Posts about Culture

Library bans in Mississippi

Via Austin Kleon’s newsletter: Overdrive/​Libby, a digital service that lets you take books out from your local library electronically, has been banned in Mississippi for those under 18. (The age of consent is 16, if you’re wondering.)

Texas is next.

If any Canadian politician tries this, I will write so many letters and make so many phone calls they won’t be able to ignore me.

Think about the children” continues to be one of the finest sentences ever constructed for the purposes of advancing fascism.

More thoughts on racism

I have been thinking for weeks about how I, as a white person, can help move the needle forward on equality in society.

I am still listening, but I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned so far.

First, continue to listen and continue to learn. Read some books. Here are a few that I have seen recommended many times:

I am sure there are many others.

The second thing that we need to do is confront the racist people in our lives. I think we could place these people in one of two categories:

  1. People we know, who are either unaware of their racism or are hateful bigots.
  2. People we do not know who are in political or financial positions of power.

When it comes to people we know, it’s time to tell them they are racist. Don’t sugarcoat it. Don’t call them micro aggressive.” Say what it is. Give their racism a name, whether they intend it or not. If they are hurt, remember their words hurt more than their feelings at that moment. 

If you are uncomfortable with this, you’re going to have to suck it up. Change does not happen without discomfort.

When it comes to people in political or financial positions of power, you must vote with your dollar. If you can, vote them out of power. (If you are an American, that carrot you call a president is not a stupid idiot doing a bad job. He’s a cunning fascist who is hellbent on destroying your country and taking away your freedom. Vote accordingly.)

If the racist person is in a financial position of power, don’t spend money on their products. I know there are absolutely times when you have no choice. If I found that out that the CEO of Dole was a mega-racist, I would have to stop buying fruit from all the supermarkets in my neighbourhood. But I need fruit. I understand this has limits. But be aware that every time you spend money, you are implicitly supporting the people at the top of that organization.

If it is possible, spend more money on businesses owned by minorities. If you are in Toronto, I can make this easy for you: here is a list of 135 Black-owned businesses in the city you can support right now. And here’s another 100.

We need to move the needle forward on this. Until we live in a society that truly offers equality for all of us, there isn’t equality for any of us.

Black lives matter

I do not want to speak out of turn or say the wrong thing. I do not want to hurt or harm. 

But to be silent is to be complicit. I will be silent no more. 

Black lives matter. It needs to be repeated until we all agree. This is not about George Floyd, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, or so many others. This is about the systemic oppression and abuse that Black people have suffered for hundreds of years at the hands of white people. 

I am aware of my incredible privilege as a white man. Even if I am not intentionally complicit in this system, I am in it. I did not choose this role, but neither did those the colour of my skin has oppressed. The first step towards reconciliation is acknowledging my part in this system, and listening. 

It is also the time to acknowledge the grief of the Black community. It is time to enter into that grief with them. There are so many men, women, and children that have been taken from us. Imagine if it was your brother, father, son, uncle, partner, or daughter. 

As a Canadian, I admit I am weary of being told Canada doesn’t have a racism problem. We do. We’re simply polite about it. We are not immune to police brutality, racist police forces, and cold-blooded murder. The racism in this country is insidious, hidden behind closed doors and off-the-record legal settlements. Our police forces disproportionately target Black and Indigenous people. It keeps me up at night. 

These protests, and the police-instigated violence and cruelty, have also kept me up at night. The videos I have seen are disturbing, but no longer shocking. In the past ten years, I have seen many real videos of white cops murdering unarmed black men. It is insane to me that I have seen even one. 

It is not unreasonable to expect that police officers should uphold the law and protect people, rather than abuse it and kill people. If they are unable to fulfill their basic duties, they should be disbanded. (And once we’re done with that, let’s tackle prison reform.) 

Black people built America for free. They are owed much more than equality and justice. 

I do not know all the right steps to take. I am listening and learning. I am sure I will make mistakes, though I do not want to. I am aware of the ACLU, and the Equal Justice Initiative. Are there organizations in Canada that need support? I would love to hear about Canadian organizations focused on these issues that I can support. If you have suggestions, send me a message on Twitter. 

For now, I am listening. To my Black friends, and to the Black people in my community: I see you. Your life matters.

Adrian Frutiger passes away

Incredibly sad news. Frutiger is responsible for a great many beautiful typefaces, but Univers is one of my favourites. For lack of better terms, a gentleman’s Helvetica. Rest in peace.