Being part of the 2.9 can be stifling.
When you’re part of a minority this small, you can feel like you don’t have a voice. Like you’re lacking in community. Or that you’ll never find your place with the colour of your skin or the differences in your culture. And so, with so much stacked up against us, not everyone stays. Artists move away all the time in pursuit of success. My grandparents moved back to Jamaica. And Zetta Elliott, PhD, back for a second Tale from the 2.9, made the short trip to Brooklyn, New York more than 20 years ago, where an entry new world lay in wait!
If anything, I think that Zetta’s perspective from the outside looking in is one sorely needed in Canadian conversation, where our polite undertones hold us back from honestly approaching ideas that make us uncomfortable. It’s that objectivity and separation from everything going on in our nation that lets us see our issues for what they are, with the hope that one day the issues that’ve plagued us entirely too long will be part of our past, where they belong.
Enjoy Zetta’s submission (I know I always do), and I’ll see you tomorrow for another Tale from the 2.9!
What does being Black Canadian mean to you?
I’m proud to be Canadian. I’ve been critical of the country and the limited opportunities available to Black Canadians, but I start every author presentation here in the US by telling kids that I’m an immigrant from Canada. The Black Canadian identity is all about hybridity for me—I participate in multiple cultures and I’m the product of multiple histories, and that confounds many White Canadians who don’t understand intersectionality and like to imagine all Black people stepping off a boat or plane yesterday. Being a Black Canadian means never forgetting the sacrifices made by my Caribbean ancestors who gave up their status and professions in the 1950s to start from scratch in such a cold (and often hostile) place. Being a Black Canadian also means honouring my African American ancestors who came north hoping for a better life in the 1830s. The racism they encountered was so severe that it pushed them across the color line; my job as a Black Canadian writer living on the other side of that color line and the other side of the border is not to judge my ancestors but to tell the truth (as I see it) about “the promised land.”