Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — #20: Shaun Worrell, Blogger, Milk and Coco

Something I realized after my near-immediate induction into parent blogging just months after the birth of my first child was that the world of parent bloggers was a small one, and that of the Dad Bloggers specifically smaller yet. But though the number of Canadian fathers publicly sharing their stories online is but a handful, I’ve gotta say I’m glad I’ve met the number of Dads I have who I’d be more than happy to share a beer with sometime!

Shaun Worrell is one half of Milk and Coco, a parenting blog he shares with his wife Amy about their life in Durham, ON raising biracial children — much like another blogger we know. His contribution to Tales from the 2.9 looks a bit at inspiration, discrimination, and what it means to be a Black father in today’s Canada.

Check it out below!


Tales from the 2.9 — Shaun WorrellShaun’s the middle of three boys, a married father of two, employed full-time in telecom and one half of Milk and Coco, a parenting and lifestyle blog. He has recently jumped on his wife’s blogging adventure and he is going with the flow. He’s a self-proclaimed jack of all trades and knows enough to be deadly. You will find him writing about DIY’s, kitchen creations, tech toys, BASS MUSIC (Jungle) and anything in between. His favourite saying is “Food always tastes better with a pepper in the pot!”


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

I think about the stories of hardships faced by those before me. What they had to endure to ensure I had the opportunities I have today. I think about my parents and my parents’ parents. Where they originally came from. I think about what my parents had to go through to get here and what they had to go through when they were here. There is so much that I think about including the contributions of trailblazers from the past, those living among us today and those making their way.

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 experience in Canada has been nothing like what we’ve all been exposed to south of the border. I grew up in multicultural communities my whole life and it wasn’t until I started my career that I noticed I became the minority.

I’ve had a couple situations where the “N-word” was used towards me growing up and it was always people looking for a fight.

One moment that stuck with me from years ago was when I was getting off of a bus, walking home from work and I noticed a person immediately crossed the street so we would not have to cross paths. I remember thinking to myself “is she doing this because I am Black?” I thought it was funny, I always wanted to be “that” guy but at 160 lbs 5”8’ looking in the mirror, I didn’t see it. But because of what we see on the news, I could be the most vicious person on the block. We seemed to have the same schedule and I saw her often, so I started to cross the street before she felt the need to. I’ve learned that there are stereotypes out there and I need to be aware of them and people’s actions and responses to my presence.

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

Regardless of what we may hear, read or see we are all unique and special in our own way. I believe you should never let them see you sweat. What I mean is, whatever you want to do, do it, and do it like you own it! Be confident and proud of who you are! That doesn’t mean being flamboyant or flashy it means respecting yourself and others. The most important thing to me is that my kids see me as who I really am, not what the world says I am or should be. At the end of the day, my children are my everything and I hope that they learn confidence from how I live day to day!

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 say I’ve had a single mentor would be a complete lie. I’ve had many, but if I had to choose one (well two) it would be my parents. Besides my parents my uncles, aunts, cousins and close friends. My family has always had my best intentions in mind and gave me the best guidance and life advice. My parents were immigrants to this country and they were brought up differently, I respect that. The greatest lesson I learned from them was to keep yourself Royal. Don’t ever stoop to “their” level.

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

In order to stand out from everyone you will need to give 115% in everything and be persistent! Always be prepared for your dream to happen and if there is something you want, go for it and know when you have it! Dream Big!! That extra 15% effort is what sets you apart from the pack!


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 — #19: Septembre Anderson, Multimedia Journalist

For what the Black Canadian community lacks in size, it makes up for by being well-connected — there’s always somebody who knows somebody, and this pretty much described how I first virtually crossed paths with Septembre Anderson.

I first heard of Septembre a couple of years back when I needed someone to cover an event in my stead. Since then, I’ve watched her continually take the world head-on to establish a place where people like her get judged by the merits of their actions and not the colour of their skin.

Septembre’s contribution to Tales from the 2.9 recognizes that though we may want to integrate and be seen as equal to our Canadian peers, there’s a number of obstacles we’ve yet to overcome to get there, subtle as they might be.

Check out some thoughts below from someone who not only sees the struggle, but uses much of what’s within to try and quash it!


Tales from the 2.9 — Septembre AndersonAs a multimedia journalist, cultural critic and public intellectual with six years of experience in the journalism industry, Septembre Anderson is a force to be reckoned with.

Her published work covers topic areas like fashion, beauty, lifestyle, current events, social justice and, health and wellness while her articles have appeared in publications like Flare, Metro, Vice Canada and the Ottawa Citizen.

For Septembre, writing isn’t just a profession but a part of her activism and article topics include how office dress codes are Eurocentric, unrealistic beauty ideals, internships and labour exploitation, political correctness and the all-white everything 2016 Oscar nominees.

