Good segregation?

Politics and Current Events

Part of being a “cultural mosaic” (hold the eye-rolling until I’m done, please) necessarily assumes some level of difference. If it wasn’t so, we would have a “melting pot” instead. Difference isn’t a bad thing; belonging to a certain group based on that difference – ethnic, religious or otherwise – isn’t bad, either.

So when does it get bad? When the word “segregation” enters into the discussion? It certainly brings some awfully negative connotations with it: ghettos, white-only bars/buses/schools etc. But is it possible that what makes that kind of segregation bad is that it’s forced? When it’s one group saying to another, “you stay there, we’ll stay here” out of hate, or fear, or both.

So is it possible that there’s good segregation?

The Star ran an article today about a housing subsidy in York Region for buildings that limit residency to certain religious and ethnic groups (specifically, one Italian, one Jewish and two Muslim). Not surprisingly, the issue brings up issues of segregation and discrimination, basically that certain groups of people are getting subsidized rent ahead of thousands of other seniors and families who are on waiting lists simply because they meet the ‘minority’ requirements of these buildings.

Two key questions:

Q. Why are the buildings allowed to rent to only certain groups?

A. The buildings are often built by that particular community through fundraising and volunteering. Plus, the buildings are required, among other things, to provide culturally-specific programs in the building. Not much different than the way we segregate some schools, I suppose.

Q. Is the housing subsidy discriminatory?

A. Critics say ‘yes,’ because taxpayers’ dollars are going into facilities that aren’t open to everyone. Supporters say ‘no,’ because it’s seen as a “leg up” for these minority groups, plus the Human Rights Commission says the buildings aren’t discriminatory.

Setting aside the housing subsidy issue for the moment, I’d like to focus on the buildings themselves. If there is such a thing as “good segregation,” do these buildings fit the bill? Shouldn’t people be allowed to live, or study, in facilities that are catered to their beliefs or cultural practices?

Part of me would like to say ‘yes.’ Another part of me worries that although we have the right to segregate ourselves willingly, it seems counter-productive somehow. Aren’t fear and hate born out of ignorance, and doesn’t segregation breed ignorance?

Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio, who helped raise funds for the residence built for seniors of Italian descent, was quoted in the article saying “people feel more comfortable among their own.”

This should worry you. You should not feel comfortable hearing that people feel more comfortable among their own, however true it may be. Because even in the instances when we choose to segregate ourselves, we’re still saying, “you stay there, we’ll stay here.”

Happy Valentine’s Day, Internet


Listen, Internet, we need to talk.

I think you’re great, and I really enjoy our time together, but I think I need a break. You’re suffocating me. Adding Facebook to our relationship really helped us flourish, and Twitter was really exciting, I’ll admit, but when you pulled Google Buzz out last week, well, I only have so much energy to spare.

I know it’s kind of terrible for me to spring this on you today, of all days, but maybe taking a little time apart will help us refocus our priorities and come back to the table ready to start anew… in a few days. For now, though, I’m just going to say ‘no’ to Buzzing with you and you’re just going to have to respect my boundaries.

I hope you understand, and that you don’t think I’ve just been using you for Googling and to kill time when my friends are busy. I really do care about you, and I definitely see us together in the future. For now, though, don’t call me.

Stay cool,

An Oscar-worthy Menu


Planning an Oscar party? Need some best picture-themed food? Now that there are 10 best picture nominees, instead of 5, trying to devise an entire menu of themed foods is going to be twice as difficult this year. So let me help, and try a few of these ideas on Sunday, March 7. Warning: Lots of meat and alcohol.

Flaming German drinks, some serious Jewish appetizers and a cocktail that won’t alienate any guest:

Start with a German winter drink (meaning it’s served hot) traditionally served at New Year’s called Feuerzangenbowle (Flaming Fire Tongs Punch). [Inglourious Basterds] As a non-alcoholic option, offer glasses of milk.

For food, serve some matzah balls [A Serious Man], of which there are several varieties, and shrimp cocktail [District 9]- you can’t go wrong with shrimp cocktail.

Lighten things up with a high-flying drink and an exotic first course:

To go with the first course, serve this drink to your guests: the Paper Airplane Cocktail. [Up in the Air] For added excitement, use tiny plastic cups, serve it from a trolley, and charge $9 a glass.

Then, depending on what kind of bird meat you can procure, try either the Ostrich Chili-Corn Tamale or Partridges with Orange and Vermouth Sauce. [Up] Mmmm… Pair with any one of many salads from South America, like the Red Quinoa and Cranberry Salad or the Jicama and Orange Salad. [also Up]

Bring on the hurt with more drinks and a precious main course:

Make sure guests go home full and satisfied with this pigs feet recipe and some collard greens. Can’t find any pigs feet? Try this fried chicken recipe instead. [Precious]

To wash the meal down, serve this charming cocktail: the Chili Bomb (Crown Royal and Red Bull). Do not offer an alternative. [The Hurt Locker]

Colourful desserts and British tea:

Offer these two dessert options to end the night on a colourful note as they announce which one of our culinary inspirations will be taking home the grand prize: Blue Tidal Wave Sorbet [Avatar] and/or these harmonious black-and-white cookies [The Blind Side]. Serve with English breakfast tea, or another British variety of tea [An Education].