Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sumaya Dalmar Will Be Missed

Sumaya Dalmar was found deceased in the East York area on Sunday Feb. 22, 2015
Sumaya Dalmar, also known as Sumaya Ysl was found deceased on Sunday morning in the Main and Danforth area in Toronto. Dalmar was a 26 year-old Somali trans-woman well known within the LGBT community. However, sadly enough, her death was barely (if at all) reported in the news until Tuesday, February 24, 2015. Even with the news now, police have very little to report other than that her death did not appear to be homicide. Despite Toronto Police’s statements, many believe her death may have been homicide after all. With respect to the victim, police are declining to provide further information at this time.

The lack media coverage on crimes against the LGBT community is prevalent, especially if the victim is of colour. Provided that Dalmar is a transgender woman of colour sparks debates on whether her death would have reserved more time on the news, or more attention by Toronto Police if she identified as white, heterosexual and perhaps not a woman. Perhaps the lack of coverage is due to lack in evidence that her death was indeed a homicide.

Despite the cause of her death, there is very little evidence that her death was NOT a homicide. As Police continue to seek assistance from the public for more information, this confirms that there is room for more investigation and that denying homicide is perhaps a step in the wrong direction at this time.

Statistics of murder on transgender victims are difficult due to misgendering of the victims. This calls for information on preferred gender to be included for identification purposes on government issued identification. The transition from dualism thinking is important, although many may disagree.

The lack of media coverage for missing or murdered women of colour, despite their sexual orientation has been a problem from before our generation. Missing First Nations women, especially in Mainland, British Columbia is an ongoing battle for First Nations communities and supporters nationwide. Police involvement (or lack thereof) is also questioned. Many of the First Nations women identifying as sex trade workers and this feeds into the complexity of the issue. Unfortunately, many individuals believe that crimes against sex trade workers isn’t much of a crime at all, especially if the crime is of sexual nature, due to their line of work.

The above noted discussion serves as an eye-opener of how the intersection of social markers seems to be correlated with the amount of media coverage, attention by Police and other governing bodies and how much the public is aware of the issue in itself.

Without communication of the issues, people remain oblivious to the seriousness and prevalence of such issues. The push for more awareness and action is understandable when specific communities are excluded from media, police and public attention.

Dalmar is remembered by loved ones at a memorial on March 3, 2015, 6pm, at the 519 Community Centre.

519 Community Centre
519 Church Street
Toronto, Ontario
M4Y 2C9

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The One About The Sign

Scanning the sea of judgemental glares and planned ignoring, I looked for one person to tell me with their eyes, “I get it”. I wasn’t this child’s parent, but I knew everything about him except what is on his mind. “My Little Guy” was Autistic.  In the four years that I’ve known him, he was set in his routine and I knew it well.

Sporadic vocalizations despite the environment, rocking back and forth, waving his arms, pacing… All that I enjoyed as he never failed to smile. He called me “Pa-Een” and often wanted to cuddle and watch his TV shows. He loved van rides and Finding Nemo. In the four years, I guarantee you, I am the one that found Nemo. Not his father, not Dori, but me. I am the true hero.

The passengers on the TTC didn’t know these things. I wish they did. Perhaps then, they wouldn’t wonder why “I” would subject him to a hectic environment as the TTC. Why “I” couldn’t pay for a cab or carry the child. “I”, the perceived parent of Asian decent of Palestinian child huh? Well, since we’re assuming and this IS Toronto, okay.

"People fail to understand the difficulties of redirecting behaviour in public for parents and caregivers of Autistic children."

People looked at me, probably wanting to ask, “What’s wrong with him”, in which I imagined that I would reply, “Nothing, what the fuck is wrong with you?”. I would emphasize the word FUCK in hopes that the inquisitive asshole would be embarrassed and feel the wrath of judgemental glares as I just experienced. At times, I felt unsafe. What if some irrational person decided I or My Little Guy deserved a good push for being “slow”. Then, of course, I had to resort to thinking of some self-defence moves I thought I knew. I knew none.

