In my opinion, La Fête Nationale tragedy shines light on the mindset of the organizers with regards to the intersecting issues of race and the environment. In particular, it unveils how white french Québec grapples with its changing climate and evolving identity. Within the limited boundaries of the pure-laine vision of a sustainable future, it is clear that the desired transition to a low-carbon economy will not object to the unabashed sequestration of energy from melanin bodies. This green vision binds these black bodies to low-status work on behalf of the environment. The “forever-immigrants”, many born on this land, in this environment, can never fully rid themselves of the brand of “Les Autres, là” burned onto their skin with white-hot iron. This blurry condemnation has been written in quebecois prose onto black bodies for centuries, to the point where ink and grit collude to usurp skin and culture. To what extent does the green imagination of the white Quebecois and the white Canadian couple greenhouse gas reduction with the subordination of black and brown peoples?
Black Internet is well versed in decoding the care-free gesturing of matantes but is it not their nieces and nephews, (the organizers) that whisper the racist rigaudon?
“On a mis le nègre au travail pour l’environnement,
Mais l’environnement du nègre,
On l’a négligé volontairement!
Vive la développement durable!”
This is organic racism clothed in eco-friendliness. This is white sustainability. A sustainability where what stands the test of time is not the well-being of the planet and the people who populate it, but the tense relation between those who benefit from unjust decisions and those who are forced to carry the weight of those same decisions.
Mon cher Quebec, you can paint di ting green…but the issue remains black and white. Ya nuh foolin’ we.
This being her second visit to the grocery store, with its blinding fluorescent light and constant AC, she came prepared. The wool sweater, a gift from her best friend back in Nairobi, smells of incense and coal, the scent of safe secrets, closeness and familiarity. Its fabric caresses her chin as she exhales a memory not far away in time, but distant in space. She looks around to see if others too, had their breaths and dreams crystalized for a brief moment and ruthlessly stolen again and again as they aimlessly rummaged for deals on frozen dinners.
She used to anticipate talking and touching vegetables; a cabbage in the palm of her hand, its aroma sharing stories of sun and soil. “Best One!” The boy-seller cajoled, regardless of her selection. She kissed teeth, he smiled. The first time she brought a cantaloupe to her nose in Toronto, the entire display cascaded onto the floor, causing everyone to stare, which made her feel small.
Today, she was on a mission and briskly walked to the produce section. She picked up a plastic container of spinach, leaflets cut from the roots and incarcerated in a cold transparent cell. She abandoned the idea of being able to feel, to brush her hands across living surfaces. She had to trust what the new gods declared; that all these packages are uniform and that uniformity is good. Trust that since it says “Triple-filtered wash”, that the machines prepped it like how gran-gran did back home. Word is Bond.
In the express cash, she pulled out a five dollar bill. “$4.99, plus tax ma’am.” Said the cashier.
She didn’t have enough.
How do aliens buy local?
What currency do they use
Food stamps, time shells
How do aliens eat local?
What appliances do they need
Sun Rays, X rays
How do aliens think global?
What conscience should we use
Third Eye, World Lie
by: Chris Vaughn
A poem inspired by the Alien Nation project