I AM LOSING MY SHIT.
Some person I’ve met three times, who is dating an old university friend of my partner’s, posts this on Facebook this morning and I thought (and asked) if it was a joke.
In English: “Hello, you are welcome to the first Quebecois colony under the rule of China.”
First, the facts: I live in Québec City. I work in the downtown. I know 2 Chinese people who live here. Both are the recent owners of the nearest corner stores to my house. Both speak French, English, in addition to their mother tongues. I have lived in this city for 4 years. There are very, very few Chinese people in this city.
In fact, I was curious to know exactly how few, I looked it up - according to the 2011 Canadian census data, there are 575 people who say Cantonese or Mandarin are their mother tongue who live in Quebec City, and only 460 of these say it is the language most spoken at home. That means a whopping 0.075% of the city’s population. Even so, according to these French-speaking Quebeckers, that 0.075% and their corporation-owning compatriots, represent a real and viable threat to Quebec’s language, culture, and natural resources.
In response to my questions about where, when and how this purported “colonization” is taking place, people have given me all the typical tried-and-true “but I’m not racist!” answers:
- "But I’ve been to China! I can’t be racist."
- "But I have Asian friends!"
- "But I briefly dated this one Asian guy one time, I can’t be racist."
- and four, count ‘em, FOUR PEOPLE have said variations of “I like Chinese food, I can’t be racist.”
You can read above for yourself if you understand French. Several people have stated variations of, “the immigrants who come to Québec just need to learn French. Otherwise, they should go back to where they came from.” Or better yet, how terrible it would be if Québec City became as multicultural as Montreal. In their words: “
In reality, the number of francophones in Quebec who do not have access to services in French in Quebec is astoundingly low. It is actually worse in the only officially bilingual province in Canada, New Brunswick. Study after study has established that not enough people actually make official complaints - which involves making a phone call to a government hotline - about not being served in French, and/or do not demand to be served in French from the person serving them or the establishment itself.
All of this to say, xenophobia in this province makes me fucking sick. It is so rampant, so uninformed, so fucking disgusting, and it seems to be everywhere I turn. Today it was on Facebook, glaring me in the face with every little notification. The people disagreeing with me in this comments thread are so fundamentally convinced they are right, and that I am mean and disrespectful for using the words “close-minded” and, god forbid, actually name racism. They say this to me. They say I am weak and close-minded when I tell them I cannot continue such an exhausting bombardement.
These people say these things to me, not knowing who I am, what I’ve seen and experienced. They do not know that I’m the one who held the Chinese grocer’s hand, the very same one they criticize for not speaking French well enough to their liking, as she caught her breath and tried to stop herself from crying after three teenage boys told her to go back to her country because she politely asked one of them to repeat himself when demanding a pack of cigarettes. That I have seen countless close friends, best friends even, leave this province largely because they are exhausted by how hateful and critical some Francophone Quebeckers can be towards their accents, their syntax, their grammar, when they make the effort to take French classes, when they try to master the language. When I’m the one who told an old hateful hateful white Québécois woman to take her hands off a Moroccan woman who was wearing a hijab - who FOR THE RECORD spoke French, NOT THAT IT SHOULD FUCKING MAKE A DIFFERENCE - when she started muttering threats under her breath, telling her to go “back to her country.” That I listened to her tell me how it wasn’t the first, and wouldn’t be the last time that that had happened to her in her six years in Quebec City.
They don’t know that I, who even though I have a Québécois name (Marie Gabrielle Julia Caron osti de tabarnak), a Québécois father, and two Québécois grandmothers, has been harrassed, yelled at and even spat at for simply being overheard speaking English in a primarily Francophone city… perhaps more times than I can count. When, even though I have always spoken English and French all my life, have always been asked “where I’m from” when I slip an English word into a phrase. When I constantly told I will never be Québécois enough.
These days, I don’t particularly want to be. Québécois people sound so so scared, as opposed to proud. Your hatred masked as national pride and misguided cultural protectionism alienates the fuck out of so many people, ruins their days, their weeks, their emotional and physical well-being.
This is what happens when the dominant discourse, which has completely distorted the facts, manifests itself in this way. In this kind of every day, lazy, uninformed racism.
This makes me so mad. This makes me so, so, so mad.
quick post i wrote while i was enraged last night for shameless magazine’s blog, where i quote some of my tumblr heroes.
