Racist Frosh Week Event Shames Montreal Business School

Haute Etudes Commerciales, MontrealStudents at the Universite de Montreal’s Haute Études Commerciales (HEC) put their school on the map in a bad way earlier this month when a group of students took part in a racist “celebration” at the university stadium.

According to the Huffington Post:

“One witness, who is of Jamaican descent, said he felt uncomfortable and was shocked to hear some students chanting, ‘Smoke more weed.’

McGill law student Anthony Morgan, who happened to be on the campus at the time, says the students were doing the chanting in Jamaican accents. Some also wore yellow-and-green track outlets, like the Jamaican Olympic team.”

Here’s a video clip (trigger warning for racism):

As Renee at Womanist Musings points out in her excellent analysis of the incident, the school’s response was less than impressive. Initially, they released a statement essentially saying that the participating students had no ill intentions though the stunt was not acceptable. Only after Morgan went to the media and speculated that he would file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission, did school representatives go on TV, apologize, and promise to incorporate racial sensitivity training into the school framework to ensure future incidents don’t happen again.

But this was an event which involved several students and was planned for weeks in advance, not likely something that can be easily resolved through making students take a token sensitivity class. Morgan is going ahead with his complaint to the HRC, in hopes that an official investigation will be better able to determine how HEC should proceed.

White people putting on black face makeup was a popular form of entertainment in the 1830s and 1840s. It was often used to demean black people and make them seem stupid and cartoonish, exactly what the students at HEC did. Whether or not it was intentional for all of them, at least some of them should’ve known better.

This type of incident reminds us that Canadians are not above these racist displays, and as much as we’d like to think individual racism is a thing of the past and we only have structural racism to tackle, the attitudes behind the minstrel shows are still with us.

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons by Jean Gagnon)

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Racism 1 Comment

FFFF: Onion’s White Girl to be Tried as a Black Man

One of my favourite videos from the Onion in the past year.


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FFFF: Avatar Remixed


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The Round-Up: Nov. 29, 2010


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Death Penalty and Race

Came across this worrying statistic today at the blog Sociological Images (via Amnesty International):


It’s interesting to look at how the race of victims, rather than just that of defendants, has influenced the outcome of these homicide trials, with Amnesty International arguing: “From initial charging decisions to plea bargaining to jury sentencing, African-Americans are treated more harshly when they are defendants, and their lives are accorded less value when they are victims.”

In addition to stats on Aboriginal incarceration in Canada, I’ll be saving this one for the next time someone says to me, “Maybe discrimination still exists, but I just don’t see it,”


Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Racism 1 Comment

The Round-Up: Nov. 16, 2010

Denying Privilege Dude


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Halloween Costumes for Feminists

I was so close to not writing another Halloween costume post this year because the problems I talked about last year with racist and sexist costumes haven’t changed a bit.  Saw this “Cheyenne Wig” at Value Village the other week and yesterday I noticed a “Chinese Lady” wig, which looked an awful lot like generic “Geisha” wigs, at London Drugs.  It’s gross. In addition to the fact that I’m assuming most actual Cheyenne wouldn’t appreciate being told they all have hair like Morticia Addams, appropriating the identities of racial minorities and perpetuating stereotyping isn’t cool at Halloween or any other time.

And we’re still seeing women’s costumes hypersexualized. Yes,  dressing up in a sexy costume can be fun, but it’s not a pre-requisite for a good time. And the trend seems to be pushing the envelope to apply to younger and younger girls. For  one costume with both sexist and racist yuck factors, check out this “Harem Girl” costume for kids profiled at the Ms. Blog.

The new weird thing I noticed this year was quite a few people being directed to my blog by Googling how to dress “homeless” for Halloween. Here’s someone’s actual question on Yahoo Questions:

Im going to be a homeless person for Halloween. Any Suggestions on my Poster? Okay, So i have decided to be a homeless person for Halloween. I’m going to get a shopping cart and funny props for it, including a cardboard sign. (you know how hobos stand on the side of the road asking for money with a cardboard sign?) …And im trying to think of sayings to put on it. I would like something common that homeless people say, but also a funny one.

Dressing “homeless” is in really poor taste (as one responder points out before she quickly gets over it and suggests a “Will Work for Treats” sign as a prop). Homelessness isn’t a joke and trivializing the issue and trying to make it funny does absolutely nothing to help stigma against people living in extreme poverty.

Luckily one thing that has changed this year is I’m hearing a lot more good costume ideas for feminists and other people who don’t think that wearing a costume has to reinforce social inequalities. Here are some of the best suggestions I’ve seen this year. Leave yours in the comments below!

1. Member of the Rockford Peaches

Honour the history of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League by dressing up as one of the members of the 1943 Rockford Peaches, as profiled in the movie A League of Their Own.

2. Group idea: Beekeepers and Bees

Yesterday at the weekly Twitter She Party (Wednesdays from 3-6 Eastern, hosted by the Women’s Media Center) someone mentioned she and her spouse were going as beekeepers and their kids were dressing up like bees. I thought the idea was really cute and you can find instructions for DIY beekeeper costumes here.

3. “Sexy Nurse”

I read a comment on another blog by a woman who’s an actual nurse planning to go out in scrubs and sneakers with a large name tag reading “Sexy Nurse”.

4. Ellen Ripley from the Alien Movies

From the list of suggestions at Bitch.

My Sculpey tooth necklace

5. Tooth Fairy/Evil Tooth Fairy

This is going to be my costume this year. I made teeth out of polymer clay to make a necklace and headband and will match those with a white shirt, tutu and tights, white store-bought wings and a black wig. To make it an evil tooth fairy costume, make the tooth jewelry more disgusting and slap on some gory makeup. It also might be cool to carry around a pair of large pliers.

6. Add “zombie” in front of any of the following:

Suggestions: Zombie Sarah Palin, Zombie Suffragette, Zombie Margaret Atwood, Zombie Jane Austen character, Zombie Pundit of your Choice.

7. Your Google Alter-Ego

Use Google or Facebook to find someone with the same name as you and dress as them. I borrowed this idea from feminist blogger Shelby Knox, who suggested she might go as Shelby Knox the cheerleader.  This works best if you look completely different from the person your imitating. The best would be if you could get them to dress as you too.

8. Safe-Sex Pusher

This is from NOW’s list of feminist costume ideas. Wear sunglasses and a trenchcoat lined with condoms and birth control packets.

9. Carmen Sandiego

Because she’s a woman of mystery.

10. Women’s firefighter costume that includes pants and flat shoes.

I’m talking firefighter hat, jacket and pants with reflective strips. Because, let’s face it, it’s really, really dumb to run into a burning building in fishnet stockings, a miniskirt, and stilettos.

Just a quick follow-up on yesterday’s post about the Canadian Blog Awards. The CBAs have belatedly decided to add the category of Best Feminist Blog just for the final round of voting and we’re nominated with some other fantastic Canadian feminist blogs. You can vote in the Best Feminist Blog category here and remember you can still vote for us in the Culture and Literature category. You can vote once every 24 hours until Tuesday, October 26. Then I will at least temporarily stop annoying you all.


Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Pop Culture, Racism 5 Comments