An alternative view regarding the Olympics:

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

I’m not going to lie. I’m not a big fan of the Olympics and in fact every four years I think I hate them more, for all of the obvious reasons. Vancouver 2012 I disliked the most because when watching the opening ceremonies with my then eight year old insomniac, in what must have been the middle of the night, he looked at me and said “When is Team Anishinaabeg going to be entering the stadium? Probably before Team Haudenosaunee, right, because Anishinaabeg begins with A?” As all Native parents know, the colonialism talk makes the sex talk look a lot like a platter of cupcakes with a chaser of ice cream cones.

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Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)

Adrienne Rich, American poet, essayist and feminist, died on Tuesday, March 27. I  read her essay “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision” about a month ago for an English class, and I was unable to put the book down the entire time. Her words evoked an emotional and deep understanding in me that other works rarely match. In honour of Adrienne Rich, here is an excerpt from “Re-Vision”:

“It’s exhilarating to be alive in a time of awakening consciousness; it can also be confusing, disorienting, and painful. The awakening of dead or sleeping consciousness has already affected the lives of millions of women, even those who don’t know it yet. It is also affecting the lives of men, even those who deny its claims upon them. The argument will go on whether an oppressive economic class system is responsible for the op-pressive nature of male/female relations, or whether, in fact, patriarchy — the domination of males–is the original model of oppression on which all others are based. But in the last few years the women’s movement has drawn inescapable and illuminating connections between our sexual lives and our political institutions. The sleepwalkers are coming awake, and for the first time this awakening has a collective reality; it is no longer such a lonely thing to open one’s eyes.

Re-vision–the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of enter-ing an old text from a new critical direction–is for women more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves. And this drive to self-knowledge, for women, is more than a search for identity: it is part of our refusal of the self-destructiveness of male -dominated society. A radical critique of literature, feminist in its impulse, would take the work first of all as a clue to how we live, how we have been living, how we have been led to imagine ourselves, how our language has trapped well as liberated us, how the very act of naming has been till now a male prerogative, and how we can begin to see and name–and therefore live–afresh. A change in the concept of sexual iden-tity is essential if we are not going to see the old political order reassert it-self in every new revolution. We need to know the writing of the past, and know it differently than we have ever known it; not to pass on a tradition but to break its hold over us.”

From “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision”, by Adrienne Rich

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Today’s reasons to fight for equity

These articles are sad and blatant examples of discrimination that occurs everyday. Perhaps more sad is the fact that most of you probably won’t be too surprised about this.


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From NPR: After Trayvon Martin’s Death, We’re All Having “The Talk”

On The Two-Way, NPR’s news blog, Mark Memmott writes: “A national discussion about race continues in the wake of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s death last month in Sanford, Fla.

To recap: Martin, who was unarmed, was shot by a a 28-year-old man, George Zimmerman, who claimed self defense. Martin’s family and supporters — and now a growing number of people across the nation — say it was a case of racial profiling and that Zimmerman only assumed Martin was “suspicious” and followed him through the neighborhood because the teenager was black”.

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Excerpts from An Evening with Dr. Cornel West

Dr. Cornel West speaks at Cal Poly Pomona in February. Dr. West is an American philosopher, author, critic, actor and civil rights activist. Here, he speaks poetically and captivatingly about civil rights, social justice and the human condition in general.

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Women’s Worth Week Promo Video

Thank you to the wonderful women and men involved in this video. Please watch and share.

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Why I’m doing Women’s Worth Week

The number of female friends of mine who have described relationships in which their independence and self-esteem have been decreased or compromised is staggering. I knew this for the last five years, at least, but I never thought that it would be me in that situation. In fact, even while I was in that situation, I didn’t realize what was going on — just how abnormal, and not okay, the situation was.

I ended a 4 year relationship at the beginning of this past summer. I won’t go into the details of what happened, but I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore; the drama, the constraints, the total emotional roller coaster. But I never realized just how much I needed to be rid of it. After I broke up with him, I had the best summer of my life. Freedom was wonderful, and I seemed suddenly to have gotten a massive energy boost. I wanted to do everything, to explore, to adventure, to do whatever I wanted with spontaneity. I was incredibly happy, and the sudden contrast made me realize just how downtrodden I had become. I realized that all those weeks of tears and those rages which came out of nowhere were not “just hormones”, or just my shortcomings as a person. Those emotions were real, they were in response to the subtle and small injustices to which I was constantly being subjected. I realized that I should have trusted my emotions and my instants, and realized that I knew that the way I was being treated was wrong.

Many women have experienced situations like this. There’s a a spectrum, of course — such violence against women can be physical, sexual, verbal, subtle, overt, oppressive, jealous, and so on. And even if you’ve never experienced it in a relationship (because I’m not at all trying to say that all men participate, or that we should spurn relationships because they lead to violence), you may have experienced such a spectrum of violence out in public. Walking alone at night, taking the chance to raise an argument in class or at a meeting, expressing an opinion, It’s hard to avoid these kinds of situations without forgoing a fulfilling life — yet these situations can all lead to an experience of oppression and violence.

And no matter where your experiences are on the spectrum, the results, at the basic level, are similar. You’re left making excuses, wondering how you let this happen. Maybe, like me, you wonder how even after all your social justice learning and research, all the positive female influences in your life, you still can fall for that kind of treatment. It’s been nine months since I broke it off with my ex, but I still have painful flashbacks of all those things that I let slide. These are the times when I need to go lie down, curl into a ball, and just try to make sense of it all. At the same time, I find myself making excuses – still – and telling myself that it wasn’t so bad.

I’m writing this with hesitation. I’m worried about admitting what happened, and about what others will think of me or him. But I want to share this because I know that I’m not alone.

Feb 13-16 is Women’s Worth Week at Queen’s, and I’m currently helping to organize it along with some wonderful women who are truly passionate and concerned about this issue. We need people to share stories and volunteer, and I really encourage you to visit our Facebook page. Hopefully, through this event, we can create a space for some healing.

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