It is one thing to see the call for social justice rung on social media, but another to experience Black unity in my own city, my own community. I have never in my life experienced that here in Toronto and I want to share with you my experiences of Black unity.
Yesterday evening, casually sitting on a bench at Dufferin and Bloor Street in the dying sun, I notice a throng of beautiful, Black women around me. Slim, natural Afro hair in simple but stately styles, and bronzed skin gleaming. Today, a spritely Black woman shakes my head and introduces herself and continues along her way. A few feet away, two young Black men stop to talk, both business owners and with obvious respect to one another. I watched all this with an incredulous smile, watched as a Black mother nursed her baby openly at the park and as a West Indian father chased his daughters with their adorable braided pigtails.
I have to go buy injeera on Dufferin and King St, and as I do, my friend tells me to go support Plentea, a hip tea bar up the street that just opened and owned by two, strapping young Black men. We have coffee at Jal Gua Organic Cafe, owned by South Sudanese philanthropist Emmanuel Jal on Queen Street East. I try the delicious sorghum soup. I take a picture with Jal.
I pass a homeless Black man lying filthy under the bridge that divides poorer Parkdale from trendy Queen West. I give him a silent prayer. Our people are coming together, we are uniting and supporting each other and in doing so strengthening ourselves collectively and powerfully. We are lifting each other up, opening shops, salons, working on Master degrees and ditching the perm. We will not forget our brothers in the prisons, our unconscious brothers still in the slums, our sisters stuck in the cycle. Right now it is quality over quantity, but soon it will be the masses. Montreal may have been the Black Power movement of the 1960s, but Toronto is pushing, pulling and fighting it’s way to Black liberation through the support of our own people. This light, this is the light we must hold on to.