Posts tagged "toronto"

browncanada:

Brown Canada Showcase
Sharing Our Stories: Creating New Legacies

Wednesday June 27th, 2012
5:30–9:00 p.m
Grace Church
41 Britain Street, Toronto (east of Queen station)
Dinner served from 5:30-6:30 pm.
Program starts at 6:30 pm, sharp.


This is a Free Event, but space is limited; please RSVP before June 25th at eventbrite or by contacting browncanada@cassa.on.ca or 416 932 1359 x14.

http://creatingnewlegacies.eventbrite.com/
www.browncanada.ca

CASSA’s Brown Canada team proudly invites you to our project’s Showcase, an Informative and entertaining event featuring:

· The premiere of the original play “Oh Canada, Oh Komagata Maru!” 
· A screening of the Brown Canada DVD
· The “Our Stories, Our Histories” South Asian history exhibit
· An interactive discussion about Racialized & Indigenous histories
· A free resource booklet on South Asian histories in Canada

Visit www.browncanada.ca for more info & to share your story online!

The Brown Canada Theatre Project will be presenting “Oh Canada, Oh Komagata Maru!” a series of vignettes written and directed by Alia Somani. “Oh Canada, Oh Komagata Maru!” is about one of the least known yet most significant episodes in the history of Canada. What is called the Komagata Maru incident took place in 1914, when a group of 376 Punjabi migrants aboard a Japanese ship – the Komagata Maru – was turned away from Canada’s western seaboard and refused entry into the country. The Komagata Maru incident may have occurred almost 100 years ago, but it has not been forgotten. Instead it continues to haunt us, to reverberate in our nation’s consciousness. In fact, in 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood up in Bear Creek Park and declared that on behalf of Canada, he was sorry for the events of 1914. “Oh Canada, Oh Komagata Maru!” explores, among other things, this apology; it considers how much of our past is remembered and how much still remains buried; and most importantly, it asks us to relive the experiences of those who traveled to Canada in 1914 in search of a better life, and a better future.


Eventbritehttp://creatingnewlegacies.eventbrite.com/

Tumblr: http://browncanada.tumblr.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/browncanadaproject

Facebook eventhttps://www.facebook.com/events/204810092975235/

Websitehttps://www.browncanada.ca/

Brown Canada Showcase
Sharing Our Stories: Creating New Legacies

Wednesday June 27th, 2012
5:30–9:00 p.m
Grace Church
41 Britain Street, Toronto (east of Queen station)


Dinner served from 5:30-6:30 pm.
Program starts at 6:30 pm, sharp.


This is a Free Event, but space is limited; please RSVP before June 25th  by registering your free ticket at eventbrite. Questions? Email browncanada@cassa.on.ca or  call 416 932 1359 x14.

http://creatingnewlegacies.eventbrite.com/
www.browncanada.ca

CASSA’s Brown Canada team proudly invites you to our project’s Showcase, an Informative and entertaining event featuring:

· The premiere of the original play “Oh Canada, Oh Komagata Maru!” 
· A screening of the Brown Canada DVD
· The “Our Stories, Our Histories” South Asian history exhibit
· An interactive discussion about Racialized & Indigenous histories
· A free resource booklet on South Asian histories in Canada

Visit www.browncanada.ca for more info & to share your story online!

The Brown Canada Theatre Project will be presenting “Oh Canada, Oh Komagata Maru!” a series of vignettes written and directed by Alia Somani. “Oh Canada, Oh Komagata Maru!” is about one of the least known yet most significant episodes in the history of Canada. What is called the Komagata Maru incident took place in 1914, when a group of 376 Punjabi migrants aboard a Japanese ship – the Komagata Maru – was turned away from Canada’s western seaboard and refused entry into the country. The Komagata Maru incident may have occurred almost 100 years ago, but it has not been forgotten. Instead it continues to haunt us, to reverberate in our nation’s consciousness. In fact, in 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood up in Bear Creek Park and declared that on behalf of Canada, he was sorry for the events of 1914. “Oh Canada, Oh Komagata Maru!” explores, among other things, this apology; it considers how much of our past is remembered and how much still remains buried; and most importantly, it asks us to relive the experiences of those who traveled to Canada in 1914 in search of a better life, and a better future.


