Updates from September, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 12:24 on 2019-09-19 Permalink | Reply  

    I’ve seen questions asked on Twitter about whether one has worn a racist costume. I don’t think I have, although I once dressed up as Theda Bara‑as‑Cleopatra for a silent-movie-themed party. At a stretch, I suppose that could be called Orientalism at second hand, although it was all about the eyeliner, no teint basané. No, there are no photos.

    I knew about the burnt cork thing, growing up, only because my mother once used it to draw tiger stripes on my sister’s face for Halloween.

    I think we’re facing a Conservative government, and I am not happy. Can I blame Justin Trudeau? Yes, because if nothing else he grew up in a household that should have made him aware of the possible consequences of having public light shone on your activities. He should have known better.

    • mare 14:56 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

      I have; when I was young in the seventies.

      For Carnaval I once dressed up as “an Indian” with a red-ish skintone and a feather headdress, I once wore brownface during the oil crises impersonating a sheik who came drilling for oil (I used a car jack as a drill and won first prize for the best costume in the parade) and I’ve been Black Peter a couple of times, to make some money when I was in high school.

      Not once I thought any of that was racist, and neither did any adult around me. We’d never heard of minstrels, and the first time I saw a first black person was when I was 8.

      Different country, different times. (I’d be totally unelectable, and not only for those costumes.)

    • Blork 17:38 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

      I’m not sure which is dumber; Justin Trudeau dressing in brownface, or most of what’s being said about it.

      To be clear, it was a stupid thing to do, and I do not in any way defend anyone who chooses to wear brownface or blackface. But let’s talk for a second about the possible differences between the two.

      The main problems with blackface are tied to the legacy of slavery in the US and how that legacy lives on to this day. I could go on for days about that, but I think we all get it. In particular, blackface invokes the “minstrel shows” of 100+ years ago, which belittled and demeaned African-Americans and black people in general, both specifically in the moment and largely as a cultural phenomenon. The on-going legacy of racism against people from Africa and of African descent is reason enough to condemn blackface.

      But Trudeau’s was in “brownface,” because he was dressed as an “Arabian.” While there is no shortage of racism against arabs by white people, it’s mostly a recent phenomenon and it pales greatly in comparison with history of racism against Africans. Also, there is no legacy of slavery to deal with. In fact, the “Arabians” that Trudeau was dressed as were slavers, not slaves. Between the 16th and 19th century, more than a million Europeans were captured and enslaved by Arabians, as were many more Africans.

      So yes, it was dumb, but not nearly as dumb as blackface, and the two are not really comparable. I should also add that I find it condescending of white people to think that brown people are so frail and delicate that this will have any harmful effect on them short of a brief pain while they roll their eyes. I’m pretty sure the only brown person to shed a tear over this was Jasmeet Singh, who I had a lot of respect for until yesterday. My limited research indicates an awful lot of brown people agree, and have been calling Singh out for that performance.

      BTW, you will note that I said (twice) that it was dumb. It would be dumber of anyone to come in here and accuse me of defending blackface or brownface. Just sayin’

    • Blork 18:07 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

      Update: I’m just finding out on the news that apparently there are more pictures, which include JT in actual blackface. If that’s true then I retract everything I wrote in the previous comment.

    • Kate 19:05 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

      Blork, I too was thinking about how dressing as Aladdin (as he’s supposed to have done) might have been silly, but not meant to be offensive. There’s a long tradition of dressing up for pantomime and costume parties that involves that kind of thing, and while people in the present day might be a little more circumspect about how they dress up, inherently it is not evidence of a buried racism.

      But the blackface gags – do you remember in 2011 when HEC students were reported to have donned blackface and put on Jamaican accents? Pat Donnelly references this in a piece from the Gazette in 2014 when another blackface incident broke out here, and in which she enumerates others. That’s the educational matrix in which Justin Trudeau grew up, and as a young man without political ambitions at the time, it likely never crossed his mind that it could have repercussions.

      I’m not saying this exonerates Trudeau, because on the other side of the scale is that he was born into a family that should have given him exceptional political instinct, but a man with that kind of instinct would not have done this, even if his friends and associates thought it OK. I still don’t think it means he’s a racist at heart, as some have been tweeting, but it sure does underline his poor grasp of cultural tone.

      All that said, I do not think it disqualifies him from being prime minister. He’s not the political hero some had hoped, but he’s still far preferable to Andrew Scheer with his ragtag cohort of liars and racists.

      Also, and maybe I’ll get in hot water for saying this, but I don’t think incidents like this so much harm others, as give a lot of people a good excuse for enjoyable outrage, or poorly concealed delight at a political misstep. However, as a pasty white person, I cannot speak for anyone who has legitimate reason to be upset and angry over this business.

      As usual, I liked what Toula Drimonis had to say about the whole affair.

    • JaneyB 19:21 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

      I think JT was raised in the way Quebecois normally are eg: kind of earthy, sociable, animated. His dad was shrewd in a legal way and simply charismatic. I strongly doubt there was any self-editing encouraged in his upbringing.

