Interview With Cree/Metis Poet Marilyn Dumont

By Guest Contributor Jorge Antonio Vallejos, cross-posted from Black Coffee Poet

Marilyn Dumont’s first collection, A Really Good Brown Girl, won the 1997 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award presented by the League of Canadian Poets. This collection is now in its twelfth printing, selections from it are widely anthologized in secondary and post-secondary literary texts, and it is a course text in twenty-three post-secondary institutions in Canada and the U.S.

Her second collection, green girl dreams Mountains, won the 2001 Stephan G. Stephansson Award from the Writer’s Guild of Alberta. Her third collection, that tongued belonging, was awarded the 2007 McNally Robinson Aboriginal Poetry Book of the Year and the McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year.

Marilyn has been the Writer-in-Residence at the Edmonton Public Library, the University of Alberta, the University of Toronto-Massey College, Windsor University, and Grant MacEwan College. She has also been faculty at the Banff Centre in Literary Arts and since 2009, she has taught in the Aboriginal Emerging Writers Program at the Banff Centre.  In 2009 Marilyn published her first novella, entitled Stray Dog Moccasins.

She is on-leave from Athabasca University while fulfilling the role of Writer in Residence at Brandon University and working on her fourth poetry manuscript in which she explores Métis history, politics and identity through the life and times of her ancestor, Gabriel Dumont. Marilyn serves as a board member on the Public Lending Rights Commission of Canada.

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links for 2010-11-24

  • "I don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving but many families across the United States will take advantage of deserved days off from work and gather together around tables to give thanks and to break bread. But that turkey (or pernil), how did it get to your kitchen and your table?

    "A report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center attempts to answer that question."

  • "It is no accident that women have been complaining about being pulled out of line because of their big breasts, having their bodies commented on by TSA officials, and getting inappropriate touching when selected for pat-downs for years now, but just this week it went viral. It is no accident that transgender people have been violated by searches for years, but just this week it went viral. It is no accident that CAIR identified Islamic head scarves (hijab) as an automatic trigger for extra screenings in January, but just this week it went viral. What was different?

    Suddenly an able-bodied cis-gendered white man is the one who was complaining."

  • "Prof. Neville Alexander, a Marxist sociologist who was classified as mixed race under apartheid, has roused the campus debate with the charge that affirmative action betrays the ideals of nonracialism that so many fought and died for during the long struggle against apartheid. Professor Alexander, who spent a decade imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, insists that the University of Cape Town, which is public, must resist pressure from the government to use racial benchmarks in determining how well the university is performing. “The government under apartheid did the same and we told them to go to hell,” he said in one standing-room-only campus debate."

Overcoming the Noble Savage & the Sexy Squaw: Native Steampunk

By Guest Contributor Monique Poirier, cross-posted from Beyond Victoriana

I’m not one for preambles, so let’s get down to brass tacks here. I’m Monique Poirier. I’m a member of the Seaconke Wampanoag Tribe. I’m a Steampunk.

When I got into Steampunk several years ago, it didn’t really occur to me to even try to incorporate my cultural identity into my Steampunk presentation; my first Steampunk outfit (worn to Templecon 2009) was cobbled together from my existent goth attire, stuff from the renfaire costume trunk, and a duct-tape corset.

Then I read Jha’s articles at Then I started reading Beyond Victoriana. It was powwow season… and everything just -clicked-. When I attended The Steampunk World’s Fair in May 2010, I made an active effort to incorporate my ethnic identity more visibly in my Steampunk attire.

That’s where things get complicated.

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links for 2010-11-23

  • “Lopez notes the hypocrisy in the reaction from many of the straight white men who felt burned by PDD. “The result [of a previous feminist pushback against a rape joke] was one of those ‘sorry if you got offended’ mock apologies. That was it. Life went on. What I saw with PDD was straight white men specifically displeased, speaking out about [the joke being on them], and demanding results,” Lopez says. “They felt entitled to their space, the Web.”
  • “The number of women who’ve spoken to me and shared with me that they’ve suffered from eating disorders since I’ve began this site is… let’s just say its in the triple digits. At least. And, for “colored girls,” that’s a lot. A lot more than our community seems to acknowledge, especially since every time the topic of eating disorders comes up among colored girls, the conversation is always squashed with “What? That’s white girl shit.”
  • I can’t believe Paul is talking about snatching up civil liberties in the name of security and saying Obama, but letting Bush off the hook. – LDP

    “Soon-to-be-Kentucky Senator Rand Paul once appeared to express anxiety that the state of affairs in America was opening a path for President Obama to grow into a Hitler-like leader who would snatch up civil liberties in the name of security.

