Jael Richardson | Tales from the 2.9 2017 #14

As a Black Canadian man now living life in his 30s, I’m still very much piecing my story together.

Black History Month or no, I didn’t learn much about the Black Canadians who came before me growing up. Sure, we finally designated February as our own in 1995, but what good is that when there’re no Black kids in your classes to study it with? And if Black history means just the history of Black people once they’ve entered the country, do we then just ignore the rich multinational tale of all the Blacks who came here by choice? There’s no one answer to any of this, and Jael put it quite well—it’s a narrative we constantly need to shape and own for ourselves, lest the national thirst for a homogeneous Canadian identity erase everything that’s defined our community.

As Founder and Artistic Director for the Festival of Literary Diversity, I’m sure that Jael Richardson sometimes feels pigeonholed by this endless pursuit, but as marred as our ongoing narrative is by trauma, colonialism and societal pressures, take a reminder from her—we are more than just our skin colour.

As we continue exploring the vastness that is Canadian Black culture, we need to remember diversity’s more than just our countries of origin or the languages we speak. It’s our sexual orientations. Our gender identifications. Our lifestyles, our environments—28 days isn’t nearly enough to peel back every layer of Black Canadian identity… but it’s a start.

Enjoy Jael’s entry and see you tomorrow,

–case p.


What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

Being black means being a part of a complex history – it means being the descendant of incredibly brave and resilient people. It means constantly working to re-craft history by creating a present and a future that reinserts our stories into a national identity that threatens to erase us and shape us in ways that reduce, restrict, and limit us. Being Canadian means being a part of a country that has created an opportunity for my family that we would not have anywhere else. It’s a place where I’ve been able to thrive, and it is the place that will always be the first and only place I call home. Being a Black Canadian means carrying both of these truths– accepting and embracing the way they live inside me.

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #8, Makini Smith, Entrepreneur, Speaker, Mentor and Author of the “A Walk in My Stilettos” Series

If you heard any of the interviews I did for Tales from the 2.9, you’ll know there’s one word that comes to mind when I think of my fellow Black Canadians—

RESILIENCE.

It’s rare that anything worthwhile happens overnight. In an age where overnight successes come and go daily, we rarely see the years of grind needed to get people there.

People clown on Drake all the time for his quasi-anthem “Started from the Bottom”, but that title’s all too real for so many Black folk, and we’ve culturally learned that we’ll need to work twice as hard to get half as far.

But when those efforts start bearing fruit and you can finally see what it was all for, you don’t give that success up for anything.

It’s this narrative that comes to mind when I read Makini Smith’s contribution, seeing just what she’s overcome to become the international phenom she is today. People take pity on teen Moms. They downplay how hard it is to be a housewife. But Makini doesn’t want your pity, nor should she ever be underestimated—it’s clear from her brand and her accomplishments that she’s taken her life into her hands through hustle and through faith, and if that isn’t the utter embodiment of the Black Canadian Experience, I don’t know what is.

Check out Makini Smith’s post below. I promise—it’s a good one!

Until tomorrow,

–case p.


What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

Being a Black Canadian to me means multiple things.  The question is a little difficult for me to answer one way. I travel internationally and can give a response based on how we are treated elsewhere vs how I view things living here. Having spent much time traveling to the United States my entire life I’m grateful my parents chose to migrate to Canada. Being Black Canadian is something I am proud of. I use that as a tool when I travel to other parts of the world. Others greet me with hugs and smiles. I’m treated with much respect. Canadians have a good reputation in other countries. When I am home here in Canada I can appreciate the diversity of cultural backgrounds but also feel extremely limited for success. We are a minority being Black in North America as it is but Black successful Canadians are an even smaller number.

The 2017 100 | It’s Not WHAT You Do, It’s How You DO It.

Unless my life sees some major changes this year, 2017 may mark the last list of 100!

It’s January 13th—I’ve spent nearly two weeks of my new year agonising over 100 items that matter enough to hit a list of goals and aspirations for the year ahead. And that’s a key difference from the lists that came before it.

Before it was a task list—I’d look around at everything that needed doing and jot it down, because my life would obviously be better with them out of the way.

But task lists aren’t inspiring. They’re not motivational. As a creative, that’s like dropping a pile of 100 things I dread on my lap and nagging myself to get ’em done by the year’s end.

Once I realised what I was doing to myself, so much so that I just went through my least successful year yet for my list, I knew I needed to make a change for 2017.

The 2017 100 — It's Not WHAT You Do, It's How You DO It. — New Year, New Perspective

I’m particularly proud of the list I’ve put together for The 2017 100. I didn’t take any shortcuts—I wrote out 100 things that’d help me live the life I’d like to lead and prove instrumental along the path there. Rather than hurriedly scrawl out a list I’d likely ignore ’til December, I wrote one that I’d happily check off, knowing that each accomplishment would take me a step closer to a far better 2018. I feel like I’m finally getting it right this time, and I hope that shines through as you give it a look for yourself!

But that’s enough of my chatter—I’ve already made you wait long enough. Here for your consideration is The 2017 100—because it’s not what you do… it’s how you do it!