Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing Their Stories in a Digital Age — #12: Jon Crowley, Writer, Attention Industry


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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!

Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — #10: Kevin Kelly, Co-Founder, #devto

Kevin’s one of the few people in my digital life who knew me well before my journey into a full-fledged blogger ever really began. Introduced through mutual friends, he’s actually one of the people who got me to go to my first tweetup in 2010, and I haven’t looked back since!

Kevin’s been a staple of Toronto’s digital scene in some form or another for yearsheavily involved in Twitter in its 2011-2013 heyday; active in the developer community with a bevy of meetups and hackathons; and even going as far as co-founding #devTO, a developer group looking to advance the profession across the Toronto area.

Kevin’s Tales from the 2.9 submission focuses on the fact that we can’t so easily segregate the history of Black Canadians from that of Black people worldwide — and we’d do well to remember our roots!

I hope you enjoy his thoughts below!


Tales from the 2.9 — Kevin KellyKevin Kelly is a Developer, with experiences from banking, advertising, and even the government. When he’s not creating pixel perfect work, Kevin runs a local tech meetup group, #devto, and has participated in Humber Program Advisory Committee for Interactive Media.

Twitter | LinkedIn


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

At first, it was the usual. Slavery this, some of our North American achievements that, which were the very things that the scholastic system brought us to at the time. Yet, as an adult, I’ve realized that there was more to look into: Africa. The other aspects of what we are and those who came before us. The achievements that pushed society forward moretimes than the issues that indirectly hold us back because of a collective mindset that has been quietly resurrected. The inventors that gave the west many things we take for granted and no one knows about them unless we do dig for ourselves. As for Africa itself: someday I would like to experience the birthplace of those first hand. I’ve seen what my parents called their home, last year, in the West Indies. As beautiful as the islands are, I’m glad they settled with Canada.

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?

This part of Canada has its fair share racial issues and nearly all of us “Black” have in that respect. I agree that what’s being done there is definitely against us in North America. We still have a ways to go i.e. carding is something that’s being addressed. I’ve seen some of those things first hand. From being asked if my family was lost when all we wanted were tennis lessons to pretty much being asked by police officers to check out my sketchbook on my way to animation class. But Ontario redeemed Canada, I think. The melting pot. My parents are still here. That enough is proof to trust this country.

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

It’s funny. These days, I still don’t think I’m ready to be a mentor and cultivating as of yet. Funny thing, though. If you become a bit a community leader, people kind of see that as a mentor. In fact, a couple of years back at a collaborative holiday tech event, someone approached me and said he was proud that my tech group was great not just because it was positive, but there was a Black guy behind it. I nearly teared up. I never saw that kid again, but it resonated — being the exception in a world that usually sees us as athletes and musicians. There’s change, but how much? Anyone can do that. Change things. Their perspective, too. I’m living proof of that and hopefully, I can be that change. I chosen a path I believe in, not because of what a majority of my peers are doing. So can they.

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?

Too many. My Mom, really. Good advice knows about the game to a point. Must be the Black Canadian West Indian parents’ phrase “work harder than the rest just to compete.” There were others. Some being from Humber, who have been more than supportive. Not really cultural on their end, but great all the same. Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Gang Starr, KRS One, and several others as different kinds of mentors. For those, it’s mostly about the lessons that our school system has failed to teach us about African history and heritage. Their insight on the here and now for black people.

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

You’ve got one life to live. Never stop evolving. Especially on your own terms. You define you. Also, take time to reinvest into your roots for the future’s sake.


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 — #9: Natalie Preddie, Blogger, The Adventures of Natty P

In my journey through blogging so far, I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty — it’s hard to find bloggers who are genuinely nice people, not coming at every interaction with some ulterior motive, ready to take advantage at the slightest whiff of an opening.

Natalie Preddie is one of those people.

Our paths first crossed at DefineTO some years ago, but it’d take my good friend Solmaz to bring us back together over steak and kale salad at a tasting event for e11even.

In perhaps one of the most open entries to Tales from the 2.9 so far, Natty shows us what life is like as a Zebra Baby — mixed race kids making up only 0.5% of Canada’s population and a reality that my children will face in an all-too-near future.

Take this one in, everyone — this Tales submission is a great one, and I think we can all learn something from it.

Enjoy!


Tales from the 2.9 — Natalie PreddieFreelance travel writer, blogger + PR consultant in Toronto. Traveller. Story teller. Zebra baby.

Contributes to Toronto Star, Star Touch, PAX Magazine and Cityline. Manages a travel blog with video and editorial from all over the globe. My husband thinks I’m funny… but looks aren’t everything.

