society

You Couldn’t Stop Me From Giving a Fuck

Someone said to me today that they don’t care what goes on in the world because it doesn’t affect them… that they can’t do anything about those situations. And it made me angry. It should make everyone angry. You should care. Saying you don’t care about those people is like saying you don’t care about yourself.

Everything and everyone is connected. As humans we are capable of any solution. Where there have been obstacles and challenges before, we’ve met them. So why is it that we are unable to resolve issues like poverty, famine, war, systemic racism, genocide, slavery, climate change, factory farming. It’s unacceptable.

Why is it that we are so complacent with our situation because maybe we happen to be happy? Is it not enough to acknowledge that we are fortunate to have what we have and not be in the terrible situations of others?

No. I don’t believe it’s enough.

I read an article a while ago about having “high-empathy” disorder. It made me livid. What is that even? I’m too empathetic? I’m too concerned about issues that “don’t concern me”. No. That’s not right. It’s not okay to start making every feeling a fucking disorder. It’s not okay to tell me or anyone that because they feel empathetic to someone’s situation, that I’m suffering from some psychological disorder as defined by some government-funded bullshit doctors. Here’s a pill because you feel too sorry for people and you don’t know how to function in society.

We’re ruled by an elite group of psychopaths. Seriously. They own the banks that control the governments and media. They fund both sides of the war for profit and they manufacture the consent of the people through the propaganda of the media. These people don’t give a fuck about us. They don’t want us to be capable of critical thinking. They don’t teach that in schools.

They want us to keep our heads down. Get jobs. Spend money. And accept our situation as it is. They manufacture lives and desire. And they brainwash us, keep us constantly distracted with the idea that selling your soul is the only way to save it. Dreams are constructed. “The American Dream” … is it artistic expression? Or is it a formula?

Pay attention to what’s going in the world. Just because you think it doesn’t affect you, doesn’t make it true.

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CHVNGE

you have to believe

you have to believe that you can change

then you have to believe that you can change the world

mlk… man. at some point he said he was going to change things

and people probably thought he was crazy

but that didn’t stop him

it didn’t stop him from making that change

can’t stop me. fuck it.

you can sit there and make assumptions about people

assumptions about their intentions

assumptions about their life… about who they are

what they’re trying to be…

who are they

if we’re all reflections of one another… what does that say about us

what would you say about yourself if you could see you from another perspective

i think its totally fucked that we can only ever see ourselves as reflections

either in pictures or in a mirror… how fucked is that?

and i think… that’s no coincidence

we’re meant to see ourselves as a reflection.

we reflect each other.

stop judging… stop hiding behind a mask

pull that shit off your face

go face the world with who you’re meant to be

who you’ve been all along

get there

i wanna see you get there

you’re so much more than the size of your house

or what year your car was “made”

or how big your bank account is

when you and i die… we’re made up of the same thing..

the same carbon… the same star dust that was there

from tiiiimmme bruh

stay humble.

“I’m 28, raising four kids, in my mother’s house.”

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. A long while. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to talk about. I’ve just been “too busy” to sit down and free my mind of all of the things it’s been occupied with as of late. It’s funny I say that because I hate that. Too busy? Why? What am I doing? Mostly trying to figure out how to function at a frequency that this place seems to want us to vibe on. Nope.

A few weeks ago, my friend was celebrating her birthday at a nightclub, and I had arrived really late, but the important thing was that I was there, right? Right. I was having a good time; my friend was really happy to see me, so.. the night was as usual as it could be.

I remember asking this woman for a lighter so my friend could light her smoke, but this woman looked… Run. Down. I had returned her lighter and asked why she wasn’t dancing like nobody’s business. She looked at me for a minute before she sighed and shrugged her shoulders. I told her it was a good night… she was alive, and there was good music, she should just dance. And she took my arm and said “I’m 28. I’m 28, and I have 4 kids at home.” I told her that was amazing. And she shook her head, “No, I’m fucking 28 and I’ve four kids and I live with my mother.” She looked incredibly disappointed and sad. Like the world had made her believe her life was something to feel embarrassed about. I told her it was an incredible thing that she was raising four kids, when I can barely take care of myself, and that being 28 shouldn’t make her feel any type of way. 28 is the new 18! The fact that she was able to have a space to keep her kids fed and clothed — that’s an insane accomplishment. There are kids who aren’t so fortunate, who wouldn’t have parents putting their lives first because they would be out partying all night, every night, or outright abandoning their kids. Nobody knows her circumstances but herself, and there’s no reason for her journey to be questioned or invalidated because of some imaginary timeline constructed by arbitrary societal pressures.

