As millions around the world take to the streets to defend Black lives, decry racist police violence and structural racism, and articulate visions for a radically different future, a number of Black scholars in Canada have engaged with public audiences to help contextualize this moment and lay out how racism is very much a Canadian problem as well. The below list, assembled by Activehistory.ca’s editorial collective, highlights some of these important contributions.
- Robyn Maynard, author of Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present (Fernwood, 2017), spoke to the CBC News Network about the history of anti-Black racism in Canada.
- Professors Afua Cooper and Rinaldo Walcott were interviewed by the Toronto Star on Black Canadian history and its persistent erasure. The article also includes a useful list of relevant books, films, and historical sites.
- Professor Barrington Walker of Wilfrid Laurier University spoke to CBC Radio: “I think what we’re seeing is the connection between longer histories of socio-economic marginalization [and] the impoverishment and neglect of black communities in both countries.”
- Just before the burgeoning of worldwide protests, postdoctoral fellow Melissa N. Shaw spoke to the McGill Reporter about her exciting new research on the foundational role of slavery and colonialism in McGill’s history.
- In an op-ed for the Washington Post, poet and activist El Jones debunked narratives of Canada’s benign racial past and present.
- Professor Rinaldo Walcott of the University of Toronto beautifully blends past, present, and future in this essay for Maclean’s. Nine other prominent Black intellectuals contributed essays to the same issue.
- Professor Ingrid Waldron was interviewed by The Narwhal on the links between environmental racism and police brutality.
- Philippe Néméh-Nombré a parlé au 15-18 (Radio-Canada) sur la question de couper les fonds des forces policières.
- Sandy Hudson, co-founder of Black Lives Matter – Toronto, wrote about how defunding the police will save Black and Indigenous lives.
- In the Globe and Mail, Professor Debra Thompson discusses her family’s experience in Canada and the United States, and asks what it means to be Black in North America.
- Professor Cheryl Thompson penned an article for Spacing Toronto on Black people, space, and erasure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In The Varsity, OISE professor rosalind hampton announced the creation of the National Black Graduate Network.
Two bonus links:
- Want to do something to support Black history in Canada? Join Nova Scotia Senator Wanda Bernard and historian Natasha Henry, president of the Ontario Black History Society, in their push to have Emancipation Day recognized across the country.*
- Want to buy books by some of the above scholars? Why not support a Black-owned bookstore in the process? Check out this map of Black-owned bookstores in North America, including three in the Greater Toronto Area and one in Montréal.
* Correction: The original post omitted a key actor in these efforts. Rosemary Sadlier, former president of the Ontario Black History Society, has been at the forefront of the campaign for the recognition of Emancipation Day for over twenty years.
In addition to this excellent list, I would add David Austin, Fear of a Black Nation, and Dorothy Williams, The Road to Now; Sarah-Jane Mathieu’s North of the Colour Line, and anything by Karen Flynn, too.
From Facebook comments by Suzanne Morton & Stephanie Bangarth
Listen to Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey “How the spectacle of U.S. racism allows Canada to overlook its own” on the Sunday Edition (https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1747191875578)
Read historian Christopher Stuart Taylor on everyday racism:
‘At the end of the day, even when I’m on campus, I’m a Black guy, full stop!’ | TheRecord.com
You Must Be a Basketball Player (2009) and Visitor: My Life in Canada (2014) by Anthony Stewart.
The first especially should be required reading for working in the humanities; I still can’t believe (and am deeply ashamed for my part in this) the history department at Dalhousie never discussed these issues. It was very Canadian, I guess.