TW: mention of gender-based violence (including sexual violence), state-sanctioned violence and genocide. In this episode, host Ashyana sits *virtually* down with Chenthoori Malankov, a graduate student at York University and a daughter of the Tamil Diaspora. We talk about why and how she got involved in the gender-based violence advocacy space, her work with Courage 2 Act and her identity as a Tamil woman. Chenthoori breaks down for us what community care means to her and we have a discussion on colonialism in the global context. Give it a listen and get ready for our last episode next week!
OCASI Graphic Novel: https://ocasi.org/sites/default/files/ocasi-vaw-graphic-novel-english_1.pdf
Courage 2 Act Report: https://www.couragetoact.ca/report
South Asian Therapist Resource: https://southasiantherapists.org
Ashyana OUSA 0:07
Hello, everybody and welcome to another episode of conversations. My name is Ashyana and I am your host. Today we have with us Chenthoori Malankov. She is a master student at York University and an incredible community activist. Before I get into what we talked about in today's episode and what it's all about, I would like to give a trigger warning. We are talking about gender based violence activism in the gender based violence space, intergenerational trauma, and there is mentioned mention of state sanctioned violence and genocide. Please listen with care if you do decide to listen, and we are so excited to hear from Chenthoori today. Thank you.
Chenthoori Malankov 0:49
Hey there, my name is Chenthoori Malankov. I am a daughter of the Tamil diaspora. And I did my undergrad at York University and a double major in sociology, gender, woman and Sexuality Studi es. And I'm currently at York again, I'm doing my Master's in social work. So I'm really, really grateful to be here with you today.
Ashyana OUSA 1:10
Thank you so much. I'm so excited for you to be here today. I followed your work for a long time. Can you tell us more about the work that you've done in the gender based violence prevention space on your campus at York, whether that be during your undergrad? or doing your masters?
Chenthoori Malankov 1:25
Yeah, absolutely. My first initial intro to this activism in gender based violence started when I noticed that there was a discrepancy of support for survivors on our campus. And so I was in my second year at York, and I was looking for services for a friend. And that is, when I came to understand that there wasn't actually accessible services, there were services, but I had to go a long way to get them to get support for my friend. And so that is kind of what was a lightbulb moment for me and I volunteered for about two and a half years at the sexual assault survivor support line and leadership at York, it is a student run program. And the way that we get funded is through students who take any form of courses in the gender women and sexuality department, we get a little bit of funding from that. It's like kind of like student lucky. And I noticed that we weren't funded by the university. So it was a student led program. And there was a lot of resources that they provided that they did for survivors, but nobody really knew. And so that's kind of where it paved the way for me to then later getting a job there. I was the internal coordinator there, I worked in the tribunal surface. I represented many survivors throughout the tribunal services. And what is that? What does that even mean is that oftentimes, someone who has caused harm could be in your classroom. And you know, the survivor has to show up to class like nothing has ever happened. And so it's like, how can we think about different ways to support survivors while the other person who's in the room has caused harm? I'm now sharing experiences, which is now I would say about eight years ago, York has come a long way in the way that the support survivors, because there's also a center now that does that work. But that's kind of my initial introduction. And after that, it led me down the path of volunteering at the North York woman shelter. I've been there, I would say now, it's been about five years, I've also served on their board of directors. And I've done a lot of work working in the community, specifically in a thermal community providing resources in the linguistic language. So for example, in thermal, we've provided some provided some services meet some pamphlets that are available in the language that survivors can use or you know, access. And, and then lastly, I'll share my experience working at Medtronic. So they're also an organization here located in Toronto. And they specifically serve youth as well as women who are experiencing any form of domestic or gender based violence. My specific work, though, through that organization was to go into elementary and middle schools, and to do workshops with youth, using multimedia as a conversation to start having conversations about consent, healthy relationships, body positivity, and all of those other difficult and uncomfortable conversations that we have. And we experienced, especially as children from the Diaspora and people who are racialized. And so that really opened the way for me in working with newcomers, I would say, that experience of this I was specifically working in the Jane and Finch community at the time, which I was obviously around a lot of racialized newcomers, a lot of racialized youth. And so then that's when my end I ended up working before I entered my Masters for three years. I ended up at the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, where I did sexual violence and gender based violence work, I traveled across the province to really unpack conversations within the newcomer community about Sexual Violence. Because there we know that there are no words. For example, like consent, I can say I can attest to that. In Tamil, there are no words that say consent, or even gender based violence. These are all linked languages that I have the privilege of having access to, because I speak English and I understand English. And so that was a really incredible experience for me, because we that graphic novel is available online.If you type in graphic novel by OCASI, O C A S I, it's available in 11 different languages on the internet.
