Mansplainer #8: My Relationship With Race – “It’s Complicated”

Tal Fortgang’s uninformed screed “Why I’ll Never Apologize for My White Male Privilege” has been making the rounds on social media this past week and apparently causing quite the furore. There already have been several well informed take-downs that articulately dissect and refute his arguments much more clearly and directly than I ever could. But there’s one aspect of Tal’s piece that I’d like to address that I think has been largely glossed over or just not delved into.

You see, Tal isn’t white.


Now before I clarify, let me just assure you that I’m in no way trying to claim that Tal doesn’t benefit from white privilege. Or male privilege. Or any privileges. He does. So do I. He’s just clearly very confused about the concept of “whiteness” and how he fits in to it.

Tal, I hear you bro. I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there. Well, not Princeton. But I’ve been in a place where I didn’t understand what “whiteness” was and how that affected me. I didn’t understand the concept of race and had trouble navigating the conflicting messages I was bombarded with in culture, media, and academia. You see, Tal, just like you, I’m also Jewish. And just like you, my skin is pretty white looking. In the summer it gets a little more olive, but stick me in a room full of white people, and I’ll blend right in (more on that later).

Being Jewish can be confusing. We’re told it’s a race. It’s also a religion. “White” is also a race. And we’re also told that we’re white. Until we’re not. We’re told a lot of conflicting things. We’re caught between our understanding of identity and our historical and present oppression.
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An Open Letter To Molly Alexander

– Version française en bas. –

Molly Alexander is the candidate with Quebec Solidaire in my local riding of Saint-Henri Sainte-Anne, running for a seat in the National Assembly in the upcoming Quebec election. If you share these views, I encourage you to write a letter to your own candidate, or feel free to use this one as a template. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Dear Ms. Alexander,

I am a constituent in the riding in which you are running as a candidate representing Quebec Solidaire, and I am writing to share my views with you on an issue that is of importance to me.

I would like to begin by stating that I am glad to have a candidate on my ballot whose views and politics so closely resemble mine, and who is both open to feedback and informed on matters that concern the advancement of our society. You are very much a progressive and a critical thinker – two qualities that I value in political representatives – and there isn’t a candidate who I would rather see represent me and my fellow constituents in the National Assembly.

Regretfully, your party has adopted a policy which is of grave concern to me. Following the recommendations of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, Quebec Solidaire’s platform includes a proposal to ban the wearing of religious icons of civil servants in positions of coercive authority (this would include police). I understand that this was the topic of heated debate, and the decision reached by the party is not supported unanimously. However, religious expression is a fundamental freedom and I consider it to be extremely troubling that the party would even consider that this is something that can be voted on. Continue reading

I haven’t forgotten you.

A thought has been entering my mind with increasing frequency these past few months, which is “geez, I haven’t posted to my blog in a while.” 

Yup. My website’s gotten a little out of date. No new posts, songs, comics, etc. which contrasts the flurry of activity that followed the redesign of this site. 

I have my reasons. My reasons are valid. And I don’t feel bad about this. But, in case you’re wondering, I feel that now might be a decent time to shed some light. 

When I redesigned my site, and focused my energies on writing and creating on-line content, it was at a time where I didn’t have the flexibility in my life to be productive in ways that meant leaving the house. With a few notable exceptions, at the start of 2013 I drastically reduced the number of performances and projects I was involved in. So I devoted my time and attention to writing and blogging, two things I enjoy deeply, and find very gratifying.

I’ve since regained some of the liberties that have allowed me to engage in projects that are more tangible in nature, and rely less on sitting in front of my computer and typing. And with this shift, I let the website take a back seat and go on a slight hiatus. 

All this to say, the site is not dead. I will continue to write and post and share my thoughts, with varying degrees of frequency depending on how much time and energy the “real life” projects take up. 

So stay tuned, and see you on the interwebs. Or maybe IRL. 

Mansplainer #7: Guest Blogger – Kelly Bennett


feminismI can’t oppress a group in power. Oppression is prejudice+power. There’s no reverse racism, there’s no misandry. There’s no oppressive, systematic, institutionalized force against white, straight dudes.

No one is trying to subjugate men. Like, seriously. We’re trying to get them to listen, for fucking once, instead of getting butthurt when they do something offensive and for once someone calls them on it.

Bro, you’ve had the entire world at your feet; so yeah, admit you might have fucked up, deal with the fact that we’re angry, and move on. Instead of going ‘omg don’t get mad at me’ try going ‘well, shit. why are you mad at me? hm. i’ll think about that.’
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Mansplainer #6: The Racialized and Gendered Impact of Quebec’s Proposed Charter of Secularism

So it’s taken engaging in a lot of dialogue on the subject Quebec’s proposed Charter of Secularism to word this cogently.

The charter is racist, and I’ll give you a deeper analysis of why that is. BUT I am seeing an unhealthy trend of Anglophones co-opting the threat of oppression to religious minorities and using it as a platform to espouse bigotry towards Francophones.


More bigotry isn’t going to solve bigotry. Religious minorities need your solidarity, not your hypocrisy.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I think I can move on and address more than just my frustration with the Anglophone rhetoric. It’s been a really stressful time for myself and some of my friends in Quebec, and I can only imagine the stress that devoutly religious people are under right now. When we’re so used to major issues being split into two camps of discussion, being caught between two groups that are yelling at each other who are both wrong can make you want to throw up.


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