Black Canadians Are Afraid To Be Black

I was talking to Aulelia, via e-mail the other day, and noticed she is so in tune with her blackness. Aulelia has a wonderful blog go check it out Charcoal Ink it is on my blog roll. Aulelia is a strong black woman she was born in Tanzania and raised in the UK.

Maybe ,that’s the reason Aulelia is so passionate about black politics is because she’s not a black Canadian LOL!

Aulelia was born in a country that has a large black population that wasn’t polluted with the white supremacy that permeates Canadian society. I am serious, in Canada ,black Canadian people we try too hard to fit in. We are never going to “fit” in here. The white Canadian majority always makes sure of that.

Black Canadians we are only discussed in the Canadian media when something negative occurs. Black Canadians we are the classic scapegoats in Toronto. There is a social hierarchy in Canada the whites are at the apex, Asian Canadians, black Canadians, and at the bottom with the Aboriginals.

When I utilize the term “social hierarchy” I am not suggesting that blacks, Asians, or Aboriginals should think we are inferior to white people because we are not. Since race is a social construction, I am illustrating that the “system” meaning the “media” attempts to dehumanize people of colour through language and images. For instance, the language in newspapers, television reports, radio broadcasts that are negative against people of colour sometimes reinforces white cultural domination.

Black activists such as Frantz Fanon, bell hooks, and black lesbian Canadian feminist Dionne Brand’s work are so important because they are utilizing language as a weapon a tool to empower the black race. Fanon, Brand, and hooks are attempting to find solutions for blacks to help ourselves.

Black Canadian lesbian feminist, Dionne Brand’s books, “A Map To The Door Of No Return” and “BRead Out Of Stone” are also very important books. I urge you all to read Brand’s books at the local public library or buy them. You will learn so much about the issues black Canadians encounter in Canada. It is important for people of colour to be “enlighten witnesses’ to ” White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy” this is a term black American feminist bell hooks created. hooks book “Outlaw Culture” reminds people of colour the media have their own agenda and that’s a white agenda. We have to be cognizant of this.

I am not stating that this social hierarchy is “static”. I am illustrating my view, different races are treated differently by the mainstream Canadian media. Asian Canadians are not attacked the same way as black Canadians are that’s a fact. Of course, Asian Canadians encounter racial discrimination I am not suggesting that they don’t. Also some Asian Canadians have racist prejudices and racist views against black Canadians as well.

Anyway, Aulelia is so proud to be black I love that about her! I also notice that I need to reconnect with blackness. In America, the African Americans are incredible people they are so organized and they don’t let “anybody” mess with them. Remember the Don Imus controversy? The African Americans quickly organized and gave Don Imus the boot! I love that about the African Americans they are righteous black people and they don’t take crap from anybody. You cannot mess with the African Americans.

For some reason, my perspective is, black Canadians we are afraid to be black. We are afraid, to stand up for ourselves and speak our minds. Aulelia is correct black people we need to be our own leaders and stop worrying about what other people think.

Now let me explain. Some black Canadians believe if we “don’t” talk about race we can pretend racism doesn’t exist. It seems to me in Canada some black Canadians believe if we follow the mythical norm and pretend “race issues” don’t matter things will be all gravy. However, it isn’t true. Black Canadians we definitely need to let our voices be heard about the black focus schools issue.

Aulelia is very passionate about the black race and African politics. Aulelia introduced me to the great French Caribbean liberation writer Frantz Fanon. How many black Canadian teens know about Dionne Brand, Evelyn Lau, Makeda Silvera? I have to confess in Canada the attitude is all about assimilation and integration. But is that the right solution though to try to be like “everyone else” wouldn’t blackness be displaced? It is important for black Canadians to make sure blackness is at the center. Black Canadian kids need to be proud of the black culture and build their self esteem.

The Canadian media promote this racist mythology of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism doesn’t exist in Canada that’s a complete lie. Canada is all about conforming to whiteness. According to the 2006 census black Canadians we are the third largest minority group in Canada with an estimated population of 783,800. However, if you pick up a Canadian newspaper, turn on the news, or listen to CBC radio it is all whiteness it has nothing to with people of African descent.

If I want to listen to black political issues I have to search the internet for foreign stations. I listen to a black British woman Jumoke Fashola’s radio show on BBC Radio London. I also listen to Michel Martin’s wonderful black radio program “Tell Me More” on NPR on American radio.

Thank goodness for the internet! In Toronto we have one black radio station in Toronto 93.5 yet 93.5 is afraid to be black. 93.5 is so white these days I can’t believe it is called “Urban Radio”. 93.5 sounds like any of the other white Canadian radio stations it has nothing to do with the black Canadian race. Race issues and black politics are off limits on 93.5 radio.