Eventbritehttp://creatingnewlegacies.eventbrite.com/

Tumblr: http://browncanada.tumblr.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/browncanadaproject

Facebook eventhttps://www.facebook.com/events/204810092975235/

Websitehttps://www.browncanada.ca/

For the Brown Canada Project. 

Brown Canada: Komagata Maru Plays Volunteer Posting
(Part Time – Until end of June) 

Start & End Dates : May- end of June 2012

Brown Canada, lead by CASSA, is a community-led history project to encourage South Asian communities to create and document their histories in Canada creatively, through writing, video, interviews, art, theatre or other means. Our collective entry point for this project is through the Komagata Maru incident of 1914, when a ship of South Asian people was denied entry into Canada due to restrictive immigration policy known as the continuous journey regulation. Through this project, we are creating an interactive website, offering educational and creative workshops, producing a short video as well as seeking to tour a short theatre piece to raise awareness of the incident and spark community dialogue within Ontario.

The Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) is currently recruiting a team of volunteers to help out with the final Komagata Maru Play that will be held on June 27.

We are looking for a team of volunteers to be responsible for assisting in media relations, community outreach, stage hands, costume design . These positions will work closely and report to the project coordinator.

Responsibilities:

  • Community outreach to spreak word about the event
  • Stagehands & lighting 
  • Help out with set designs, makeup, and  costumes

Qualifications:

  • Volunteers of all ages are welcome
  • Relevant interest in theatre or experience
  • Interest in educating others about South Asian/PoC history is always a bonus!  
If you do not have experience working with community members, community organizations and agencies, and or theatre, but are interested in working on the play, feel free to send in your resume.
 
We are hoping to have a volunteer meeting as soon as possible, so please email Deena  at deena@cassa.on.ca before June 15th if you are interested in working with CASSA on this project.
 

CASSA is committed to employment equity & encourages applicants from equity seeking groups.

Follow our facebook fanpage , brown canada tumblr, and website for more information. http://browncanada.ca/


——————————————————————————————————————

Brown Canada & CASSA

Position Type: Arts / Crafts, Community Outreach, Event Helpers, Performing

Duration: Short term (Less than 6 months)

Location(s): Toronto

Great For: Youth (ages 13-18), Youth (over 18), Groups, 40 hour high school program, Physically Challenged, English as a Second Language, Virtual (can be done remotely), Wheelchair Accessible

Rocking Girls and Thundering Women

Type
Arts & Culture

Date
Friday, May 25, 2012
Time
7pm


Location
The Projection Booth 

Description
Fundraising Night for Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers. “Girls Rock!” The Movie [“Battling over band names, lyrical intent, microphone time, musical direction, and loose ideas of artistic merit (Amelia is a child who treasures her noise), these budding rock stars are a bewitching bundle of personalities who feel the triumph of every successfully landed riff and the familiar crush of social exclusion. It’s a captivating five days inside the core of this exceptional outlet for creativity and expression; a film not just to be commended and enjoyed, but a remarkable camp that should be a requirement for every teen girl out there in dire need of empowerment and focus.” - Brian Orndorf] then RAW drummers perform live! All proceeds to Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers: Toronto Taiko Festival. 
1 Night: 2 Shows!

* Girls Rock! The Movie [documentary; 56 min]
* Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers [live performance]

«< Girls Rock! »>
At rock’n’roll camp, girls 8 to 18 are taught that it’s OK to sweat like a pig, scream like a banshee, wail on their instruments with complete and utter abandon. What happens to the girls they are given a temporary repreive from being sexualized, analyzed, and pressured to conform is moving and revolutionary.

