On American Death Cults and Numbered Companies Not Catching the Coronavirus

Tea & Two Slices is a long-running local news round-up by NEEDS frontman and veteran dishwasher Sean Orr, who lives and works in Gastown, deeply aware of his privilege.

Dear Vancouver: we have so much further to go. While nothing short of a real revolution will bring about the permanent structural change we need, we are at least progressing. Defund the VPD is now a mainstream rallying cry; thousands of Vancouverites marched in the streets on Friday afternoon for Juneteenth; school boards across Canada are removing police from schools; companies everywhere are having to finally having to reckon with their racist roots, from Eskimo Pie and Aunt Jemima to Nascar and Redskins; YouTube finally banned Canadian Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes; Ben Mulroney cited white privilege in stepping down; and the Head of UBC board of governors resigned after liking racist, far-right comments on Twitter.

But there’s more work to be done.

The Edmonton Eskimos are still a team; we were never taught that Canada had slaves; Walmart Canada is selling All Lives Matter shirts; Canadians are outraged that Indigenous People’s Day just so happens to fall on Father’s Day this year; UBC needs fundamental change to address their recent history of hate; Jagmeet Singh was turfed from Parliament because apparently being called ‘racist’ is more offensive than racism itself; because our military gifted 2,012 assault rifles to our police departments; and because another person of colour was murdered during a wellness check (Family of 62-year-old man fatally shot by police in Mississauga, Ont. calls for public inquiry).

Half-assed reforms like body cameras or VPD’s cultural sensitivity training or Kennedy Stewart’s call to end street checks aren’t going to cut it. After-all, identity-based street checks are already not allowed and cops do them anyway. We need an entire rethink about the police, but more urgently we need them to stop doing wellness checks immediately (Surveillance footage shows violent moments of RCMP wellness check on B.C. nursing student).

We have so much more work to do to understand how power dynamics work in systemic racism. It’s bad enough the Vancouver School board voted against suspending School Liaison Officers, but when a trustee says it’s because we should hear from white people, we have a big problem: Vancouver trustee emphasizes need to hear from white students on school liaison officer future.

“You know, when you look at it, the Caucasian kids are actually the visible minority, so, when we get a sense from the population of our secondary schools and winter schools I think it’s really important to hear what they have to say about it, and their feelings of the relationships that have been developed over the years,” Fraser Ballantyne, one of six trustees to vote down a motion to immediately remove officers from schools, said Monday.

Look, Fraser…I know Merriam-Webster only just changed their definition of racism to include the systemic manner in which Black and Indigenous people are routinely oppressed but that’s no fucking excuse for a school trustee. Shame on you.

Shame on us: Local government in Metro Vancouver is 90% white — but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Hey, remember when Kennedy Stewart campaigned and won on a promise to implement a ward system?

It’s built into the fabric of our cities — Urban planner insists that zoning is racist. It’s almost as though the entire system called ‘capitalism’ is itself exclusionary and racist.

Bartholomew’s recommendations for Vancouver’s streetscape, parks, schools, and zoning laid the foundation for the growth of the city’s exclusive single-family neighbourhoods.

“Bartholomew endorsed exclusionary aspects of zoning” Sam Sullivan says. “In the U.S., he claimed that zoning could prevent movement into finer residential districts by coloured people.”

Exhibit B: Whose Streets? Black Streets.

The fact that racism determines policy is not statistically debatable. Racism insidiously finds its way into “livability” programs with stated goals of urban renewal, as we saw when Vancouver aimed to drive a highway through Hogan’s Alley in the early 1970s, intentionally decimating an entire Black community through crime prevention, design, displacement and policing under a historic white spatial order.

Half of poll respondents of Chinese ancestry faced insults or name-calling due to COVID-19 outbreak. Totally not surprising, especially when you read the Facebook comments on this article. Nobody gives a shit that your son feels like a foreigner in his home town, Penny.

This is what we mean when we say racism is systemic — It’s built into the system. This isn’t an anomaly. Racism is built into our health care system from the top down: Claims of B.C. hospital racism where staff guessed alcohol level of Indigenous patients spark investigation.

It’s built into our justice system: No jail time for B.C. man found guilty of running over sex worker with ATV. Guilty of assaulting sex worker in 2013. Guilty of assaulting sex worker with gun in 2017. Body of dead teenager Traci Genereaux found on family farm in 2017. Guilty of putting spike trap on road near his house to disable a woman’s car. Found guilty on Friday of ramming another sex worker with his ATV, giving her injuries that included a broken tailbone. He’s allowed to be at home, on his farm, next to a Reserve. Tell me one more time that white privilege is a myth. I dare you.

Meanwhile: Not even the pandemic slowed Vancouver real estate. Why would it? It’s not like any real actual human people who would be most affected by COVID could afford homes in the first place. The last time I checked, numbered companies couldn’t catch the virus.

The people that are most likely to be affected are renters with already low-paying jobs. Especially with this surprise missing CERB money it’s time to say no to evictions and no to rent debt: An Open Letter to Minister Selina Robinson, Premier John Horgan, and MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert.

And then there’s small businesses. We’ve had 3 months to get our shit together. COVID-19 pandemic and taxes threaten Commercial Drive. Not sure if I’ve said it recently, but landlords are the fucking worst.

Like many small-business owners, Fuoco sank under the weight of a triple-net lease: He was responsible for rent, property taxes, water, sewer, garbage collection and insurance — all costs that have skyrocketed.

Cool your jets: B.C. runs risk of rapid rebound in COVID-19 cases if contacts exceed 65% of normal, health officials say. Like I said before, I really don’t want to be right about reopening too soon.

Build the wall: RCMP fined 7 Americans last week for stopping to sightsee in Banff National Park. If you wanna live in a bizarre death cult do it in your own country.

Vancouver city council passes motion to allow alcohol consumption in select public places. Don’t get too excited. You know they’re going to fuck it up. “Select places” being a weird fenced off wharf middle of Trout Lake, the north corner of the concrete park in Yaletown, and underneath BC Place.

Oh, and you’re allowed one drink on the left hand side of the overpass if you can make cycle up the 45% grade in Stanley Park: Stanley Park reopens to cars; Vancouver Aquarium to reopen Friday.

Foreign bonus: Scientists find huge ring of ancient shafts near Stonehenge. No comment.

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