Author: Rhianna Jackson-Kelso

Survivors refuse to be silenced

­­Let’s say that it’s been a tough few weeks. Especially in Toronto, where issues surrounding marginalized voices silenced by the system have been very close to the surface. After an investigation spanning several months, it was announced on March 18 that the anonymous police officer responsible for the death of 45-year-old Andrew Loku would not face any criminal charges. On March 24, after a trial spanning nearly two months, Jian Ghomeshi was found not guilty on all charges. While the latter has been given extensive media coverage since Ghomeshi’s dismissal from the CBC in October 2014, the dialogue has not focused on the perspectives or voices of the complainants. Coverage of Loku’s murder has—unfortunately but not unsurprisingly, given the media’s shameful track record regarding news coverage concerning violence against people of colour—not been nearly so consistent or abundant. Too often, the voices of victims and survivors are denied a platform and ultimately silenced at a legal level by a system designed to maintain the oppression of marginalized groups. In such circumstances, peaceful protests and rallies can function as a powerful way to amplify these voices. This week, the citizen response to the aforementioned rulings has been overwhelming, and has served to increase media coverage of these systemic injustices. It’s also managed to foster a sense of solidarity that spans multiple and connecting communities. The Toronto coalition of the activist...

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Stress, silence, and mental health in academia

One of the most pertinent issues plaguing the discussion of mental health in our society is its lack of normalization. As Bell’s annual “Let’s Talk Day”, which occurred on January 27 this year, implies, talking about mental health and the stigma surrounding it is key to increasing awareness and decreasing stigmatization. While there were certainly no shortage of detailed and encouraging posts on the topic on social media that day and in the few days following, this is unfortunately one of the only times of year where it’s an open topic of discussion. On university campuses, especially at a university as large and academically competitive as the University of Toronto, a continuous and open conversation on the topic of mental health is incredibly important. While it’s common for students to trade stories—in person and on social media—about how little sleep they’ve gotten, how many essays they have due at the end of the week, or how far over the recommended daily dose of caffeine they currently are, there is much less open discourse about mental health and how it affects student life. While it’s evident that not everyone is breezing through their courses, it can be difficult to express or acknowledge problems that might go beyond typical academic challenges if no one talks about them. To speak from personal experience, it took me until November of my fourth year...

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Don’t tell me to chill out

[lead]An argument against chill culture [/lead] For as long as I can remember, I’ve been hearing some variation of the phrase “chill out” from my peers. In elementary school I was no stranger to the term “spaz,” and while my first encounters with it struck me as cruel and unfair, I quickly learned that actively mitigating my emotional responses to things was the easiest way to hold onto a friend group. By the time I reached high school, I was an expert at pretending not to care about things that upset me. I came to be known as the quiet,...

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Responsibility in the Public Sphere

When many people first heard of the terror attacks in Paris on November 13, their first reaction was to check the Internet. Whether finding out in person or over text message, it took most people only a few seconds to switch over to Google to check what major news outlets were saying about the events that were unfolding. Even as the attacks were ongoing, the ability to switch between Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and major news websites provided the illusion of a real-time connection to the events as they transpired. One of the most amazing aspects of the age we live in is our ability to disseminate information at lightning speed to people and places all over the world, but there’s something both unnerving dangerous about being able to follow a constantly-evolving web snapshot of such a horrific and violent event as it happens. Twitter was flooded with updates from people in the area of the attacks informing their loved ones of their situation and providing safety tips for others. The hashtag #PorteOuverte (“open door”) spread quickly on Twitter as a means for Parisians to offer refuge to victims of the attacks. Videos of people fleeing the scenes of the attacks, statements from those affected, and images of dead and injured people were available even before police were able to neutralize the situation. One of the hostages taken inside the...

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Being More Mindful of Meaning

If I’ve learned anything about words over the course of my time using them, it’s that you can and should always strive to improve your understanding of how others interpret them, and that developing a healthy reverence for their power is very helpful in this regard.

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