Septembre has also appeared on a number of panels, radio shows and TV programs including CBC Day 6, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, CBC Q Radio, Global News, Canadaland Commons, the What Makes A Man? Conference and the OPSEU “The ‘F’ Word—Reclaiming Feminism!” Conference.


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

For me, Black revolutionaries, usually Black Caribbean Canadians come to mind. The Black Action Defence Committee, Dudley Laws in his black beret, Afua Cooper and the more revolutionary Montreal. People who fought for the space that I now occupy. The trailblazers whose shoulders I stand on and whose work has amplified my voice.
 
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?

In Canada, the Black experience we’re shown and sold is the Immigrant Success Story of coming to Canada and becoming wildly successful (we’re seeing echoes of this with the Syrian refugees). My story has been the opposite. My grandmother came here and struggled and, unfortunately, that struggle has been passed on to my parents generation and, now, mine. Thankfully, my grandma also passed down her strength and sense of justice so I’ve made advocating for Black people and other marginalized groups part of my life and work. It’s hard to fight and advocate, though, because Canadian-style racism is very sly and sneaky and not as overt as American-style racism.
 
3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?

My goal is always to empower, liberate and educate. I hope to empower people to feel confident enough to use their voices for the liberation of Black people and other marginalized groups. I also try my best to educate. For me, knowledge and the accompanying language to explain and articulate what has been done to me has been so liberating and I try to pass that on. I feel that’s my job as someone who has the privilege of a university education and who has her big toe in the journalism door.

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?

All of my mentors were authors. My biggest mentor was Malcolm X. He gave 12-year-old me the words to understand what was being done to me. I also find Naomi Campbell, Rihanna and Kanye West extremely inspirational. Their confidence and unapologetic nature is exactly what I need to overcome the naysayers and racists and speak my mind loudly.

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

I don’t know you personally but I love 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 — #18: Lamin Martin, Concept Artist, Lamin Illustration and Design

An update from Casey Palmer, February 12th, 2020:

So you may have heard by now, but I was shocked last night when Rob texted me to let me know that Lamin had passed away after a long struggle with ALS. And though Lamin and I hadn’t crossed paths in quite a number of years, I have to say that our world’s lost a good one. I remember in those times in Artist’s Alley, he would have easily some of the most amazing work on-site, but never let it go to his head. He always approached every interaction with humility and grace, and you could feel how sincere he was with everyone he talked to. I wish I’d kept in better touch, but my life went another way… I just hope he knows how much he connected so many of us.

I’ll keep his words up to give you an idea of the kind of man he was. I think we could all learn a lot from his example.


Original Post:

If there’s one man whose art could consistently make me feel like a poser, it’s Lamin Martin. He’s the smooth-spoken well-dressed gentleman I quickly got to know at comic conventions, eschewing the common fare that everybody else peddled in Artist Alley with prints of popular characters and custom buttons, instead selling these beautiful oversized collections of his paintings, turning anyone’s head as they walked by.

All that said, it’s been good to reconnect with him through Tales from the 2.9, someone whose work I respected 15 years ago and has only gotten better since!

Lamin’s contribution to the series is a reminder that we are more than our skin colour — that despite whatever the world is telling us about being Black, it’s up to us what path we travel down to define ourselves.

Check his thoughts out below!


Tales from the 2.9 — Lamin MartinLamin Martin is a concept designer whose experience includes video games (Game of Thrones: Ascent), feature films (Pixels), television (Heroes: Reborn) augmented reality (Augmented World Entertainment) and package art (IDW Publishing), among many others.

Lamin has also written and illustrated several art books and has instructed workshops and lectures at galleries, schools and publicly to audiences of students and professionals.

You can see his work at the Lamin Illustration and Design website!


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

Martin Luther King. The “I Have A Dream” speech never fails to move me to tears.

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?

What I’ve learned from it is that I’m very fortunate to be living in Canada, specifically Toronto, because my experience has been largely positive and supportive from not only the Black community but from every community that’s represented in the multi-national group of friends that I keep.

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

I want my work as a concept artist to be about the ideas that I generate and the passion that I bring to them. Being remembered as a Black concept artist I feel takes away from the work that should stand on its own merits. I’m a concept artist who just happens to be Black.

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?

I’ve been very fortunate to have been raised and mentored by many people so to attribute my upbringing to one mentor diminishes the contributions of them all. But what I can say is the greatest lesson that I’ve learned from them, collectively, is that it really does take a village.

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

It’s important to remember that in our community we shouldn’t limit ourselves. If you like playing guitar and want to join a rock band do it. If you like to skateboard, do that. Or if you like dentistry, then become a dentist. I exhibit my illustration work at a lot of art shows and it’s very frustrating to be one of two, maybe three, Black artists showcasing their talents in a sea of hundreds of artists. I believe that as a community we should feel comfortable in doing more than what is expected of us.