Ashyana OUSA 5:34
Wow. So we will link that graphic novel in the description for anyone who wants access to it. And so you, I think one thing you mentioned is, you know, working with young children, I think that is so important. I recently spoke to a young woman in Nigeria, who was talking about how this advocacy this work needs to start, like as young as three and four years old, you need to know like, what your body is, look and build these language tools, because oftentimes, you know, you're not taught the right terminology. And so you don't even understand when someone is stepping over the line or violated you because you haven't been educated on your own body. And then years later, you understand what happened because you have the tool. So I think it's equipping young people with the tools at a young at a young age. And that just means like learning about your body and learning about this autonomy. My next question is, like you mentioned, you do a lot of work in the demo community. And I've read several older articles where your South Asian identity or Tamil identity is very important to you. So what role does this identity play in the work that you do and how you engage in this work?
Chenthoori Malankov 6:45
Yeah, that's a big question. And I think it's a really important one, when we talk about when I talk about being a racialized woman from the diaspora, my identity as a huge, huge, huge role in the work that I do. And I see that with, like, while I hold on my chest, because it is unpacking intergenerational trauma, right? When we talk about violence and gender based violence, I think there's a very narrow understanding of what violence can look like. And I think for me, I the research that I'm working on in my master's, as well as really trying to expand the narrative, expand this ideology of what gender based violence really means and incorporating things like state sanctioned violence. And that's a pretty big word. What I mean by that is that my parents came to this country as refugees. And I saw the firsthand impact that their trauma, their mental health, their own identity had to play in a colonized world, like Canada, or a country rather than like Canada, and so on, I have the privilege here to unpack conversations of being a settler, and what it means to be a settler and my relationship to this land, and my responsibility to the indigenous community, my parents were not afforded that same unpacking the like they are not really aware, like now they're a little bit more aware, and they understand a little bit more of like, what our responsibilities are. But when they first came to this country, just like many newcomers, many refugees, they were so grateful for this country, right? Like they're so like, Oh, my God, like, we're so grateful to be here. While we can have gratitude to be in this country, I think it's so important to also be so mindful of how this country has also been actively a part of colonization, but also genocide on a genuine gender based violence level, by raping and murdering indigenous woman, right. And so I think for me, while I do that responsibility in this work of honoring the line, I think I have my own responsibility to my community, and to my diasporic people of like, what does it mean for the people that have come here that have no language like we previously addressed, right, that have no idea of what does it mean to understand consent? What does it mean to be violated by by back home armies and, you know, at the military, that many women had to flee, while being raped? Like, those are all really hard and tough conversations. And so I think, for me, in this work, my identity plays a huge role, because it's a trauma informed lens that I come to the work with. I come to this work while understanding that yes, the community is not many, many people on the committee are not ready to have this conversation because it's still stigmatized. It's still shameful to talk about these things. It's still very silenced. while acknowledging those realities. I think it's so valid to also say, I see your trauma. Of course, it's hard for you to talk about these things. Yes. Of course, you're not okay. When, you know, we talk about violence and sexual sexualized violence. And so I think for me, my Tamil identity comes from my history, and acknowledges my parents as migration, and their mental health and their like activism, their resistance to have to flee to another country, because technically I wouldn't be here today if they didn't have to leave back home. Right. And so I think that is, that is the first part of the work, the way I come to this work is really being mindful of that and embodying them, while being so mindful of like, yeah, trauma exists everywhere, and it's okay. And it's valid. And I'm here to like, unpack that with you, you are not doing this work alone. And I think that's something that I really keep at the center of, of my work, and my sole law law moving through this difficult work.
Ashyana OUSA 10:42
Thank you so much for sharing that I'm going back to the piece where you talked about this intergenerational trauma and widening the scope of what gender based violence means. I think that is something that I really realized in university when Western passed its first gender based violence, prevention, policy and procedures. And, you know, very thankful that this policy exists, these procedures exist. But again, it's really narrow, because when these policies are written by white women and a certain type of women, and you don't have other community voices involved, that intergenerational trauma piece, isn't there. Gender based violence manifests differently for different communities, right, based on what different communities have gone through. And the way patriarchy exists and manifests in different communities, again, is different. So the way I saw gender based violence existing on my campus, and the communities I was involved with, was very different than my peers in different and other communities, right. But the tools and mechanisms really only served one type of experience. Because for a lot of people, even I find from diaspora communities, that language doesn't exist, because they didn't grow up with it, then you come to university. And it's just it's so much, unlearning. And then it's also unpacking your own, like you've mentioned, your own parents experiences and that trauma that you also carry. So I think the way that you approach this work, and what you bring to this work is so inspiring, and so important.
