Compiling a project like Tales from the 2.9 isn’t always simple when you’re competing with various schedules, Valentine’s Day plans, and everything that you already should be doing when blogging’s not your full-time gig. That in mind, I pulled every trick out of my bag, including reaching out to a world of potential sources through Help a Reporter, which is how I got introduced to Sandra Dawes.
Sandra’s submission deals with—among other things—the problem with perception. As an educated MBA-wielding Black woman, she’s seen her share of injustice, and you can check out some of her story below!
1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?
I think about the civil rights movement in the US. Canadian images that come to mind are influential figures such as Lincoln Alexander, Jean Augustine and other community leaders who have made a positive impact on our local communities for decades. I see them as trailblazers. They were able to achieve significant advances at a time when it was even less commonplace than it is today, especially in the political realm.
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?
My Dad was very big on making sure I knew my history. He had cassette tapes with recordings of people giving seminars on historical events, the challenges of the Black community and the importance of being proud of who you are.
I am amazed at how low the expectations are for some people when they meet a Black person. I am frequently met with surprise when asked about my level of education. There have been many job interviews where I was met with what I’ll call shock. There’s nothing on my resume that gives any hints at my ethnicity. Unfortunately, I don’t think my face is what many interviewers are expecting. I haven’t gone on a job interview for a while, so I’m hoping that’s changed!
3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?
My intention is to be remembered for inspiring others to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. It’s what I’m striving for on a daily basis in my own life!
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?
I would have to say my Dad was my mentor. He taught me to be proud of who I am regardless of what anyone else may think or say. He encouraged me to do the best I could and take pride in everything I did. He taught me that hard work is rewarded; we just have to be patient. The greatest lesson I learned from him was that I should love what I do, not the money it may provide.
5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?
Our numbers may be small, but our power and influence are great! It’s time to collaborate in a way that benefits us all.
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!