BlogTwitterFacebook | Instagram | YouTube


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

Being mixed race, I’m proud that I am part of a people that have overcome so much adversity and injustice to get to where we are now. I think of the underground railroad to Canada, escaping slavery and the continuing fight for equality. In such a short amount of time, Blacks have impacted the world culturally, socially, artistically…The world is a richer place with a decent beat.

At the same time, I am also frustrated by the stereotypes that Black people are both tainted with but at times, perpetuate. We still have a ways to go.

Don’t get me started on the number of Black men in prison in the States and the social limitations and the fact that there is STILL segregation in some US schools. The racial situation down there makes me so angry and I can talk about it for ages.

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 Dad grew up a Black teenager in Toronto and he had a lot of difficulty with racism and prejudice. From friends, teachers, mentors, his expectations of what he could accomplish as a Black man were low. I have always been aware of his issues with authority fuelled by his experiences.

I am, however, very lucky. My parents always told me that I was simply Natalie: I wasn’t a colour, I was a person made from love.

Regardless of where you are in the world, one will encounter ignorance and I have run into those people on many occasions here in Canada since I was a kid. Even in jest, ‘Steal that bike for me, Natalie,’ or ‘Where can I buy some crack, Natalie?’  My sister and I actually encountered some social media harassment recently for ‘further diluting our race’ by marrying white guys. He told us my Dad had done something disgusting by marrying a white woman and we were a disgrace. Unfortunately, you are going to run into that everywhere.

But saying that, perhaps because of my upbringing, I find that my ‘Blackness’ is celebrated rather than highlighted in a negative way.

My first truly awful experience with racism was actually in a Pizza Hut in the States and I was blown away at the way I was treated. I am so happy I live in Canada and am proud of our overall acceptance and tolerance in this country.

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

I want to be a good global citizen. I want to know that I helped celebrate the beauty and diversity in the world, connecting people, place, cultures and ideas. I want be part of creating a world with more acceptance and less judgement. I want to help people feel good about themselves, their abilities, their worth and know their significance on this Earth. I want everyone to feel loved.

I’m not unrealistic: I know I’m not going to change the world into one happy, hugging place but even if it is just my kids to whom I successfully pass on the notion of love and acceptance, and they pass it on to someone else, then I did something.

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. They are pretty awesome. They fought a great deal of prejudice to be together. A white woman and a Black man were not socially acceptable when they started out but they were never deterred…even when the conflict came from within their families.

As a principal and a lawyer, they have always fought for justice, always championing the underdog, even to their own detriment. My parents always took in people who needed shelter, food, education and even social support. They taught us (me and my siblings) to do the same. Everyone deserves a chance regardless of where they came from.

They also taught me that love, kindness and tolerance make the world go round and to practice them daily.

They told me I was beautiful, strong and capable, and I could accomplish anything that I wanted to.

“Look at Halle Berry, Obama, Bob Marley, Langston Hughes! They’re all mixed and look what they did! YOU can do anything!”

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

You are beautiful. You are loveable and capable. You can do anything.


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 — #8: Brione Wishart, Filmmaker, TREPFUEL

Just past a week into Tales from the 2.9, and I’ve met so many amazing Black Canadians creating all sorts of content, reminding me that the stuff we consume online isn’t limited to bloggers — in 2016, we have creative souls out there putting together content that’ll suit just about any audience.

Today’s content creator for Tales is Brione Wishart of TREPFUEL, a filmmaker interviewing aspiring businesspeople to give the push needed for others to have enough confidence for the first step into entrepreneurship!

Check out his contribution below!


Tales from the 2.9 — Brione WishartI’m a father and serial entrepreneur with a passion for startups and tech. I interview inspiring businessmen and women and transform their insight and stories into motivation for aspiring Treps!
Twitter: @trepfuel + @brionewishart | LinkedIn | TrepFuel.co

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

I think of all the positive contributions Black people have made to humanity.  From Charles Richard Drew’s creation of the blood bank to Akon providing electricity through solar power for over 14 African countries.
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?
 
As far as I can remember, the one thing I can say I’ve learned being Black in Canada is that racism is real. Growing up a Black male I faced my fair share of racial profiling, illegal searches, employees following me around stores and bullying when I first arrived in Canada. Nevertheless, I love living in Canada and being a citizen of this great country.
3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?
 
A positive and motivating impression. I love getting people pumped up about entrepreneurship and the freedom that comes with it. Nothing makes me feel better knowing that I had a role in helping someone find happiness.
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?
 
Malcolm X. After I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley I identified with him immediately. His ability to transition from a criminal to become one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history taught me a valuable lesson.  “Anything is Possible.”
5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?
 
Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
– Malcolm X

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 — #7: Lina “Reese” Wright, Blogger, Reese Speaks

Behind every good blogger’s a good network, and much is the case with Lian “Reese” Wright.

When I became a Dad, the parent blogger community almost immediately reached out, connecting me to plenty of other parents sharing their journeys online. One such group linked me with Reese and everything she writes about as a Mom up in Ottawa, ON, like music, food and fashion!

Her submission to Tales from the 2.9 focuses on the fact that The Black Experience isn’t solely one thing, and that one can find themselves in very different situations depending on the people, culture and societal context involved.

Hope you enjoy her thoughts below!


Tales from the 2.9 — Lian 'Reese' WrightMy name is Lian Wright, but my blog is called Reese Speaks. Why go by Reese? It is a nickname I had during high school, and it really became a part of me. I was born in Toronto, ON, but moved to Ottawa, ON after graduating from Carleton University with my Honours degree in Political Science. I talk about what I like and want to share. My three kids have become a bigger part of my blog, but I also share my love of music, product reviews, places I traveled or dined at and my interest in fashion. I also am the Editor and blogger of Ottawa Mommy Club, as well as  the Community Coordinator and Content Writer of the BConnected Conference.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Ottawa Mommy Club


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

When I think of Black History Month, I think about the stories my family have told me about when they were growing up and then what they experienced when they moved to Canada. I try to imagine what it was like for them to get by without the advantages I had and marvel at their resilience.

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?

So far, it has been a rollercoaster ride for me. I have been jeered and cheered for my race from when I was a child. The biggest thing I have learned about my Black Experience is that I should be proud of who I am, and to make others see that Black people are diverse and talented.

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

I hope to share with my voice that I am an individual. The media may have Black people pegged as being a certain way, dressing and speaking a certain way and that, for some, that may not be beautiful. I want those who follow me to see I do not fit into the mold the media has created for others to view us in. I want to show that we are all beautiful, regardless of race or how the media tries to direct us to think about ourselves.

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 Mom and my sister have been my greatest mentors in my life. They showed me how to be fierce without having to bear my proverbial claws, how kindness can do more for people than tearing them down and how to stand up for myself when I felt I have been wronged.

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

Never give up. It sounds like a cheesy and hopeless statement, but if we had given up, we would have gotten as far as we have. No matter what we are trying to achieve, we have to keep striving to attain our goals, hopes and dreams or else it will not happen.


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 — #6: Marcel Dee, Photographer, Marcel Dee Photography

Some years back, a number of friends and I connected over Twitter, forming a group that loved good food, fun times, and cracking wise as often as possible. Marcel Dee is part of that group — Team Trolling — and has been many things over the years: a blogger, a photographer, even a brand ambassador at times!

He shares his views on what it means to be a Black man in his Tales from the 2.9 submission below! Check it out!


Tales from the 2.9 — Marcel Dee

Hello, my name is Marcel Dee. I’m a Toronto-based photographer. I’m an easy-going guy, love to have a good time, love to laugh, love to make people laugh or bring a smile on their face. I try to make one person happy everyday.  I’m a lover of Tech and I have no problem geeking out.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Twitch


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

Anytime I think about Black History Month, I tend to think about why schools don’t teach about Canadian Black History. I can’t believe that all this time, everyone was having tea meetings or skipping rope. Why isn’t Canadian Black History taught here or mentioned? We only learn about the major stories, from Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Mandela or slaves escaping to the North.

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?

It was sad to see what was going on in America last year. It only proves that the problem never went away. Years of people’s work went down the drain. Here in Canada I have two experiences. It’s either people want to hangout with me, because “Black” is the new cool, or badass; or people are afraid. I can’t simply approach a person and ask them a question or give them a greeting, without seeing them have a little fear in their eyes. I’m a tall person, it can be scary being approached by a big guy. But if you got other non-Black males my size and had them do the same thing you’d see the difference. It would be nice just to walk out and not worry whether people are stereotyping me.

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

To be honest, I just want people to be happy. I try everyday to bring a smile or laugh to someone. I never like to see someone upset or crying. I love the feeling of thinking back on a memory and remembering a good time. I just want to leave that feeling with the world.

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 be honest, my Dad was. I’m going to be real for a moment here – most fathers you hear not being there for their child are Black. It’s either it’s publicised the most on TV or you all know that one single mother. My parents separated when I was young, it happens. But instead of my Dad taking off or not caring for us, he stuck around, because he knows what impact a father has on their child. He always didn’t want to divorce my Mom, because his benefits were better and it would help her out. To me my Dad broke the stereotype. Not only that, he’s always giving me life lessons, even though I don’t want them from time to time. He taught me how to be a man and how to stand out from the stereotype.