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 — #17: Tash Jefferies, Healthy Living Expert, TashJefferies.com

With everything that’s kept me busy of late, it feels like a lifetime age where Tash and I first crossed paths, somewhere back in 2012, me a fledgling lifestyle blogger spending more time winning swag and hitting every party I could find, and Tash like a wiser cousin who knew there were far better things to invest our efforts in.

Years later, I’m a Dad of two who’s slowed his roll to strive for something a little more permanent, and Tash is out east in her home province of Nova Scotia transforming lives one conversation at a time with a focus on health and wellness.

Tash’s submission for the Tales from the 2.9 touches on a sore truth about life as a Black person in today’s North America — that despite the horrors of our collective history, putting all of our energy into lamenting the past will only take us so far. We need to actively build a better present so that we can give our kin a better starting point for their futures.

Check out some of Tash’s East Coast experiences and sensibilities below!


Tales from the 2.9 — Tash JeffriesTop-Rated Online Instructor | TEDx Speaker | Huffington Post Top 50 Healthy Tweeter

Tash Jefferies is an African Nova Scotian woman who has dedicated her work and life to helping people live healthy, vibrantly, fully self-expressed, and true to who they are.

Her work includes public speaking, teaching, and consulting in the areas of healthy living, social media management, entrepreneurship, personal branding, stress management and sustainability.

Twitter | Free Wellness Program


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

I’d like to see Black History Month transform, from solely talking about stories of those from 100+ years ago, to starting to usher in the successes of the current generations, those African Canadians doing cutting edge research,  technologies and non-stereotypical media development. That means, I’m still in search of my modern and relatable icons.

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’ve had more than enough confrontational experiences with my brothers and sisters south of the border because many of them can’t envision a lack of the overt, constant forms of racism in everyday life. I must admit, I have been very blessed in that I have not encountered very many instances of those kinds of struggles – in my educational, professional or even entrepreneurial experiences. If anything, I’ve learned to embrace my robust history, culture and legacy and allow it to be a source of inspiration and creative energy for me.

On that same note, I truly believe that the experience of growing up as an African Canadian is very unique, in that those of us who come from indigenous Black communities have such multicultural backgrounds – Aboriginal, French, Latin American, Caribbean, and many others – identify with more than one ancestry. I am not just a Black Canadian, I am also part of the Metis community, and I’m sure there are still other roots that have yet to surface.

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

I truly hope that my voice will show the world that if “they” want to put me into a self-identified box (African Canadian, Metis Canadian, Female Entrepreneur, the list goes on), I REFUSE to fit into one, no matter what I do, where I go. I do my best to represent excellence and progression and positivity, period.

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 biggest cultural mentor, without a doubt, was and still is my Mom. She taught me, since before I could fully speak, what it means to live with integrity, how to have resilience no matter what the world throws at you, and how to remain human with a strong sense of humour! She also taught me the importance of never feeling inferior because of where I came from, the colour of my skin, and how to always keep my self-confidence strong in any situation. All of those lessons have led me to have a life that I’m proud of, and where I feel I continue to grow and reach for the best experiences that life has to offer!

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

STOP holding on so strongly to the past. Acknowledge, value and cherish it for creating you, us and our vibrant history and culture. However, START creating a new future, with new possibilities, and create your own view of what the world has in store for you, us, and our next generation.


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 — #16: Ryan Robinson, Father, Business Owner, Up-and-Coming Content Creator

It’d be foolish to talk about the digital landscape for my fellow Black Canadians without keeping an eye firmly fixed upon the future.

Ryan Robinson’s someone I got to meet in person fairly recently, and it was refreshing to sit and chat with a like-minded father about parenting, blogging and finance, largely because we Dads often fail so hard at connecting on our own.

Infused with his strong conviction for ensuring our children get raised with better financial savvy and know-how than we did, Ryan’s submission for Tales from the 2.9 is rooted in positivity, determination, and the reminder that we’re ultimately in control of our destinies, no matter how hard life may seem right now.

Check it out below!


Tales from the 2.9 — Ryan Robinson Hi, my name is Ryan Robinson. My story is very different and not typical of what you’d expect to find an Electrical Engineer doing. It’s actually quite the opposite. I was once co-owner of a dance & entertainment company here in Toronto named Do Dat Entertainment. We provided dancers & choreographers for music artists, movies, TV commercials and corporate events. You have probably seen our dancers either dance for or choreograph for artists like Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Jully Black, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, Shawn Desman or Diddy, to name a few.

Now, one of the things I’m very passionate about is helping parents teach their kids that they are not ATMs. That they don’t have a magical tree in their backyard that has $5 dollar bills as leaves. (Isn’t this what all parents want their kids to know?..haha)

One topic I find that we as parents don’t talk to our kids enough about is money. We don’t have fun conversations with our kids about how to use money wisely.

I honestly believe that if we create fun activities for our kids to learn about Saving, Sharing, Spending and Investing the money they get early on (whether that be money from the grandparents, or money from doing chores) – that we will be providing them with the foundation they’ll need to grow up and become the successful adults we want them to be. Our kids will also learn to avoid the mistakes that we made in our 20s and 30s.

I hear a lot of parents say things like “I wish I had learned about money when I was growing up as a kid” or “I don’t want my kids to make the same mistakes I made with money” or “I want my son/daughter to work and learn the value of a dollar”

So now I help busy parents with kids ages 4-10 by providing them with fun age specific activities they can use to teach their kids lessons about money and values so that they don’t grow up to be spoiled and feel entitled.

You can reach me at Twitter at @SimpleMoolah!


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

Some of the stories and images that come to my mind when I think about Black History month are of course Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream speech”. Clips and images of his speech have always been highlighted during Black History Month. They serve as a great reminder of what a great man he was and the doors he fought to break down for the rest of us.

Other stories that come to mind are Rosa Parks – for not giving up her seat in the coloured section of the bus to a white person, because the white section was full.

Nelson Mandela also comes to mind. I can’t even begin to imagine how he endured serving over 27 years in prison fighting to abolish Apartheid in South Africa. Then after all that, he goes on to become South Africa’s first Black President! His story is very inspirational.

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 would have to say that my experience has been mostly positive so far. I think Canada is a great country, and I love that Toronto is a city with such a diverse cultural community. But although I’ve had many positive experiences, that doesn’t mean that there has not been some negative points along my journey. Whenever you experience racism first hand, those images stay fresh in your mind, as if they just happened yesterday. Even if it happened years ago…the same emotions you felt back then, quickly resurface and you begin to experience those same feelings again.

One incident I vividly remember. I was walking home one summer day when I was in university. I remember exactly where I was when it happened too. A pickup truck with a group of young white guys hanging out the windows drove by and yelled, “Hey nigger, go back where you came from.”

I remember being startled at first because it was a quiet afternoon. I was the only one walking in that area, and there wasn’t much car traffic. But then I remember thinking to myself, “Did that really just happen?”
And as I thought more about this, I remember becoming angry and upset. For one… I couldn’t believe what just happened. And secondly, I remember thinking, “How ignorant. They don’t even know me, and they’re making these assumptions. I was born in Toronto for crying out loud!…..if they only knew.”

As a Black Canadian, I don’t walk around expecting these things to happen. I don’t expect to face racism from everyone I meet. I have a more positive view on life and people in general. But I’m also not ignorant of the fact that there are people out there that harbor these types of thoughts in their mind.

This incident, along with some others I’ve encountered reminds me and has taught me, that even though a lot has changed, a lot still remains the same. Racism still exists, but it’s more hidden. It’s not as out there and in your face as it was back in the day with the signs of “we serve whites only” or signs indicating which drinking fountains were for whites and which were for coloured people – but it clearly still exists in the hearts of some people in our society.

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

Lately, the one thing that has been on my mind a lot is to live each day like it’s your last. I truly think that if we really took a moment to realize how unpredictable our life really is, and that things can change literally in a matter of seconds… that we would spend more of our time focusing on the things that matter the most to us on a day-to-day basis.

There’s a quote by Steve Jobs that I have in my bathroom that I read everyday. He said it in his commencement speech at Stanford in June 2005. He said that for the last 33 years, every morning he looked himself in the mirror and asked himself this question, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And if the answer was “No” too many days in a row – he knew that he had to change something.

I strongly believe in this. Nobody knows if today will be your last, or tomorrow. No one knows if they will live to see another hour from now. You just don’t know. So why waste your time? Why waste time doing things you don’t enjoy? Why waste time not pursuing your dreams and goals?

I believe that if there are things in your life that you want to do, that you should at the very least… start working on them today. Take a small step in that direction. It might be as small as doing a Google search about that business idea you had. Or looking up what a flight costs to that dream vacation you’ve always wanted to take. Or doing one sit up. You may think, “But what point does that make? It’s so small and insignificant.” But I believe that a small step is always better than no step at all. At least you can say that you started.

The marathon is won by taking one small step at a time.

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?

I honestly can’t think of any specific mentors who really guided me along the way growing up. No one in particular really stands out to me.

Aside from my parents, who are both from Barbados, there really wasn’t anyone teaching me and guiding me from a cultural standpoint.

By default, like any child growing up whose parents immigrated to Canada from another country… you learn a lot from being immersed in that culture on a daily basis. So growing up, I learned a lot about Bajan culture through my parents and family. I visited Barbados a lot growing up, so I got to see the way of life on the island. I saw first hand the cultural differences between living on a small island and living in Toronto. And as I got older, I got to appreciate the differences each place has to offer more and more.

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

Always strive for success and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. As I always tell my kids, “You don’t say I can’t. You say.. I Can!… and you keep on trying.”

If you have a dream or a goal, and you can’t stop thinking about it… work and work at it until you turn that dream into a reality. Do the research. Figure it out.

