May 30, 2006

For Better or For Worse
(Worst Come to Worst Toronto Comes First)

The first Canadian DJ Awards - Stylus DJ Awards, to be exact - took place May 29th, 2006 in Toronto. Supported by Toronto's Sony Ericsson and a whole slew of heavy-duty sponsors, the Stylus Group (a Canadian organization formed to recognize Canadian urban DJs) put on the show with intentions of honoring urban music's top DJs, MCs, musicians and record labels in 24 categories.

Yay Canada! More like Yay Toronto.

I'm not sure what the nomination and voting processes entailed, but as far as politics go, this first show was fully loaded with serious East Coast (read: Montreal & Toronto) bias (not to mention the overall male bias of the show).
I won't lie. There were attempts to maintain a spirit of unity amongst DJs across Canada. Nominations included artists representing major Canadian cities like Vancouver, Halifax, Winnipeg and Calgary (to name a few). There was even a category specific to DJ's in other cities, where they read nominations and announced winners from the respective cities, all in one go. So I can't say DJ's living and working outside of Toronto weren't recognized (I mean, no big deal if we barely heard the names of the nominees and winners because it all happened too quickly).

Performers included the one-and-only DJ Dopey (doing a Jay Dee recognition set), Toronto's hot reggae sensation Trinity Chris, and Montreal's DJ duo, Team Canada (nuff said). Presenters included artists such as Toronto's Brassmunk, J-Diggz, and Montreal's Bless. The crowd consisted mainly of TO and Montreal people - not a surprise considering how far the west coasters had to travel to get here.

The show was hosted by FLOW 93.5's show hosts Mark Strong and Dr. Jay. Some of the highlights of the night included a special appearance by Michael Williams (former Much Music VJ) to welcome the legendary Butcher T to the Stylus DJ Awards Canadian Hall of Fame. Montreal's Butcher T was the first DJ to introduce hip hop and soul to a Canadian audience in the late 70's. Toronto's Sunshine Soundcrew, one of the main DJ crews in the Toronto scene (and the first to include an MC to engage the crowd), were the second to enter the Hall of Fame.

I'll admit it was refereshing to see recognition going to those individuals that are responsible for spreading the love for urban music to listening ears, booty shakers, and consumers. For better or for worse, this award show officially marked DJs on the mainstream map of Canadian music. And it's about time. Regardless of the pre-dominantly commercial nature of the event, this was a moment in Canadian music history where DJs got the official recognition they deserved. So, before the underground begins the usual hateration, it should look at the possibilities a show like this can bring for Canadian DJs.

In the end though, it was all about the T-dot. But come on now, is Canada's Torontocentrism really that surprising? So what if there's all this unrecognized talent across Canada; because in the end, no matter how dope you are, "when you think you got it locked, T dot comin much hotta" - and that's word to Kardi.

May 29, 2006

Swimming in the Dead Sea

It was a chilly, May evening. We were sitting in the front porch of Muna's house, wrapped up in shawls and jackets, yet stubbornly insisting on smoking the argila outside. Four bold women who did not take shit from anyone, not even the weather.

We'd all made a special effort to get together this night. Our friend, Rana, was visiting Toronto from Ramallah, and this was our only opportunity to see her. We smoked, drank Moroccan mint tea, and talked. We heard stories of Rana's new life in Palestine. She was so content. Said she felt at peace, at home. Neither Canada nor Lebanon were home, she said, they were just places where she had passed time.

We listened to her stories. Inhaling and exhaling our feelings of envy with every puff of the argila, hoping that the sweet taste of the strawberry tobacco would soothe that intense craving for home.

Then Rana told us about swimming in the Dead Sea. I have never been there, but as a child, I imagined it to be this magical experience; floating on water, absolutely weightless. As Rana was telling her story, I felt a growing urge to go to there. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to soak my skin in the salty waters of the Dead Sea. I wanted to float, and to have for a minute, a feeling of a peaceful nothingness.

There are places in Middle East painted with thousand of years of stories. There are places so breathtaking it hurts. Rana's presence was a reminder of their existence.

The sad truth is that many of us cannot go to those places freely, or cannot return to them, cannot see them again, or ever see them...

Many of those places now reek of destruction and suffering; even so many years of stories cannot hide the stench...

So I may never be able to swim in the Dead Sea, but I can write it in my stories and in my poems.