Chenthoori Malankov 12:14
Ashyana OUSA 12:15
Um, so the next question is, can you tell us more about courage to act, what it is, and why and how you got involved?
Chenthoori Malankov 12:23
Yeah. And yeah, Courage to Act is an incredible, incredible project, I'm so deeply humbled, to be able to see that I get to be in a small component in a very small component part of this project. So the courage to act project is a project to address and prevent gender based violence at post secondary institutions in Canada. And it actually builds off of the viral report that was published by possibilities of seeds. And that we can link that as well in the podcast, if you'd like for people to actually see the comprehensive analysis that possibilities of seeds did to what does it mean to develop a framework across the country to address and prevent gender based violence. And in this report, there's actually key recommendations that they provide institutions to think about, and think beyond while doing this work. And so there are actually like four components to this project. The initial phase, which I was a part of, was to establish a community of practice. So to really think about where in Canada like how many, there's obviously so many people that are doing incredible work across their campuses, like you just addressed in amazing communities. And the way that gender based violence manifests like you've also mentioned, is very different across the province. And so what we are doing here in Toronto might not be the same what's in what's happening in BC, or what's happening in First Nation communities. And so we want to establish a community of practice that was holistic and represented all community members that came to this work. And that also represents specific racialized communities that usually get left out in these conversations. And through this community of practice, there was a lot of skills sharing, hosting of webinars in terms of the ways in which we can address and prevent gender based violence in a post secondary institution. And then there was also a component of this project is to create a toolkit and create tools to provide resources for post secondary campuses, including a trauma informed complaint process toolkit, and education toolkit and a community risk screening tool and a support and response toolkit, one in which that we realized that many campuses do not have currently on their on in their post secondary institutions. And then lastly, they really wanted to lead a national skillshare. So like, obviously, with all this research, all this data that we've been collecting, we don't want to keep it just to ourselves. We want to be able to say like, Listen, throughout this entire few years, this is what we've been working on. This is the real raw data, we want to bring the entire communities that don't have access to this data. We want to share it with you folks. And so there was a national skill share where we did a presentation to like many, many people across the country, obviously, due to COVID. We, we wanted to have this in person. But we did it over zoom. And it was an incredible moment where we got to see the labor of love that was created through our communities do the skill shares through the committee's that people came together to put their hearts and souls into this work to say, this is what we've gotten, this is what we're doing. And we actually got funded by the wage, federal government for another few years of this project for two extra years, which is exciting news, because I'm excited to see what more that's gonna come out of this project. But my specific involvement was sitting on the Student Committee. So I represented on a student level I represented York University and supported in writing the self care toolkit, actually, there are many students that actually contributed to various different components of the toolkit, but I specifically wrote this self care one, one of which is really hard to not only talk about, but think about and write about, especially because we are all in such various different places in our self care journey, in aligned with our activism. And so that's, that's kind of the contribution I did for the courage to act. And the way I got involved with this project was I similar to how you had found me, I was picked up because of the work I did at York, I was reached out and Farrah Khan is an incredible mentor to me, and not only to me, but to many people in the community. And she would mentioned, she's the one that she as well as alongside many, many incredible community members that she has, were involved in this project. And so I got the incredible pleasure of being a part of this on a student capacity through applying the many way that every other student applied, and then being selected for being on the Student Committee. And so yeah, I'm so grateful to have been a part of this project, and to continue learning more about what this project is gonna do and impact so many students on, you know, post secondary institutions across the country.