The birth of the Internet has changed our world drastically. It has given opportunities to people who before never would’ve had those opportunities. It has made our world smaller. Now you can communicate to someone on the other end of the world in a matter of minutes… seconds even… all from your smartphone. The possibilities are endless. If Barack Obama can become President of the United States, you too can accomplish your dreams and goals – as long as you’re willing to put in the work and make the necessary sacrifices.


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 — #15: Alicia Bell, Owner, Train it Right

Alicia and I first crossed paths on a TELUS campaign for the Samsung Galaxy S6, her life as a dedicated fitness model and personal trainer contrasting pretty heavily with the role of the new Dad in dire need of sleep I was clearly playing. But differences be damned, she clearly knows what she’s doing, with a growing audience in the tens of thousands across the Internet with her training club Train it Right, so I’m glad I could grab her long enough to join the project!

Make sure to check out her submission for Tales from the 2.9 below as she discusses race relations, sport, and what it’s like being Black in a rural community!


Tales from the 2.9 — Alicia BellAlicia Bell is a Toronto based Kinesiologist, Personal Trainer, Strength Coach, Published Fitness Model, Fitness Competitor and Track and Field Sprint Coach who has devoted her life to helping people reach their goals in fitness and sport. Alicia has modelled in and wrote content for numerous publications. In 2015 Alicia starred in two commercials featuring herself. She is also a nationally recognized track and field coach who previously has coached team Canada at the Maccabi games in Israel in July of 2013. She led the team to 13 medals. She now coaches for Ryerson University and her own Club: Train It Right. Alicia has over 10 years of practical and educational experience. Alicia also runs her Train It Right her own Personal Training business and Track and Field Club. Alicia is also a Corus Entertainment Wdish Creator and is currently enrolled in the Canadian Sports Institute taking her advanced coaching diploma. Alicia has experience working with many types of clientele. She has worked as a Kinesiologist and an Exercise Rehabilitation Specialist. She is also experienced at weight loss, strength training, toning and athletic conditioning. She has worked with clients such as Dwight Howard (NBA), Rashad McCants (Former NBA), Geoff Harris (Olympic 800m runner), Lil Jon (Rapper/DJ), Karla Moy aka HustleGrl, Hill Harper (actor, author) and even the mother of the Toronto rapper Drake. Recently Alicia has been sponsored by Crossfuel and is Puma Canada’s first signed training ambassador.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


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

Obviously track and field is a sport that is very close to my heart. So I immediately think of John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. It stood for so much! And still does.

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 come from a very rural small New Brunswick town called Plaster Rock. Where I was actually the only Black person for miles. For the most part the people I was close to saw me as the same. However I was always called names that I know to this day they didn’t understand the history or how discriminatory those names were. I know they don’t completely understand how bad it is to use those terms and names. I will call it ignorance or lack of education. Since there aren’t many people of colour there I don’t think they fully understand. I think people in rural areas of Canada need to be taught more about Black history and the impact of negativity that ignorance can have.

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

That despite being Black and from a small New Brunswick town that I went for my dreams and haven’t stopped trying to reach them. No matter what your circumstances are there are no limitations and I hope that people who have followed me/are following me see how hard that I have worked to get to where I am now.

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 biggest mentor from a cultural standpoint used to be one of Canada’s top sprinters. He went to my University, Dalhousie. He helped me embrace who I was and learn the history. Up until then I was sheltered in my small town and very unaware. Heck, I didn’t even know about Biggie or 2Pac until him!

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

Surround yourself with influential, positive and hard-working people. They will help guide you in the right path.


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 — #14: Joe Bonsu, Mark Williams & Shawn Cuffie, Comic Book Creators, Heroes of the World

Continuing our look at the people who knew me back when I was more focused on creating comics than I was on my studies in business and social sciences, allow me to introduce some gents who accompanied me through many a trench as we sought to legitimize our art and educate the world on what we brought to the table.

Joe Bonsu, Mark Williams and Shawn Cuffie are the team behind Heroes of the World, a comic following the adventures of Oren as he encounters heroes representing every country of the world! Without stealing their thunder too much, I can say that it’s offered them the chance to examine cultural practices across the globe, weaving it all into a continuous narrative that’s uniquely their own.

They’ve been at it for over a decade — you should really check it out!

Their submission for Tales from the 2.9 reflects much of what they’ve poured into their comic, seeking positivity and harmony with everything they put out! You can check out their views below!


Tales from the 2.9 — Joe Bonsu, Mark Williams & Shawn CuffieHeroes of the World is a project created by two Canadian artists, Mark Williams and Joe Bonsu assisted by business manager, Shawn Cuffie. It involves the creation of superheroes from around the world, placing each superhero in a different country and emphasizing the importance of unity through diversity in their artwork. “This work appeals to everyone and it instills a strong sense of pride for your heritage, but also touches strongly on the idea that diversity enriches our experiences and ultimately unites us,” explained the creators of the project.