I sat him down in a busy train on a two-seater. I stood holding on for dear life and watched him smile and be fascinated by a moving train. “I’m in the train”, I imagine he thought so, and loved it. The woman in the window seat shuffled over, clutching her bags and glared at him for a few moments from the side of her eye without turning her head toward his direction. Perhaps she was scared she was going to catch Autism. Catch Autism like catching a cold? If Autism could be cured with Buckley’s, despite how nasty the taste is, maybe I’d give My Little Guy some Buckley’s, just so I can ask him millions of questions like, “Remember that time you got mad at me for insert scenario here, why did you get mad? What did I do”, or “Do you really like Pizza? Or would you rather Pizza over the repetitive menu at the group home?” and “Don’t you wish they had Finding Nemo 2? Because I do”.

In his little hands were little lumps of cotton. He loved cotton balls. He took them a part in little pieces and through them in the air. Something about cotton fascinated him. He called it “Fluff”. I had Fluff. One day, I’ll let him play in a bathtub full of Fluff. Fluff made him so happy.

The Catch Autism lady shuffled again and looked at the cotton in his hand. He flailed his arms slightly and she twitched. Relax lady, if anyone is to hit you in the face, it’s going to be me. Or Autism, because you’re going to catch it. That’s how you catch Autism, it slaps you in the face.

Our stop was coming up. “Time to get off of the train in one minute Little Guy”, I said.

Pre-planned warning of change of environment… Reminder in 30 seconds… Reminder in 10 seconds…Reminder of what is happening at the time it is happening… Praise for completing the process of what was happening after it happened…Calm voice…Don’t hold his hand too tight… Don’t talk too much… Less instructions…

The steps I needed to take after each transition ran like an index scroll over and over in my head. Every minute I’m with this child, my mind is going and going and going. I have to make sure he is okay. I have to avoid tantrums, it takes a toll on him physically and mentally. I have to smile and praise him for complying with changing environments. I have to see the judgement in people’s eyes. I have to deal the idea that they think My Little Guy is intruding. I have to assume that he knows none of this.

The above was what was going through my mind during a 15 minute train ride with a child who was not mine.  Although we had a bond, he was not my child. At the end of my shift, I could go home. Yet, I felt defensive and offended by TTC passengers that dared to judge My Little Guy. Imagine how a parent of an Autistic child feels, especially a parent with a young Autistic child who has only a few years of experience learning about Autism, their child and living with the constant and unwanted suggestions and advice of others.

Farida Peters and her son

Farida Peters, a Torontonian and a mother to a 5 year old Autistic boy decided to take matters into her own hands. She wears a sign on her backpack alerting TTC passengers, “My son is 5 years old and has autism. Please be patient with us”. The little boy, donned with a Minion toque and backpack walks hand-in-hand with his mother. Under the sign is the International Symbol of Access. For all you who are unfamiliar with this, and more familiar with “The blue handicap symbol thingy”:

People fail to understand the difficulties of redirecting behaviour in public for parents and caregivers of Autistic children. Peters received some backlash for her sign, as critics accuse her of labelling her child.

Hi Critics, hi… Okay, labelling is likely the last thing on Peters’ mind as she cares for her Autistic son and battles the judgemental stares, impatient sighs and people like the Catch Autism lady. What is the difference of this sign and the Access Parking Pass? You people are not okay with this sign, but okay with the ridiculous stick figure stickers on the back of minivans. You’re okay with “Baby on Board” signs… Shouldn’t drivers be cautious whether there is a baby on board or not. The sign serves has a warning to others, who fail to understand, who lack compassion, or who simply did not know. It’s education. Peters stated that all she wanted was safety and comfort. In the parenting world, safety and comfort at the two things parents want for their kids among others. Why is it NOT okay for Peters to ensure her child is safe? Parents buy safety devices to prevent their kids from getting in the toilet or cupboard or outlets. This is Peters’ safety device. And she made it.

