Photos c/o Gabrielle Bulman Thomas

If it felt like there were millions of new raptors fans this past summer, that’s because there probably were. There’s nothing quite like the first National basketball asociation championship in Canadian history to bring people together, one of the great powers of athletics. Whether it’s playing sports or watching the Toronto Raptors dominate the Golden State Warriors, sports have a habit of uniting people together over a common interest. This sense of inclusivity is also why intramurals play a big role in the off-campus community here at McMaster. 

When you live off-campus, it can be hard to feel like you have a home at Mac. School can be a place associated with academic stress and not much else. This is why the society of off-campus students runs intramurals every week. Intramurals can be a great way to get to know more people who are also in a similar situations. Here’s what the president of the society of off-campus students, Jeremy Sewnauth, had to say about SOCS and intramurals.

“Sports are a universal thing that everyone can bond over whether you’re talking about it or playing it,” Sewnauth said.  “At intramurals, we end up doing so many different sports, this term we’re running soccer, water polo and frisbee and those were the sports that the members of the society voted for.” Sewnauth said.

Taking part in the PlayFun division is a great way to get involved in sport through a relatively non-competitive environment, where no one takes things too seriously and everyone is just looking to have some fun. There’s no need to have extensive knowledge in the sport or know every detail about the rules. PlayFun is a casual level of sport where students can meet one another.

“You don’t have to have any experience, you don’t have to know how to play any sports, if it’s something you’re interested in or you just want to kill some time, you can just pop in and play. If you don’t know how to play it everyone that’s there is willing and able to teach you how to play,” Sewnauth mentioned.

Playing sports chosen by SOCS members themselves makes it likely that people will come out, as they are going to be playing the sports they voted for. This type of engagement with everyone in the club is part of why SOCS is so successful. 

“Every single weekend we’ll have a full squad come out for soccer, frisbee and water polo which gives you the opportunity to bond with people. A lot of people after games end up hanging out and every time I’ve met so many people,” added Sewnauth. 

SOCS aims to offer off-campus students a way to feel connected and provide a home at McMaster. They offer multiple ways of trying to do that but, sports and intramurals are definitely one of the best ways to accomplish their goal. 

“A lot of the times you’ll see groups of people, like a floor in residence or something they’ll put together a team or that same group of students that were all friends before. In later years they’ll keep doing these intramural teams every year. We try to create something similar where we’re creating a community among sports,” said Sewnauth. 

Being an off-campus student can often feel lonely but it doesn’t have to be. Intramurals are a great way to connect with other students. You can get a SOCS membership in the basement of the student centre and they’ll be more than happy to help you sign up for their intramural team.

 

[thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

 

Photo from Silhouette Photo Archives

By: Eden Wondmeneh

Faculty representatives and Maroons can shape incoming students’ initial impression of the McMaster University community. They guide us through Welcome Week and are meant to play the role of mentor and role model.

A few days into Welcome Week, new students grow accustomed to the vibrant suits and are well-aware of the colour distinctions of each faculty. Suddenly the suit, which at first glance may appear as a horrendous fashion statement, is at the top of many first-year students’ wish lists.

For some students who hope to mentor and inspire incoming students, becoming a faculty representative during Welcome Week is not feasible.

Even if they do make it through the competitive application process, they are unable to participate due to representative fees that candidates are not made aware of at any point during the application process.

On Jan. 22, a call was released on the DeGroote Commerce Society Facebook page for 2019 business faculty representatives. Applications were due by Feb. 1, with prospective green suits contacted for interviews.

The role requires faculty representatives to attend two training sessions prior to summer break and another session the week prior to Welcome Week. Green suits are also highly encouraged to participate in May at Mac and Shine-o-rama, both orientation events running during the summer break.

Despite the large time commitment and the cost of the $60 green suit itself, students who made it through the application process and ultimately became a green suit, were immensely excited about the experience to come.

This excitement, however, was soured with the introduction of a representative fee of over a hundred dollars that was not advertised at any point during the application process.

The representative fee is a confusing, hidden fee that prospective and new faculty representatives are appalled by. The fee is estimated to be around $120.00, but with the McMaster Students Union funding cuts, new representatives expect this to be a low-ball estimate and have yet to be informed of the final cost.

This cost is said to cover training, food and participation in Welcome Week. This contribution to Welcome Week especially annoys students who never signed up to subsidize part of Welcome Week that as first-year students we already paid a mandatory $120.98 First-Year Orientation levy for.

