Let’s talk about Cancel Culture. In today’s society, it isn’t a rare occurrence for someone’s mistakes to be exposed. Musicians, Actors, Comedians; if you have a problematic past it will come to light at one point or anything. And when this happens, we have a tendency to grab our pitch forks, light our torches and demand “cancellation”. The problem with Cancel Culture is that we don’t give people a chance to learn from their mistakes and to change. It’s not helpful, because change is what we need to see. We are more committed to exposing people’s mistakes, publicly shaming them and hoping for their cancellation rather opening the lines of communication, starting a conversation and making an effort to teach them (and those who might agree with them) why they’re wrong.
We need to stop grabbing our pitchforks and take the time to reflect on a case by case basis to decide whether or not that person deserves redemption. Stop reacting as though every case is equal. But maybe most importantly, ask ourselves if this is the most effective way to evoke change.
Do they understand why what they did was hurtful? Has that person shown remorse? Have they shown growth? Have they put in an effort to do and be better? To educate themselves on why what they did was problematic? Educate themselves on the effects of their actions? Have they made an honest effort?
Then there are people who will repeat this behaviour, people who choose ignorance or worse, know better and simply don’t care because they are at their core, hateful. People who will not listen when people make an effort to educate them. There are the people who do something absolutely criminal. But here is where cancel culture fails us most, sometimes the people who truly deserve to be “cancelled” end up being President of the United States.
I recently came across a post on Instagram that really spoke to me. When I read it, I reflected on the first few years that I lived in Alberta. For those years, I didn’t really have many friends, I didn’t know many people. So I spent all my time and did everything with my one friend. And even as I made other friends and we grew apart, something in me felt obligated to maintain the friendship no matter how emotionally draining it was.
It wasn’t until that friendship came to an end that I realized how much of me I was holding in in order to make myself more “agreeable” to her. To avoid conflict, drama, confrontation, criticism. She was a very judgemental and critical person. She was pretentious, condescending. She was always right and everyone else was stupid in comparison. So whether it was topics like feminism, environmentalism, politics, racism or religion, I never truly felt like I could speak up. My opinion, my knowledge, my words weren’t as valuable as hers. When she was being rude, offensive, when she was wrong…I felt like I couldn’t speak up. I even found myself mirroring her sentiments, her opinions and just saying what I knew she wanted to hear to avoid an argument. It was exhausting. And when I think back on the version of myself who shrunk myself down to maintain that friendship I can’t believe that was me.
I am no longer concerned with being “agreeable” to anyone. The things that mean the very most to me to my core, the things that make me who I am, I will no longer keep those opinions in whether it costs me a friend or not.
Black Lives Matter. There is no question, no doubt. The fact that this is even a topic of discussion in 2020 is beyond comprehension. The past few days I have been focusing on the voices with the most important things to say in light of recent events – the Black voices. Listening, learning, researching, reflecting. I felt sick to my stomach, I felt heavy. But we need to listen.
You matter to me and I stand with you.
I have never seen a Black person walk down my street and felt worried. But there are Black people all over the continent worried to walk around their own neighborhoods.
If we want to see change it is not enough to be non-racist, we need to actively stand up against acts of racism. Big and small. Start by holding yourself accountable. We need to hold ourselves accountable for the problematic things that we’ve said and done. I can pinpoint the moment a light switched on for me, my moment of clarity. It was a few years ago, and an acquaintance was showing me her Halloween costume. She wore Blackface. And I said, “why do people keep doing this when we’re told how offensive it is? Shouldn’t we know better?” Then I thought about all the things I’ve said; all the times I brought race into the equation, not because it was relevant but because of stereotypes. I felt like a hypocrite.
I knew better and I knew I had to do better.
As white people, we need to acknowledge our privilege and our ignorance. Educate yourself about micro-agressions, micro-insults and micro-assaults. Educate yourself so that you can recognize these acts of racism in others and in yourself. Educate yourself on Black history and the treatment of Black people in North America. None of us are exempt from the responsibility to educate ourselves. The horrendous things that have happened and are happening can not be ignored.
Canada has our own demons. The Canadian History in regards to the Indigenous people is horrific. Growing up in Ontario (on Algonquin land), I never had any prejudice against Indigenous people. I also don’t remember learning a lot about their history in school and that’s just another, more subtle, way to oppress them. I had never witnessed racism against Indigenous people like I have in Northern Alberta, it is very blatant. The Indigenous population is dense here and I have witnessed such harmful behavior. If you let it, that environment and that toxicity will poison you. In the past, I have said hurtful things about Indigenous people in my community; hurtful things rooted in stereotypes fueled by ignorance and experiences with a select few that blurred my vision to the big picture. I accept my share of the responsibility to remove racism from my community. I have taken the time to educate myself more about the various Indigenous cultures, their heartbreaking history and the impact of that trauma and I remain committed to continuing that education. I am also far more selective about the people I allow to influence me, I no longer let racism slide in my circle.
We are all equal and we need to treat each other as equals, respect each other as equals, and acknowledge and destroy the systems that have been set in place to oppress Black and Indigenous people of colour.
