Category Archives: Solidarity

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

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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 🙂

Bodies in translation

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Warning – this is a brief missive perhaps full of contradictions that is not about the perambulatics of air travel but about corporeal recognition/misrecognition and translation. And the fact that the body is/may be the seat of all knowledge.

I am one of those lucky (or perhaps if you knew the real circumstances of this endeavour perhaps you would deem me unlucky) people who one week ago was able to be in three countries in one week. I left Toronto on Thursday, was in Rome on Friday night and was in Nairobi the next Wednesday morning. In all of these places my body sought to tune in to the corporeal norms, sought to lunge into the masses and move within the uniformity that was corporealy and consistently being established in each location.  My ventures in these performances were not always free of folly and failure, and I wonder if that has to do more with me as an individual or what the body and perhaps what a black womyns body means in all of these locations. I guess to elaborate more on this and finally get to my point I have to make you privy to these performances….. dang… just don’t tell my mother  and especially not her church going friends..

You see having being regimented into a somewhat Ottawa body uniformity (rather as much as my African (?) womyn body would allow) lets just say my ‘swagger’ was bit diminished.  Ok I wont blame everything on Ottawa as I usually do ( nevertheless I implore you to remember I am NOT from OTTAWA),  it was the multiple coincidences of  school, immigrant life, lots of jobs and other diagnosed frustrations… that also worked to hinder this swagger,… And so for the most part the southern/ ‘tropical’/ rhythms in my hips sounded more like a beginners first violin lesson, choppy, staccato, un-unifom,  rigid, uneasy(?)….

So check it, I am in Toronto and for the first time since my escape from Ottawa, I am seeing lots of people of colour and so my body that in Ottawa that had manifested those violin lessons, was now manifesting itself a little less staccato…a little less opera, a lot more jazz…

Amsterdam airport…. dang… only the airport and I feel like I just joined the ceremonial guard. My body feels rigid as the school chair I sat on…. is this lack of sleep or has the atmosphere given me an early onset of osteoporosis?

Italy… I get of the bus in this seaside town having forgotten crazy Rome airport, and I’m feeling lighter, more mellow mood, less ceremonial guard… more southernity.. I’m getting comfortable until… I see a black woman standing in the night, tight clothes, bleached face, cold in this night, with a countenance sad… so far from home, waiting waiting waiting for whatever will be her salvation this evening…. As I ask my friend if I saw right (he confirms indeed that I did see right).. I can feel my body going from polka dancing group back to that violin…

Interestingly the next evening having followed one of my hosts to partake in the nightlife that this little town had to offer, the course of the evening saw three men try to use their mack to give me some local nightlife and then some. My body is now back to that staccato that was increasingly made defiant by the sight of my sister on the street the night before and I resolve not to in any corporeal way respond to those advances ( if any of ya’ll sisters are from Ottawa you will know that that was pretty hard considering the absence of any kind of this love in Ottawa) because I have yet to discern what a black womyns body means in this location… and I was not going to give in to any man’s black womyn raunchy fantasy.

However  three very strong beers later – beers that somehow have channeled my ancestors back to my body – I have danced the shuffle multiple times in a very small bar on this one street and I am now making my way to the rave space for the ‘ after party.’  My body now thinks that it is a Bahian/Brazilian street party (albeit in the hills of Abruzzo) and so I dance and dance and dance… and kiss and kiss and kiss (the recipient of these kisses did not have as bad mack as the previous three men and also found me when I was manifesting my ancestors and so you really cant blame a sista…) and in a strange way find my body back again…

The next morning, the rigidity has found its way back to my body, the violin still playing in every corner … (although not as loudly and staccato as it is in Ottawa)… and I never hear from my kissing friend again.

Consequently, I begin to think that perhaps I should have been more resilient and protective of this black womyns body (even though my dancing was pretty pg 13, and the pg 13 of the 1980’s and not of the present… and also all I did was just kiss, pretty relaxed for someone whose ‘morals’ are on holiday…) until I could discern what these types of bodies mean in this location…. But… you know at the same time, I really quite enjoyed being in a Bahian street party all by myself in Abruzzo, so should I really care to think about what images I was giving out ?

