Blog Note

Just wanted to say thanks for being patient while we’ve dealt with some travel and family illness. We are (hopefully!) back to our regular schedule!

 

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It’s Wednesday – do you know about the Philly MOVE bombing? I didn’t.

It’s Wednesday and time to hear from someone new.

NPR did a story in 2015 looking back at the 1985 bombing of the MOVE compound in Philadelphia. I had never heard of this, well, it feels like state-sponsored terrorism. A fortified house was bombed, an entire block caught fire, the mayor was saying things like, “any means possible,” and 11 people were killed. 5 of them were children.

Click through to read the whole story, which interviews residents to see what they remember about the horrific events.

Then go ahead and read about the 2016 documentary Do Not Resist. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s next on my list. Watch it and we’ll discuss it on the blog.

militarization-of-police-John-Darkow-Cagle-Aug.-18-2014
John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune

It’s Monday! Let’s talk hair and privilege and policing blackness

There has been another story in the news lately of black young women punished for being black – specifically for wearing their hair in braids.

Race, Racism and the Law has a long but excellent read on the way black bodies are both policed and punished in schools: Detangling the Politics of Racially Conscious Dress Code. Although this happens across society (the military only allowed some hairstyles in 2014), it is especially problematic in schools where these policies reinforce implicit racism in our children. Here’s a snippet:

A trait is “a quality that makes one person or thing different from another.”  When Americans see the name Shaquanda Jackson, and *1262 mentally distinguish her from others by designating her as a “Black person,” her very name becomes a trait associated with Blackness. Acknowledging this relationship is fundamental in understanding trait discrimination. Americans hear a name like Shaquanda Jackson or see a hairstyle like dreadlocks, and mentally code both name and hairstyle as racially Black. Trait discrimination takes this mental recognition a step further, by actively prohibiting speech, names, clothing, hairstyles, etc. that Americans mentally associate with a specific race. Though Black persons are not born with dreadlocks or pre-destined to be named Shaquanda, these traits become avatars of Blackness. Because race is such a real and tangible thing in American culture,  these avatars cannot be separated from their racial significance.

Click through to read the whole thing and learn how these traits that have become synonymous with blackness are part of America’s implicit bias against Black Americans.

 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

mentalhealthawareness

CW: mention of self harm and mental illness

I’ve lived with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for almost 2 decades. My 20s are mostly a blur of deep sadness and hopelessness, punctuated only by memories of things I failed at, leaving a promising job, dropping out of school, leaving my childhood religion, even failing at suicide added to my darkness. It took me nearly 10 years to finally reach out to a therapist, and several more to find one that helped me to see myself in a way that wasn’t covered in shame and worthlessness. I finally began to hope that I might have purpose in my life. I finally began to believe that I maybe deserved to feel whole. I started trying to find medications to help me. And, luckily for me, they did.

That’s why I loved this article on The Establishment, Treating Mental Illness Doesn’t Ruin Creativity, by Sarah Bronson. She talks to three artists about how their mental illness, and how treating it, affects their work. Treating my MDD and PTSD is what gave me the freedom to begin exploring my creativity, the freedom from self-fulfilling doubts that stopped me from ever trying to create, from that voice that whispered, “you’re not good enough to do that” and “you don’t have anything worth saying.”

I’ve learned that self-care is an essential part of maintaining my mental health, and these sketches of “boring self-care” by Hannah Daisy of @MakeDaisyChains spoke to my soul. Went outside has been my only win on many, many days. Click through to her Instagram account to see her fantastic illustrations on mental health.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 7.04.26 PM
From Hannah Daisy, @makedaisychains

To close out Mental Health Awareness Month, I hope you take time to reach out to your friends and family. Listen to their stories, sit with them, hold your embarrassment and their awkwardness in the space between you. There are so many things we can talk about for Mental Health – ending the stigma, the lack of resources and how that intersects with relying on police to provide intervention, the high rates of successful suicides for second attempts, the comorbidity with substance abuse, falsely correlating violence with mental illness, and so much more. All of these discussion are important and real. But for this May, hold your loved ones in your heart a little longer. Hear them. Believe them. The best thing any one has ever done for me, in the midst of a depressive episode both deep and long, was to hold on to me while I cried and simply say, “I know it hurts. I’m here.”