As a white person trying to support this movement, you will likely make mistakes. You will be faced with your past self, you will be uncomfortable, you will admit things to yourself that make you feel terrible. It’s not about you. Acknowledge your mistakes, call yourself out. Don’t make excuses. Take criticism and stay committed to your evolution. Keep going. Put in the work. Educate yourself. Show up. Listen. Learn, and Unlearn. But most importantly, speak up against racism.
I am immensely sorry for my shortcomings and I vow to do better.
But my voice isn’t the voice you should be listening to. Listen to the Black voices, listen to their stories, share their stories; amplify their voices.
June 15, 2020
Hey Guys. Since this is a movement, not a moment, I decided I would continue to update this blog with thoughts or conversations I have with friends and share educational resources that I am finding helpful. You will also see that I share various posts and articles I find from BIPOC, I encourage you to pay close attention to the information in each post.
First, I want to address this misconception that having Black friends or Black family members means you are not racist. In a way, I can understand why it might be tempting to use this as a shield because I also have Black friends and have dated Black people and when I was younger I thought, “how could I be?”. But dig deeper. If you’re sitting there thinking you’re not racist because you have Black friends or are married to a Black person, take a second to think about how you perceive Black people who you do not know personally. Or maybe you have prejudice or presume stereotypes about other non-Black people of colour; Indigenous, Hispanic, Asian. Or maybe there are stereotypes that you assume that are things you believe to be compliments. If you find yourself in this position I encourage you to closely examine these biases, try to find the root. And I also encourage you to educate yourself on micro-aggressions, micro-invalidations, micro-insults and micro-assaults. That research will teach you about things that you may think are compliments but can actually be dehumanizing. I used to have a friend who would always tell me that she wanted a Filipino nanny, specifically Filipino because she believed that they were good with kids. The same person would always complain about how we didn’t have a nail salon in our area that was run by Asians because she thought they were better at nails and it was a more “authentic” nail salon experience. That wasn’t about thinking they were “better at nails”, it was about wanting them to serve her. While some people may see these things as compliments and therefore it’s not racist…these stereotypes or micro-agressions are still harmful. Which brings me to fetishizing. This is racism wrapped in a pretty package. It is dehumanizing to treat people of colour as something to cross off your sexual Bingo card instead of as human beings. Finding Black people attractive doesn’t earn you a medal and exempt you from being racist, slaver owners used to rape the people their enslaved. Also, remember that just because your Black friends are okay with something you said doesn’t mean that other Black people aren’t allowed to be offended by it, that’s not up to you.
June 16, 2020
Back again with another topic. Today, I want to encourage you to learn about White Fragility and White Privilege. White Fragility is, in basic terms, when white people get defensive or uncomfortable when confronted with racism. I’m going to share an Instagram post below, a “White Fragility Self Assessment”. Flip through the thread, but I encourage you to do your own research as well. I want to share an example of white fragility and white Privilege with you that corresponds with my above story about my acquaintance’s Halloween costume.
A few years ago an acquaintance was showing me her Halloween costume where she wore Blackface. To be specific, she went as Scary Spice. I asked her why she felt the need to wear Blackface, couldn’t she be Scary Spice without doing that? We are constantly told that Blackface, or wearing tradition clothing from another culture, is NOT A HALLOWEEN COSTUME. She disagreed with me that this was offensive, and used the classic white argument that if the Wayans brothers can do “whiteface” in White Chicks, then she can do Blackface for a Halloween costume. Y’all, “whiteface” is not a thing. Read about the history of Blackface and then come back. This happened around the same time as the Me Too movement, and I had grown incredibly frustrated with hearing men complain about how they can’t do or say anything without offending someone, *insert eye roll into another dimension*. So I shared a post to my Instagram, the quote “To those accustom to privilege, equality will feel like oppression.” And I expressed my frustration towards people who thought it was up to them to decide if another person, another race, another culture, was allowed to be offended by them. They got to decide if people of colour were allowed to be offended by their jokes, by their comments, by their Halloween costume. The epitome of white privilege.
This Instagram post started a huge argument that effectively ended my relationship with my best friend at the time. The same friend that always said she wanted a Filipino nanny and complained that our community didn’t have any “authentic” nail salons run by Asians. She saw the post and assumed it was about her and the fact that she and her daughter wore Day Of The Dead costumes. She got angry and defensive, she said I was accusing her three year old of cultural appropriation. She called me a hypocrite for calling people out over “harmless costumes” when she had heard me make racist comments about Indigenous people in our community before. She was right about me being a hypocrite. I held myself accountable for it that day and I will continue to do so. I told her that she was right, but that we need to do better and be better, that we should know better than to wear these costumes when year after year we are told how offensive they are. She was right about me being a hypocrite, but she was not right about those costumes being harmless. I would like to think that she has taken the time over these past few years to listen and learn.
Before you ever say anything that has anything to do with race, or sexism since we’re here…Ask yourself, is it so easy for me to say this because I am white? Is it so easy for me to say this because I am a man? Is it so easy for me to say this because I am a white man? If the answer might be yes, that is privilege.
Commit to calling out acts of racism, call out your own mistakes too. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, whatever…it’s not about you.