Ashyana OUSA 17:21
Yeah, I've heard incredible things about Farrah Khan, our research and policy analyst, Brittany at OUSA, she's also works with, with courage to act as well. So it's been, I've been following along the work, and she's so incredible. So every person I've met that's been involved in this work is so incredible. And I know at Western, they're the GEN, the gender equality network is trying to use a lot of the materials that courage to act is putting out it's a great starting point for a lot of student organizations to that are just trying to do their own work. And you mentioned that you wrote, so the self care toolkit, and that was kind of one of the big questions I approached you with when planning this episode. And it's, you do so much incredible work in this space. But it's, I can only imagine how much it is to carry on your shoulders with the different components that you're bringing to the table. Every time you engage in this work. So often, emotionally and physically draining, it can be triggering, working through that intergenerational trauma piece all together. So what has your self care journey been like? And what does self care look at you now I look to you now is like the snapshot in time?
Chenthoori Malankov 18:34
Um, yeah, that's a really good question. And one that is pretty loaded when we think about this work, like you had already mentioned. And for me, self care really, really stems from community care. I realized that so much of what the West perpetuates when it comes to self care is this idea that you have to have as an individual, everything figured out in your life, you got to be that perfect activist, you got to be that perfect daughter, you got to be the perfect granddaughter. And it's like, I think unpacking intergenerational trauma is unpacking the fact that I am not a perfect human being. I cannot serve on multitude of levels. It is practicing the fact that I am a human with feelings, and the fact that I am someone with boundaries and that I should take care and nurture myself while in conversation, and alongside people within my community. And so for me, self care truly has really looked like how can I continuously dream of a future and vision of a future that allows us all to coexist? How can I continue to vision that like black people, queer people, indigenous people are a part of our future. How do we continuously like imagine and dream of a world where all of these, you know, folks that are not able folks that are sex workers, people that are consist consistently discriminated in our size society, as well as people who are constantly imprisoned. And, you know, I think that a lot about the folks that are imprisoned I think a lot about political prisoners. And I think a lot about folks who are incarcerated. And I think when we think about self care, or when we think about care in general, we completely alienated a society, people that are incarcerated. And I think that's one point for me to bring up on this podcast is that my my liberation is tied to every single one of these people. My self care is tied to every single one of these people. And yes, I cannot encourage self care to somebody who is incarcerated. That being said, I can fight for abolition on the outside. And that being said, I can consistently dream and vision for a world where I see people that don't live in a world that is incarcerated. That, to me is what self care looks like. Because I've been reading a lot of Adrian Marie Brown, I'm not sure if folks have heard of her incredible work. And the specific book that I've been that I always pick up, and that constantly moves me through this work is emergent strategy. And she talks about tangible ways in what community leadership and Community Care really looks like. And how can we continue to dream like how do we just continue to dream with pleasure, while also dealing with activism? Because activism is hard? And how do we continue to dream and play and I acknowledge that all of this comes from a tender place I am I'm an empath. I love human beings on to like a if like, to a core to a core level. And so I think for me, self care really doesn't look at for me, like an individual perspective, I think part of it can be individualized part of it is like, for me, my self care has been a lot of like, being mindful of how I communicate my capacity.
That's one thing that I genuinely say that like, it's not something that's like a bubble bath, or like a, you know, running, which I completely also think it's valid for people that genuinely need it. No shame there, no judgement there. That being said, I think, for me, throughout the years of this work, I think is also acknowledging that when I do get asked to do something, checking in with myself, do I have the capacity to do this right now? Do I have the capacity to speak about my trauma right now, in this work, and I think that's something that has been a point of awareness for me to move through this work with a lot of tenderness, and care for myself, while holding my community in the same in the same boat and being like, I'm moving through with you, while also asking difficult questions to myself. Because I get asked, and, you know, often times I'm like, Oh, yeah, of course, I'm going to do that. Like, of course, I'll do that. Like, I want to share and talk about these uncomfortable and challenging conversations. And yet, sometimes I never check in with myself. And I just immediately be like, yes, of course, like, just without even being mindful. And so I think coming from an operating from a mindful, grounded presence has really allowed me to be intentional about what work I take on and how I take that on. And I think being in grad school, as well as really forced me to like, rein it in Chenthoori you gotta, it's a lot of work here. So you got to rein it in. And so for that, I've just been really grateful. But um, I highly recommend people if they haven't heard Adrian Marie Brown, you should you should check her out. She is an incredible woman, a woman of color, and really shares tangible ways that we can dream about BIPOC, you know, people of color, that are resisting white supremacy, and resisting state sanctioned violence and resisting incarceration, and, you know, resisting all these things, and yet, we are also suffering, right? And so how do we heal? How do we move through that intergenerational trauma that you're talking about? And so it's like, a lot of that. And if I were to be genuinely honest, because I'm super open with this therapy, therapy has saved me a ton. I highly recommended, there's no shame, I'm pro mental health, like, if you have the access, if you have the ability, if you have the financial access, are able to find someone in the community that could do a sliding scale. That has been my best friend for the last eight and a half years. So I will say that. Yeah.
