Hot Head is a feedback, rant/rave section dedicated to your unedited reflections on the Vancouver arts/music/social scene. If you have thoughts or comments about a specific event, something you heard on CiTR 101.9FM, something you read in Discorder Magazine, or a topic that relates to our readership, send it to us.
PAY YOUR TOKEN POC
I have complicated feelings about being tokenized. At first, when everyone started getting “woke” and realized that all white bills are not only perpetuating white supremacy, but supremely boring, I was getting hit up left right and centre to be the token brown chick on the bill. Not ignorant to the fact that I was being asked to perform or contribute not based on the merit of my work but based on my identity, I still welcomed the opportunity to cash in on white guilt. But you know what I have realized… there was no “cashing” in for me. At the end of the day, the people benefiting from having me on a bill or on a contributors’ list are the people who already were in those positions of power pre-wokeness. Capitalism doesn’t recognize tokenism; it is designed by and for white people and everything else is just a tool for white people to get paid.
That, though, was in the early days of tokenism. And by early days, I mean a couple years ago – things move fast in the world of identity politics. Now, I see the same white people and people in positions of power, adopting foreign sounding middle names, aligning themselves with the right feminist movement, and saying the right jumble of trans-queer-poc-femme words to align themselves with an oppressed identity, and thereby exploiting it for their own monetary gain. Let me tell you as someone who has a handful of the trendiest oppressions under my belt: being oppressed is not cool or fun. My whole life I wanted to be white, to not be poor, to not be an immigrant, to have a normal ass name, for things to be easy. So now when I see people adopting oppressions like hairstyles, I get upset. When a POC person gets upset, they are not described as passionate about injustice, they are seen as angry, dangerous, violent – and white people are so good at victimizing themselves, that I am painted as an aggressor. So I keep my mouth shut, occasionally writing (not so) anonymous letters to publications in which I’m sure I’ve been a token for before.
I have thought long and hard about how I can tackle this situation personally. My first instinct has always been to try and educate people, but my seething anger and empty wallet has driven me to a new solution: every time my identity gets exploited to benefit someone other than me, I want $100. For example: my photo has been used before, without my consent, in a publication run by misogynists for an article about women DJs in Vancouver. I am not a DJ. I was doing sound at the event. Right underneath my picture, there was a line saying (paraphrasing here) “often times POC people get tokenized in this community”. They get tokenized in every community, honey. I want my paycheque.—I’ll give you 1 guess
It’s not recognized often enough just how difficult it is to get a job.
I’ve been looking all over major cities, applying to anything remotely similar to what I’m studying, and I’ve hardly hear back from anyone. I know that many of my friends have had a similar experience, and I can’t think of anyone in my program that has a relevant summer job lined up.
It’s hard to find a job in general, but my experience makes me familiar with how difficult it is to get a job as an undergraduate student. No matter how senior you are in your studies, it seems employers view you no better than a high school senior until you’ve finished your degree. I’ve heard it doesn’t get much better once you’ve recently finished your degree either.
Students’ limited availability is another factor that bars them from getting a significant job. Whereas people not in school could work an, honestly, shitty job for a fair amount of pay, those types of jobs don’t hire people with limited availability that school inflicts upon you.
All of this is made even harder when you’re looking for a creative job. Jobs in fields like writing, radio, and illustrating are far and few between, and often don’t pay a liveable wage.
Unpaid internships are criminal. If you know anyone making use of them, implore them to stop their exploitation.
The competition of creative jobs is frankly heartbreaking. I’m friends with near everyone in my small program, and we care about each other a lot, but how can we not wish them ill-will if they’ve applied for one of the few creative positions that we have also applied for? And who could blame any one of us from refraining from telling the others about a job, so as to not have to compete?
The solution is one out of reach of individuals, creatives, and students. The solution that I’ve long propositioned for is a basic income for every citizen. Automation has already reached levels that make human labor essentially unnecessary. Our current economy isn’t built for that circumstance. What has happened throughout history is that when there are major technological shifts, and labor supply/demand shifts, a new economic model surfaces. However, many of these new modes have been transitioned by revolutions, so be prepared to rise.
If you have access to influence anyone that is a gatekeeper of jobs, especially relevant creative jobs students could undergo, implore them to HIRE STUDENTS. Or, at the very least, have them offer to mentor, providing proper payment when labor is expended by the mentee.
It’s really sad when jobs meant to provide career-helping jobs leave students behind.—Pat Pott
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