Presenter for ‘At Home, On the Streets’

Hello everyone,

A few months ago, I was approached by our old friend Nimi Chauhan of Sahara Services Society to be one of the three presenters for the ‘At Home, On the Streets’ presentation (a hard-hitting presentation showing the realities of drugs, gangs & materialism).

The presentation took place on April 20th, 2011 at David Thompson Secondary School in Vancouver to 400 students, teachers, community members, and parents.

Sgt. Toby Hinton of Odd Squad Productions presented a very realistic portrayal of drug addiction and drug life in Vancouver’s downtown east side.

I knew of the Sergeant’s work, so it was a pleasure to meet him.

The unwavering Det. Doug Spencer, formally of the Vancouver Police Department, long time educator of gangsterism, and one of the first officers to explore Vancouver’s gang life in detail, presented stories on current and former gangsters.  As always, the stories the Detective brings continue to open the eyes of our youth.

The Detective’s presentation was made more effective when his co-presenter, a young man who lived the life of a gangster from his childhood through to his teens, told the youth of the dangers that he faced.  The young man, now rehabilitated, has become a mentor and educator to the youth about the truth in gangs.

My presentation was in three parts.  First, I told the youth about how I got into activism work and why I chose to focus on educating youth on gangs.  Secondly, an excerpt of the short version of my film was shown.  Finally, the third portion of my presentation was the main reason I accepted the opportunity to be a presenter, it made educating young women about the dangers of how society portrays them, possible.

I began with a speech, then showed alarming visuals of how women are portrayed in the media, and then finished the presentation off with a positive message.

The speech & positive message:

Thank you for having me today.

I have been given this opportunity to convey to you my understanding of domestic violence.

Domestic violence has always existed.

And it exists in every community, equally.

Domestic violence plagues both men and women. But, the vast majority being women.

My sisters…how far the world has come, yet how far they have strayed away from making you feel beautiful.

How far we have come, forgetting to celebrate you.

If you are a child who lives in a home that has domestic violence.

I beg of you to seek help.

Your mother does not deserve it.

And neither do you.

Domestic violence in a home affects young men and young women differently. But both negatively.

Young brothers and sisters,

Being a witness to, or being a victim of, any type of abuse affects you gravely.

You may not know it right now, but it does.

On the topic of domestic violence specifically; it is proven to be a root factor for young men to get involved in a life of crime and gangs.

Young men are unconsciously taught, that it is alright to solve differences with violence.

Young men are taught to handle their problems with their fists, and not their minds. You are taught than victimizing a women is allowed and accepted.

You are taught to release your temper, instead of dealing with it.

When you are hurting someone else, you are not doing it cause you are stronger than they are, you are doing it because you are hurting inside.

You do it, out of underlying insecurities.

You do it, to make yourself feel better, because you are constantly in pain.

Older gang members pray on insecurities. They use bait tactics such as bullying in school, to garner you as a member. They give you false promises of easy money, and protection.

Insecurities cause you to be weak, and such is exploited by older gang members.

You may feel as you are now a king, and the world is owing to you. But the only thing you will be owed is a lifetime in jail, or bullets.

And I promise you will collect on one, or the other, or sometimes even both.

It is not worth it, media glamourizes this life, but I have seen the truth in it.

You deserve more to life than to be a statistic. Your parents deserve more. And in the case you have domestic violence in your homes; your mother, deserves better from her son.

She took the abuse to protect her children and this is how you would pay her back? By joining a gang and putting her in fear? The fear of you getting hurt. The fear of you being taken away from her.

To join a gang is selfish and cowardly. And you will disappoint no one more, than yourselves.

Domestic violence has taken away a strong male role model from your life.

And with that lack of a strong male role model.

Insecurities will exist within you.

You will use violence to obtain what you feel is yours.

You may be physically strong. But on the inside you will remain weak.

You might not agree with me that simply being a witness to domestic violence is a root factor in creating criminals and gangsters. But trust me, it is.

To get involved in any level of crime, a comparison of profiles have shown us that witnessing or being abused, having the lack of a strong male role model in your lives, being neglected, and/or lacking the sense of belonging, are all proven root factors.

