Separated from my African roots by a number of generations, it was quite the trip when I visited Tanzania in 2012, realizing just how far removed our history had set me from my ancestors. Much has been lost to the systematic destruction of the oral culture they identified by, so it’s always good to connect with those who’ve lived overseas to better understand what the Black experience is like not only in Canada, but in all the places our families hailed from before.
With a childhood in Cameroon and North America, fashion blogger Brenda Chuinkam brings her stories to Tales from the 2.9, looking at what she’s cultivated here to become successful, and what she hopes to see moving forward.
Make sure to check it out below!
Until the next,
1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?
I think of the stories I heard of growing up—I was fortunate to experience childhood both in North America and Africa so I was very aware at a young age of the patriots like Martin Luther King Jr. and I also knew of the patriots who made my country, Cameroon, what it is today. A good balance of both worlds if you ask me.
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 have concluded that our sufferings here in Canada are both similar and different from our brothers and sisters in the South. Have I experienced racism while here in Canada, definitely but not on the level my folks in the South have. I personally feel as though the racism here is more disguised than in the States. I do feel like I am generally able to thrive as a young Black woman in Canada but much more can still be worked upon.
3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?
I would love for the world to remember me as the eloquently dressed and charming woman whose story was relatable to most and was able to touch the hearts of many 🙂
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?
Currently, one of my biggest mentors is actually my boss—Kelechi Anyadiegwu, who founded the popular website for African fashion—Zuvaa. She is a tough and smart business woman who was recently featured on Forbes 30 under 30 list! I have learned a very basic principle from her: Go after your dreams ruthlessly!
5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?
Remember we feed off of each others’ success. We should never keep our success to ourselves because it should be passed on.
We never stop being mentors.
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!