Ashyana OUSA 24:18
You mentioned so many great pieces. So I'm going to try and go one by one. I think the first thing you mentioned was moving away from like Western conceptions of self care that again, you set up like our individualized. And I think that's something you know, when I first became familiar with the term like self care and what it looks like, it was very tangible, and it was very individual. So it became isolating. Like, you feel like you're always trying to catch up to be like, this version of yourself, and then it's not helping you in any way. And I think it's funny that you you mentioned this community kind of base self care because last week, we dropped an episode with Angie, she was the outgoing Black Students Association president at Western and when I asked her this question about self care, she was being engaged with my community, and celebrating my community and having these dreams, like you've talked about is how I engage in self care. And I think that when she said that I was like, I never even conceptualized it, like, not like I really learned something. And with everything you just you mentioned, and it's funny, you mentioned this, because I was just writing a blog post for Tuesday yesterday about navigating, where I stand is like a child of immigrants, and navigating, you know, the solidarity I feel with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, and having those conversations with my parents. And, and since I took my first Indigenous Studies course, in my second, third year, second or third year, you struggle with being a settler. Like, it's just not something you have been taught or has been talked about. And then when you come to terms with that, I think something that we've talked about it who says it's difficult to explain that or have those conversations to your parents to your, with your grandparents. And I think when they do have access to that information they see and they understand because the colonial project is global, the patterns that we see that the Canadian state is oppressing, and using sexualized violence to continue to colonize Indigenous People and take away their livelihood is I think, something that I can't speak for all communities. But I know that the communities that I come from, really resonate with and can relate to.
And so that is a conversation we've been having. And I've been thinking about in my head. And I think for me, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this the best way I've been able to understand and share that kind of knowledge has been to look at settler colonialism as a global project. And being able to draw those trends like from the South Asian context, look specifically at like Kashmir, in India, and being able to kind of highlight those things. Because when you see it as like a big picture, it's, I think, a lot easier for people to understand and see because it's something that they've experienced, or they've seen with their own eyes that they're like, this happens in Canada, because you're just so grateful to be here, for the learnings. And for the for the opportunities that that unlearning piece, like I mean, that information is hardly even accessible. Right? If you're not on social media, you're not on Twitter, right? Like, my grandmother just watches CP24. Like, that's all she watches and the serials. So until those things are coming in the news, but then when you explain it on a level that's like the look at these experiences here or look at this the world in this way. And like you said, it's about broadening this definition of violence and gender based violence and how that's enacted.
Chenthoori Malankov 27:54
Yeah, no, I love how you conceptualize that on a global scale, because that is what colonization is. And that is. And that is a beautiful way to put it. Because I think when we think about what has happened in Canada, especially because Canada has quote, unquote, as the history of like knowing to be we are open to all newcomers refugees. But let's not forget Harper's era, right, let's not forget what just happened in the States. Let's not forget what is happening consistently as different political parties step in, even within Canada. And so I think the way that you have chose to conceptualize to your family members on a really global geopolitical level does really make sense because yeah, that's literally how I've had conversations with my family members is like, really using the genocide that happened back home, like my family from Sri Lanka. And we don't even say that we're a Sri Lankan, for example, like, I call myself a daughter of the Tamil diaspora because till this day, we don't have a home country. So in many ways on what is happening back there, and the fact that the UN has declared on many, many occasions, that it is what's happening, there is a genocide, but they're not willing to admit it, because of the oils, the stuff. And again, we can go into that on a whole other level. On another podcast, maybe but I think the way that I've had to, like really decompartmentalize it for my family is really connecting it to back home, and to stuff that is happening in Kashmir, Pakistan, India, like different parts of the world where my parents or my families rather, is a little bit more familiar with and they're gonna be like, Oh, yeah, like, that does make sense that did happen. This is how we were colonized. That does make sense like That's horrible. And connecting the dots to what's currently happening in Canada and knowing that it is not a history of the past. It is like continuing like this genocide is active. We've just discovered all of these unmarked graves in these in within indigenous communities are children. Like these are all