So I attended this way cool meeting last night, a celebration of International Human Rights Day, which is today, December 10.
Given the recent anti-Asian bullshit in Maclean’s magazine, further exacerbated by other Canadian print media like the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and National Post ( I don’t count the Toronto Sun and neither should you. Ever.) the theme of last night’s meeting was about how the media perpetuates racism, and what is the media’s role?
The evening was co-presented by CCNC, CCNC-TO, UARR, NARCC and a few other local anti-racist groups.
Pat Case, the first speaker, talked about the issue of successful tactics, and he used the phrase “relentless counter-dialogue” which I want to repeat as much as possible, and need to credit him for that.
Danielle spoke next, who I had met at the U of T teach-in last week. She talked about the context of the university and the role for anti-racist folks of colour to play in ensuring that anti-racist policies are actually translated into practice, and thus lead to change.
Florence Li, who works at CCNC-TO, talked about her own leadership process, found through a meeting she attended with MacLean’s in which she and CCNC-TO and CCNC, were completely shut down and shut out. Racism was blatantly denied by the editor-in-chief of Maclean’s, and Florence found her anger in the face of such disrespect.
Anger, as my faithful readers will know, is one of life’s more powerful motivators. it sure as hell is for me. Especially for those of us whose anger hasn’t been allowed expression for a number of reasons. I say, yell and shriek your anger, Florence and others! Don’t let them talk over you. Ever!
Then Cheuk Kwan spoke, telling of the history of the W5 incident in the late 1970s and the galvanized response of the Chinese community across Canada and the creation of CCNC.
The big-name guest speaker of the night was Barbara Hall, former mayor of Toronto (never thought I’d wish for the days of Hall, but I’d take her kinda Liberal in a heartbeat at this point. Fucking hell, what have I become?!?) and current head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Hall sounded more radical than I had ever heard her, and it was great to have someone in her position recognize the connection between racism and human rights violations.
What does all this have to do with Rob Ford, you’re asking? And why has the f-bomb been so curtailed/minimized so far?
I had a really nice time last night, seeing people I’ve known for years, and others who I’ve met since this Maclean’s debacle. I like this new old community I’ve found.
So, to the fuckery.
Remember what Rob Ford said about “Orientals” in 2008?
Here’s a refresher. Sorry, it’s a buzzkill.
From the Toronto Star March 6, 2008.
Mayor David Miller sharply criticized Councillor Rob Ford today for “outrageous and absolutely unacceptable” comments about Asians during a council debate.
Speaking last night during a debate over expanding business openings on holidays, Ford said, “Oriental people are slowly taking over.”
Ford went on to describe people from the Far East as workaholics. “Those Oriental people work like dogs … they sleep beside their machines.” he said. “They’re hard, hard workers.”
So I finally connected this idiot barfing out from Ford’s fuckwad of a brain to the Maclean’s article.
Both sentiments come from the same place, and both involve a belief in the utter homogeneity of the group “Asians” even though Ford used the decades-old, out-dated, colonialist and racist term “Oriental”. I assume using that term was his version of a compromise since I also assume the word he wanted to use was vetted out by his handlers. Ick.
And I, and others, have taken down the flawed equating of Asian=Chinese. A gajillion times. I’m fucking tired of this shit.
But this feels like a different era than even 2 years ago in Toronto, where the mayor would scold a councillor, publicly, for saying racist bullshit. Lots has changed in two years.
Maclean’s, while a national magazine, is based in Toronto.
Victoria’s and Vancouver’s city councils have passed motions decrying the article and by doing so have been supporting grassroots movements. The idea of Toronto city council moving, and passing, such a motion is a bit beyond my expectation as this point, given how trampled it is. While all the reports seem to indicate that council as a whole is still skewing left, I’ll believe it when I fucking see it.