Every February, Canada and the US recognize Black History Month; honouring and celebrating the efforts of the Black race from the past and present. We talked to a few of the brightest of Toronto’s Black community about, race, humanity and everything in between.
“I’ve met countless ambitious youth that have taken the right steps towards achieving their dreams. There are thousands of young African-Caribbean youth in Toronto that are taking the initiative to fulfill academic, artistic and entrepreneurship endeavors. The issue is the media rarely highlights the positives happening within our community. The government spends millions of dollars on criminal activity, but can barely spend a fraction of it to aid the roots of these criminal activities. It’s a shame to know so many promising youth in our communities that have zero to minimum recognition for their achievements. But I do feel there is a wave happening. There is a wave of conscious-loving individuals who have experienced enough downfalls to know that the only way out, is up.” – Randell Adjei
“Hip Hop has reinforced knowledge of self to the black community. However, we have been mentally conditioned not to have knowledge of self. The roots of Hip Hop are Peace, Love, Unity, as well as having fun; that will always remain. Yet currently, we as blacks in Hip Hop have given the world permission to disrespect us because we disrespect ourselves every minute of the day.” – Maestro Fresh Wes
“The portrayal of black women in the media and on screen as either a vixen, a mother figure or a finger snapping ‘independent woman’ needs to end. From my teen years until now there are countless times when people who I have interacted with at events or work that have expressed their surprise at me not being an accepted definition of being ‘black’. They are surprised that I don’t listen to rap or hip-hop by choice, that I articulate my thoughts without ‘attitude’ and I find men of many different cultures attractive. These roles reinforce stereotypes that are ignorantly imposed on me without conscious choice by otherwise extremely intelligent people and that is what I want changed.” – Elaisha Green
“I think we embrace other cultures much better than we did 30, 20 and 10 years ago but there is still at times an underline of prejudice. As younger generations grow up in this city they are more accepting to other cultures and actually want to take part. Cultural festivals definitely help with that. But then at times there’s the ol’ skool race mentality. Mayor Rob Ford is a good example of that when he says he doesn’t want to take part in Pride celebrations or caught on video pretending to speak as if he’s Jamaican and not see that that is a problem.” – Rudy Blair
“Hatred diseases us all to believe that there is a hierarchical value system in defining peoples humanity. Visionary love dismantles any dynamic defined through exploitation and violence. Peace gives us balance and stability to foster equality in our lives. Critical consciousness forces us to think and question our entirety who we are constantly. There is no room for hatred with this.” – Yusra Khogali
“Systemically, “Institutional Racism” as coined by the homie Stokely Carmichael exists in many forms. If it didn’t, they wouldn’t be such a major need for equity rights. Women are making less money compared to the male counterparts and black women are making less money compared to the female counterparts. Young black males are being victimized and profits are being made off the murder of folks like Trayvon Martin. Racism exists. But we have the capacity to empower ourselves to free our minds from it. It’s a proactive act.” – David Delisca
Posted by Community Contributor Samira Zia Rehman