June 18, 2020
Today I was looking at my bookshelf, and I saw my copies of Night, Dawn and Day from Elie Wiesel. I remembered the first time I read Night. It was in my high school history class when we were learning about the Holocaust. Elie’s work is gut wrenching, horrific, violent. They don’t sugarcoat it when they teach you about the Holocaust, and I can appreciate that in order to truly understand the impact of the Holocaust we had to have our hearts broken.
Then I thought about what I had learned about Indigenous history in all my years of school. It wasn’t much. I thought about what I learned about Black history, it was probably even less.
I wondered how different things would be now if they had forced us to learn the harsh realities of the history of Indigenous people in our country. Every heart breaking detail. I was an adult when I first heard the term “residential school”. And even after I was aware that they existed I was still so unaware…Unaware to the real horrors and how recently these events occurred. I am remorseful that I stayed ignorant for so long. Once I knew, I understood so much more about the trauma and the effects that trauma has had on the Indigenous community. Now that I know, I wonder why were we not taught this in school? Why weren’t we taught more about Black history in Canada?
To some people this may seem like a harsh comparison, but a lot of stuff has happened in Canada that is not all that different from the events in Nazi Germany. Genocide, forced labor, slavery, sterilization, and racially fueled internment are just a few examples. They taught us about these things happening in Nazi Germany but not that some of it also happened in our own country. In fact, Hitler was heavily influenced by racism in America. Educate yourself about the systemic racism our country was built on. Acknowledge the White Supremacy our world was built on.
Do not stay ignorant.
June 20, 2020
Things to think about if you think people are taking the Black Lives Matter movement “too far”
Did you like Lady Antebellum because you liked their music or because their name had ties to slavery in the south? If it’s because you liked their music you shouldn’t be bothered by them changing their name to Lady A. If it’s because you liked that their name had ties to slavery, you’re racist.
Why are you upset that they are removing statues of Confederate leaders? What did they do to deserve a statue? They lost the war. Are there statues of Hitler all over Germany? No. Do you think we’ll ever forget about him? Nope.
Why are you mad that NASCAR banned the Confederate flag? The flag is a symbol of white supremacy. It is used by the KKK and Neo-Nazi organizations. So if you’re mad about it you’re either ignorant and need to educate yourself, or you’re racist. Watch this video:
If Aunt Jemima rebranded without explaining that they are doing it to dissolve the racist imagery, would you care? Companies rebrand all the time for lesser reasons.
How do these things truly, negatively affect your life?
June 29, 2020
I understand that in times like this, it can be easy for some people to get overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by all the information being shared, all the things you may just now be learning about. Maybe you want to help but don’t know how. Petitions. Petitions are a great start. Sign them! I have been sharing many petitions to my Instagram Stories and my Twitter account when I come across them but another great source is the website for the Black Lives Matter organization, they have compiled a list of petitions and put them all on their website.
One of the biggest topics I’ve seen being brought up by white people is “How is rioting helping anyone?”, so I wanted to share a few thoughts that I would like my fellow white people to consider.
The Civil Rights/Black Lives Matter movement isn’t anything new. They’ve been fighting for equal rights for decades, after centuries of oppression. Peacefully protesting; but nothing changes, no one listens. Imagine that people you love were being killed in the streets, wouldn’t you be angry? Wouldn’t you be tired of having to protest this shit? Peaceful protesters are being met with tear gas and rubber bullets. No matter how they have chosen to protest they have been told it is not the right way to protest, there is no “right way” to protest the systems that are oppressing you. What you see when people turn to violence is people pushed to the edge.
But a lot of those people turning to violence, rioting, vandalizing, looting, are also people taking advantage of the moment and really have nothing to do with the movement at all – of course that’s what you’re seeing in the news though which makes people turn away.
You can’t sit there and pool the Peaceful Protestors with the Rioters and use rioters as an excuse not to listen to or support the Peaceful Protests. Same way you don’t want people pooling bad cops with the good cops. Not all cops are bad? Not all protestors are violent rioters.
Practice empathy. Try to imagine what you would do if you were in their shoes. If you still think you wouldn’t be angry enough to get a little violent, you privilege is blinding you.
Back with a few topics today. I am probably going to express some unpopular opinions among white people. And it might not always as the most eloquently expressed opinions because I am finding it all hard to put into words. If you’re a white person feeling particularly fragile, you’re probably about to be triggered.
The first thing I want to talk about directly correlates to my previous post. I recently noticed a friend of mine shared a post to her Facebook that said something along the lines of, “If you’re a protestor mad about being clumped in with rioters, think about the good cops being clumped in with bad cops. Chew on that.” And honestly, I was horrified. I was horrified that her white privilege has made her completely miss the point. Protesters have more to worry about than being clumped in with rioters and looters, this isn’t what they are protesting. Their signs don’t say, “we’re not all rioters”. They are protesting to see changes in the systems that are oppressing them and that includes the legal system. So let’s focus on what needs to change and one of those things is law enforcement. Do not act like things are fine the way they are, they are not. Do not focus on defending good cops, focus on WHY THERE ARE BAD COPS AT ALL. Not all cops are bad, but there should not be bad cops. There should not be cops who are afraid on the job. Being a cop is a dangerous gig, it takes bravery. When you sign up to be a cop, you sign up for risk. At the end of the day you get to go home and take off your uniform. But Black people live in their skin, live with their fear, every second of every day of their lives. If you don’t want to live with the danger of being a cop, don’t become a cop. If you are not going to wait that extra second to confirm someone is holding a weapon before you shoot them because you are afraid, don’t become a cop. Black people should feel safe, they should feel like the people who are making the decision to become cops are there to protect them as well. Innocent Black people are being shot in the streets because of scared cops while white men who literally go to Parliament Hill uttering threats again the Prime Minister are being quietly arrested.
