The Hangover, my version

 

washinghairDecember 31 — the last night of what had been a peculiar year, to say the least– I watched the hours and minutes run down with my typical celebration. A few hours earlier in the evening, I did what many a wishful thinker would, rushed out to the local convenience store and bought a lottery ticket. There had been cosmic signs all week prior about the appearance of a certain number that would be the key with my name on it to unlocking the million-dollar win. I did this despite a conversation with the Great Cosmic Voice that had told me earlier in the year I was free to buy lottery tickets for my own amusement but I wasn’t going to win. Yet, since a certain number kept appearing, it being the number nine, I decided that maybe there as a bit of a wobble in the space-time continuum that would let me slip through. Or maybe, I could cheat using clever insight. After all, the individual digits in the year 2016 add up to nine.

Anticipation of the result of my little amusement was more interesting to me than TV news flashes of mass midnight celebrations the world over, made effervescent by firework artistry. There was no need to keep watch for the clock rolling over to midnight with the usual 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and musical break out of Auld Lang Syne. Like a World Cup soccer match, so many millions are fixed on a moment that you can feel when it happens without having to be tied to a television screen or radio. Instead, my media report had to be about whether or not those numbers sussed out from the ether would change my 2017.

At the stroke of midnight, with the sound of fireworks bursting somewhere in the neighbourhood, there online, appearing first, was the number nine. Nevertheless, all my other clever purmutations of the number failed to present themselves. I had so wanted to have something on the crest of this New Year to be my own version of effervescent fireworks. Instead, I felt deflated.

Checking social media moments later meant looking at short messages which, inbetween wishes for a ‘Happy New Year’, continue to ruminate over the strangeness of the electoral results in the U.S.

Although the sum total of my bubbly consumption on New Year’s Eve consisted of ginger ale thinned with club soda to mitigate the sweetness, I still woke on the first day of 2017 with a post New Year’s Eve hangover — the emotional kind.

Thankfully, January 1 was a sunny day in this region, which helped lessen the despair. The other hangover treatment that made a difference was to take a hot shower and thoroughly wash 2016 out of my hair. washinghair

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Waking up for the post racial

whiteMy social circle is multi-ethnic and therefore includes some individuals who would identify as White. They are all, as the saying goes, ‘nice people’. We hang out. We socialize. We talk and text by phone with each other. Yet, every single person in my social circle who is White holds some aspect of the White-way-is-the-right-way (W-w-i-t-r way) mindset that rests on implicit preeminence of White culture and history and conversely imbedded anti-Black perceptions.

How can that be?

The scale and depth of race affectation that constitutes the foundation of modern Western culture means there would hardly be any person who has not been influenced by and inculcated with the W-w-i-t-r way. It pervades our way of life from the standard measurements for off-the-rack clothing to the demographics of prison populations to the quality of healthcare, and education curriculum content. Systemic, as the social scientists like to say.

More intimately, there are configurations of one-to-one racism:

  • There are the overts. Wrong and strong, the overts make other White persons uncomfortable as well.
  • There are the coverts – the subtle ones. The ones who, after an encounter with them, leave you asking yourself, ‘Did what I think just happened actually happen?’
  • Finally, there are the unaware, of which there are basic categories.
  • — Those who never have to give the matter a single thought; perhaps that comes with living in a part of the Western world where one never encounters diverse social groups.
  • — The other group is where I locate my friends. These are people who would earnestly declare themselves anti-racist, march alongside in a protest, agree that policing has to change. Yet, because of the scale and subtle layers of the W-w-i-t-r way, they cannot escape being inadvertent functionaries. Again, multilayered and complex.

So, how do we awaken friends who are asleep to racism by circumstance – having been born into a social-psychological ecosystem that leans away from universal human equity in form and function.

Imagine an everyday situation: You are out in public and the tag of your shirt is sticking out. You can’t see it, but the person next to you can. They say, “Hey buddy, your shirt tag is sticking out.’ You don’t say, ‘No, I don’t even have a shirt tag, get away from me you shirt tag pedant.’

You reach around to the back of the shirt feel the tag and adjust it. Perhaps thank the person for their considerateness. Maybe the next time you wear the shirt, you would check for the tag first. Or, for better freedom of movement, remove it entirely.

As we are indoctrinated with the W-w-i-t-r way and can’t see it (yet engage in actions or words of which observant witnesses are aware), we may reflexively deny any such behavior.

It can be personally alarming and embarrassing to hear, ‘Hey, buddy that thing you just said or that thing you just did is racist.’ Being called to account for actions we are inured to can suddenly feel like a shaming experience.

But, as with the unseen shirt tag scenario, try using, ‘Oh, I didn’t even realize that, I couldn’t see it. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll look into it.’

With any luck, you will then have a keyhole into other previously unaware behavior. Or, ask a ‘Black friend’. If they are as the saying goes ‘woke’, they could provide some insight.

The result is that we will have grown in awareness somewhat, and more comfortably wear the mantle of a person who wants to be in a world where we greet one another more equitably and with healthy human regard.

Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through A Coloured Lens available through Amazon. Twitter @patprose.

 

So… a raccoon walks into an art class…

Cultured raccoon creeps into Scarborough high school’s art class

‘He did not have time to get into the paint,’ art teacher says

toronto-raccoon-scarborough-high-school

A Toronto raccoon seemingly sought sophistication in its Wednesday morning escapade and crept into an art classroom at R.H. King Academy.

Mark Tufford, an art teacher at the Scarborough high school, arrived at work shortly after 8 a.m. to prepare for the day.

He opened the windows and left the room, only to return to the critter perched on a desk, “looking at me.”

“It was mostly disbelief,” Tufford said of the sight. “It was definitely a story to tell.”

“He was sitting on a table. I could see him clearly through the window of the door.”

Tufford locked the classroom door and informed the main office.

“The raccoon was terrified,” he said.

“King” the raccoon later sought refuge in a supplies cabinet, Tufford said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/raccoon-scarborough-school-1.3464178?utm_content=buffer6bd73&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer