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Overwhelming racism still prominent in today’s world

When you work for a publication, or just pay attention to the news, it’s hard to miss the racism constantly popping up in headlines.

Of the more popular stories to hit newsfeeds are people like BBQ Becky, Permit Patty, and then the woman who called the police on a little boy mowing a lawn. As for Becky and Patty, what were the devastating crimes they needed to end with their vigilantism? Well, BBQ Becky called the police on a black family for using a charcoal barbecue in a park (gasp!) and Permit Patty called the police on an 8-year-old black girl for selling water bottles to try and help her family raise money for a Disneyland trip. The nerve, right?

Though, stories like this didn’t stop there. Naturally, these stories just kept coming into the news and it was hard to keep up with all of them. I recently saw a video of a man named Adam Bloom (now known as ‘ID Adam’) who called the police on a black woman, Jasmine Abhulimen, for swimming in a neighbourhood pool with her son. She filmed the entire altercation. Police confirmed what Abhulimen was saying the whole time: it doesn’t say anywhere at the pool that you need to have identification to get in. She obviously had her own key card to get in, which the police tested to shut Bloom up, and that was it. The police apologized for Bloom nonsensically calling the police, and Abhulimen then asked him if he would apologize. He didn’t.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. When minorities aren’t being singled out, police are doing their fair share in contributing to the violence and discrimination often shown from those in the community.

If you look at the collection of deaths that have taken place at the hands of police, the number is staggering. Oftentimes, the crimes are non-violent and police use excessive force to apprehend the suspects.

My boyfriend and I were talking about this over the weekend. Neither of us is sure how to fix this issue and to be honest, I don’t know if the problem will ever be fixed. Why? Simple. Racism has existed for hundreds of years and it doesn’t look like it’s on the path to stopping anytime soon. Why would it when the police who gun down innocent minorities aren’t indicted or former cops say they don’t think about the victims they kill because “it doesn’t matter at this point.” Or maybe all you need to do is cry on the stand like Jeronimo Yanez after he shot Philando Castile dead in front of his girlfriend and a 4-year-old girl. Yanez pulled Castile over, and Castile disclosed there was a legal, licensed weapon in the car. When Yanez asked for ID, Castile reached for his wallet and was shot five times. Yanez told jurors that “I had no choice” because he thought Castile was going to shoot him when he was reaching for his wallet.

Again, this isn’t the first time that this kind of thing has happened. Look at Charles Kinsey. Kinsey was a mental health therapist who was shot with his hands up as he tried to talk to a patient with autism. The patient, who wandered from the group home, was playing with a toy truck and police thought it was a gun because… of course they did. So, Kinsey tried to defuse the situation by telling the patient to lay on his stomach. Kinsey then put his hands up and laid on his back, telling police what was going on. Officer Jonathon Aledda approached and still shot him. When Kinsey asked him why he did, Aledda literally told him, “I don’t know.”

Though, it would be unfair to say that justice isn’t served on occasion. Blake Salamoni was fired from the police force after shooting Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. Christ, Dylann Roof received the death sentence for his mass murder in Charleston, wherein he walked into a church and murdered nine black people. He also laughed when he confirmed that that committed the hate crime.

Even so, these instances of justice don’t make certain neighbourhoods or countries any safer. Sure, sometimes justice is served, but nine times out of ten it’s not. Are people okay with taking that gamble? These are human lives and they’re treated as the inferior. Many don’t need to worry about what it’s like to walk down the street and fear for your life when a cop walks by. Many don’t know what it’s like to teach your children rules about how to stay safe lest you get assaulted by police. What kind of a world is that?

At this time, I’m reminded of a quote from Heather Heyer. Heyer was a 32-year-old murdered in Charlottesville during counter-protests against “Unite the Right,” which was a rally of white nationalists and right-wing groups. She was on the opposing side, instead fighting for justice and peace. Naturally, someone needed to drive a car through the opposing side and murder Heyer while injuring 19 others.

The last tweet that she ever sent out read: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Look at the world around you. There are still plenty of reasons to be outraged.

Lupita Nyong’o is beautiful…but I guess not European beautiful

As I sat scrolling through Instagram Saturday afternoon, I came across a post by Lupita Nyong’o. Nyong’o is a Hollywood actress who rose to fame after her role in the award-winning 12 Years a Slave in 2013. She became the first Kenyan-Mexican actress to win an academy award for Best Supporting Actress. After her breakout role in 2013, Nyong’o was adorned as this African princess of sorts- exotic, beautiful, but never more beautiful than the euro-centric standard of beauty displayed in Hollywood.