For business students fees to join clubs specific to their faculty  is not uncommon. Most clubs require students to pay a small fee for registration.

However, in the case of the representative fee that impacts all faculty reps, the fee is substantial, and no one made them aware of the fee prior to joining. With a lack of discussion of financial support, some students  are genuinely happy they didn’t make the cut.

It is simply unfair for students who underwent the incredibly extensive process to become a faculty representative to be cut from the position because of an inability to pay for the high fees.  

The faculty representative fee ensures that those who are willing and chosen to volunteer their time to enrich and support incoming students secure their spot by coughing up money.

If this is the inequitable model the green suits and other faculty society representatives decide to rely on, then they should at least be transparent to their applicants.

 

[thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

Photo by Kyle West

By: Saba Manzoor

The federal government has awarded $3.3 million in grants to 72 social sciences and humanities researchers at McMaster.

These grants are a part of the federal government’s social sciences and humanities research council’s “Insight Development Grant” program.

McMaster was one of nearly 80 post-secondary institutions across the country to receive part of the $141 million overall grant funding provided by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

This announcement comes a few months after McMaster maintained its rank as Canada’s most research-intensive university on the list of Canada’s top 50 research universities.

Funding through government programs, such as the SSHRC-IDG, continues to play a significant role in establishing the university’s rank on the list.

In addition to being lauded for the quality of their research, McMaster’s humanities and social science researchers have also been recognized for the communicability of their research.

In particular, they were the recipients of the 2017 SSHRC award of excellence for communications, which recognized the accessibility of McMaster research for non-expert audiences.

One of this year’s research grant recipients is Jeffrey Denis, an associate professor in the department of sociology.

Denis’ funds are being put towards a collaborative project with Reconciliation Kenora, a non-profit organization comprised of Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents in Northwestern Ontario.

The goal of Denis’ project is to improve local relationships and better understand the reconciliation efforts that prevail in this part of the province.

“Our plan is to conduct a series of video-recorded sharing circles with Anishinaabe, Metis and settler residents about what reconciliation means, the barriers and enablers to achieving it and how to engage more people in the process,” said Denis.

Brent McKnight, an assistant professor with the DeGroote School of Business, is another grant recipient this year.

Through this funding, McKnight will be evaluating how external considerations, such as environmental, social and governance factors, contribute to financial investments.

Specifically, McKnight will be examining how these factors play into a retail market investment decisions.

“There are few sources of funding for social science research and this multi-year grant is critical,” said McKnight.  

Mark Norman, another grant recipient, is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of health, aging and society at McMaster.

With the funding, Norman will be investigating the organization and social meanings of sport and physical recreation in Ontario youth detention centres.

According to Norman, despite their popularity in youth correctional facilities, evidence suggests that implementing sports programs for at-risk youth produces mixed outcomes.

Norman’s project aims to reconcile the knowledge gap and explore why these programs are yielding these results.

“It is crucial that Canadian governments and post-secondary institutions invest in social sciences and humanities research, particularly projects that investigate pressing social problems or provide insight on how to ameliorate social injustices in our society,” explains Norman.

Other research projects funded through the grant cover a wide range of topics, including the history of smallpox and the effects of taxation on trade.

 

[thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

Photo by Kyle West

By: Eden Wondmeneh

As a first-year student in social sciences, the bulk of my tutorial grade is determined by my participation in discussions. For someone who would rather be restricted to eating at Centro than be forced to speak in public, tutorials are not my ideal environment.

As the fall semester progressed, I noticed that some of these discussions supported learning while others were downright problematic. Speaking to other students in social sciences, specifically students of colour, it was clear that teaching assistants, who greatly influenced whether tutorial discussions were the former or the latter, were overwhelmingly white.

The lack of diversity in TAs is often juxtaposed with a somewhat diverse student group — where students of colour bond over the shared discomfort or hilarity of the awkwardness that settles across the room anytime a ‘hot topic’ like white privilege is brought up.

Discussions about race are often excluded from acceptable topics in an environment that claims to encourage academic discourse, especially when initiated by a person of colour: a fact that aided in my decision to stay relatively quiet in tutorials.

Regardless of their intentions, these TAs are in a position of power where they facilitate discussions about systems of oppression that they themselves benefit from and resultantly teach students through this narrow-privileged lens. If topics of race are not dismissed after a moment of awkward silence, they always seem condescending; what qualifies non-POC TAs to lead these discussions?

I have a friend whose TA explained how common sense differs between cultures using a blatantly racist analogy of African children never having seen a stove thus not knowing that it is unsafe to touch. When called out for their ignorance, the TA’s response was some variation of, “I’m not racist”.