    Speaking in 2009 in an interview that was released by conservative radio show host and 9/11 truther Alex Jones last week, Paul drew parallels between the rise of Obama and that of Adolf Hitler.”

  • “[A]s the distance between rich and poor continues to grow, the freshest, most nutritious foods have become luxury goods that only some can afford. Among the lowest quintile of American families, mean household income has held relatively steady between $10,000 and $13,000 for the past two decades (in inflation-adjusted dollars); among the highest, income has jumped 20 percent to $170,800 over the same period, according to census data. What this means, in practical terms, is that the richest Americans can afford to buy berries out of season at Whole Foods—the upscale grocery chain that recently reported a 58 percent increase in its quarterly profits—while the food insecure often eat what they can: highly caloric, mass-produced foods like pizza and packaged cakes that fill them up quickly. The number of Americans on food stamps has surged by 58.5 percent over the last three years.”
  • “A Swiss political party has sparked outrage over anti-immigration posters showing naked beauties romping in Lake Zurich compared to a snap of middle-aged Muslim women bathing in filthy water, acccording to Croatian Times.

    “The newspaper reported that one snap shows a rear view of four stunning white women hand in hand on the edge of the lake, marked Lake Zurich 2010.

    “‘The second picture is supposed to the the same scene in 2030 showing what will happen to the country if immigration is left unchecked.,’ it said.”

  • “A party for black Harvard and Yale alums at a Boston club this weekend was shut down just after 11pm. Why? The club owner was concerned that a long line of black people outside would make the club look bad.

    “A group of recent graduates had sold tickets in advance for a party at a new Boston club, Cure, to follow Saturday’s Harvard-Yale game. By 10:30pm, though, club management freaked out and claimed it had seen ‘local gang bangers’ around, despite the strict guest-list policy implemented by organizers. At first they demanded that guests show student ID — not exactly practical given the fact that it was a party aimed at alums — and then eventually shut down the entire club.”

  • “In America, yoga as a form of fitness remains a predominately White and elitist practice for individuals with disposable incomes and trim bodies. YogaCity NYC, an online resource for the New York City yoga community, recently published a ‘Minority Report’ that reveals the sometimes blatant discrimination and inadvertent ostracization experienced by many minority yoga instructors and potential yoga attendees.”

    “Often times, the interest in joining a yoga class is there, but the means are not. Many people are simply unaware that there are donation-based and inexpensive classes. And even when the means and opportunities are available, some still feel like they don’t belong there. Latham Thomas, founder of Tender Shoots, noted that some of the pregnant teens she works with are intimidated about taking yoga classes at a large studio because their mats aren’t trendy. ‘I think it’s our responsibility to make yoga accessible to all backgrounds,’ Latham added.”

Advertising Shifting Away from “Multicultural” Agencies, Marketing Practices

by Latoya Peterson


In the ad world, “multicultural marketing” and “narrowcasting” is out. The “best ideas” are supposed to win business and carry the day.  So how does that suddenly translate to “give larger, less diverse companies all the work and hope minority shops partner with them?”

Last week, Ad Age published a summary of the Association of National Advertisers’ Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference, where the writing on the wall was clear: niche marketing is out of fashion.  In some ways, this idea could have been a good thing.  After all, a lot of the “diversity” ideas coming from advertising outlets are patronizing, at best.

When asked whether he had considered working with a Hispanic shop rather than Ogilvy for the effort, Mr. Yokoi said, “I don’t want to disparage anyone, but we had been working with a Hispanic agency and the creative wasn’t working. It didn’t jibe with our general-market strategy.”

