Chantel Bedward | Black Sebath | Fix Up, Look Sharp β€” Why Fashion’s So Central to the Black Canadian Experience

If Black people aren’t some of the most fashionable people on the planet, I don’t know who are!

Live from the 3.5 β€” Fix Up, Look Sharp β€” Why Fashion's So Central to the Black Canadian Experience β€” Klaxon Howl Fashion Show

Growing up, my mother was alwaysΒ adamantΒ that my brothers and I dressed our best to head out the door. As I liked to say, she’d dress up to get the paper from the front step. It took a while for that lesson to take hold in my mind, but as a man and now as a parentΒ myself, it’s important to me to represent, making sure people know I came from a solid upbringing.

No matter what kind of Black person you are, I’d argue you see clothes as aΒ direct reflection of yourself. Businesspeople. Gang members. Ballplayers and fashionistas. It’s the colours, the cut, the brand names and moreβ€”it’s completely woven into our culture with mentions in our music, movies, magazines and more… we are what we wear, and Black people rarely shy away from that!

It’sΒ especially important for me as a Black Dadβ€”we gain this reputation as slobs once we enter this phase of our lives, so focused on raising our kids that we don’t spend any time onΒ ourselves. I’m looking to fight against that amidst a wardrobe of tailored suits, polished shoes and three-quarter length coats in the winter.

As Mark Twain once saidβ€””Clothes make the man.”

Tales from the 2.9 β€” The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age β€” Vol. 2 Wrap-Up

I’ll admit itβ€”withΒ Tales from the 2.9‘s successful completion, I almost felt like resting on my laurels and taking the day off. I mean, this year wasΒ easily far bigger than I’d expected, running the media circuit, coordinating with contributors,Β writing heaps of social shares for Facebook, TwitterΒ and LinkedIn… it’d beΒ so easy to just pat myself on the back and take a break until the next great initiative. Let’s face itβ€”IΒ amΒ but one man.

But sitting on my haunches didn’t get me hereβ€”it was nights spent grinding away on a project that sincerelyΒ mattered to me, and happily found it matters toΒ others as well.

That’s not the end game, thoughβ€”not by aΒ long shot.

Tales from the 2.9 β€” This is Only the Beginning.

WithΒ Tales, Β I was able to explore part of my identity through the lens of my kinfolk’s experiences, examining its many facets through the stories told.

And the project didΒ wellβ€”Tales saw:

  • 5000 unique page views over the month
  • 3.5% engagement on Twitter, where the average is 0.5-1%
  • 44.2% engagement on Instagram, where the average is 3-6%, and
  • 60.8% engagement on Facebook, where the average is 0.5-1%

And that’s just contentΒ IΒ shared. Combine it with the shares from contributors and media outlets, and you start seeing numbers like:

  • 1025 Facebook likes
  • 245 Facebook shares
  • 455 retweets, and
  • 640 Twitter likes!

So yeah, this year’sΒ Tales showed there’s aΒ definite appetite for Black Canadian content in this nation, but why limit ourselves to February alone?

Seeβ€”that right there’s the problem. The point. TheΒ crux of why we must keep pressing forward even when Black History Month’s wrapped up. Sure, the celebration’s over, and yes, we had our time to shine. But you know what?

February’s over, but we’reΒ still Black.

Black Fridays β€” Because One Month Alone Cannot Tell Our Story.

WeΒ still need to speak up. WeΒ still need to keep our momentum and show the world what we’ve got. WhenΒ the Honourable Jean Augustine bolstered awareness of Black history by introducing an official Black History Month over 20 years ago, it was only a first step. It’s up toΒ us to keep that mission going and work with one another to clearly outlineΒ why we’re important to Canada’ s history and that 28 days aloneΒ won’t tell the full tale.

But that means taking action. It means doingΒ more than justΒ crying foul when we celebrate our achievements in the coldest andΒ shortest month of the year.Β It means putting something out in the world that begins to move us in theΒ right direction, and for me, that’s a new series I’m callingΒ Black Fridays.