Not all protesters are violent rioters, not all cops are bad, not all Black people are thugs, not all Brown people are terrorists. The fact that these statements are necessary is a huge part of the problem.
The next thing I want to talk about is Reverse Racism, because it doesn’t fucking exist. Reverse Racism is just a product of white fragility. This happens when white people are criticized for their racism or systemic racism created by white people and white people thinking they’re being attacked because their white. I’d like to bring up the quote I mentioned in an earlier post, “to those accustom to privilege, equality will feel like oppression”. Because white people are so used to being top dog that when BIPOC try and fight for equal treatment, white people feel like they’re being attacked and opressed. It’s not pie, more rights and equal treatment of others does not mean less rights and worse treatment for you. BIPOC are not out to get white people. Black Lives Matter is not about oppressing white people. It’s about the 400+ years of oppression that BIPOC have endured at the hands of the white hetero male patriarchy. White people have never and will never face that level of oppression. That is not the goal. The goal is equity and equality.
The last thing I want to talk about is Indigenous history and education. I just really want to encourage you to educate yourself on Indigenous history because when you do you may realize just how little you know. A few years ago I made the decision to educate myself more on Indigenous history and I was horrified. I thought I was so socially conscious and I was shocked at how ignorant I actually was. And as I continue to educate myself more on the topic I just really want to push you to do the same. Growing up, I was taught so little about Indigenous history. And I remember people talking about reserves and ‘Indian Status’ cards like these were these great things the government had done for the Indigenous community. They were given all this land and they were exempt from all these taxes and this was all to make up for things that were done to them centuries ago. But they skipped over teaching us about things like the dog slaughter where the government slaughtered thousands of sled dogs to keep the Inuit from leaving their communities via dog sled in an effort to keep track of them, they didn’t teach is about the E-tag system, they didn’t teach us about residential schools or the effects of the trauma caused by the abuse children experienced in them, they didn’t teach us that reservations are often on the worst pieces of land and many reservations don’t have access to clean drinking water. They didn’t teach us the truth about ‘Indian Status’ cards; how they were there to prove someone’s culture (pretty twisted that it’s necessary when you think about it), how that status is given or taken away. They didn’t teach us. If they didn’t teach you, teach yourself. And if you’re not completely horrified and outraged, you have more to learn.
July 16, 2020
A common misconception, especially from Boomers or Gen X, is that if we just ignore race, it will fix everything. But race is not the problem, racism is the problem. And this opinion is formed out of white people being uncomfortable with discussing race. By pretending you don’t see colour, you are ignoring the centuries of oppression experienced by people of color. You’re also ignoring the beauty in diversity. Our world is like a garden; Just like each flower is unique, each colour is beautiful, each and every culture has something beautiful to contribute and we should celebrate that. Please flip through the thread below to learn more about why the “I Don’t See Color” mentality is problematic.
July 21, 2020
In a number of my previous updates I have mentioned a woman that I used to be friends with. From the day I met her she often talked about how all she wanted in life was to be married to a rich man, and be a stay at home mom with have 5 children and a Filipino nanny. This didn’t make sense to me for many reasons. But I never really questioned her on why she felt so strongly about wanting a Filipino nanny, I didn’t know where this stereotype came from.Why did she have this image in her mind? I just sort of laughed it off as something that must just be a “thing” in Vancouver, the area that she grew up in.
Questioning the history of Nanny stereotypes is likely not something many people think of. But funny enough, Canadian History podcast “The Secret Life Of Canada” did an episode on this very history. I have learned so much from listening to this podcast but I wanted to highlight this episode because I think it is such an under-thought of subject. I encourage you to listen.
July 28, 2020
I hear a lot of people talk about Canada as though the racism here isn’t nearly as bad as America, some people honestly believe it’s not an issue at all here.
I have mentioned many times on this post how there is so much of Canadian history that we are never taught. Slavery, sterilization, early immigration laws. We were taught that the colonizers came and they took the land from the Indigenous and yeah that was bad but they’ve spent centuries trying to make up for it. They acted like Canada was this safe haven for freed Black people who had been enslaved while either ignoring or completely oblivious to our own history of slavery. I have said it many, many times but education is truly key in the fight for change. I have found Alyssa Gray-Tyghter (Afro-Indigenous) to be a really great resource for learning about Anti-Black racism in Canada. Below you will find a series of posts from her Instagram page and I highly encourage you to follow her for more: @alyssagtyghter
August 11, 2020
As we gear up for the school year ahead, I wanted to share a post from Alyssa Gray-Tyghter that I think is incredibly important. When Alyssa posted this to her IG account, there was A LOT of white people getting upset about the word colonizer – white fragility at it’s finest. But when I read this post, I don’t just think about people who hear a name and then say, “That’s too hard to pronounce, can I just call you [insert anglicized version here]”. I also think about colonizers and how they would rename people they had enslaved, or when they would baptize the Indigenous and give them “Christian Names”. We are all given a name at birth and we all deserve the same respect of being called by that name. Learning to properly pronounce someones name is the simplest way to show respect, and refusing the take the time to learn is so dehumanizing. It is far less harmful to try and get it wrong than it is to simply not even try. Your tongue knows how to say Michael and Katelyn, now teach it some new tricks.
