If you’ve read the Tales from the 2.9 ’til now, you’ll have likely noticed some common themes that tie every narrative together:
- The need to overcome the negative portrayal of Black people as depicted in popular culture
- That all Black people aren’t the same but are the sum of people from dozens of countries, hundreds of cultures, and countless different personalities and mindsets, and
- Our community needs to work together and support one another if we ever want to change the world we were dropped into
One thing in particular from Jackline’s submission really resonated with me—”our accomplishments need to weigh as much and have the same meaning as everyone else’s.” We need to elevate—we can’t just compare ourselves to our fellow Black people and see that as a measure of success; we need to excel in general and show the world what we’re capable of! It means writing series like this. Or talking to Black youth about what’s possible in this world—I did a chat last week at Youth Employment Services on personal branding and I’ll be on a panel later this month doing the same. We need to keep raising our standards and let no one tell us of all the things we can’t accomplish.
Enjoy Jackline’s thoughts as she explores her Black Canadian experience—I’ll be back tomorrow with another Tale from the 2.9!
What does being Black Canadian mean to you?
I consider the term “Black Canadian” a very broad term because I don’t really see myself as just that. Calling me just black leaves out a lot of vital information about me that is actually very important in understanding who I am. I’m not just black. I’m from Africa, Ghana to be precise, and I have many intricacies about me that are like or unlike most black Canadians out there. Therefore, I tend to use the term “Ghanaian Canadian” more often to describe myself.
Being a black Canadian means I need to grab every opportunity that I’m given. It’s almost a daily battle trying to disprove the many stereotypes that exist for black Canadians. I usually need to work harder than my counterparts to achieve the same goals and I have a bigger burden to be a good model for those younger than me.
What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?
My experience being a black Canadian has been mostly positive. There are some great days and some awful ones but for the most part, I think the multicultural society we live in here in Toronto is a lot more welcoming than some other parts of the world.
The one area that I feel has a huge impact on my experience as a black Canadian is the way the media portrays black people. In the media, we are all one uniform people and I feel there is a discrimination in how black Canadians are portrayed. More often than not, we’re viewed as dangerous and lacking in self-control along with a host of other things. This is especially true in the eyes of those who are not part of the black community and I think the media contributes largely to that image that these people have. I feel that I’m judged constantly by the stereotypes that exist but ultimately, that won’t stop me from doing what I need to do here on this earth. I’ve had a great support system which has helped me achieve amazing things regardless of any barriers that stand in my way.
What’s something you’d like to see more of within the Black Canadian community?
I’d like to see people in the black community supporting each other. Some of us carry ourselves as if there’s only one pie and we’re the only ones that should have it. We won’t get ahead as a community if we’re unable to realise that there is strength in numbers and we will never be able to dispel all these stereotypes without working together.
Our accomplishments need to weigh as much and have the same meaning as everyone else’s. We’re supposed to be able to do the same things that everyone else can do. We should not be pleased when someone ends a sentence with the phrase “for a black person”. As a group, we need to push to change the narrative about ourselves by sharing good, positive stories about people that will start to shine a light on the great things black Canadians can do. We could go a long way as well by not promoting people who perpetuate the negative stereotypes in our community.
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?
What a black person does isn’t always indicative of us as a whole. We need to get rid of some of these stereotypes as I feel it hampers and affects the young ones who are growing up. It would help if the people outside of the black community understood this and didn’t paint every black person with the same brush. We aren’t all the same! We’re a diverse people made up of different ethnic groups, cultures, languages, religions, walks of life and mental make-up. We’re not all just ‘black’. We think differently and have different quirks about us that make us unique from other ‘black’ people. If everyone understood this, I think it would go a long way to building some respect for the black Canadian community.
If your life could teach but one thing to your fellow Black Canadians, what would it be?
The one thing I would teach to my fellow black Canadians is that you can’t do it alone. The way this world is set up, we need each other. You need God and you need other people. A person who resolves that they will accomplish something great all by themselves is a person that will never be great. My faith, my family and my friends have been there every step of the way. All the amazing people that I meet through the blog and along the way in life also add a little something all the time. Without the confidence I receive in God and the overwhelming number of people that believe in me, there is no way I would be where I am today. There are greater things in the future as well and I will always be grateful to the people that help support everything that I do.
I’m Jackline, author of the popular GTA blog Sincerely Miss J. I created my blog to inspire women who want to look and feel great but are also on a budget. My blog strives to provide inclusive, fun and stimulating content about fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and wedding.