Happy Pride!

28 06 2008

Despite the (so far) crappy weather, I will be enjoying Toronto’s pride festivities all weekend. I’ll share my thoughts and such after it’s wrapped up on Sunday. Until then, I leave you with this creation, which I arranged for a party I had last night:

I have too much time on my hands.


And a big, hearty “fuck you” goes to:

9 05 2008

the mainstream media, for their shitty coverage of certain missing persons/murder cases. Read: Missing White Woman Syndrome

But you know what? It’s not just the media. The family of 21-year-old African-American murder victim Ramona Moore¬†has launched a lawsuit against the New York Police Department for ignoring her case – because she was black.

It’s not just about race, either. Generally, for the mainstream media to jump on a case, the victim generally has to be:

  • White
  • Female
  • Young
  • English-Speaking
  • Attractive
  • Straight
  • Able-bodied
  • Wealthy or middle class
  • Cisgender
  • Conventionally appearing (no tattoos or piercings; not punk or goth)
  • Not homeless, a runaway, or a sex worker

… and so on.

And it’s so enraging that it makes me want to scream.

Yeah. I know. The media can’t cover everything. But when the only murders the public cares about are of attractive, white, young, straight women – the stereotypical “All American Girl” – then it begins to seem like bias. A lot.

In 2003, in Toronto, a 32-year-old transsexual, Asian Canadian sex worker was murdered in her apartment. Her name was Cassandra Do. Her killer has never been found.

Mainstream media response?

(crickets chirping)

That’s right, folks, a big fat nothing courtesy of the mainstream media. The only reason I even know she existed is because of one or two stories in the local queer press, and some internet research. Which is sad – how many others are out there like her? For every Laci Peterson or Natalee Holloway, how many stories go untold? I know of many, and there are so many more – simply because the media doesn’t pay attention. And don’t give me some feel-good bullshit of “But they want something the consumers can relate to!” Crap. How many people do you know that fit the exact description above? And, apparently, people like me, and a hell of a lot of other people who are “outside the mainstream” (which is a load of crap, since most people do not meet all of the above criteria) don’t exist.

I remember seeing Cassandra Do’s picture in a local community centre a couple years ago, along with the generic “if you have any information about this case, please call…”. I didn’t know anything about the case at the time, but I remember thinking, “Poor girl. I wonder what happened to her?”

I’ve often wondered if the same thought crossed other people’s minds, or if they just walked by, and forgot all about her.

Cassandra Do, and all the others like her, were people. They were people. Okay? Regardless of whether or not they fit some stupid artificial All American Girl stereotype. They had family and friends, and hopes and dreams for the future. They were just like you and me.

And really, what made Cassandra Do’s life any less worth living than Laci Peterson’s or Taylor Behl’s? Because she was trans? Because she was Asian? Because she was a sex worker? Her life was just as valuable as those of the damsels in distress you see on CNN. So why was her story deemed not worthy of talking about?

Thou Shalt Not Be a Bystander

13 04 2008

Today, I’m going to STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) Canada’s “Day For Darfur” rally here in Toronto. It’s a yearly, and nationwide (perhaps international; I don’t know if there are events taking place in the U.S. or elsewhere) event. Essentially, it’s to raise awareness of the genocide in Darfur.

People have finally begun to take notice of what’s happening in Darfur. (To learn more, click here). But it’s not enough.

Over 400,000 people have died. 400,000. Do you have any idea how big a number that is? That’s more than 100 September 11ths. That’s over 10,000 Virginia Tech massacres. I always found it sadly ironic that North Americans were gripped by the media coverage after the shooting, when the same media turns a blind eye to genocide in other parts of the world. The people of Darfur are living inside their own Virginia Tech shooting, every day. Why aren’t more people speaking up?

I’m just one person, and part of me doubts that a bunch of us protesting at Nathan Phillips Square will do much. But it’s better than nothing. So I am going to go downtown, march, and scream my lungs out, along with a group of people doing the same, and hope the world hears us.

“‘Thou shall not be a victim. Thou shall not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shall not be a bystander.”

-Yehuda Bauer, Holocaust historian