Black culture is unique—one of the few cultures thrust upon a people and not developed by them. A Jamaican is not a Gambian is not an Australian Aborigine. We’ve got tribes within tribes and languages within languages but somehow lumped together by the colour of our skin.
And we’ve made the best of it. From Canada’s first Negro History Week in 1926 to officially recognising Black History Month in 1995 thanks to the help of the Honourable Jean Augustine, we’ve celebrated our Blackness and looked to remind the world that we’re not just one thing.
But it hasn’t been easy, with “Black Canadian” conjuring up images of The Weeknd or Drake and not so much Cameron Bailey or Michaëlle Jean. You hear about Black Canadians on February 1st, but where do they go for the rest of the year?
And that’s why I’m here working on Live from the 3.5—because if we don’t invest the time to own our stories, who will?
3.5% and Growing — The Black Canadian Story
It all started with an idea.
From 2.9 to 3.5 — A Project that Grows with its People
If you Google “Black History Month” and Canada, you’ll see that our digital presence isn’t exactly astounding. My project started up as Tales from the 2.9 a few years back to give my fellow Black Canadian content creators the space to express what being Black Canadian meant to them.
And over the years, it evolved—from a media tour in 2017 to diving into more societal issues last year. And for 2019, it’s time to give the project my all and celebrate our culture with far more than just essays.
This feels like the year where we’ll finally get it. Where we have the right tools and the best means of telling stories—it isn’t just a series of blog posts anymore. We come from a millennia-long history of oral tradition, telling our stories through griots and shamans, teaching new generations everything they need to know to understand where they came from.
So why stop? Why fix something that ain’t broke? The years before were good, but this year I want to let everyone feel what we feel with a series of podcasts that work with the content instead of trying to compete with it.
And so that’s precisely what we’ll do. I admit—it won’t be easy; asking people for their time and personal stories is no small matter, so I’m going to do everything in my power to make this year’s representation of our 3.5% of the country the best yet!
Live from the 3.5 — Because Our Stories Won’t Tell Themselves.
So get ready for an intense month ahead, with content that’ll make you cry, think and feel. We’ll cover everything from celebration to racism, oppression to cuisine and everything in between. We’re not out to uplift. We’re not here to vilify. It’s about telling the truth, and by the end of February, hopefully, we’re one of the places that did that right.
Let’s all make the most of the Black History Month ahead and keep on reaching for the stars. We’ll never know how far we can get unless we try!
Let’s do this one day at a time, and we’ll see you tomorrow for Chapter One—”What Is Blackness?”
See you then!