      I think it’s only in the last ten or fifteen years or so that Anglophones have linked dressing up as a minority to the larger problem of racism. I lived in Toronto for 10 years (before that), and was interacting with people of every group and background, hearing about the many forms of daily racism that people of colour were living with but I don’t recall any mention of blackface or its legacy (and I work in a social justice friendly field). I think this has only become known in Canada due to news story scandals of the past few years and increasing American media content. It’s explosively resonant with Americans due to the centrality of slavery in their history but my guess is that the average Canadian would not even be familiar with segregation in the US let alone minstrel show acts from the early part of the century. I’m learning now that those acts toured here too but who would know that 20 years ago or imagine that Vaudeville was segregated? I’m just not sure that every white guy in Canada in the 80s or 90s who was dressing up as the then god-like Michael Jackson was a secret supporter of the KKK. I don’t even think it was an issue of blindness of privilege; they were acting like fans. I think we need to consider the possibility that more contemporary dress-up activities might have different motivations than they had a century ago.

      As a side note, the couple of people I’ve talked to about this, coincidentally members of racialized minorities, regard the coverage of this news as mostly over-loud white anxiety that is simultaneously oblivious to the daily drip of weird comments, awkward jokeyness, police attitudes etc that they deal with all the time from the white majority.

    • Ephraim 19:31 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

      It’s interesting that this was timed to coincide with Andrew Scheer being asked why he won’t apologize for his stance on Equal marriage and LGBT rights.

    • Blork 20:33 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

      Well put Kate, and JaneyB. Personally, I doubt Trudeau is even remotely racist. Most acts of blackface are done out of ignorance, not malice, and that was particularly true 20ish years ago when the conversations around blackface were scarce. All this shows is that he was particularly dumb as a 20ish-year-old.

      And that’s a key point. If he did this now, or even recently, it would show a level of ignorance that’s beyond belief, and would — I think — disqualify him for the PMship. But anyone over 40 should ask themselves (and people should ask this of Andrew Sheer and Jasmeet Singh): “have you learned anything in the last 20 years?”

      Hell yeah! And I’m sure Justin Trudeau has too. So putting this in perspective isn’t a matter of asking how racist he is or isn’t right now, because it should be pretty clear to anyone paying attention that he isn’t. The perspective is how dumb was he then (very) and how dumb is he now (much less so).

    • Hamza 21:14 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

      We most certainly are not.

      Actual brown person here. We loved peter sellers in the party. We dont care if someone belittles us, we belittle ourselves too all the time. We do care if we someone tries to ban us or strip us of our rights. So uh nobody cares!

    • Tim S. 21:29 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

      “he’s still far preferable to Andrew Scheer”
      I think I do this every election cycle, but let me just drop in the link to the Mouseland video:
      I do this not to endorse any particular party, but just to keep reminding everyone that as long as we limit ourselves to two choices, we’ll always be disappointed. I think limited choice is a big part of why the US is so messed up.

      Oh, and as for the argument that Trudeau has learned over the past twenty years, I’ll point out that it was this March that he was making fun of the Grassy Narrows protesters. I don’t think he’s racist, although I suppose it’s not my call to make. I think he’s a jerk who has never faced serious consequences for his actions, and for the moment he acts for all of us.

    • Mark Côté 23:55 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

      I cringe when I hear people arguing about whether someone “is” or “isn’t” racist. It’s not binary. This Twitter thread is a good take: https://twitter.com/RitikaGoelTO/status/1174516789453250561?s=19

      One particular quote:

      “The problem is that this dichotomization of racist and not racist with good and bad causes huge barriers to very important conversations that must happen about how our whole society is racist, and we have all been taught and likely think and express racist feelings and ideas.”

    • qatzelok 08:44 on 2019-09-20 Permalink

      “Liberal heartthrob Justin Trudeau dressed up in blackface on at least three different occasions. MSDNC’s Andrea Mitchell, a fan of the Prime Minister of Tar Sands, delicately described Trudeau as “applying skin darkening makeup.” But are they sure he didn’t just coat himself in crude oil?”


      : )

    • Chris 10:07 on 2019-09-20 Permalink

      Good comments.

      It also seems to me that JT and the Libs have marketed _themselves_ as super-woke, and now this may backfire. Will be interesting to see what poll numbers do. Are Liberal supporters more interested in Liberal policies/platform, or more concerned with offence to group identities?

    • ant6n 11:36 on 2019-09-20 Permalink

      Trudeau is the kind of guy for whom other cultures are just a costume he puts on and it’s fun for him! Just like it’s fun for him when he puts on the costume of being a progressive.

    • dhomas 06:21 on 2019-09-22 Permalink

      Trudeau has been Prime Minister for a full term now and has not shown himself to be a racist asshole. Meanwhile, a great number of representatives of the Conservative party (and the People’s Party) ACTIVELY CAMPAIGN on racist themes. The timing of this definitely shows it is a smear campaign.

    • Tim 08:05 on 2019-09-22 Permalink

      The release of the first photo came from Time magazine. @dhomas, are you suggesting somehow that the CPC leaked it through the American media?