(I love you, C)

 

 

It’s Wednesday – On not being nice

It’s Wednesday! Let’s hear from someone new!

no-more-mr-nice-guy_o_204116
Image description: a 3 panel comic. In the first panel, two figures stand. One in green holds a gun and says, “Alright… no more Mr. Nice Guy…” The figure in blue looks frightened. In the second panel, the figure in green turns and shoots the gun. BANG appears above the figure. In the third panel, the figure in blue runs to an older man on his knees, who has been shot and dropped a tray of cookies. The figure in blue says, “Mr. Nice Guy!!”

I want to share an excellent article on The Establishment by Alex Lu called I’m Not Going to be Nice About Ableism. Alex talks about the experience of going through college and grad school as a person who is deaf, and how the criticism that activists must be kind and patient in order to effect change is both BS and dangerous. Feel free to apply these ideas to activists of all stripes. Here’s a preview, but click through to read the entire thing:

The phrase [change hearts and minds] has become associated with a very narrow rhetorical strategy that demands that people sit down with those most hateful and violent toward them, and patiently explain their humanity, taking great pains to neuter their language surrounding any concepts that may provoke defensiveness, like “privilege” or “racism.” Moreover, it contends that making minorities look sympathetic to the majority is the only worthy goal: Outcomes like building community, showing solidarity, or disrupting harmful institutional actions are ignored.

It’s Monday – on disappearing to find yourself

It’s Monday! Time to talk about privilege.

Today I want to share a Longform article by Alex DiFrancesco called How to Disappear. They write about their experience with disappearing in the midst of a mental break. Speaking about hearing the story of a girl who left her life behind, and the differences between how her disappearance was treated in comparison to their own, they say:

When I saw Kidd’s story, I thought of all the resources that had gone into her “case,” and all of those of us who really were lost, unhealthy, and scared, who were given little to no help.

DiFrancesco also gives us a peek into their journey to self acceptance. Here’s a snippet from the part that I resonated with, as having someone love me has helped me find my true self:

Having someone understand me, love me, and support my gender identity let me be the person that I’d been hiding from myself, the too much and too far that some of the people who had said they’d loved me all my life couldn’t allow. Some people did look at the real me and judge me as unlovable. Others adapted, learned, embraced.

Beyond the cis-gendered privilege many of us experience, DiFrancesco also touches on class and family support privilege. Please click through and read her entire story.

Unseen Darkness

Content Warning: violence against women, child abuse

artist: Thiviyaa Sehasothy

Unseen Darkness - Thiviyaa Sehasothy, 2017

Unseen Darkness

12 in. x 12 in.

acrylic on canvas

2017

 

Unseen Darkness - Manivillie Poem
Poetry by Manivillie Kanagasabapathy
Dilani Bala - Portrait Reference
Photography by Dilani Bala

 

From the artist: This collaboration was the result of a complete domino effect that all started with an organization, ‘ANBU‘ (Abuse Never Becomes Us). ANBU does important work focused on childhood sexual abuse. They are abolishing the taboo and stigma associated with abuse and the effect of abuse growing rampant within the Tamil community, as it is in many others.

I am so excited to share this painting and collaboration between artist Thiviyaa Sehasothy, poet Manivillie Kanagasabapathy, and photographer Dilani Bala with you. Click through to read more about the process and cause on Thiviyaa’s website! Links to all three collaborators’ social media can be found below or on the contributor page. Please click through and follow their work. It is both beautiful and important.

 

 


Artist & painter, Thiviyaa Sehasothy is the hand behind ‘Art By Thiviyaa’ in Toronto. Her paintings have bold & heavy brushstrokes, bright colours and are greatly influenced by her experiences, travels and the world around her. She creates painting to not just capture a mere moment, but instead the experience of fluidity, emotions and movement through time. An evolving narrative. See her portfolio on her website, and on Instagram & Facebook.

A Toronto based poet, Manivillie Kanagasabapathy draws inspiration from everyday moments. Finding her way back to poetry, Manivillie completed a poem a day challenge in 2016, where she successfully wrote 366 poems. Check out her poems on her website, Instagram, or follow her on Facebook.

Dilani Bala is a Tamil-Canadian visual artist with a passion to study the human condition through portraiture. Check out her work on TumblrFacebook, and Instagram.


© Author/Artists retain all rights to reprint, publish, license and/or sell their Work.