Segregation and Appropriation

People self-segregate because it’s a natural reaction to one’s material and non-material culture.  World views, mindsets, race, class, sexual orientation, and more have always been the basis for human self-segregation.  When a group of people share common interests and values, the tendency is to self-segregate.  Another way to describe this behavior is to say that people form cliques.

Don’t just take my word on this.  Sociology researchers Siwei Cheng and Yu Xie at the University of Michigan conducted a study that proved that when choosing friends, humans usually establish close friendships with those of a similar racial background.  It’s just how we are regardless of our ethnicity.

What does this mean when it comes to cultural appropriation?

It means that we, as humans, have created a situation where none of us can win.  If we keep to ourselves and reject all cultural appropriation, we are segregationists.  If we blend other cultures into our own, we are integrationists and guilty of cultural appropriation.

That’s quite the kettle of fish, wouldn’t you say?

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Kettle of fish is an idiom that originated in Britain and dates back to 1735.

If we are not completely segregationist (which is offensive to society), we are guilty of cultural appropriation (which is offensive to society).  In many respects, the situation is not unlike the oft-quoted double-edged question for which there is no answer, “Do you still beat your wife and children?”

Perhaps the answer is in adhering to a set of guidelines that clearly define what is acceptable cultural appropriation versus unacceptable cultural appropriation, as determined by the majority from which the culture is being appropriated.

Of course, this would require a further splintering and segregating of people for the purpose of ensuring that each group’s voice would be heard and respected.   The problem with this lies with those who are of mixed cultural backgrounds which constitutes the vast majority of people, especially in America.

What about Americans who are naturalized citizens?  Do they get a say in what is and isn’t cultural appropriation when it comes to the culture into which they were born but not about American culture?  Or do they get not say in either the culture into which they were born and the culture they chose?

What about first or second or even tenth generation Americans?  Do they get a say in what is and isn’t cultural appropriation, not only from an American perspective but also from the perspective of the multiple ancestries that may be part of their heritage?

What about those who are hyphenated Americans?  Would they get to speak for two cultures and two cultures only?

And what happens if a common ground for each culture isn’t arrived at in a timely fashion?  Who then decides what is and isn’t cultural appropriation?

With such a complex situation to resolve, an answer will only be found by way of respectful dialogue.  What are your thoughts on this matter?  How would you address the issue of segregation and appropriation?

Elyse Bruce


Q&A With Children’s Author Elyse Bruce

Writing for children isn’t as easy as you might think. Shana Gorian does a Q&A interview with the author of the Missy Barrett books, and it’s well worth reading!

Rosco's Reading Room

Today I’d like to introduce the award-winning and wildly prolific author, illustrator, songwriter, and composer, Elyse Bruce. Her children’s book character, Missy Barrett, travels the world on countless adventures. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading about Elyse (and Missy) and their many amazing pursuits!

Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your books.

A. Stories – whether literary, musical, or visual – have been part of who I am since I was old enough to hold a crayon. Long before I could read and write, I was creating stories and sharing them with whatever audience I had.

The first story I remember making up goes back to when I was three. We were on a family vacation that required hours of highway driving. When I was growing up, cars didn’t have movie screens for passengers in the back seat. Kids didn’t have iPods and tablets that would keep…

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Testing The Transgender Twist

A number of companies and recording artists have stated to the media that they are boycotting North Carolina because of HB2 colloquially known as the Bathroom Bill.  What they seem to object most to is that the Bill states one must use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender listed on a person’s birth certificate.

Very recently, the Federal government sent a letter to school boards directing them, under threat of having certain funding removed, to allow students identifying as transgender to use the restrooms, changing rooms, and locker rooms that is in keeping with their preferred gender regardless of the gender listed on their birth certificate.

Restroom and Locker Rooms_Government LetterIt doesn’t end with just restrooms, changing rooms, and locker rooms.  It extends to sleeping accommodations for overnight field trips and housing accommodations.

Housing and Overnight Accommodations_Government LetterThat may be all well and good among the LGBTQIA community and their supporters and allies, however, this causes other serious problems, some of which impact on crime and the justice system.

You see, just as recently, the media reported on a 15-year-old female student who went into the female restroom facilities followed by 25 (allegedly) male students.  She then had sexual relations with these 25 (allegedly) male students, 16 of whom have been disciplined (with no mention in the news story as to what that discipline was, or why the other 9 were not disciplined).

25 males and 1 female_bathroom sex_2
In its defense, the school’s spokesperson explained the school’s stance to the media.

25 males and 1 female_bathroom sex
What’s confusing about the school’s stance is that the norms and rules aren’t clearly stated, so how are students to know which norms and which rules to adhere to, and which norms and which rules to ignore?

