Welcome back to my 2019 blogging challenge. How it works if you're here for the first time: every two weeks throughout 2019, I publish a blog post containing a short list of notable and interesting stuff I come across. These are usually in either English or in French. Here's the round-up from between the 13th of April, 2019 and the 26th of April 2019.
This week is heavy. We start with Ryan McMahon's detailed and heart-rending podcast about the unsolved murder of Indigenous teenagers in Thunder Bay. Then we look at an hour-long "debate" on the existence of "state racism" in France — and how I feel it relates to the PL21 on "laïcité" happening in Québec today. And we end with the extraordinary poem "The Palace" by Kaveh Akbar published in the New Yorker.
Thunder Bay with Ryan McMahon, fall 2018
The highest homicide and hate crime rates in the country. A mayor charged with extortion. A police chief who faced trial for obstruction of justice. Nine tragic deaths of Indigenous high schoolers.
Why does it all happen here?
This is a 5-episode podcast by Ryan McMahon that can be found on the Canaladand website. Over 5 episodes, the podcast turns the "real life murder mystery genre" on its head, because the question: "Why does it all happen here?" has an answer: colonialism. Because racism. Because all settlers are responsible for Thunder Bay, but that answer also allows all settlers to shrug off their culpability and responsibility.
This podcast was incredibly well executed and heart-rending. Fellow settlers: Listen. Get angry enough to interrogate your own racism and complicity. Thunder Bay is not unique in Canada.
And, if you are in Tiohtiá:ke/Montréal, donate money or your time to the Native Women's Shelter of Montréal.
Interdit d’Interdire concernant « le racisme d’Etat » en France : une analyse d’une heure où il faut supporter d’entendre le pire, la confirmation du racisme sous toutes ses formes, et, heureusement, une sensée contradiction, from racisme-social.info, 18 april 2019
The translation of the article name above is: "Interdit d'Interdire (name of the show) looks at "state racism" in France: an hour-long analysis where you have to endure the worst, the confirmation of racism in all its forms, and, thankfully, a sensical contradiction." The name of the show "Interdit d'Interdire" means "Forbidden to Forbid." I would also arguably translate "state racism" as "systemic racism" — but that is also one of the intricacies of their discussion so conserving the "state" is useful, too. Read the first article recap and discussion here and then the second article recap and discussion here, the original YouTube video can be found here.
Because many anglos may not be able to follow either the analysis from racisme-social.info or the original hour-long show, here is a quick recap in English:
Host of the show Interdit d'Interdire Frédéric Taddéi invites Judith Bernard and Norman Afari, who both believe systemic racism is real and embedded in the French state, to argue the existence of "state racism" with former Marine Le Pen advisor Jean Messiha and right-wing tabloid journalist Hadrien Mathoux. The discussion that follows is heated, to say the least.
If you've been following the issue with the Projet de Loi 21 from our CAQ government here in Québec (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, here is a quick exposé of the issue from Chatelaine), a lot of the discussion and points raised by Judith Bernard and Norman Afari on systemic racism will feel extremely relevant. Since 2004, French law forbids young girls from wearing the veil in public schools, and there have been clear negative repercussions in outcomes for young Muslim French girls, as noted in in a sweeping study from Stanford University. In Québec as it is in France, it is further complicated because of how the media has utterly normalized conspiracy belief in "radical Islamization" and that it is a real threat here in Québec. Nevermind that women who wear the veil for religious reasons here are a very, very small minority.
For Canadians outside of Québec who don't really care about PL21 or what the extreme-right CAQ is up to, I do urge you to start caring. Ford, Kenney, Legault, these Premiers are all pandering or outright mutually supportive with the extreme fascist right.
The Palace by Kaveh Akbar, The New Yorker, 18th of April, 2019
I don't want to write too much about this one, other than to encourage you to read it. I certainly can't introduce the poem better than Kevin Young can, as he writes in his short introduction: "Kaveh Akbar’s long poem “The Palace” is both magical and matter-of-fact. The voice is by turn declarative and distraught. Finally, the poem is about love, including the poet’s love for a country in which he is “always elsewhere,” with poetry the ultimate homeland." The poem leaves you breathless, the layout is thoughtful and does a really good job of using paralax scrolling unobtrusively. This thoughtful poem is a good place to end this list on.
...And that's all for this week. Don't hesitate to leave a comment here, on Twitter @gersandelf or by email. I also accept recommendations for what to feature next time if you have any suggestions for me. Thanks for reading!