It took a whole heap of work to make it, but we’re finally here—February 1, 2018, the start of another Black History Month, and with it another Tales from the 2.9!
Now it’s a slightly different world since we last met—there’s an undercurrent of unrest from our kin to the south as they deal with a leader who tends to tweet before he thinks. And on the other hand, we see Black Excellence manifest at levels we’ve never seen before with the blockbuster film Black Panther on the horizon, and Jordan Peele’s 2017 hit Get Out sitting pretty with four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director! In short, it’s starting to feel like it’s possible for Black people to have a voice in a time where it may be more important than ever to do so.
And up here in Canada, we might be a bit closer to making that happen!
Several weeks, a few dozen photos and four thousand words later, we’ve finally made it—the Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad 2017 wrap-up, filled with stories aplenty of 365 days spent in my not-so-orthodox life.
After wrapping the year up on a quiet note (because two sick children under five will do that to you), I still felt it necessary to do this. These year-to-year changeovers offer a lot of perspective for me—with so much happening all the time, I often forget what I had for breakfast, so I write everything down. And if the height of the pile on my desk is any sign, 2017 was quite the year. But it’s also the time where I’m the most transparent, looking back objectively at everything I’ve done and celebrating successes, owning up to failures, hoping all the while that I’m somehow growing from the process.
But yeah—let’s do this as we did in 2016: look at the year in excruciating detail, figuring out what’s worth taking with me into 2018 versus what just don’t feel part of my world anymore.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me present—the 31 things I did well in 2017! Let’s get it!
Many want to slow things down as they ease into the new year, but with Black History Month mere weeks away, we’re into full swing planning for the third annual Tales from the 2.9—Black Canadians Sharing Their Stories in a Digital Age.
After two years focusing on Black Canadian people, I’ve realised there’s a far bigger picture that needs exploring for the Black Canadian Experience, looking at the stories and ideas that shape our community in what promises to be the most thought-provoking series yet. If you’re interested in joining and giving your two cents, please check my ask out in the pitch below! Any questions, feel free to hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Hopefully, I’ll hear from you soon!
Tales from the 2.9, Year Three — The List
Thu Feb 1 — We Don’t Die; We Multiply — Tales from the 2.9, Year 3
Fri Feb 2 — How Did We Get Here? A Primer in Black Canadian History
Sat Feb 3 — “Where You From?” — Canada’s Cultural Mosaic and how Black Canadians REALLY Identify
Sun Feb 4 — Where We’re AT — Reality by the Numbers for Black Canadian People
Mon Feb 5 — Why We Still Need a Black History Month
Tue Feb 6 — African-American, We’re NOT — Defining Black Canadian Identity
Wed Feb 7 — Canada SEES Race; We Just Don’t TALK About It — Why Racism’s Still Alive and Well in the Frozen North
Thu Feb 8 — IS Black Beautiful? Our Skin Colour and How it’s Valued
Fri Feb 9 — Growing Up Black in a World That Ain’t — The Trouble with Tokenism
Sat Feb 10 — Working Twice as Hard to Get Half as Far — It’s Time to Change Our Narrative
Sun Feb 11 — Power in Numbers — Why Black Organisations and Associations EXIST
Mon Feb 12 — Buying Black — The Benefits and Barricades in Supporting Black Business
Tue Feb 13 — Black Rage for $ale — Why We Need More Black Faces at the Table
Wed Feb 14 — Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours — Modern Black Love and What it Looks Like
Thu Feb 15 — A Minority’s Minorities — Why it’s Important We Accept Our Own!
Fri Feb 16 — Living Outside the Box — The Pros and Cons of Travelling While Black
Sat Feb 17 — The Rise and Fall of Caribana — The Changing Landscape of Black Canadian Celebration
Sun Feb 18 — Praise — Faith and Why it Plays a Huge Role in the Black Canadian Community
Mon Feb 19 — The Ballad of the Black Dad — Why Yes, We DO Exist.