Some people just need a big ass sign to put them in check.

Referenced Article:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Stop the Shut Down: Hamilton CAS Takes a Stand

With so many social service members being laid off, the ultimate price is paid by the children that depend on social services. Hamilton Children's Aid Society has endured many cut backs and are feeling the pull from insufficient provincial funding. 

Below is a message from their Facebook group:

Friday, October 4, 2013

Provoke Me and I'm Allowed To Call You A N*GGER.

I am writing this letter to inform you of the justification of racial slurs and derogatory speech that continuously exists in school today. Despite blood, sweat and tears dedicated to creating a safe space for all individuals regardless of their social markers, a school prinicpal at Montclair Public School in Oakville finds that provoking a student justifies a retaliation of derogatory terms.

This week, a black male student in the eigth grade asked a white female student in the same grade why she was in school just to disrupt the lesson. She responded by calling him a nigg*r.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Baby Mama vs. Baby Mother

Apparently, you can make a list of the difference between Baby Mama and Baby Mother.

I asked various fathers that have one or more children with one of more women what the difference between a baby mother and a baby mama is. Here are the results:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Teach the Teacher

For all of you parents out there concerned about your child's education...

I'm not a parent, but I'm a caregiver. I think that being parents, you're worried about so much and rely on educators, doctors and talk show hosts to tell you how to raise your child. How about telling your child how they will be educated?

Not About The Damn Skittles

After the verdict on George Zimmerman was revealed, the world, the people and the media took to social networks to vent.

All I saw was a lot of anger and a lot of people misinformed about what it means to be a person of colour. I saw many people claim that the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case was NOT about race.

What the hell was it about then? Skittles?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Negotiating Biculturalism

“How much is the parrot?” a woman asked.“Wow, ma’am,” uttered the owner, “this is a very expensive parrot, because he speaks both Spanish and English.”
“Oh really?
Can you get him to speak in both languages?”
“Sure you can. Look, it’s quite simple:
If you pull the left leg he speaks English.” And he pulled the parrot’s left leg. “Good
morning,” said the bird. “And if you pull the right leg like this, he speaks Spanish.”
And the parrot said: “Buenos Dias!”
At which point the woman asked: “What happens if you pull both of his legs, will he speak Tex-Mex?” “Noooo,” answered the parrot, “I will fall on my ass.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When Am I Ever Going To Use y=mx+b????

As a part of my volunteer job with CAS, I tutor a couple of foster kids and I have been for the past year. Every week I visit them and tutor them in mainly math, but in other subjects as well.
I now have 15 students, 13 of which I am paid as a private tutor and the 2 foster kids I mentioned.

My students are from grade 1 through 11 and all of them have trouble with/need a little extra help in math.

One of my grade 11 students and I were working on her math homework one day and she grew frustrated after a few questions.
She asked me when in "the hell" is she ever going to use "y=mx+b" (linear equation... for those that don't know, it's the equation you learn through high school ... the unit where you find midpoints of a line, the x and y intercepts etc... Have I lost you?).

Anyway, I get what she is saying. We don't always use all of what we learned in math. You may think math was pointless because the field you are in now career-wise depends on everything but linear and quadratic equations.

But what she didn't seem to understand was that what she is studying in math now is just a more advanced level of all of her accumulated knowledge in math over the years.

She is able to learn now because she has the knowledge of the basic concepts she has learned since the first grade. She has little interest in this fact. She has more interest in how much money I make tutoring because she sees her mom pay me every week. She also knows I tutor her neighbours and friends and have 15 students. She knows I get paid cash. She can add cash and coins VERY quickly. She's 16, and to her, seen cash is a big deal.

I asked her then, what was the point of her reading Charlotte's Web back in elementary school? Is she ever going to live as a pig and have a spider friend? Of course, being a 16 year old, she rolled her eyes and carried on doodling in the margins of her lined paper.