Since 2005, Heroes of the World has evolved into a brand that represents different countries through the concept of the superhero. Whether it is on a t-shirt, a poster, or a hat, we make sure that the customer represents their country with the pride of a hero. Our sole purpose is to create a brand that will unify people from all walks of life.

WebsiteFacebook | TwitterInstagram | Tumblr | YouTube


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

When it comes to Black History Month, we think about the stories of those who laid a path for us to do our thing. Stories of people like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to name a few. As comic book creators, the images that come to mind are array of Black superheroes that are present in comics and TV, such as Black Panther, Falcon, Storm and Static Shock. These images are the partial inspiration of our brand, Heroes Of The World.

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?

Well we haven’t experienced anything too negative as Black men in Canada. For every comic book convention or trade show we’ve been to, Heroes Of The World has always been embraces with love and admiration. However, we found that being Black artists, we have to work extra harder than other artists out there.

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

The impression we want to live is one that evokes unity and togetherness amongst all races. With Heroes Of The World, we want to change and unite the world with our art and ideas.

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?

Over the years we’ve had too many mentors to name. The majority of our mentors and role models are within our friends and family circle (as well as the people we’ve met along our journey). We believe that one can learn from many people along the way.

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

No matter what creed, colour or kind that you are, never stop chasing your dreams. Keep working towards your goals, no matter how long it takes you, or how hard it might be.


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 — #13: Nadine Kennedy, Artist & Blogger

Nadine knows me from a life before I’d ever realized what I’d get up to as a writer — Casey Palmer the comic book artist, manning booths at local comic and anime conventions with my creator-owned series Fish & Chimps and a number of other projects I was always working on. We kept in touch over the years through the magic of Facebook, and though life has taken us both down some interesting paths, if I remembered her correctly, I knew I could count on Nadine for a passionate look at the Black Canadian experience and everything that came with it.

What I got was a very personal entry for Tales from the 2.9, a detailed coming-of-age story of a girl growing up in a world whose values, lessons and prescriptions on fitting in with the crowd reflected little of what she saw in herself.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading an entry that feels like it could be the childhood of any Black Canadian raised in the ’80s, and I know I hope to see far more from Ms. Nadine Kennedy!

Enjoy her thoughts below — I know I did!


Tales from the 2.9 — Nadine KennedyCurrently working an office gig by day, Nadine enjoys sleeping, taking naps, resting, and lounging in her free time. When not doing those things, she can be found sketching, doodling, mediating nerd groups and pages, reading up on her Tumblr dashboard, or being frustrated with the selection on Netflix.

You can find her at deenie’s attempts at drawings, deenie’s, on Twitter, or in the Black Folks Like Anime, Too Facebook group!


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

Some of the things that come to mind when I think about Black History Month is how boring it is that I was basically forced to learn the same things over and over, year after year in school; I think about how much the world has progressed, how the Black diaspora is viewed globally. I think about how far we’ve come as a people in all aspects of life.

I think about my grandmother bringing my father and aunt here in the middle of a snowstorm on December 23rd in the ’70s, how she cried when she watched my father walk home from school with a small mound of snow on top of his head because he didn’t have a hat. How hard she worked as a nurse and now she’s retired and doesn’t look a day over 62…

What else… the movement to change Black “history” to Black “future” month, because we’re more than our past, and this generation of students, teachers, entrepreneurs, and leaders are making that very clear with every passing day. Whether it be though supporting Black-owned businesses, political activism, education, creation, or love, we outchea grindin’, creating new stories for future generations to read and share and expand on.

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?

The Black experience from my point of view has been… varied. Due to my proximity to America, as well as having friends and family living there, I hear and see a lot of what goes on there on a consistent basis, thanks to the connectivity of social media outlets and prevalence on the news. I feel like Black American culture has a heavy-handed influence directly on Canadian culture (to be honest, Black culture influences many aspects of global culture, but that’s for another time) sadly because of proximity, so many of us never really get the chance to create for ourselves a “Black Canadian” identity that doesn’t in some way have hints of Black Americana in it.

As a Canadian-born Jamaican, I feel as though I’m forever trying to blend my worlds—Canadian and Jamaican—together without coming off as fake or “trying too hard”, because we’ve all heard those folks out there who’ve never been to Jamaica/are not Jamaican, and the closest they ever experience is Caribana and a beef patty… no shade though. Not everyone has the same privileges or opportunities, and I realize and respect that, as well as thank my parents for staying as true as they can to their roots while assimilating to Canadian life while trying to raise two daughters.

I’ve had run-ins with all sorts of racists through my life, from being spat-on as a child during elementary school, to most recently working in an all-white environment and having my coworkers playfully pat my curlpuff every time they passed me (no, I ain’t bringin’ you no luck, my name ain’t Buddha—don’t let the belly fool ya!). I’ve learned a few things… the more you allow, the more you are silently telling them that it’s okay to do, and that if you speak up, it’s not you being a binch or an arsehole, it’s you asking people to respect you entirely because you are a person and not a novelty item.

