“Red Night, Black Night” – Martha Batiz

the red coat_szente-szabo akos

The last thing I saw — Mother, torch in hand, racing back home at the skirts of the volcano.

The sky was dark and grey—an impenetrable shade of grey, darker than night yet cruel enough to let you see as if through a veil, fight for breath, scampering for your life.

I watched her leave me. Begged her to stop, to run away with me. The gods had made the earth tremble. Made the volcano spit out its burning-hot entrails. We’d been trained to read the signals in the sky and below our feet; we’d been taught to fear the gods’ wrath—to be ready.

Nothing prepared us for what happened.

It had all started many moons before, I was a child, yet I remember. When they arrived—foreigners with tall, four-legged beasts, wearing clothes stronger than obsidian knives and bones—we took them in. We admired their skin, rosy as a seashell, their hair like threads of gold, and the weapons they called “swords,” which we had never seen before.

You cannot carve anything that long out of stone.

We thought they’d been sent by the Feathered Snake, Quetzalcóatl, our long-lost god who promised to return bringing blessings.

We were wrong.

They brought sickness and pain; the urge to take away, to dispossess. Forced us to give up our land, our freedom, and our beliefs.

It was too late when we discovered they were not gods, because our gods had appreciated the gift of fresh beating hearts. Our gods had given us rain and sunshine; crops grew and we were satisfied. But, those creatures had skin that blistered up and turned red and vulnerable under our sun; they pushed us to the ground, took our bodies, and then despised us; they were thieves who dug holes in our land and took everything precious, offering nothing in return.

So, it was time for war. Our men fought while we danced. And we prayed for forgiveness, for we had been forced to betray everything we had been, everything we had believed in. Then, our rivers turned red, and so did the sky.

We were not absolved.

Smoke opened an endless night as the earth trembled. As I saw her leave me, torch in hand. Me and my red dress—made in advance to mark our victory—were left alone. Alone, and drowning in the dust of loss.

these words by Martha Batiz were inspired by the work of Akos Szente-Szabó

Montreal’s Tam Tams Is Textbook Cultural Appropriation

Montreal is known for its summer festivals, such as the weekly drum circle around Sir George-Étienne Cartier’s Monument that occurs every Sunday. Thousands of people gather on the park’s lawns to listen and dance to the rhythm of the hundreds of Tam Tam players gathering to form an incredible drum circle.

Drum circles have shamanic origins, and have been used for centuries by aboriginal peoples around the world in order to celebrate their connections with each other and the Earth.

The nature of the drum circle, with no head or tail, suggests inclusivity.

To witness the Tam Tam festival in Mont-Royal Park is to see solidarity within a group that in appearance has little in common, yet that has the desire to share rhythm and create a collective sound.

However, the fact that this circle takes place on unseeded Kanien’kéa:ka and Algonquin nations territory reminds us of the colonial components of the current festival.

Cultural appropriation takes place when a group of people belonging to a dominant culture adopts the traditions of a historically oppressed culture.

Though the participation of settlers in a drum circle or a potlatch may at first glance seem inoffensive, one must take note that these very traditions were outlawed by the Canadian government not so long ago in an effort to suppress the existence of aboriginal culture.

The appropriation of the drum circle by settlers is confirmation that colonization is an ongoing process in Canada. Attempting to conceive of white Europeans as apolitical participants in colonialist practices is impossible. Choosing to ignore settler impact mirrors the logic behind colorblind racism: ‘Race doesn’t matter, because thinking about my privilege makes me uncomfortable.’

Failing to recognize the appropriation of aboriginal culture during the weekly Tams festival is proof of the persistence of the settler colonization mentality – the same mentality that refuses to recognize the residential school system as a genocide.

Wayside crosses, like the one on Mont-Royal, are an important component of settler heritage: there are more than 3000 in the province. These crosses are not only proof of a material culture symbolizing religious belonging, but evidence of the first colonial occupations by the French, starting with the first cross planted by Jacques Cartier in 1534 – who was the first European to climb Mount-Royal and give it its name. Tams’ drum circles take place in a park footed by this cross.

Settler colonialism in Canada originates with the very same Jacques Cartier, who, in one of his most infamous interactions with the aboriginal peoples, went so far as to ruse and abduct Iroquoian Chief Donnacona and his sons, bringing them to France to serve as circus attractions.

The juxtaposition of the Mont-Royal’s wayside cross, a symbol directly linked to Jacques Cartier, above a dancing group that is formed by a majority of settlers is a textbook case for cultural appropriation in North America. If you are a settler show your solidarity by not participating in the drum circles at Tam Tams.* 

Jiliane Golczyk is originally from Red Deer, Alberta, but has lived in Belgium, Chile and Turkey. She will be beginning her Master’s in International Affairs at Sciences Po this fall. 









Issue #218: You’re Not Racist If You Find Me Pretty

wow okcupid

“You’re not racist if you find me pretty”

Sitting downtown Montreal, mid-afternoon spring, at the kind of booth that makes your pelvis sink, in the kind of café where you can stay for hours without buying a thing.

And no one has cleared the cups of soggy knotted teabags. The staff are wearing collared polyester and leaning against the display cooler. The windows are level with the sidewalk and people’s shoes and ankles and bicycle-wheels pass by our heads.


Earlier  I saw someone smoking under the awning in the rain and thought of you. I thought of how beautiful you are, and I don’t tell you this, but know that I could and that would be alright too. Tomorrow is your third date with someone more than cut and paste.


What do you do on a Friday night?
I wash my arms.
And your life? What are you doing?
I love you.


Because she couldn’t hear past the barking anymore, the low growl and the hiss.


No, you’re not racist if you find me pretty.


Attends: tu penses que je suis raciste? ?
Je voulais juste savoir
 d’où tu viens
je te trouve          belle.


Your curiosity tastes like vomit. Your curious  entitlement to interrogate my ancestral origins,  colonial narratives of migration, grief, diaspora that we have not unraveled and yet exist through—

to draw forth the accumulation of every other moment before this when a dark body has been a site of violent intrigue.

Because she looks exotic: sweetpotato caramel, something to bite into with pleasure.

Flesh beneath your tongue, your words are never innocent, loaded with power you may not have asked for, granted by default you entrench entitlement.


This is your responsibility, white man: swallow your tongue,

direct your gaze to what’s
charging your bark.


We are not laughing.


You say you’ve been watching men jogging and you’ll let me know how it goes.


word by Alisha Mascarenhas

colour by Jasmine Okorougo