«< RAW Taiko Drummers »>
8 Women, 1000 pounds of drums. RAW is Toronto’s own all-women taiko ensemble. Thundering and raging, yet resolutely joyous, RAW is big in sound and big in spirit. The drummers will be present to hang out, tell all about the upcoming Taiko Festival, and play you a couple of their favourite pieces.

6:30pm Door
7:00pm Show

Tickets:
$20 (sliding to $15)
$10 (under 19)

At:
http://guestli.st/100380
Toronto Women’s Bookstore
or from RAW members 
Contact
young@ragingasianwomen.ca 

Website
http://www.ragingasianwomen.ca 


via  Facebook event

browncanada:

Captions:

The Komagata Maru story matters because

It makes you realize that multi-cultural means it’s white only true Canada

It relates to me the Reality of South Asian history in Canada

Struggle of South Asians in Canada

I need to know my history

I had no idea what my history is!

(via Komagata Maru)

browncanada:

376: number of passengers on Komagata Maru when it arrives in Vancouver Harbour 

   12: number of Hindus aboard Komagata Maru 
   24: number of Muslims aboard Komagata Maru 
   340: number of Sikhs aboard Komagata Maru 

90: number of people declared medically unfit to land 

20-24: number of people who claimed to have Canadian domicile and were allowed to disembark

$150,000: Amount of damages claimed by Gurdit Singh for Canada not allowing him to land and sell coal stored aboard Komagata Maru

15: Number of core members of Sshore Ccommittee, local South Asians who were mobilizing to support the Komagata Maru passengers 

500: ??Unknown: number of local South Asians present at meetings to support Komagata Maru passengers, held at the the Khalsa Diwan Society at Gurdwara 

$5,000: amount collected at once at first meeting at Gurdwara by local South Asians to support Komagata Maru passengers

$17,000: amount collected at future meetings by local South Asians to support Komagata Maru passengers 

150: number of immigration officials and police who attempted to board Komagata Maru on July 17, 1914 

$4,000: value of provisions Canadian government placed on board the Komagata Maru for the return trip 

2: number of months the Komagata Maru stayed in harbour off the coast of Vancouver

2: number of years shore committee struggled legally with government after Komagata Maru was forced to return to Asia

$3,000: further legal expenses of shore committee after Komagata Maru forced to return to Asia

6: number of months Komagata Maru passengers spent aboard 

via Brown Canada Project: Komagata Maru

browncanada:

The Komagata Maru incident involved a number of key players – individuals whose actions played a significant role impacting the lived experience of Komagata Maru passengers. These key players can be viewed within four three main groups:

  • Komagata Maru Passengers
  • Canadian Officials
  • Legal Personnel
  • Shore Committee Members

Each individual’s complete story is not captured here; instead these profiles provide snapshots of each key player, and some context of their lives. For some of these individuals, their profiles have become legacies by the memorialisation efforts of scholars, activists, community members and artists. 

For other individuals involved in the Komagata Maru incident, they remain unnamed or their stories are unknown. For example, little is known about many of the passengers. There is not enough information about the hundreds of South Asians already living in the Vancouver area who were passionate about supporting the Komagata Maru passengers. There is scarce documentation of the white allies who attended ing community meetings. For those who died upon their return to British occupied India, there must have been so many unanswered questions for their unnamed friends and families. For the 28 individuals who were unaccounted for after the Budge Budge (Baj Baj) incident, some like Gurdit Singh we know a lot about – but for others, where did their lives take them? 

With the intention of this website to invite readers to reflect on the broader impact of the Komagata Maru incident, this section asks you to interrogate how we remember the individual people in communities, how we write (or do not write) their stories.

Komagata Maru Passengers 

This is very short list of some passengers who played key roles in the departure of the Komagata Maru from Hong Kong, and its experience once in Canadian waters.