      As for smear campaigns, the Liberals released a couple of their own just a couple of weeks ago. I find the timing of the release of Trudeau’s photos to be highly ironic.

    • Dhomas 14:22 on 2019-09-22 Permalink

      @Tim I’m not saying the Liberals don’t do the same. But I have hard time believing they just now found these 20 year old photos. I’m sure they’ve been floating around for some time. The timing seems suspect.

  • Kate 08:08 on 2019-09-19 Permalink | Reply  

    Valérie Plante is to welcome Greta Thunberg to city hall when she comes here next week.

    Plante is also going to address the United Nations next week on the subject of climate change.

    • Kate 08:04 on 2019-09-19 Permalink | Reply  

      Since 80% of us are concerned about circulars – in practice, this means Publisac – enough to sign a petition asking for consultation, a consultation we will have, later this fall.

      Do people really not know you can go to your borough office and get a sticker for your mailbox that indicates you don’t want them? Works for me.

      • JaneyB 08:09 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

        Went to the dollar store and got a sticker. Works like a charm. For those who read the grocery flyers, try instead: http://www.supermarches.ca/ or https://www.salewhale.ca/en/

      • Chris 08:56 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

        Publisac is probably my favourite example of how little society is willing to give up for the environment. These should be opt-in not opt-out. But corporate “rights” always win over the environment. Their “right” to advertise trumps everything else. Forget about giving up cars, or oil, or anything difficult. We can’t even give up garbage attached to our doors. 🙁

      • CE 10:23 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

        In my building, I have no way to opt out as I have nowhere to put a sticker. The mailboxes are in the foyer which is locked and the Publisacs are just left in a bundle of 6 in front of our door. Usually most of them just sit there until someone throws the whole bundle in the recycling.

      • SMD 11:41 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

        The stickers don’t work for me, we still get them and put them directly in the recycling. What a massive waste of paper, plastic, time and money. I don’t know why we would ask people to opt out – especially if 80% of us don’t want them – instead of asking the 20% who want them to opt in.

      • Kate 11:50 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

        I guess I’m lucky to have an individual mailbox and an obedient delivery person.

        I’m out of this loop since I haven’t accepted the Publisac for years. Doesn’t it also include the local weekly, or has that been gone for a long time already? (This is particularly directed to SMD because we both live in the same borough.)

      • SMD 11:56 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

        Our local weekly hasn’t been included in years. 🙁

      • Blork 12:16 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

        I get two or three different local weeklies in my Publisac, which sort of boggles my mind.

      • SMD 12:34 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

        Yes, if they are published by Transcontinental (which also owns Publisac) then you’ll likely get them. Another reason why they don’t want to go opt-in, as it artificially boosts their readership numbers and thus how much they can charge for ads in the free weeklies.

      • Ephraim 14:07 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

        I use Reebee, which is great, because you can search for a product and then have Maxi price match.

      • Kevin 15:14 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

        As I was reminded my child’s meet the teacher meeting on Monday — lots of people do not have internet at home, or don’t have enough data to use it skimming GB-gobbling stuff like images of flyers.

        Having never received a Publisac in the lifetime of that child, I don’t care one way or the other what happens to that thing.

      • Faiz Imam 16:37 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

        I guess I’m the odd one out, but I really appreciate Publi-sac.

        As long as I can remember, my mom would take all the flyers from the publi=sac, select all the grocery stores and pharmacies, and make a shopping list of what we wanted to buy from which store. It was excellent frugal shopping.

        I don’t do it as often, but I try to do the same, and I appreciate all the flyers showing up weekly so that i can scan through them quickly at once.

      • SMD 21:29 on 2019-09-20 Permalink

        Yes, and you should be able to put a sticker on your mailbox to make sure that you get every single one. The consultation won’t be pro- or anti- Publisac, but rather about its delivery method.

    • Kate 07:55 on 2019-09-19 Permalink | Reply  

      Four households are still without a permanent dwelling since Moving Day and the Office municipal d’habitation is asking the government for more money to operate.

      • Kate 07:52 on 2019-09-19 Permalink | Reply  

        Since the Open Door shelter moved from nearby, 14 people have died in Cabot Square. Item goes on to say that the condo project that bought the church and dislodged the shelter has gone bust, but Westmount is now apparently unwilling to consider a revival of a homeless shelter in that spot.

        • Daniel 09:30 on 2019-09-19 Permalink

          That was a very good and very sad read.

        • Michael Black 19:21 on 2019-10-11 Permalink

          There’s a story at the Gazette today about problems at The Open Door. Staff quitting, a hint of money problems, and David Chapman being fired for “insubordination to the board of directors”. Months back one story refered to him as “the former director” but included no explanatiin, or anywhere else. I know I looked at the time of the story. The latest story says he’s not been replaced and back when I looked, he was still listed at the website.

          He seemed to be a major force there, so if he’s gone, it may explain the current troubles.


      • Kate 07:47 on 2019-09-19 Permalink | Reply  

        A man was shot and badly injured overnight in the east end after two suspects entered his house. Further details are not forthcoming.

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