Politics Issue Out Now!

April 4th, 2017     by Sheila Sampath     Issue 34: Issue 34: The Politics Issue     Comments

Illustration: Erin McPhee

We first planned the politics issue back in the summer of 2016. At the Centre for Social Innovation here in Toronto, we worked with our amazing Youth Advisory Board to develop stories that explore diverse issues in politics—everything from participating in our political structures to undermining and reimagining them. At that time, we were just gearing up for the home stretch of the US election, and here, north of the border, we were waiting to see if and how our own government would choose to honour campaign promises and repair some of the past harm done.

Over six months later, and the world just feels different now than it did then. In a lot of ways, I know it’s the same—just intensified as violence, oppression and hate are brought to the surface, and given permission to take up space and to grow. It feels like a particularly heavy task at this moment, to put out a politics issue, and to write a letter about it. It’s hard to know what exactly to say about the state of the world.

When he-who-shall-not-be-named won the U.S. election, I woke up, and I cried. I wasn’t one of those people who believed that Hillary Clinton would or could save anyone—I wasn’t “with her.” Still, for me, this election represented a moment for people to opt into a system of overt hate, bigotry and white supremacy. When I woke up, and heard the news, I felt that millions of people had actively voted against the humanity of queer, trans, racialized, migrant, femme, poor, disabled bodies—bodies like mine, and like those of people I love. It felt deeply personal, and it hurt. It still hurts.

The fall-out from the election, on both sides of the border, has given permission for a type of hate that I never thought I would see in my lifetime. It’s also given permission for a type of creative resistance and outrage that I never thought I would see in my lifetime. Last week, Toronto streets were overcome with people speaking out against the most recent wave of Islamophobic attacks; this week, public school students in New York staged a walk-out in protest to the current administration’s approach to public education; and, just earlier today, I read of a Google X engineer who designed an algorithm to turn Voledmort’s tweets into donations for the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the National Resource Defence Council.

This is a moment for the rest of us—to attack, undermine, create and resist—to decolonize, organize and mobilize in any way that we can. In part, for basic survival, and, in part, for transformative change.

While the bulk of this issue was created before our current political moment, we hope that you build on these ideas to, in your own way, dismantle and re-build the world around us . Starting from the roots of injustice here on this land (p.18), we take you from the complexities of political participation (p. 24), right through strategies for every creative resistance (p. 33). We show you folks who are using art (p. 36), education (p. 6) and language (p. 14) to imagine new possibilities and we hope, through this, to inspire you to find ways to do the same.

Yours Shamelessly, Sheila

The Shameless 2015-2016 Youth Advisory Board is Nasim Asgari, Olivia Baker, Rama Castillo, Taylor Cenac, Tyler Cenac, Saul Freedman-Lawson, Tessa Hill, Natasha Marvo, Arina Moiseychenko, Sapphire Newman-Fogel, Alex Newton, Natasha Poley, Milena Rzepa Sztainbok, Emily Wood , Caroline Wang and Tia Wong.

Tags: politics

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