Just before this year’s Grammy Awards, I stumbled across a national Canadian news channel that was highlighting what Canadians to watch for at the year’s biggest music show. They pointed out hip-hop superstar Drake, indie rockers Tegan and Sara and Arcade Fire, and crooner Michael Bublé. They said nothing of R&B singers Tamia and Melanie Fiona, who were nominated for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Album (“Beautiful Surprise”) and Best Traditional R&B Performance (“Wrong Side of a Love Song”), respectively. Unfortunately, both of them came up empty-handed but it still made me wonder: why does R&B not get any love in Canada? Sure, Canada is most known for its indie-rock, country, and pop singers, but we’ve produced our fair share of R&B singers, too.
By Guest Contributor Harsha Walia, cross-posted from Rabble.ca
“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” — Audre Lorde
Since April, when thousands marched in a Slutwalk in Toronto in response to a police officer telling students that the best way to avoid getting raped was to avoid dressing like a ‘slut’, Slutwalks have spread across cities in Canada and the US to the UK and Australia. Accompanying this global surge has been a myriad of controversies about the term ‘slut’ as well as questions about who was being left out from this new movement.
Video after video, photo after photo, story after story came pouring in this weekend telling us about another friend or another relative who had been unlawfully arrested, beaten, spit on, psychologically, physically, and emotionally abused and relentlessly harassed by the police in Toronto. All this and more unearthing of human rights happened to the people for demonstrating, protesting, taking action and speaking out against one of the most undemocratic and unethical convenings of the world’s largest superpowers – the G8/G20.
Counts of the number of arrests that took place this past weekend are at some 500 or more – with some having now been released – but so many others remain cramped and overcrowded in the mass jails that were erected in what we know were government and state plans to throw people in and violate their human rights – which is of course in line with the entire theme of the G8/G20. Rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray were deployed by police at will and used against people of all ages who yes – were peacefully protesting (and I’m not going into the less than 100 who were not because they were the very small minority) but more importantly, YES IT IS our civil liberty and fundamental right to do so.
Reports also came rushing in about police keeping people cornered outside in the heavy rain for hours, as well as further accounts of violent police brutality directly inside and outside the jails – and I don’t owe them any benefit of the doubt to believe otherwise. This also occurred two intersections down the street from my house in Toronto.