Though I wrote an introduction for each post inΒ Tales, there’s much of my stories and viewpoint I never got around to telling. Like theΒ three timesΒ someone confused me for staff on our honeymoon cruise. Or the double takes that sometimes happen when I first walk in an interview. There’sΒ plenty yet to explore with sometimes asΒ vast as Black Canadian culture, and I think a longer look at its various aspects will help us dive deeper intoΒ plenty of places we might not explore otherwise! We’ll start this Friday with aΒ Tales submission from artist Stephanie Konu that I never got to share, as well as other tales and tidbits that I’d do a disserviceΒ not to mention.

Next Stop β€” #Chronicle150!

But there we go!Β Tales from the 2.9 217 is at a close, and we’re on to the next step β€” #Chronicle150: 150 Truly Canadian Stories for its 150th Birthday! If you have a story you think isΒ perfect for the series, I’dΒ love to hear from youβ€”details are all in the link below:

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS- #Chronicle150 Call for Submissions- #Chronicle150 β€” 150 Truly Canadian Stories for its 150th Birthday (Featured Image)

So thanks to all the contributors, the media contacts and others who reallyΒ believed in the project, and thanks to all of you who checked it out! Those who wrote, shared, and suggested others who’d make great contributorsβ€”it’d be impossible without you!

Thanks again, everyone, and we’ll see you for #Chronicle150!

Until the next,

–case p.

Tales from the 2.9 β€” The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age β€” Vol. 2 #28, Ardean Peters, Photographer, Photography by Ardean

This year’s been a challenging one forΒ Tales from the 2.9.

Last year was bad timingβ€”putting 29 daily posts out right after becoming a Dad for the second time is no simple feat, and we somehow pulled it off. I was eager to build on that success and keep it going well past February, but life as a quartet caught up with me, and my time and energy soon found themselves committed… elsewhere.

So I stood this year determined to learn from my mistakes, and I thought I had it all figured out. I started looking for contributors weeks earlier, hoping to get everything lined up at the beginning of February to make time for other things. I tried to build awareness for the project, putting out a press release and landing interviews in several major Toronto media outlets with both luck and a noteworthy story. Everything feltΒ perfect for anΒ amazing Tales from the 2.9… until we reached the end and I suddenly found myself without enough contributors.

Fortunately, I had access to unpublished work like Ardean Peters’ piece below, but I’m surprised that things worked out this way. I definitely get itβ€”some were too busy to write; itΒ is Black History Month, after all. Some too overwhelmed by the questions’ gravity in a polarised world. And I’m sure someΒ started writing, but life had other plans for their time and they never got toΒ finish.

Whatever the reasons, I’m just glad we got to see 28 unique stories in 2017, and it’s taught me a valuable lessonβ€”don’t expect miracles when you’re spreading a message only one month of the year!

But these are words befitting a wrap-up post; this is not my soapbox right nowβ€”the eyes are squarely focused on Ardean. Her story mirrors that of many Black children born here in that we don’t really recognise our Blackness until we’reΒ older. WeΒ know we’re different at first, but don’t often understand what that means in theΒ larger world until we have the life experience toΒ get it.

IΒ do hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s Tales from the 2.9, and we’ll wrap this up tonight with one. More. Post!

See you then,

–case p.

Many Black Canadians come from families who sacrificed plenty to give them the lives they have today. What do you know of your family history and how has it shaped your current self?

Both my mom and dad are from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and emigrated to Canada in 1968 and 1971 respectively. I think what I remember most is, while my parents had a strong connection to their home and instilled in us those traditions, they also always encouraged us as β€˜Canadian kids’, making sure that we knew that we were Canadian and this was our home. To that end, I see myself as Canadian first, sewn and stitched together with a rich and diverse history and culture, which informs who I am today.

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?

