Author Archives: maroonisle

The Immediate Need For Emotional Justice

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From the amazing folks at Crunk Feminist Collective

Original post:

This post echoed so many of my frustrations regarding community organizing and paying attention to our bodies and spirits. This is definitely a must read!

The Immediate Need For Emotional Justice
Guest Post by Yolo Akili

Oppression is trauma. Every form of inequity has a traumatic impact on the psychology, emotionality and spirituality of the oppressed. The impact of oppressive trauma creates cultural and individual wounding. This wounding produces what many have called a “pain body”, a psychic energy that is not tangible but can be sensed, that becomes an impediment to the individual and collective’s ability to transform and negotiate their conditions.

Emotional justice is about working with this wounding. It is about inviting us into our feelings and our bodies, and finding ways to transform our collective and individual pains into power. Emotional justice requires that we find the feeling behind the theories. It calls on us to not just speak to why something is problematic, but to speak to the emotional texture of how it impact us; how it hurts, or how it brings us joy or nourishment. Emotional Justice is very difficult for many activists, because historically most activist spaces have privileged the intellect and logic over feeling and intuition. This is directly connected to sexism and misogyny, because feeling and intuition are culturally and psychologically linked to the construct of “woman”, a construct that we have all been taught to invalidate and silence. So by extension we invalidate and silence the parts that we link to “woman” in ourselves: our feelings, our intuition, and our irrationality.

This disdain leads to many things: a dismissal or minimization of our own and other’s feelings, a fear of revealing oneself as “emotional” (instead of as sternly logical) and a culture of “just suck up your feelings” or shrug them off. All of these responses to our emotions have consequences that contribute to a range of emotional and spiritual stressors which impact our lives. In this article I am going to focus exclusively on the reasons I believe activist communities struggle with emotional justice and why the integration of our emotional selves into our activist work can’t wait.

Reasons I believe activist communities struggle with emotional justice

1. Activist Organizations Are Often Over-capacity
Many grass roots organizations and non-profits operate with a small staff that is expected to complete herculean tasks. This expectation leads to fatigue, stress and emotional imbalance. Asking to add emotional justice discourse(s) to the workplace/organizing is seen as a waste of time when organizations are trying to survive and fulfill grant/monetary obligations with limited resources. Yet it is an emotional discourse that could offer many movements opportunities for self-evaluation, especially as it relates to perpetuating models of capitalist productivity that they are often seeking to end. Regular guided dialogues and retreats must become a priority and should be led by outside consult. They can help build connections, clarify the mission(s) and re-invigorate the collective.

2. Emotional Justice Has No Succinct Time Line
There simply is no timeline that can be put on someone else’s healing. Within an emotional justice framework, someone is able to bring up their pain as they feel the need. Our patriarchal emotional discourses will push back against this, however, and will instead encourage us to deny, dismiss, and move on as quickly as possible from difficult emotions. Engaging emotional justice requires us to check this attitude within ourselves and develop ongoing strategies that allow us to express our concerns and feelings.

3. Emotions are Used as a Tool for those with Privilege to Avoid, Minimize or Escape Accountability
In an experience working with a group of queers on a racism project, a white identified cis gendered woman in the group would constantly break into tears whenever someone challenged her on the choices she was making that perpetuated racist themes. Her crying, which happened in several sessions, led to the entire group, especially the women of color, to comfort and assure her that she wasn’t a “bad person.”
Yet in the midst of attending to her emotional expressions, she continued to evade accountability and perpetuated the same dynamics. When she was challenged on her use of crying, she was able to come to an understanding that as a child crying had been a tactic she had used within her family to avoid being held responsible. This awareness led to her participate in the space in a much more accountable manner.
Stories like these happen all the time. Unfortunately in most spaces there are not always individuals with the skills to compassionately address these kind of emotional dynamics. This lack of skill prevents many from engaging emotional justice for fear they will get lost in these issues. This another reason seeking the support of healing justice/emotional justice educators is necessary.

4. Very Little Knowledge of the Emotional Body or Emotional Language
What is a feeling? What are the lessons they offer us? How can they invite us into ourselves? These are the questions that emotional justice guides us toward. Emotional justice can help many begin to work with their feelings in constructive ways that can help the movement as a whole.
An example: If someone asks many activists, what do you feel? The response may be something like,
“I feel like we just need to hurry up and make this thing happen because they keep on trying. yaddda yadda.”
But that was not a feeling. That was a thought. A feeling is one word. The feeling for this statement could be: “I am anxious, or I am frustrated”. Aiming directly for the feeling, as opposed to the thought around it, can help save time and address deeper issues. If feelings are continually confused as thoughts, then the intellectual debate process kicks in, and before you know it, we are battling for philosophical dominance instead of saying that we are hurt.