In reality, as I sit here a week later I still have not reconciled myself to what I should have felt during all of these travels, and especially in Italy. My body now has for the most part attuned itself to this East African vibe, and I have even become re accustomed to seeing people walk with their whole bodies and people dancing with their pelvis’s (life is good yes!). Nevertheless, I also wonder if I am being too naïve in thinking that this abundance of body signals a pervasive self body ownership and comfortability all of the time.

What I take though from this one week of corporeal investigation is that the body, this place of much knowledge, is consistently being recoginsed and misrecognised, read and misread, constantly being translated in idioms that may not be so kind. However, at the same time I see that my own translations of my own body/bodies are perhaps not always valid and rather as a result of my own defiance, experiences… perhaps also of my own fatigue, work, stress and holiday morals…

So the question remains (finally I arrive at my point) should we be having our own street party in our bodies always (even if I truly believe Amsterdam airport gave me osteoporosis)? Or should we work to discern what our bodies mean in every location and then choose whether of not to be ourselves? Should I in a bid to feel my own body forget about the image of my sister in the street, forget about the translation of coloured bodies as well as female bodies in many locations? Or should I always aim to be responsible for the remedying of racialized stereotypes and thus refrain from any corporeal expression that may affirm stereotypes?

I am still torn, for the solution that I am more drawn to, the one that sees me defiantly tackling these translations of the body … may not always allow me to live and make my own translations of my body.

On our backs

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Often acknowledgements of privilege become rhetorical exercises rather than true engagements with individual locations within systems of oppression: we pay lip service to the fact that we have some kind of advantage, but we do not stop to consider how that advantage  serves a system of oppression and plays out so that others are invisibly subjugated beneath us. A reminder of how this works came from, of all places, the Globe and Mail, in an article by Naomi Wolf.

Wolf describes the liberating effects of cheap, mass-produced fashion for Western women. We can readily enjoy the pleasures of shopping and with little money purchase new items and expand our wardrobes. Considering the closets of my friends, not to mention my own bulging-beyond-capacity closet, this is certainly true. Neither my friends nor I would classify ourselves as anything beyond middle class — and in fact we often claim the status of starving students — and yet we manage to find the money to regularly buy new dresses, shirts, stockings, purses, necklaces, earrings, as the mood strikes us, encouraged in this affordable materialism by television shows and movies that work hard to convince us that a pair of heels is what we need to feel good about our lives.

In her article, Wolf succinctly strips shopping of its glossy veneer:

But what has been liberating for Western women is a system built literally on the backs of women in the developing world.

And she forcefully reminds us that the inexpensive clothing we love to pick up is the result of the exploitation of women, whose material reality far differs from our own. How is such clothing produced?

By starving and oppressing Bangladeshi, Chinese, Mexican, Haitian, and other women, that’s how. We all know that cheap clothing is usually made in sweatshop conditions – and usually by women. And we know – or should know – that women in sweatshops around the world report being locked in and forbidden to use bathrooms for long periods, as well as sexual harassment, violent union-busting, and other forms of coercion.

Wolf is right. My friends and I know that consumer goods are mainly the result of a capitalist system dependent upon not only a division of labour according to class but deeply racialized and gendered work forces. Some kind of cognitive dissonance seems to be at work when we shop, for our complicity in benefitting from and perpetuating this sytem eludes us in the moment of finding a pretty bargain.

Faced with issues such as this, we have to ask ourselves what kind of feminism we practise. We have faced marginalization and worse within a white women’s feminist movement that has made little space for us and overlooked us in its conviction that white women’s experiences and concerns are universal. And we haven’t been okay with that. We need to scrutinize our own feminism and ask ourselves, “Who’s included in it? Who do we stand in solidarity with? And can we justify a feminism that excludes our sisters in the Global South?”