She high-fived me, gave me a hug, and said “You’re right! Fuck. You know what? You’re right.. it is the new 18! I am hard-working.. I’m trying everyday!”

You are. There are so many of us trying every single day, and we don’t need the expectations of a society to measure our successes and failures.

I’m a fucking snail. I’ll get where I need to be at my own pace. Don’t compare yourself to others. Your journey is not their journey and vice versa. Just acknowledge the efforts you make every day, and be grateful for the things you have. The rest will follow.

A DECULTURED HYBRID “OTHER” LIVING IN A EURO-CENTRIC,

A DECULTURED HYBRID “OTHER” LIVING IN A EURO-CENTRIC, HEGEMONIC SOCIETY INFUSED WITH ASPECTS OF SYNERGY AND TRANSCULTURATION  

or  

“How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Ignore the Iggy Azalea’s of the World”

Written by: Dom

PREFACE:

I cannot help but laugh mockingly at myself as I begin, largely because I distinctly remember once holding great disdain for having to memorize these very terms, which I at the time found inanely superfluous. I recall challenging that these postcolonial and cultural studies courses depended too much on terminology that was overly rhetorical and only served the purpose of providing self-satisfactory pleasure in quibbling over nuance. Cultural Studies is an area of academia perfect for those individuals who believe that it is satisfactory to undermine an entire person’s argument based on their incorrect use of a term that is really only two shades different than the term they will present to you as the more accurate one.

Alas, here I am though… in the very shade of these terms I found so tediously redundant. Funnier still is that I tend to express myself with the same excessive wordiness and I can see that that is probably because I spend much of my own contemplative time in that similarly intractable gray-hued shade.

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Lately, I have realized that almost every facet of my conscious experiences are and therein likely have been tinged with the quandaries of post-colonialism. I say “conscious experiences” because at no other point in my life have I been able to look at what I see around me, which includes seeing people see me, and be able to comfortably rationalize the thought pattern behind, for instance, an absurd music video or the terribly offensive dialogue in a movie or the strange perplexed look in someone’s eyes when they see me or my best friend. Why the need for “comfortable rationalization”? Well, before this I tended to take things far too personally, particularly as an indictment of myself, and also because this is the upgrade I needed in order to continue to protect innocent idiots and the not so innocent idiots from my violent predisposition to “smack sense” and bring the “boot of doom” to asses everywhere. You are all welcome, by the way.

What encouraged this, you may wonder? Two fucking doses of Iggy Azalea.

Now, to be clear, my use of profanity is not because I harbour any personal or negative feelings towards Amethyst Amelia Kelly, also known as Iggy Azalea. Honestly, I like her flow and it’s golden almost precisely because one could listen to her rap complete, utter nonsense whilst being entranced by her voice, her tones, and her delivery. Nevertheless, as I was saying, I do not know her, I cannot presume to actually know her thought pattern, nor do I feel that she is the blue-eyed soul-sucking devil incarnate. In fact, I don’t even think she has blue eyes; it’s more of an expression… much the same way that Iggy Azalea functions as an expression of the problematic dalliances between cultural appropriation and synergy that have been waltzing through my grey matter of late.

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My understanding of the terms “cultural appropriation”, “synergy” and so forth, I owe to Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. And if you click the link, the handy excerpt reads “This best selling key guide, now in its second edition, provides an essential key to understanding the issues which characterize post-colonialism; explaining what it is, where it is encountered and why it is crucial in forging new cultural identities. As a subject, post-colonial studies stands at the intersection of debates about race, colonialism, gender, politics and language.” The bolded sections of this excerpt essentially encapsulate my “eureka” moment where practical, everyday application of post-colonial discourse in my life is concerned. First generation Canadian, check. Family immigrated from a former colony, check, to another former colony, check-check. Female, check. Of Afro-descent, check. Attachment to a language or mode of expression that is not from Canada, check.