5. Lack of Self-Awareness into how our own unique Psychological Frameworks, Trauma and Social locations inform our Interpretation of Reality
Journeying into our own narratives and seeing how they inform our current understandings of others around us can be invaluable in times of challenge. There are many tools for this; one in which I find very effective is Psychological Astrology; as it invites us to explore, whether we believe in Astrology or not, what our motivations are, what we need to feel emotionally satisfied, the root of our personality conflicts with others, and how we express our aggression. This exploration can help us recognize an area of difference that is predicated on the ways in which we psychologically experience the world around us, a recognition that can help us understand and hear each other better in conflict situations.

6. Ideological Violence
“We were often poised and ready for attack, and not always in the most effective places. When we disagreed with one another, we were far more vicious to each other than the common originators of our problem. ” -Audre Lorde

It is apparent from Audre Lorde’s words that ideological violence was a big problem for her generation. Many years later it continues to be, as unproductive ego wars rage amidst our movement spaces.
These ego wars (or as many of my friends say, “intellectual dick fights”) are for many apart of the academic environmental training that encourages us to battle for philosophical dominance. While debate in itself is healthy and can be empowering, the challenge here is that this “training” is colored with patriarchy and a “power over others” construct. Tactics such as Interrupting, yelling, belittling each other, and personal attacks, are dynamics of patriarchal communication and must be seen as the acts of emotional violence that they are.* As this is acknowledged, steps must be taken to train and understand assertive communication and the myriad of cultural communication styles that allow us to express our hurt, rage and frustration in ways that minimize harm.

Emotional Justice is not anything new to our movements. It is already being enacted in many spaces and in organizations all across the country. My hope in writing this is that this work is expanded, illuminated and raised to a level of importance on par with our intellectual critiques. It is my hope that we realize that just as we must construct new systems and institutions, we must also develop new ways of relating with each other and to our emotional selves. These models of relating will call on us to develope skills and to work with our feelings, our trauma and our pain. It calls on us to recognize that emotional justice is an immediate need, not only for our movements, but for the world at large.

Yolo Akili is an Emotions Educator, Performance Artist, Practicing Astrologer, Yoga Teacher and long time activist. He can be reached at Yolo@yoloakili.com

Saddi Khali in Ottawa Neo-Negritude Expressions: Reclaiming Our Sexualities

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InSol: Womyn of Colour Collective, Agitate: Queer People of Colour, 3 Dreads and a Baldhead and Black Caucus presents…

Neo-Negritude poster-3

Neo-Negritude Expressions: Reclaiming Our Sexualities

Renowned artist Saddi Khali in Ottawa!!!!

“Let’s see ourselves beautiful again” Saddi Khali

The ultimate mix-master, Saddi Khali is a nationally respected New Orleans-born poet, performance artist, and photographer. He has worked for the last 20 years to blend the most effective mix of art and activism. Khali’s emergence on the field of photography has been groundbreaking. His images have been featured in ESSENCE Magazine and on the cover of the Random House book, Triksta and the instruction book, The Naked and The Lens.

Events Breakdown:

Friday 18th Nov
After Hours Party with Saddi Khali!!
Venue: The Legion
359 Kent Street (Kent and Gilmour)
Doors open at 9:00pm
dj yalla!yalla! and DJ Prufrock
Erotica readings, Bar and Refreshments available
Sliding scale $5-$10 at door

Saturday 19th Nov
Day- Reclaiming Our Sexualities workshop
Venue: Bruce House
251 Bank Street
Time: 1pm – 4pm
Donations at the door

Ottawa premiere of ‘Red Lips’ by Kyisha Williams.

Kyisha Williams is a vibrant, radical, black, queer, high femme, sex positive, activist, survivor, fighter and writer. She is a community organizer and support worker within black/queer/trans/racialized/criminalized /HIV+/HCV+ communities. She directed “Red Lips” [cages for black girls] her debut short film which explores black/racialized/criminalized/queer/trans identity and its relationship with the prison-industrial complex. It attempts to articulate links between interpersonal and systemic violence, while celebrating the ways in which we survive and celebrate ourselves.
Venue: Venus Envy
320 Lisgar
Time: 7pm
Donations at the door

Sunday 20th Nov
Black Sexualities Workshop with screening of documentary ‘Still Black’
Please note that our events are taking place during the Trans Day of Remembrance and the organizers of TDOR will be hosting a few events as well.

Directed by Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Still Black is a feature-length documentary that explores the lives of six black transgender men living in the United States. Through the intimate stories of their lives as artists, students, husbands, fathers, lawyers, and teachers, the film offers viewers a complex and multi-faceted image of race, sexuality and trans identity.

