Waiting for the bus…March 16, 2017

By Paul Chislett:

It took a minute to see the graffiti on the clear window of the bus shelter. After months of seeing videos and photos online showing people encountering racism in person or scrawled somewhere, I gaped at the words in front of me, ironically on a screen of sorts.

Probably written with a Sharpie, the words singled out immigrants, calling for them to go back to their country, and worse (see photo). It was horrifying, yet not surprising to see. You know when something awful happens in a usually smaller town or city and people say, ‘gee, you hear about this happening elsewhere but I never thought it would happen here’, and I always think, why couldn’t it happen there, we’re all part of this world and no place is immune to natural disasters nor human made ones. That racism is alive and well in Windsor should not be shocking.

Windsor is a mid-size Canadian city, yet we’re ranked as the 4th most diverse city in the country. That’s pretty impressive. Plus, we are the major border crossing of the country across from Detroit, Michigan. For a city this size we have big city issues, yet we generally think of ourselves as a pretty tight knit community compared to the alienation experienced in major metropolitan areas. So, yeah, the words were shocking. Not in this town, I thought. I also thought of the next person coming to the bus stop, a young woman of colour, a recent or established newcomer perhaps, and if I was appalled at the words I saw, I could only imagine the fear she would experience.

I was reminded of the video online recently of commuters in a subway car finding similar racist graffiti in the car and how they banded together to wipe it off, only to find it written with an indelible marker. Someone says hand sanitizer would take it off and so they used that, and there they were all working together to clean off the signs. I tried wiping off the ink in the bus shelter but to no avail and had no hand sanitizer on me. Not wanting to leave this crap for someone else to find I called 311 to report the graffiti so a transit crew could clean it off – least I could do. I got on the Number 2 bus just as the phone call to 311 was ending.

(Photo: Paul Chislett)

This incident, if I am reading it correctly, brings into focus the issue of working class anger so much talked about now – the kind of anger that manifests itself in someone scrawling racist comments on a bus shelter. I know working class anger because I am working class and I’m generally pissed off at the abandonment of public policy that once pointed toward the common good and is now harnessed to further enrich and empower the managerial class; the cadre of professionals networked into government and the market economy, seeking their own rewards out of the system, eager to enrich themselves at the expense of working class people.

Gone are too many decent jobs paying a living wage at the same time as schools and hospitals face cuts and privatization, public infrastructure crumbles, wars never run out of funding, and the very concept of the common good is receding in the rear view mirror of history.  Working class people are right to be angry – just not with each other.

Through the Windsor Workers’ Education Centre I’ve met a number of recent and established new comers, as well as a few men who are recently arrived refugees from Syria. Those young men always talked about needing to work and not being a burden, and many of the recent and established new comers are women of colour who have experienced racism, sexism and harassment in local vegetable packing plants in the area. They are working class just like me. We all belong. No one is illegal. No borders. Wars, borders, oppressive systems of control – these are all constructs the powerful have always used to keep the masses under control. In my experience, working class people cooperate, and seek mutuality. But when austerity and theft of public resources become official policy, too many become afraid and susceptible to race baiting and the promotion of hate.

I believe the worker centre has an obligation to speak to white working class women and men on racism, free speech (as in hate speech is not free speech), working class history, the global economy and trade agreements, austerity politics, and so on, so as to attempt to put in context the anger and fear that seems to be permeating throughout this group of people. And, to ‘put into context’ would be to constructively focus the anger where it belongs: toward the systems of oppression and ‘power over’ wielded by a ruling class so far impervious to working class organizing.

 

Aug 19: Valerie Kaussen and Haiti reconstruction; Noa Mendelsohn Aviv and Bill C4 and refugees to Canada

Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor

Listen to entire program here: 

Valerie Kaussen @ 6:38

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv @ 40:43

In the first half hour we talked to Professor Valerie Kaussen (6:38)on reconstruction efforts in Haiti. She teaches Francophone Caribbean literature and culture at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has traveled to Haiti. Kaussen spoke about her experiences in Haiti on the three to four trips  she undertook there. She described the cluster system of camps that have occurred as a result of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management system and she also pointed out how Haitians have been affected by the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). This interview was spurred by an article I read by Kaussen in the Feb. 2011 issue of the Monthly Review.

Click image for more on IDP camps

To find out more about Canada and Haiti check out Canada Haiti Action Network

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In the second half hour Noa Mendelsohn Aviv (40:43) of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association described that organization’s opposition to Bill C-4, which the Harper government claims will prevent human smuggling. Instead the bill seems more an attempt to demonize those who are fleeing war, persecution, hunger and so on and, who seek safe haven here.