I will travel through words.
I will remember through words.
I will continue to paint home with my words.

May 26, 2006

Chat Pure Lyric!

Check this beautifully talented writer who has finally made the way to the blogging world. It's always refreshing and inspiring to have a great new addition to the blogosphere - Chat Pure Lyric is definitely one of them.

Make sure you check these too:
La Libellule, Nowarian and Jasiri

Ah, so many amazing blogs, so little time!

May 25, 2006

The Activist Formerly Known As

I was shaken awake in the early morning, sometime before dawn. Sweat droplets were sliding down my forehead and I could barely breathe. I had had a nightmare. And I could still see the images clearly: picket signs, white boys with dreads, megaphones…

I had dreamt I was an activist again.


Ok, all joking aside, I must admit that I do not look back on my "activist days" so fondly. Why you might ask? Well, it will take a few hours for the complete explanation; but I’ll give you a concise, top-ten version to save you time.

So, here are the top ten reasons as to why I dropped out of my local activist scene:

10) (when I have it) I like to spend money on material things and openly talk about it;

9) I have a superficial side that enjoys flaky conversations (not involving the current state of glocal socio-politics);

8) If I could afford it, I would buy a condo (and a car);

7) I will work for the man in order to pay my bills;

6) Too many male activists wanting to fuck the revolution (if you catch my drift);

5) Too many white activists with bad politics (and hair);

4) Too many Che wannabes;

3) Too many white activists fighting for the rights of poor, people of color instead of building with communities of color who are already fighting that damn fight themselves;

2) Want to engage with my community, and other communities of color, in ways that meaningfully speak to our people (that do not isolate/alientate them).

1) Not interested in preaching to the converted; interested in social justice/change through ways that may not be deemed as “radical” by activists.

So, there you have it. I am uncomfortable with the term "activist" due to certain experiences that led me to become more than disillusioned. I have thought about reappropriating the term, but for the most part, I'm not sure if I want to even associate with it. I feel it's more important to just do your thing without labelling yourself. Self-identification as an "activist" is problematic. Why would you feel the need to label yourself? Just do what you do, and don't worry about the name and the image.

Having said all that, I know there are so many amazing people doing some serious social justice, community work at the grassroots. I couldn't have more respect for these individuals who bust there asses and do the work that is so damn necessary. These are the people who do not have the superstar-activist complex. These are the people who you may not have heard of or even noticed.

And what about the "everyday people" who's existence and presence is resistance in essence?

So I don't know about the term "activist". I just know there are some of us who continue to fight everyday in different ways. This resistance in complicated, but real.

These are just some ideas I'm throwing out there. I realize this is definitely a post that requires a part II. Further explanation is necessary (or is it?)

Until then...

Call for Submissions

The 5th Radical Women of Color Carnival will be held at Fabulosa Mujer's blog on June 4th.

June’s edition will feature grassroots activism; pertaining to how our day to day resistance to the state of the world/nation/state/humanity manifests in our real world actions.

For more details Click Here.

I missed out on the last one (or two??) carnivals, but I'm definitely going to try to submit to this one, and I hope you'll submit as well!


May 23, 2006

Ill Photos - Do Your Thing Girl!

I'm no expert on the art of photography, but all I know is that Tigera Consciente's Photos really got me. There's something about the photos...she's definitely got an eye and the skill to go with it, no doubt!
Click Here to peep this talented woman's photography.

If you're interested in purchasing any of her photos, there's a paypal donation link on her blog. The 8 x 10 digital color prints are $13 and the 12 x 18 are $20 - of course you can donate more if you like.

For details check Tigera's own words

May 19, 2006

A Case of that Ole De La Track
warning: heteronormative content; post includes generalizations that reassert certain gender stereotypes - reader discretion is advised

It's Friday night and I've decided to stay home (perhaps a sign of that hermit thing I was talking about before). Anyway, I'm content. It's going to be a relaxing evening. I've made myself a good, home-cooked meal of spaghetti, a nice salad, and about ready to eat when the phone rings. I take a look at the call display and it's a close friend, so I answer.

After the initial what's up, she gets right into it. Guy trouble. Damn. I pour myself another glass of red wine, sit back and listen. She breaks it all down for me.
"He's confused. But he seemed so cool with things. We got along so well. And you know I'm not that girl!"