Here is the Official Website: Still Black

Venue: Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)
233 Gilmour Street
Time: 1pm to 4pm
Donations at the door

From Friday 18th folks will be able to book and do private or group photoshoots with Saddi.

Check out his amazing work here: http://www.saddikhaliphoto.com/

*Bus tickets and childcare (advanced notice required) can be made available*

Print the pamphlet: Neo-Negritude pamphlet

THANK YOUUUU to our sponsors:
Womyn’s Centre (Carleton University)
Venus Envy
Pride Centre (University of Ottawa)
Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC)
Sexualities Department (Carleton University)
OPIRG-GRIPO, University of Ottawa
OPIRG Carleton University

I don’t get St. Patty’s Day :S

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So yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day and many of my friends from various social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds were excitedly discussing the multiple ways to which we could celebrate St. Patty’s Day a.k.a get drunk. And I have never been one to refuse alcoholic splurges but I don’t get how and/or why drinking is automatically associated with the supposed celebration of a Catholic Saint. So I didn’t engage in the celebrations and continued asking myself….what’s the point of St. Patty’s Day until I came across this well written blog post that helped to shed some light on my state of confusion.

Thank you to the folks at RacismReview. Original post at

Workshop on Positive & Healthy Sexuality for Young Women

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In An Era Of Sexting

workshop on healthy sexuality

March 12th 2011

Graduate Students’ Association Lounge, 6th floor Unicentre, Carleton University
10am – 6pm (includes mocktail hour)
In An Era Of Sexting Poster

The goal of this project is to engage with and help empower young immigrant and racialized women to discuss sexuality in a feminist, sex-positive, queer-positive and non-judgemental way.

Sex negativity disallows young people from being able to critically engage in discussions around their bodies, emotions and ideas around sex and sexuality.

Discussions around sexual consent, sex positivity and safe sex need to occur and need to be led by young women. Without their full participation, the story loses its relevancy and only assists in misdirection and the misconceptions around sex and sexuality.

This project intends to provide a safer space for young racialized and immigrant women to deeply engage in discussions around sex and sexuality- their fears, their excitements and their experiences and to develop appropriate and effective ways of addressing these issues from a young woman centered perspective.

Only 25 spots available!

For women aged 16-25

Bus tickets and childcare provided

To register, email Kimalee at wocinsol@gmail.com by March 8th 2011.

Brought to you by
Insol: Womyn of Colour Collective &
Carleton Association of Women and the Law

Funding generously provided for by:
Girls Action Foundation

The International Women’s Alliance

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International Women’s Alliance (IWA) Statement on March 8 Centennial of International Women’s Day

Uphold the Militant Tradition of March 8 International Women’s Day!
Advance the Struggles of Women Against Imperialist Attacks On Our Rights and Freedom!

The International Women’s Alliance (IWA) joins the world in celebrating the centennial year of the International Women’s Day and in remembering and honoring the legacy of women’s militant struggles for full emancipation. Women the world over must continue this proud tradition of fighting for women’s liberation, and contribute in moving forward the people’s struggles for national and social liberation, sovereignty and self-determination.

The spirit of unity and solidarity demonstrated by the women of Egypt and Tunisia in rising up against corrupt, repressive and reactionary governments subservient to the interests of the United States and other imperialist powers resonates around the globe. These women, marrginalized in their male-dominated societies, marched to the streets in the thousands, led crowds in the protest actions and actively called on the people to join the actions to put an end to the decades-long rule of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and their ruling cliques.

This new level of participation meant for women not only a chance to see the end of these hated regimes, but also an opportunity to challenge the old system based on patriarchy and other reactionary values that bind women to abuse, exploitation and violence. For their courage, we congratulate and salute these women who have joined their Palestinian sisters in keeping the fires of resistance burning in that part of the globe and beyond.

We likewise congratulate and salute the women and men all over the world fighting off the deterioration of social welfare and justice by protesting against the reduction of government spending on social services to bail out banks, financial institutions and multinational companies and to reconcentrate wealth in the hands of the few. In Asia and the Oceania, Europe, Latin America and North America, people are taking to the streets against budget cuts in education, health, housing and other social services.

The conditions that drove the women in Egypt, Tunisia and other countries to rise up are the same conditions the majority of women around the world are suffering from as the result of the worst economic and financial crisis of the capitalist system since the 1930s. More than half of the hungry and poverty-stricken people are women. Women workers are laid off as companies shut down or cut costs and are the first to be subjected to insecure and harsh working conditions as companies take advantage of the cheapest flexible labor available. Peasant and indigenous women face landlessness, displacement and militarization as capitalists target the mineral and natural resources in their ancestral lands for capitalist expansion causing unmitigated destruction of the environment and the ecosystems.

