Selfie Revolution….What Are u Afraid Of?

Big ups to Kim Katrin Crosby, The People Project, for staying on top of the selfie struggle. I am actually floored but not surprised that people are openly; violently opposed to POC; Indigenous people; differently abled; Two-Spirited; Trans gendered…selfie images flooding the World Wide Web. Seriously??? Let me say this, since the selfie I have had the incredible opportunity to visually engage with so many beautiful; unique; diverse; inspiring individuals from around the world. Images of people which never graced the print magazines; or television shows of the 80’s and 90’s. I have always been mad self-conscious about being photographed and even throughout the years as I became more involved with the arts and entertainment industry; I still cringed at the thought of getting my picture taken. Like many of us I had physical insecurities compounded by systemic racism…leading to self-hatred and identity challenges: Too skinny; Too fat; Too exotic; Not black enuff; Not native enuff; Funny nose; Gap tooth smile; Too Flat chested; Too much ass……anyway the selfie is my photo flash record therapy these days. I feel a lot different about my kinda beauty now…which is “my kinda beauty”…I see it shinning inside and out and when social media friends, fans and complete strangers identify positively with my kinda beauty…that’s a validation that speaks volumes to why I selfie and why many of us selfie. When I hashtag #nativepride #afronative under a selfie, I have sent out a beacon to others who self identify in a way that we couldn’t in school or in the work place or even in our own families…communities. I am not completely comfortable with the term “role model”, but I do know a lot of POC and Indigenous youth look up to me so my selfies indirectly encourage healthy positive self-expression; knowledge of self and the decolonization of Western European standards of beauty; and I’m down wit that. I have an inherent right to b “myself”; express “myself”; luv “myself”!! I am more than a serial number! More than a bar code! More than a box to b checked on a census form! I am visually iconic so deal with it!

U can’t box me in cuz I’m wearing my own skin!!!</blockquote>

So to all those selfie haters who claim, “POC and Indigenous people are saturating social media with visual egocentric pollution”
#unplugandstoptrollingus
!!

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So Before 2008 My People Were Not Considered Human Beings…Shame!

The Federal Government for the past three years is experiencing what Malcolm X said, back during the Black Power Movement when Blacks began to assert their basic Human Rights against the powers that be, “the chickens would come home to roost so soon“….Well the eagle has landed…It was only until 2008, that our people were able to utilize the Human Rights Act of Canada to file complaints around injustice of our rights within the legal justice system, education system and within the child services system…where some of the most horrendous violations of the rights of our people of been inacted decade after decade….Under the “Indian Act” our people were excluded from the Canadian Human Rights Act…yes please take a moment to digest the blantant racism behind such policies….

Examine this issue closer in the following article which actually made the National Post:

First Nations challenge federal government and band governments with hundreds of human rights complaints

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It’s 2012 We Are Not Chief Wahoo!!

When I was a teacher candidate @ York U I had a placement at a suburban elementary school in the affluent Lawrence and Yonge area. The school lacked the visual diversity I was accustomed to during my middle school and HS years in Scar-Town. The minority group in this school were Jewish students. The majority group were Anglo-Saxon students. I was placed in a grade 5 class of 20 students, only two were of colour. With few teachers of colour on staff it was clear non-white cultural and historical identities were not being showcased or learned about. I soon changed that. One of the curricular focuses my classroom teacher asked me to examine with the kids was Media English. She knew I already had a BA from Ryerson in Radio & Television Arts. The first thing I taught the kids was how to write for radio. And specifically how to create editorials. I don’t think however the school administration was quite ready for the subject matter nor the method of delivery. I spent several sessions on exploring contemporary issues affecting First People’s. One of great interest to the students, especially the boys was the use of Native imaging in American sports teams. Yea those white kids woke up…they created an editorial segment on the use of these images and why it is inappropriate by reading their pieces during the morning announcements. This was the first time student voices were heard on the morning announcements at this school.

Fast forward ahead I’m starting Living Through the Arts Workshops for the RCM at Food Share. The focus is Anti-Oppression through Spoken Word. I was specifically brought in because youth in a summer internship program were regularly exchanging racial slurs and stereotyping each other to the point where things were escalating to physical violence and youth were starting to drop out.

In one of the first sessions we examined the top 10 most oppressive visual symbols in history. Amongst that top 10 were images such as the burning cross, confederate flag and the swastika. Also making this list was Chief Wahoo….I asked the youth participants to give me the first words that came to mind when they saw that image. Some of the words included:
Stupid, red skinned, foolish, disrespect to Native Americans….nobody said, “That’s an honorable Native Chief”….

Nevertheless the youth who was sporting the cap the first class didn’t want to sport it after that.

As a member of the Hip Hop community I see Chief Wahoo often on caps, jerseys and T’s. Everyone has a reason for wearing an “Indian Sambo”…whether their white, black, brown, yellow or red….

I’m still not down with Wahoo and maybe after reading this you’ll know why: Four Decades of Chief Wahoo!!

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