The image of Nyong’o that Hollywood approved of was a dark-skinned woman with a shaved head — regardless of the fact that her hair had grown since her role in 2013.

Pre-conceptions aside, what followed over the last week was a complete slap in the face. Nyong’o was photographed for the latest cover of Grazia U.K., a fashion news magazine. When the magazine came out, Nyong’o, and many others (myself included) were surprised to see that she looked completely different. The photography and editorial team had lightened her skin and completely removal of her Afro-puff. How on earth was this ok?

The complete alteration of Nyong’o image shows that, according to western Hollywood standards, a black woman cannot be too dark, a black woman must have straight hair, a black woman must speak properly, and a black woman must never be too sexy.

The photographer issued the following apology: “My altering of her image was not born out of any hate, but instead out of my own ignorance and insensitivity to the constant slighting of women of colour throughout the different media platforms.”

Many people who are unaware of the postcolonial issues that black women have faced, much less in Hollywood, are just willing to brush this off and hear the apology of the photographer that altered the image. There is no apology that can fix what has already been done. These events just prove how many people remain ignorant to the struggles women of colour face in the world.

The photographer, while apologetic, was merely following the pre-set Hollywood guidelines for cover photos. Nyong’o has been vocal about how removing her Afro-hair from the cover of the magazine speaks to the prejudice that still exists with black kinky and curly hair. It is tolerable to have straight smooth hair, but utterly classy and unkempt to be walking around with frizzy coils. Blacks are judged on their social inferiority based on their features like skin-tone, hair, and nose structure. This was just another example.

Taking away a black woman’s natural hair is like asking her to repress her culture and her heritage — to be compliant in the never-ending fight for what is deemed beautiful. If you have a problem with understanding this, then you need to kindly check your privilege.

Hundreds march in protest of Quebec’s Bill 62

Hundreds of people took to the streets in Montreal to protest the provincial government’s decision to enact Bill 62, also known as the religious neutrality bill.

This bill makes it illegal for public service workers, as well as people seeking government services, from wearing this any face-covering garb such as the niqab or the burka. The ban also includes the use of public transportation.

While the bill itself doesn’t mention these pieces of clothing, it implies a religious and ethnic target — muslim women. Very few other people wear face-covering materials. The protestors are calling this bill racist and hateful, something that is inviting Islamophobia in Quebec.

The protested marched down Berri St. between Ste-Catherine St. and De Maisonneuve Blv. One hundred and sixty groups from diverse backgrounds were represented in the crowds. They also signed an online petition asking for an end to Islamophobia and hate.

Bill 62 is being challenged at Quebec’s Superior Court. The plaintiffs claim “The Act gravely infringes the religious and equality rights of certain Muslim women in Quebec.”

“While purporting to promote the goals of advancing the religious neutrality of the state and facilitating communication between public employees and private citizens, the Act does the opposite,” the court challenge reads. “It imposes a significant burden on the exercise of religious freedom, and it does so in a discriminatory manner that will isolate some Quebec residents, making it much more difficult for them to participate in Quebec society.”

A judge is expected to review the case on Wednesday. If the judge agrees, the law will be suspended temporarily.

What do you think will happen on Nov. 15th when the judge looks at the court challenge? Let us know in the comments below!

Quebec passes bill prohibiting the niqab while using public services

Wednesday, Quebec’s National Assembly passed a law that will prohibit women from wearing the niqab while using public services.

Bill 62, ironically called the religious neutrality bill, bans public service workers, as well as people seeking government services, from wearing this any face-covering garb such as the niqab or the burka. This ban also extends to using public transportation.

It should also be noted that those who voted against the bill did so because they didn’t think it went far enough. They wanted to extend the ban to include people of authority, like judges and police officers.

To be incredibly clear: if a woman choses to wear the niqab for religious reasons, she will no longer be allowed to work as a teacher, doctor, or government agent. She will also not be able to use any of the services provided by these people and will not be able to take the bus to get there if she finds someone sympathetic to her beliefs.

The bill carefully avoids using the terms niqab or burka, and specifically says people must have their “face uncovered”, and claims this includes people who wear masks to protest. However, there are very few instances where a face would be covered and it is easy to deduce what population is being targeted by this law.

