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Scripturient: The Bard’s Best? Nope…

To help celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birthday (April 23), the website Mashable has put together a “battle” for the “Best Shakespeare Play Ever.” It’s done up as a sort of sports playoff gr… . . . → Read More: Scripturient: The Bard’s Best? Nope…

The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Stacey Dash’s Little Black Lies: When Blacks Agree with Bigots

Alternate title : Stacey Dash — Human Shield of House Negro ?

It’s painful to watch someone pimp themselves out for a paycheque. But Black people do it every day. Why? To “go along to get a long”, to make colleagues comfortable, to insure the few strands of opportunities that may come their way despite an unlevel playing field aren’t rubbed out.

This week, Stacey Dash traded her values for a check when she turned her back on the African-American owned media outlets which supported her career, and their audiences. The once still ‘Clueless’ actress-turned-Fox News commentator called for the elimination of Black History Month, the BET Awards and other venues to highlight talent which is otherwise eclipsed by the ubiquity of whiteness (see #OscarsSoWhite controversy 1.0 and 2.0). Too many bigots–blissfully unaware of the trick compensated ruse–salivate on Dash’s diatribe, wielding it like a weapon to uphold white supremacy.

The ruse has been employed for decades, and not just in the U.S. Banking on vulnerable people to lie to save their skin is one thing. To use these misguided statements, possibly offered under duress, as a catalyst for further marginalization of racialized groups is cruel. This tactic has often worked well for the establishment.

In the mid-1950s, Dresden, Ont. was like many segregated Canadian towns. Black and white residents led separate social lives. Restaurants, barbershops and even churches banned African Canadians from entering. Many merchants refused to serve people of colour.

When Black residents challenged the long-standing segregationist climate in a Dresden court room, the media descended on the south-western Ontario town to survey the racial row. To gage the sentiment of the townsfolk, they interviewed local residents. Curiously, the black resident this journalist interrogated was the area’s token sole Black police officer. When asked about the race-based discrimination enforced by the City (and, implicitly, his employer), the smiling policeman stated “there was no discrimination here”.

Were (white) journalists enlightened enough to decipher the white lie a Black employee uttered to comfort his Caucasian coworkers and keep his coveted job? None of the period articles I found were conclusive. However, it is entirely plausible that local bigots used this coerced headline to justify the racist status quo.

The same sad scenario has repeated itself in Quebec this week. CBC TV producer and Quebecois celebrity Louis Morissette took to his wife’s magazine, the public broadcaster’s airwaves and La Presse newspaper to share his artistic sorrow: his bosses forbid him from using blackface during Radio-Canada’s annual New Years’ Eve TV comedy special. Even worse, Morissette was – gasp! – forced to hire a Black actor to play a Black character on TV.

Blackface, a longstanding practice by which a white actor tars his face to play a black character, is back in style in Quebec. (Some say it never went out of style.)

Two afro-quebeckers vehemently and publicly defend blackface in French-speaking Canada: African immigrant-turned-CBC comedian Boucar Diouf and perennial token-black-character Normand Brathwaite, who notably got his career started by playing to Haitian immigrant stereotypes — much to the Québécois audience’s delight.

“This is not blackface,” Normand Brathwaite said. “I’d be pretty pissed off if someone imitated me in a year-end show and didn’t paint himself black, because I’m very proud of the colour of my skin.”

The Brathwaite-Diouf duo are often dragged to Quebec TV, radio and print to prop up bigot blackface-disciples, with a clear aim at silencing the vast majority of the black community which is offended by the practice. Brathwaite and Diouf work for the very Québec-based broadcasters and producers who repeatedly rely on blackface for comic relief. No one has questioned the dynamics by which Brathwaite and Diouf defend their masters remain in the good graces of Quebec’s white-dominated star système clique.

HUMAN SHIELDS or HOUSE NEGROS?
It’s a false binary. Journalists pull the strings of public sentiment by selecting biased spokespersons. The Stacy Dash’s of Quebec say what their employers want to hear. They’ve convinced many uninformed purelaine Quebeckers that blackface is no longer considered racist with their post-racial paradise. Regardless, the responsibility to present analysis of a racially-charged controversy isn’t on Stacy Dash or the Brathwaite-Diouf duo. It behooves competent journalists forgo editorial fools’ gold.