Gurdit Singh
Gurdit Singh was a successful businessman who decided to charter the Komagata Maru from Hong Kong after meeting with and speaking with other Indians there. Singh (sold tickets up until two days before the Komagata Maru’s departure, and was briefly held by officials for selling illegal tickets for what was deemed an illegal trip). Singh was a nationalist, who believed in an Independent India. At the Baj Baj (Budge Budge) incident, he escaped capture. After remaining a fugitive in India for several years, he finally surrendered after prompting by Mahatma Gandhi (whom he respected deeply) and served a five-year jail term in Punjab. It was after Singh’s prompting did the federal government of newly-independent India erect a plaque at Kolkata (then known as Calcutta) memorializing the Komagata Maru. 

Munshi Singh
Munshi Singh, one of the 376 passengers aboard the Komagata Maru, was selected as the representative for the test case. He was a Sikh farmer from Punjab, someone who was interested in migrating to Canada for the purposes of buying some property and farming. 

Canadian Officials
Government agents very obviously played a heavy role in the Komagata Maru incident. Both Hopkinson and Reid held very strong anti-South Asian views and prior to 1914, both had been actively pushing for exclusionary immigration. For Reid, his daughter felt (in the 1980s) that the way he was remembered was unfair1; for Hopkinson, an often-staged play by Sharon Pollock fictionalized his mixed-race heritage and his surveillance work, which could be described as internalized racism2.

Malcolm Reid 
Malcolm Reid was the Chief Immigration Officer of Vancouver during the Komagata Maru incident. Posted to the position with no experience, his proposals of how to expel the Komagata Maru contradicted even those of the federal government. He was explicit in his anti-Asian sentiments, and was motivated to use whatever force necessary to remove the ship and its passengers. For example, on June 24, 1914, Reid wired Ottawa to ask for permission to have the Komagata Maru passengers forced onto the S.S. Empress of India, which was departing the next day. The answer was no – an appearance in court (through a test case) is how the federal government wanted to proceed.

Martin Burrell 
Martin Burrell was the federal Minister of Agriculture at the time the Komagata Maru was stationed in Burrard Inlet. He became involved at the very end of the two month period, at the urging of Prime Minister Robert Borden. It was Burrell’s letter to Albert Howard McNeill dated July 21, 1914, that seemed to bring forward a compromise. In it, he refers to the Shore Committee and community members who had provided financial support. Burrell said that he would “urge that full and sympathetic consideration be given to those who deserve generous treatment. I must point out, however, that this is conditional on the passengers now on the Komagata Maru adopting a peaceable attitude, refraining from violence, and conforming to the law by giving to the captain control of his ship immediately, and agreeing to peaceably return to the port when they came.”13

William Charles Hopkinson 
William Charles (W.C.) Hopkinson was an immigration inspector at the time of the Komagata Maru. Working for the federal government since 1909, mostly based in British Columbia and working in the US as well, his focus was on the surveillance of Indian political activists. He was fully occupied with the Komagata Maru while it was in Burrard Inlet for two months. After the Komagata Maru was sent back, his role became important in the context of war – he provided information to officials in Canada and British India about Indian agitators on the Pacific coast who were supposedly plotting to return to India to “take up arms against the British while they were at war in Europe”4 Hopkinson was mixed-race (Anglo-Indian), which he both used in his work (he could understand Hindi and Punjabi) and denied outright. In 1914, he was killed by Mewa Singh at the Vancouver Court House. 

Legal Personnel 
In a hostile environment of British Columbia in 1914, two legal professionals took on the case of the Komagata Maru passengers. J. Edward Bird handled the bulk of the case. 

J. Edward Bird, solicitor 
J. Edward Bird was hired by the passengers of the Komagata Maru to represent the passengers as they lodged a legal challenge to the Orders in Council that were prohibiting them from being able to disembark. The government decided to only have one test case, and Bird was assigned the task of preparing his case very quickly. Bird made the argument on behalf of Munshi Singh (the test case) using constitutional terms, arguing that the passengers of the Komagata Maru were entitled to disembark and settle in Canada as British subjects. Unfortunately, the five judges disagreed with him, and the case was lost. Bird was a socialist, and was opposed to the anti-Asian sentiment around him in British Columbia – proving this by creating a space for Indian socialists to gather. 