People can apply for an “exemption” to the rule; however the bill also specifies the religious accommodation “is consistent with the right for equality between women and men”, which would most likely rule out the niqab. The bill also says that “the accommodation must be reasonable in that it must not impose undue hardship with regard to, among other considerations, the rights of others, public health and safety, the effects on the proper operation of the body, and the costs involved.” This makes exemptions extremely subjective and difficult to receive.

The best part of the bill is the little disclosure at the end that says: “The measures introduced in this Act must not be interpreted as affecting the emblematic and toponymic elements of Québec’s cultural heritage, in particular its religious cultural heritage, that testify to its history.”

Honestly, if I was a politician in Quebec, I wouldn’t want this bill affecting the history or culture of my province either. It paints an absolutely despicable picture similar to other fascist countries.

I’m not a big fan of the niqab. Most women aren’t. But, I would never force a woman who chooses to wear one to remove it. I would also never prevent a woman from taking the bus or from picking up her child at school because of what she is wearing. This is not a security issue or a communications issue. This is racism in its simplest form. This is a group of people afraid of someone who dresses a bit differently. The law does not encourage “religious neutrality” as the government claims. It doesn’t prevent people from wearing a cross or a yarmulke on the bus or at the doctor’s office. It directly attacks one religion over others.

Personally, I’m hoping someone brings this bill to the Supreme Court. Quebec politicians should be ashamed at the blatant discrimination they just enacted in to law.

This is not my Canada. Is it yours?

The law is affective immediately.

Charlottesville: can it happen here? Yes, it can.

It’s seven in the morning and I’m listening to the radio. The host comes on to talk about the news of the day, describing the violence in Charlottesville once again. I’m groggy, but even I can predict the next question that will be asked — can it happen in Canada? Every day this week I’ve heard the same question. Whether it is on the radio, the television, in the newspaper, or even within my circle of family and friends, people want to talk about how what happened in the United States may, or may not, happen in their communities.

On the evening of Aug 11, a group of white nationalists — a.k.a. Nazis — marched the streets of Charlottesville in a rally that supposedly was meant to “take America” back. These people started chanting things like “white lives matter” and “blood and soil”, among many offensive and discriminatory things.

Oh, and they were holding torches and some of them held flags with the swastika.

The march was meant to be a response to the removal of a confederate statue, but considering the symbols scrawled on the signs and the slogans being screamed in the streets, there is no doubt this was a meeting of white supremacists who didn’t care about a statue. They just wanted to express their views and show their numbers.

These Nazis* were met with a counter protest — and because these marchers were not there to peacefully showcase their displeasure about a historical figure being immortalized in stone, they lashed out violently. People were pushed and beaten. And then someone drove a van right into the crowd, killing one of the protesters.

* I was recently asked whether it was fair to call these “nationalists” Nazis, and my answer is unreservedly yes. Calling them “nationalists” waters down the message of their ideology. If you are chanting discriminatory things about transgendered people, people of colour, and those of the Jewish faith while holding torches and the swastika — you are a Nazi. Everyone who marches with you, by association, is a Nazi. It’s that simple.

So, can it happen here? That’s the big question, isn’t it? My answer is, sadly, yes — and that’s what’s so frightening.

Fear and violence inspires more fear and more violence. It can create a chain reaction of events on an international scale. When one group of people use violence as a way to deal with what they see as a threatening situation, another group will respond in kind, creating a cycle that is never ending.

And Canada is not immune. Sure, we have small victories. A forum for “nationalists” being held at Ryerson University was cancelled after public outcry, and the University of Toronto has publicly said they will not allow a group of white supremacists to protest on their property. But is it enough to combat the many instances of racism, sexism, and blatant hate this country has seen over the last few years?

During the last federal election, the signs of Muslim candidates were defaced with graffiti, with phrases like “Go Home” scrawled across their property. In January, people were shot while leaving a mosque in Quebec City. There have been numerous instances of neighbours sending letters threatening parents of children with disabilities because they were disturbed and felt these kids shouldn’t be alive. And there is, I’m ashamed to say, many alt-right people who were starting to listen to Kellie Leitch’s rant about RCMP tip lines for those worried about their immigrant neighbours, not to mention the disgusting concept of using “Canadian values” to determine who enters the country.