The adventures of a Franco Ontarian Viz Min Woman in Ottawa.

. . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Stacey Dash’s Little Black Lies: When Blacks Agree with Bigots

The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Stacey Dash’s Little Black Lies: When Blacks Agree with Bigots

Alternate title : Stacey Dash — Human Shield of House Negro ?It’s painful to watch someone pimp themselves out for a paycheque. But Black people do it every day. Why? To “go along to get a long”, to make colleagues comfortable, to insure the few… . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Stacey Dash’s Little Black Lies: When Blacks Agree with Bigots

Dead Wild Roses: The Science in Sci-Fi Explained. :)

A concise guide to the levels of Science in popular science fiction:   Star Trek: This is science-fiction, but we want our science to at least sound plausible. Therefore, most of the time, our scientific explanations will be rooted in scientific fact or at the very least solid, generally accepted theory. Stargate: We’re about half […] . . . → Read More: Dead Wild Roses: The Science in Sci-Fi Explained. 🙂

Scripturient: Who By Fire

I’ve been reading a biography of Leonard Cohen, recently: the 2012 I’m Your Man, by Sylvie Simmons. It’s an interesting journey through the life and thoughts of an exquisite artist who is, by nature, somewhat reclusive and stays out… . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Who By Fire

Scripturient: Why I Still Watch M*A*S*H

The news of Harry Morgan’s death at 96, back in 2011, saddened me. I’m at the age when it seems far too many icons of my youth are dying off. Not from some misspent life or accident; from old age. And the process accelerates as I age. I n… . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Why I Still Watch M*A*S*H

Scripturient: Is This Your Bar of Soap?

This is side five. Follow in your book and repeat after me as we learn three new words in Turkish: Towel. Bath. Border. So begins Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him, from the first album released by the Firesign Theater, in 1968 (on later … . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Is This Your Bar of Soap?

Scripturient: The Last Case of Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes. Iconic detective, 93 years old. Tending his bees in bucolic self-exile near the Dover coast. Mycroft gone. Watson gone. Mrs. Hudson gone. Even the band of villains and criminals who made him who he was are gone. All he has left are his… . . . → Read More: Scripturient: The Last Case of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Pope Francis pontificates on ‘new colonialism,’ Africa still reeling from the old one

Thirty years ago Pope John Paul II chose Cameroon as the location to apologize to black Africa for the involvement of white Christians in the slave trade. This time, it is Pope Francis who uses Sub-Saharan Africa as a backdrop to speak out against colo… . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Pope Francis pontificates on ‘new colonialism,’ Africa still reeling from the old one

The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Pope Francis pontificates on ‘new colonialism,’ Africa still reeling from the old one

Thirty years ago Pope John Paul II chose Cameroon as the location to apologize to black Africa for the involvement of white Christians in the slave trade. This time, it is Pope Francis who uses Sub-Saharan Africa as a backdrop to speak out against colo… . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Pope Francis pontificates on ‘new colonialism,’ Africa still reeling from the old one

The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Harvesting Fear of Foreigners: A Winning Conservative Tactic… in 1911

Autumn is upon us. Election Day is fast approaching. Canadians are asked to weigh the most important issues of the day when choosing their Prime Minister. Apparently, it’s a race between the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Conservatives win the election on the strength of their xenophobic indulgences betrayed by a telling slogan: “A White . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Harvesting Fear of Foreigners: A Winning Conservative Tactic… in 1911

The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Harvesting Fear of Foreigners: A Winning Conservative Tactic… in 1911

Autumn is upon us. Election Day is fast approaching. Canadians are asked to weigh the most important issues of the day when choosing their Prime Minister. Apparently, it’s a race between the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Conservatives win the ele… . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: Harvesting Fear of Foreigners: A Winning Conservative Tactic… in 1911

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Shakespeare Changed Everything