How? “Every Hispanic ad had a picnic” with a revolving cast of Latin musicians, he said. “It was almost patronizing.”

Certainly, minority owned businesses can spread stereotypes and rely on lazy marketing like any other agencies.  But the conclusions early on in the article gave me pause:

Speakers were almost universal in their belief that narrow-casting one group, such as African-Americans or Hispanics, is missing the point. Teresa Iglesias-Solomon, VP-multicultural and Latino initiatives at Best Buy, said the company had a tendency to break out three groups: women, Latinos and business owners — but she herself could have been lumped into all three categories at once. The point, she said, is that there are commonalities within each target group. “We need to make sure we are looking at the whole customer.” For example, moms have similar interests whether they are African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic or Caucasian.

That kind of insight was the impetus behind OgilvyCulture, a new “cross-cultural strategic-service practice” now launching from the WPP Group agency.

“It is not multicultural advertising, which tends to focus on specific ethnic markets,” said a spokeswoman. Instead, “cross-cultural marketing has the objective of developing one brief for clients designed to communicate across different cultures by celebrating shared values and insights.” […]

“It gives us the capability to have a single voice to the consumer,” said Jeffrey Bowman, director of OgilvyCulture, who presented at the conference with his client, Ruy Yokoi, brand manager at Unilever.

Reading through the ideas and anecdotes presented, the overall message was clear: there is no need to specifically target racial and ethnic groups, and by extension, minority owned ad shops would need to partner with with larger, less diverse agencies in order to win business.

Luckily, HighJive and Pepper Miller were able to point out the underlying issues: this is yet another push to undermine minority owned advertising shops and minimize the impact of consumers of color. Continue reading

links for 2010-11-22

  • "Initially, I dismissed this as one of those things that academics worry about that the rest of the world really doesn't think about: Africans probably didn't make these films because they don't watch them. Considering that most African homes don't have televisions – I can't imagine that hearing a lion eating a wildebeest over the radio has quite the same effect as seeing it on television – surely the dearth of African presenters is a reflection of the lack of market for African fronted wildlife shows? However, if this is the case, what does that say about the people who do watch such shows? Will they only watch them when there's person of a certain demographic fronting them?"
  • "The Migration Advisory Committee said number of professionals from India and other countries outside European Union needs to be cut by between 6,300 and 12,600 between April 2011 and April 2012, official sources said. This amounts to a reduction of 13% and 25% next year. The recommendation is part of the process to set annual cap on non-EU."
  • "Hester's portrait forms part of an exhibition depicting 200 of the hundreds of women who have been murdered or declared missing in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez since the early 1990s.

    "Over the past five years, Ciudad Juarez has been in the news for the violence and havoc caused by Mexico's drugs cartels.

    "But the murder of these women is largely unrelated and pre-dates the country's drugs war.

    "Because almost all the women are 'extremely poor' they are 'seen as inconsequential,' according to Tamsyn Challenger."

Open Thread: Jay Chou In The Green Hornet

By Arturo R. García

With the Green Hornet trailer attached to various showings of the latest Harry Potter movie, more of America got introduced to Jay Chou, the newest Kato. Sort of.

See, if all you had to go by was the preview, you’d guess Chou’s Kato was there solely to help Seth Rogen discover his inner Jack Burton, or something. But according to Asian Angry Man, who got to read some of the script, the Kato role represented a golden opportunity – for an Asian-American actor:

There are plenty of Asian stars with international appeal and all that, but I get the feeling it would work out best for everyone if English-language proficiency wasn’t a major hurdle for whoever gets this role. Of course, I’m not the guy making decisions at Sony.

One theory suggests that the guy making said decisions cast Chou  – and before him, of Stephen Chow, who was also slated to direct Hornet before dropping out – because of the hope to tap into the markets where he’s a multi-platform star:

By this reasoning, the film’s dynamic would be flipped in promoting the film in Asia: Kato would be highlighted as the heroic half of the team, with Rogen’s Britt Reid getting tagged as the sidekick. But I’m curious to get our reader’s takes not just on seeing Chou get what could be a breakout role for him in the U.S. market, but arguments like AAM’s.