Hate breeds more hate — and unfortunately, there is still a lot of hate left in Canada. Can that hate turn to violence? Yes, quite easily. But, will it? Not if those of us who are tolerant and compassionate human beings rally together and say enough is enough. People can end the cycle, but only if they do not resort to the same methods as those who initiate the violence and hate.

As grossly cliché as it is, people have to fight hate with love. Already, two rallies are being organized in Toronto as a response to the violence in Charlottestown. If this is how the world responds, in similar fashion to the Women’s Marches in January and February, I have high hopes we will not see the rise of white supremacy or Nazism spread in this country.

God, I hope I’m right.

Should students be deterred from reading To Kill A Mockingbird?

The Durham District School Board has ruled that students don’t have to read To Kill A Mockingbird if they don’t want to. It’s all part of a modern curriculum change that would give students (or most likely parents) more control over the novels studied in class.

To be very clear: the book is not being banned — students are just no longer required to read it. The idea is that those who feel uncomfortable about the language and the themes of To Kill A Mockingbird will be allowed to choose another option to read in class.

Written by Harper Lee and published in 1961, To Kill A Mockingbird follows the story of Atticus Finch, a lawyer who defends a black man who is accused of raping a white woman. It’s a classic novel that explores themes of racism, gender roles, and religion.

Reaction to this decision has been mixed. Some are praising the Durham District School Board for “modernizing” the curriculum while others can’t understand the problems it may cause.

I’m all for diversifying the books students read. In fact, I think new literature should be added to the reading list every year — but there are some novels that should absolutely be read and To Kill A Mockingbird is one of them.

First of all, young people should be exposed to different kinds of literature, especially if it explores themes that make them uncomfortable. This is how they learn about history and aspects of life they may be unfamiliar with. Too often, especially in school, teachers lean towards political correctness. In typical Canadian fashion, no one wants to offend someone else. But, if there is one place students should feel comfortable enough to ask questions that may not be acceptable in current society, it’s at school! If all of the “controversial” books are removed from shelves or are provided as an option rather than a requirement, how will students be exposed to different walks of life?

The argument that this book may be offensive to some people is ridiculous. It’s a historic novel that presents real themes that still impact people today. Sure, the language can be a bit intense (no one likes the n-word), but how else can teachers begin a conversation about why those phrases and words are not acceptable now? A good novel has a way of introducing topics that may be disturbing or controversial, and allows for real discussion. I think all students should be encouraged to read books that explore themes like religion, gender, politics, and racism.

At the same time, I support the idea that new and modern books should be re-introduced into the curriculum. But, why not put these two ideas together? Instead of making students choose between a book written in the 2000s and one written in the 1960s, make them read both! Expose young people to a variety of literature, including those written in Canada. Who says students have to focus on one book a year? I say, the more the merrier.

So, Durham, I hope you have thought this through. Don’t deprive students from the teachings of a classic and important novel just because it may make some of them uncomfortable. It will only hurt them in the long run.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Can we now agree the appropriation prize was absurd?

It’s been a few weeks since the proposal of an appropriation prize destroyed a number of journalists’ careers. I’ve held my tongue this long because I couldn’t figure out what I was feeling. I also didn’t know if, as the editor of Women’s Post, this was an issue I should address. I am a white woman in an editor position after all.

As I followed the story and watched as writers and editors that I trust wrote on social media in support of an appropriation prize, my first thought was ‘how could they be so stupid’. I know they were frustrated and worried for their colleague, who had just been forced to resign his position, but I couldn’t believe they would go so far as to actually support the creation of an appropriation prize. I was disgusted at the thought, utterly confused as to their motives, and honestly embarrassed for my profession.

I asked one of our writers at Women’s Post — a woman of colour —if this was an issue she wanted to tackle. Her response surprised me. Feeling like a broken record after having written on appropriation and other PoC issues countless times before, she thought that it might make more sense for me to write it this time. “It would be one white person telling another white person what they’re doing is wrong in a relatable way, rather than a person of colour trying to reason – once again- that we’re not being over dramatic.”

It all started when Hal Niedzviecki, former editor of Write, said that people should be encouraged to imagine other people’s culture and identities. “I’d go so far as to say there should even be an award for doing so — the Appropriation prize for best book by an author who writes about people who aren’t even remotely like her or him.” Niedzviecki later said he didn’t think such a prize should actually exist. Maybe it really was an unfortunate and insensitive turn of phrase, but it was enough to get the rest of the media riled up.

