Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lincoln Alexander leaves Queen's Park for the last time

Signing guest register. Photo courtesy Ann Green
I was able to get downtown last night to pay last respects to Lincoln Alexander and shoot this video of his motorcade pulling out and heading to Hamilton.

There's plenty written about his life, work and legacy all over the internet - he lived a life dedicated to not only making Canada a better place, but also to inspiring people to do the same. 

I'll just echo one quote of his that I particularly embrace:
"I'm proud of being black, but my role in Canada is to serve all the people. I'm a Canadian. Period."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Birds, miracles and Elgan's big move

Yesterday we moved Elgan into his dormitory to start grade nine at a private boarding school, out of town, but within a half hour’s drive if traffic isn’t killer.

A remarkable thing happened when we arrived but, in order to appreciate it, I’ve got to tell a story of something that happened to me a few years ago.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spain's bailout indicative of a bigger problem

I read today that Spain is going to need a $125 billion bailout.

Here are some relatively recent unemployment rates according to Wikipedia:

North America
  • Canada, 7.2 percent
  • United States, 8.2 percent
  • Germany, 5.4 percent
  • United Kingdom, 8.1 percent
  • France, 10.2 percent
  • Italy, 10.2 percent
  • Portugal, 15.2 percent
  • Greece, 21.7 percent
  • Spain, 24.3 percent.
Compare Spain's 24.3% unemployment rate against Canada's highest rate during the Great Depression: 19.3% in 1933; the United States reached 24.75% in that toughest of years. 

The thing is, Spain “a few years ago took pride as the continent’s economic superstar only to see it become the hot spot in the Eurozone debt crisis.”

What’s the value of a system that can call a nation a superstar even while the very machinations of its undoing must have already been underway? How do they get to Depression Era unemployment numbers without us seeing it coming?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Diffusion of responsibility, NIMBYism and deciding to be someone in support of a free society


In 1964 New York City, Kitty Genovese is repeatedly attacked over the course of a half hour in the courtyard encircled by several apartment buildings. No one calls police. 

In your typical baseball game, a high fly ball is falling in shallow centre. The 2nd baseman has tracked back while the centre fielder as ranged forward. At the last moment, both stop and the ball drops between the two millionaire professional baseball players.

In a standard social psychology textbook, these are examples of what is called “diffusion of responsibility.” And, in the case against Luka Magnotta (born Eric Newman), diffusion of responsibility can't impose upon jury availability if we want justice, but who is going to want to view the video evidence of the murder, indignities and dismemberment of Jun Lin?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What it takes to level the playing field: handicapped parking and affirmative action

I recall actually wondering to myself, “Why am I penalized by having to walk farther from where I can find a parking space to the mall entrance, just because I am not handicapped? Here are five empty spaces, why can’t I park in one if they’re not even being used?” It challenged me to stop and think through the idea, after which I chided myself, for ever having “thunk such thoughts” (although, the rigor did result in graduating to better thoughts).

Equality (think “balance”) is about everyone having an equal chance. It is not about guaranteeing equal results, but that one’s chances for success are equally-accessible. It recognizes that society has evolved with success geared towards the normative (whatever that may be, rightly or mightly) and that, as such, anyone who is not within the normative group (often through no “fault” of their own) will have a more difficult time accessing resources.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Why do we celebrate Black History Month? To re-humanize a people

I believe that Black History Month is for everyone. However, Black History Month is important for Black people, and it’s important to understand why.

Why is Black History Month in February?

Every year, the question "why did we get stuck with the shortest month of the year for Black History Month?" is asked.

I am almost ashamed to say I only learned the answer recently, in preparing for speaking at Durham College/UOIT’s Black History Month Mix and Mingle, last week.

But, I'm not fully ashamed because, as is the case with most Black History, the answer is out there, but it's not provided easily, one must actively go and get it, unlike normative histories that are entrenched in the standard curricula. That this question keeps coming up also demonstrates the continued value of Black History Month - there is still so much we have to learn.

So, while the answer is "out there", I’ll summarize it here to build up the content availability, and then add some OughtThoughts.

Durham College/UOIT Respects Diversity

I had the honour of spending precious, too-little time with Durham College’s President, Don Lovisa, and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s Provost, Dr. Richard Marceau, on the occasion of their Black History Month Mix and Mingle “Respecting Diversity”, organized by Rochelle Ramathe, Diversity Director, with special guests including Oshawa City Councillor Doug Sanders and Oshawa Mayor John Henry.

Their respective remarks showcased their level of leadership, not only in Durham Region, but of national and international scope, and it’s my pleasure to share them here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Shafia verdict a finding of legal guilt; not moral, ethnic or religious judgment

The recent guilty verdicts on all counts in the Shafia trial sends a strong message to cultures that either endorse or accommodate “honour killing” – "it may be acceptable in your home country, but it’s not acceptable here in Canada." However, it’s important, at this time of national celebration that “justice has been done,” to pause, just a tick, and consider the implications of recognizing that courts are interested in law, not morals.