Just a reminder
There are countries with depleting sources of fresh water out there
And we’re sitting here bitching about shithead hipsters in headdresses
you see, sometimes i check out the tumblrs of people who reblog a lot of my posts, and i’m kind of baffled to find things like this.
just a reminder: pretty much the number one reason why i still write and share shit online so much is to encourage people to think critically about how fashion (yes! frivolous, silly, vacuous fashion) can sometimes be harmful and violent to people who don’t fit into the narrow category of what is “acceptable.” fat people. people of colour. people with disabilities. queer people. trans* people. to challenge readers to think about why it is acceptable for a white person to “dabble” in “ethnic prints” or “exotic colours” while people who are PART of the cultures being appropriated are constantly erased or tokenized, objectified, and reduced to one-dimensional stereotypes.
i also try to point out, time and time again, how that these questions are not completely separated from “real world, actually important” issues. that while they may not be government policy or legislation, they are issues that have “real” impacts on the quality of people’s lives.
firstly, we’re still “sitting here bitching about shithead hipsters in headdress” because they keep wearing them.
we’re still “sitting here bitching about shithead hipsters in headdress” because i still get at least one email a month telling me that things i’ve written on my blog have encouraged people to look differently at these questions. that they’ve shared my post with their little sister who dressed up as an “indian princess” at some frat party, and that it started productive conversations. because i’ve gotten comments from germany, australia, iceland, france, from people saying they had never looked at this question that way.
we’re still “sitting here bitching about shithead hipsters in headdress” because it can be an accessible, easy way for a lot of (sometimes well-intentioned) uninformed white people who have never met a native person in their life understand the systemic violence and oppression they have faced, and continue to face, but also to recognize that they are still living breathing human beings who deserve far more than to be tokenized by “shithead hipsters” who think their traditional headdresses look cool.
and just because sometimes, we’re still “sitting here bitching about shithead hipsters in headdresses” does NOT mean we aren’t challenging bigger picture issues.
i get it. i’m sick of them too. i wrote that fucking article in 2010! more than two years ago! and yet i still get hundreds of hits a day on it. i’m sick of opening fashion magazines and seeing yet another advertisement or photoshoot featuring some regurgitation of the same old mess. i’m sick of visiting websites or stores to shop at and wondering if i should boycott them (or if that even helps) because they sell bullshit products and market them in not only shitty - but illegal - ways.
in fact, i’ve mostly stopped going to shows and music festivals because one too many concerts have been ruined for me by dumb white girls in “warpaint” and feather headdresses.
so yeah, i hear you. i wish i didn’t have to hear about it anymore either.
but dismissing the people who write about these issues and challenge people because “there are countries with depleting sources of fresh water out there” is just… absurd. as if people don’t understand that there is a “bigger picture” question going on out here.
just a reminder.
every once in a while, i kind of stop myself and think woah - i’ve been a lot of places, accomplished a lot of awesome things. today was one of those days. maybe it was the weather that clearly marked the change in seasons, seeing an old friend who is still very dear to my heart, or hunting for one image from years ago taken by a friend i don’t talk to anymore… but today it hit me hard. how much, and how little, i’ve changed.
these photos were taken between may 2009 and february 2012. there were some rough days, heartbreaks, declined bank cards, panic attacks between those days. but i always look for the little treasures, try to focus on the great shit and not sweat all the little failures.
also, do yourself a favour and read bossy femme’s latest post on self-care being radical and awesome. to me, sometimes self-care means being anti-social when the house is full of guests, taking the time to breathe, tuning out the bad thoughts in my head by blasting great pop music. sometimes it means taking the time to go out of your way to photograph graffiti on the street that makes you smile, and/or feel a little less alone. that someone else tried to slow down the rush of the day.
ah, and food.
making and eating really good food.
i get really, really tempted to publicly post the conversations i have with the assholes who tag their photos #indian, #headdress and #squaw in the hopes that i won’t have to have the same inane conversation twenty million fucking times.
yes, you’re young, you’re white, you live in america, you think wearing a headdress and posting pictures of it to tumblr (with all of 5 notes if you’re lucky) means you’re hip and cool and ”appreciating” native folks and culture. even if you don’t know anything about the history of said headdress. even if you refer to it as an “accessory.”