But therein lies a bigger issue with broader legal implications.  You see, a student who is gender fluid has a built-in defense that no lawyer or court can strike down as long as the letter’s directives are followed.   This is because a student who is gender fluid may be one gender or another one minute, and the opposite gender the next … or both genders at the same time, or neither gender at all.

Gender Fluid Flux
Before anyone accuses me of misrepresenting the gender fluid people in the LGBTQIA community, let me point out that Lee Luxion said this was true of those who identify as gender fluid.  Surely someone who identifies as gender fluid themselves as Lee Luxion does would know the ins-and-outs of being gender fluid, and whether they are male at one point, female at another point, both genders at yet another point, and neither gender at some point.

The bathroom bill (as it’s known) wasn’t created to discriminate against those who are transgender.  It was created to prevent predators, perverts, and pedophiles from appropriating the term to take advantage of the opportunity to get closer to targeted victims.

With regards to the 15-year-old female in the female restroom who had relations with 25 (allegedly) male students who followed her into the restroom.  If criminal charges are brought against any of the allegedly male students, any lawyer defending such an allegedly male student will trot out the Gender Fluid Defense.

Precedent may be set that says that if the accused was female upon entering the restroom or changing room or locker room, then became male leading to sexual relations with a female student in the restroom or changing room or locker room, and midway through the act, became neither gender, that such a student cannot be held responsible for something that nobody did.

Think about it.  In a world that has seen lawyers successful use the Asperger’s Defense, this possibility is very real.

Elyse Bruce

Successful Negotiating For All

Most people cringe a little when they hear the word negotiate.  It’s a word that some misinterpret as meaning a power struggle will ensue where one will be crowned the victor and the other will get what’s left over.  That’s not a negotiation:  That’s a battle.  If you want to create a win-win-win contract, it’s important to understand the rules of engagement when it comes to negotiations.

Negotiate For What You Want

Far too often, entrepreneurs negotiate for what they think they can get based on what they think other entrepreneurs are getting.  That’s not the wa to negotiate for what you want.  That kind of negotiating will leave you feeling unfulfilled and, quite likely, used.

If you want creative control over the project, ask for creative control.  But only ask for it if you really want it.  Asking for creative control because you think you should ask for it — or because you’re a control freak and don’t really understand what’s involved in having creative control — is a set up for failure.  Your failure.

If you want weekly meetings with the other party because you see value in nipping any potential problems in the bud, don’t settle for monthly meetings where such problems will only compound themselves.  If you want a specific level of input from the other party to help keep the project on time and on budget, negotiate for it.  And don’t negotiate for something on the basis that you heard that it’s what you’re supposed to negotiate in your contract.

Don’t Negotiate Against The Most Recent Offer

Negotiating isn’t about reacting to what the other person said last or put into the unsigned contract most recently.  In other words, you have to keep things in context and consider all aspects of the contract, not just the most bits and pieces most recently discussed.  It’s the details that matter!

If the other party isn’t willing to meet with you every week because they have other commitments that need their personal attention, but they’re willing to exchange emails with you twice a week to stay on top of things, that’s worth considering.  The other party isn’t saying NO to communicating; they’re suggesting an alternate form of communication to the one you wanted.

When the other party counters your offer with something that’s more amenable to their needs, consider how this may be beneficial to you, and understand that the negotiation is what matters most, not the latest comments.

Tunnel Vision Will Hurt You

If you are only able to focus on what you want without being able to consider the options being offered, chances are what you want and what you get won’t be the same thing.  What you get may be no contract at all, and only you know if no contract is better than a negotiated contract.

For example, if you have your heart set on a set dollar-and-cents amount, that’s perfectly fine.  However, if the other party is only able to pay you a set dollar-and-cents fee along with discounts on items you need for your own business or for another project, that may very well be worth considering.

There’s a saying about not seeing the forest for the trees (in other words, putting too much stock on the details instead of looking at the big picture).  If you’re so set on getting every detail of your negotiation locked into place, you could miss out on other opportunities in the immediate and long term future.

You Have Two Ears And One Mouth For A Reason

If something is a good deal today, it will be a good deal tomorrow, and that’s why it’s important to listen to what the other party with whom you are negotiating have to say.  You already know what you would like from this contract, but you don’t know everything they have to offer or everything that the contract entails.  What’s more, you have no idea of their perception of what you’re asking for may be.

When they object to parts of what you want, ask them to explain exactly what it is they find objectionable.  Don’t assume they’re wrong.  Listen to their interpretation of what they feel you are asking for in the contract.  There’s a reason why the word is negotiate.  It’s because when you negotiate, you and the other party are looking to reach a compromise that benefits both you and the other party, not nailing down an agreement that favors one side or the other.