She then looked at me with a grin like she has an advantage in our little debate and said, "You work in a daycare right? And a group home? When was the last time YOOOOU used y=mx+b?"

Me: "Today".

What Would Oprah Do?

Can we please cut the damn binary of woman as the body and man as the mind?---i.e. "Think like a man. Act like a lady?.

Why perform like a woman on the outside and think like the "innovative" and "rational" man in your mind? 
Why is rational, innovation, logical, technological and intelligence all masculine traits?

Why is it that the performance of manners, etiquette, positivity, acceptance and sensitivity all applauded and awarded and done the best by women? ... It's not. 

It's done by right-minded people who have a damn sense. Women are innovative and logical and rational. But to certain men, we are not? 

Perhaps we aren't rational and logical to those SPECIFIC men who help create children and easily walk away? Perhaps we're not intelligent because we raise our fatherless sons and daughters alone, endure the infidelity, the abuse and sexual degradation? The victim blaming?

Oprah tells women do act and think like a woman---an intelligent, rational, innovative, sensitive, positive, inclusive woman. Some of you might think that she is blaming women for enabling men's maladaptive and frankly, "fuck up" sort of behaviour. However, she's not. She's not blaming women for men's behaviours, but encouraging a stand against it. Don't let them do what they do.  

She speaks of compromise and individuality. A man is not an accessory, but he is not the 
entire relationship either.

There are good men out there... although you may think it's rare. But wouldn't you rather spend your time on that good man WHILE be sure of your own individuality than to waste it on some fuck up who doesn't know who he is?

Read on.


If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away. 
If he doesn't want you, nothing can make him stay. Stop making e
xcuses for a man and his behavior. Allow your intuition (or spirit) to save you from heartache.

Stop trying to change yourself for a relationship that's not meant to be. Slower is better. Never live your life for a man before you find what makes you truly happy. If a relationship ends because the man was not treating you as you deserve then heck no, you can't "be friends". A friend wouldn't mistreat a friend.

Don't settle. If you feel like he is stringing you along, then he probably is. Don't stay because you think "it will get better." You'll be mad at yourself a year later for staying when things are not better. The only person you can control in a relationship is you. Avoid men who have a bunch of children by a bunch of different women. He didn't marry them when he got them pregnant, why would he treat you any differently? Always have your own set of friends separate from his. Maintain boundaries in how a guy treats you. If something bothers you, speak up. Never let a man know everything. He will use it against you later.

You cannot change a man's behavior. Change comes from within. Don't EVER make him feel he is more important than you are. Even if he has has more education or in a better job. Do not make him into a quasi-god. He is a man, nothing more nothing less.

Never let a man define who you are. Never borrow someone else's man. If he cheated with you, he'll cheat on you. A man will only treat you the way you ALLOW him to treat you. All men are NOT dogs.

You should not be the one doing all the bending... Compromise is two way street. You need time to heal between relationships. There is nothing cute about baggage... Deal with your issues before pursuing a new
relationship. You should never look for someone to COMPLETE you. A relationship consists of two WHOLE
individuals. Look for someone complimentary...
not supplementary.

Dating is fun... Even if he doesn't turn out to be Mr. Right. Make him miss you sometimes... When a man always know where you are, and you're always readily available to him ~ he takes it for granted. Never move into his mother's house. Never co-sign for a man. Don't fully commit to a man who doesn't give you everything that you need. Keep him in your radar but get to know others.

Scared of being alone is what makes a lot of women stay in relationships that are abusive or hurtful: Dr. Phil says... You should know that: You're the best thing that could ever happen to anyone and if a man mistreats you, he'll miss out on a good thing. If he was attracted to you in the 1st place, just know that he's not the only one. They're all watching you, so you have a lot of choices. Make the right one. Ladies take care of your own hearts...