And so, while I waltzed through my thoughts about Iggy Azalea’s alleged comments regarding the use of the N-word , her apology for that “I’m a runaway slave / master” line and her recent music video, Bounce, I realized that yes, “new cultural identities” are clearly being formed because… really, what the fuck is this shit if not some product of transculturation or maybe even transcultural shared experience?

As I recall, transculturation is rooted in the “phenomenon of the contact zone”, whereby cultural practices and various means of representation (of culture) coalesce … into … blue-eyed soul-sucking devils? I kid! But seriously, this concept is a beacon in the dim grey landscape of my mind. Places like Canada are prime examples of “contact zones” where various cultures come into “contact” with one and other, producing new hybrid ways of “being” that make those tired black/white binaries even more tedious than studying post-colonialism.

A very comfortable rationalization, indeed; however, it does not end there because power and privilege distort what subsequently emerges as sufficient (and I argue respectful) representation of (a) culture. Add authenticity to that question of representation and it’s a nightmare, it’s a bloody shit show and the boot of doom is destroying everything. Not so comfortable anymore — this is my thought process.

So if transculturation is a euphemism and hegemony (power and privilege) undermines this “rainbow-hand-holding-cultural-love-fest” then how can we respectfully practice or engage in a culture that we, for lack of a better expression, were not born into or raised in, particularly where the question of being privy to practice a different culture is concerned? My answer to that has always been that it is important to distinguish between the malignant and the benign, the callously insensitive and the innocuous. In the case of the above, the difference between malignant “appropriation” and benign “synergy”. Here is where the grey gets stormy:

  • Malignant Appropriation: Appropriation, as I understand it, is basically used to describe the way in which a hegemonic power usurps the cultural domains of those it intends to “take over” or integrate under it’s own institutional design. Important to keep in mind is that these domains that are being usurped have important historical, social, and cultural articulations of identity. This is all an oversimplification, probably a grievous one given the nuances of this entire field of study from which I borrow my terminology and understanding. Nevertheless, there is an inherent power dynamic captured in post-colonial studies that illustrates the fact that in this situation the hegemonic power or even hegemonic culture (colonizer) is atomizing and reshaping the identity of the “colonized” or of the Other with iniquitous disregard.
  • Benign Synergy: This term brings the rainbow back into transculturation. Synergy emphasizes that post-colonial cultures or societies like Canada, the US, and Australia, are a product of various contributing cultures as well as the consequent complex cultural formations that develop thereafter, which too are various in scope. The unequal power dynamic and the implications of negativity inherent in the term appropriation do not pervade this characterization of cultural exchange as it occurs in a now much more positive, synergistic, transcultural manner. When cultural exchange is respectful (appreciably difficult to determine) or at least endeavours to be then it is much less problematic and thus benign in my eyes. Like a benign cancer, it is still something to watch but not something to get overly aggressive about. Feelings may still be hurt, minds may still be perplexed by flagrant cultural insensitivity but in recognizing that the intent was not to harm, a much more productive dialogue can begin or you can move on to frying bigger fish.

Okay, now why does any of this matter? I don’t know that it really does, but I’ll tell you what it means to me… it means that I wish I could read something that talks about race or gender or culture/ expressions of culture without seeing “THIS IS APPROPRIATION!” scrawled in crayon. It calls to mind the imagery of fighting a battle but with a renegade part of your army just recklessly blowing up everything, undermining all strategic advances.

For example, if dreadlocks is a part of your culture and all of a sudden you see someone who does not look like they were born in and/or raised in your culture wearing dreadlocks … and thus somehow not privy to that aspect of your culture… it does not mean that this is an undisputable example of appropriation. Now this is in no way a binary argument, a “this is either appropriation or it’s not and it’s synergy”; I appreciate that there is a lot of grey and it is precisely this grey that needs to be taken into consideration before we lambast everyone for being culturally insensitive. Take the dreadlock example again; if the “wearing dreadlocks” consisted of a hat with a few cottony tendrils then by all means, let us talk about how a corporation has appropriated and commoditized an expression of culture.

