Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bullying and Where Are the Parents?

'Bully Free Zone' photo (c) 2008, Eddie~S - license:

I have come to hate the term where are the parents because it ignores that parents can dedicate every waking minute to fighting for their kids and not make any progress because the system is not designed to be helpful.  I have also come to hate the term zero tolerance policy in reference to bullying because it's a lie. When my children were born, I promised to love them unconditionally, to support them and fight for them whenever necessary.  I have kept this vow but it has not been easy. The first time my oldest son was bullied, he was five years old and he was being called "brown boy." Today, the taunts have escalated and now he is being called the N word.

For the last two years, one boy on my son's bus has delighted in being a bully.  My son hasn't been his only victim but being Black, he is the only one being called a racial slur. I have talked to the school bus company and the principal and the best I have managed is to get the child booted off the bus for a week at a time.  This means my son gets a week of safety and comfort but as soon as the boy starts riding on the bus again, the process starts all over. In desperation, I called the NRP (Niagara Regional Police), hoping to push the idea that this amounted to harassment, but they wouldn't even take a report, let alone go out to the school and talk to the child in question or investigate.  They advised me to tell my son to just ignore the racial slurs and to tell him that the bully was simply maladjusted.  Apparently, what the bully is doing is not a crime.  I suggested that this situation was going to end up with my son seriously hurting this kid, the kid seriously hurting my son, or my son in a body bag, because this is what happens when bullying is ignored. The cop was quiet for a moment and simply said these things happen.  Apparently, someone has to be hurt or die for this to be taken seriously.

At present, I am trying to get in touch with the superintendent and getting the run around.  This recent incident isn't even a case of my son's word against the bully, because not only did other children confirm his story, so did the bus driver.  When I spoke to the bus company this morning, they admitted that the child in question has a history of this behaviour and promised to have the bus driver try to look out for my son.  How exactly can he look out for my son when he has to pay attention to the road? They cannot even institute a seating arrangement to force the child to sit up front, so that he is away from other children because that apparently would be too stigmatizing. My son has been hurt for two years by this bully but apparently, the bully's fee fees are more important.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Traditional Same Sex Wedding in Africa

One of the things that disgusts me about homophobes, is their absolute denial of the beauty and power of love.  No matter how love occurs, whether it be people of the same sex, parent to child, man and a woman, or platonic love between friends, it's beautiful and make us more than the sum of our parts.  There is so much ugliness, violence and hatred in this world that to look at love and not see the beauty of it mystifies me quite honestly. 

When I came across the news feed of a traditional African wedding between two gay men, I simply had to share.  We know that particularly in Uganda, LGBT people face horrible persecution.  The stories coming out of the continent of Africa have been horrifying.  This is not say that it's even remotely easy to be GLBT in the western world because there isn't a country or continent without homophobia and transphobia.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Marginalized People and Low Expectations

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.

One of the many many many not-very-coded speeches privileged people like to give is the one on “low expectations”.

You know the one – the one that says that welfare, affirmative action, any kind of accommodation, anti-discrimination rules or anything else to try and help marginalised people is somehow patronising and demeaning because it “expects too little” of marginalised people. Because it expects marginalised people to need help (completely missing the many ways marginalised people are hindered and the fact that society is already geared to help the privileged). Like many of the arguments of the oppressor, I’ve been dismissing it.

But I think I was wrong. I think that, yes, there are people out there who are labouring under the soft tyranny of low expectations. There are people who achieve so little because so little is expected for them

I’m talking, of course, about people who are clinging to their comfortable blanket of privilege, those folks who have taught us time and again to expect the least from them. And the least is what we get.

Here are some expectations I wish we could have of people the expectations I wish we could have, the expectations I wish we could expect everyone to meet – as a bare minimum.

We will expect you to keep a civil tongue in your mouth. You’ll find it helps to keep a civil brain in your head – then you won’t say offensive shit “accidentally”. When I was a child, my parents would have sharp words if I “accidentally”  swore – we expect you to meet the same standards I managed as a small child. I have every confidence you will achieve this. Eventually. With practice.

We will expect you to recognise the limitations of the word “sorry” and how it does not justify or excuse your prejudiced or bigoted behaviour or language. Show some of the responsibility you always prattle on about. Certainly not if you’re only “sorry”  that you’re caught

We will expect you to learn from your mistakes. Children can learn not to repeat bad behaviour when corrected, we now expect the same of you.