really intense and like horrifying and deeply saddening realities that we come to come to terms with. And I think we saw a huge shift in our society in general of like, Oh, yeah, like the orange shirt every child matters. But what are we doing beyond that? How are we contributing to these communities? Beyond that? How are we having these conversations like you're saying, not in silos, but yet as a collective? And so like, even with my grandma, I use pictures as a tool to kind of show her. This is what I'm talking about, like, did you know about this? And there's also a huge language barrier, I would say that I find a little bit tricky, because there's some words that I was born here, I do speak Tamil really well, that being said, there are some terminologies where I'm like, oh, like, I only know what in English, I don't know how to explain it. So then sometimes I describe it or in a different way, and then she gets it. But that's, I think, been the biggest barrier for me is like, trying to break down English. Which pisses me off sometimes. I'm not a fan of the language but it just like, sometimes I'm like, oh, like, I can't believe the language has this much power over me too, right? It's like, it's an every part. It's an embodied presence. Like, literally colonization, is literally a part of our aura. And so I always tell my friends and my family as well, like, we need to decolonize our aura. That's what self care means, to me, like means a decolonize up because it's, it's literally embedded in every part of us. And so, yeah, I've used a lot of pictures as a tool to like, kind of unpack these conversations. And like you said, My grandma, she doesn't even watch English news. That's the other joke. She only watches like Tamil news and serials like you're mentioning, so soap operas, rather. And so it's been a little bit of challenge to kind of get her to this side. But I think the most important part of like, what does it mean to be a settler in relationship with Indigenous Communities? Is to never give up doing the work? Yeah. Is to like consistently have these conversations. And yeah, like, I think my grandma has one level of, of knowledge that I have to like, you know, crack at it slowly and chip away. But then there's also my intermediate friends, not everybody in my circle is like, well aware, like, you know, thankfully, due to the circles that I've been a part of, for the last eight and a half, nine years, yes, my friends are pretty aware. And they you know, they share the social media stuff, but I message them, you shared this? Are you doing something beyond this? Just checking in? Because if you don't know of any resources, I'm here to support, let's do it. And then they're like, Oh, my God, like, that's a really good question. Like, what resources you know, and I'm like, if you are the financial capacity, you can donate here, if you have some food, you could drop it off at this food bank here, like, those are the kinds of things that I kind of follow up on my friends even. And I think we take those little things for granted, just because you know, someone who's quote, unquote, you know, progressive, but you don't follow up with people, because we just think like, Oh, yeah, you're good, like, you know, about all the Indigenous stuff. So you're good. And it's like, no, I sometimes need to be checked in on to and yeah, you know, do that work collectively, we don't have to do it in silos. And I think that's the really powerful part. Like you mentioned, the kind of big break, you know, doing the big picture, looking at the big picture, and then breaking it down with nuances and like understanding where can I fit this in? And how can I support myself in my learning, but also the people around me like you had mentioned? So I love that.
Ashyana OUSA 33:05
Yeah. You brought up a lot of really good points. And yeah, like, I think it's so great that you do that with your friends, because that is like a lot of energy too. But you're making sure and you're holding like your friends and the people around you accountable. And and I think sometimes like people will share a post and have all intentions to do more. The intent is there. Sometimes you forget, sometimes you're like, I'll do it tomorrow. And sometimes all it takes is that one person to be like, Hey, did you end up doing that? Or, hey, do you want to know some more resources? Or sometimes people are like, I'm going to share it because they don't have the financial means to donate, but then they don't know that there's other things that they can do. And I think when your friend can tell you those things, it's like, Okay, well, okay, I'm going to do it, right, because sometimes it can be hard to find or not comfortable, like telling someone or asking those things.
Chenthoori Malankov 33:58
Ashyana OUSA 34:00
So, coming to our last set of questions, um, what does advocacy mean to you?
Chenthoori Malankov 34:08
Yes, I feel like I touched upon a little bit of my self-care answer but all I'll say it again, for me. Advocacy looks so different for everybody. I will say that from the from the jump, you know, depending on your social location, your class, your sexual identity, your race, like all of those things are, I think, for me, like is important to keep in mind when we think about what advocacy means because I think, yeah, advocacy looks just so different. That being said, I for me, like advocacy is tied to my community. There is no advocacy that I cannot envision in this world that doesn't have a 1000s of people surrounded by me. I feel like I am the most alive. I think COVID has been something that is, you know, really challenging shifted what advocacy, especially on the ground advocacy looks like.
