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!
What does being Black Canadian mean to you?
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.
What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?
My experience as a Black Canadian since moving here during September of 2015 has been overwhelmingly positive. I have found a really great church at Kingdom House Christian Centre. My wife is Canadian and was the primary reason I moved here, originally. I have quickly created a strong circle of friends in Toronto and the GTA. I have noticed that Canada rewards initiative and my pursuits of entrepreneurship have been welcomed and pushed in the local community in Brampton, where I live. The city’s entrepreneurship department and staff there are second to none.
What’s something you’d like to see more of within the Black Canadian community?
I would like to see more unity and collective action within the Black Canadian community. There are great groups like the Canadian Association of Urban Financial Professionals (CAUFP) to which my wife and I are members, but there need to be stronger bonds overall. I have a feeling that despite our limited numbers if we pooled resources we would have more power politically and economically. Other groups seem to be more strategic but I feel a big part of that lack of collective consciousness is due to many/most black individuals being immigrants themselves or that their parents are. Since people still consider themselves in many cases as more Jamaican or Nigerian than Canadian they are not as willing to unite for collective benefit. Again, I could be wrong, but this is what I have seen. In addition, there are not strong institutions like in the US like the NAACP, fraternities, sororities, etc. to bring people together for group mobilisation and strong leaders to enact such social change.
What do you think those outside the Black Canadian community need to better understand in order to coexist with Black Canadians in a respectful and considerate way?
Personally, I think that individuals need to just give Black Canadians a chance just like any other group. As a black American man, I feel in many circles black people are usually the most disliked group without any firm basis. People rely on stereotypes, movies or the experiences of others. I feel if others just treated each black person they met as a unique individual everyone would be happier. Prejudgement is a problem.
If your life could teach but one thing to your fellow Black Canadians, what would it be?
I think my life would teach others that anything is possible if you just work hard enough. I have never been the smartest guy in the room but I am more than willing to work hard for the pursuit of my dreams. Persistence and proper planning pay off!
Derrick Raphael is a US-trained and licensed attorney who has been engaged in the college consulting sector for over 16 years. He started working with high school students back in 2000 when he created the Scholarship Seminar for students at his high school in North Carolina. Derrick expanded those efforts in 2001 to include students from around the region.
During Derrick’s time as an undergraduate at Princeton University, he continued to work in the college access space as the paid Undergraduate Coordinator for the Admissions Office, under the current Dean of Admissions Janet Rapelye, where he trained fellow undergraduates to return to their hometowns to share more about Princeton University and college preparation. These students were from high schools all around the globe.
After Princeton Derrick received a Class of 1956 Fellowship which allowed him to return to his hometown in North Carolina to create a comprehensive college preparation program for students throughout his city of Fayetteville. Those efforts allowed Derrick to work with over 500 students and to enrol 40 students in the Fayetteville-Youth Education Program (F-YEP) which he created.
Following this fellowship, Derrick served as the first ever college counsellor for a high school in Bronx, NY. After this experience, Derrick attended Duke University School of Law where he focused on education law and policy prior to attending the University of Toronto to earn his Global Professional Master of Laws (GPLLM) where he focused on international business.
Derrick runs and operates the Global Trailblazers of Today (GTT). GTT has partnerships with several education companies around the globe in jurisdictions such as the United States, China, India, Canada and others nations.
Derrick’s efforts have led to GTT’s inclusion in two start-up incubators in Canada. The first of which is Communitech based in Kitchener, Ontario which has raised over $1 billion dollars for the companies in its portfolio. GTT is also proud to be affiliated with the RIC Center based in Mississauga.