Letters to the Editors

Not the majority

Dear Editors,

Re: “Local trio face the music” (Oct. 20, 2009).

The majority of live music that gets programmed in Kingston is attended by people who fit, in one way or another, into the majority. The majorities of people in Kingston are white, heterosexual and probably raised in monotheist religions.

When you’re in the majority, you often don’t see how people from the margins feel marginalized. Unless you’re willing to open your eyes, you won’t see it.

Kingston has an ‘indie-rock’ and ‘folk’ scene thanks to efforts by a few committed people, but that’s all. I support these efforts and have attended some of those shows, but they do fit into a genre. That genre tends to exclude other genres of music and the people who make it.

For example, women have known for years that rock music is a bastion of men. Yes, some women rockers have made it and some have made music that has a different aesthetic. Folk music might be more gender-democratic, but it’s far from being racially or ethnically democratic.

The category for music from other cultures is hugely problematic—for example, world music. In other words, the ‘mostly-white’ music gets to have pseudo all-encompassing names, like pop, folk, rock. If it doesn’t fit in, it gets labeled ‘world.’ Folk music and indie music are still, for the most part, white and heterosexual and often fronted or dominated by men.

I’m white and want to say to my white apple-crispy friends: don’t expect people of colour to teach you to be more inclusive. Do the work to figure it out yourselves. If you feel a bit of discomfort having your privilege pointed out to you, it still doesn’t compare to the feeling of being marginalized daily and systemically.

I promoted a concert in June that lost money. Why? Because the band was called MEN and was a dance-music band fronted by a lesbian. People probably thought, why should I go to that? But the music was awesome and the band was from New York City. People should have gone to it.

I have no regrets putting on that show, but the experience tells me the road to making Kingston a more diverse musical landscape will be difficult. People come out to what they know meaning there will be more folk music and indie-rock for the foreseeable future. Right now the only truly diverse game in town is the Soul Shakedown, and that’s once a month if we’re lucky. Even CFRC, with its really diverse programming, is dominated by mostly white music made by mostly heterosexual men.

But, as Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be a part of your revolution.” So I’ll be listening and dancing with the rest of them.

Jessy Jazz,
Co-host of Gender Bender
CFRC 101.9FM

AMS letdown

Dear Editors,

Re: “Prospecting the oil sands” (Oct. 23, 2009).

It’s clear a change is necessary to slow global warming—one exponentially larger than creating public transit and buying fuel efficient cars—the ‘solutions’ listed by Louis Tsilivis in the “Prospecting the oil sands” debate. The problem isn’t individual actions—it’s heavy industry and our government’s policies. It’s the tar sands and the Harper government creating special loopholes so this industry can continue to produce the majority of Canada’s emissions.

Yet the AMS sent a message to all of its students that this isn’t important, that they are unwilling to change and that it’s not our responsibility to lead this change.

Who’s listening to sense here, instead of worrying about how it would hurt their pocket books? I’m extremely disappointed by the lack of regard the AMS has for our future.

Alison Preece,
ArtSci ’08

Value lives, not profit

Dear Editors,

Re: “Prospecting the oil sands” (Oct. 23, 2009).

Last year I was heavily involved in Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change and have been following their campaigns pretty closely even though I’ve graduated.

I’m writing this letter because I was pretty disgusted with many comments on the Journal’s website in response to the opinion piece “Prospecting the oil sands.” I usually try to stay away from reading these as anonymous comments can get a little out of hand, but I think comparing divesting from the tar sands to being Marxist is a little outrageous.

For me—and I would hope every single person that I know—it’s a no-brainer to choose people’s lives threatened by toxic tailings from the tar sands and protecting our planet from global warming pollution over mining for the dirtiest oil on earth for profits.

It’s a simple question: do you value people’s lives or profits more? It’s a moral question Queen’s students should have been able to vote on during the Fall Referendum and one the country will have to decide on very soon.

In just over 40 days, the international community will meet in Copenhagen to create a global climate treaty. China, India and Europe have said they will take bold steps towards cutting global warming pollution if Canada and the United States follow suit.

