Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Amalgam: Marathon of Schmope idea; YouTube censorship; Esq HS lockdown; etc

I post a lot on Facebook and forget to post here.

So the following are some more important posts from the recent past.


Always with the brain and the heart and the layers and the nuance and the overwhelm and the complexity and the paradox and the heaviness and thank Dog I no longer menstruate.

April 30, 2018:

It's April 30th and, although I'm still fucking sick of the endless fucking shit, I did not do a monthly action for April and it's not happening today. So sue me.

Instead, I post here a new idea I have been sitting with.

Marathon of Schmope

Marathon of Schmope is my version of being a schmancery person who runs across Canada. (An extension, if you will, of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope.)

Except that I'm a mom and I ostensibly need to feed the younguns. And I'm on disability and can't afford a driver or even Steve Fonyo's used van.

So my plan is to just slowly rack up the miles by occasionally running/naked ugly dancing around my town of Victoria, BC. Probably mostly around the legislature (=obsolete colonial structure) and probably mostly naked (=undefended+vulnerable, not to mention old+fat while being female).

Why? For quite a while, I've had to live every day with the belief that we (or at least I) with awareness and privilege should be self-immolating like the Tibetan nuns and monks until the masses finally wake up.

But I'm a mother, not a nun (yet), so that's not an option either.

My schmancer is no doubt partly a self-immolation. And for the last 12 years, I've been doing forms of "self-immolation" by using my naked body to bypass my family/tribal (ie European/North American)/epigenetic defence responses and allow myself to be physically and emotionally vulnerable.

Also, I should say, even before I became a schmurvivor of Stage 4 schmancer, I was very touched and inspired by Terry Fox and Steve Fonyo. (See previous blog post So I Took the Kids to the Terry Fox Exhibit for more on Terry Fox and Steve Fonyo)

I call it Marathon of Schmope not to ridicule but to use language without hard labels. I don't feel hope but hopelessness isn't exactly correct.

I'm grateful that Cancer, Inc. (and many good people and good research) helped save my life but, no, I'm not raising money.

(In fact, I LOATHE with every single breath in my body that the sole response we continue to teach to our children in this day and age is to throw money at a GIANT COMPLICATED PROBLEM without having the ability or desire to teach complexity much less disruption or resistance.

This is activism and endurance. This is continuation of my work in the Human Body Project.

This is dealing with the trauma of living in a culture of BLIND BRUTALITY.

This is my feminism is my indigenism is my pain is my self is my body is my brain is my art. This is using my privilege.

This is my vulnerable body, my body that brought life into the world, providing ritual that is feeling that is revealing that is healing.

April 29, 2018

I think Michele Wolf is a brave woman. Here's a link to her speech at the White House Correspondents' dinner.

April 23, 2018

Heard today: "I need to be treated with respect and so I'm unemployable."

Couldn't have said it better.

April 15, 2018

The post and the conversation. Interesting. I find parts of the conversation provide an excellent example of trying to express trauma and pain to people who aren't in touch with it. And aren't much in touch with empathy.

April 13, 2018

In 2018, someone took the time to report my YouTube video:

Hi HumanBodyProject,

As you may know, our Community Guidelines describe which content we allow – and don’t allow – on YouTube. Your video "My Own Little Desperate Pride Parade" was flagged for review. Upon review, we’ve determined that it violates our guidelines. We’ve removed it from YouTube and assigned a Community Guidelines strike, or temporary penalty, to your account.

Video content restrictions

If a video contains nudity, pornography, or other sexually provocative content, it's less likely to be allowed on YouTube. YouTube reviews content on a case by case basis and will make limited exceptions for appropriate educational, documentary, artistic, and scientific contexts. In such cases, we may apply an age restriction so that only viewers over a certain age can view the content. Learn more here.

The impact of strikes

This is the first strike applied to your account. We understand that users seldom intend to violate our policies. That’s why strikes don’t last forever – this strike will expire in three months. However, it’s important to remember that additional strikes could prevent you from posting content to YouTube or even lead to your account being terminated.

I appealed:

My nudity is a political statement and a piece of performance art, along the lines of the work of Marina Abramovic who also uses her naked body as a medium. There is absolutely NOTHING sexual or sexually explicit about my video. It is an expression of the vulnerability of my body and all our bodies in a desperate time. In the video itself you can see that the police who speak with me come to understand that my work is a valid form of expression in a country with freedom of expression laws. I have never been arrested and my work is accepted by many as important art. I have won a national research award for my arts-based practice and I am a former university instructor in the field of cultural studies. YouTube’s knee-jerk reaction to harmless bodies is inappropriate and, arguably, discrimination.

(I have not yet received a reply.)

March 29, 2018

Walking around Montreal is like walking around a huge (non-wankerish) contemporary art installation about what can happen when low property prices, diverse cultures, bad weather, Canadian-Quebecois policies (esp late 70s-early 80s Anglo exodus), two main languages, and a general je ne give a fuck pas all come together. I LOVE it. (Except the bad weather).

March 11, 2018

I did an impromptu Monthly Action in March.

March 7, 2018

Follow-up to my concerns about the lockdown at Esquimalt High School. Bottom line, many of my conclusions were mistaken:

Last week, I met with the police school liaison officer for Esquimalt High School (who had been part of the team deployed during the Esquimalt lockdown) along with his boss, an inspector.

Some background: After the lockdown at Esquimalt in November I wrote a piece sharing concerns about what I’d witnessed. I’d arrived at the school, moments after the lockdown started, to pick up my kid for an appointment. I ended up watching the whole thing, which took 2+ hours, from the outside.