Albert Howard MacNeill 
Partner to J. Edward Bird, he took over the Komagata Maru case in the latter stages after Bird received a threatening letter and opted to travel out of town. He was an established lawyer in Vancouver, with connections to many powerful individuals. He sent a personal cable to Conservative Prime Minister Robert Borden (McNeill was a member of the Conservative Party himself) to encourage him to think about the Komagata Maru situation beyond what he was told by immigration officials (like Reid and Stevens). 

Shore Committee Members 
While the Komagata Maru was forced to stay in Burrard Inlet, South Asian community members in the Vancouver area mobilized to support the passengers. The 15-member group, coming together initially at the Khalsa Diwan Society, was called the Shore Committee. The Shore Committee raised awareness, raised funds, spoke out about the exclusion, and was heavily involved in retaining legal representation for the Komagata Maru passengers. 

Hussain Rahim 
Hussain Rahim was one of the Shore Committee members, an active member of the Indian community in British Columbia, and the editor of the short-lived English newspaper The Hindustanee. Rahim spoke English, Hindi, Punjabi and Gujrati, and was vocal about his thoughts on the ways the governments of Canada and British Columbia treated Indians. Rahim was instrumental in mobilizing community members to support the passengers of the Komagata Maru. 

Bhag Singh 
Bhag Singh was one of the Shore Committee members, an active member of the Indian community in British Columbia, and Secretary of the Temple Management Committee at the Khalsa Diwan Society gurdwara. His own experience of challenging Canada’s immigration policy in 1911 meant that he was one of the very few Indians in Canada to have been able to be reunified with his wife and child. 


Visit km.browncanada.com & browncanada.ca for more info.

browncanada:

Legacies of the Komagata Maru: Digital Storytelling workshop with Mariam Ahmad & Asam Ahmad, Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 & Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 5-8pm @ Don Montgomery CRC

Workshop content provided by:  Asam Ahmad, Graduate of Asian Arts Freedom School, Mariam Ahmad

What: In these workshops we will explore the marginalized and/or hidden histories of the South Asian diaspora in Canada, what it means to be a racialized youth/immigrant today and how to tell our stories through art-based media. In two workshop sessions, we will create a stop-animation short film that tells a collective story, with individual vignettes, and themes and content led by group participants. In the first session we will begin talking about our complex histories, learning about stop-motion, and  brainstorming ideas for the video. The second workshop will be comprised of story-boarding the narrative, recording individual stories and voiceovers, and crafting the actual visuals for the film.

When:  Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 & Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 5:00 to 8:00 pm

Where:  Don Montgomery CRC, 2467 Eglinton Ave E

Fully Accessible. Ward: 35, District: Scarborough. Near: Midland & Eglinton

TTC Information: Travel to Kennedy Station. Board the 86A Scarborough and travel to 2495. Walk west to 2467 Eglinton Avenue East.

Who:  Youth & young adults, ages 16-30 welcome

How: Space is limited! Please contact Deena Hai at deena@cassa.on.ca to register / or location contact

Please register by Friday, May 25th, 4 p.m

Follow Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/171294869666168/

Follow Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/browncanadaproject 

Visit: http://km.browncanada.ca/index.php

——-

Brown Canada, lead by CASSA, is a community-led history project to encourage South Asian communities to create and document their histories in Canada creatively, through writing, video, interviews, art, theatre or other means. Our collective entry point for this project is through the Komagata Maru incident of 1914, when a ship of South Asian people was denied entry into Canada due to restrictive immigration policy known as the continuous journey regulation. Through this project, we are creating an interactive website, offering educational and creative workshops, producing a short video as well as seeking to tour a short theatre piece to raise awareness of the incident and spark community dialogue within Ontario.

