Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — #10: Kevin Kelly, Co-Founder, #devto

Kevin’s one of the few people in my digital life who knew me well before my journey into a full-fledged blogger ever really began. Introduced through mutual friends, he’s actually one of the people who got me to go to my first tweetup in 2010, and I haven’t looked back since!

Kevin’s been a staple of Toronto’s digital scene in some form or another for yearsheavily involved in Twitter in its 2011-2013 heyday; active in the developer community with a bevy of meetups and hackathons; and even going as far as co-founding #devTO, a developer group looking to advance the profession across the Toronto area.

Kevin’s Tales from the 2.9 submission focuses on the fact that we can’t so easily segregate the history of Black Canadians from that of Black people worldwide — and we’d do well to remember our roots!

I hope you enjoy his thoughts below!


Tales from the 2.9 — Kevin KellyKevin Kelly is a Developer, with experiences from banking, advertising, and even the government. When he’s not creating pixel perfect work, Kevin runs a local tech meetup group, #devto, and has participated in Humber Program Advisory Committee for Interactive Media.

Twitter | LinkedIn


1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?

At first, it was the usual. Slavery this, some of our North American achievements that, which were the very things that the scholastic system brought us to at the time. Yet, as an adult, I’ve realized that there was more to look into: Africa. The other aspects of what we are and those who came before us. Someday, I would like to experience the birthplace of those first hand. I’ve seen what my parents called home. As beautiful as the islands are, I’m glad they settled with Canada.

2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?

This part of Canada has its fair share racial issues and nearly all of us “Black” have in that respect. I agree that what’s being done there is definitely against us. But Ontario redeemed Canada. The melting pot. My parents are still here. That enough is proof to trust this country.

3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?

It’s funny. These days, I still don’t think I’m ready to be a mentor and cultivating as of yet. Funny thing, though. If you become a bit a community leader, people kind of see that as a mentor. In fact, a couple of years back at a collaborative holiday tech event, someone approached me and said he was proud that my tech group was great not just because it was positive, but there was a Black guy behind it. I nearly teared up. I never saw that kid again, but it resonated — being the exception in a world that usually sees us as athletes and musicians. There’s change, but how much? Anyone can do that. Change things. Their perspective, too. I’m living proof of that and hopefully, I can be that change. So can they.

4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?

My Mom, really. Good advice knows about the game to the point. Must be the Black Canadian West Indian parents’ phrase “work harder than the rest just to compete.” There were others. Some being from Humber, who have been supportive. Not really cultural on their end, but great all the same. Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Gang Starr, and several others as different kinds of mentors.

5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?

You’ve got one life to live. Never stop evolving. Especially on your own terms. You define you.


Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — #9: Natalie Preddie, Blogger, The Adventures of Natty P

In my journey through blogging so far, I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty — it’s hard to find bloggers who are genuinely nice people, not coming at every interaction with some ulterior motive, ready to take advantage at the slightest whiff of an opening.

Natalie Preddie is one of those people.

Our paths first crossed at DefineTO some years ago, but it’d take my good friend Solmaz to bring us back together over steak and kale salad at a tasting event for e11even.

In perhaps one of the most open entries to Tales from the 2.9 so far, Natty shows us what life is like as a Zebra Baby — mixed race kids making up only 0.5% of Canada’s population and a reality that my children will face in an all-too-near future.

Take this one in, everyone — this Tales submission is a great one, and I think we can all learn something from it.

Enjoy!


Tales from the 2.9 — Natalie PreddieFreelance travel writer, blogger + PR consultant in Toronto. Traveller. Story teller. Zebra baby.

Contributes to Toronto Star, Star Touch, PAX Magazine and Cityline. Manages a travel blog with video and editorial from all over the globe. My husband thinks I’m funny… but looks aren’t everything.


1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?

Being mixed race, I’m proud that I am part of a people that have overcome so much adversity and injustice to get to where we are now. I think of the underground railroad to Canada, escaping slavery and the continuing fight for equality. In such a short amount of time, Blacks have impacted the world culturally, socially, artistically…The world is a richer place with a decent beat.

At the same time, I am also frustrated by the stereotypes that Black people are both tainted with but at times, perpetuate. We still have a ways to go.

Don’t get me started on the number of Black men in prison in the States and the social limitations and the fact that there is STILL segregation in some US schools. The racial situation down there makes me so angry and I can talk about it for ages.

2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?

