A suicide pact was uncovered in Vancouver in September involving upwards of thirty young people (between the ages of 12-15). It is reported that about 24 of them had to be hospitalized for their protection. Most of these young ones are Aboriginal, and while that is significant, it is also not the most important aspect of this issue.
Thirty 12-15 year olds in Vancouver have reached a point in their lives that they see no other choice but to consider ending those lives.
The media coverage I have been able to find on this has been scant. Not surprising, I guess. It's not glamorous or exciting: no one has actually died. No one has reached out and captured our imagination. No one but Aboriginal advocates have called for action (at least in the minuscule media this has attracted). I don't think I will get into a commentary about the media attention versus race/ethnicity of the young people today, but the fact that it is a pact of thirty that see no future for themselves is terrifying.
I have been touched by suicide. Too often. I know too many people who have been touched by suicide. It kills not just the victim, it kills everyone around them. It kills a part of the soul of everyone left behind. It kills a part of the survival of the Nation. It's not just thirty young people, it's thirty families, their friends, their friends' families, teachers, and all the people related to all of them, their Nations. It's the random person who talked to the kid who seemed sad and wondered afterwards if he said the right thing or the wrong thing.
I understand how clues can be missed. I understand being miserable a lot of the time but saying things are fine when asked. I understand what it's like to feel the choices are dwindling. I understand that loneliness. I don't understand how a group, together, could decide, together, that they are out of choices, but that only means I have more I need to learn. What must be going on that a twelve year old can't still look at the world with wonder?
It is not time, Canada, British Columbia, Vancouver, and countless Aboriginal organizations to be fighting over who is responsible for helping these youth. It is not time to fight over who is to blame for this situation. The scant media attention I have seen says these youth are still seriously at risk, as are countless, countless others. Stop blaming each other, make a plan and do something. Please.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
The latest in the ongoing "dialogue" between those that defend racism and stereotyping by calling those that call it out as overly sensitive or a PC bully( politically correct). It is not PC bullying to be challenging racism or other stereotyping. Crying foul and invoking free speech when challenged, in defending your racist comments or imagery is not a nice way to play. I am not opposed to the principle of free speech, but you need to understanding the impact of what you are saying.
These are not small matters but symptoms of the larger ones we don't address properly. In the last month, the No Doubt "Looking Hot" video, another by Lana Del Ray, Rikki Lake, Victoria's Secret lingerie show and several other clothing lines have launched campaigns that sexualize and/or infantilize Aboriginal women, forgetting the annual Hallowe'en extravaganza of sexy NDN hotties. These contribute to the larger challenges of the murdered & missing women, and the continued marginalization of and risks incurred by Aboriginal women. So, challenging and disrupting these kinds of things are necessary to disrupt the larger, more dangerous issues.
The challenge is that they are misusing the cultural tropes to create a romanticized image in much the same way they have done for centuries that promote that it is okay to view women this way, or to view Native men as drunks for example. To fight those larger misperceptions, we need to address these ones to show that it is not okay. I don't have an issue about appropriation per se, except when it is done at an expense to those that are appropriated from. You can link this type of video to the stereotyping that allows Ezra Levant and his ilk to make barely disguised hate speech about Natives and other minorities and blame the victims for their circumstances (a recent Winnipeg Sun article argued against an inquiry into the Missing & murdered women tragedy because it was their fault and the faults of their Bands. It's on my blog somewhere).
The author of the above article invoked "Pokahotass" and Native American pornstar Hyapathia Lee when describing Gwen's costume. He seemed to indicate that Native women should feel honoured (my inference). Dear teachers, I know Aboriginal women who have been assaulted. I can assure you they were not feeling honoured that it was happening. Please explore this aspect of colonialism. Please assess critically. Please challenge. Please disrupt.