Change begins with education. I will continue to educate myself in an effort to do and be better. Below are some resources that I have found helpful if you are interested. I will continuously to update it as well.
Secret Life of Canada – A CBC Podcast. This podcast is hosted by 2 Canadian women of colour and they delve into the the lesser known stories about the history of Canada. It has been many moons since I learned about Canadian history in school, and the history that is taught in schools (at least when I was growing up) can be very white biased. I am finding this podcast very eyeopening.
13th – A documentary on Netflix about the history of slavery, lynching, the Jim Crow era and racial segregation, but mostly it’s about mass incarceration and the systemic racism in society designed to keep Black people oppressed even to this day. This documentary is difficult to watch but it is very important and so informative. It is really eyeopening about how Black people have been painted as criminals in society and how the justice system has been biased.
BlacKkKlansman – Movie and Book. I watched the movie recently and I really hope to read the book when I can find a copy that doesn’t have the movie cover on it (I hate when they do that to books). The movie is based on the memoir by Ron Stallworth. Ron Stallworth was the first Black man to join the police department in Colorado Springs and in the late 70’s he infiltrated the KKK. It is an incredible story about a very brave man.
@SoYouWantToTalkAbout – This is an account on Instagram but they share facts about all sorts of political topics. Recently they’ve posted about Juneteenth, The crisis in Yemen, Systemic Racism, Antifa, and White fragility just to name a few.
Residential SchoolsPodcast – Search “Residential Schools” where ever you listen to podcasts. There is a government funded podcast about Indigenous experiences in Residential Schools and it is a great, and heartbreaking, resource to learn about this horrible part of Canadian history.
Who Killed Malcolm X? – This docuseries is available on Netflix and it’s a great resource for learning about Malcolm X and his affect on society, then and now.
Another way to support the cause is to simply support the Black community. Support BIPOC owned businesses, BIPOC artists and authors, designers, influencers etc. I will share some of my favourites below.
Shavonda Gardner – @SGardnerStyle on Instgram. I have followed Shavonda for yeeears. She is a designer. Her home is amazing, her family is amazing, her style is amazing. I have gotten so much inspiration from Shavonda. She is funny, smart, beautiful and so, so real. She also has an account dedicated to her garden space, @thecottagebungalowpotager
Carmeon Hamilton – I was introduced to Carmeon through Shavonda, their besties and Carmeon is another designed. Her style is so incredible, both in her home and her fashion sense. Her smile is also hypnotizing. @Carmeon.Hamilton on Instagram.
Janea Brown – @jnaydaily on IG. Her home is lovely, she is super funny and she has such a kind and calming energy.
Hilton Carter – @hiltoncarter on IG. He is a plantie + author. He is so creative and so knowledge, if you love plants he is a Must Follow.
Allison Moon – @AllisonOliviaMoon on IG. She is an artist and photographer. Her art, her smile, her soul. All stunning.
Laurence Rich – A lifestyle blogger + Floral Designer in Kelowna, BC. Her work is amaaaazing. @FleurichCreations for her floral design and @IamLaurich for her personal account on IG.
WildRoga – I actually don’t know Ro’s full name but she is a yoga instructor in the Ottawa Valley (Where I’m from) and I wish had known her when I lived there. She is super sweet, amazing energy, super sweet kid and she teaches online yoga practices. @WildRoga on IG.
SajdaReads – @SajdaReads on IG, she’s a blogger. She shares her recommended reading list. I’ve compiled a huge list of books recommended by her to educate myself on Black history and Black oppression, and to just support Black authors.
Alyssa Gray-Tyghter – @alyssagtyghter on IG. I have mentioned Alyssa soooo many times on this post. She is Afro-Indigenous, and she’s a teacher. Highly recommend following her on Instagram.
I really had no intentions of coming on here and ranting about the COVID-19 pandemic. I didn’t feel like I had enough to say to justify a blog post but as time passes, things continue to change, and more issues arise…I feel like I really need to air some grievances.
I keep seeing a lot of people sharing information from unreliable sources. It should be pretty obvious if a source is legitimate, credible, and reliable or not. But apparently not everyone has the ability to differentiate. If a post is just a screen shot of someone’s Facebook post that literally anyone could have typed up… it’s not a credible source. And there is so much danger in these posts spreading. The spread of information from unreliable sources results in the possibility of the spread of incorrect information, which in turn creates misinformed people. And misinformed people are dangerous. It can create unnecessary panic, it can create a false sense of security, and worst of all it can create people who don’t know how to properly protect themselves.
I remember when this pandemic first started and people were sharing a Facebook post that said drinking water can kill the virus. It was a Facebook post created with the Facebook feature that allows you to put a colorful background on your status update. Can you believe people actually shared that?