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That was my end game… I went on a mental waltz because I was annoyed with reading that every breath is apparently a vile act of appropriation; I was annoyed by the N-word debacle; I was annoyed by disrespectful appropriative expressions of culture; and I was annoyed that people were erroneously classing positive, synergistic exchanges of culture as “APPROPRIATION”.  Synergy and appropriation are very similar but it is the nuances that make them distinct, just as the nuances of a music video or a conversation or a side-glance can be an indicator of whether intentions are malignant or benign.

So I guess it can be said that those two doses of Iggy Azalea I referred to earlier really only turned my existing dalliance with this subject matter into a dizzying Viennese waltz, adding Hesitations that would throw a professional ballroom dancer into a tizzy. And while I may be annoyed with all the grandiose displays of carelessness, at the end of all this postulating about postcolonial discourse being relevant to my sphere of existence I realized that it is best to ignore some things. Intention is not always clear… and in those instances where the hateful or disrespectful nature of an intention is apparent, I can say a very healthy “Fuck you” without burdening my heart/soul with baffled negativity. Conversely, if I so choose and the other party is a reasonable human being, we can respectful discuss annoyances, miscommunications, embedded socio-historical context, and ways to be less insensitive. That way we are not attacking every seemingly silly nitwit with a head dress because how unfortunate would it be if that person turned around and told you everything there is to know about it, down to the significance of every artifact while all the ammo you had was “that’s appropriation because you are not allowed to wear that because you… don’t look like you’re from that culture!”

Discussions when possible are helpful, especially when mind reading is not an option. In response to the “runaway slave / master” issue, Iggy wrote, “[i]n all fairness, it was a tacky and careless thing to say and if you are offended, I am sorry […] Sometimes we get so caught up in our art and creating or trying to push boundaries, we don’t stop to think how others may be hurt by it. In this situation, I am guilty of doing that and I regret not thinking things through more.” Whether or not this is a genuine apology is difficult to know, just as it may be difficult at times to differentiate between appropriation and synergy but the most important caveats I take from her statement are that “we don’t stop to think how others may be hurt” and “it was tacky and careless”. That is a huge problem on both levels. Telling someone they cannot dread their hair as an expression of themselves or wear a kimono to their graduation, and to take it a step further by inferring they are evil imperial cultural usurpers by doing so because they weren’t born into the right culture is hurtful, unnecessary, tacky, careless, and presumes you know their intention. Of course, I cannot tell anyone to not be offended by something… that is ridiculous and would be ironically hypocritical but I hope more people will think about what they are processing and therein be more thoughtful about how they begin a dialogue about it — sans hurtful accusation when obvious intent is not actually obvious. Again, I’m not telling anyone to not be offended, I’m saying that you should think about what it is you are offended by, try to understand it, and when you’ve checked all your boxes then you can lace up your “boot of doom”. By not doing this and charging head on, crayons raised high, those who systematically and hatefully offend get to hide under the grey veil of nuance and worse still… turn those who speak up against them into “bullies” and I don’t know if anyone else has been paying attention but they are really good at that.

All of this thoughtless mud slinging is poised to turn our collective social space into more of a whirlwind, cancerous, shit storm… and it’s already hardly bearable. When we call out appropriation, racism, sexism, or cultural sensitivity let us not be like Iggy Azalea – careless and tacky – but instead let’s be thoughtful and strategic.

What are you willing to live for?

Written by: Am

I often find myself lost in thoughts about things I feel don’t concern other people. And maybe because they don’t want to think about these things, or perhaps they have never thought about these things. Nevertheless, it’s these things that I feel will continue affecting future generations because of our lack of action.

We’re really at a crossroads in all aspects of human life – our planet, our environment, our governments… these are all issues we must talk about, but we don’t. The struggle isn’t universal any longer. It’s become a personal struggle, and when the personal struggle invalidates the universal, action is difficult. The personal struggle is the priority. Affording the costs of living, establishing a career to afford those costs, and to also find the time to enjoy life. Can we really if all there is is working life away to afford life? Kind of pointless.

The way we live has been structured, for generations and generations. We have become mindless consumers of the life we think we’re supposed to have. We feel entitled to have it. We’re conditioned to buy things, taught to live a life of material, and deviating from this institutionalized lifestyle will make you feel like an outcast. You will have failed. You’re a failure. It’s reinforced by every single person aspiring to build a career, get married, get a mortgage. Pointless holidays like Valentines Day to stimulate consumerism. Shower your significant other with invaluable materials to measure the worth of your love for each other. Absurd.

