June 21, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. This one is about someone in a community of queer women back in Canada. We’re going to call her “Thomas,” because she used she/her pronouns but kept a similarly masculine name; and had no interest in physical transitioning; and dressed in a decidedly masculinized manner. Amid the ongoing flurry of “gender-critical” discourse on social media, I find myself thinking about Thomas a lot… because, in many ways, she was exactly the sort of threat that… Read more

June 15, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. It’s been a rotten week on a personal level, and another heavy one for the world. The discourses I have been advancing on social media relate to Canadian “polite” racism, international racism, trans/non-binary-inclusivity, and the need for massive economic and institutional reforms to create a safer and more just world. And I suspect all readers here have a general sense of where I fall on all these issues… but perhaps many of you don’t know… Read more

June 7, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. (No, not my explanation for a month’s absence–that was in my last essay, Part I.) This is a story of contradictory rhetoric among progressivists, and a collision-point nearly upon us, in how we tell stories about some of the most vital issues of our day. Obviously, plenty of collision-points are already upon us: In recent weeks we have seen the streets of the U.S., and the world in solidarity, filled with them. Police brutality and the racialized… Read more

June 7, 2020

Let’s begin with an explanation of the last month’s silence. (Hello. How are you? I hope you and yours are safe and well!) I’m currently undocumented in Colombia. It couldn’t really be helped, but that didn’t stop me from trying, desperately, to fix the situation on my own. My work-visa expired in the middle of an ever-extending lockdown (technically still in place until the end of June). For weeks prior, with Migration closed, and only tourist-permit-class visas granted explicit exemptions,… Read more

May 2, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. In my last essay, I mentioned the struggle to advocate for other people without needing to be directly related to the issues they’re having. Today, I want to expand on another part of the struggle for better humanism: avoiding the use of other people’s plights to remind you of the relative ease of your own. I had a run-in with such an experience just this week — a week in which, on top of my… Read more

April 27, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. I’ve been reluctant to write here because of a situation I know will inform my writing — and not necessarily for the better. For the last few weeks, I have been trying to find a pathway to apply for a second visa here in Colombia — which is no easy feat amid lockdown, with the government closing migration services until May 30, well past the expiration date of my first visa. A new, online tool… Read more

April 10, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. I don’t talk as much about Judaism here, in part because I’ve known more Jewish atheists than Jewish theists, and even at a young age the Jewish people in my community (Toronto) articulated awareness that many of Judaism’s central stories didn’t happen. Major Israeli/Jewish media outlets like Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, and Jewish Journal are quite blunt about this, every Passover in particular: archaeological data makes plain the earthly fabrications in this supernatural tale. But maybe… Read more

April 6, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. I didn’t share one last week, because I was still in processing-mode. I think a lot of us have been during this pandemic. I shut off my personal Facebook for a greater sense of calm; and then Friday, I deactivated Twitter, too. (This upcoming week is Semana Santa, which means my online teaching schedule drops away, and my novel-writing time surges. Fingers crossed I can finally finish the first draft of book two!) Before I… Read more

March 23, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. Colombia is about to undergo two weeks of mandatory lockdown, from March 24 to April 13, to protect against COVID-19 dissemination. We’ve already been in voluntary social-distancing for two weeks, but the hoarding behaviours didn’t really kick in until Tuesday, when hard-discount stores and major supermarkets alike had to implement changes in how people could access the stores and what they could buy. Medellín has also been under curfew since Friday, and citizens in their… Read more

March 16, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. Teaching requires great emotional dexterity whether it’s in Colombia or Canada, among children or adults. When you teach more discussion-friendly material–such as literature, ELL, social studies, and political science–you will run into moments when students disclose extreme events in their lives. (If that happens in math or physics classes, too, apologies for the exclusionary language!) For me in Colombia, I have quite a few students who speak as a matter of course about losing family… Read more

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