On the topic of wearing masks. A non-medical grade face mask may not keep you from becoming infected with the virus, but it can stop you from spreading the virus with your droplets if you are a carrier but aren’t showing symptoms. I’ll repeat that, because I know a lot of people who can’t seem to absorb this information:
You can spread the virus if you are not showing symptoms.
This is why social distancing is so important. Keeping that 6 foot distance from people outside of your household allows enough space to reduce the risk of you spreading the virus. Not just through a cough or sneeze but simply through speaking to someone.
There are a lot of people out there who think that masks are pointless, they aren’t going to help anyone etc. Those people seem to be some of the most outspoken, and also some of the most misinformed.
“Why are you wearing a mask when you’re in your car alone?” The answer is, when you touch your mask it becomes contaminated. So in order to be using a mask properly you have to leave it on until you’re at home and can remove it safely.
They question why the government is just now recommending that we wear masks. They are recommending that we wear masks when we are in situations where social distancing is more difficult. Which is more likely to happen now that more businesses are reopening.
If you feel the need to call people stupid, or scared sheep, because they wear a mask, because they are taking every possible precaution to protect themselves, their families, their community; you’re a dick. How are they hurting you by wearing a mask?
Don’t be a dick. People are dying.
Thousands of Canadians, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, have died in such a short period of time. If those people had died in any other way; an explosion, a shooting, murder, a plane crash…wouldn’t you care? Why is this any less tragic? Why should we just let our vulnerable population die? They are people who are loved and they deserve to survive this just as much as anyone else. And if you actually think it’s only the sick and the elderly dying of this, you’re wrong.
Don’t tell people they are stupid or paranoid because they are taking these simple precautions to stop themselves from spreading the virus. Even if you disagree with someone, even if you don’t care about getting sick, other people do and you still need to respect them. Respect their right to a 6 foot personal bubble. I know that if I found out I had given someone the virus and they died, I would feel fucking horrible. Wouldn’t you? Would you take this pandemic seriously if it were your love one who died?
Your actions affect other people. Just don’t be a dick. Why is that so hard?
I see people who don’t trust the government because they keep changing what advice they give us. This is a new virus and they are learning new things about it every day, so yeah their advice might change a little…but if you don’t mind I’m still going to take my medical advice from a doctor and not from some asshole on Facebook who can’t even formulate a thought using proper English.
I’m not taking precautions because I’m scared to get sick, I’m not scared to get sick because I’m taking the proper precautions.
Overall, this pandemic has really made me lose faith in humanity.
It’s likely that at least 9/10 girls will tell you that there’s (at least) one guy they’ve dated that they would erase from their past if they could. They probably dated when they were in their late teens/early 20s. They were probably manipulative, emotionally/psychologically abusive, and maybe even physically harmed them one more than one occasion. And they definitely threatened to kill themselves.
For me, that guy is Kyle.
I met Kyle just a few months after I moved to Alberta, I was 20 years old. He was from here and I didn’t have many friends. In fact, I had one friend; and she had just recently started dating someone. So despite the fact that I wasn’t overly interested in Kyle, she encouraged me to give him a chance because she thought he seemed nice and she wanted us to be able to double date. I had no one around to warn me about him.
Thinking back, I know that Kyle was absolutely not smart enough to be manipulative on purpose. Which makes his behavior even scarier.
On our first date Kyle brought his son. He was 2 turning 3 and absolutely adorable. At the time, I just thought he was a single dad who was unable to get a sitter. Now I think it was a strategy; because if you asked me why I stayed around…it was for that kid. If you can’t get a sitter, postpone the date. Remember that if you ever begin dating a single parent.
For the first few weeks that Kyle and I were seeing each other, I was also seeing another guy. We only knew each other for about a month before I tried to end it the first time, and he told me he loved me. Eventually, he wormed his way back in. When his son started to hug me goodnight and tell me he loved me, I ended things with the other guy.
Even then, Kyle and I were only “in a relationship” for about a month before I ended it again. During that time, I went with him to court (for moral support) while he fought with his ex for custody of his son. It was a tough time and he was able to use that to his advantage. He fed me all these stories about how she was crazy and she would hurt their son. I take that with a grain of salt now, I think they were both crazy.
He didn’t go off the deep end right away after we broke up. For a while it was just a text every couple days. Then he started stopping by. There was a couple nights where we were physical. But I quickly put an end to that as well. That was when it got bad.
He Facetimed me one night when he was away for work, when I answered it he was attempting to hang himself. I hung up the phone and called his mother to tell her what he was doing. When she called him he told her I was lying. He started showing up at my house when he was drunk and telling me he was going to go roll his truck down the valley. He would tell me all kinds of things when he was drunk, like how he got in a fight with his dad one night and took it out on his son. He physically abused his son because he was mad at his dad. I needed to get the fuck away from this man, but I also felt like I needed to do something to protect that child. I continued to answer his text messages to keep him from doing something stupid. I had witnessed him have a panic attack/mental break one night before, so I felt like his threats were real. He showed up at my house one day while I was home for lunch, he held me down as I cried. He attempted to rape me; his erectile dysfunction saved my life. That was when I stopped answering his messages.