Tue Feb 20 — Of Mental Health and Melanin — Why We Can’t Keep Denying Our Problems
Wed Feb 21 — What’s Black and Right and Read All Over — A Literary Journey Through Black Canadian History
Thu Feb 22 — Don’t Disturb the Groove — Canada’s Love Affair with Urban Music
Fri Feb 23 — Get Up, Stand Up – Creating the World We Want to Live In
Sat Feb 24 — Yam It Up! — Black Canadian History as Told Through its Cuisine
Sun Feb 25 — Fix Up, Look Sharp — Why Fashion’s So Central to the Black Canadian Experience
Mon Feb 26 — Healing the Black Community — Why it’s Important for So Many of Us to Get Fitter FASTER.
Tue Feb 27 — Where Do We Go From Here?
Wed Feb 28 — We Deserve Success — The Quest for Black Excellence
Thu Mar 1 — February’s Over, But We’re STILL BLACK.
Tales from the 2.9, Year Three — The Ask
Pick one (or more) of the topics above and create a piece about could be written, audio or video — I’m just looking for content from more people than myself to really flesh this out
Send me a high-resolution photo of yourself and any for the topic you’re discussing to email@example.com for use in the post
Share it with your friends, peers and contacts! What makes this project grow each year is engagement, and after sending the finalized proposal out to everyone today, the next job is working on the press release and reaching out to my media contacts!
Tales from the 2.9, Year Three — The Original Pitch
Hello and Happy New Year! I hope your 2017 wrapped up on a positive note, and that you’re well into the work to build the 2018 you’re looking for. If you don’t know me, I’m Casey Palmer—a Dad Blogger who runs Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad, working hard to illustrate my journey as a Black father of two to a world that doesn’t always get it. With January upon us, February’s hot on our heels, and for me that means I’m sourcing for my third annual Tales from the 2.9 project—something I do for Black History Month, featuring stories from Black Canadians, and featured in Metro, on CBC and in talks across the city. I’m hoping to make its third year better than ever—but I need your help.
What I need are stories. In the past couple of years, I’d always start with a questionnaire and focus on the individual—Benny the Banker, Serena the Sculptor—the same questions across the board to show how diverse we can be as people.
But our story’s bigger than that—there are broader themes to explore that do us more justice. A generation breaking ground in fields entirely different from the opportunities available to the generation before. Growing up Black in a world that’s definitely not. My goal is to put out a month of content that let us speak our truths, and I hope you’ll be game to join me in building something we can all be proud of!
I’m looking for submissions. Interviews. Vlogs, speeches and ideas—whatever helps get the ideas across.
If interested, feel free to either drop me a message here or send a high-resolution photo and your idea/submission to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll put something together.
I look forward to working with you!
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
I’ll admit it—with Tales from the 2.9‘s successful completion, I almost felt like resting on my laurels and taking the day off. I mean, this year was easily far bigger than I’d expected, running the media circuit, coordinating with contributors, writing heaps of social shares for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn… it’d be so easy to just pat myself on the back and take a break until the next great initiative. Let’s face it—I am but one man.
But sitting on my haunches didn’t get me here—it was nights spent grinding away on a project that sincerely mattered to me, and happily found it matters to others as well.
That’s not the end game, though—not by a long shot.
Tales from the 2.9 — This is Only the Beginning.
With Tales, I was able to explore part of my identity through the lens of my kinfolk’s experiences, examining its many facets through the stories told.
And the project did well—Tales saw:
5000 unique page views over the month
3.5% engagement on Twitter, where the average is 0.5-1%
44.2% engagement on Instagram, where the average is 3-6%, and
60.8% engagement on Facebook, where the average is 0.5-1%
And that’s just content I shared. Combine it with the shares from contributors and media outlets, and you start seeing numbers like:
1025 Facebook likes
245 Facebook shares
455 retweets, and
640 Twitter likes!
So yeah, this year’s Tales showed there’s a definite appetite for Black Canadian content in this nation, but why limit ourselves to February alone?
See—that right there’s the problem. The point. The crux of why we must keep pressing forward even when Black History Month’s wrapped up. Sure, the celebration’s over, and yes, we had our time to shine. But you know what?
February’s over, but we’re still Black.
Black Fridays — Because One Month Alone Cannot Tell Our Story.
