At it for a third year, I’m continuing my Black History Month series with a renewed focus and expanded mission—to tell the stories of all of us, not just some of us. Live from the 3.5 is the larger initiative to focus on the themes making Black Communities who they are—make sure to keep coming for a new tale each day!
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!
Back when I named Tales from the 2.9 in 2016, it felt like it was meant to be. Being a leap year, February had 29 days, the most recent census put Black Canadians at 2.9% of the total population, and the name felt like something catchy enough to cut through all the noise bombarding social media these days.
But that was 2016.
That same year, we had our first census since 2011, and when Stats Canada released our ethnocultural diversity data on October 25, 2017, with it came some news—the 945,000 of us who made 2.9% of our 32.8 million population had swelled to 1.2 million of our now-34.5 million strong—a jump from 2.9% to 3.5%! Despite an era where we’re having smaller families and starting them later, we’re still a long way from dying out, and we’ve got the numbers to prove it!
That said, it also meant “Tales from the 2.9” didn’t ring as accurate as it did before. Which is why ’til the next census drops in 2021, I’d like to introduce you to Live from the 3.5—The Tales of the Black Canadian Experience.
And we’re kicking it up a notch this year! Two years of individual interviews was a good start, but our community’s so much more than the stories from any one of us. This year, we’re focusing on the themes that define our community instead of any individual tale. It’s more work. It’s highly ambitious. But if it means building the platform we need to share our stories without fear of diminishment or censorship, then I think it’s exactly what we need.
All that in mind, I’m going to work hard to make sure it’s not my voice alone you hear this month. With 1.2 million of us up here in the Frozen North, I’m continually searching for the voices that’ll bring truth for this year’s topics. I don’t expect it to be easy, but one of the most important things I probably ever learned from my Dad is this—if something’s worth it, you’d better be willing to fight for it.
And for the 3.5% of us trying to navigate our way through Canada… I’d say it’s worth it at the very least!
But that’s enough from me—let’s start 2018’s series with a piece from Kamshuka, who wants her fellow Black people to find their inner warriors and live fulfilled lives. Make sure to check her links out in the footer below!
Kamshuka, Author “Becoming Warrior”
Through many shades of melanin, my beautiful black people, we have come from so far. Although the struggle brought us much pain, much strength, our joy & laughter has made us rich in has who we are. The pain of the past was meant to cripple & break our souls & spirits, but we are soaked in resilience & created to rise again every time. Allow this pain to turn into fuel which will turn into the fire that burns your soul to live for a better day.
As a Warrior Queen myself I believe that we are living to make the days we are present in our best, turn the future into lily pads of elevated heights for our children to dwell on. It is true we don’t die, our passions, our memories of pain & our stories live on in the lives we choose to impact every day. They live on through the lives of children; they can be seen in the children of our communities & in the eyes of the children of the future. When we as a people begin to understand this about our resilience we can be better & do better for ourselves & our communities.
You, my black, beautiful soul, were created with great thought, dipped in gold, and soaked in the magic of excellence. And you may not see it right now or feel your sparkle, but please hear this warrior—out in this moment that regardless of the struggle and the journey your black beauty of every shade has made your presence relevant to this time in history. You, my black beauty, a vessel of honour that will live on, multiple in the hearts of our people & rise every time. Live full; Die Empty.
“To learn from yesterday, live for today & hope for tomorrow”
– Albert Einstein
Live from the 3.5—It’s Black History Month; Let’s Do This!
So I hope you’re ready for one solid month ahead—we’re not about to tread lightly, and nor should we! These are our stories—let’s tell them!
Until tomorrow, I remain,
Kamshuka is an author, International Keynote Speaker and Certified Life Coach. Recipient of the 2010 Aroni award for commitment to youth and entrepreneurship, winner of The 2014 Black Canadian Best Photographer Award. She uses her influence to inspire heart to heart conversations and create roundtable forums to communicate the importance of knowing who you are, to reach your true potential. She’s appeared on several local and global media outlets, and been recognized by her people in Uganda on the national network NTV as an Empowered Woman of Power. Kamshuka is passionate about bringing change and impact with her story as a War Child Survivor. Her passion’s driven by her story: An unconventional artist expressing her thoughts and interpreting life through her art and heart.