Just a couple weeks after things ended for good, I met another guy. We went on our first date at a local bar and played some pool. It’s a very small town but it still surprised me when a little bit into my date, Kyle walked through the door. He sat down at a table not far from where we were and hung out with some friends for a bit before he left. I was shocked by the lack of confrontation. A short while later when my date and I left, I saw Kyle sitting in the parking lot. He watched us as we said goodbye. Then he started his car, spun out of the parking lot and took off. A little while later I started getting text messages from his sister about how I was a psycho, a stalker, a slut, and Kyle didn’t want me anymore. Then he started texting me saying I should just kill myself because no one cares about me.
The next day I filed a restraining order.
When I filed the restraining order I had to create a package of evidence; text messages that he and his sister sent me, an affidavit outlining everything he did to make me feel unsafe. When I saw it all out on paper it was shocking that I had let myself be so weak, that wasn’t me.
Every once in a while I see his family around town. I wonder how his son is doing; he would be around 10 now. But I thank the Goddesses above that I have never laid eyes on him again.
Have you ever stopped being friends with someone and felt relief? Have you ever been absolutely exhausted trying to maintain a friendship? Have you ever felt obligated to maintain a friendship? These friendships, are toxic.
6 years ago when I moved to Alberta, I didn’t have any friends. The first friends I made were two girls I worked with. Out of the two, I connected with one more than the other, but she moved away after only a few months because her position was temporary. The other one and I maintained a friendship for 6 years, but recently went about what Gwyneth Paltrow calls a “conscious uncoupling”. See, in those 6 years of friendship, I’m not even sure I liked her very much. She was incredibly spoiled, entitled, condescending. She always talked like she was better than everyone. If you didn’t do things her way, you were doing it wrong; especially when it came to being a mother. But since she was my first friend here and one of my only friends in Alberta, I felt obligated to maintain this friendship. Things came to an end when her privilege and entitlement left her blind to her wrong doings and I couldn’t bite my tongue anymore. No anger, no bad blood; I felt relief. I had finally let go of a toxic friendship.
I no longer have the energy for hate.
You aren’t going to like every person you cross paths with in life; but when you let go of hatred, you will feel so much lighter. Don’t let someone else’s negative energy ruin your day.
At this point in my life, I have so few close friends, and I’m not interested in maintaining friendships that are tearing me down. As I get older, I don’t have the time or the energy for those toxic friendships. Are you worried to tell them they aren’t the maid of honor at your wedding because they’ll be mad? Toxic. Do they tell you who you can and can’t be friends with? Toxic. Do they cause you stress? Toxic. Do they make you feel bad about yourself? Toxic. Do they make you feel undervalued? Unwelcome? Toxic. Do they make you question their loyalty? Toxic. Do they create barriers than interfere with other relationships? Toxic.
This is how you Marie Kondo your friends list. Is it exhausting? Is it stressful? Is it built on obligation? Do they spark more frustration than joy? Thank them for their service and let go.
Just writing this, I feel so much lighter. I will no longer put energy into relationships with people who value me less than I value them.
My abuse started when I was very young. Really, too young to remember. I remember it in pieces. I remember my mom having to remind me that my body is my body. It was at the hand of my best friend, the little boy who lived next door. When my mom told me we weren’t allowed to play together anymore I didn’t understand why. But it was because he had taken it upon himself to explore my body before even I did. I don’t blame him, he was just as young as I. As adults, I am still friends with my abuser. But this is why we have to teach children that their body is their body and nobody has the right to touch their body without their permission, and if they’re touched in a way they do not like, a way that confuses them, they have a right to report it. This is a policy I’ll bring with me into parenthood, this is why I will never spank my child. Nobody, nobody, has a right to touch you without your consent.
As I grew, puberty hit me early and it hit me hard. This caused the boys in my school to take it upon themselves to once again…explore my changing body. Different boys this time. Boys I have forgiven less for their transgressions but boys who still should have been taught not to this. And again, my mom had to remind me that my body is my body.
And as I became an adult, I was groped and grabbed by any man who felt entitled to my body. I was pursued by men I had denied, repeatedly. I stuck to the buddy system, I surrounded myself with strong woman or trustworthy men when I went out at night. During these years I had learned to fight back, I had learned to defend myself.
But when I moved across the country, my depression hit me hard. I began a relationship with a man who was emotionally abusive. He was manipulative. He used the threat of suicide and hurting his child to keep me around. He didn’t respect me or respect any woman, really. He didn’t try to hide anything from me when it came to him looking at other women, flirting with ex girlfriends, or having photos of other woman on his phone. He was the type of guy who followed porn accounts on Twitter. What pathetic, trashy human being gets their porn from Twitter? When I eventually got the courage to end the relationship, the relationship didn’t even end, because he felt entitled to my body. My ex boyfriend tried to rape me. As he lay on top of me tears ran down my face. But…to my amazement…his erectile dysfunction saved my life and he left in anger. He Facetimed me a few nights later when he knew I was with another guy (friend) and when I answered he was trying to hang himself. When I hung up the phone, I called his parents. He told them I was lying. When he saw me out on a date without another guy later on he began to text me threats. The next day I filed a restraining order.
I have been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed at every stage of my life and nothing is okay about this. You are not alone, I suffered too. We have to do better.
I learned a new word yesterday. Misophonia, pronounced mis-oh-foe-nia. It’s a neurological disorder that literally means, “hatred of sound”. Emotions like anger, hatred or disgust are triggered by certain sounds. As soon as I heard that I thought, I totally have that.
