Tag Archives: Canadian

Change the Community

Instead of leaving the ghetto, we are supposed to transform the ghetto. I like in a small, redneck rural town and my first response was: this racism is too much, I’m leaving. But instead of leaving, I want to be part of what makes my small town great for Black people.

 Despite being very white, at 90% of the population, my town does have a mix of Africans straight from the Motherland and a handful of non-white people who are in town for work or to attend the prestigious university from major cities across Canada. My goal is to always greet and meet any Black person I come across, and I extend that courtesy to other non-white people. It is difficult getting a job here if you are not white, and it is important to unite, network and support one another in the Black community.

   There are only 4 Black students at my college, 3 girls (including myself) and one boy. I have already established a social connection introducing one to the other, switching social media and phone numbers and meeting outside of school. One student is from Liberia, the other is a local and the boy is shy so I don’t know. But the more we connect and create a space in such a racially hostile territory, then the easier it is for other Black newcomers to the city to feel a sense of belonging and safety. 

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Black Support

   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.

BLM Pride Toronto 2016

   This post is a response to the unbelievably biased, hate-mongering articles written to paint Black people and their fight out of oppression in bad light. I happened across an article in the Toronto Star and read another one in the Globe and Mail just for good measure. These middle-aged Caucasian women who feel they have a right to cast an opinion on the Black struggle, whilst pretending to sympathize with the LGBTQI community have tried to discredit,  shame and destroy the movement, as is par for the course when dealing with the White Opinion.

    As a Black female who has marched in the Pride Parades in Toronto, and spent many weekend nights on Church St, I would like you to listen to what I have to say. Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail is trying to say be thankful, Black citizens of Toronto, that you live here and not Ferguson or the Phillipines. Because she deeply understands our  plight and all, living I imagine in Parkdale? Weston Road and Eglinton? No, she does not live there, I assume, probably in a lighter part of town, Yonge and Eglinton? The suburbs North of Steeles?

   And even if you lived in Parkdale, Wente, did you know that McCormick Park and Sorauren Park is lily white and dominated by Caucasian homeowners? While the little plastic playground outside the dilapidated apartment buildings filled with bedbugs and mice on West Lodge Ave is where the Black children play, no green space and right beside the parking lot.

    What about the prison system in Canada? You say Toronto is not like Ferguson, but it’s ironic our prison system mirrors the American prison industry dealing in Black bodies, with prisons in rural parts of Ontario to help provide jobs to the poor white man. You say racism is basically a non issue, while barely unable to keep your own white privilege and prejudice in check. “Noisy” and “belligerent” is what you describe Black protestors, “passionate” and “determined” could have been used to describe a people who are fed up with living in a city full of racial disparity, in a city that benefits from white supremacy as much as our beleaguered cities in the States.

   Furthermore, the only point I agree with these privileged White women who like Black people exactly where they are (far from them), is that the BLM doesn’t belong in Pride. Pride is a White event. You have homosexual people of all races, and traditionally Black people are relegated to Blockarama. Even at the clubs, there are only two Black transgendered performers. At Family Pride, where I take my son, we were one of only 3 Black families amidst a sea of white faces. The Black community and the LGBTQI community need to come together to fight white supremacy which is heteronormative,  sexist, and racist. But don’t preach to the White masses. They are bent on misunderstanding us.

  Instead, take your time and determination to preach that Black Lives Matter to those who need to hear it most, like Jesse Williams did. We have an unconscious city that needs awakening and organizing. We cannot go to these White events and victimize ourselves. We must go to our brothers and organize But Black rallies, and organize to put Ourstory in our schools (not just European history and the twisted worldviews they possess). We must not convince them to hire us. We must create jobs ourselves and our communities.
  
   Wente and these other journalists who are enjoying the fruits of white domination will never sing our praises. And, that’s unimportant. What’s important is that the Black community in Toronto keeps fighting and works together to dismantle the racial hierarchy and domination that makes us more American than we think. When we had a Black Power Movement in the 1960s, white anxiety and hatred led to a Canadian version of COINTELPRO called PROFUNC that successfully dismantled a rising Black nation via the RCMP and police. Nothing has changed since then. Don’t let these slithery, prejudiced journalists fool you. We have much work to do.

National Aboriginal Day

  Today is National Aboriginal Day, which we celebrated last year and this year with reflection in a natural park setting. As a Black Canadian with a family from the West Indies, I notice many parallels between the Black struggle and the Aboriginal struggle against colonialism and white supremacy. We are both struggling to remember and honour the language, names and ways of our ancestors. We were both ripped from what rightfully belonged to us, and had it savagely taken away; then were called the savage ones for added insult.

    There is a push to make National Aboriginal Day a statutory holiday, one which I would gladly celebrate because this land I live in is not my land. This land belongs to Aboriginal people, and now they are all but invisible in a society that stole and destroyed their heritage and homes. I would much rather celebrate this day than Canada Day or Victoria Day. What has Queen Victoria ever done for Black people and liberation? The holiday would force people to be conscious of the tragic effects of colonialism, and to attend Aboriginal events, learn about the real history of Canada and give back to Aboriginal communities so they can rebuild themselves.