Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Canadian Space:

McCann’s article Race, Protest, and Public Space immediately made me think of Freddy Vilenneuva .This Montreal teenager was a member of a racialized group and he was killed by police as a result of being in the wrong space at the wrong time. Space is a concept which is hard to define. Lefebrve divided space into three types. Conceived space is the way in which planners intend a space to be used. While perceived space is how a space is viewed and lived spaces is what people do in a space.

The presence of Freddy and his friends on that Montreal street playing dice violated the idea of Montreal and Canada as a homogenous white space. Freddy and his friends lived or experienced the space as a place where it was appropriate to play dice and hang out. The police officers’ perceptions of the space were based on how the space had been conceived by planners. These different perceptions of space and the type of people who belong in certain spaces led to conflict. The riot which occurred as a result of Freddy’s death can be viewed as an attempt by marginalized groups to take back space or challenge the homogeneity of abstract space.

Tele journal: Enquête - Fredy Villanueva

Film Review: Freedom Writers

Released in 2007 Freedom Writers is a film based on a book by Erin Gruwell. The film is about Ms. Gruwell’s (played by Hillary Swank) experience working as a white teacher in a multi-cultural school in Los Angeles. The film which was produced in part by MTV is directed at a young adult audience.

The movie helps situate the viewer by starting with a drive by shooting. Scenes like this which are used to provide background information on the students are punctuated with violence and loud gangster rap music.Unlike her students Ms. Gruwell’s , who is fresh out of teachers college lives in a nice violence free neighborhood.

Freedom Writer explores how Ms. Gruwell adapts to her class which is mostly made up of people of color from bad neighborhoods.

Color blind education comic

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The internet: A product of colonial culture

From Facebook to Webct internet use has become an integral part of the Canadian experience. According to a 2007 survey 77% of Canadian adults use the internet (Mckeown & Veenhof, 2009). The widespread use of the internet amongst Canadians both at home and at work indicates that the internet has become an important part of Canadian culture. The internet gained widespread appeal in the 1990s , long after the dismantling of the huge empires which once dominated the world, but like the novels described by Said the internet reflects the world’s imperial past.
Edward Said defines imperialism as ‘…thinking about settling on, controlling land you do not posses, that is distant , that is lived on and owned by others (Said, 1993, p. 4).” While the once celebrated idea of imperialism or controlling the land of another people and subjugating its population is no longer considered acceptable the impact of imperialism and some of the attitudes which informed imperialist agendas linger. Western empires encompassed so much of the globe that all cultures can be considered hybrids influenced both by the beliefs and customs of the indigenous peoples and those of the colonists or imperial administrators. The existence of these empires has meant that countries and cultures are interconnected (Said, 1993). Cultural products like novels have been thought of as “free from worldly affiliation” (Said, 1993, p.13) however Said argues that culture and imperialism are connected. Said examines novels to explore how imperialism was both legitimated and critiqued through cultural products. Like the novel the internet can be seen as a cultural product which is a hybrid of many cultures and which has maintained divisions established through imperialism. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010


If racism and other issues faced by students who are from marginalized groups are not addressed or acknowledged in the classroom education becomes a tool of oppression. Denial of racism helps to maintain the status quo and prevents people from understanding why programs like "affirmative action" are necessary.The readings by Paulo Freire and Bell Hooks made me reflect on my past educational experiences and how they helped to maintain racial oppression. Read about it in my critical reflection on education