The sound of my dog licking himself or even eating or drinking is enough to drive me insane. Or worse, that adorable sound he makes when he’s dreaming is like what most people hear when someone runs their nails on a chalk board. The sound of my boyfriend breathing in my ear as I try to fall asleep makes my skin crawl. And the sound of someone blowing their nose makes my blood boil. I could never stand the sound of my sister eating. The buzzing of a fly, whistling, a phone ringing and who doesn’t hate the beeping of a truck backing up. It’s like now that I know there’s a word for it all I can think about is all the minuscule sounds that drive me absolutely insane.
From what I’ve read, I would say I have level two misophonia. When I hear a trigger, I focus on the sound and only the sound. I can’t push it to the background, it’s up front and center.
I’ve always known that I was quirky. But now I think I might be fucked up beyond repair.
I’m a creative person, I love music, and I’m curious by nature; all these things led me to a career in the media. But more specifically, radio. I’m just a producer; I spend my days making commercials and imaging, with my one 6 hour voice tracked show once a week. But there are people in this building who chose to spend their lives scrolling through news stories about murders, terrorist attacks, wars, kidnappings, and car crashes. Not because they like reading those stories, that’s just our world today. It’s not pretty, but it’s what is happening.
In December 2010, there was a shooting in our area. Two innocent lives were taken. Two beloved women. A man was arrested for it, but his trial kept getting held over until this week; 5 and a half years later. Our news team was reporting on it.
The 911 call was released to the media, something that is usually done in situations like this. Our news team chose to share it; a decision that did not come lightly. As difficult as it may be for some people to understand, that’s the news. Our job is to share as much information with our listeners as we possibly can. This 911 call was posted on our website, available to anyone who is naturally curious, like ourselves. But some people didn’t like that.
An acquaintance of mine (I put that in italics because she’s hardly even that) made a post on her personal Facebook page about how disrespectful it was, how she was sickened by our decision to share this information. How it made this difficult time all that much harder for her. But we did not force her to listen, we did not broadcast it live on air. If you heard it you made that decision on your own. So of course, when my team is being called disgusting and heartless, I stood up for them. I told them, it’s not pretty but it’s the news and it’s their job. And boy, did they hate that. We were accused of seeing this as “just a story”, that as media all we care about is ratings. We’re not even in a rated market. I was ripped apart for having no compassion, no understanding. I can take it. I’m okay with being witch hunted, I already have the wardrobe.
The media is not evil. News reporters are not heartless sociopaths. They struggle every day to make tough calls about what to share and what not to share. We weren’t the only station to share that 911 call, and if we hadn’t every other station still would have. Other news outlets across our province described every detail of that crime scene. We shared a trimmed version of the call; other outlets shared the entire phone call, it’s transcript, and details about the victims’ positions at time of death. It’s sad, and it’d hard to listen to, but we didn’t force anyone to listen! We were talked about as if it were our fault that it was heard. We were talked about as if we had broadcasted it live on air for everyone to hear. They literally used the word ‘broadcasted’, clearly they don’t know what that word means.
We get complaints when we don’t share enough information, and then we get complaints when we share too much. And we only got complaints because this is the community that was hit. 9 times out of 10 these same people who are complaining would be tuning in to hear about someone else’s tragedy. Attacking the messenger doesn’t change anything. Direct your anger towards the man who took those innocent lives.
You don’t know the discussions that happen in a news room when trying to decide how to approach a difficult topic. You don’t know what kind of things we have been through personally. You don’t know just how much we understand your pain. We’re a part of this community too.
I made a lot of enemies by defending my co workers decision to share this 911 call. But I don’t regret it, because I stood up for friends. I stood up for people who have hearts, and whose hearts break for those victims and their loved ones just like everyone else’s.
The world is an ugly place, but if you want to hear news stories about happier things…
start being better people.
Every loss is a tough one. Whether it were a grandparent, a parent, a sibling, a child or a friend. They don’t get easier with each loss, and no one’s loss is any more significant than anyone else’s. But there is no loss quite like the ones that we never expected. The times that we didn’t have the chance to say goodbye, because it never even crossed our mind that we would never say “hello” again. What are we supposed to do? Make huge grand gestures every time a loved one leaves the room because it may be our last chance?
A woman that I work with lost her son this weekend. She and her family are very close friends of my in-laws. I know what she can expect now, I know how they feel. I know that she will be hearing a lot of, “I’m sorry”; “How can we help?”; “I can’t even imagine”. But I can imagine. My family suffered the same loss just 8 years ago.
These unexpected losses leave holes that can never be filled with anything other than questions. Most commonly, “Could we have done something to have prevented this?” But the answer is rarely “yes”. I would say that 98% of the time there was nothing you could have done to save them.
You will never recover from your unexpected loss but the days may get easier. They may not, the darkness may consume you. But my hope for you is that you find strength in the love you still have, and that you are able to still have hope for your future. That you feel them with you every day, holding your hand. I hope that you allow yourself to walk down memory lane, and that the pain gets less and less because you get to see them there.
I like to think that the people we lose live among the stars; helping the sky to provide us with light in the darkest of times.