We have this idea that finding someone and “sharing your life” with someone is the answer to everything. It makes this place less lonely, but for me being alone never meant being lonely. I was that person though; I fell for all of it. I had this idea as a kid, that I’d fall in love with a girl and we’d live the fairy tale. We’d have adventures, I’d do romantic things for her, and I’d be a happy person – I would feel fulfilled. But for me the idea of having that kind of relationship is no longer a need or a priority. It’s a personal belief; not something I impose on others. And let me be clear, if that’s something someone genuinely believes in – something that will bring them happiness, I don’t discourage it. Whichever lifestyle someone chooses, it’s their decision and only theirs. But give someone who does not feel the need to live your lifestyle the same respect.

I believe love is a beautiful thing… but it’s fluid, like most things in life, it’s subject to evolve and change. I forget what movie I saw but a character had said something like “love is a socially-accepted form of mental illness” and I totally believe it. Love makes people do insane, irrational things. People do insane, irrational things all the time and they’re accused of being crazy, but people “in love”… aren’t. I feel like the idea of being in love is what people are so in love with, and not necessarily for what it is.

Being in love with someone… having that kind of an intense, spiritual, wonderful connection is amazing… I don’t doubt the intensity, the passion… there’s something so inexplicable about it that if I had to describe it as anything, the closest thing I could describe it to is the sensation of being on the most fucked up wonderfully, insane, absurd trip. But I feel that way about life in general. It’s the wildest trip. It’s not a necessity though. It’s important to be able to be by yourself and be content with that – looking for validation in a relationship, in someone else, will always leave someone feeling empty because the anxiety is created.

It’s irrelevant to me now… because there is this life… this narrative we’ve come to live and it’s the same for everyone. It’s what people aspire in life… the life goals: school, marriage, mortgage, death. But it’s killing us.

We Are All Slaves

We’ve been so conditioned to abide a structure and lifestyle that is enforced. It’s a perfect way to keep the masses distracted. Get an education, get a job, get married, have children. The 9-5 is a work day designed to make us consumerists. The very little time between work and errands is the time we take pleasure.

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All of these relationships we cultivate and make over a lifetime is designed to distract us from real issues. IF the issue at large does not affect someone personally and immediately, they won’t care for the cause. If I have to sacrifice some rights than so be it. There’s nothing we can do about the government – so why worry about it? – I’m going to worry about finding a job and finding a partner. We’re so dependant on these things that we even feel a sense of accomplishment when we attain those things. We’ve been conditioned to feel that these life accomplishments are what is setting your life for you. The system gives you the life goals – you think we have choices, but do we really? The dependancy on friendships, love, relationships is to make us feel like we cannot survive without them. That to be alone… is to equate it with lonely. No. We do not need these things in order to feel accomplished or good about ourselves. The idea of structure, societal rules is to make us slaves. The structure of life is so engrained that it is nearly impossible to live any other way. The few who will challenge the system will be swallowed up by the masses, so those in power – enforcing unjust actions – wont need to feel threatened. They eliminate those who dare to stand up to them.

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We are never given options – we’re only ever given the ILLUSION of options. The question isn’t whether you want the PS4, it’s what colour you want? <— These are not options — the question of buying it does not exist. We all need to be instagram users — the # of LIKES validates our existence, our … acceptance. Moving pictures, moments — posted under no pressure.. no obligation, mere NEED for social media. Our needs have become our biggest weakness. It is an endless appetite that plenty will feed. Those who understand this have been given the holy grail of immortality. LIMITLESS IMMORAL ACTIONS.

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We don’t need to talk about the NSA, because we are the NSA. Willingly sharing information – locations – activities online across all spectrums of social media, and then PHONES. So many ways for us to never not be connected, we’ve been plugged into the machine. The giant machine that governs our daily lives to the point we have anxiety or super ADHD… if we aren’t plugged in. We’ll give over as many rights as we need to to always be plugged in. We are all copies of copies of copies… we’re screwed… someone get me out of this game. This game is rigged. It’s all rigged, always.

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Hi, I’m Am. And, I don’t care… a lot.

