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8 Responses

  1. Erica
    Erica April 19, 2010 at 10:42 am |

    Hi Jessica,

    Thank you for this excellent post. One of the most difficult experiences I’ve had in recent memory was a debate with my mother’s boyfriend, a Canadian whose mild manner hides deeply racist anti-Aboriginal tendencies. This is a man who does not comprehend or believe in white privilege — when asked, he said that native folks have just as much opportunity as he to succeed — and someone who claims every native person he has met is “lazy and irresponsible.” Do you have any pointers on trying to reason with such blatant racism? I have only a vague history of the troubles faced by Canadian Aboriginals — the missions and boarding school abuse, the (past and present) wage disparities between Native folks and other Canadians — so I have a hard time articulating to him why he’s so wrong, though he very much is.

    (I’m sorry that this comment/question is sort of tangential; it’s something that I’ve always wanted to ask you, having read some of your recent posts on Bitch.)

  2. Anna
    Anna April 19, 2010 at 10:51 am |

    Hi Jessica,

    We met briefly when you were at the Trust Women Conference in Halifax (I helped you put up the screen). The things you said at that conference have been sitting in my head, and I’ve been thinking about your words quite often.

    This post is also very powerful, and you make many strong points. I think that some of the focus on how many First Nations women have gone missing is partly based on the incredibly hard work that First Nations people have done to raise awareness on this issue, but also partly about what you mentioned, albeit briefly, at the conference – it fits into the narrative of First Nations people in violent, grief-ridden lives. I can’t remember the last “positive” news story I’ve read about First Nations people in Canada.

    I’m all for the white-dominated news media reporting on the missing and murdered First Nations women, but I wish, like you, that something more than “oh, so tragic. :(” would happen.

    I’m glad to see your voice highlighted here. I know you post regularly to Scarletteen and Racilicious, and are currently posting at Bitch. I really respect the work you’re doing, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to see you in person, and read your words.

  3. Felicity
    Felicity April 20, 2010 at 2:00 am |

    Thank you for your post. I read your work at Racialicious too and was glad to see you here.

  4. Bakka
    Bakka April 20, 2010 at 10:04 am |

    Jessica, thank you so much for this article. It is really important work that you are doing to raise awareness of these issues. I also think it is really important for feminists to recognize the debt we owe to Native thought (as Paula Gunn Allen says in “Who’s your mother?”). Many of the ideas feminists propose, like equality, intersectionality, democracy, and so on owe a debt to Native thought that is usually unrecognized.

    In reply to Anna, I agree that there is a tendency to focus on the negative, but here is at least one series of reports on positives from the Globe and Mail, which reports that Aboriginal women who receive University degrees are doing quite well. I think this is a testament to tremendous hard work, strength and perseverance of the individuals discussed in the article. The comments section is terrible, but the article points out some positive strides that Native women have been making.

  5. Mirror
    Mirror April 20, 2010 at 10:52 am |

    What am I going to do now that I know? I have no idea. I’m from the southwestern US, where most of my Indian friends and acquaintances (whom I refer to as Indian because it’s how they refer to themselves if it comes up, btw–it seems to be a very regional thing) are more or less like my white friends–which is to say, among the people I know personally, with one major exception, they haven’t been victims of violent crime as far as they’ve shared with me. If there are prostitutes of any race in my town, I am not aware of it (not saying it doesn’t happen, just that I don’t know any).

    Where I now live, the native population is tiny and basically 100% integrated into the non-native community. So again, I don’t know any local native people who have told me they’ve been victims of violence.

    I say this not to defend my own inaction, but to make the nature of the problem clear: what kind of action can I/should I be taking in response to a problem I have essentially zero personal contact with? I would love it if there were an answer to this that provided concrete guidance.

  6. Emily
    Emily April 20, 2010 at 11:08 am |

    I found the linked post about the International Conference on Engaging Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality really interesting and inspirational. It is refreshing to read a such a positive statement of goals and values relating to gender equalty. We spend so much time here in the US reacting to the religious right and fighting against their framing. Reading Jessica’s post reminded me how rich and envigorating it can be to take the time to articulate a positive statement of OUR values and OUR goals. The Youth Recommendations on Jessica’s blog are such a great example of that. I was definitely reading it thinking “this is what I want to work toward.”

  7. Roving Thundercloud
    Roving Thundercloud April 20, 2010 at 3:04 pm |

    This is for Erica–I’ve been learning a lot about these sorts of issues over at Stuff White People Do (http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/) which purpose is “to delineate and understand how de facto white supremacy works, especially as manifested in the common feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of white people.” I don’t have any ready answers for you, but I’m getting a lot better at identifying and challenging various privileges that I was oblivious to before.

  8. Erica
    Erica April 21, 2010 at 9:46 am |

    @ Roving Thundercloud

    Thank you! I’m reading SWPD right now and it looks like it will be an extremely helpful resource for anti-racist strategies & ways to identify white privilege.

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