The Teaching in an Accessible and Inclusive Community section of McMaster University’s 2013 TA guide shows that the diversity and inclusion issue in tutorial sessions is much worse than it appears. The university is aware of the power imbalances that are inherent to the limited diversity amongst TAs — they just aren’t doing anything about it.

Despite their ability to recognize that acknowledgment of systemic racism is not enough to let them off the hook, they boldly state that McMaster staff and faculty work “against often invisible systems of privilege and oppression,” without giving TAs any guidance in how to further this effort within their own tutorials. In fact, the guidebook makes it clear that it is naïve to believe that even a well-intentioned TA could use any tips provided to create an equitable space within their tutorials.

To be clear, I don’t think that TAs are intentionally leading their tutorials to isolate students of colour and validate the dominant privileged narrative that exists within our society. I do believe though that the hiring process for TAs is flawed, as it works directly against McMaster’s “fight against invisible systems of privilege and oppression”.

There should be a great number of Black TAs who are able to lead tutorials with a different perspective, engage with Black students and have important conversations about race when the course calls for it.

Aside from increasing the diversity amongst TAs, there should be mandatory anti-oppression workshops and training. It is unrealistic to hope that TAs will suddenly diversify, but it is not unrealistic to hope that current TAs have an understanding of their bias and are able to react to being called out productively — not through cries of, “I am not racist”.

For myself to feel comfortable to contribute freely within these tutorials, I need there to be measures in place for the inevitable awkwardness that ensues when race is discussed and a guarantee that Black children won't be used in racist examples.  

We don't live within a vacuum. To create the “inclusive and accessible learning environment” that McMaster desires, TAs need to reflect this inclusivity and accessibility students are meant to find.

 

[thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

Photo by Kyle West

Every so often, students walking through the McMaster University Student Centre are met with faces of The Beatles, large maps of the world and even prints of Banksy’s most popular works.  

The Imaginus poster sale, which has been touring Canadian university and college campuses since 1975, is a staple of the university experience. It is not uncommon to see their posters plastered over the walls of dorms and off-campus housing.

The Imaginus poster sale is happening right now in MUSC!

Make sure to check it out before they leave tomorrow 🙂#McSU pic.twitter.com/FfDqEesAgc

— MSU Campus Events (@msucampusevents) January 31, 2019

At first glance, the poster sales seem innocent enough. For under $10, you can get away with two good-sized posters of your favourite band or quote — what could be wrong with that?

A lot, actually. The Imaginus poster sale has been critiqued in the past for selling posters that promote cultural appropriation, and poster sales in general have been scrutinized for the ethics of selling reproduced and borderline copyright-infringement artwork. This can especially raise eyebrows as it is rare that the collected profits ever reach the original artists.  

But beyond the possible problematic nature of the content of their posters, the Imaginus poster sales take away opportunities from student artists. As it stands, McMaster University students cannot sell their artwork on campus for a profit.

According to the Policy on Student Groups, student groups on campus “may not engage in activities that are essentially commercial in nature.”

This policy is what caused the shutdown of an art sale by McMaster’s Starving Artists Society last year. The club is made up of student artists and creatives that are looking to expand their portfolio and reach a wider audience.

The event that was shut down was meant to be an opportunity for student artists to market their artwork to their peers and even profit off of their hard work. Many of Mac’s student artist community are involved with SAS and were negatively affected by the university’s decision to shut the event down.

Essentially, the university has allowed Imaginus to have an unfair monopoly on selling art on campus. For a university that already arguably disvalues the arts, to dissuade student artists from profiting from their work is a serious matter.

This brings to light a larger issue at hand. Why should any students be disallowed to sell their products on campus — especially when outside companies are given space in our student centre to sell their products?  

This situation unfortunately reflects the situation of many non-student local artists within the community. In our corporate world, it is extremely difficult to establish a reliable clientele and profit off of one’s work. Mass commercialized products inherently cost less and as a result, this drives away sales from local artists.

As the university makes a profit from the poster sales, and in general from any vendors on campus, it is unlikely that this issue will be addressed anytime soon.

Until it is, you can support local and student artists through sharing their work, reaching out to them and contributing towards their sales. The SAS also runs art crawls and other events where students can get in contact with student artists!

Everyone has a Friends poster in their house. When you buy local and student, not only are you supporting your peers, but you’re likely acquiring higher quality and truly unique works of art.