I have been reading an entertaining little book called How Shakespeare Changed Everything, which, as the title suggests, is about the pervasive influence the Bard has had on pretty much everything in our lives ever since he started putting quill to paper. Stephen Marche’s book was described in the NatPost as a, “sprightly, erudite sampling . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Shakespeare Changed Everything

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Rethinking John Carter

After recently going through the first five of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 11 Barsoom books, I decided to give the 2012 Disney film, John Carter, another viewing. This two-hour-eleven-minute film bombed at the box office, and when I first saw it, I was deeply disappointed. But on reflection after a second viewing, it isn’t all that . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Rethinking John Carter

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month in Canada. I don’t know if this gets widespread acknowledgement much less appreciation among the public and in the schools, but it should. Poetry is an important part of our cultural lives, although it seems to me our collective passion for it has waned over the past few decades. I . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: National Poetry Month

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: 47 Ronin Reviewed

This week, after watching the 2013 film, 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves, I had to wonder why Hollywood felt it necessary to take a powerful story, a great historical drama, and mess with it. And, of course, why they would put Keanu Reeves into a film about 18th century Japanese samurai. Or, for that matter, . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: 47 Ronin Reviewed

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Falling Skies: Aliens as Metaphor

We watched the last of Season Two of the Falling Skies series last night. After a bit of research this morning, I learned I have two more seasons to watch and a fifth season has been scheduled. Something to look forward to. I wasn’t sure about how it would turn out, but the series has . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Falling Skies: Aliens as Metaphor

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Theology of The Fly

While watching the 1958 film of The Fly last night, I was struck by its similarities to Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein. And in the similarity of the underpinning morality of both. I recently picked up the DVD collection with all three movies (The Fly, Return of The Fly and Curse of the Fly, plus . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Theology of The Fly

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Timothy Leary Was Right. Maybe.

This is your brain on drugs. Or rather, the right-hand image is your brain on psilocybin. The other side is your brain on a non-psychedelic drug. Researchers recently discovered some amazing facts about how our brains work on some chemicals. And some psychedelic drugs prove to have pretty amazing effects. But don’t try this at . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Timothy Leary Was Right. Maybe.

Dead Wild Roses: Feminist Quote of the Day – My Least Favorite Movie Trope

Many thanks to Elizabeth Bear for today’s comment on our culture.

“My Least Favorite Trope (and this post will include spoilers for The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Matrix, Western Civilization, and—cod help me—Bulletproof Monk*.) is the thing where there’s an awesome, smart, wonderful, powerful female character who by all rights ought to . . . → Read More: Dead Wild Roses: Feminist Quote of the Day – My Least Favorite Movie Trope

The Adventures of Diva Rachel: The Habs and the Have-Nots: Why Subban Should Leave Canada

Published in the HuffPo here.

There was a time when Montrealers could overlook superficial and linguistic differences to rally around a groundbreaking sporting prodigy. Despite being Black, Anglophone and a foreigner, Jackie Robinson was, by all accounts, welcomed in Canada’s then-largest city in 1946. Robinson played a single season with the Brooklyn Dodgers‘ farm team in La Métropole. He led The Montreal Royals to the Little World Series. More importantly, Robinson proved that there could be a willing white audience for a racially integrated baseball team. It was a stepping stone towards the MLB, where Robinson would break the colour line. The first African-American MLB player faced angry, intolerant crowds and colleagues alike.

But not in Canada.

In fact, it was quite the opposite. “I experienced no racism here. […] The French-Canadian people welcomed us with open arms,” said Robinson.

It’s been documented that the Montreal fans would pay close attention to any ear-to-the-ground or press reports of racism or mistreatment Robinson and the Royals received when playing on the road. Fans of the Royals would voice their displeasure when that city’s team visited Delorimier Stadium. [source: CBC]


That was then. This is now.