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

Support each other. We don’t support each other enough. We’re always fighting against each other or shooting each other. Stop with the gimmick, with this stereotypical gangster we tend to portray ourselves. If you want the world to take us serious, then act serious in a civil way. Pull up your pants as well, because you’re looking like clowns with your boxers showing.


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 — #5: Amanda Nunes, Blogger, Heartless Girl

While Amanda and I have run through different social circles as bloggers, I’ve found her nothing but kind each time we have crossed paths. Her submission for Tales from the 2.9 is a testament to the fact that one doesn’t need to feel boxed in by their race — we are more than our skin colour, and sometimes we need to fight to remind the world of that.

Read more in her submission below!


Tales from the 2.9 — Amanda Nunes

Amanda Nunes is a social media professional, digital communicator and visual artist. She’s the influencer behind HeartlessGirl.com, a lifestyle, travel and food blog for Canadian women. When she’s not sharing her adventures on her blog, she contributes to Vitamin Daily, WDish and Post City, to name a few.

As an artist and illustrator, Amanda has led workshops in schools, and created installations for Nuit Blanche and the Harbourfront Centre. When she’s not in Toronto, you can find her traveling around the world, or with her nose in a book.

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

When I think of Black History Month, I think about Canada’s part in the Underground Railroad, and of all the contributions that Black Canadians make to the city.

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 been lucky enough to have experienced a largely positive experience as a Black person in Canada. I grew up in a neighbourhood that was largely white. I was always the only Black girl in my classes, extracurricular activities and summer camp. Because of this, I may not be what someone expects a “typical” Black person to be. I’m often told that I don’t seem “Black enough.” I grew up in a Black household, so I have my own opinions on what it means to be Black. I’ve learned that being Black doesn’t limit you to certain things or interests, even if others think it should. I’m a Black girl that took Japanese lessons, went to art school, is a terrible dancer and likes old school R & B as well as emo and screamo music. There isn’t just one way to be black.

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

I want to leave an impression of positivity. I want Black girls to know that they aren’t tied to one role based on the colour of their skin. They can shun stereotypes or embrace them – as long as they stay true to their own interests.

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 are my mentors from a cultural standpoint, especially my mother. They both came to Toronto when they were younger from Jamaica and Guyana, respectively. They’ve taught me everything I need to know to succeed. The greatest lesson that I’ve learned from them is that you should persevere to reach your goals.

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

Live your life the way you want to live it.


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 — #4: Chad G. Cranston, Co-Founder, TQ Magazine

Before being introduced by a mutual friend, TQ was one of those names who I thought I’d never cross paths with because it’s a publication that just oozes cool. But co-founder Chad G. Cranston’s submission to Tales from the 2.9 is deeply rooted in something I believe in — leaving behind things that matter, not just chasing after the hottest new things on the market.

Legacy’s more important than we give it credit, and you can read Chad’s views on that and much more in his interview below! You can also check TQ out on their websiteTwitterVimeo and Facebook accounts!

Tales from the 2.9 — Chad G. CranstonChad G. Cranston is one of Toronto’s top influencers in independent media. He successfully started and is the co-founder of TQ, Canada’s premier lifestyle coffee table book. While being in the media publishing business for over 10 years, TQ took third prize in 2011 the coveted National Magazine Awards and continued as trendsetting trailblazers with branched off companies Sully Wong (C’s other partner in TQ, George Sully) and Social Interactive. The award-winning metropolitan coffee table book features fashion, auto, music, entertainment and lifestyle. With an International Marketing diploma, Chad has become a digital pioneer in metropolitan lifestyle influence with a vast understanding of what the needs are from the Baby Boomer to Gen Z.


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

Black history to me when I was younger was all about the culture. I grew up in the 80’s RnB and soul, 90’s hip-hop era. Hip-hop was conscious. Artists like Public Enemy, KRS 1 and the Boogie Down Bronx, X Clan, Brand Nubian; and great female artists like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah were the teachers of black history. Each year, there was a talent contest in Ottawa and my group would prepare for weeks on end after school, practicing our lyrics, dance moves and stage performance. It wasn’t even to win; it was just to represent the culture for fun. It was the one time that as a youth, we felt a sense of unity no matter what part of the continent, island or city you came from, that night we were all one.

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?