Tales from the 2.9 β€” The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age β€” Vol. 2 #28, Ardean Peters, Photographer, Photography by Ardean β€” Ardean Standing
Credit || Michel Eberhard

Interesting question, because it wasn’t really until I was an older child, that I saw myself as β€˜black’. As a child growing up, I just thought of myself as β€˜Canadian’ and my skin colour was an afterthought. I grew up in the most diverse community in North York at the time, Jane and Finch. On top of that, the school I was in, really encouraged the belief that we were ALL Canadians and equal. I was so lucky to experience such a diversity of people and culture, which has shaped how I treat and connect with people as an adult.

On the flip side, as I’ve gotten older, had more experiences, worked in many different environments and experienced more of the city, its people and neighbourhoods, I’ve come to realise that I am a minority, which I honestly didn’t see as a young person. Because of this, and the realisation how strong an impact media has on shaping the opinions of people that have limited access and contact with black people (and people of other ethnic backgrounds), I realise the importance there is in promoting positive and normalising images of Black Diaspora people.

Rachel Lambo, Owner, Smthng New Studio | Tales from the 2.9 2017 #27

If I can agree on one thing with Rachel Lambo’s Tale from the 2.9, it’s our need to expect more from ourselves as a community.

It’s 2017, and there’reΒ so many options to help a people thrive. We can bolster our business with think tanks and workshops. Or pool our resources to give opportunities to those who wouldn’t have them otherwise. WeΒ want to see the Black community thrive and prosper, but with other cultures so ahead in the game, we’ll need someΒ creative solutions to bridge the gap!

With the second-last Tale, we’re looking for a paradigm shiftβ€”making use of tools, technologies, people and methods to excel beyond the limitations thrust upon us. It’s easy to dwell on the things that’ve held us back and cry foul on the situation… but it’s time to rely on our strength and resilience to reach out for the future that’sΒ completely attainable.

We just need to work for it.Β Together.

Enjoy today’s Tale and we’ll see you tomorrow for one last go at 2017’s Tales from the 2.9!

Until then,

–case p.

What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

It represents and means community to me.

What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?

It has been a great experience to see so many people get involved and how much information is being shared on social media, radio, and TV. Last year’s Black History Month was very uplifting, learning about the great achievementsΒ of Black Pioneers in Canada and Worldwide.

What’s something you’d like to see more ofΒ withinΒ the Black Canadian community?

More events that include think tanks, tech- and business law-related workshops. ThereΒ isΒ certainlyΒ a need for more opportunities so people cannot only network but have discussions and build consortiums.

Alicia Bell, Personal Trainer, Train it Right

Having lived in the Toronto area my whole life, I’ve had the benefit of a highly multicultural Canada.

Half of Toronto’s made up of visible minorities, with 8.5% of that pie being Black. It’s quite possibly the best place in the world to raise my mixed-race family, in a city known for its diversity and acceptance. There’s something for everyone in The Big Smoke, and I don’t see my family living anywhere else!

But what about the rest of Canada?

Toronto’s but a 7.7% sliver of Canada’s population at 2.8 million strong, yet the 220,000 Black people who call it home make up more than 23% of the country’s total Black population! In fact, 80% of our country’s Black people live in a mere 0.1% of the country’s landmass, which makes you wonder what life is like for the 20% in the rest of the country.

Hailing from Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, Alicia Bell’s view is one of optimism, seeing how far she’s come and filled with hope for her years ahead. Check out what she has to say below!

And me, I’ll be prepping for tomorrow’s penultimate Tale from the 2.9!

Until then,

–case p.

What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

Being Black Canadian means that I’ve never had to worry about the colour of my skin or who my friends are. I’m proud to live in an amazing country that accepts everyone regardless and I feel blessed to be Black Canadian.
Tales from the 2.9 β€” The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age β€” Vol. 2 #26, Alicia Bell, Kinesiologist, Train it Right β€” Alicia Doing Lunges

What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?

Being Black Canadian has shaped who I am today because I grew up in an area of New Brunswick that was predominantly all white. Even though I was different I was proud to be different and happy to educate people on my background. Being diverse and Black in Canada opens me up to influence so many people with my passion for helping others reach their health and fitness goals.