What is it about hair that ruffles so many feathers? Last week, despite having been told not to do so, an Ottawa teacher chopped the hair off a child, ostensibly because the child was chewing on it. The teacher appears to have believed that somehow, he was acting in the child's best interests. Had he decided the child's identity for him? Had he decided that a child with a disability cannot make his own choices as to his appearance?
I'm a white woman who has spent my life advocating for women's rights in Afghanistan. Unapologetic for my lack of shared ethnicity with those I have strived to defend, I've heard an array of logic-bending criticisms, from subtle critiques veiled in the buzzwords of post-modernism, like the suggestion that all development workers inherently occupy a 'hegemonic' position, to less creative and cruder name calling.
It's been barely a week and we're seeing it already. Numerous Muslim women across America getting attacked, students in universities calling black classmates "cotton pickers," and reports of racist graffiti surfacing all over the country. Already more than 200 incidents of harassment have been reported since Donald Trump won the presidency.
Although I've lived essentially my whole life here and received my Canadian citizenship in kindergarten, not having a Canadian birth certificate separates me from second-gen Canadians. At the same time, I don't have vivid memories of growing up anywhere else, like my parents and other first-gen Canadians. Sometimes, I feel like generation 1.5.
In 1997 I went to the West Bank to study Arabic. Once there, I found that many of the students in the program were, like me, half Palestinian, and were there as part of an attempt to discover their roots. Before I left, I hadn't thought much about how language defines who we are, or what happens when the languages we use to build our identities are rendered useless.
A term associated with dual and/or multiple expressions of identity alongside national identification, "hyphenated Canadian" identities are now an important part of our diverse ethnic landscape - and we owe it to the efforts of the very same individuals who regarded such multiple identities as a source of division.
Although the term multiculturalism has remained broadly popular, its application has been the object of ongoing controversy. At the center of the debate is the issue of whether identities are in inevitably in conflict. That, for example, individuals must choose between their ethnic attachments and their Canadian identity.
I noticed a distressing new trend: whenever we visited friends and family, they didn't really see me anymore. It was all about the baby -- how she'd changed, which adorable outfit she was wearing, or who she happened to look like that week. It took a while to get used to this strange sense of invisibility.
Although the black community have flourished in large numbers and has made a considerable mark on the GTA's cultural landscape and have contributed largely to the city's development, they continue to struggle with many social problems such as high unemployment rates, alarming high school dropout rates, racial profiling and a disturbing trend of youth incarceration.
Well, I recently attended the American Black Film Festival in New York City. This time, I was lucky to have a riveting conversation with four black actresses: Terri J. Vaughn, Garcelle Beauvais, Essence Atkins, and Malinda Williams. They're all starring in a T.V. movie coming out later this summer called "Girlfriends' Getaway 2."
Being raised by two parents who happen to come from two different ethnic backgrounds has thus never made me confused or conflicted about my identity, like some critics of mixed race children may suggest. Rather, I would say that my experiences of coming from two cultures has enriched my worldviews and elicited my interest to learn more about them.
I have thus alienated myself from the convention of associating a cultural, national identity to my name. I do not feel like a citizen of said country, but rather, a denizen of the world. I realize my situation is rare and privileged, but I am not insensitive to the many problems revolving national identity around the world.