Being Black in Canada

Black culture is uniqueβ€”one of the few cultures thrustΒ upon a people and not developedΒ by them. A Jamaican is not a Gambian is not an Australian Aborigine. We’ve got tribes within tribes and languages within languages but somehow lumped together by the colour of our skin.

And we’ve made the best of it. From Canada’s first Negro History Week in 1926 to officially recognising Black History Month in 1995 thanks to the help of the Honourable Jean Augustine, we’ve celebrated our Blackness and looked to remind the world that we’re not just one thing.

But it hasn’t been easy, with “Black Canadian” conjuring up images of The Weeknd or Drake and not so much Cameron Bailey or MichaΓ«lle Jean. You hear about Black Canadians on February 1st, but where do they go for theΒ rest of the year?

And that’s why I’m here working onΒ Live from the 3.5β€”because ifΒ we don’t invest the time to own our stories, whoΒ will?

Drekken Pownz | Everybody Wants to be Fabulous

And then sometimes you need to take a step back and handle your ish.

Chatting with Casey 0006 β€” Everybody Wants to be Fabulous β€” Casey Palmer, June 2018

With Father’s Day come and gone for 2018, I was finally free to take stock of everything going on in theΒ rest of my life, and it was aΒ mess. A to-do list 270 items deep. Friends and family whose voices I hadn’t heard inΒ months. Things were hectic, and I quickly remembered I couldn’t be a good husband, father, son, brother, friend, employee, churchgoer and content creatorΒ all at the same time.

So I took the time to handle a few things and while they’re stillΒ far from perfect, being able to findΒ some time to get back to the podcast’sΒ always okay by me!

But enough with the preambleβ€”let me tell you why episode six isΒ so good.

Brown Girl Begins β€” Telling Stories of Colour Sans Stereotypes

This is more thanΒ just a movie review.

Brown Girl Begins β€” Telling Stories of Colour Sans Stereotypes β€” Shakura S'Aida as MamiCaribbeanTales couldn’t have known I was in the middle of deeply searching for a great connection to my roots when they reached out to collaborate. It’s a dope time for content creators who look like us with Jordan Peele’s 2017 horror smashΒ Get Out taking home an Oscar and 2018’sΒ Black Panther smashing every record the world can toss at it, but we can still doΒ more.

Black culture has long challenged anyone who dares try to keep it in a box. Most of what the world calls “Black culture” is culture reshaped and repackaged for public consumption. Hip-hop. Television. Fashion. It all reached a tipping point where Black culture met bold couture, and suddenly we found ourselves without identifiers accurately representing us anymore.

Or at leastβ€”that’s the narrative some would have us believe.

Live from the 3.5 β€” February’s Over, But We’re STILL BLACK.

When you’re a one-man operation trying to put out a series for Black History Month, there are some things youΒ might not want to do with your February, like:

  1. Hit up a Dad Summit in New Orleans to make dozens of new friends and better understand all the possible ways to be a great Dad,
  2. Take a trip out to Kelowna, BC to keynote a parenting conference and change others’ thinking on what fatherhood means in 2018, and
  3. Think it’s a good idea to take on such an ambitious creative project when it’s the financial year-end at your 9-5… andΒ you’re in charge of keeping the numbersΒ balanced.

But for those of you keeping score at home, that was my situationΒ exactlyΒ this February, and though I got aΒ bit of content out in its last few days, there was stillΒ so much I could do to move the needle.

Because after allβ€”we’d danced this dance before. The dance we dancedΒ every February, schedulesΒ packed with dinners, discussions and dialogues as we revel in the attention everyone’s giving us… but what then? What happens when Black History Month’s over and we’re back to ourΒ regular lives, the Black Canadian narrative nothing more than a side note to everything else going on? I’m sorry, but as a Black Canadian myself, I’m still Black full-timeΒ well after February ends. I’ll celebrate other aspects of who I am as the year goes on from fatherhood to masculinity and back… but what says I should hold back from celebrating my Blackness just because it’s not the month where everyoneΒ else is doing itΒ too?

And that’s why I’m thinking… maybe it’s time I tell some Black Canadian storiesΒ beyond the work I do each February.

The Chocolate Babies in: It’s Bedtime Now

So aΒ lot happened at the Dad 2.0 Summit. I made new friends. Finally met up with old ones. And on top of that, I got to meet men I idolised without even realising I was doing it, like Beleaf Melanin and his beautiful family, half of which were there with him at the summit itself!

We exchanged info and became Facebook friends… and if it wasn’t for that, I’m not sure I would’ve been there for what came next.

Quick Clips with Case P #0002 β€” Beleaf in Fatherhood and the Case for Positive Black Representation β€” It's Bedtime Now (Cover)

See, Beleaf Melanin, the rapper-turned-father-turned-prolific creator behind Beleaf in Fatherhood’s video content… he published a book. And I don’t mean an ebook or some YouTuber tell-all at a publisher’s request… he self-published an honest-to-goodness hardcover children’s book: The Chocolate Babies in: It’s Bedtime Now, featuring himself and his family as the characters within.