Afterwards editors, journalists, and managers from big Canadian news publications pledged moral and financial support towards the creation of the appropriation prize on social media. Many of them have since been forced to resign or were reassigned to other positions.

The first question I had after reading this story is this: why any journalist, editor, or member of the press, would support such an idea in the first place?

Cultural appropriation is when someone adopts or uses elements of someone else’s culture to the detriment of that culture. This, of course, is an overly simplistic definition, but somehow even the root of cultural appropriation was lost as these editors jumped on the appropriation prize bandwagon, pledging money to make it a reality.

To be clear: No one is arguing that a white reporter, editor, or artist can’t learn about other cultures. No one is saying they can’t cover an issue that matters to a person of colour or take part in cultural activities with the intent of listening with earnest and broadening their horizons. But, the idea that these same people should be able to pretend to understand the trials and tribulations other cultures face on a daily basis is, frankly, absurd.

As a journalist, I pride myself on my ability to listen and learn. It’s actually what I love about my profession. Every day I get to learn something that I didn’t know before. But, there is a line between ‘learning’ and ‘understanding’.

Let’s take an example from last weekend, from when I attended a dream catcher workshop — quite the sensitive topic in the news right now. Is this cultural appropriation? Frankly, yes; however, I was taught by an Indigenous Ojibwe person. He explained what each element of the dream catcher meant, showed us some sacred objects, and taught us about his struggles as a young man from an Indigenous culture. It was fascinating and a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

And yet, I would never claim to be able to write about those same experiences myself, pretending that after one afternoon I can interpret his struggles. I wouldn’t take the stories this Indigenous man told us and use them (or something similar) in my own work. And to the extreme, I wouldn’t buy a headdress at a festival because it looks ‘cool’ or dress up like Pocahontas on Halloween.

In the end, it’s about respecting what you know — and what you cannot begin to understand, despite the research you may have done. In a multicultural society like Canada, the voices of Indigenous people, people of colour, and other minorities are incredibly valuable, not just to the media, but to everyone who lives in this country — how can anyone support a “prize” that essentially eliminates it?

It’s time for a little honesty and a lot of reflection. The one positive consequence from this whole scenario is it opened up a necessary dialogue about the lack of diversity in newsrooms and forced people within the media to recognize their own faults. This is a good thing.

But, if so many high-profile people within the Canadian media think an appropriation prize is okay, there is a lot more educating to do. There are still people who think this is an issue of freedom of speech or that it’s some sort of racist endeavour against white people (which is complete bullshit).

The media, including Women’s Post, still has a lot to learn about cultural appropriation and why this kind of conversation is not okay. I urge all editors to reach out to other cultures for THEIR perspectives on stories that affect them. Allow people of different races, ethnicities, and religions to write freely in your publication so their voices and opinions can be heard.  Let’s not pretend that we know everything. This is about accepting there are issues we do not, and cannot, understand. As journalists, this should be second nature.

Appropriation is complex and I recognize that, for artists and journalists alike, it can become even more complicated. But, can we all agree the idea of a prize celebrating people for appropriating someone else’s culture is absurd, disrespectful, and just plain wrong?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Sit down Kendall Jenner

A member of the Kardashian clan has made headlines this week. And while that’s not particularly shocking, the video was taken down shortly after. What’s shocking, we should say, is Pepsi and Jenner’s inability to scan a situation for signs of ignorance and joining the (right) conversation. Because although conversations definitely started from the advertisement, it was certainly not because of the great, refreshing taste of the carbonated drink. And while it’s cute that Jenner tried to use her celebrity status to do something ‘woke’ for once, it missed the mark so bad she might as well hit the snooze button, take a nap – and try again. Sorry, babe.

Let’s set the scene. The advertisement is rather long. But within under 3 minutes, Pepsi managed to portray the glamorous life of protests and activism, in addition to find a solution to end various social justice issues- with a can of pop. The ad, however, seems like it is hopping on the bandwagon of participating in social justice as a trend. It raises a few issues surrounding protests, police brutality, and consumerism as a tool to incite world peace. Something’s different about this protest though. People are smiling. Music is playing in the background. The atmosphere is that of a summer street festival. Scenes of dance battles and a big kumbaya take place. Jenner, a model, is quick to abruptly end her photoshoot and join the protest – because it looked kinda ‘lit’.