http://km.browncanada.com/

http://www.browncanada.ca/

http://www.cassaonline.com/

——-

The Asian Arts Freedom School is an art-based radical Asian history and activism program for Asian/Pacific Islander youth in the Greater Toronto Area. Asian = South Asian, West Asian (a.k.a. Arab or Middle-Eastern), Southeast Asian, East Asian, and Central Asian,Pacific Islander, diasporic via the Caribbean and Africa…mixed-race, adoptee, suburban, hood…just got here or been here since the 1800s. Asian stretches from the Phillippines to Palestine, North China to Sri Lanka, Trinidad to Tibet, and all of it ends up in Toronto. We cover various artforms including writing, spoken word, music, visual arts, film, breakdancing, theatre and dance. We are currently running a drop-in creative writing workshop series in Victoria Park, and a theatre/drag musical program to be showcased during Pride Toronto 2012. 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/asianartsfreedomschool/

asianartsfreedomschool@gmail.com

Updated version

browncanada:


 

Workshop content provided by: Asam Ahmad

Graduate of Asian Arts Freedom School

 

What: 

In these workshops we will explore the marginalized and/or hidden histories of the South Asian diaspora in Canada, what it means to be a racialized youth/immigrant today and how to tell our stories through art-based media. In two workshop sessions, we will create a stop-animation short film that tells a collective story, with individual vignettes, and themes and content led by group participants. In the first session we will begin talking about our complex histories,  earning about stop-motion, and  brainstorming ideas for the video. The second workshop will be comprised of story-boarding the narrative, recording individual stories and voiceovers, and crafting the actual visuals for the film.

 

 Brown Canada is a community-led history project to encourage South Asian communities to create and document their histories in Canada creatively, through writing, video, interviews, art, theatre or other means.  Our collective entry point for this project is through the Komagata Maru incident of 1914, when a ship of South Asian people was denied entry into Canada due to restrictive immigration policy known as the continuous journey regulation. Through this project, we are creating an interactive website, offering educational and creative workshops, producing a short video as well as seeking to tour a short theatre piece to raise awareness of the incident and spark community dialogue within Ontario.

 

When:  Tuesday, May 30th, 2012 & Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 5:00 to 7:00 pm

Where:  Don Montgomery CRC, 2467 Eglinton Ave E

Fully Accessible. Ward: 35, District: Scarborough. Near: Midland & Eglinton

TTC Information: Travel to Kennedy Station. Board the 86A Scarborough and travel to 2495. Walk west to 2467 Eglinton Avenue East.

Who: Youth, ages 16+

How: Space is limited! Please contact Deena Hai at deena@cassa.on.ca to register / or location contact

Follow Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/171294869666168/

Follow Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/browncanadaproject 

Visit: http://km.browncanada.ca/index.php

 

by RAISA BHUIYAN on www.shamelessmag.com

Dear Shameless reader,

I’ve just come home from watching popular film of the week The Hunger Games with a sour taste in my mouth and an angry grumbling motion vibrating through my intestines. It seems as though the white-washing of Hunger Games protagonist Katniss has given me yet another case of racial indigestion. In fact, I’m currently cursing myself for being hopeful in thinking that some satisfaction could be had with regards to how people of colour are represented in our popular media.

Can you blame me though?

Every time I hear that a big shot film depicting some form of oppression or discrimination is coming out, I get excited. I get excited because I start hoping that there’s been some equitable representation of people of colour in these movies. I get so excited that I start hoping with all my might that some representational justice will be done to the racialized character(s) and that they won’t be doomed to forever remain as the one-dimensional support system to the main, typically white protagonist. I start hoping that maybe, just maybe the character(s) of colour will finally be presented as full, complex human beings.

But I was wrong.

If you already haven’t been blasted with Hunger Games-saturated trailers and interviews as of late, do let me remind you that Katniss is the central character of the story, whose experiences as a contestant of the Hunger Games make up the storyline of the book. In addition to being characterized by author Suzanne Collins as a radical female hero-warrior combating institutionalized oppression in a dystopia in the future, Katniss is also characterized as being olive-skinned. But as Hollywood page-to-screen synergy would have it, the casting call for Katniss indicated that only Caucasian actors apply.