Whenever black people attempt to organize something the mythical norm attempts to try to tear us down. Last year, an African American speaker wanted to speak to black students at Ryerson University about black community uplift. Well surprise, surprise, the white Jews and the mythical norm shut the event down. Once again the mythical norm is up to no good. Once again, when black Canadians try to help our children the system tries to “put blacks in our place”. One step forward two steps back.

For instance, the Toronto District School Board has approved the the Black Focus Schools. However, the black focus school is only for Kindergarten to grade five. Isn’t this a complete cop out? Give me a break! The issue here is the secondary school level 40% of black teens are dropping out of school that’s a scary statistic. It also means almost half of black teens aren’t graduating high school I think this a crisis. The Toronto District School Board now wants a “study” conducted. It is just a stalling tactic it is racist and total bullshit. Next, you have some people claiming the black focus school is segregation. The TDSB hopes black Canadians we will “forget” about the fact the system is failing our children!

Black children are already marginalized by racist teachers, a racist curriculum, and a racist anti black Canadian society. Black children have to read racist books such as Mark Twain’s work or Harper Lee’s racist novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” and Shakespeare in grade twelve. Why is white culture pushed down the throats of black children? Why can’t black kids read more books by black authors? And why is this such a struggle? The black kids already are treated rather unfairly yet Premier Dalton McGunity is dragging his heels as usual to find a solution. Black activists and black educators are being proactive taking a stand stating this is a “crisis”. I am glad an Afrocentric school is going to open in September 2009 for the young black children. However, I also believe this is all smokes and mirrors. The Toronto District School Board wants to appear as though they are “taking” action. The truth is the TDSB is doing nothing because the crisis is at the high school level. Some black teens are depressed, they feel alienated, they feel unworthy and hopeless.

Next, you know the racist teachers and principals are saying privately “well the whites and Asian kinds are doing well why can’t the blacks do well?” Why haven’t more black teachers been hired by the TDSB? Only 5.2% of the teachers in Toronto are black. Also only 9.6% of the principals and vice principals are black. Black children need to see educators that look like them that will invest their time and energy and believe in them. Why can’t black teens read Frantz Fanon, Dionne Brand, Makeda Silvera, or George Elliott Clarke? Well anyone that has bothered to read Audre Lorde, or Dionne Brand’s work knows the answer. The system treats black people differently then Asians. For some reason blacks we are thought of as more of a “threat” because we are very outspoken about race relation issues.

About orvillelloyddouglas

I am a gay black Canadian male.

5 responses to “Black Canadians Are Afraid To Be Black”

  1. aulelia says :

    Hi Orville,

    Thank you for the shout-out :)

    This is a very interesting topic. I would like to comment on a couple of facets.

    **You ask why can’t black teens read more about Frantz Fanon and the rest of those fabulous post-colonial writers ? I think a lot of the blame must be shouldered by black communities and black families worldwide. For example, in Canada, is hip-hop or sport seen as aspirational ? I do not want to sound controversial but I have to say what my conscious dictates. Black people have been engineered by whites and blacks themselves to think that entertainment and sport are aspirational, hence why the glut in rappers and the dearth of deep literary black fiction that is emerging from young black writers. Of course, many black people love to read essays and writing but why are they not highlighted in the mainstream press like the way Gore Vidal is seen as a titan of writing ? Simply because many black people see entertainment and sport as a way of escaping the “”poorness”” of their blackness, which is ridiculous but I am sure Lebron James et al has become a figurehead for that. Black parents therefore must encourage their children to read these books in their spare time. Black people just have to do-things-for-themselves now because no one will do it for us because NO ONE except other black people cares about us.

    ** People like Fanon, Aime Cesaire, bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins are one in a million. We must encourage young people to look at them as role models and go from there. Like I said, we have to do it ourselves. We cannot except the state to help out here because the political institutions of the state are racially-biased against shades of colour.

    **I respect the way African-Americans are proud of themselves like that too! They do not give a fuck what the state dishes out and they take it upon themselves to change issues. Why do you think black Canada lacks this ?

    **This displacement you are talking about is exactly about destroying the social connections of black society. The racist states have made ”black” synonymous with being poor but in fact, I believe that many black people in Western countries like playing the victim. I believe the only way black people will make it is through hard work and just breaking free of what racist people expect of us. Let’s build our own corporations and do it our way.

    Edward Said coined “orientalism”, arguing that the West had ‘invented’ a distorted view of what the Middle East was. White people have ‘invented’ black identities much in the same way. We need to ask ourselves, are we the inventors of new identities for ourselves or simply the consumers ?

