My Problem with Privilege

Disclaimer: This is my opinion and perspective only. I am not trying to tell other people what to think and I am not looking for a debate/argument. I’m actually doing pretty bad lately and really don’t want to deal with a giant backlash. I’m not trying to speak badly about anyone and honestly I’m pretty scared of potential backlash but I wanted to publish this to reference. Please, don’t hurt me.

Opression by Narnia • http://flic.kr/p/bn92FL

Opression by Narnia • http://flic.kr/p/bn92FL

Life is hard.

Regardless of where you are from, your race/gender/height/weight/ability, or any other factor, I would like to propose that we all have, at some point, had challenges or difficulties to face. I repeat, life is hard.

Relating this to social justice, and anti-oppression work, I think the term privilege is often used to encourage people to be more conscious and reflect upon their attitudes and ideas towards others. …An effort to decrease judgement and create understanding. In practice however, I think the use of the term privilege creates many assumptions and judgements against others. For example…

Jazmin Singer recently published an article describing her experiences as both a (to use her words) fat person and a thin person. In her article she referenced the “privilege” of being thin. I think I could argue equally for the “privilege” of being fat. I am not trying to say being fat is easy, because as mentioned, LIFE IS HARD. But being thin has its own challenges. As a child I was very small for my age and was often bullied for my size. People would call me anorexic, bulimic, and on a few occasions some other girls took me to the bathroom and tried to force me to throw up. Some people might not agree with me. Perhaps my struggle and pain as a thin person is not great enough to validate pointing out the privilege of other sizes. But I’d like to propose, it is not a contest of who is worse off. We all have the ability to suffer, to feel pain (physical or emotional) and hardship in some capacity. What might be a step to one person is a mountain to someone else. Some people might have more challenges to overcome than others. That doesn’t make any struggle less of a struggle.

In another case I read an article that said, “White people aren’t told that the colour of their skin is a problem very often.” – for me, this was not the case. Growing up in a mixed Canadian community I was part of a white minority in a primarily South Asian population. I was bullied at school, there were certain expectations of how I would act because of my race, I was often excluded from social events and was definably not a part of what my classmates called “brown pride”.

I am not ashamed to have lived as a thin, white, middle-class female from North America. Believe it or not, life has been hard for me too. I get stopped at the border and asked about drugs, I get physically searched down almost every time I get on a plane. There have been times when food was not available to me and the prospect of homelessness loomed. LIFE IS HARD.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for oppression. I think it is wrong to discriminate against others based on any number of factors including but not limited to their: gender, race, size, ability, appearance, religion, or species. But I think often in activist work to stop this discrimination, other people, perceived to be more “normal” or better off  or “privileged” are denied the benefit of the doubt.

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#takethevow #iamsilent

Dear World!

Just letting you know I am doing a vow of silence tomorrow to raise awareness for all of the children and slaves who are silenced every day by poverty, disease and exploitation. I won’t stand by while children are subjected to exploitation, poverty and the denial of their basic rights. Every day, millions of children are silenced by these abuses. But we can take a stand for children everywhere.
I have decided I will use my voice in work meetings (as it is my duty to) but not outside of that time so if I do not respond to you tomorrow, this is why. I will also not be text messaging, e-mailing, tweeting or updating Facebook (gasp!).

If you want more information about what I am doing please visit: http://www.freethechildren.com/vowofsilence/
I will also be collecting donations for Free the Children tomorrow so if you have any spare change and want to give someone else the gift of education I would be happy to collect it from you (but no pressure).

Tomorrow I will Occupy #Vancouver …

and I will do everything I can to re-enact this tommorrow at the Vancouver Art Gallery:

Ask yourself internally what kind of world do I want to live in and listen. Do it now.

And now ask yourself, how can I make that happen? How can I make that happen from a place of love, compassion, joy and equanimity.

-Deepak Chopra

This video from 1:30 to 3:00 really sums it up for me.

If I am a spokesman for all of the people who think that we should not have 24 million people in this country who can’t find a full time job, that we should not have 50 million people in this country who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick, that we shouldn’t have 47 million people in this country who need government help in order to feed themselves, and we shouldn’t 15 million families who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home, okay. I’ll be that spokesman. – Alan Grayson

According to the Occupy Vancouver website:

We, the Ninety-Nine Percent, come together with our diverse experiences to transform the unequal, unfair, and growing disparity in the distribution of power and wealth in our city and around the globe. We challenge corporate greed, corruption, and the collusion between corporate power and government. We oppose systemic inequality, militarization, environmental destruction, and the erosion of civil liberties and human rights. We seek economic security, genuine equality, and the protection of the environment for all.

We are inspired and in solidarity with global movements including those across the Middle East, Europe, and the Occupy Wall Street / Occupy Together movement in over 1000 cities in North America. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

See you on the streets.

PS: I might do some of this too…

PEACE & LOVE.

