B. Glen Rotchin’s Halbman Steals Home was the first book I was assigned to review where I wasn’t 100% thrilled by, even though it was a quick read that kept me fairly engaged at the time. So I tried to explain why I felt vaguely unsatisfied, in the new issue of the Montreal Review of Books.
All posts in category montreal
Posted by RK on July 29, 2012
This photo was taken this week at the McGill Law Faculty, in response to the death of Trayyvon Martin, a 17-year-old boy who was shot dead while walking home from school. The “Wear Your Hoodie Days” at McGill were organized by Ngozi Okidegbe, a fellow 1L at the faculty. She explains her motivation on mobilizing McGill students here.
Of course, campaigns like this are never enough. and I’ve heard of criticisms like: are we making activism seem too easy? How do we account for the fact that a hoodie worn by affluent, middle-class, and white bodies will never appear suspicious, while a black skin under a hoodie will inevitably look more suspicious? Nevertheless, I think it’s an important start, to make people aware that racial profiling is alive and well in our very own backyard as well – I’m talking about incidents like a Montreal driver getting pulled over because his “Quebecois-sounding name” supposedly did not “match” his black skin.
Posted by RK on March 31, 2012
In general, 2011 was a year of many changes. I went back to school after a brief break, changed disciplines, and changed my laptop loyalty to good ol’ Apple. Here are some new things that became a part of my life this year:
Posted by RK on December 31, 2011
This is my 4th year in Montreal – including one where I lived as an “actual” working resident and not just as a student. In Montreal I learned how to appreciate a late night out on a terrasse, pick up my French and perfect my franglais, enjoy hot dogs and ground beef in my poutine, and sweat it out in tiny crowded rooms of art festivals. I also learned how to enjoy a good picnic on the mountain and Oka cheese.
I finished my exams yesterday – all 5 of’em. Because school was so intense and busy this term, I had almost forgotten about the unique, diverse and beautiful city that exists outside of school. So I took today to remedy that situation. Here are some photos from the day:
Outside Mont-Royal station
If you live in the Plateau, Lallouz Café & Kebaberie opened a new location on St-Laurent and Mont-Royal. You should go and admire the beautiful decoration and incredible pickled vegetables.
Also, Paolo’s Café (a few doors down from Café Lallouz) makes delicious espresso allongés. And isn’t my friend Laura adorable?
Thanks, Montreal. See you in the new year.
Posted by RK on December 23, 2011
The Université de Montréal made headlines this month thanks to its blackface incidents, where business students dressed up as “Jamaican sprinters.” Some were wearing green and yellow tracksuits, some were carrying monkey dolls, and some were carrying bananas. The incident was widely reported thanks to the McGill law student Anthony Morgan, who happened to be on campus that day. When some of the students saw him, they yelled “Look guys, we’ve got a real black!” and then chanted, “Smoke some weed! Yeah mon! Yeah mon!”
It is shocking to me that an orientation group thought this was a good idea in the first place – did nobody object to this idea? The University’s response to the incident is also disappointing, as they harken back to the tired intentionality argument – that nobody meant any harm, so there is none, right? – that’s more of an excuse than an apology.
Then there was the Vogue Nippon photoshoot, where model Crystal Renn was photographed with her eyes taped back. Threadbared did a great analysis of this already, but I want to reiterate how vague Renn’s explanation is on the reasons of taping her eyes. She does acknowledge that it makes her “become something else” as well as focusing on the “transformation” aspects of taping her eyes, yet is unwilling to say what exactly is being transformed by refusing to admit that taping one’s eyes back is not historically linked to yellowface (or “race drag” as the Threadbared authors call it). Again, we see the intentionality argument creeping up – race wasn’t on anyone’s mind – which is somehow supposed to nullify the result. This is a trend I find very disturbing and very linked to incidents of racism.
By creating a link between intention and outcome, racism becomes only visible to those who are racially “marked” – the ones who experience being racially “other” and thus a problem which does not concern those who are considered racially blank. By exonerating the problematic nature of an event with “good” intention, these incidents try to become “one-time” singular incidents and ignore the systemic and historical tradition of racism that has been happening for centuries. I hope that both the University and fashion magazines would take these incidents as lessons, but I feel a touch naive in saying so, and know that things like this will happen again. So what does that leave me with? Not much, I suppose - except a question, “how can we teach the concept of racism from a young age so people recognize it?” and the hope that you, the few readers of this blog, walk away at least thinking about racial stereotypes in our culture a little more critically.
Posted by RK on September 25, 2011
There were lots of good reads this week that I’d like to share with you:
Favourite new web series: The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl, created by Issa Rae.
Racialicious’s interracial dating roundtable series is a fascinating and eye-opening read from varying perspectives.
Earlier this week, Jack Layton passed away- a loss that still feels too surreal. As much as his humane and relatable image should be remembered, Noah Gataveckas reminds us that his political legacy must also be celebrated, and that we should not let mainstream media and conservative figures de-politicize Layton.
Actor Tristan D. Lalla and his film crew were subjected to racial profiling at a popular Montreal bar, St-Sulpice. He describes the incident here.
This is pretty old news in Korea, but a former rap star named EpikHigh (Dan Lee) was ostracized and bullied on suspicions of forging his Stanford credentials. The pretty extraordinary tale of extreme cyber “witch hunt” is recounted in Stanford Magazine.
Posted by RK on August 26, 2011
[sorry this trailer for Bleak Night doesn't have subtitles...I couldn't find a clip with subtitles!]
As stated before, I had the pleasure of attending Fantasia Film Festival on Schema Magazine’s behalf, and seeing some kooky and thought-provoking films. Here are my reviews of the films I saw the past week: Bleak Night (Korea), Underwater Love (Japan) and Kill Me Please (Belgium). All were great in their own ways, and I am grateful that Fantasia exists that can house films like this under one festival’s roof.
Posted by RK on July 29, 2011
I was introduced to the idea of clothing swaps last summer, and have been participating in them regularly as a way to purge my closet of unused things in my closet and try on new things. So of course Alex and I went to the latest one hosted by the S.W.A.P. team in Montreal, which happened on July 9-10 at the Grand Foyer of Place-des-Arts. So we decided to have a little discussion on The Gaily about our swap experience, as well as the growing popularity of clothing swaps among middle-class shopppers.
Have you ever been to a clothing swap? How was your experience?
Posted by RK on July 22, 2011
This week, I’m at Fantasia Film Festival – a “genre” festival that showcases some of the most extreme and great foreign films – for Schema Magazine. Attached is a trailer for perhaps the most bizarre film trailer I’ve seen yet – Underwater Love (Japan, 2010). It screens tonight at 10pm at Hall Theatre in Concordia, and 11:55pm tomorrow at the J.A. de Sève Theatre.
Posted by RK on July 20, 2011
Mad June is a Montreal all-women band who’ve been playing music together for the last 5 years, at places like the Lilith Fair 2010 finale in Boston, and NXNE in Toronto this year. I had a chance to sit down with them at Aux Vivres restaurant (a great vegan joint) last week and chat with them about their political views, the rigidity of labels used by the music industry (i.e. “girl band”/”lesbian band”), and Ellen DeGeneres. Check out the interview on The Gaily.
Posted by RK on July 5, 2011