Also, and this is a biggun, I’ve learned that “Black” is not a monolith, and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to be Black, except for denying your Blackness and not loving yourself or other Black people. Respectability politics is the best way to divide ourselves (“I can’t respect this person because they do A B C things”, “if you do J K L things, then you a ___”, “you would be so much more ___ if you didn’t do ____”, etc.) and place us in categories of elitism, which is disadvantageous to the entirety of the “Black love” movement—Black love doesn’t just start and stop with couples or immediate family, but to friends, neighbours, strangers… you love and respect everyone because that’s what we’re supposed to do, not argue and belittle and divide.

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

Well for starters, I hope folks reading this think I’m smrt enough! Secondly, that I have a sense of humour and that it reads well. Finally that I’m insightful and have something of worth to say, even if I’m a li’l wordy… apologies!

I do a lot of things on- and offline, such as manage Facebook groups, share messages of awareness or events of interest or Black-owned businesses (sadly, most of which I share are American, due to proximity and saturation). I’m also a nerd, so I hold a panel at Anime North every year since 2007 or 2008 titled “Black Folks Like Anime, Too!”, and I have a dedicated blog and podcast in the works (fingers crossed!)

I’m that cheerleader friend, always encouraging others to do and try things, sharing their artworks, promoting them if they’re open for commissions, sharing any and everything they do because… to be blunt, I just do it because! I want everyone to know about these people, connecting people who need to be connected, expanding networks… it feels good to know that I helped someone find something or a person that they needed. The world could always use more cheerleaders, and I hope my enthusiasm for my friends and family is well-received and mimicked.

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?

I can’t say I had a singular mentor in life, as I’ve had a multitude of them along my journey—my grandmother (taught me to stick to my guns, but love even if you don’t want to); my 4th grade teacher (a Black woman teaching in a predominantly minority/Somalian school), my older cousin (still encouraging me to be creative every day); the actresses and actors on TV (I thought the original Black Ranger was the coolest, sue me, I was like 9; Cree Summer voiced so many of my favourite characters and was/is honestly so pretty. I grew up with a lot of conflicting imagery, and like quite a few kids who grew up on ’90s TV, wanting that white bread family like on Full House was a fantasy… but thanks to shows like Family Matters, I began to unlearn toxic mentalities about myself and family. I’m still unlearning many things and still learning to love myself. Kids today have it so much easier…!

Of all the things I learned, it was to be honest, authentic, true to myself and proud of the person I am and will continue to develop into… it’s not an easy road to travel, it’s long and full of obstacles, but it’s mine and mine alone to take.

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

Just one thing? Well dang! I got a lot to say though, but if I must… Listen. Listen to everyone, as many people as you can; respect them for letting you into their lives and sharing their stories as well. Never stop listening to others, as there is so much to learn from their stories. We all have something to say, sometimes we just need someone to listen to us.


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 — #12: Jon Crowley, Writer, Attention Industry

I first crossed paths with Jon in ye olde days of Twitter, long before it became the “it” place to be and we still partied at people’s houses, never dreaming of earning a pay cheque from this digital hustle. He was the guy I’d often see at birthday celebrations for our mutual friends, but we ran in different circles, too seldom crossing paths outside of that.

However — what I have noticed over the years is that he’s a thinker’s man, and felt he’d make a great addition to Tales from the 2.9!

I wasn’t wrong.

Jon’s submission, among other things, covers something I can relate with all too well — being the only one of your kind in the room, which all too often makes you the default representative for your race, whether you like it or not.

Today’s entry is good for thought — it’d be well worth your time to read it!


Tales from the 2.9 — Jon CrowleyJon Crowley is a longtime member of the Toronto advertising and technology communities, who works as a Planner at Publicis Toronto. You can find him on Twitter, or read his communications industry thoughts at Attention Industry.


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

A couple of years ago in February, I listened to Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech and was stunned by how relevant and relatable it was for me, decades later. I’d recommend anyone listen to it, if only to get a better sense of what the conversation at the time was actually like.

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’m from a mixed-race background, which makes my experience slightly different. I’ve been told I’m not really Black, or I’m not Black enough by ‘enlightened’ Canadians of every colour and creed more times than I can count, and I think that’s one of the things that’s shaped by interpretation of race, identity, and the relationship between the two.

Being Black isn’t just one community, in Canada. My experience as a Jamaican Canadian is probably different than it is as a member of the Somali community, or someone with US roots. It’s amazing how much a sense of commonality exists, despite the differences in background.

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

When I still lived with my parents, every so often as I was heading out the door, my mother would say “Remember who you are, and remember who you represent”. In a lot of ways, I’m still mostly trying to make my family proud, and hopefully by extension contribute something positive to my community.

There’s a not-so-subtle reminder in there, too, that who I represent doesn’t just end with me or my folks. In a lot of situations, I might be the only Black or mixed-race or non-white voice in a conversation.

