Violence, Rage, and Research Clothes

A Sad and Enraging Report (Scroll down for outfit post):

Recently, one of my students was murdered. The program I work in is a small one, so we all knew and enjoyed this lovely young woman. We are heartbroken over her death, particularly because she died so violently, and her loss is all the more sudden and senseless. Unlike so many of the hundreds (some estimate thousands) of murder cases involving Indigenous women across Canada in recent years (for more information see reports by Native Women’s Association of Canada’s research initiative Sisters in Spirit  and Amnesty International), this woman’s family and friends know who killed her and how she died. Her murderer has paid for his crime, however inadequate some of us may consider his “payment.”

After much deliberation, I’ve decided that it’s appropriate to write about this here. In part because I experience her loss as though it is part of my job, and in part because I can’t not write about it. I am heartsick and enraged. And I am very, very worried about all of my students, especially the women, and especially those women who are visibly Indigenous. Like many Canadian cities, my current city is a very racist and violent one. As an educated white middle-class woman, I don’t experience this menace as directly as some. As in many Canadian cities, the bodies of Indigenous women seem instead to ‘absorb’ the most extreme violence such that ‘the rest of us’ don’t experience it as much (for more information on urban spaces and violence against Indigenous women, see Sherene Razack’s article in Race, Space, and The Law, or Andrea Smith’s book, Conquest).

As the findings of Amnesty International, Sisters in Spirit, and numerous other groups and individual researchers make clear, women who trace their lineage from North America’s First Peoples are 5 times more likely to experience violence in their lifetime than any other group of people in Canada. Moreover, recent research suggests that non-Indigenous men – especially young white/caucasian men – are responsible for upwards of 80% of the violence to which Indigenous women are subject (see, for example Ladner and Peach’s article, “Missing Out and Missing” in CPRC Press’s 2008 collection Torn From Our Midst).

In short, the violent colonial project continues apace. Moreover, while some suffer more directly and immediately than others, the violence itself is everybody’s problem. Educating ourselves on the issues is just one of the ways we can add our efforts to ongoing anti-violence activism. Believing that we can be a part of positive change, then taking a step (any step) toward this end is important, too. There are a multitude of ways to fight racism and violence in our day-to-day lives, as I’m sure you already know. (Sadly, for example, one of the easiest ways available to me outside the contexts of research, is to not laugh at racist or misogynist jokes, and to then find ways to identify racism and misogyny that don’t shut down conversation entirely.)

I can’t believe she’s gone. We have A LOT of work to do.

Outfit Post: Clothing in which to continue anti-violence research/activism

Cardigan: (via Winners, remixed); Ruffly top: French Connection (via Winners, new to blog); Cream and grey microfibre lace cami: Elite (via The Bay); Jean capris: Jacob Connection (very old); Boots: Rockport (very old); Faceless stuffed chicken: gifted to the FR, claimed by his puppy

Outfit plus a puppy in whose smallness and silliness I find what Kelly might term moments of grace:

The FR’s Puppy likes to help with morning photos. Also, she must be supervised at all times, so it’s good she likes to play while I pose. (Can you see the FR’s puppy portrait in the background?)

Where do you take refuge when sadness or rage threaten to overwhelm?

Can you think of other ways to do anti-violence and anti-racism work in our day-to-day lives? 


5 thoughts on “Violence, Rage, and Research Clothes

  1. Pingback: Spring On-campus Jeanage | In Professorial Fashion

  2. That’s so awful I’ve been unable to comment for several days. I’m so sorry to hear about your student. Even though I didn’t know her, I share your sadness and rage.

    Having grown up in a violent, racist Canadian cities, the statistics and analysis you offer here are upsettingly unsurprising. I want to thank you for calling it out, for lack of a better term. I see red when I hear Canadians smugly denouncing violence and racism in other countries, as though these things simply don’t exist in the True North Strong and Free.

    Since two of my refuge points are hugs and friends, let me send you a giant hug from a friend who continually admires the way you apply your heart and head to your work. Hugs, my friend.

  3. This is such a horrifying thing — made all the more horrifying by its enraging familiarity. I too don’t know what to say. Like you said, events like these remind us of all the work that remains to be done. How incredibly sad that it takes violent death to make this reminder.

  4. That is so awful, I’m so sorry to hear about your student. I had no idea about the violence and racism where you are – I think Americans assume that no one is worse than us when it comes to those things (I’m currently reading about Joe Ricketts’ plan to launch a racist, anti-Obama campaign, and living in a big city myself, violence and murders are in the news so often that we’re all almost immune to hearing about it). I’m going to check out your links when I have a little more time because I am curious about this.

    I’ve been having a pretty sad week myself, and the only thing I can do is just keep on keepin’ on. And I think here especially, continuing to fight violence and racism and doing work to help change peoples’ minds about these things is all you can do.

  5. A-Dubs, I am so very sorry to hear about your student and so filled with rage for the realities that you describe. And I want to have some form of wisdom to offer or some words of healing. And I’ve got nothing. I wish I did. All I can say is that I am in the trenches with you–far away and in a different corner of the trenches, but in them as well.

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