**TRIGGER WARNING: Gendered violence, sexual violence, colonialism/colonizaton, abuse**
Many of the strategies to address violence have further strengthened broad systems of colonial power, which are themselves inherently violent. We continue to appeal to the Canadian legal system to address physical violence, calling for more policing or better laws, while knowing this system is set up to oppress, rather than help, us. The same colonial mentality that created the Indian Act to privilege the rights of men over women, and instituted residential schools to break down our family systems, serves as the foundation for the Canadian legal system. Surely we must engage with this powerful system, but appealing to law alone will not stop the violence.
So how do we begin to change norms around gendered violence without reinforcing its roots in colonial power? As we strategize, we must be careful not to reproduce the systems and ideologies that colonialism has introduced. Sexist, racist and homophobic ideas have been internalized at many levels, but colonialism’s stealthy ways make them hard to recognize.
As an example, one consequence of developing broad public awareness about the prevalence of violence against Indigenous women has been the privileging of some women’s voices over others. Moving from Vancouver’s downtown east side to offices in Ottawa and other urban centers across Turtle Island, efforts to name gendered violence have shifted from grassroots discussions to slick poster campaigns. In these moves, certain voices have been left behind, enacting a form of silencing that I believe is in crucial need of reparation. Rather than calling on our sisters in the sex trade to speak for themselves, others are asked to speak on their behalf. We must ask ourselves how colonial values continue to shape whose voices are seen as legitimate, while working to center the voices of the most marginalized women in our communities rather than only those of us with a colonial education.
So colonial violence can be understood as more than just interpersonal abuse – it is inherent in the systems that have shaped how we define ourselves and relate to one another as Indigenous people. It should go without saying that healing from violence requires rebuilding our individual and collective strength rather than reinforcing the power of the state. By centering local Indigenous knowledge in our understandings of leadership, honor, strength and love, we can redefine ‘power’ as well as ‘violence’. This requires relearning our stories and our cultural teaching in order to raise up the girls in our communities and respect them as leaders, mothers, warriors and knowledge keepers.
Winnipeg’s Most, a local hip-hop group, has purchased headstones to honour two aboriginal women who were killed within the past decade.
Members of the group recently ordered a gravestone to be made for Carolyn Sinclair, 25, whose body was found near a dumpster in the city’s West End on March 31.
Winnipeg’s Most has also purchased a memorial for Divas Boulanger, 28, a transgender person whose body was found near Portage la Prairie, Man., in 2004.
Jamie Prefontaine, who is known within Winnipeg’s Most as Brooklyn, says the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women hits close to home.
"I had an auntie who was murdered in the ’90s, so I kind of know the feeling," he told CBC News on Wednesday.
…The Central Park Five revisits New York City’s recent past to tell the story of a pack of ruthless predators.
Two packs, actually: Gotham’s prosecutors and police officers, and its reporters and columnists. Both groups went feral in 1989 against five innocent Harlem teenagers accused and then convicted in a rape and assault.
If the case doesn’t sound familiar, perhaps this word will help: wilding. That’s what police and journalists claimed was the kids’ term for what they did the night of April 19, 1989. In this film, all five former defendants reflect on what happened — one of them, Antron McCray, is heard but not seen — and none utters that verb. It’s just one of many words that were put into their mouths.
McCray and four other boys — Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond
Santana and Korey Wise — were in the north end of Central Park when a jogger was brutally ambushed. But there was no evidence that they attacked the victim, eventually identified as Trisha Meili, or even that they witnessed the crime. The five’s clothing was unbloodied, and DNA found on Meili’s body did not match any of theirs.
The lack of proof didn’t seem to matter. Five years into the crack wars that roiled American cities in that era, New York wanted a quick resolution, not logic or ambiguity. “In those days, there were probably six murders a day,” notes New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer, one of the film’s expert witnesses.
Historian Craig Steven Wilder discusses the role of racism in this and other miscarriages of justice, while social psychiatrist Saul Kassin explains why people come to accept blame for things they didn’t do — and how bystanders come to believe them.
The most devastating commentator, however, is Dwyer, who details the weakness of the evidence and explains how the prosecutors seduced the press simply with a tidy narrative. “Newspapers,” he drolly observes, “love chronologies.”
—Mark Jenkins, “Rape, Race, And The Press Entangled in ‘Central Park,’” NPR 11/22/12
Maysles Cinema is premiering The Central Park Five tonight and through next week! If you’re in the NYC area, please check out the special screening on Sunday, 11/25! The deets below:
SPECIAL SCREENING OF THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE:
@ the Oberia D. Dempsey Center Auditorium
127 West 127th Street
(between Lenox and Adam Clayton Powell)
Sunday, November 25th, 4:00pm
The Central Park Five
U.S. Theatrical Premiere
Dir. Ken Burns, David McMahon, Sarah Burns, 2012, 119 min.
Film followed by a Q&A with dirs. Sarah Burns and David McMahon and members of the Central Park 5 - Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise.
For more information and where to buy tickets for The Central Park Five, check out the org’s website!
**TRIGGER WARNING: sexual violence against women and girls, racism, misogyny**
Everyone is buzzing about Adrian Chen’s article for Gawker unmasking the identity of Michael Brutsch, better known as Violentacrez, a superuser who contributed to and moderated several of the creepiest, racist, and misogynist forums on Reddit. With reason: it’s a well-written and impressive piece of investigative journalism, and does important work unmasking someone who’s done a huge amount of harm–and the broader user and company culture at Reddit that allowed him to get away with it for so long.
