Ryan Elcock | Tales from the 2.9 2017 #5

A friend first introduced me to Ryan whileΒ seeking contributors for theΒ first Tales from the 2.9, and we’ve kept in close contact ever since while he works at building inroads for the Black Canadian community.

I knew it when I read his post last yearβ€”Ryan has some of the mostΒ pointed views out of anyone I work with forΒ Tales.

Black power groups have popped up time and again for a reasonβ€”because there’veΒ always been adversaries trying to hold us down. We saw it with the slaves who knew how to read and write on plantations. The victims of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. Those left standing in the ashes after Black Wall Street was razed to the ground in the 1920s. There’ve been all too manyΒ horrific examples of the majority stopping the Black minority from getting ahead, which is why Ryan’s tenets of Black pride hold so muchΒ value.

If you came toΒ TalesΒ looking for a light read and fluffy emotions, I’m sorryβ€”this post isn’t for you. But if you’re coming with an open mind and looking for real opinions from real people tackling real issues head-on, then read onβ€”this post’s got food for thought!

Until tomorrow,

–case p.

What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

To me, being a Black Canadian means acknowledging that I fight a battle where the odds are stacked against me, yet I know I do not carry the burden alone.

I carry the knowledge of my parents, who are immigrants, as well as those of my fellow Black Canadians, who also share the same challenges that I face no matter where they come from.

This shared struggle also gives me strength because I know that I have access to a wealth of unique knowledge that can help me in my personal struggle as a Black man since I can learn from others and not just myself.

Furthermore, being a Black Canadian also means that I have a unique ability to relate to the world since, like many Black Canadians, I am the first generation who has one foot in Canada and another in the lands of my parents’ birth. This gives me a unique perspective in navigating not only Canada but also in understanding the global community around me.

As a Black Canadian, I have had to deal with racism and the constant struggle of having to navigate a society that does not always see me as an equal or capable.

However, those hardships made me stronger and helped me develop a strong sense of self-worth because I know that many Black Canadians have endured the same things and triumphed.

Tales from the 2.9 β€” The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age β€” Vol. 2 #4, Nicole Bedeau, Marketing/Public Relations Agent, Black Leopard Public Relations

Upon reading Nicole’s entry for the Tales from the 2.9, I felt we shared many commonalities in our livesβ€”a lack of Black peers in our lives due to lifestyle choices from our Caribbean immigrant parents. Doing things thought “not Black enough” by family and friends, losing street credibility to things like figure skating and spelling bees.

In fact, though many of us are Canadian born and bred in 2017, we still have a hard time integrating into the lifestyles full of CanadianΒ ideals prescribed to us through our popular culture.

Feeling torn between two identities is something that isn’t foreign to meβ€”or anyΒ other Black Canadians, I wagerβ€”and while the struggle between “too Black” and “not Black enough” might not be resolved withΒ my generation, I fight the ongoing fight to help my kids needing to struggle with the same.

Enjoy today’s read and I’ll catch you tomorrow!

Until then,

–case p.

What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

It means holding two identities in my head at once. I see myself first, as sharing the same racial identity as African descendants from all over the world. I am an African first. Secondly, my culture is Canadian. I was born here and raised here. The Canadian way of living and thinking about the world influences much of what I do. Multiculturalism, winter sports, feminism, Tim Horton’s and a quiet modesty are the Canadian values I hold dear.

Tales from the 2.9 β€” The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age β€” Vol. 2 #3, Chad G. Cranston, Co-founder, TCHAD Quarterly & Social Interactive CA

Those with a keen eye will notice that I scoured through last year’s submissions and invited some of the 2016 contributors back forΒ Tales from the 2.9‘s second edition!

I’ve yet to meet Chad in person β€” we were brought together by someone whose opinion I trustΒ thoroughly β€” but after Chad’s submission last year, Β I knew I had to have him back on as I brought tougher questions to the table!

In his entry forΒ Tales from the 2.9, Chad approaches a rather prickly subject that only keeps popping upβ€”the need for BlackΒ people to better support Black-ownedΒ businesses. But it usually ain’t easyβ€”with so few of us in Canada, it means staying true to one’sΒ tenets at the sacrifice ofΒ choice. While I don’t have an answerΒ that’ll make everyone happy, at least I know we’re talking about it!

Until tomorrow, everyone!

–case p.

Tales from the 2.9 β€” Chad G. CranstonWhat does being Black Canadian mean to you?

It’s 2017 β€” I want to take on the advancement of our culture as a personal responsibility. I think about our culture and how to advance into the future in a constructive manner. I have been doing research on how Africans contributed to civilised culture, architecture, language, religion, environment, stories and history that are not told in our educational system.

Tales from the 2.9 β€” The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age β€” Vol. 2 #2, Chattrisse Dolabaille, Writer, Performer & Producer

Some people I meet in the mostΒ interesting places.

Back in 2014, Tobago’s Division of Tourism and Transportation held the 60 Days in Paradise contest, seeking an “Island Connoisseur” to promote Tobago and all it offers to Canadians looking to travel. Though the competition wound up feeling like a bit of a sham, IΒ did end up making new connections from the ordeal, and one of them was Chattrisse!

The narrative she outlines below is one commonly felt by Black kids when they choose not to follow the archetypes that youths of colour seem to frequently adhere to. I too have had more than enough helpings of “not Black enough” in my life, and I hope her words reach out to anyone feeling a little lost!

That said, enjoy Chattrisse’s submission, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

–case p.

Tales from the 2.9 β€” The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age β€” Vol. 2 #2, Chattrisse Dolabaille, Writer, Performer & Producer β€” Chattrisse Photo 2

What does being a Black Canadian mean to you?

It means lots of code-switching! Being able to move comfortably into, out of, and through different environments and situations as seamlessly as possible. In my experience, it also means I have abundant reasons to be proud of my heritage and identity: as a Canadian, as the child of Caribbean immigrants, as a Torontonian, etc. I’ve always enjoyed disproving stereotypes, and over the years I’ve found that being a black Canadian gives me numerous opportunities to do that.

Tales from the 2.9 β€” The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age β€” Vol. 2 #1 β€” Dwayne Morgan, Poet, Speaker, Social Entrepreneur

It’s a new day, one and all!

With 2017’s Tales from the 2.9, we’ll build off of the successes of last year’s entries with a deeper look into what it means to be a Black Canadian and some thoughts on our culture… whatever you might perceive it to be!

I could’ve done like last year and come out swinging with a piece of my own to share my thoughts about all the issues attached to this project like I was hosting Saturday Night Live… but Tales isn’t aboutΒ me.Β Tales is about the fact that youΒ can’t easily define what BlackΒ means, and I hope to share a month’s worth of stories to show youΒ just that.

I’ll still be here in my intros and asides, but I rather let my contributors do the talking until the end of the month, and when we get there,Β then we’ll have someΒ words.

This year’s Tales kicks off with a piece from Dwayne Morgan, a poet, speaker and social entrepreneur from Toronto, ON who hits us with some poignant thoughts on being Black Canadian and how to embrace a culture that’s fragmented by its very definition.

See you tomorrow!

— case p.

Tales from the 2.9 Vol. 2 #1 β€” Dwayne Morgan, Poet, Speaker, Social Entrepreneur β€” Dwayne Morgan

What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

I always struggle with this question. There isn’t a Black Canadian identity, in the same way that it may exist in the United States. For that matter, I’m not even sure how I would describe or explain Canadian identity, so I see myself as a Black man, with all that comes with that from history, who happens to be born, and living within Canadian borders. Maybe my CanadiannessΒ is my deep connection to my Jamaican heritage and African roots.