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