My Dad grew up a Black teenager in Toronto and he had a lot of difficulty with racism and prejudice. From friends, teachers, mentors, his expectations of what he could accomplish as a Black man were low. I have always been aware of his issues with authority fuelled by his experiences.

I am, however, very lucky. My parents always told me that I was simply Natalie: I wasn’t a colour, I was a person made from love.

Regardless of where you are in the world, one will encounter ignorance and I have run into those people on many occasions here in Canada since I was a kid. Even in jest, ‘Steal that bike for me, Natalie,’ or ‘Where can I buy some crack, Natalie?’  My sister and I actually encountered some social media harassment recently for ‘further diluting our race’ by marrying white guys. He told us my Dad had done something disgusting by marrying a white woman and we were a disgrace. Unfortunately, you are going to run into that everywhere.

But saying that, perhaps because of my upbringing, I find that my ‘Blackness’ is celebrated rather than highlighted in a negative way.

My first truly awful experience with racism was actually in a Pizza Hut in the States and I was blown away at the way I was treated. I am so happy I live in Canada and am proud of our overall acceptance and tolerance in this country.

3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?

I want to be a good global citizen. I want to know that I helped celebrate the beauty and diversity in the world, connecting people, place, cultures and ideas. I want be part of creating a world with more acceptance and less judgement. I want to help people feel good about themselves, their abilities, their worth and know their significance on this Earth. I want everyone to feel loved.

I’m not unrealistic: I know I’m not going to change the world into one happy, hugging place but even if it is just my kids to whom I successfully pass on the notion of love and acceptance, and they pass it on to someone else, then I did something.

4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?

My parents. They are pretty awesome. They fought a great deal of prejudice to be together. A white woman and a Black man were not socially acceptable when they started out but they were never deterred…even when the conflict came from within their families.

As a principal and a lawyer, they have always fought for justice, always championing the underdog, even to their own detriment. My parents always took in people who needed shelter, food, education and even social support. They taught us (me and my siblings) to do the same. Everyone deserves a chance regardless of where they came from.

They also taught me that love, kindness and tolerance make the world go round and to practice them daily.

They told me I was beautiful, strong and capable, and I could accomplish anything that I wanted to.

“Look at Halle Berry, Obama, Bob Marley, Langston Hughes! They’re all mixed and look what they did! YOU can do anything!”

5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?

You are beautiful. You are loveable and capable. You can do anything.


Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — #8: Brione Wishart, Filmmaker, TREPFUEL

Just past a week into Tales from the 2.9, and I’ve met so many amazing Black Canadians creating all sorts of content, reminding me that the stuff we consume online isn’t limited to bloggers — in 2016, we have creative souls out there putting together content that’ll suit just about any audience.

Today’s content creator for Tales is Brione Wishart of TREPFUEL, a filmmaker interviewing aspiring businesspeople to give the push needed for others to have enough confidence for the first step into entrepreneurship!

Check out his contribution below!


Tales from the 2.9 — Brione WishartI’m a father and serial entrepreneur with a passion for startups and tech. I interview inspiring businessmen and women and transform their insight and stories into motivation for aspiring Treps!

1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?

I think of all the positive contributions Black people have made to humanity.  From Charles Richard Drew’s creation of the blood bank to Akon providing electricity through solar power for over 14 African countries.
2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?
 
As far as I can remember, the one thing I can say I’ve learned being Black in Canada is that racism is real. Growing up a Black male I faced my fair share of racial profiling, illegal searches, employees following me around stores and bullying when I first arrived in Canada. Nevertheless, I love living in Canada and being a citizen of this great country.
3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?
 
A positive and motivating impression. I love getting people pumped up about entrepreneurship and the freedom that comes with it. Nothing makes me feel better knowing that I had a role in helping someone find happiness.
4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?
 
Malcolm X. After I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley I identified with him immediately. His ability to transition from a criminal to become one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history taught me a valuable lesson.  “Anything is Possible.”
5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?
 
Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
– Malcolm X

Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — #7: Lina “Reese” Wright, Blogger, Reese Speaks

Behind every good blogger’s a good network, and much is the case with Lian “Reese” Wright.

When I became a Dad, the parent blogger community almost immediately reached out, connecting me to plenty of other parents sharing their journeys online. One such group linked me with Reese and everything she writes about as a Mom up in Ottawa, ON, like music, food and fashion!

Her submission to Tales from the 2.9 focuses on the fact that The Black Experience isn’t solely one thing, and that one can find themselves in very different situations depending on the people, culture and societal context involved.

