– Mark E. Smith

You do it the way the recently-deceased writer and activist June Callwood did (“White woman’s burden,” Adele Freedman, Saturday Night, April 1993):

“I’ll give you Founding 101,” Callwood said brightly…. “First you go and meet people in the field – the AIDS Committee of Toronto, for instance. ‘Do you want or need a hospice but there’s no time to do it? Do you mind if I try?’ Then you phone a few people who are experts in the field – doctors, public-health officials, you network of friends – and you say: ‘We’re going to found a hospice – will you attend?’ It’s going to be a big meeting then. I have phoned the Ontario Ministry of Health and said to somebody: ‘We’re going to have a hospice and we don’t want to make a mistake’ – so they send the director of the District Health Council. He arrives at a huge meeting and just about faints.

“We’ve got all the experts you can find in one room. I do minutes. I write down all the names – so-and-so and what they do. I mail that to Health and Welfare in Ottawa, the prime minister, the provincial ministry of health, the premier, the medical officer of health in Toronto, and the mayor. Their secretaries open a file – and you’ve only had one meeting! At the first meeting, if something doesn’t look as if it will work, you’ll never see them again. So we strike three committees: one to search for a house, a programme committee, and a fundraising committee – and: ‘Each of you, which committee do you choose?’ – and they’re all signed up. You never have a meeting where nothing happens, you keep the minutes flowing, and you never act as if it won’t happen – never – and it happens! A year and a half later you’re cutting the ribbon.” […]

Of course, if you wake up in the morning and all you see is racism for the rest of the day, this nonconsensus approach is not going to work. Or rather, you won’t let it.

Someone else said: “When there’s a service coming up, there should be at least one more board representative on the organizing committee.” June looked around: “Anyone want to be on the committee?” She pointed around with her finger and said: “You.” It was Zina Haong, a Korean-Canadian, another new woman-of-colour board member. “That was a weird way to be asked to be on a committee. She wouldn’t have done that to a white woman. I’m part Asian, I know how people perceive Asian people – as people who will join a committee and not cause trouble.” Coramai had no way of knowing Callwood’s finger was sore from all the pointing it had done in thirty years. It was all there in Founding 101.

Not to make too much of an example of her, but what has Zina Hoang accomplished since April 1993? What did June Callwood accomplish?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.04.17 15:33. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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