That said, I have some reservations about the piece and how it’s been received. While the behavior of Brutsch and other Redditors is particularly disgusting, it’s worth noting Chen writes for an outlet that’s far from innocent when it comes to racism and misogyny (for starters).
For example: In a piece Chen wrote last year about the”Jailbait” section of Reddit, Gawker included the very images of a 14-year-old girl (stolen from her hacked Photobucket account) that Chen rightly criticized Redditors as “pervs” for posting. Is disseminating these images, without any real journalistic rationale for them, somehow better or more justified when a media outlet does it?
This isn’t an exception with Gawker and other Gawker Media properties. This is the same outlet that gave Cord Jefferson the greenlight to write an article that sexualized the rape of a 7-year-old girl and was extremely insensitive and harmful to survivors of sexual violence. Earlier this year, Jezebel posted screenshots and detailed descriptions of a Libyan woman being raped. They refused take the images down in response to backlash, on the grounds that it would be impossible for them to report the story without those images…
The reporting on Brutsch’s actions and identity is welcome. But I can’t help but note that Gawker Media profits from the very culture Chen calls out of viewing girls and women’s bodies as public property to be exploited. Of course, Gawker is hardly alone in this respect.
So, I was really glad to see a fantastic article by Whitney Phillips, a scholar whose dissertation was on internet trolling culture, unpacking how Violentacrez’s behavior has implications beyond the harm he’s done individually. She points out that 1) troll culture is built on the assumptions of white male privilege, 2) individual trolls like Violentacrez are supported by a “host culture” whose values they reflect–in VA’s case, he was wholeheartedly embraced by fellow Redditors and tolerated by the highest levels of Reddit staff, and 3) there’s not that much difference between VA’s racist and misogynist trolling and the sensationalism of “corporate media culture.”
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) would like to call on the international community to participate in the 7th annual Sisters In Spirit Vigils on October 4th 2012 by hosting a moment of silence to honour the lives of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.Sisters In Spirit Vigils are a movement for social change. October 4th is day where we honour the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls and support families who have been tragically touched by the loss of a loved one.In Canada on October 4th, tens of thousands of concerned citizens will be attending vigils from coast-to coast-to coast. Vigils take many forms, from a rally, to a candle-light vigil, to a workshop, to a moment of silence.We invite the international community, to stand with us on October 4th, not only to remember our loved ones and support families but to also remember that violence impacts all Indigenous women globally.“In this era of increased recognition of Indigenous rights outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Native Women’s Association of Canada is calling for unity,” declares NWAC President Jeanette Corbiere Lavell. “By taking the time out of our busy lives to mark October 4th and gather together,” she adds, “we can call on all levels of government to be accountable for the promises they make to Indigenous peoples.”Please visit us online for up-to-date information on the Sisters In Spirit Vigil movement. Registration forms for registering a moment of silence on October 4th are also available at http://www.nwac.ca/programs/2012-vigil-registration. For additional registration information contact: Jennifer Rankin, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 613-722-3033 x 234 Toll free: 1-800-461-4043Fax: 613-722-7687
The intensity of violence against female activists is on the rise in Guatemala. Lolita Chavez, member of the K’iche’ People’s Council, was attacked by armed men who attempted to lynch her as she was returning home after a peaceful protest against abusive extractive practices and projects affecting the environment. Photojournalist James Rodriguez from Mimundo.org explains:
During the morning of the 4th, roughly 400 residents of Quiché, along with members of the CPK, carried out a peaceful protest denouncing local mayor Estuardo Castro’s continuous arrogance and his lack of respect for the people’s refusal to sell their lands to transnational corporations, as proved during the 2010 community consultation.
As the protesters passed the community of Xetinap Quinto, a group of men armed with machetes, sticks and knives intercepted members of the CPK and proceeded to chase and beat several of them. These armed men were particularly interested in recognized leader Lolita Chávez, as they called out her name, chased her, and did manage to injure her, but not seriously. Lolita received cuts and bruises but managed to escape. Nevertheless, three other women were hospitalized due to injuries
Two weeks ago, in an area close to Guatemala City, Yolanda Oquelí Veliz, a human rights lawyer and leader of a movement against the expansion of mining activities, was also attacked when returning from a pacific protest. The blog FrontlineDefenders reports:
Yolanda is a woman human rights defender in San Jose de Gulfo who is a community leader resisting the Exmigua mine. From everything we’ve heard, from all sides, mining of minerals such as gold and silver, sand and alloys is a huge issue in Guatemala. Generally the community affected is not consulted. No objective information or public process of consultation takes place to allay fears about damage to the environment; whether the rivers will be polluted; whether the forests will be felled and thus their water supply compromised; and also, what will happen after the mining licence expires and the environment needs to be repaired and rebuilt
Yoly (as she wrote her name) has a history of intimidation because of her work. Her lawyer (pro bono) has lodged roughly 10 complaints through the legal process. She has been tear-gassed; graffiti had been written on her walls and threats against her and her children have been significant. Despite this, the Government to date has been mute.
Different networks issued Urgent Actions but the Government has not responded with the requested protection for the activists. Furthermore, civil society has been extremely quiet about the crimes.