Hope you enjoy her thoughts below!


Tales from the 2.9 — Lian 'Reese' WrightMy name is Lian Wright, but my blog is called Reese Speaks. Why go by Reese? It is a nickname I had during high school, and it really became a part of me. I was born in Toronto, ON, but moved to Ottawa, ON after graduating from Carleton University with my Honours degree in Political Science. I talk about what I like and want to share. My three kids have become a bigger part of my blog, but I also share my love of music, product reviews, places I traveled or dined at and my interest in fashion. I also am the Editor and blogger of Ottawa Mommy Club, as well as  the Community Coordinator and Content Writer of the BConnected Conference.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Ottawa Mommy Club


1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?

When I think of Black History Month, I think about the stories my family have told me about when they were growing up and then what they experienced when they moved to Canada. I try to imagine what it was like for them to get by without the advantages I had and marvel at their resilience.

2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?

So far, it has been a rollercoaster ride for me. I have been jeered and cheered for my race from when I was a child. The biggest thing I have learned about my Black Experience is that I should be proud of who I am, and to make others see that Black people are diverse and talented.

3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?

I hope to share with my voice that I am an individual. The media may have Black people pegged as being a certain way, dressing and speaking a certain way and that, for some, that may not be beautiful. I want those who follow me to see I do not fit into the mold the media has created for others to view us in. I want to show that we are all beautiful, regardless of race or how the media tries to direct us to think about ourselves.

4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?

My Mom and my sister have been my greatest mentors in my life. They showed me how to be fierce without having to bear my proverbial claws, how kindness can do more for people than tearing them down and how to stand up for myself when I felt I have been wronged.

5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?

Never give up. It sounds like a cheesy and hopeless statement, but if we had given up, we would have gotten as far as we have. No matter what we are trying to achieve, we have to keep striving to attain our goals, hopes and dreams or else it will not happen.


Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — #6: Marcel Dee, Photographer, Marcel Dee Photography

Some years back, a number of friends and I connected over Twitter, forming a group that loved good food, fun times, and cracking wise as often as possible. Marcel Dee is part of that group — Team Trolling — and has been many things over the years: a blogger, a photographer, even a brand ambassador at times!

He shares his views on what it means to be a Black man in his Tales from the 2.9 submission below! Check it out!


Tales from the 2.9 — Marcel Dee

Hello, my name is Marcel Dee. I’m a Toronto-based photographer. I’m an easy-going guy, love to have a good time, love to laugh, love to make people laugh or bring a smile on their face. I try to make one person happy everyday.  I’m a lover of Tech and I have no problem geeking out.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Twitch


1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?

Anytime I think about Black History Month, I tend to think about why schools don’t teach about Canadian Black History. I can’t believe that all this time, everyone was having tea meetings or skipping rope. Why isn’t Canadian Black History taught here or mentioned? We only learn about the major stories, from Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Mandela or slaves escaping to the North.

2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?

It was sad to see what was going on in America last year. It only proves that the problem never went away. Years of people’s work went down the drain. Here in Canada I have two experiences. It’s either people want to hangout with me, because “Black” is the new cool, or badass; or people are afraid. I can’t simply approach a person and ask them a question or give them a greeting, without seeing them have a little fear in their eyes. I’m a tall person, it can be scary being approached by a big guy. But if you got other non-Black males my size and had them do the same thing you’d see the difference. It would be nice just to walk out and not worry whether people are stereotyping me.

3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?

To be honest, I just want people to be happy. I try everyday to bring a smile or laugh to someone. I never like to see someone upset or crying. I love the feeling of thinking back on a memory and remembering a good time. I just want to leave that feeling with the world.

4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?

To be honest, my Dad was. I’m going to be real for a moment here – most fathers you hear not being there for their child are Black. It’s either it’s publicised the most on TV or you all know that one single mother. My parents separated when I was young, it happens. But instead of my Dad taking off or not caring for us, he stuck around, because he knows what impact a father has on their child. He always didn’t want to divorce my Mom, because his benefits were better and it would help her out. To me my Dad broke the stereotype. Not only that, he’s always giving me life lessons, even though I don’t want them from time to time. He taught me how to be a man and how to stand out from the stereotype.

5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?

Support each other. We don’t support each other enough. We’re always fighting against each other or shooting each other. Stop with the gimmick, with this stereotypical gangster we tend to portray ourselves. If you want the world to take us serious, then act serious in a civil way. Pull up your pants as well, because you’re looking like clowns with your boxers showing.


Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!