There’s another Black, Anglophone sports prodigy in Montreal these days. P.K. Subban has electrified audiences, opened up a new stream of hockey fans, and brought the Montreal Canadians to contention in the playoffs.
But the Habs aren’t bending over backwards to sign a Norris-trophy alum. In a familiar refrain, the Subbanator has the talent on which a winning team can be built for years to come, but, as Quebec sport writer Jeremy Filosa put it in 2013, there’s a physical trait that can’t be overlooked:


“Voilà que le Tricolore se retrouve aujourd’hui avec, dans ses rangs, peut-être le meilleur défenseur de la planète et il est noir. Pas un peu noir, il est très noir…”


Liberal translation:

“Now the Habs find themselves with, in their ranks, perhaps the best defenceman in the planet and he is black. Not just a little bit black, he is very dark-skinned black…”


And PK’s pigmentation has drawn the ire of many, though most, like Don Cherry, are apt at masking their racial anxiety behind Tea Party-like euphemisms and innuendo.

PK Subban has been chided and disrespected throughout his professional career: from the blackface-donning fans, to bigot dismissive coaches, and even teammates have called him out in public. The graceful player has suffered in silence, thus co-opting the NHL’s steadfast refusal to take any meaningful action on the league’s interminable racial inquietude.



Broadcaster and Hockey Night In Canada co-host Kevin Weekes took to twitter to express his frustration on Subban’s dragging contract negotiations.

The mere fact that a player/person of his calibre has to be in this contract with the @CanadiensMTL when he’s proven so much is despicable.
— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) July 30, 2014


Weekes, who was a professional hockey player and shares Subban’s Caribbean extraction, believes there is trickery behind the scenes.

@BostonBruins28 Point being.In spite of the accomplishments,they keep moving the goal line.Not to mention icetime,PP,benchings,etc.
— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) July 30, 2014

FACING THE FACTS
Montreal is not the place where an ebony player like Subban can thrive. In a town where blackface is still considered acceptableeven on the public broadcaster’s airwaves, a dark-skinned prodigy in the “white man’s game” just can’t get the respect nor the remuneration he’s earned.


Subban has the pedigree, the poise, and the personality to be a transcending figure à la Michael Jordan. He speaks proper English. He comes from a picture-perfect traditional family. He’s never been in trouble with the law. A marketing dream… in the U.S.A. If the NHL played its cards right, Subban’s forthcoming success could cement hockey’s popularity among its least-represented groups, thus springboard towards a new generation of diverse players and fans.

FLYING THE COOP
The social experiment of a hockey prodigy with dark chocolate skin in Canada has lasted long enough. Montreal is no longer the bastion on racial progress it once was. PK Subban should thank the Habs for the stepping stone years and move on to more culturally mature and inclusive locales.

Los Angeles was the first city to welcome a black NFL player in 1946. California’s franchises have taken pride in seeking out talent from non-traditional sources, shoring up support from both the Asians and Latino communities. New York hosted the first black NBA player in the 50s and the city continues to set the trend for the rest of the nation. 


Both U.S. coasts would serve as ideal launch pads for the second phase of Subban’s career. They can promise something Montreal can
‘t —  unencumbered race-transcending support.
The adventures of a Franco Ontarian Viz Min Woman in Ottawa.

. . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: The Habs and the Have-Nots: Why Subban Should Leave Canada

The Adventures of Diva Rachel: The Habs and the Have-Nots: Why Subban Should Leave Canada

There was a time when Montrealers could overlook superficial and linguistic differences to rally around a groundbreaking sporting prodigy. Despite being Black, Anglophone and a foreigner, Jackie Robinson was, by all accounts, welcomed in Canada’s then-largest city in 1946. Robinson played a single season with the Brooklyn Dodgers‘ farm team in La Métropole. He led . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: The Habs and the Have-Nots: Why Subban Should Leave Canada

The Adventures of Diva Rachel: The Home of the Habs: For Whites Only?

The Hobby Lobby case rules that Corporations can impose their restrictive values on others. What if the corporation is racist?

As a Verdun resident, Fred Christie follows the Habs, as do a legion of other Quebeckers. The Montrealer is even a proud season-ticket holder.

Accompanied by two friends, Mr. Christie enters the tavern . . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: The Home of the Habs: For Whites Only?

The Adventures of Diva Rachel: The Home of the Habs: For Whites Only?

This blogpost was published in the HuffPost under the title:

This Canadian Stood Up to Racism Before Rosa Parks

The Hobby Lobby case rules that Corporations can impose their restrictive values on others. What if the corporation is racist?