First, I am going to go down the rabbit hole. What the media is doing successfully is divide and conquer. This is a human race problem, not black or white. We need to understand that first in order to exist as a species. Me being Black, I was told by my parents that everything I do, I will need to do it twice as good as the next person just earn respect. I was taught not to be discouraged because not matter what, whatever I persevered over, would make me stronger and successful. I am fortunate to have great family support, multi-cultural friends, and great education to be able to do the things I do. Pop Ash!

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

Legacy. The misconception of the Black man sucks. Since I was a youth, I made that conscious decision to not be a stigma. With legacy comes responsibility. By my actions, those who want to learn will understand it’s about living with integrity.  Build something that you can leave behind that makes this world a better place. Maybe as small as planting a tree, or helping a kid, buying books for the less fortunate, inventing something, writing a book, whatever – Just do something positive to leave behind.

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?

Gene Simmons from KISS. Had a life changing deep conversation that lasted over an hour about being a media influencer. He put me on to create TCHAD Quarterly. From a cultural standpoint – Sidney Poitier, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith and Mike Tyson. Now you say, “One of these things don’t match up?” But in actuality it’s all relevant. Mike Tyson came from the gutter and became the undisputed youngest heavyweight champion of the world. That right there, if you decide to choose the right paths, tells you that no matter what adversity you confront, you can do anything as long as you put your mind to it and are determined to fuel your energy in the right direction.

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

The time is now. Its starts in the family, at home, in church, neighborhoods, the city and the country. Invest in it. There is a lesson to be learned from other races that do it and are successful.


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 — #3: Heather Greenwood Davis, Writer, GlobetrottingMama.com

While I’ve spent quite some time seeing Heather’s work from afar as she raises her family with a global awareness and appreciation for the diverse world around them, we’ve only crossed paths once — at a Montecito dinner with Steve Carlisle, General Motors Canada’s GM Canada’s President and Managing Director. She was great company, and I knew I had to include her in Tales from the 2.9!

Heather’s submission looks at the need for communities to support from within, taking the lessons learned individually and teaching peers to improve life for everyone.

It’s a good read — make sure you check it out below!


Tales From the 2.9 — Heather Greenwood DavisHeather Greenwood Davis is the award-winning writer behind GlobetrottingMama.com – an international family travel blog. She is also the Family Time columnist for National Geographic Traveler Magazine and a frequent contributor to their Intelligent Travel Blog. Her stories and articles appear in print, online, on television and on radio around the world including O Magazine, Canadian Living, The Toronto Star (for more than 20 years), NPR, CBC, CTV and many more.  She is a regular contributor to CTV Canada AM’s Parenting Panel and a frequent guest on The Social. Her trip with her husband and two sons around the world in 2011 led to the family being named as National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s “Travelers of the Year.”  Heather is also a professional speaker who has delivered keynotes and seminars at conferences including New Media Expo, Travel Bloggers Exchange,  Travel Media Association of Canada, United States Travel Association and others. When not in an airport or deciphering Minecraft-speak from her sons, the journalist turned lawyer turned travel writer can be found hiding from winter and fighting for sunshine one travel itinerary at a time.  You can reach her on twitter (@greenwooddavis), on facebook (facebook.com/globetrottingmama), on instagram (@heathergd) and on the web (www.globetrottingmama.com).


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

I think about people like Mary Ann Shadd and Lincoln Alexander. People who followed passions and benefitted an entire nation.

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?

It’s true that a lot of what we learn about Black history comes from the USA and while that story is fascinating (and ongoing) it’s one most Black Canadians can only relate to tangentially. My experience as a Black person in Canada? Hard to sum up. I love this country. I’ve never felt anything other than belonging. The few negative race interactions I’ve had have been easily attributed to particular people or institutions but on a whole I feel very connected to my fellow Canadians. I’m proud of my ancestry, my heritage and my birthplace and I feel lucky to live in a country that is, for the most part, proud of it too.

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

I believe strongly in following your passion and sharing the lessons we learn to help each other. That’s what I try to do and what I try to teach my kids. I hope to be a part of large group of people doing exactly that so that the impression we leave together can’t be boiled down to my one step. It’s one of the reasons I love new media and the opportunity to hear (read) so many new voices. I think we all want the same things in life and it’s great to live in a time when more and more of that unifying call can be heard.

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’d have to say my parents. They are Jamaican immigrants who came to this country, worked hard and still found time to go to parent-teacher meetings. I’ve never in my life felt like they didn’t have my best interests at heart. That’s a powerful foundation to work from. Their parables and stories and example have been my most powerful teachers.

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

Live YOUR life. Yours. Not the one people think you should have or the one you’ve seen others live. Follow your passions. Build your dreams. Find your tribe and get the support you need to make them a reality. And then do it. And love it. And be happy.


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!