After all this time invested in blogging and building my brand, I sometimes foolishly (arrogantly?) think that I’ve met everybody in the Toronto-area blogosphere who I’d vibe with, and I’m very glad that I’m still continually proven wrong today — Bee Quammie is the business.
As a fellow ’83 baby — and more recently as one of the few parent bloggers of colour in our nation — Bee’s stayed true to her brand ever since her first post way back in August 2011 (yes, I looked), and stands for much of what I’m trying to accomplish as a Black father and content creator in Toronto!
Bee’s submission for Tales from the 2.9 is a good one — it looks at what it’s like coming from a place that sees you as the enemy, what our responsibilities are in shaping a better world for the generation to come, and ultimately, a lesson we all need to remember to keep moving forward!
Check it out below!
Bridget “Bee” Quammie is a healthcare professional, award-winning digital media content creator, and speaker.
Bee manages two personal blogs – ‘83 To Infinity and The Brown Suga Mama – and writes for publications like Chatelaine, Metro News, Parents Canada, For Harriet, and The Huffington Post Canada. Bee has been recognized by Black Enterprise and the Black Canadians Awards, and has held speaking engagements and television features across North America.
1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?
The first image that comes to mind is me, back in elementary school – the only Black girl in the class, who was always tasked with speaking on BHM and doing the jobs of teachers who had no clue where to start. I think of historic Black American figures like Malcolm X, Shirley Chisholm, and Black Wall Street, etc. – but I always remember that Black history is global. Now I make an effort to also seek out stories of Black history within Canada and across the diaspora.
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?
I grew up in London, Ontario – a place and time where it was par for the course to have bananas thrown at my family and I from apartment building balconies and have the N-word hurled at us in both loud and hushed voices. Moving to Toronto opened me up to connections with a more diverse community, but anti-Blackness lives here too. As a first-generation Canadian, there’s a bit of internal reconciliation work I do constantly to figure out what it means to be Canadian when the family and culture I was raised within are from elsewhere.
When we think about the experience of being a Black person in Canada, it’s crucial to remember that this is a huge country with places that are the complete opposite of Toronto. I’m so happy to be here and have opportunities to connect with my culture in ways I didn’t have outside of the city, thus I often think about how others across the country view their own Black Canadian experience.
3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?
My motivations are twofold. There have been so many times where I felt like my voice was drowned out, invalidated, or ignored. Having my own platform via the work I do helps me to speak up and out authentically, so I hope that it encourages others – particularly those whose voices are marginalized – to do the same in their own way, and remind people that they aren’t alone in various life experiences. Secondly, I do the work I do to hopefully make my daughter’s navigation through life a bit smoother than mine. I’m having conversations now that I hope she doesn’t have to repeat in the future.
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 have been my immediate mentors – the good and bad of their life experiences give me a lot to learn from. As far as a cultural mentor, I’d say Bob Marley has been a huge figure for me. His music and thoughts on everything from Jamaican culture to politics to spirituality to Black empowerment to global equality always give me something to think about, learn more about, or embrace with my own understanding. He consistently makes me consider what my definitions of success and legacy are.
5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?
Let’s find ways to connect with each other. The experiences of Black people in this country are extremely multifaceted, but we have threads that link us to each other. There’s so much we can learn from each other and so many commonalities that can strengthen our various communities, so I believe it’s important to find ways to navigate these connections.
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!