Public Salon

From June 9th 2010…

I was one of many lucky SFU students in attendance at Vancouver’s Public Salon. It was at the Vancouver Playhouse downtown and there were many interesting people both speaking and attending. The event was basically like the TED talks of Vancouver. They’ve uploaded the videos of the speeches. Here are some of my thoughts. BTW my favorites were John Fluevog, and Al Etmanski.

The first speaker was Douglas Todd. He made several generalizations about Vancouvites. We have a mistrust of traditions and institutions. We live in ethnic enclaves. We are not religious but rather, spiritual. We love the outdoors and physical activity.We are a tolerant people who believe in the “live and let live” principle…. looks like i’m in the right city! He wnt on to say that we also lack a certain culture and community of our own. I agree that more needs to be done to develop a true British Columbian community. More needs to be done to develop a world community… Community is important.

Next was Patrick Condon. He was speaking about one of the ideas that guides my lifestyle. If you do something well people will want to copy you. He was speaking about BC’s city planning and infrastructure however I try to apply this to my life. It’s why I am vegan, why I upcycle, why I buy sustainable (or try to). It’s also why I blog. One person alone doesn’t make a difference but one person can inspire others to join then, which is how real change is made. He also talked about and advocated from getting Trams instead of building skytrain extensions. They are much more cost effective and can cover a much wider area. At the end of his presentation I commented ” I heart trams” : )

John Fluevog said that it is up to individuals to make change and take ownership. By being yourself and letting your personality shine we create community. He also talked about some interesting design related initiatives that his business started. They allow users to design products and advertisements through contests.So I guess really you need to have personality but also allow others to show theirs.

Major Harjit Sajjan was talking about how important diversity (ethnic) is in the Canadian Forces. I liked what he had to say but it also reminded me of the old scenario. Should the most qualified Canadian get the job, or someone based on their minority status. I think this is a highly situational question. Perhaps some jobs require more diversity than others. Also, sometimes there are things beyond qualifications that make you the best candidate. Weather it be personality, ethics or experience.

Arran Stevens

“Intelligence is enlightened by love.”

“The vitality, richness of life is to love and be loved.”

You can check out http://www.globalcivic.org/index.php?/public-salons/salon-5/ to see all the talks!

Inception –

Inception PosterI FINALLY saw Inception yesterday. Now I know what everyone’s been talking about. First off this post contains spoilers but if you haven’t seen the movie I recommend you get out there and do so.

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This movie made me think about a lot of things and i’d like to express how much I LOVE movies like this. I’ve been known to host a mind@#$% movie night every now and then and this will definitely be shown at a future home screening. It’s so refreshing to come out of something inspired and confused at the same time.

I think Inception offers us some important lessons. First off, we all have a choice about how we create our world to be. Which reality do you choose to live in? Does it matter? Maybe it was Mal who had the right idea, as long as you are happy why waste time judging if something is “real”. She may have gone mad and killed herself but I think that was how Cobb created her to be, both by use of inception and by his own imagination (if we conclude that the movie took place in a dream). In my opinion, Cobb is perhaps the most insane because he could not dream… maybe that tells us that the whole movie was a dream? Can you have natural dreams within a dream? Debatable…

The movie also reminded me about being present; living in the moment. LIVE live right? It doesn’t matter where you are as long as you accept your surroundings and fully engage with them. I think it would be foolish to lose yourself in a dream forever, however that is not to dismiss the power of imagination. Create amazing beautiful things and think of impossible dreams, but don’t lose sight of where you are.

The whole experience was pretty trippy. I went to an afternoon showing and it was still daylight when I came out (not as disjointing as seeing a matinee of the hangover [ I was like WTF?!? Where am I?], but still disorientating). I had to go hug one of the trees outside the theatre to feel if it was real. I needed to feel it’s barky skin. It felt alive… btw.

Cobb’s whole relationship with Mal was both beautiful and disturbing. There is some movie that I can’t recall which said that no one should ever be the only one. You have to rely on yourself and I think even when you are married you are still your own person and can’t invest EVERYTHING in one other person. I think he was way to attached to her, that said love makes people do CRAZY things so I can sort of understand how someone could fall into that trap. All of that though, feelings, emotions, relationships… it’s all in our heads. We really do create our own reality.

All this talk about dreaming also reminded me to watch Joe Rogan’s DMT rant. If you don’t know what DMT is, it stands for Dimethyltryptamine. In summary it is naturally produced by the human brain and found in most living things. It is a highly illegal, highly potent psychedelic. Listening to his interview made me a little bit sad that we waste time and money outlawing things like that when nuclear bombs are being developed that have the power to destroy the planet, yet we aren’t making those chemical illegal.

I don’t think I would ever personally experiment with that stuff just because I can only remember about 6 dreams I have had in my lifetime and they have all been very scary. I think what makes dreams memorable to me is that feeling of adrenaline you get from a really intense dream… and I think having more DMT than my brain produces naturally could incur very bad effects and a negative experience.