 

[thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

Photo from Silhouette Photo Archives

By Owen Angus-Yamada

It’s back to school and outlooks for the 2018-2019 semester are sure to be varied. As the masses wait in line at the campus store for freshly pressed textbooks or shuffle through the McMaster University Student Centre crowds, it can be assured that many are already preoccupied with their grade point standing, the bane of their existence or, other side of the coin, questioning the real purpose of their classes and distancing themselves from their academics.

We are in a society that is afraid of failure and drawn to convenience. When we are faced with a challenge we often take the one of the two previously mentioned approaches: stress out — not the kind we get before a presentation or performance, more of the mind crimpling, time consuming variety — or give up; both leading to the same result: under-performing and having contempt for the initial challenge. This, however, is a choice and does not always have to be the case.

When we are positive and passionate about a problem we invest more time and energy into it. We may fail often but have the enthusiasm to learn from those mistakes as we move forward. This is what happens when, for example, you play guitar and want to learn a new song. You may butcher the same riff over and over and over, but you aren’t biting your nails and freaking out about not being able to do it right now or smashing your guitar and yelling “What’s the point? Life is pain.”

Although the latter is pretty edgy, both stressing out and giving up yield little results in the learning and development department, but by taking the failures and continuing to try, eventually you learn it.

I’m not saying that school is the same as guitar, or that you even practice guitar to begin with, but learning lecture material and learning a new song are both challenges that require you to be persistent with your approach and are affected by your outlook of the situation.

If you are pumped up and prepared to do some serious work this year then keep on rolling and let me get the heck out of your way but if you’re stressed or pessimistic already about the year than hears some suggestions.

If you’re stressed about your marks, try changing your approach and make getting a deep understanding of the material the priority. Get involved outside of the classroom in a way that you can apply what you are learning for better material understanding and retention. If you are resenting class because it’s boring or too easy, then maybe its time you step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself with additional extracurriculars or try new classes where you are excited and interested in the material being taught. Change your approach to become passionate about your education, learning and development and the rest will fall in line.

McMaster allows for plenty of opportunities to vary how you approach your learning, development and overall university experience, even going as far to offer a new Personal Interest Course which allows you to try different, potentially more difficult electives, without fear of them penalizing the ever-precious GPA. It is also a hotbed of clubs, groups, competitions and societies available for the people who want to become more involved or those who want to explore other interests. It may not be easy and you may even mess up or fail a few times but that’s sort of the point.

So, if you find yourself pulling hair over midterms or endlessly binging the ever-alluring Netflix because you just can’t bring yourself to study or go to class, remember that you have a choice. You can take the red pill and keep taking the path of least resistance and subsequently the path of least results, or take the blue pill and find out just how deep this whole concept of trying a new way to approach for your learning and development really goes.

[thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

[adrotate banner="16"]

[feather_share show="twitter, google_plus, facebook, reddit, tumblr" hide="pinterest, linkedin, mail"]

By: Ismaël Traoré

As Black History Month approaches I am troubled at the lack of institutional reflexivity and the talk-and-shake-my-head event model that will mark this twenty-first year of commemorating bougie-Blackness. There will be a few panel discussions, public forums, workshops and film viewings where audience members will show shock at the following cliché messages: a) racism exists b) White privilege is real and c) [insert wise comment about] ‘incremental steps’ towards progress. If lucky, we may also learn about the three holy grails of being a White ally: shut up, listen and educate other White people.

This seasonal prepackaged mass production of BHM activities at McMaster is mainly for White people and the majority of the events are organized with the White gaze in mind.

Events tend to reflect respectability politics, an ethic of politeness that reinforces Whiteness by virtue of Whites defining the contours of a ‘polite’ racial discourse, and efforts to prevent potential backlash or ‘White fragility’. We are afraid to disturb this White-dominated institution.

Even in groups and activities created to replace racism with racial equity, Whiteness remains intact.

Here is a cursory list of the workings of Whiteness I have observed at McMaster that limits the scope and breadth of its commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Students, staff, faculty and the administration must be vigilant to not let Whiteness be the logic or reference-point guiding their racial equity work. Such is the only way to pay homage to BHM.

Here are six things to avoid when talking about racial equity during BHM:

1. Loving the word: Declarations of commitment to inclusion and diversity do not inclusion and diversity make. Being against racism does not indicate transcendence of racism. Equity is love in action. We must love to act.

2. Lack of priority and urgency: Racial equity is a peripheral concern for the stakeholders-powerbrokers at the university. Can you believe that it is only last year that the Sociology department hired its first non-white faculty? This explains the incremental, sluggish nature of racial equity. Barely any resources go to racial equity. Racial equity should be one of our top priorities.

