What is good everyone! Happy July (crap it’s already more than half way through the damn year).
Over the past couple of weeks I have been relaxing a bit trying to focus on a few things. And this time of year is very busy for me there are dozens of Caribbean Carnivals many of which I will be attending, vlogging at, and so on.
So my first post after my hiatus is basically about an issue that I have been struggling with tremendously over the past 2 years. It’s about the fact that I am a Black Female Blogger/Vlogger who is Canadian with Caribbean Roots. Lord, that seems like reading those business cards where someone has like 500 degrees after their name.
I am pretty sure that the average person may not be able to relate to what I go through, but I figure that at least letting people know what I do go through, and that it actually is a form of peer pressure may shed some light. So let me highlight some of the things that I go through on a daily basis. But before I do that let me just give you a run down.
- I am born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I still reside in Toronto.
- I am Afro-Caribbean or Afro-Canadian I guess. I am definitely not African-American although we probably look extremely alike.
- My parents are Bajan.
- My parents were married when I was born.
- My parents are both highly educated.
- There are hints of Bajan in my accent because I lived and worked there.
Now that we got that out of the way. Let’s address the issues.
- Because I didn’t grow up in a single parent home or in government/subsidized housing, my opinions automatically become null and void when having discussions with other “Black people advocates” simply because I don’t fall into the narrative that supports their ideologies and their movement. Interesting isn’t it?
- Even though I grew up in Malvern during a very tough era, “Malvern” is not inner-urban-city enough (or at least not as inner-urban-city as other areas in Toronto) therefore none of my contributions to discussions about growing up as a under privileged Black person are valid nor wanted.
- I fought extremely hard to get an education. At no point in any of my university years was anything easy. In fact I attended university for 6 years because of an issue with the requirements in my degree and a course that I took that was no longer recognized by my degree. But my hard work isn’t recognized. I am just seen as lucky. My determination and dedication to complete my degree isn’t accounted for. It was just sheer luck that I got an education. I did nothing or sacrifice anything to attain this degree.
- Before university I would have obviously attended High School in Toronto (West Hill C.I.). I was pretty much an A student from Grade 9 to Grade 13. I didn’t experience racism from any of my teachers. In fact, I played basketball at a high level the majority of my teachers still emphasized how important it is to focus on schooling instead of sports. My experiences don’t count because again they don’t coincide with the narrative of today and the message that all teachers are racist and discriminate against Black students. And even though there are many instances where this is not the case (like with my experience and many others I know), this experience must be silenced so that other movements can fulfill their intentions and agendas.
- My views on “Blackness” are not permitted because I perm/relax my hair and wear a weave. Because automatically perming my hair and wearing weave means that I am against what I was born with and ashamed of my Blackness. The fact that I wear weave means that I am trying to live up to a European standard of beauty. So the fact that my fiance is a Rasta, my mortgage broker, accountant, real estate agent, doctor, lawyer are all Black, the texture I choose for my hair is the only criteria to define my “Blackness”. So even though I have scalp issues, which is why I turned to weaves in the first place isn’t accounted for. So until I wear an afro, I must not speak on any Black issues. Sounds like crap to me no?
- Now enough about me. Let’s talk about the Black Lives Matter movement as an example, one of the many organizations out here to represent black people. I am supposed to support this movement simply because I am Black. The issue is, I would like some clarity on what it is I am supporting, what is expected of me, and what constitutes as support. But every time I ask, the number of people that jump down my throat saying shut up and just support make me concerned and confused. I don’t know how I can support a movement that I don’t fully understand what the agenda is nor do I agree with some of the actions that have been taken by them, nor do I even have clarity of what is expected of me? Again, with a platform as large as mine, I am always concerned about my reputation and what I align my brand with. Full stop. But once it involves anything to do with being Black I am just supposed to throw support behind like everything with “Black” on the label I just have to support no questions asked. Why did the Black Lives Matter Movement in Toronto hijack the Toronto Pride Parade and make a list of demands that the Toronto Pride Organization actually agreed to, to then turn around and not register for the Pride Parade the next year? And then after not registering, they turn around and still show up at the parade to make a statement? I don’t even understand what kind of strategy this could be. I am just lost and I can’t ask for clarity. Imagine that?
- I am African-Canadian. But I am expected to understand, relate to, speak for and defend the “African-American” experience even though I am in Canada, and the majority of the African-American issues simply don’t affect me. I understand what racism is I am not stupid. I understand what discrimination is I don’t lack intelligence. But have I come out my house on my way to work and seen a noose on my apple tree? No. Have I ever been forced to use a segregated bathroom because of my race? No. Have I had to hurdle the KKK walking home from school because they are trying to lynch me? No. But again, because I am a Black person with a platform I am expected to be out here preaching about stuff that I know about, heard about, learned about, but never experienced.
The truth is, when you start attacking someone because they don’t agree with certain things, they didn’t experience what you did, they ask for clarity on issues you are making the situation much worse. I am identified by my race but I would rather be identified as an individual first. Most of this racial conversation and debate is in America yet every single day there is someone in my inbox expecting me to tear down some organization or agency because they did something to a Black person. I can’t ask for details, I need to just jump up and tear down others SIMPLY because something happened to a person that is Black. This has truly become depressing because basically I am being pressured to agree and state things that I may not agree with, have clarity on or even understand. The pressure is on a constant and consistent basis. It’s becoming over-baring.
My last issue really is that many of these organizations have issues with Black people being stereotyped basically EXPECT to stereotype others and we all must agree with that. This constant message that “ALL WHITE PEOPLE…..” drives me crazy because it is impossible that all white people are racist. It just isn’t possible. White people are expected to know every single thing about slavery and Black history and treat us accordingly when the fact of the matter is most Black people either had to dig deeply and research or pay to hefty fees to learn about Black History. I don’t think the average person is going to PAY to take a course on Black History the same way I can whole heartedly tell you that I have no clue what is going on in Syria and I would not spend money on a course to learn what’s going on either. Am I ignorant and stupid and not sympathetic to what Syrians are going through? No. But do I have every single detail on what is happening and what started all this? No. Should I? Who knows. But if I am not expected to understand everything that every single race has gone through like I am Babbzy-pedia then I think it’s absurd to expect other races to know and understand Black people’s struggles in great detail in return.
I just cannot get up every single day and complain about being Black. I cannot always speak on or defend the unfair and unjust treatment received by Blacks when most times this unfair treatment isn’t even in the same time zone or country I am in. Why can’t I choose what topics I address? If I wan’t to do a comedy post during the time that some horrible thing is happening to a Black person in OREGON which is a 36 hour drive from me with no traffic why can’t I do that? It’s almost like I am expected to live in constant misery because of things happening to others who are the same race as me. This is madness.
I am aware that a police officer could kill me tomorrow simply because I am Black. I am aware that I could get turned down for a job because I am Black. I am aware I could be followed in the mall because I am Black. But I cannot live my life like the next thing that is going to happen to me is going to be negative simply because I am Black. Nor can I live under conditions where my Blackness is questioned simply because it’s not displayed in the manner in which OTHERS would like to see it. I am a very proud NW45 woman who chooses to focus on Caribbean Music, Culture and Entertainment. The happier things in life is that such a bad thing? When horrible things happen to Black people I touch on it. I give my opinion. But because my opinion’s don’t coincide with yours doesn’t mean you have the right to question my Blackness? We complain about being judged but all we do is judge our own race based on hair texture, complexion, eye colour and upbringing and then comment on a scale of 1 to 10 how Black a person is. There is way more to be Black then just having an Afro and growing up in ‘the ghetto’.