Archive | March, 2012
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Injustice in the Justice System

26 Mar

Injustice in the Justice System

(Picture Source: Wanda Ratliff, Americans Against the Tea Party)

I love this picture. The top image refers to the misinformed idea that some girls and women invite rape by how they dress. A series of SlutWalks began across North America in response to comments from a Toronto police officer. Michael Sanguinetti, when speaking to Osgoode Hall Law School, said: “I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.” This comment was digusting, and women all over Canada and the U.S. spoke out.

But now let’s talk about Trayvon Martin. One month ago, 17 year old Trayvon Martin (140 lbs.) was walking through the Orlando, Florida gated community in which his father lived. 28 year old George Zimmerman (240 lbs.) (Head of the Neighbourhood Watch) saw the young black man in a hoodie, and called the police, saying that there was a “suspicious person” in the gated community. The police said that they were sending someone to investigate, and not to act. George Zimmerman followed, shot and killed Trayvon.

When police arrived at the scene, Zimmerman claimed self-defence. Trayvon was unarmed, and had a bag of Skittles and iced tea in his pocket. Trayvon had grass on his back, which was damp. There are many conflicting witness statements, including one who claims that the police tried to coerce her to change her statement to Zimmerman’s favour. Another said that she was cut off by the police when trying to provide details of what she had witnessed.

Other inappropriate and unprofessional police conduct:

– A narcotics detective, not a homicide detective first approached Zimmerman

– From inside the police department: “The detective peppered Zimmerman with questions, rather than allow Zimmerman to tell his story. Questions can lead a witness.

– There is no evidence of self-defence, there is simply a lack of evidence to prove that there wasn’t elf-defense

– Under the law, self-defence has to be proportional

There are evidently many police officers out there who are fantastic at their job, and this should not undermine that. But all of this shows the ineptness and the racism of the police involved in this investigation.
Online talk show host, Cenk Uyger (The Young Turks – awesome program, you should all watch) asks a question: “If a black man had shot an unarmed white man, would the shooter be arrested?” I think hell yes, not even a question. Trayvon was shot because he was black. Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested because he is white. It is occasions like this that perpetuate fear and discrimination.

Zimmerman has still not been arrested. The state has taken over the case, which is a positive sign. Go to http://www.change.org/petitions/prosecute-the-killer-of-our-son-17-year-old-trayvon-martin and demand the arrest of George Zimmerman.

And on a side note – why on earth does Neighbourhood Watch have a gun?! Keep a watch on Harper to make sure our gun laws don’t turn into the flexible laws in the US.

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Correction: Inga Muscio’s book is still in circulation at UW!

21 Mar

In my post, Sexism at UW, I mentioned that Inga Muscio’s book had been de-shelved from Dana Porter Library. This was an error.

A friend of mine at the library informed me tonight that she had taken it out a couple weeks ago to read, and she assures me that it is still in circulation.

While this does not make up for the events surrounding International Women’s Day, it does show that there are those with integrity at our school. Universities are a hub of learning and experience, and our materials should not ever be censored. If the time ever comes where our reading materials are censored, then I hope that there is a swift and loud outcry from the entire student population.

Video

More on Robocalls

19 Mar

Here is an add-on to my post about robocalls… because I love Rick Mercer and he sums it up perfectly.

Sexism at UW

16 Mar

Sexism and gender inequality is still a huge issue around the world. Women make less money, women are convicted for being victims of rape and sexual assault, and women are discriminated against simply for having a vagina (or for identifying herself as a woman). We all hear stories about the sex trade in Asia, about the oppression of voices in the Middle East and even the lack of access to contraception in the United States. But I am going to talk about what happens here, on the University of Waterloo campus.

As hopefully most of you know, last year there were posters put up around campus. These posters had a picture of Marie Curie, a mushroom cloud, and the words “The brightest woman this Earth ever created was Marie Curie, the mother of the nuclear bomb. You tell me if the plan of women leading men is still a good idea!” These posters covered those of all women running for student government. Following this was an e-mail sent out by a hacker pretending to be Feridun Hamdullahpur (UW’s President). The e-mail said that he was against women in leadership and against women attending university. Volunteers from the Women’s Centre were also harassed and received threatening e-mails.

I wish that I could say that our campus has learned from this incident. But following the shenanigans of last week, I’m afraid to that there are many who want to hold women down while the majority of the student population remains silent.

The following is information I collected after speaking with a Women’s Centre volunteer. I attempted to speak with SLC Management regarding last week’s incidents, but never received a reply.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Women’s Centre (a FEDS service) had planned several events and workshops to run throughout the week. These workshops were designed to empower women and to continue a discussion about the posters from last year.  The volunteers booked space approximately 2 months ago to hold all of their events. As per regular booking procedures, the Centre had some communication with SLC management about times and rooms, and the bookings were agreed upon.

Three of the Women’s Centre’s events went smoothly in the spaces that were booked. However, for three other events (held in partnership with WPIRG), the Centre was denied access to the spaces they had booked.  No concrete reasons were given by SLC management for this, and the spaces went unused. After being denied access to the multi-purpose room (MPR) for a self-defence workshop, one woman attempted to speak with SLC management. This manager told author Inga Muscio that she should be ashamed of the book she had written (Cunt: a declaration of Independence). Her book was carried in Dana Porter library until very recently.

In an act of peaceful protest, all attendees for the workshop formed a Congo line in the SLC. They danced around singing “Cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt!” (You know the tune). They handed out flyers with definitions from Inga’s book to passersby. In essence, the workshop on self-defence turned into an act of self-defence. (On a side note: someone didn’t like this and called the Regional Police who of course couldn’t do anything because there was nothing illegal happening.)