Am's Mug

My best friend and I were driving through the city of Toronto today, on our way to purchase tickets to the Ghost show (they are playing on May 6, 2013 at the Opera House for anyone interested), and we were talking about why I don’t care about appearances. Especially mine.

I don’t, in the most basic sense, appear to be a girl or a boy. Biologically, I’m pretty certain I’m a girl, but my appearance may suggest otherwise. I don’t have long hair, I don’t dress “like a girl”, and I don’t care about the things girls care about. Like makeup. Now, I realize I’m making quite a generalization. I’m sure there are many girls that don’t care about what they look like, but … we never see them. We don’t see them on television, in commercials, magazines, etc. And I’m not surprised that we don’t, which is really the sad part.

My “fashion sense”, if you could even call it that, is questionable at best I think – compared to society’s standards anyway. It extends as far as crewnecks, band t-shirts, and black jeans. Most of the time, you’ll find me wearing a beanie and it throws off my entire “look”. I don’t know what’s popular, unless I check instagram. Even then, I have to wonder why we spend so much time on the way we look.

When you meet someone and you make it a point to look your “best”, what happens when your “best” comes off? Will this person cease to like you? My best friend said something interesting about the ways in which loneliness can be correlated to the way you look. Are you dressing that way because more people will approach you? Do you wear makeup because you don’t like the way you look underneath all of that… makeup? Will people avoid contact with you because of the way you appear?

When I see it from my perspective, it’s pretty damn hard to “fit in” anywhere. I’m an outcast in my own “community”. My parents are immigrants from India. They came to Canada in the 80s, which makes me a 1st generation Canadian. When people ask me where I’m from, there are really very few ways the conversation goes. Here are a few examples:

Example 1:
Stranger: Where are you from?
Me: Toronto
Stranger: No, like, where are you from? What’s your background?
Me: Canadian
Stranger: Where are your parents from?
Me: India
Stranger: Oh, so you’re Indian.
Me: …

Example 2:
Stranger: Where are you from?
Me: Toronto
Stranger: I meant what’s your background?
Me: Guess.
Stranger: Arabic? Guyenese? Mexican? Native Australian?
Me: …

Example 3:
Stranger: Hey, are you Indian?
Me: No.
Stranger: …

It is why I’ve concluded that the way people have deduced what certain people should look like, is so problematic. It is in itself isolation. It’s difficult for them to see me, and not be able to decipher what or who I am.

I am of Indian descent. I am biologically female. And I’m a lesbian.

When you think about the word Indian, it could literally have a million different meanings, but for most people it means someone from India – brown skin colour, brown eyes, and black or dark brown hair. I find it funny when someone thinks I’m lying about being of Indian descent. They are always “omg, no you’re not”… “you’re so light”. Why did you ask then? If I don’t fit your model of what “Indians” should look like, then why’s it matter where I’m from? I could have told you I was Arabic or half-Caucasian, would that have made a difference? I do have “light” features, but so do a lot of people.

I used to think it was hilarious catching people staring or giving me a quick glance, trying to figure out whether I’m a girl or boy. There are always instances when I have to use public bathrooms. When I walk into a “girls” bathroom, and there’s a lady washing her hands or just stepping out of a stall, she immediately has this hesitation like “…shit, did a boy just walk into this bathroom?”  If anyone ever asked me if I was a boy or a girl, I would always answer with “haven’t decided” or “whatever turns you on”. Now, I’m not so amused about it anymore, because why should it matter what I look like to make you feel comfortable?

You know what else makes people uncomfortable? Homosexuals. A lot of people are homosexuals. Or pansexuals. Or whateverthefucksexuals. I think it’s interesting the way people deduce I’m gay based on what I look like. She doesn’t look like a girl… but she doesn’t exactly look like a boy… she’s probably gay. It astounds me that so much of my appearance makes people uncomfortable because they cant categorize and label me. You never made the effort to get to know and understand me. Why should the way I look matter when it doesn’t fit into your criteria of what I should look like anyway? Because chances are you’re still stuck at what my “background” is, after you’ve figured that out, you can debate about my gender, and eventually my sexuality.

So pardon me for not caring about the way I look, because it just doesn’t matter… and I really don’t care.