In short, GO SEE INCEPTION! ANd go learn about new things : )

Keep dreaming,

Jenni

Crazy Dream

Maybe it’s because the primer in my house is still very fresh and the fumes have continued to influence me but I had a really intense dream last night. I must have been thinking about gay rights because of all of the press coverage surrounding California over turning Prop 8… anywho here’s what happened.

I was in some town and they decided that they wanted to eliminated homosexuality. There was one prominent (yet faceless) gay person who they wanted to kill because they were gay. Everyone was sort of unhappy about this but everyone was also going with the flow and not doing anything about it. After a long time in this hostage-like situation (the dude was tied to a chair) I went into this room by myself. I was thinking about what was happening (one of those the-wheels-are-turning moments) and then I had an epiphany. I decided it was stupid for me to stand idly by while they kill that guy for no reason. I went back into the other room and gave this big speech about how stupid it was for everyone to just let this happen (I swear there were some really good quotes in there that I can’t remember now! haha). I was so scared because they could easily kill me for taking a stand against what was happening. There was chair kicking and yelling involved and when I was done everyone sort of rallied with me and took a stand for the man.

When I woke up I even had a bit of an adrenaline rush from all of the revolutionary excitement. Crazy. What does it mean? I don’t know, but it was certainly an exciting start to my day!

Movie Theatre’s and Charlie St. Cloud

Yesterday was such an odd day for me. I had so many places I could have gone and people I could have been with but my body needed to rest and so I listened. I stayed home and did “nothing” (which for me equates to playing guitar, dancing, blogging, catching up on e-mail and blogs, handstands, and napping). The feeling reminded me of some archived i am being posts, sometimes saying “yes” to yourself is saying “no” to other people. I am so grateful I could reclaim that day to rest and recharge my batteries. Late at night my Mom invited me out to the movies. My plan was to watch one in the backyard but I ended up going out with her instead. We went to see Charlie St. Cloud, the new Zac Efron flick. As of late, every time I go to the movies I experience the same discomfort. The minute you walk into the theatre it is so loud. There are so many colours and screens and so much advertising everywhere. It is so much to process. It makes me appreciate reading books. All of this consumer culture in one place, it’s a bit frightening to be honest. No wonder i’m becoming a hermit, you can’t take me out to eat or to see a movie… what is a young person to do with me?

Once the movie stated though it was able to take me out of that for a while. The movie was good, it definitely drew me in and I was surprised a number of times along the way. I did think that Zac Efron (although sexy) looked too old to be a high school senior at the beginning. Also I found the pacing at the end a little funny, it felt like it should have either ended sooner or continued on. The movie asks us the question, will you move on to the future or stay in the past?

I think I’m going forward, for once, which is likely a very good thing : )

Also afterwards my Mom was like, “His eyes! You could drown in his eyes!” (of Zac Efron) which I found really funny : D

Review: No Impact Man + Promises

This is from a while ago. I am just finishing it now… Enjoy!

No Impact Man Book CoverI had a somewhat sleepless night last night. I think I was up past 4:30AM, however because of my restlessness I was able to finish reading Colin Beavan’s book “No Impact Man”. Coincidentally (or magically? : P) he responded to the e-mail I wrote him yesterday as well with a simple “Thanks Jenni!”. I found the book to be much better than the movie but they compliment each-other well. The book explains some of the things that were unclear in the film. I’d like to share a short selection from my favorite passage:

“…the question isn’t wether or not I make a difference. The question is wether I want to be the type of person who tries. We can all make a difference. We all have the responsibility to make a difference.”

This mentality kinda relates back to a thought i’ve been having lately. I think, in general, in is better to break promises than not make them at all. Of course, if you can keep your promises that is even better but by making a promise you show that you care. Let’s look at a few examples. When I was little my Dad promised to take me to Disneyland. I am 18 now and have never been to Disneyland with my Dad. It’s too bad that we haven’t been able to make this trip together but by him making the promise it showed me that we wanted to take me and that the desire/thought was there. For another example, I was talking with this boy a while back (ooo scandalous aren’t I hehe). I remember him saying to me “I’m not making any promises but…” and I remember thinking that I don’t really want to spend a great deal of time with anyone who doesn’t care enough to make me a promise. Someone who doesn’t care enough to try, or doesn’t have the desire to, isn’t the best choice of friend. But enough about promises, back to No Impact Man.

The book was really well written, which is probably why I finished it so quickly. It was very funny and entertaining while still communicating the information. My only criticism would be it was a little vague at times. For example, he never really talks about what they used instead of toilet paper. While I understand his need for privacy, specific information about parts of the project would have been helpful to me, as I would like to implement portions of it in my own life.

They’ve started a site where people can take part in a “No Impact Week” Challenge. I don’t know that i’ll be able to take part in this until my show is done but this summer I PROMISE I am going to have a no impact week. And i’ll be sure to blog about it : )