3. Outsourcing the work and taking credit: The administration of the university has a tendency to take credit for the often unpaid antiracist labour of individuals and groups in the university that often have no real power beyond advising and awareness-rising. Administration should do the work.

4. External and downwards orientation: Racial equity work in the university often focuses on the student body, faculty, and the general Hamilton community. This is “external and downwards” in that the powerbrokers and stakeholders of the university are often not the intended target of this work and rarely do they come even when invited. Plus, the university is infrequently the subject of critique and change-making. We need an internal and upward orientation.

5. Event as opposed to project oriented: We need less emphasis on the event-based approach and more emphasis on long-term institutional change projects. Faculties should recognize social justice work in their curriculum and hiring criteria. Lakehead University and the University of Winnipeg students must now take a course in Indigenous Studies to graduate. Why not McMaster University?

6. Lack of transparency: Mainly for economic reasons, the university is invested in portraying itself as nonracist. It is hard to find documents and data about the university regarding racism, racial diversity, and racial equity. Hiding behind obscurity prevents genuine progress by creating institutional historical amnesia, fostering selective representation, and hindering grounded and levelheaded critique, assessment, and appraisal. Documents regarding these variables must be made public and user-friendly.

All in all, McMaster is at the “tolerant stage” of its development. It is “tolerant” of racial and cultural differences at the surface, such as the student body, but at the centre, the powerbrokers and stakeholders, it remains White. Though the President’s Office makes public commitment to inclusion and diversity and generously sponsors events on racial equity there needs to be a systematic assessment of its organizational culture, policies, and decision-making processes. There is an unintended paternalism in its tolerant approach that takes the form of “helping” the marginalized rather than turning the investigative gaze on McMaster’s Whiteness.

[thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

 

[adrotate banner="16"]

[feather_share show="twitter, google_plus, facebook, reddit, tumblr" hide="pinterest, linkedin, mail"]

By: Natassja Francis

As a black woman, it is remarkably hard to project my voice. This may take some by surprise, as black women are seemingly always cast as outspoken; the loud and obnoxious lionesses whose animalistic vocalizations cannot be contained. Life through adolescence and into adulthood has taught me the truth: societal forces are working against us to silence our voices and retain the distasteful stereotype of everything we are not.

It happens in every institution, including university. Systemic, oppressive behaviour is most often hiding under the farce of “neutrality.” It may be through the micromanagement tendencies of white peers towards a student of colour guised as “help.” It may be through a white friend or acquaintance failing to address the racist actions of his or her significant other, but insisting that they themselves do not see colour. It may be because a person of colour disagrees with a white peer, and as a result, other white peers avoid the person of colour in the name of “not getting involved.” All of these contexts are examples of “microaggressions,” or seemingly small but powerful and impactful acts of racism. The lack of a conscious effort to end microagression is what enables the persistence of racism, small and large.

A significant factor in the disregard of microagressions is the concept of white fragility. This dynamic plays out in media constantly. While people of colour are largely portrayed in film and in history as powerhorses who can handle virtually anything, white people, and even more particularly white women, are often painted as fragile and innocent glass ornaments. Due to this long-running and culturally ingrained perception of racial roles, it’s a lot easier for any member of the white community to subconsciously compare a stallion to a glass ornament in any situation and opt to hold the stallion back for fear of the ornament cracking at the slightest touch.  The trope of the innocent white girl is, of course, unfounded. I’ve often seen the opposite ensue, where white women are both hyperaggressive and refuse to accept responsibility for their actions because they have been taught that in social situations, they are always innocent.

Microaggressive behaviour is often more harmful than overt racism because of white denial and the minimizing of conflict, along with microaggressive tendencies having become largely normalized in our culture. Although when I speak out I have been threatened with the trope of an angry black woman, I am choosing from this point forward to use my voice. People of colour cannot continue to be the brunt of implicit or covert racism.  We have fed into the illusion for too long. Now is our time to unanimously make our voices heard.

[thesil_related_posts_sc]Related Posts[/thesil_related_posts_sc]

 

With a population of over seven billion, examining our role in combatting poverty at both an individual and societal level is becoming increasingly difficult.  Nevertheless, on Sept. 16, the McMaster chapter of Engineers Without Borders invited students, politicians and citizens to hold an open discussion on the complex issue.

From foreign aid to student debt, the discussion that took place accentuated the complex issue of poverty as a societal issue.