It's true. Of all my friends, she is definitely not that type of girl to stress the person she's dating about relationship status. Simply put, she's chill. In fact, she's an amazing woman who has a lot going for her in every way (much like many, many of my single female friends).

So what's his deal?

To cut a long story short, this guy (who apparently is the closest thing to worthwhile) has confessed his inability to put time into the relationship.
"I'm in a selfish place right now. I'm sorry, I'm a wuss."

Yup, another one of those.

So her and I get talking about men [herein read: straight man] and the whole "selfish" thing. It seems that when it comes to taking the relationship to the next level, for certain dude's even just thinking about it freaks them out (in her case, she didn't even say a damn thing). For whatever reason, some guys can't handle the intensity of having a potentially amazing relationship - and they up and bounce. This guy is the case in point. Lucky for her though, he made his confession very early in the relationship - hence, saving her from some serious grief.

So what gives man?

Call me a romantic (or pathetic?) but I'm a sucker for that whole "you and me against the world" bit. I know you know what I'm talking about. That whole, "there's nothing we can't work out" myth that seems to be ingrained into the brains of many women [herein read: straight woman] I know. I mean, yes, women can be selfish too. We also get confused and freak out. But for the most part, it's like we've got the Musiq Soulchild blasting through our headphones:
"it will be just you and me against the world, yeah"
While the dude's are rhyming along to that old De La Soul track. Yes, you know the one...
"it's just me, myself and I"

So I tell my friend that, from one hip hop head to the other, the only half decent advice I can offer her is not to fall for that R&B crap, and just stick to the hip hop!

Speaking of which, where's my 3 Feet High and Rising tape at?

May 15, 2006

Writer's Block or Distraction...or Neither?
(conversations with inanimate objects or
becoming a hermit)

OK. So I need to get my ass in gear and write. But it's tough man, I feel like I'm distracted. Honestly, all I wanna do right now is make music. It's like currently my creative energy is all about sound and less about the written word. (GASP) did I just say that? Are my musical tendencies betraying the writer in me? Or is there room for both? Is this even a question of distraction (procrastination?) or a matter of feeling creative on different levels? Isn't it all about creative energy being channeled in whatever way one is feeling at that point in time? But if I want to eat off my creativity (and pay the rent, etc.) then shouldn't I be focussing on one thing...containing the creativity? I mean, you can't really do everything, or can you?

I wanna be a renaissance woman godamnit!!

So, I'm sitting here at this pathetic excuse for a desk (it actually belongs to a hobbit), and I'm looking over to the corner of the room where I can feel the stare of my guitar and keyboard, they're putting on the pressure, like,
"Hey, stop trying to write man, come over here and forget about the damn computer" (yes, inanimate objects talking)
So, I contemplate for a sec, take a look at the blank screen, and finally say,
"Whatever, I can do both!"
I mean, if I divide my time wisely, I can do everything, right? (how beautiful is that naive optimism?)

So there you have it. I'm going to borrow my friend's turntables and soon it will be me, my music and my writing...Then, I will turn into a hermit and that will be it...PQ, not to be seen or heard from for a while...

Just call it The Hiatus
(and hopefully not of the Diamond D variety)


May 10, 2006

Bless the Sufi poets and their words...

Mowlana Jalaledin Mohammad Balkhi (known to the western world as Rumi) is one of the poets of my language whose words I feel with a particular intensity. With just a few words, in the most succinct manner, he reminds you of what you need to strive towards understanding in life.

...embracing Truth, Love, and letting go.

Here are his words (of course not in the beauty of the original language, Farsi)

The fire of Love blazed in my heart
and consumed everything.
My books, my erudition and my mind
I put away on a shelf.
Now I only write poems.

May 5, 2006

I write in hopes of words sealing the deep gashes in my heart
I write to feel the soothing rhythm of syllables fill the silence of this empty page
I write to stop the ceaseless flow of sorrow water from my eyes
I write to keep thoughts from taking over every muscle in this body
I write to keep you away from me.
I write because I love you

May 4, 2006

Been Caught Up...

I haven't been able to post anything over the last little while (or check some of my favorite blogs) but will make sure to do as soon as I get a chance. Life stuff...been caught up.

In the meanwhile,

All my women of color writers and trans writers of color, check this new blog space, Securing Our Writing, for information around writing and publishing opportunities.

For more information on the blog and submitting information, please email

Creative Commons License
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