigns reached fever pitch, Beryl’s boyfriend, his brother, roommate and black students rallied behind her. Telegrams were sent to McGill posing as endorsement from prominent companies and organizations. Posters of Beryl appeared in every classroom. Voting booths with scrutineers proved seriousness of a fair vote. Results were leaked several days before official crowning. Beryl won by a landside, so much so final numbers wouldn’t be released as doing so might “injure the other girls”. Just past midnight, March 5, 1949 on her 21st birthday, Beryl Dickinson-Dash was crowned McGill Carnival Queen at the Montreal Forum in front of 8,000 spectators.

A newspaper clipping from March 5, 1949, announcing the pageant victory. (Submitted by Bradley Rapier)

Beryl doesn’t know why a predominantly white student body elected her Carnival queen. “Perhaps they were tired of how things were” she said. Regardless, she became a media sensation, front page news in papers and magazines. South of the border, Color magazine sponsored Dickinson-Dash (now Beryl Rapier) for a two week trip to West Virginia – her first negro college. A painting of Beryl standing in front of West Virginia state capital building by artist William Edouard Scott titled Spirit of Democracy was presented to McGill as a token of appreciation from people of America. I remind you – it was 1949!

Color magazine sponsored a two-week trip to West Virginia for Rapier. A press clipping from that trip features photographs of her at West Virginia State College. (Submitted by Bradley Rapier)

Sadly, few people in Canada know the story of Beryl Dickinson-Dash. But for stumbling upon her story last week courtesy CBC Radio Doc Project, I’d remain oblivious to a remarkable moment in Canadian history. More photos and history at the link below –

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/docproject/how-montrealer-beryl-dickinson-dash-made-history-as-mcgill-s-first-black-queen-of-carnival-1.5605944

Rumsfeld On Looting


In April 2003 following the U.S. invasion of Iraq,  then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said this of looting and lawlessness in Baghdad –

“While no one condones looting, one can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of repression and people who have had members of their family killed by that regime. And I don’t think there’s anyone who wouldn’t accept it as part of the price of getting from a repressed regime to freedom.” – https://edition.cnn.com/2003/US/04/11/sprj.irq.pentagon/

Another time, place, defense secretary and president in U.S. history. Words spoken by a man who orchestrated invasion of Iraq,  the man who authorized waterboarding, deprivation and torture of prisoners in violation of the Geneva Conventions. A man who said “stuff happens” when asked about unrest in Iraq. The same man who said he didn’t think anyone wouldn’t accept looting and lawlessness as part of the price of getting from a repressed regime to freedom.

Ponder Rumsfeld’s words in the context of what’s happening in America tonight.

See the source image

Staff Infection


As quarantine restrictions ease across North America, restaurant owners leapt on reopening despite regional restrictions on capacity and seating distance. On May 19th British Columbia allowed restaurants to open at 50% capacity. Enthusiastic public response filled patios to the brim, patrons wait in long lines hoping for a seat at normality’s table. Overnight, a palpable transformation played out across the city. Akin to getting out of jail, an inch of freedom gave way to miles of opportunity. I can so I will took root.

Yesterday, youngest son returned to work at a trendy Yaletown eatery.  Normal need not apply, patrons are splurging on bottle service, tipping with wild abandon and filling available seats until closing bell. His observations aren’t unique, permission to sit at restaurant tables amounts to viral imperative for familiar social surroundings.

Rejoice, sit with friends, drink draft beer, take comfort in health regulations requiring service staff to wear face masks. So great, right? Not so fast. What about the rights of service staff? Patrons don’t have to wear face masks, they’re not touching plates, glasses or cutlery of others. They don’t languish in a steamy dish pit, sweltering behind mandatory face masks as scalding steam covers them in particulate moisture. No big deal, what’s a handful of service staff compared to optics of economic revitalization?

Actually it’s a very big deal and frankly I’m appalled.

See the source image

 

Incel Terrorism


Incel stands for involuntarily celibate, hash-tag/moniker of a profoundly misogynistic online community united by feelings of sexual rejection. Long simmering Incel hatred of women took root years ago in shadowy forums and alt-right chatter hubs. Amid a plethora of mass shootings and violent crime the Incel movement went largely unnoticed until now. Today, Canada elevated Incel aggression to criminal act of terrorism.

In February 2020 a 17 year old machete wielding male entered a Toronto massage parlour, killing Ashley Noelle Arzaga, seriously wounding two more women. Ontario police arrested the suspect on site, initially charging him with first degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. Further investigation brought in the RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team when evidence indicated the attack was motivated by Incel ideology. On May 19, 2020 RCMP updated charges to, “murder – terrorist activity.”