My counterparts here today have and will show the gang lifestyle in more depth. For that I thank them. And I urge you to listen carefully as to what they say.

But today, I am here to serve my young sisters, and to make them aware of domestic violence, and how they are being unconsciously taught to look at themselves with judgemental eyes.

Because of domestic violence in homes,

Young women are unconsciously taught that they are worth less than a man. You are taught that if you speak up, you will only be hit down.

With that lack of a strong male role model

You will never fully respect yourselves. You will never feel beautiful.

You will never command the respect you deserve from men in your lives. You will attract weak men, who will take advantage of you, the same type of man, that hurt your mother.

You will let the world marginalize you. And that is not fair.

Why does domestic violence exist? You are someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, and will be someone’s mother. You deserve to be loved. You deserve to be respected.

Every family is different, so I will not even pretend to understand why it happens in your home. But regardless the reasons for its existence, it will forever remain wrong.

My sisters, you are taught by society to think of yourselves less than a man. And most of you don’t even know it. As long as you remain unaware, you remain unequal.

Media bombards you with false beliefs. It teaches you that you need to look a certain way, you need to act a certain way, to be considered beautiful.

Look how media bombards you. Look at the vast majority of magazine covers. They sexualize and sensualize the image of a woman. They teach you to feel that that is the desired image of a woman. It is not.

Music videos do the same thing, that to wear less clothes and more make-up is what a man desires. Television shows and films do the same thing. Internet does the same thing.

Wake up.

Young men, you are affected by the same media, and you too do not realize it.

The same media teaches you that what is beautiful, is what you see on magazine covers, in music videos, in television, and film.

You don’t realize but you are being taught that women are property. That they owe it to you to be sexual. That they owe it to you to look a certain way.

They owe you nothing but owe themselves everything.

Media marginalizes women. Media objectifies them as objects of desire. Media perpetuates domestic violence.

You desire property. You should love and respect a woman. There is a difference.

If you, my beautiful sisters are to be objectified, then fight to be objects of respect.

I look out to the audience today, and I see a brave new generation. Some of you might have lost your way, but we are here to guide you back, if you let us.

VIDEO:
——————–

At this time, I’d like to show you a video that I quickly put together. Its purpose is to show you how media objectifies women. Again, this objectification perpetuates domestic violence. It is creating a whole new generation of domestic violence offenders. It is creating a whole new generation of young women willing to accept domestic violence.

CONCLUSION:
——————–

I have been asked here today

To convey to you my understanding of domestic violence

I am sorry to say

That I do not understand it

And neither should you.

Domestic violence should not exist

And therefore requires no understanding.

So to all my beautiful sisters,

The ones here, and the ones not.

Don’t you dare forget your self-worth.

Don’t you dare forget how beautiful you truly are.

You will never do anything in your life that deserves abuse.

My life before yours, in front of you I am willing to stand.

All I ask is that you no longer continue to sit and accept the issues that you face,

Instead, stand with me.

Every single one of you, you are beautiful.

Your colour, is beautiful.

Your shape, is beautiful.

Your eyes, are beautiful.

Your mind, is beautiful.

Your heart, is beautiful.

Your personality, is beautiful.

You, are beautiful.

Thank you.

—–

At the end of the presentation, when the youth erupted in applause, especially the young women, it was a great feeling.  I have been blessed in that I am able to share my work and words with people.  I hope some, if not all, of those young ladies left with a sense of empowerment.

Shout outs to Nimi Chauhan & the Sahara Services Society, along with Cst. Kal Dosanjh & the Vancouver Police Department for putting together a great presentation.

Along with the presentation, each student was given a copy of the short version of A Warrior’s Religion.

On May 14th & 15th, 2011, Sahara Services Society and Vancouver Police Department initiated phase 2 of their efforts in reaching the youth with a youth soccer tournament, held in Vancouver at Vancouver Technical Secondary School.

For more information on & great videos by Odd Squad Productions, please visit their website; http://www.oddsquad.com/.  *Through A Blue Lens, one of their earliest productions is one of National Film Board‘s (NFB) best-selling films of all time.

Thank you as always.

mani

The Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival New Asia Festival Sikh International Festival Spinning Wheel Festival