Final Note

Negotiations don’t have to be terse. They don’t have to be adversarial.  They don’t have to end with one party feeling as if they got the short end of the stick.  Good negotiations pave the way for future business interactions and builds strong business relationships.  This is why it’s important to pay attention to the nuggets of information that are dropped along the way when discussing a mutually beneficial contract for all involved.

Elyse Bruce

Making Sense Of Yesterday’s Attack In Ottawa

My work day had barely begun when news hit that a terrorist attack had broken out in Ottawa at the War Memorial and on Parliament Hill.  Conflicting reports were being thrown onto the Internet like bullets being fired in the marbled hallway of the Centre Block.  For hours afterwards, Ottawa was on lockdown as the Ottawa police, the OPP, the RCMP, and the Canadian Armed Forces joined forces and worked together to secure not only Parliament Hill, but Ottawa as a whole.

The shooter was identified as a “high risk traveller” by the federal government and his passport had been seized.

His step-father was a Libyan businessman, Bulgasem Zehaf, who returned to Libya in 2011.  After marrying the boy’s mother on July 15, 1989, he adopted her son on December 14, 1995, and the boy named Michael Joseph Hall at birth became Michael Joseph Zehaf-Bibeau (he was 13 years old at the time of adoption).

The step-father travelled between Canada and Libya for business over the years, and he found occasion to take Michael with him from time to time.

Zehaf and Bibeau divorced in 1999 … four years after Zehaf adopted Michael.

His mother is a Canadian woman from Manitoba named Susan Biebeau — a high-level federal staffer.

Susan Bibeau holds a Bachelor of Law degree from the Université de Montréal, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Concordia University, as well as a graduate certificate in business administration from the Public Administration University (Université du Québec à Montréal).  Since 2012, she has been the Deputy Chairperson of Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada after serving from 2008 to 2012 as the Director General of the Immigration Division.  From 2005 to 2008, she was the Director of the Immigration Division for the Eastern Region where she managed the delivery of the Immigration Division (ID) program and advised the Immigration Division on technical and legal issues.

There are those who may point to the fact that he was allegedly bullied as a child for being overweight but can that really be used as an excuse for the criminal activities that seem to be a core aspect of the shooter’s adult life?

There are others who point to the fact that in high school, he allegedly had a serious drug problem, and used marijuana and acid.

Michael had a troubled and troubling past that allegedly started with a credit card fraud charge in November 2001.  Two years after that, in 2003, he was incarcerated for 2 years on robbery and weapons charges.  Between 2003 and 2011, there was a flurry of other lesser charges such as drug charges involving marijuana and PCP, as well as possession of a dangerous weapon.  And in 2011, there were charges of uttering threats (found guilty) and robbery in Vancouver.

It has been alleged that he had an acquaintance with 25-year-old accused B.C. terrorist, Hasibullah Yusufzai, who traveled to Syria in the hopes of joining a terrorist group there.  Interpol has a red notice out on Yusufzai.

And while it’s true that Michael seems to have held extremist views and was prone to criminal and violent activity, it should be noted that mainstream media has reported Michael had expressed to others that he believed the devil was after him.

At this point, more important than pointing fingers at what’s to blame for how yesterday’s tragedy happened is making sure that these horrors don’t happen again.  I don’t know what the solution is.  I don’t believe anyone knows what the solution is.

What I do know is that the world is becoming an uglier and uglier place these days, and that needs to be addressed — in our countries, in our states and provinces, in our communities, in our schools, in our homes, and in ourselves.  Peaceful existence doesn’t happen by accident.  It takes a concerted, constant effort on everyone’s part.

Now ask yourself this question:  What have you done to make the world a more peaceful, nurturing place to live?  Then ask yourself this question:  What else can I do to make the world a more peaceful, nurturing place to live?

In the days, weeks, months,and years that come, don’t glibly pass along the saying “be the change you want” on social media.  Become part of the process that will create the change you want, and make that change a change for the better.  Platitudes accomplish nothing when no action is taken to make things happen.

Elyse Bruce

Sugarlands Valley Trail

Back in the Great Smoky Mountains again, the photos and video from Video #8 of the “A Month Of Sundays” series were shot one cold January day.  The water was roaring and rushing down the mountainside along the trail.  Just a few yards away from the torrential waters were remnants of a fireplace that once warmed a house that no longer stands.

Photography / Videography:  Elyse Bruce
Original Music:  Elyse Bruce
Copyright © Elyse Bruce, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

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