no, you’re wrong.
oh, you’re a big meanie. you and your stupid blog are mean.
you think i’m being mean in these private, civil, tame conversations? i’ll show you fucking mean. wait ‘til you see mean.
tell me not to.
tell me not to.
tell me not to.
tell me to save my breath.
ah, this lovely gal again. how appropriate i find her now on my tumblr dashboard. thanks, jessica.
i’ve had this image saved on the three computers i’ve owned in the past decade. i’ve posted it to livejournal communities for “inspiration,” shown it to hairdressers. i bought my first pair of t-strap shoes because of her, i’ve invented stories of her in my mind, i’ve wondered what her tattoos are of. all i really knew about her is what my (very tattooed) friend ursula told me in a livejournal comment: “the first pic with the zebra, that girl is a circus freak show girl haha, back in the 20’s and 30’s girls with tattoos were pretty rare… ” i always admired her more for that, and wouldn’t have thought of it that way. in short, this image has been completely fundamental in my aesthetics, my imagination, from the time i was in my late teens until now.
sometimes i dream of having a tattoo of a tattooed lady on me, and i still see her face. her cupid’s bows lips. she’d have to be big, either on my thigh or on the back of my lower left leg.
also, i’ve been thinking about how it’s an image i know nothing about. absolutely nothing factual or true or verifiable. that intrigues me somewhat more than if i knew her name, or at least when the photograph had been taken… but mostly, it frustrates me. i saw it for the first time probably about 7 or 8 years ago and have just always liked it. but where? i probably saw it online and right clicked, save as. who is she? who took the photo? is it a closeup of a larger photograph? who scanned it and shared it online?
today when i hunt, all the sources are photobuckets, pinterest, tumblr, random places scattered about. the best quality one is on someone’s livejournal info page that was last touched in 2009. sourcing back to other places, but never to the information i’m looking for.
the internet is (or will soon become) an archivist’s worst nightmare.
“For the longest time, I bought into the idea that being interested in fashion, all while trying to combat and challenge the many ways the kyriarchy manifests itself in a capitalistic (albeit creative) industry was simply not possible. But after getting fed up with embracing the shame of that conundrum for years, I started to ask myself: Why should being progressive AND loving putting together a fantastic outfit be mutually exclusive?
Can fashion be part of the revolution?
Is it already?”
- new post up at kickaction.ca as part of their 2012 blogging carnaval. check it out, it’s kind of revisiting why i wanted to start my fashion blog in the first place way back in 2009.
also, there are a few photos of me as an awkward teen.
if tumblr had competitions, sedmikrasky/daisies film stills and gifs would win *hands down* in the category: “images from films that circulate uncredited and even when they are credited the number of reblogs and hearts inacurrately reflects the percentage of people who have actually taken the time to watch aforementioned influential and important film that they probably should and would probably love”
just do it. it’s in your best interest.
/film snob moment
curating my internet spaces
i’m feeling pretty exhausted/frustrated with the “social media” element of the internet these days. overdue for a facebook break. deleted my short-lived pinterest account. hating on tumblr (but still wasting hours on it). unfollowing massive amounts of folks who post cool shit but don’t use sources/credit ever? using twitter… without a cell phone.
thinking about how to frame these modern conundrums. has anyone written about this shift in an interesting way? lately i’m focusing more on the impact new social media platforms are having on artists (as opposed to the impact on relationships/friendships, i.e. “FOMO”). thinking more of the constant stream of images, which were made by a photographer/artist/person, but instead just become part of a stream.
the evolution of flipping through magazines, where writers and photographers and designers are credited and paid, to the hypersaturated web, where overwhelming amounts photos/gifs/images are “right click saved as.” shared again and again, uncredited, stripped of their context, without anyone being able to make a name for themselves. who is to blame? what is lost/what could be gained? responsibility of users vs the terms of service. having a “how to”/101 that people would actually read.
i have a lot of questions! and a lot of feelings! what do you think?
IF ONLY THIS WERE ACTUALLY SARCASTIC/A PARODY
BUY YOUR WAY TO A VERY LIMITED IDEA OF BEAUTY
CAPITALISM AT ITS FUCKING FINEST
I WANT TO RIP MY EYES OUT
I WISH I COULD LAUGH BUT I JUST WANT TO BARF
ALL OVER THIS