Millions of women are forced to migrate to other countries in search of livelihood, making them vulnerable to slavery, trafficking and other forms of harassment and abuse, as well as discrimination, racism and xenophobia. Their governments push them to migrate to stave off high unemployment, earn revenues through their remittances and pay off local and foreign debt.

As we celebrate the 100th year of the International Women’s Day this March 8, we call on the women of the world to unite and organize ourselves to oppose the extreme conditions of exploitation and oppression amidst the world capitalist crisis.

Let us draw inspiration from our forebears who fought and won victories for our basic rights and fight the forces and institutions that threaten to reverse these victories. Let us resist reactionary currents of neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism, fundamentalism, patriarchy, racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia.

Let us strengthen our local and grassroots campaigns against exploitative and repressive political, economic and social systems. Let us resist US-backed authoritarian regimes which plunder the public coffers and burden the people with ineffective governments. We must not be deceived by the desperate attempts of the local ruling classes in cahoots with imperialist powers to appease the oppressed people through shallow and deceptive “reforms”, which will only prolong their sufferings from the impact of bankrupt globalization policies. We must resist their efforts to preempt the inevitable social transformation that the people have been aspiring for.

Let us strengthen the global militant women’s movement against our common enemy – imperialism and its aggression, war, occupation and intervention.

The International Women’s Alliance (IWA) calls on all its members and the women of the world to issue statements, organize and mobilize rallies, marches and other forms of protest actions on March 8 to assert our basic rights and freedoms and to advance the people’s struggles for national and social liberation. Let us show that women will never be silenced.

Long live the women of the world!
Resist imperialist plunder and war!
Advance the struggle for women’s liberation on to the 21st century!
Persevere in the fight for justice, equality, democracy, freedom and peace!
Move forward the people’s struggle for social and national liberation, sovereignty and self-determination!

The International Women’s Alliance (IWA) is an anti-imperialist global alliance of grassroots-based women’s organizations, institutions, alliances, networks and individuals committed to advancing national and social liberation and gender equality.

Join IWA! Email us at internationalwomensalliance@gmail.com

back from a longggg hiatus

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So i’ve been on a pretty long hiatus for many reasons.

One of those reasons being the fact that we students at Carleton were extremely busy fighting a pretty petty administration at Carleton University who thought it best to withhold the student unions fees from both the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) (In addition to brinkmanship neotiating with the labour unions). Yep…..not the smartest move and downright, amounting to another form of bullying tactics that this current administration has added to its normalized ways of dealing with campus ‘stakeholders’.

Luckily, the students’ unions stood their ground, fought back and won! Though it’s hundreds of legal dollars later, the victory of the students’ unions reinforces their autonomy and the ability of their members to determine the existence and direction of the unions. Congrats and much big ups to CUSA and the GSA!

Now onto other rumblings. I’ve been trying to keep up to date with the recent attacks by the Conservative government onto Native Womens Association of Canada (NWAC). What an absolute disgrace that the government is threatening long-standing funding to NWAC on the grounds that they cannot pursue research on missing and murdered Aboriginal women and that they cannot use the name ‘Sisters In Spirit.’ Huhhhh…the very foundation of what they do!

This is the substance of the recent Question and Answer Period on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women in Parliament (Dec. 7th 2010)

QUESTION PERIOD – Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hon. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government’s failure to call a public inquiry into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women is a national disgrace.
Over 600 First nations, Inuit and Métis women have gone missing or murdered. That is 600. These women were mothers, aunties, daughters and sisters.
Will the Prime Minister today, on the 40th anniversary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, right this wrong and call a public inquiry?

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as you know, we have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable women in our society and we are doing just that by implementing a new program to address the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women.
We have now created a new RCMP centre for missing persons. We have improved our law enforcement databases to deal with investigating missing and murdered women. We have also created a national website for public tips to help locate missing women.
In fact the Native Women’s Association has said that this is a significant investment and Sue O’Sullivan, the Federal Ombudsman for Victims Services says that what we need is more initiatives just like this.

Hon. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the facts are simple. This is a national crisis. There have been 600 missing and murdered aboriginal women and still no inquiry.
This is the real tough on crime issue. If the government wants to be tough on crime, then call an inquiry. If it wants to prevent violence against women, then call an inquiry.
How many more aboriginal women need to become victims before the Conservative government treats this issue like the crisis it is?

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I think we know that we have taken very concrete action to support the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women, but one of the things that is most important for all of us in this chamber to do and in the country to do, is support women’s fundamental basic human rights.
Right now before the House we have the opportunity to support matrimonial and property rights which will historically change the inequality between aboriginal women and non-aboriginal women.
I ask the member why she does not support it.

I will continue to monitor this situation and provide feedback later…I’m kind of on the job 🙂