Click image for info on how to help stop Bill C4

Related Youtube video on opposition to Bill C-4

Featured CD:

Click image for more on this CD and related booklet

OPIRG Calendar of Events

Every Saturday 11 am. to noon Ottawa Street across from Market Square

ANTI-WAR PICKET

Canadians Say, Get out of Afghanistan Now!

Occupation is not Liberation

Invest in our Communities, not in War

For more information email: Windsor Peace Coalition windsorpeace@hotmail.com

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Monday, August 22 @ 1pm at the OPIRG Exchange Coffee House and Reading Room 372 California, University of Windsor (behind the Faculty of Education and beside the Campus Community Garden)

Film screening GOOD MORNING KANDAHAR

Director / Ariel Nasr / CA / 2008 / 50 min / English

Good Morning Kandahar introduces us to young Afghan Canadians torn between a deep desire to help Afghanistan and fear that things will never change

In conjunction with Cinema Politica – Free admisson and Fair Trade Refreshments – Donations accepted

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Every Wednesday @ 7pm

Join us for a peer led recovery group – RAINBOW RECOVERY!

This group is for anyone affected by alcoholism or addiction of any kind.

We will be meeting every Wednesday from 7pm – 8:30pm at the Windsor Pride Centre (422 Pelissier). You don’t need to be there every week to come along!

We welcome the LGBT community and our allies ♥ (Alanon, Narnanon, NA, AA, Gamblers Anon – all welcome, and more!)

For details email us at rainbowrecovery@windsorpride.com

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Wednesday August 24th @ 4pm at the Palace Cinema

Fundraiser screening of “THE GOONIES”

Tickets $7 in advance $10 at the door

Advance tickets available at Milk, 68 University Ave. W.

and UWSA office, CAW Student Centre, University of Windsor.

All proceeds to the University of Windsor Environmental Coalition Sponsored by OPIRG Windsor

For more info contact Betty Helou heloub@uwindsor.ca

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Saturday, August 27 9 am – 5 pm, Main lobby of the CAW Student Centre, University of Windsor

RAIN OR SHINE, IT’S GARAGE SALE TIME! Jazzpurr Society fundraiser

Volunteers Needed for Friday setup and Saturday sales.

Please contact Dolly Digou for sign-up and more details.

519-253-3000 ext.3235 prissy@uwindsor.ca

http://www.jazzpurr.org

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Saturday September 10th, from 10am – 3pm.

PECHE ISLAND DAY EVENT hosted by Peche Island (A. Laframboise) The Detroit River Canadian Cleanup

Peche Island lies in the Detroit River, 330 metres from the Windsor shoreline. (Ojibway Nature Centre)

The day will include transportation to and from the island in the Detroit River, along with guided tours focusing on the island’s unique natural and historical features. The island’s marked trails are perfect for self-guided touring. Enjoyable and educational, this is a great event for the whole family!

Limited parking is available for this event, so people are encouraged to bike or bus to the marina. Litterless picnic lunches are welcome on the island, but no garbage is to be left behind. Boat transportation to the island begins at 10am, the last boat bringing people to the island will depart the mainland at 1pm. Boat boarding at Lakeview Park Marina, 9200 Riverside Drive East, Windsor. Light snacks and beverages are available for purchase.

Life jackets will be provided. However, please bring your own infant life jackets. Please note, this event may be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

Peche Island Day is a free event and everyone is welcome to attend! For more information contact the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup at: 519-982-3722 or email: postmaster@detroitriver.ca

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September 10th 2:00pm

Windsor Workers Action Center – 328 Pelissier

FIBRE CRAFTING part of the Ecology and Freedom Workshop Series

Lindsay will teach us how to sheer, wash, prepare, spin and knit our own wool.This workshop is essential for anyone interested in learning how to produce their own fabric or clothes.

Organized by grassroots environmentalists, activists and volunteers.

Questions: roadwindsor@riseup.net

http://WindsorGreenWorkshops.blogspot.com

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September 17th 10am

WECSA Community Farm, 13th Concession Near McGregor

GREEN BUILDING WITH LOAD-BEARING STRAW BALE part of the Ecology and Freedom Workshop Series

Come out to WECSA to help build a small storage shed/greenhouse with a commitment to using natural (or reclaimed) materials and self-reliant building techniques. We are inviting the community to share in this project and come help out. A shuttle will be available from Windsor.

Please email roadwindsor@riseup.net to reserve your seat.

Organized by grassroots environmentalists, activists and volunteers.

Questions: roadwindsor@riseup.net

http://WindsorGreenWorkshops.blogspot.com