Nine politicians running in the federal election were present at the discussion, representing all four of Canada’s major parties. Green Party candidate Ute Schmid-Jones believes the cycle of poverty begins with university and college graduates.

“We need to stop creating poverty. Students graduating with these terrible debts are a part of this poverty cycle,” said Schmid-Jones.

“Engineers Without Borders attempts to address the root causes of poverty and tries to create systemic change to help alleviate [it],” said EWB chapter co-president and fourth year Engineering student Nick Sully. The Q&A session was a part of EWB’s campaign, #PoliticsAside. “We should all care about the world’s poorest people, regardless of political affiliations. That’s essentially what the hashtag is about: that we should put politics aside and care about poverty,” explained Stephanie Neufield, third year Life Sciences student and event coordinator.

The spirit of Politics Aside manifested itself through the panel discussion that took place, where non-Conservative candidates across the board agreed on various strategies in fighting systemic issues that perpetuate poverty in Canada.

David Christopherson from the NDP vehemently rejected our institutionalization of food banks. “[They] need to go now,” he said. “The day needs to come that people don’t need them anymore because they have adequate funds to buy sufficient and nutritious food for them and their families; that’s the way we need to see food banks.”

Liberal candidate Filomena Tassi said food security issues are “something that cannot be ignored, nor can they be fixed by food banks. We need to give individuals the structural support to be able to pull themselves out of poverty.”

“I think we need to figure out ways to most effectively deliver our services to those who need them the most,” said Liberal candidate Anne Tennier. “That’s something that every party here can aspire to.” Christopherson agreed. He said, “I would love to sit around the cabinet table with every one of these people regardless of their party label and say, ‘Okay now we’re going to talk about tackling poverty in Canada and internationally.’”

“Politicians are always going to have their own opinions, but I think in general we’re all working together towards a common goal. Just the fact that all nine candidates showed up today is amazing; it shows that they care and that they’re passionate about poverty issues,” concluded Neufeld. The McMaster chapter of EWB wplans to hold many more events throughout the school year to continue raising awareness on poverty issues, including their current online Fair Trade campus week campaign.

Normally I would refrain from doing this, but the prevalence of “basic” in our day-to-day language is approaching other hall-of-famers like YOLO and #-insert random word-. Yet somehow the definition of “basic” is still very vague. According to urban dictionary, “basic bitch” is defined as “a bum-a$$ woman who think she the shit but really ain’t."

Setting aside the inappropriate use of the b-word (a serious discussion for another day), it sure sounds like being basic is not a good thing. Grabbing a quick extra-whip low-fat pumpkin spice latte? You basic. Making yourself a kale smoothie after Zumba class? You basic. But the truth is, everyone’s a little basic. The more important truth is that it’s no big deal if you are.

I’m pretty basic. On the tenth anniversary of the release of Mean Girls, I hosted a viewing party at my house, complete with sushi and copious glasses of Girls’ Night Out. It was also a ridiculously good time, so why not just shake off the haters? Because we all know the haters gonna hate hate hate.

Being basic is considered a bad thing in that it implies you lack agency. You will follow trends as they come, with not one original thought ever crossing your mind. That’s simply not true though. Remember that time you came up with the idea to deep-fry Oreos in a Nutella batter? How about that time you wrote a paper about Descartes’ ethics as a hopeful interpretation of human nature? That ain’t basic. Just because you follow trends doesn’t mean you are an unoriginal person as a whole. Not many people are invested enough in everything to go their own way all the time.

One of the reasons I don’t mind being basic is because I appreciate a basic’s honesty. Basics are unafraid of accepting the notion that they are not wholly creative in their outer appearance. Basics are predictable. By acknowledging the inherent stupidity of things like celebrity gossip and Pawn Stars, basics make it feel okay to occasionally indulge yourself in these pointless fun pastimes.

And if you really think about it, calling someone basic as an insult doesn’t really criticize them for their lack of originality. The term is thrown around so much and is so widely applicable that it’s hard to take seriously. Instead, calling someone out for being basic is just pointing out a common consumption pattern, and somehow asserting that it’s worse than subscribing to a less popular one (I’m looking at you, music snobs). It’s a really restrained way of proving your superiority over others, one that is buried in sarcasm and laced with just the right amount of sass. It also makes you a dick, but hey – what do I know? I’m just a basic guy who loveeeeees brunch.

Subscribe to our Mailing List

© 2022 The Silhouette. All Rights Reserved. McMaster University's Student Newspaper.
magnifiercrossmenu