What Pepsi and Jenner need to understand is this: protests are an avenue used to express frustration in a system that operates and benefits from racist, patriarchal ideology to say the least. They are used to demonstrate anger, hurt, and hope. The Coachella vibes in the commercial, however, reduces the function of a protest. It seems the solution of unity can be brought forth by offering the police a drink. Because it seems like nothing quenches the thirst of bringing about world peace like a can of pop.

Police brutality is not a new issue in society. It has been an ongoing issue for decades, but has become a trending topic due to various social media campaigns and hashtags. Jenner approaching the police with a can of Pepsi as a gesture of camaraderie evokes a narrative that working in unity can produce change. But it’s not that easy. A quick Google search will lead to images of gas masks, riots, and flames – quite the opposite of the vibe Pepsi went for. Let’s not forget the black and people of colour’s lives that were taken by the criminal justice system. Names such as Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and Michael Brown should come to mind. Not Kendall Jenner.

Image result for ieshia evans

Jenner’s walk to the line of officers resembles the image of the female protestor named Ieshia Evans standing proud confronting heavily armoured riot officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in response to Alton Sterling being shot by police last year. The recreation of this image has also made the rounds on social media, bringing forth the appropriation of the movement. This isn’t, however, the first time the family has been under the heat for appropriation. Often sporting corn-rolls and dating black men, the Jenner/Kardashian clan has always advocated for black culture- without speaking up for black rights.

Pepsi has since apologized to Kendall Jenner for involving her in their attempt to bring about world peace. We’re still waiting on Jenner to comment on the matter. After reading a script, making the decision to be a part of this ‘movement’, as well as knowing the full implications behind getting involved with Pepsi and their commercial, it’s not sure as to why an apology was in order. Rather, Kendall Jenner should sit down, do some research on what went wrong, and face the consequences of her actions, while issuing her own apology.

We’ll wait.

Thanks Trump! You just created a new age of activism.

The election of U.S. President Donald Trump has sparked anger, resentment, and hate — and people aren’t standing for it. In fact, they are doing even more. They are marching.

While 2017 is proving to be even worse than 2016, at least one good thing has sprung from it all. The continuous bigotry fuelled by American politics is bringing about a new age of activism.

As a millennial, I’ve never truly experienced the power of global activism. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve witnessed some powerful demonstrations over the last two decades. There was the Arab Spring, the lesser but effective Maple Spring and, of course, the Occupy movement. But, I’ve never seen so many people, from all walks of life — ethnicities, religious affiliations, and economic statuses — come together to condemn such a wide array of issues on a global scale.

On Feb. 4, over 5,000 people gathered in front of the United States Consulate in Toronto to protest the American immigration ban and Islamophobia. At the same time, thousands of people got together across Canada and overseas, all marching and chanting in unison: “No Muslim ban on stolen land.”

 

There were families with their children, students and seniors standing hand in hand, sharing samosas and taking photos of each other’s carefully crafted signs. When organizers asked the crowd to part so that the Muslim participants could be closer to the stage for a prayer, everyone did it. People smiled and opened their arms, leading their allies and fellow Canadians (or Canadian hopefuls) to the front, remaining silent while they prayed for those fallen in the Quebec mosque shootings a few weeks ago.

Above everything else, people were polite, inclusive, and tolerant — but also strong, powerful, and loud. It was truly something to witness.

Photo by Katherine DeClerq
Photo by Katherine DeClerq

In January, more than 60,000 people marched in Toronto  — along with millions in the United States and throughout Europe — for women’s rights and to protest the inauguration of Trump, a man who has repeatedly used sexist remarks in speeches and disregarded the rights of women on the political stage. The march may have been the biggest demonstration in U.S. history.

I know what you are thinking. These are people who are just marching because “it’s cool”, right? They won’t actually work to enact change.

Photo courtesy of Madeleine Laforest

But this new age of activism is not limited to marching. Within hours of an executive order signed by President Trump, there are over a dozen Facebook events created for smaller, more pointed demonstrations indicating their displeasure over his political actions. American citizens are calling their representatives at every level of government, telling them what they think of the cabinet confirmations or a political document that was released. When the telephone voice mailboxes are full, people start using the fax machines to reach their political offices. A few people even tried to send their representatives pizzas with notes attached to them.