While some critics and die-hard fans of the Hunger Games universe would and have indeed rationalized this not-so subtle change of the character’s race in the film as a necessary modification required to draw out more audiences to earn the film its blockbuster status (Jennifer Lawrence was already a big name), I would argue that the race-swap of Katniss’ character brings to attention a handful of uncomfortable questions regarding the representation of people of colour in popular media.

One of these key questions is: why are all the characters we see in Western film and TV white?

Other questions include: even when they’re not white, why is it common practise to white-wash characters of colour?

Why is it also common practise to hire white actors to play racialized roles?

(See: The Dragonball Z moviePrince of PersiaThe upcoming Tonto and the Lone Ranger,Tropic ThunderTouch of EvilAirbenderDriveBreakfast at Tiffany’s)

Is there a lack of actors of colour? Or is there something else at work?

What kinds of messages does erasing the race of characters put forward for readers? Does it imply that that characters of colour are not worth learning about?

How does a story’s narrative suffer when the full complexity of people from all walks of life are erased/denied?

To me, whenever I hear someone legitimating the racial erasure of a character in my favourite film, book or show, I feel they are implying that racialized characters don’t deserve the viewer/reader’s attention in the story. Whenever someone brings up the fact that Marlon and Damon Wayans dressed up in “whiteface” for their film “White Chicks” to underscore the systemic trend of white actors donning blackface and yellowface in Hollywood, I feel like they are implying that only white actors can have the power to play different roles. Whenever I discover that the most popular book franchise of the day centers on the experiences of a white character, I feel like authors are implying that only white characters are worth writing about.

While it is commonly understood that there will be variations between how a character is presented in a book and how they are depicted on screen, the explicit whitewashing of characters in Hollywood films reflects a larger move in exercising cultural domination. Haunani-Kay Trask explains in her essay, “The Color of Violence,” that “colonialism began with conquest and is today maintained by a settler administration created out of the doctrine of cultural hierarchy, a hierarchy in which European Americans and whiteness dominate non-European Americans and darkness.” Trask goes on to explain that the exercise of cultural domination of people of colour and Indigenous people by a colonialist country like Canada operates according to a flawless logic that requires a hierarchy of power based on race in order to exist. According to Trask, this power hierarchy can only function if people of colour are kept subordinated by the exercise of cultural domination. For the interests of this post, it is worth considering how such a form of cultural domination can be manifested in something as simple as storytelling.

The creators of stories, whether that story be conveyed orally, through print, video, film or television have much power in opening up spaces from where stories can be expressed differently from the racist, sexist, ableist, heteronormative way many stories have been told in the western media. I believe the power in storytelling stems from the fact that it allows an audience to imagine otherwise by stepping into that world of fantasy. And by imagining otherwise, I mean enabling an audience to imagine narratives with different societal structures, different ways of communicating with one another and different worlds. Whether the story be based in fantasy, myth or reality, stories have always given people the chance to escape their everyday life and step into spaces where they can feel safe and comfort.

Having said this, what troubles me the most is the fact that even in fantastical stories like The Hunger Games, the structure of racial privilege as it stands currently simply gets reinforced as normal. I find this reinforcement of racial privilege to be especially scary for people of colour, since stories and storytelling end up creating destructive stereotypes of what a person can and can’t be. I also find this reinforcement of racial privilege in storytelling to be particularly dangerous in the way that it upholds the experiences of white people to be THE universal experience.

In closing, instead of suggesting a possible solution to this systemic trend in storytelling, I’d rather ask you, the reader, what you think storytellers could do to make characters of colour have more of a voice and representation in stories. More specifically, how can storytellers go beyond simply just representing more diversity in their stories to present characters of colour as the full, complex, human beings they are?

via I can’t get no representation: whitewashing storytelling in popular media - Shameless Magazine - your daily dose of fresh feminism for girls and trans youth

espritfollet