Race/Ethnicity Just Isn’t Simple

A post by Jamie

Race is a social construct. It sounds like a pretty easy idea to wrap your head around, once you understand the meaning of what you’re saying. It’s the idea that the very concept of race itself isn’t genetically determined and isn’t quite as linear a relationship as simply contingent upon the colour of one’s skin (although this no doubt plays a significant role in racism and related constructs). Race as a social construct is a sort of discourse we pick up on, both consciously and unconsciously, throughout the course of our lives. Sometimes it’s literally hurled at us, and sometimes it’s very quietly and gradually written into (or out of) our day-to-day experiences. Race isn’t a Thing you can point at, reach out and take a sample of, and examine under a stereoscope. In my life, currently nothing is making this more clear than the public sphere of cyber activism in the Idle No More movement. The battlefields here are social media services like Twitter and YouTube, the comments section on online news articles, and blog posts. The battles being waged include re-education, de-bunking myths and stereotypes (watch for the Twitter hashtag #Ottawapiskat for a brilliant demonstration of de-bunking by inversion), and working towards inspiring others to start the work of decolonization from within. It can be and often is equally as exhausting as standing in the rain for four hours in the flesh, and it is an equally important tool in the greater repertoire of established tactics to counter racism, colonialism, and white supremacy.

And that’s right about where any demarcations you may have previously believed exist very rapidly become ambiguous and murky. Race/ethnicity and (anti-)racism is complicated as all fuck.

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BDSM, Erotica, & Pseudo-Snuff: Astounding Observations of Groupthink

A post by Jamie

In July of this year, a former friend of mine who is an RCMP officer was exposed on national news as a practitioner of BDSM who had starred in his very own erotica. Unfortunately, he was also erroneously identified as the male component of a series of photos I can only reasonably describe as pseudo-snuff, which bear a chilling resemblance to the last moments on Earth faced by 49 women at the hands of serial murderer Robert Pickton — this was stated as an objective observation by journalists from two separate national media outlets, which both accused the RCMP officer of having some unspecified part in the serial murder spree (which was extended for nearly three years due to apathy and incompetence on the part of investigators in two separate jurisdictions, including his, because a marked majority of the victims were Aboriginal females engaging in sex work and illicit drug use). One of the journalists actually seems to have fabricated an even more sensational description of the photos as well. Turns out they were all duped by a single man whose hobbies include cyber-stalking, compulsive lying, and creative fiction writing in the form of letters to the media, RCMP, blog writers, and the lawyer who represented many of the grieving families of the serial murderer’s victims.

When the story first appeared in national news, I wrote a blog entry about what it was actually like to be this RCMP officer’s friend (spoiler: it’ll give any rational person at least one case of goosebumps). I criticized the photographer and models in the pseudo-snuff photos that were aired on national news, for attempting to eroticize violence against women. I also criticized the rest of the community for pretending this was not exactly what was intended when the male model took a fistful of the female model’s hair, bringing her to her knees in front of him, and held a large knife against her throat as she gazed up at him in terror. I didn’t know that my former friend was not the male model until I received a phone call that triggered a whole other past trauma (which I’ve since reported to RCMP), from the man in the photos. RCMP had found my first blog post within days, written an internal memo about it, and started monitoring my blog. They came to my home and I gave a two-and-a-half-hour statement about every detail I could summon from the depths of my memory. I took a look at the online space I used to share with this RCMP officer, which was named in the news stories, and was shocked to see hundreds of people convincing each other that there was no crime, therefore no criminal investigation. [Read more…]