Remembering the responsibility and opportunity that gives me, is part of what pushes me to make sure I’m doing right by everyone I might be interpreted as representing.

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?

I can’t pick one. I have to give credit to both of my parents.

Like a lot of people, my father is my hero. Being a (White) man who married into a Black family in the ’60s probably wasn’t simple, but my dad is a man who knows who he is, and thinks with his heart about as much as his head.

Having a father who not only actively engages with discussions of race, culture and history that he could choose to avoid, but also goes out of his way to consider the opinions and experiences other people, has meant the world in terms of me being able to see beyond my own experience, and treat other people as I want to be treated.

My mother is probably the person who taught me to be reasonable. Her strength, reserve and control in confronting and overcoming more things than I can mention, has been my inspiration in more situations than I can count.

Having a mother who is so completely sure of her beliefs, her value, and the importance of her actions, both personal and professional, has always given me an example to aspire to, when it comes to facing the world on my own terms.

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

We have to open doors for each other. Not because I think anyone is actively trying to close them on us, but because so many opportunities come down to someone opening a door for a younger person who reminds them of themselves.

Given the simple numbers, it’s not necessarily easy, or even possible, for young Canadians of colour to find mentors or opportunities to connect with people who can provide the introductions or insight that lead to big opportunities.

And when we’re opening doors for each other, we need to make sure that we’re opening them for anyone else who needs them.


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 — #11: Marcia Reid, Founder and Content Curator, BS7

I first met Marcia at a joint 3SHAHs x Black Sebath event uptown, and from our conversation then I knew I’d met someone strong in her conviction, unafraid to live life through her own principles and paradigms. When I asked her to submit to Tales from the 2.9, I hoped I’d get something that’d stir a little something inside of my soul, and she didn’t disappoint!

Marcia’s submission for the Tales from the 2.9 is one of the most provocative yet, a stark reminder that all is not rosy with The Black Experience in Canada — there are very real issues and challenges we continue to face in our culture, and they shape who we are and how we see the world around us.

Make sure to check out today’s Tales and open your eyes to some knowledge of a world we’ve always known was there… we just didn’t want to admit it.


Tales from the 2.9 — Marcia ReidCreative Director, Branding and Marketing Strategist.

Marcia Reid, aka Black Sebath, is the Founder and Content Creator of BS7, a collective combining BS (interpreted as Black Sabbath, Black Friday, Black Sunday, or Black Seven) and the number 7, or Sebat in Amharic. She’s a multi-talented blogger and well-known (reggae) dub poet in Toronto. When she’s not on stage you might find her at a high-profile or grassroots event snapping photos, interviewing VIPs, spinning music, or just simply being socially fabulous. Styling, marketing, branding, and managing social media are a few other skills she has up her proverbial sleeves!

She created BS7 out of a need for content on the arts, fashion and music she saw thriving around her, featuring interviews with industry movers and shakers, event postings, news on what’s hot and tips on what to watch for in the arts, music and fashion!

You can keep connected with Marcia through her:

Website | Facebook | Twitter (Black Sebath) | Twitter.com (BS7)


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

Immediately I think of Freedom Fighters, Panafricanist, and Inventors – Nanny from the Maroons, Marcus Garvey, Paul Bogle, Sam Sharpe.

However, I had to teach myself not to think so much about slavery and the results of it because slavery focuses so much on what we became after some had sold out, after we were conquered by the enemies, during and after colonialism. Some of the stories that I focus on and come to mind are the ones that are not spoken often enough about. I think about ancient kingdoms of Kush.

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?

Oddly, I have experience more classicism than racism in Toronto.

North America is very closed circuit and elitist. Most of the really good opportunities are circulated among the wealthy and a small group who have managed to impress the right people or made friends with them. I quickly learned that my success would be found in creating content and projects then connecting with the right people in the industry and not the other way around. However, as an individual the struggles I have faced are the same as our southern neighbours but not in the same way or at the same intensity.  I have never had a cop rough me up in any way that resembles the brutal force used by American police, but none the less I  have been subject to treatment that was inappropriate and unfair because of the colour of my skin. In my opinion that’s how Canadians disguise their racism… through classism.

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

Find the beauty. Be diverse. Expand your experiences. Create the opportunity. Let art captivate you, provoke you, move you, inspire you.

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?

Ryan Singh’s father, Ras Leon Saul influenced me greatly. I don’t think he meant to be a mentor but he appreciated my company, my zest for life, and my zeal for Rastafari. He allowed me to ride shotgun on many of his journalistic and production adventures and that encouraged me to be a creator.

I have plans to have Pauleanna Reid mentor me and hope to have D’bi Young Anitafrika be one of my mentors sometime soon.

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

Be true to yourself about the WHY you do what you do. When things get challenging or go sour, when the blessings pour out, the why will become extremely detrimental.


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!