Unfortunately, we aren’t all one big happy family in the Black Canadian community—its fragmented nature and the disadvantaged origins of its people mean dealing not only with the conflict and stereotypes that come from outside the community but also dealing with it internally as well.
Popular culture’s painted us as dangerous. Untrustworthy. As a people unwilling to lift a finger to help themselves, instead sponging off the efforts of other hardworking Canadians to get by. And many of these came to mind when I read Cassandra’s entry.
Now—those biases don’t mean she’s entirely wrong. It’s because we don’t come from a unified front that dissent, distrust and contempt can breed between us. And it doesn’t have to take much—you have Jamaicans who dislike anyone from Guyana or Trinidad. You have Caribbean immigrants who distrust anyone from Africa. We spend a lot of time focusing on the ills that’ve been done to us from outside the Black community, but we can’t ignore the shifts in attitude and healing needed within the community if we want to collectively grow past what’s holding us back.
I didn’t put today’s piece out to vilify anyone, but to shed light on a simple fact—if unification’s something our community’s seeking, we’ve still got a long way to go.
What does being Black Canadian mean to you?
To me, being a Black Canadian means diversity and being part of a country—a city, especially—that accepts black people, is cultured, and celebrates the achievements of black Canadians. Over the years, Black History Month’s become more recognised; we also have our first black-owned radio station G98FM as well as different black-owned businesses and companies. Opportunities are available as long as you are willing to work for it.