We still need to speak up. We still need to keep our momentum and show the world what we’ve got. When the Honourable Jean Augustine bolstered awareness of Black history by introducing an official Black History Month over 20 years ago, it was only a first step. It’s up to us to keep that mission going and work with one another to clearly outline why we’re important to Canada’ s history and that 28 days alone won’t tell the full tale.
But that means taking action. It means doing more than just crying foul when we celebrate our achievements in the coldest and shortest month of the year. It means putting something out in the world that begins to move us in the right direction, and for me, that’s a new series I’m calling Black Fridays.
Though I wrote an introduction for each post in Tales, there’s much of my stories and viewpoint I never got around to telling. Like the three times someone confused me for staff on our honeymoon cruise. Or the double takes that sometimes happen when I first walk in an interview. There’s plenty yet to explore with sometimes as vast as Black Canadian culture, and I think a longer look at its various aspects will help us dive deeper into plenty of places we might not explore otherwise! We’ll start this Friday with a Tales submission from artist Stephanie Konu that I never got to share, as well as other tales and tidbits that I’d do a disservice not to mention.
So thanks to all the contributors, the media contacts and others who really believed in the project, and thanks to all of you who checked it out! Those who wrote, shared, and suggested others who’d make great contributors—it’d be impossible without you!
Thanks again, everyone, and we’ll see you for #Chronicle150!
Until the next,
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
This year’s been a challenging one for Tales from the 2.9.
Last year was bad timing—putting 29 daily posts out right after becoming a Dad for the second time is no simple feat, and we somehow pulled it off. I was eager to build on that success and keep it going well past February, but life as a quartet caught up with me, and my time and energy soon found themselves committed… elsewhere.
So I stood this year determined to learn from my mistakes, and I thought I had it all figured out. I started looking for contributors weeks earlier, hoping to get everything lined up at the beginning of February to make time for other things. I tried to build awareness for the project, putting out a press release and landing interviews in several major Toronto media outlets with both luck and a noteworthy story. Everything felt perfect for an amazing Tales from the 2.9… until we reached the end and I suddenly found myself without enough contributors.
Fortunately, I had access to unpublished work like Ardean Peters’ piece below, but I’m surprised that things worked out this way. I definitely get it—some were too busy to write; it is Black History Month, after all. Some too overwhelmed by the questions’ gravity in a polarised world. And I’m sure some started writing, but life had other plans for their time and they never got to finish.
Whatever the reasons, I’m just glad we got to see 28 unique stories in 2017, and it’s taught me a valuable lesson—don’t expect miracles when you’re spreading a message only one month of the year!
But these are words befitting a wrap-up post; this is not my soapbox right now—the eyes are squarely focused on Ardean. Her story mirrors that of many Black children born here in that we don’t really recognise our Blackness until we’re older. We know we’re different at first, but don’t often understand what that means in the larger world until we have the life experience to get it.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s Tales from the 2.9, and we’ll wrap this up tonight with one. More. Post!
See you then,
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?
Both my mom and dad are from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and emigrated to Canada in 1968 and 1971 respectively. I think what I remember most is, while my parents had a strong connection to their home and instilled in us those traditions, they also always encouraged us as ‘Canadian kids’, making sure that we knew that we were Canadian and this was our home. To that end, I see myself as Canadian first, sewn and stitched together with a rich and diverse history and culture, which informs who I am today.
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?
Interesting question, because it wasn’t really until I was an older child, that I saw myself as ‘black’. As a child growing up, I just thought of myself as ‘Canadian’ and my skin colour was an afterthought. I grew up in the most diverse community in North York at the time, Jane and Finch. On top of that, the school I was in, really encouraged the belief that we were ALL Canadians and equal. I was so lucky to experience such a diversity of people and culture, which has shaped how I treat and connect with people as an adult.
On the flip side, as I’ve gotten older, had more experiences, worked in many different environments and experienced more of the city, its people and neighbourhoods, I’ve come to realise that I am a minority, which I honestly didn’t see as a young person. Because of this, and the realisation how strong an impact media has on shaping the opinions of people that have limited access and contact with black people (and people of other ethnic backgrounds), I realise the importance there is in promoting positive and normalising images of Black Diaspora people.