Humbled, I have learned quite a lot since sharing on social media and speaking with these police officers.

I had found the casual attitude exhibited by the police officers outside the school comforting from the POV of a mom but it had made me wonder about the necessity for a lockdown with big weapons, especially given that the person they were looking for was a teenager armed with a knife who stole a backpack.

A friend who works as a security officer in Alberta told me that often, in such situations, officers may look like they’re joking or whatever but they are deadly serious. She also said it’s difficult to talk about these kinds of situations with people who don’t do this kind of work. (The armchair quarterback thing but with lives on the line.)

The officers I spoke to in Esquimalt agreed and also really allayed my concerns about the big guns. The weapon they use is far more accurate and far more stable than a smaller gun. They use it specifically because it’s far less likely to miss and far less likely to hit bystanders. They also said knife-weilders can be very dangerous, which is true, of course, and they have to take such a threat seriously.

Watching from the outside, the exercise had seemed over the top and uber-macho to me so I’m grateful a) for these two officers speaking to me with empathy and explaining openly and b) for the clarification that how I interpreted the situation was a lot of my own projection (I’m using those words; the officers kindly did not).

My last main concern had been that I witnessed some boys on the field talking excitedly about the cops’ guns. I found this the most disturbing... that boys, who were probably feeling vulnerable, would brush off those feelings to boastfully display their knowledge of the guns’ features and firepower, as if trying to make it all an entertainment.

I had asked if there could be some kind of discussion about the police’s use of big guns and gun culture. During all the debriefing that occurs, my hope is that it can include discussion that is focused on the officers’ feelings of realness and danger of either getting shot or having to shoot a human being. In those moments of dialled-up emotion for everyone, addressing the actual officers’ authentic POVs might be very useful in our world of first-person-shooter games, uber-violent movies, and an epidemic of mass gun murders at schools.

The officers said that my concerns made sense and were taken seriously. They said that they would take those concerns to a committee meeting addressing the Esquimalt lockdown where a discussion of improving lockdown responses would be taking place.

I’ll never have to respond to such a scary situation. I appreciated that these men took the time to talk to me. Even though I struggle with violence of all forms in our culture and feel that our justice system is profoundly UNjust, I feel appreciation for what my friend in Alberta, these men, and other individuals are required to do in the course of their jobs and, though I may detest the idea of people armed with heavy artillery entering my daughter’s school, I now comprehend the necessity of the police actions during the lockdown at Esquimalt.

February 24, 2018

Excellent piece. The Time I was Almost a School Shooter

January 30, 2018

Excellent piece. The Female Price of Male Pleasure

January 25, 2018

I won't share the reply I got from Vic PD but here's my follow-up:

Thank you for the risks you take and the care you have. I do appreciate it.

What I understood and witnessed was that the police were heavily armed. The weapons were not pistols but big guns. I understand being armed but why such big guns? I assume automatic or semi-automatics? Is that the case? If so, why?

I believe "boys love guns" is a social construction, which definitely includes police culture, so I'm somewhat disturbed to hear this brushed off. I think it's something important to address with students after such an event in the future.

Talk about the weaponry and the reasons for using. Tell us about how they keep us safer than pistols. I honestly don't know and would like to understand why, because crazy big automatic guns don't seem like a good idea to me.

And be honest about what it's like. Is it scarier than a first-person-shooter game or a typical movie? Does it inform your understanding of these entertainments? I think these kinds of topics would be relevant, comforting from a transparency standpoint, and educational. Better than journals.

Thanks for conversing, Tasha

January 25, 2018

I have finally written (to the police, PAC, and educators) regarding the over-the-top November lockdown at my kid’s school.

“This is how accidental police shootings occur. I feel the police put those children in more danger than the robber did.”

To the Chief of Police et al:

My daughter is a student at Esquimalt High School.

On Monday, November 6, 2017, a student was robbed at knifepoint outside of the school and the school was placed in lockdown.

I happened to arrive moments after the lockdown started and waited about 1 1/2-2 hours until it ended because my daughter had an important doctor appointment.

It’s taken me a while to formulate my thoughts and I am now writing to express that I am very disappointed and horrified about what took place.

First, I could tell from my vantage point that the police were not super-concerned. The ones in the parking lot did not look stressed and were at ease. As a parent on the scene, I felt comforted.

However, as I waited, I walked around the field and heard three boys speaking with excitement about the armed officers (who had entered the school shortly before I got there). They were, no doubt, feeling at least a little vulnerable by the situation and the weaponry, but they spoke excitedly about the “cool” brands or models of the guns.

I was very distressed by their (societally ingrained) way of dealing with a potentially unsafe situation by showing off their knowledge of guns instead of heading straight home or consoling each other by discussing their fears.

But mostly, I wondered why, if the police outside the building looked so relaxed, the police inside the building were heavily armed?! Especially after learning afterwards that the robber had been armed with only a knife.

We also learned afterward that the lockdown was “precautionary.”

When the police came out at the end some of the men looked very pumped and excited.

It looked to me like the whole thing was some exercise in adrenaline.

I could be projecting.

In any case, I really question the use of such heavy artillery IN A SCHOOL to find a knife-bearing robber who no one really thought would be there. This is how accidental police shootings occur. I feel the police put those children in more danger than the robber did.

I also feel that the unnecessary escalation of violence that occurred is harmful to the psyches of everyone touched by that situation.

I appreciate police as first responders and people who have to put themselves in harm’s way. And I get the difficulty of deciding in the moment about potential threats. But I’d really like to hear a response regarding the thinking behind this, as well as thoughts from educators and other parents.

Sincerely, Tasha Diamant, mother.

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