Archive for May, 2009
Would You Like Muktuk With That?
I guess the debate regarding the Governor General’s recent plunge into Inuit culture via a seal’s heart has boiled down to an either/or scenario:
1. Bloodthirsty maniac
2. Culture vulture
That it has pretty much reveals how we (whitey) feel and what we know about the Inuit diet, but has anybody considered the possibility that the Governor General was simply bored and thought, “maybe if I plunge my hands into this seal and rip off a piece of its heart and eat it in front of everybody, it will relieve the unrelenting mind-numbing boredom of being this country’s GG for five blessed minutes”.
Diversity Training Day, The More Things Change…
I went to a mandatory diversity training workshop the other day. I really enjoyed it, but I’m a female in administration so I don’t get to do these sorts of things very often. The male managers in attendance, not so much.
Because, ironically, and even though the trainer had plenty of statistics on hand to prove that things are very different in the workplace today than they were even in the 70s and 80s (and they are), this classroom of G-persons happened to break down into two categories: male managers and female administration assistants.
Now, I have no hesitation is saying that I was the most enthusiastic participant in the workshop. The material covered concerned the Canadian Human Rights Act and, although I’ve read plenty about Section 13 of that Act on the Internet (it covers hate speech), I really didn’t know much about the rest of it – and it’s the kind of stuff I love learning about. So, there I was keener-at-large, loving every minute of it, when the trainer broke us up into three groups to tackle two case studies per group.
There were 8 people in each group. As it happened, evenly split between men and women, with, as I said, the men all being managers (ahem, all white, I might add) and the females all being administration assistants (mostly white, but not as white as the men, if you catch my drift, and with a couple of women of colour tossed in for good administrative measure). The instructions were to discuss the case studies as a group, then appoint a spokesperson to explain the group’s decision (whether the complainant in the study had a case to make under the Act – or not) to the rest of the class before it joined in with its opinions on the case study.
Well, I’m not shy anymore at these sorts of things and I spoke up – quite intelligently, I thought – and eventually our group reached somewhat of a consensus on each case. Then, when the trainer came around to ask if we had appointed a spokesperson for our group, the four managers sort of shrugged and looked at each other and eventually settled on one of themselves. The four female administration assistants, myself included, accepted this with barely audible sighs, and, in my case, the sizeable chip on my shoulder weighing heavier than usual, and then we all went back to our respective places around the table.
And guess what? The spokespersons for the other two groups – and remember, this was a diversity training workshop for G-people – were also male managers. So, so. Well, well. Anyway, we broke for lunch – a whole hour as opposed to the 1/2 hour I would normally be allowed – and when we came back after lunch, we did the same routine all over again – a lecture about the Act followed by breaking into our groups and examining case studies.
This time, however, when it came time to appoint a spokesperson for our group, the male managers looked at each other and then turned as one to appoint me as the group’s spokesperson – a scenario which would seem to have played out in the other two groups as well because their spokespersons were also female administration assistants.
Now, I’m not sure what that means sociologically, but when I mentioned it to the trainer, he said it ALWAYS happens, particularly with G-people, that male managers are the initial spokespersons for all the groups. It’s just the way it is, he said. And it can switch over the second go’round, but not because women step forward to be the spokespersons, but rather because the men decide to delegate that “responsibility” to them.
It could be my chip talking, too, but I could swear the second set of case studies was harder to explain…
Playing Devil’s Advocate at the Witch Hunt
Okay. Admit it. Did you have any idea that Aboriginal kids involved in modern ceremonial dancing activities had to grow their hair long?
Now, I’ve read and seen the little bit that’s actually been made public about Haircutgate and I just have to ask, “Is everybody off their meds?” I mean, did my eyes deceive me or did I see Phil Fontaine on CBC somehow managing to tie in the story of some clued out teacher’s aide (whatever that is) cutting an Aboriginal child’s hair because she seemed to think she was solving a vision problem – with insulting an entire culture? What if the kid had just been growing his hair because he wanted to have long hair? Would her actions have been any less/more in error? I don’t see how, personally. But, uh, I’m Scottish Presbyterian – so, of course, I would say that, wouldn’t I.
Geez Louise, and what’s with the “hang ‘er high” crowd of racism spotters, anyway. It is not racist to be clued out, people, and without any indication that this woman intended to do harm, it’s pretty lynch-mob-reactionary to be calling for charges to be laid, don’t you think? Sure, fire her – assuming teacher’s aide is a paying position. Her judgement is terrible. Although, I hope if she’s fired it’s on more than the word of a seven year old kid.
The Internet: reaction feeding on reaction.
Official Disclaimer: The Indian Act is an abomination, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs is an abomination, the government’s official right hand apology to Residential School victims was completely negated by government official left hand apologist to the Reform Grassroots of the New Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, and Aboriginal people in Canada continue to suffer injustice as a direct result of the Canadian government’s failure to honour legal land claim agreements.
Addendum: And what’s with the media protecting the identity of the mom who has obtained legal representation by Julian Falconer (what? we don’t have any Aboriginal lawyers in this country?) to take this incident to the wall, meanwhile tarring the accused with the allegation of having racist intent in her actions – as if this is a pre-meditated hate crime of some sort?