As a Verdun resident, Fred Christie follows the Habs, as do a legion of other Quebeckers. The Montrealer is even a proud season-ticket holder.

Accompanied by two friends, Mr. Christie enters the tavern at the Canadiens‘ hockey area, plunks down some cash and orders a few beers. The bartender refuses to serve him. The assistant manager then explains to his would-be customers that the establishment extends no courtesy to Negroes.

It is 1936. July 11th 1936.

The protagonist had resided in the Métropole for over 20 years. Mr. Christie converted to the cult of ice hockey even if the NHL then bars all coloured players. Although Mr. Christie, a Jamaican immigrant, integrated himself into Canadian culture and acclimatized himself to his adopted country, he was not treated like other customers.

2014-07-11-We_serve_whites_only

Long before Canada’s “multiculturalism mantra,” this was an everyday scenario played out in Toronto, Calgary, Nova Scotia… just about everywhere in the Great “White” North. Aboriginals, Asians and Africans-descendants suffered overt discrimination at will.

During the hostility at le Forum de Montréal‘s tavern, Mr. Christie tried to explain to the Manager that this race-based rule was unfair. His pleas fell on deaf ears. Mr. Christie then called the police. They only served to add insult to injury. Humiliated, Fred and his friends left the tavern thirst unquenched and empty-handed. Like most Afro-Canadians in Montreal, Mr. Christie knew which shops and theatres avoid, which jobs were denied to him, and which neighbourhoods were forbidden to “Negroes”. After all, the city was then a sanctum of segregation. But, for the man who felt at home in the Temple du Hockey, the tavern’s racist rule was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Fred Christie filed a discrimination case against the York corporation to court. Despite registering multiple setbacks, Christie’s case went all the way to the Supreme Court.

On December 9 1939, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) rendered its final decision.

It ruled that the general principle of the law in Québec is complete freedom of business. As long as a merchant did not break the law, he or she was free to refuse any member of the public on any grounds.

2014-07-11-WhiteTradeOnlyLancasterOhio.jpg

The Court proceeded to blame Christie for his own misfortune:

«The respondent was merely protecting its business interests.

It appears from the evidence that, in refusing to sell beer to the appellant [Mr. Christie], the respondent’s employees did so quietly, politely and without causing any scene or commotion whatever. If any notice was attracted to the appellant on the occasion in question, it arose out of the fact that the appellant persisted in demanding beer after he had been so refused and went to the length of calling the police, which was entirely unwarranted by the circumstances.» ~Justice Rinfret

Decidedly, the SCC ratified the “no service for coloureds” doctrine as being in line with the moral standards of the day.

In the social context of Canada before the Quiet Revolution (1950’s), before Viola Desmond’s act of defiance (1946), before Rosa Parks triggered the United States’ Civil Rights Movement (1955), Fred Christie stood up to institutional discrimination.

A decade before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1947), Fred Christie exhibited unimaginable courage and perseverance in asserting his civil rights. Though the judicial process did not deliver the desired result, Fred Christie remains a key instigator in Canada’s journey towards the establishment of universal rights. As Aboriginals, Francophones and elderly people of colour know, the Canadian justice has not always been kind to minorities. Fred Christie paved the way for us all.

Four years after the SCC’s shameful ruling, Ontario heralded a new anti-discrimination era with its 1944 “Racial Discrimination Act”. And sometimes anti-racism laws were even enforced! The jurisprudence would spread from coast to coast.

Fred Christie died enclosed in obscurity. He received no honours befitting of his buoyant bravery — in life or in death.

It’s about time, is not it?

This blog originally appeared in French on the Huffington Post Québec.
The adventures of a Franco Ontarian Viz Min Woman in Ottawa.

. . . → Read More: The Adventures of Diva Rachel: The Home of the Habs: For Whites Only?

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Fifty Years Ago

In mid-August, 1964, a modest-budget, British black-and-white comedy movie hit the theatres. And instantly exploded to being the most popular film of the year. It was the Richard Lester flick, A Hard Day’s Night, starring the young Beatles in their debut on the silver screen. It was a paradigm changer in so many ways. It . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Fifty Years Ago