  2. orvillelloyddouglas says :

    I think there is a mentality in the black community that we are “victims” of our circumstances. We definitely need more young black writers. I think it is a crime to visit the bookstore in Canada and not see books written by other young blacks. I usually have to look for “African American” writers to read about black culture for people under the age of 35.

    Life is hard and life is a struggle but if we give up then we fail. It is true we definitely need to work harder together to make change occur. I am proud of the black educators and activists speaking up about the black focus school. It is a very important issue because it relates to the covert racism in Canada against black Canadians. Whenever black Canadians try to organize to help our children the mythical norm tries to hold us back.

    I think in Canada the reason why black Canadians are afraid to speak out is the race card situation. In Canada there is a facade that “racism” doesn’t exist here and “race” doesn’t matter. Of course race matters here but Canadians are very defensive when discussing race. Canadians will always say “stop complaining we are not like America.” In fact, in some ways I think America is more “honest” about the discussion of race. I believe white Americans are definitely cognizant of race just like African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. The problem in Canada is the mentality that “race” isn’t really an issue here when it obviously is. People are too afraid in Canada to talk about race.

    You see if black Canadians talk about “race” the racists will brand us as trying to create “excuses”. However, sometimes the issue really is about race because as black feminist bell hooks always says “race matters” to deny race is to deny reality.

    I also believe the mentality of the black Canadian community is different then in America. The African Americans do not take shit from ANYBODY. The African Americans are very powerful I think they are the most powerful minority group in America because they stand up for themselves. And I think that’s what it is all about if you STAND UP for yourself you will NOT ALLOW anybody to put you DOWN.

    Another issue is population size the black population in Canada is so much smaller. I think this is a factor. In America there are 37 million blacks they make up 12.4% of the USA population. Canada only has 783,800 blacks. I was surprised though that blacks we are the third largest minority group in Canada. We definitely need to do more to make our voices heard.

    Canada creates this facade about “racial harmony” and that’s false. In America I think the racism is more direct more in your face. Canada is different the racism is much more covert but it definitely exists. In Canada, the images, the books, the newspapers, radio, reflects a white image it has nothing to do with black Canadians. The only time black Canadians are mentioned is when something bad happens or black history month. I definitely believe black Canadians we need to be more proactive and speak up about the issues that are important to us and our kids. I am pleased that black Canadians are speaking out about the black focus schools issue. The Canadian media are demonstrating the covert racism crying “segregation” when black kids are already segregated by the course work.

    I agree about the cultural production of what is considered positive “images of blacks.” I would rather black kids look up Barack Obama then say 50 CENT. Barack Obama may not become the United States president but he is a black man with grace, intelligence, dignity, and a great deal of high self esteem.

    I agree that in the world blacks we aren’t really “encouraged” to think of higher life goals or aspirations. Too many black boys want to be NBA stars, or rap artists, or athletes. It is the get rich quick mentality that needs to change.

    The black parents definitely are responsible for educating their children. The school system isn’t going to do it so black parents do need to be more proactive and involved.

  3. Elizabeth says :

    Sorry, I didn’t read all that was posted, but re your comment about your Tanzanian-UK friend- A British accent goes a loooong way in Canada. With a British accent she doesn’t get treated like Canadian blacks so she is able to retain her positive attitude.

  4. JMax says :

    Just left Ontario. I’m African American from the states. Tried to talk with the few Black Canadians–they seemed afraid to even make eye contact. Afraid to engage and talk with another Black. Very Disappointing and lonely. I won’t return to Canada for a while. We are very proud of our African heritage here and embrace our blackness. We realize we need each other–wouldn’t trade nothing for our journey. African American culture–jazz, hip hop, dance, food, sports and now our beloved President are cornerstones of American history and the fabric of this society–despite the racism that still exists.
    Black Canadians should recognize that they need not be alone nor afraid of their own skin.

  5. hnigelthomas says :

    Just came upon this; I guess because I keep out of cyberspace. Keep the discussion going. I understand what’s said about Black Canadians afraid to speak to one another. It’s even worse when they are in the company of Whites. I see it everywhere I meet Blacks.

    Insecurity is certainly a part of it. But self-hatred is a huge component too. Blacks who hate themselves must of necessity hate other Blacks because they remind them that they are not White.

    When I taught high school in the seventies and eighties it was fascinating and sad to see how Black students went out of their way to dissociate themselves from me. Of course, it was to gain greater acceptance from their White peers. Moeover they refused to take the Black Studies classes that the teachers fought arduously for.Theirs were damaged psyches. Were they responsible? NO. My hope is that they’ve gained greater self-knowledge and are not transmitting such negative attitudes to their own children.

    I wonder what it would be like today now that I am an out-gay man.

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