The protests that ensued in the summer of 2020 because of the murder of Mr. George Perry Floyd (1973-2020) by a white police officer shocked many people. For the first time, it seemed, Canadians were shocked into the realization that racism against Black peoples is real. We came realize that stereotypical views about Black people, what we refer to as anti-Black sentiment, leads to anti-Black racisms, the negative use of power to treat Black people differently, unequally, and often excessively worse than others of different races.
Purpose: Profile two books that shed light on the problem of anti-Black sentiment in Canada and how to end it.
Before Reading: Ask yourself:
- What do I really know about anti-Black sentiment and anti-Black racisms in Canada?
Two Reading Recommendations:
- Visitor: My Life in Canada by Anthony Stewart. Fernwood Publishing, 124 pages.
I arrived in Canada from the USA six years ago to take a position at the University of Waterloo. I would be teaching Black Studies, communication, and English. When I began teaching, white Canadians and some people of colour told me that racism was different in Canada, virtual non-existent. Many pointed to the Multiculturalism Policy as evidence. But one white colleague took me aside and gave me a copy of the book I am recommending here. It changed my perspective. Yes, I racism is different in Canada, because, according to Stewart, it may be worse than in the USA because Canadians overall have not really dealt with it. In this memoir, Anthony Stewart, a university professor, and young Black man, born and raised in Canada, writes about growing up in Canada, his professional career, and his decision to leave Canada, ironically, for the USA. He left Canada because, as a Black person, he always felt like a visitor (thus the title of his book), although he had not lived anywhere else. His book calls Canadians to consider the real questions of what it means to be Black in Canada.
Click here to read a review of Stewart’s book from Literary Review of Canada: A Journal of Ideas, April 2015.
- Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada, Edited by Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson, and Syrus Marcus Ware, University of Regina Press, 2020.
Because I write and speak to the public about race and do anti-racism consulting, I often get asked to write for newspapers, such the Toronto Star and in magazines, such as The Conversation. I also get asked to review and blurb books. In 2020, I was asked to share my thoughts on the book I am recommending here. This book is a collection of essays, poems, and performances by African Canadian writers about the ways in which Canada is also a fertile ground for #Black Lives Matter movement. The writings are moving, inspiring, and often humorous. I wrote the following blurb for this book: “Until We Are Free busts myths of Canadian politeness and niceness, myths that prevent Canadians from properly fulfilling Canada’s dream of multiculturalism and from challenging systemic racism, including the everyday assaults on black and brown bodies. This book needs to be read and put into practice by everyone.” I stand by this assessment, and therefore now commend this book to you for your reading enlightenment and pleasure.
Click here to read a CBC review of Until We Are Free, and listen to an interview with one of the book’s editors.
Action Steps: After reading one of the recommendations, ask yourself:
- What have I learned about anti-Black sentiment and anti-Black racisms in Canada?
- How can I use what I have learned to help intervene into and end anti-Black sentiment and anti-Black racisms in Canada?