For example, so many people called their Senators regarding the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, the candidate for Secretary of Education, that she almost wasn’t confirmed. Two Republications changed their votes and the Vice President had to be the tiebreaker, a first in American history.

People are fired up. Normal citizens who never would have considered becoming politically active are making signs and marching to Capitol Hill. They are listening and they are informed. For the first time in my lifetime, people actually care. And not just specific groups of people — all people.

The west has forgotten the true meaning and functionality of democracy. Politicians are supposed to fight for their constituents, not for their own self-interest. If their constituents say they want them to vote against their party, technically, they should do it. That is how representative democracy works. A politician must represent the views of their constituents.

This concept has been lost, fuelled by the complacency and ignorance of a population willing to let other people run their country. But, with the rise of this new age of activism, that can change.

The Republicans (under the leadership of Trump) are forcing citizens to reconsider their own beliefs and be more aware of what they want of their country. Without meaning too, they are inspiring real democracy, a system in which the people decide what they want their politicians to do.

All I can say is this: stay strong my fellow democratic participants! Change will not happen over night. It will be a long process, and it will take a lot of screaming, chanting, marching, and phone calls to make our politicians remember that we, the people they serve, have a voice too.

But trust me, the end game will be worth it.

Fear and hatred elected President Donald Trump

“This loss hurts, but please, never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is worth it,” Hillary Clinton said during her concession speech on Nov. 9. “And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable, powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

The United States has a new President — and that President is Donald Trump.

I’m numb. I’m not even sure I’ve completely processed this information. As editor of Women’s Post, I was watching the election results come in Tuesday night with the expectation that I would be writing a piece the following day about the first female President of the United States. Staff created some templates with details of Hillary Clinton’s life, focusing on her expertise and capability for the office. There were photos, graphs, and lots of feminist quotes to throw in. It would have been easy to put together a great profile for our readers.

Instead, I’m writing a piece about how a racist, misogynist man who thinks sexual harassment is locker talk, who was endorsed by the KKK, and who believes that all immigrants are thieves and rapists, became President of the United States.

Let’s tackle the first aspect of this question: how? How on earth did this happen?!

Obviously, there were a lot of factors. Voters were upset with how their political system worked and wanted change. There was a predominant disgust of “the elite”, an undefined group that tends to include politicians that can’t relate with the majority of the American people. When voters get frustrated with their politicians, it makes it hard for them to vote for the status quo. It also didn’t help that the FBI interfered with the election by releasing unfounded information that brought Clinton’s emails back to the surface at a critical point in the campaign.

But above all else, I think the underlying reason why Trump won is hate. Hate of “the other” and fear of “non-American values”. Throughout this campaign, Trump has capitalized on the fear and intolerance of the American people. Hate of immigrants, hate of women, hate of African Americans, hate of the LGBTQ community, and hate of the media. Hate for “the other” — people who are not like you. Hate of uncertainty.

This fact makes me sad. As a Canadian, I was raised with an understanding of tolerance and acceptance, that people, no matter their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, should be treated equally. I was taught that respect and kindness was the ultimate value. Sure, I know Canada isn’t perfect. This country has it’s own problems with racism and misogyny, but it’s nothing compared to what I witnessed during the US presidential campaign.

The Trump rallies incited violence, talks of waterboarding and torture for enemies, and general sexual harassment. Protesters were attacked for simply holding up signs that said they were anti-Trump. People of various ethnicities were dragged out of conference rooms. Is this what Americans should expect from their new president?

Trump won the election with 279 electoral votes compared to Clinton’s 218 (as of 11 a.m. on Wednesday). It was a close race, much tighter than anyone expected, with large swing states flip-flopping between the two candidates until about 3 a.m. What does this mean? A lot more people in the United States let fear dictate their decision, fear of unemployment, fear of immigrants, and fear of the unknown. Instead of voting for someone inspirational, capable, and strong enough to incite real change, they voted for the person who made them scared of the future. This person told them they should be afraid, that the political system was rigged and corrupt, and said he was the only person that could protect them from these evils. And people believed him.

The sad reality is that this is democracy. I can’t say I’m angry or disappointed with the American people because it is their right to vote for the person they want to be President. I can, however, say that I’m disheartened by how much hate and fear Americans seem to have in their hearts. I’m saddened the American people felt like Donald Trump was the only solution.

In this particular case, hate and fear won the day — and now the world will have to deal with it.