The U.S. is in the process of passing the most far-reaching global warming legislation ever voted on in congress. Will Canada enter Copenhagen leading or will they continue to obstruct international progress on the climate and “drill baby drill” for dirty tar sands oil?

Aaron Myran, ArtSci ’09

AMS should divest

Dear Editors,

Re: “Prospecting the oil sands” (Oct. 23, 2009) I’m personally embarrassed to say I’ve ever worked for a student government that would vote down a plebiscite question that seeks to protect the lives of many Canadians.

I served as the AMS Sustainability Coordinator in 2007-08 and currently work as a tar sands organizer in Toronto, Ontario.

The tar sands are literally the most destructive industrial project on this planet.

It’s destroying Alberta’s freshwater resources, violating aboriginal rights and is the main reason Canada can’t meet its international climate agreements.

Divesting endowment funds from any company financing or contracting in the Albertan oil industry would put Queen’s students on the map.

They would be showing they’re willing to take a leadership role—not just with regards to the environment but also to human rights.

The tar sands are preventing aboriginal people from maintaining their cultural identities by destroying the land on which they live, affecting their water and food resources and causing high rates of rare cancers, cardiovascular diseases and asthma.

By not supporting this plebiscite question, the AMS Assembly has shown they aren’t willing to act in the best interest of aboriginal students at Queen’s.

With a school known for its “Culture of Whiteness,” and its many accounts of racist activities, it would be in the best interest of the AMS to show they want to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in Canada and indigenous peoples at Queen’s.

If Queen’s is producing the leaders of tomorrow, I’m ashamed and scared of what will become of this country.

For the past several years, during the United Nations’ climate negotiations, Canada’s been known for being the country stalling the climate change negotiations.

At the most recent intercessional negotiations—interim negotiations between the annual UN Climate Conference—78 countries walked out of a plenary session because of Canada’s behaviour.

The tar sands are the main contributor to Canada’s emissions, producing more than 16 per cent of Canada’s emissions.

By refusing to support the tar sands, Queen’s would gain positive media coverage.

If Queen’s students want to make headlines, they should do it by actually being the leaders of tomorrow—but that requires action today.

Maryam Adrangi,
ArtSci ’08
AMS Sustainability Coordinator 2007-08
Rainforest Action Network Toronto Campaigner

Green isn’t a fad

Dear Editors,

I guess what they say about “going green” becoming a fad is true. I hate to admit I’ve fallen to the attacks of the “who cares” of the world, but a recent campus activity has led me to believe that those ‘Green is the new Black’ and ‘I like people who recycle’ tees are really just a shallow attempt to jump on the bandwagon.

On Oct. 26, a special guest visited our campus thanks to the efforts of Queen’s Hospitality. Chef Michael Smith visited Leonard Hall, lending his expertise to the menu for the day and his smile to cameras outside.

I’m wondering why Queen’s Hospitality felt the need to honor our “special guest” with the usage of paper plates and plastic cutlery?

One would assume those in charge of this event would want to take advantage of the publicity that came with Michael Smith’s visit by showing off Queen’s dedication to sustainable practices. Not to mention how detrimental it is when disrespecting our planet becomes acceptable when a celebrity is in tow—that’s the culture of sustainability.

At the risk of sounding ignorant, I’m not going to venture a guess as to how many people ate at Leonard on Monday. Similarly, I’m not going to guess how many paper plates and bowls were thrown away and plastic cutlery sets discarded.

However, anyone who visited Leonard would have seen a minimum of half a dozen environmentally un-friendly items on each tray. I wonder how many plastic garbage bags that filled.

I’m embarrassed for Queen’s Hospitality services for faking sensitivity to our planet. However, my respect for Queen’s students leads me to believe I’m not the only one outraged by this public disregard for modern sustainability.

Queen’s students—prove me wrong. Let Queen’s Hospitality know your discontent with their actions, because I enjoy rockin’ my ‘I like people who recycle’ tee.

Chloe Brogan,
ArtSci ’13

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