That evening Inga Muscio spoke, and the event went well with a great turn-out. However, Inga told the women’s centre volunteer that she felt much more welcome at other universities compared to Waterloo (including Pen State! Yes, that Pen State, with the covering up of a child molester and rapist).

The Women’s Centre volunteers also had a difficult time with marketing for their events. For example, after chalking the words “Cunt Love” onto pavement, a Campus Police officer hosed down the word “cunt” and made some volunteers feel intimidated. Additionally, many of the posters hung in Uptown Waterloo were torn down or had the word “cunt” cut out of it.

The volunteer I spoke with said that “by shutting us down, we formed a community.” The people who witnessed this happen became mobilized, and are only more encouraged to promote equality on campus.

Last year after the Marie Curie posters went up, a [female] friend of mine told me that my outrage was an overreaction and unjustified. This is bullshit. Sexism on our campus exists and it’s appalling and it makes me angry. Here is my call to action for all of you:

  • E-mail Feridun Hamdullaphur and tell him why this behaviour won’t be tolerated by students (we all pay for FEDS Services after all)
  • Call, write, or e-mail SLC Management – call them out on denying access to the Women’s Centre and WPIRG
  • Attend workshops held by the Women’s Centre and show your support

We can all use this to mobilize and show that sexism on campus should not and will not be tolerated.

Robocalls – Just more Shit Harper Did

13 Mar

As a voter in the Guelph riding, I would like to share my experience and opinion on the Conservative tactics during the 2011 federal election. The big issue currently under discussion: robocalls. Elections Canada is currently sifting through over 30,000 complaints from the Guelph riding of people receiving robocalls that gave voters misleading information about voting locations. This was following an already shady Marty Burke campaign – Conservative communications director Michael Sona had tried to steal the ballot box at an advance polling station at the University of Guelph!

I was at my parents’ home in Guelph May 2nd, and I answered the phone while my parents were at work. The call “informed” me that my voting location had changed. I mentioned it to my mom when she got home, and we both thought that it was weird. We decided to go to the location advertised online and in the paper. When we got there, there were Elections Canada signs, so we voted and didn’t think twice about the unusual phone call. We were just one of over 30,000 households in Guelph to receive this robocall. Guelph was a targeted riding that the Conservatives hoped to win in the 2011. All eligible voters in my family openly support parties other than Conservative (no blue signs on our lawn!) so it makes sense that we were one of the targeted households.

The robocalls have been traced to an IP address belonging to “Pierre Poutine” in Guelph. The House of Commons has unanimously agreed to boost the powers of Elections Canada to prevent issues like this in the future. I think that this NDP-proposed action is a positive step following the despicable actions in the last election. I hope that Canadians don’t forget about this and all of the shit Harper did, and hold his government responsible.

In the end, I am proud that Guelph was one of the few Liberal ridings in Ontario that remained Liberal. Frank Valeriote has been an ideal MP, often going against his own party and truly representing his constituency.

***Facts outside of my personal experience were taken from a Globe and Mail article ***

#BetheChange

10 Mar

I was trying to avoid blogging about the “meme du jour”, Kony2012, but the blind support of the campaign from the majority of my Facebook friends has convinced me otherwise.

We can all agree that Kony is an awful war criminal, and what the LRA does is terrible. We can also all agree that Invisible Children’s Koney2012 campaign is an example of brilliant marketing.

My first impression when I watched the Kony2012 video was “his kid is soooo cute!”, my second was “Oh wow, I am totally being manipulated,” and my third was “White people saving Africans? How original.” After watching the video, I let it all set in and do some more research about the issue and campaign.

One of my main issues with this campaign is that it is imperialistic and perpetuates the idea of “us vs. them.” It is also indicative that no Ugandan or even African is on their board of directors.

The main call to action for this campaign is to gain political support for US military intervention. The US military is supporting the Ugandan military, which has been criticized of various human rights violations.

There have also been criticisms of questionable finances, and huge amounts of money going towards film production.

Invisible Children addresses a lot of this critiques here.

I would also recommend this blog.

If you still decide to support Invisible Children’s campaign after educating yourself, just remember: putting a hashtag in front of a name on Twitter does not make you an activist. Yes, awareness is the first step, but awareness alone does not bring about change. Instead, I challenge you to get active and DO something. Ghandi’s quote is cheesy but still powerful: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Are women too modest when it comes to business?

7 Mar

So far I have been failing at maintaining this blog, and have been dedicating my time to other things (school, guard team, Zikomo Bags, you know the drill). But today I have an incredible sense of accomplishment from FINALLY publishing the new Zikomo Bags website that I have put countless hours into and am inspired to blog.

Today I was browsing the Globe and Mail website (okay, I admit it, I was watching the Kony video now that I have Internet again), and came across an article about women and entrepreneurship. Since getting involved with Zikomo Bags, I have been drawn to the business side of development, so the article piqued by interest. In the article, “For women in business, modesty is not the best policy” Carolyn Lawrence argues that women’s modesty is the reason many entrepreneurs have limited success.

Most interesting though, were the comments from readers. Some readers decided that modesty is an attribute and actually makes for a better leader. These people also think that women should be celebrated because they don’t boast like men; men should strive to be more humble like women.  Others say that women are modest because when “they behave like men” they’re called a bitch. Then there are those with the “who cares” philosophy.

Evidently there are some gross generalizations in the article and the comments, but what do you readers think? Is modesty a hindrance or an attribute to women in business? Or is it completely irrelevant? Here is my opinion: check out the amazing new website that I designed – www.zikomobags.com!