Incels favour “Chad” and “Stacey” as namesakes for hate and envy.  Chad men are attractive but intellectually flawed, Stacy are women who reject incels for Chads. Don’t scoff, this is deeply messed up psychology.  Serious enough for Canada to lay terrorism charges against a young man attacking women at a Toronto massage parlour.

Incel motivated violence against women isn’t new. The link below illustrates numerous atrocities directed at women by awkward inductees of this murky online movement. What’s new, dare I say historical is Canada’s interpretation of the offence.

Ours is not a Chad and Stacy world. Ours is a online world where Chad and Stacy loathing involuntary celibates bloom in basement solidarity. Right, wrong or knee jerk Canadian perspective, as of May 19, 2020 intel motivated violence is an act of terrorism in Canada.

What is the ‘incel’ movement that police allege inspired a terrorist attack at Toronto massage parlour?

Liberty In America


This article by Shannon Gormley appears in the June 2020 issue of Maclean’s magazine. It begins –

“On a rainy day in late April, in a once-storied democracy now ruled by a certifiable madman who gives senior positions to his simpleton children because he wants to, who boasts of grabbing women by their private parts because he wants to, who uses the highest office in the land to enrich his gaudy hotels and let off his thuggish friends because he wants to, who threatens the press corps and Mexican people and his political opponents and his ex-wife because he wants to, who slathers gold paint on his MDF furniture and orange cover-up on his face because he wants to, who tells lie after lie after lie for no other reason than just because he wants to, during a global pandemic when the same madman’s dazed inaction has resulted in more people dying from the virus in his country than any other in the world – on that day, an armed militia drove up to the Michigan state government building, stormed the visitor’s gallery and stalked the balcony, assault guns brandished as legislators sat below.”

“Their demand: that they too be able to do what they want, no matter what others want. What they want is, they claim, liberty.”

“Liberty: In their view, it is the freedom to threaten others; in reality, it is they who threaten freedom. They want to do what they want to do and they want to do it whenever they want to do it, however they want to do it, and here is the key: It is not that they want to do what they want to do in spite of the fact others may get hurt, they want to do what they want to do because others may get hurt. That they are scaring people is no accident. It is the point. It is what they want. They imagine liberty is being taken from them and must instead be taken from others. To maintain their own parched little plot of freedom, they rain fear down upon everyone else.”

“And so, in and around the Michigan statehouse, some have waved rifles because they believe they have the God-given right to subject lawmakers to reasonable fear of getting their heads blown off; some have carried the Confederate flag because they believe they have the God-given right to subject Black people to the reasonable fear of being lynched.

Some have threatened to incarcerate a female legislator because they believe they have a God-given right to subject women to reasonable fear of all manner of retribution. And all have swarmed public spaces in a mass because they believe they have a God-given right to subject other people, their own societies, their own country and beyond, to a reasonable fear of a deadly virus.”

I’ve quoted snippets from a thought provoking read few Americans are likely to ponder. Gormley’s article deserves consideration. Full article linked below – what does liberty mean to you?

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/what-liberty-really-means-to-gun-wielding-lockdown-protestors-in-america/ar-BB13W1sZ?ocid=spartanntp

a group of people standing in front of a building: An armed group entered the Michigan State Capitol building to protest the stay-at-home orders, on April 30, 2020 (Seth Herald/Reuters)

 

Pandemic App


Yesterday Google and Apple announced partnership details pertaining to development of a COVID-19 tracking app. When launched, the opt-in platform would use Bluetooth to keep tabs on your whereabouts and interaction with personal contacts. Ostensibly to send email alerts if anyone you’ve had close contact with tests positive for COVID-19. The fine print explains –

“It works a bit like exchanging contact information with everyone you meet, except everything is designed to be anonymous and automatic. Instead of contact info, your smartphone will periodically exchange anonymized tracing keys with nearby devices. Both devices maintain a list of the keys they’ve collected on a cloud server, and when one person reports an infection, they have the option of sending an alert to people they’ve recently been in contact with. That alert will share information for what those people should do next.” From https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/4/10/21216675/apple-google-covid-coronavirus-contact-tracing-app

See the source image

In a perfect pandemic world, unprecedented solidarity between competing tech giants might be considered admirable. Trouble being, ours is anything but a perfect world and  red flags flap in the wind. Second phase of the Google/Apple partnership involves contact tracking functionality built in to Android and Apple phone operating systems. Excuse me? I urge you to read the link above.