Natalie Bell | Tales from the 2.9, Vol. 2 #24

Last updated on April 20th, 2021 at 12:32 am

Part of the duality of being Black is that you don’t want to be defined by your melanin, but you also don’t seek to forget everything that’s come before you to make you who you are today.

Natalie’s post reminds me that the world will inform you you’re Black no matter how you’re raised, but it’s up to us not to let the disadvantages of being Black Canadian hold us back. Instead, we must work hard to overcome them so we can shape the tomorrow we want.

Even through this series, we’ve seen examples of a number of Black professionals and the things they’ve done to carve their own paths—who’s to say you can’t do the same?

I hope Natalie’s story—like many of the stories we’ve shared this year—inspires you, and as for me, I’m off to prep tomorrow’s Tale from the 2.9!

Until then,

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad

What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

Funny enough, I’ve never thought of myself in that context. I’ve always been Canadian. I was never taught to label myself in such a manner. If anything, I would state that I’m a Jamaican-Canadian, because I have been heavily immersed in my heritage from a young age, thanks to that good, good “broughtupsie’! I knew I was black, kids in school were quick to tell me, and I may not have completely understood what it was all about then but I knew was different, I just didn’t dwell on it. My parents would tell me afterwards how important it was to get an education and that I would need to work harder than others because I was a Black Canadian. I understand it now more than ever. Being a Black Canadian means I need to be a role model for my children and help guide them to see their worth in this world as they will be labelled the same way.

Jem Jackson | Tales from the 2.9, Vol. 2 #23

Last updated on April 23rd, 2021 at 08:47 pm

I’ve heard it argued numerous times that I have Donald K. Trump’s victory to thank for Tales from the 2.9‘s popularity, with Canada and the US’ visible minority populations alike knowing fear and apprehension like never before.

But that’s not exactly right.

Our Black brothers and sisters were still meeting untimely ends by a police force who put no value in their lives in 2016. We still made up entirely too much of our urban centres’ fringes, representing disenfranchised people withheld from the hope or power needed to break away from the negative cycle they’ve been thrust into. We still had to constantly prove our worth, knowing there’re all too many people waiting for us to slip so they can paint us with the brush of negativity that popular culture seems to favour all too often.

Sure, when Trump won the election, America’s ugly side surfaced with a brazenness we hadn’t seen in ages, but how different were things really?

These thoughts in mind, in the spirit of Throwback Thursday, I thought why not look back at an unpublished post from last year’s Tales and see how the world’s shifted in the year since?

Jem Jackson’s piece touches on an element of Canadian race relations we rarely bring to light—while racism’s often not as overt as we see it down south, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s far subtler, to the point we might not even consciously know we’re doing it. It could be an unsolicited touching of hair. Addressing your Black friends differently because you’re “homies”. Choosing a seat on the bus anywhere other than next to the Black person, because you never know what might happen. We come with our biases and assumptions galore, and it’s far too seldom that anyone calls people on it.

So I’m happy to see Jem’s not about to just let that slide.

But I’ll let Jem tell her own story. I hope you enjoy it, and I’ll catch you tomorrow with another Tale from the 2.9!

Until then,

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad

Many Black Canadians come from families who sacrificed plenty to give them the lives they have today. What do you know of your family history and how has it shaped your current self?

My family history has definitely shaped who am I today. We didn’t have much in terms of material things but I wouldn’t trade anything for the life lessons that I had the privilege of learning. I grew up in a very political family involved in the Civil Rights movement—so I had the experience of witnessing my father sacrifice a lot for the Black community and be a change-maker. I also had the experience of living with and learning from my mother, who was a single mom—she taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to and that faith and hard work is necessary for success.

Kamshuka | Tales from the 2.9, Vol. 2 #22

Last updated on April 20th, 2021 at 12:15 am

One concept Kamshuka teaches people in her quest to help them find their inner warriors is that of the “Fullest Life.” After surviving the Ugandan Civil War as a child and coming to Canada at 14, Kamshuka appreciates making the most of each day in a way that most people never come close to.

While I’m profusely grateful that I didn’t need to overcome any human rights violations to get here, I feel like my Fullest Life is growing before my eyes. I’m writing pieces that positively impact the world around me. I’ve gotten to start showing our youth that there’re other ways to succeed in a world where it can feel like employment opportunities are in a chokehold. I hope to show my sons how to live their best lives possible not only through my words but through clear actions that show what’s possible when your passions align with your efforts.

If you feel stuck in your life, let Kamshuka set you straight—she’s a survivor, and there won’t be any stopping her anytime soon!

I’ll see you tomorrow with another Tale from the 2.9!

Until then,

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad

What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

Being Black Canadian means I get to celebrate my diversity with no apologies. As a mixed black Canadian (African & Anglo-Indian), every day that I get to share my diversity with my fellow citizens and children just reminds me of how proud I am to be Black Canadian.

What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?

Tales from the 2.9—The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age—Vol. 2 #22, Kamshuka, International Speaker, Life Coach, Author Becoming Warrior—Portrait Photo

I came to Canada when I was only 14 years old and spent my high school years trying to figure where I stood more. As I got older I began to embrace being black soon after I realised how many Black women and men of influence I was surrounded by. When I was 23 years old and enjoying my new career as a professional photographer, this was the only time I felt judged for my skin tone and gender. I was shooting weddings in a male-dominated profession, and remember thinking I would work hard despite this obvious awkward entrance into almost every room and let my work speak for itself. Thankfully as the years went by, my work ethic and art spoke for itself and enabled me to reach so many new heights locally in Toronto and also overseas.

Derrick Raphael, Esq. | Tales from the 2.9, Vol. 2 #21

Last updated on April 20th, 2021 at 12:13 am

Much like I wanted to show what a view on our culture might look like from the outside in when I profiled Zetta Elliot, PhD, Derrick Raphael, Esq. looks at our culture from the opposite perspective, only having come here from the US in September 2015.

Derrick brought up an interesting point with his Tales from the 2.9 submission—a key reason why it’s so hard to unite the Black Canadian community is because we’re largely a collective of immigrants. Many of us still identify more with our countries of origin than we do Canada, so bringing so many different peoples together for one common interest often proves… difficult.

But that doesn’t mean we stop trying.

While we don’t have anything near the scale of America’s NAACP and HBCUs (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Historically Black Colleges and Universities—look ’em up!) or the nearly 43 million people in our population (with about 50% descending from the common origin of slave trade), we’re still stronger together than we are individually. We all bring something to the table, and if we took all of that together to meet all of our needs, well. That’s simply a force that couldn’t be ignored!

Give Derrick Raphael, Esq.’s submission a read and learn why he felt compelled to build an organisation to support the superstars of tomorrow with Global Trailblazers of Today!

As for me, the month’s not over yet, so if you’re looking for me, I’m off working on the next Tale from the 2.9!

Until then,

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad

What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

Tales from the 2.9—The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age—Vol. 2 #21, Derrick Raphael, Esq., Chief Education Officer, Global Trailblazers of Today—CAUFP Profile Image

Being Black Canadian as a recent immigrant from the United States means a lot, actually. I have been able to “escape” Trump’s new US for Canada’s focus on inclusion and diversity. Even though I have been in Canada for less than two years I know it is not perfect, but the US has become more divided than I can remember due to the direction of the new administration. I feel that being Black Canadian means you have a unique opportunity to blaze your own path if you are willing to work hard enough. I plan to do so.

Zetta Elliott, PhD | Tales from the 2.9, Vol. 2 #20

Last updated on April 20th, 2021 at 12:12 am

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!

Until then,

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad

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.”