But I think even beyond that, it's also taught us advocacy has really taught COVID has really taught us that advocacy needs to be looked at very differently, especially for folks who are not able bodied, especially for folks who have disabilities, especially for folks who clearly this pandemic taught us that it is the most vulnerable people that have lost their jobs, right, it is the most vulnerable people that could not do their jobs. So it's like the frontline workers, sex workers like this, it is the most vulnerable people that had to be without a job, and then also the repercussions of that. And so I think COVID has really, I think, for me, at least turned on, I think it's always been there like it's I've always knew that there was a very specific group of marginalized community members are always at the cusp of the the end. But I think COVID really shined a light on that to the rest of the world, because migrant workers being one of them, like there is there is some serious stuff happening right now. And you know, we are there, it's not being covered in the same degree that it was once COVID was, was at its peak. And so it's like, I think for me, advocacy is acknowledging where your place and what you're, where you're at, and meeting you there, but meeting you where you're at, because not everybody has the privilege or the access or the ability to advocate in the same levels that I do, for example, and I recognize my utmost privilege and my absolute ability to show up to this work 1,000%. And I also it's my responsibility, my advocacy responsibility is to turn to my comrades and colleagues to be like, hey, what am I what should I be doing differently? Can you like I was asked to be on this panel, instead of me, like I recommended you look like and is it okay, if I recommend you, because I think that you're better suited for this conversation. And I, for me, like that's being so much more mindful of how much space I take up even in this sector. Like, I think I've been doing this for a while. And, you know, I know I have, light years ahead of me. That being said, I think it's also just being really mindful of like, yeah, like, I don't think I necessarily need to be on every single panel, I need to represent every South Asian Tamil women, you know that there are so many badass Tamil women that are out there, queer woman, that queer Tamil women that are out there, queer women that with disabilities that are out there. So it's like, it's like, there are so many incredible powerful femmes. And women identified folks are non binary folks that are out there that I know that I would be like, in a heartbeat. I always message them. And I'm like, hey, like, let me know if you have the capacity, because you'd be so good for this like, and they're paying you an honorarium. Let me know like, that's the kind of I think, for me advocacy looks like is like checking in on each other, being like, hey, like, Is this the place that I'm supposed to be advocating about? And if that is the place, what does that advocacy look like? How am I doing that with the capacity that I have? Yeah, so I think for me, that's what I because he is, is like, really, really deep, deep seeded communal care. Yeah. To the core.
Ashyana OUSA 38:00
I think the community piece and the piece you mentioned about, you know, giving other people opportunities as well, right. Like, I think it's about not just bringing more like, chairs to a table, but elongating that table, saying like, Hey, you know, I think you might be better suited for this or making that making that space. And so our last question is, I've been asking everyone, because I just love to hear like it's been COVID has been a really difficult time for a lot of people in very different ways. So I know we're not out of the woods, the pandemic is still here. But there is like a new year starting, you know, there have been a lot of positive things, people have been getting their vaccine. So what is something you know, you're looking forward to in the future. And that can be a week from now a month from now a year from now? Or just whenever?
Chenthoori Malankov 38:49
Yeah, I love that question a lot, because I'm a visionary. So I love just always thinking about, yeah, acknowledging the now of where I'm at. And also dreaming, right. I think I mentioned that a few times on podcasts. And so yeah, I'm a big believer in dreaming, because that's the only way that's what allows me to keep moving forward in life, especially while doing this heavy heart related work. And so yeah, something I'm really excited about in this upcoming year is that I will be graduating from my masters. This is my I'm in my final year, I am starting my placement at a hospital. So I'll be doing some pretty heavy work with families that are transitioning to the palliative care unit from the ICU. And so it's a lot of grief work, death work, heavy work, trauma work, but I think for me, there is no better person to do this work than me. And I think the visionary the dreamer in me consistently believes that, outside of all the dreaming we do, we all end up in the spirit world. And so what a privilege and an honor, it could be for me to just send off people to the spirit world in that way while also acknowledging the real I would say systemic barriers that come with being hospitalized and what this healthcare system really does for people. And so I think I'm really gonna be immersed in challenging one aspect of the healthcare system, but also being mindful with my spirit while sending people off into the spirit world. And so I think for me, I'm excited about my graduation. And I'm excited about learning a whole set of new skills that I'm that terrifies me. But that really excites me. And looking forward to what my, where I end up in the field of social work. While that's complex, and while I want to abolish Social Work altogether, I might I add, I am terrified and excited about that experience coming this year. Yeah.