5th Tuesday Guest Post: Photographing Black Girl Magic

Note from Michelle: When I saw the photos from this project, I was floored. I knew this was something that needed to be shared far and wide, so I asked Katie about writing up a little something for Tuesday Justice. I’m so glad she agreed. This is what it looks like to use your privilege and be an ally. Thank you, Katie! Check out more of her work here


by Katie Hoffpauir

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The journey to this project took a little over a year, and it began as something so utterly simple. I wanted to document natural hair: the curls, the fro, all of it. But what started out as me wanting to take photographs of just hair morphed into something completely different, and I am so thankful that it did.34536308_10103233196156260_4917672386381217792_o

One day this past May, over a year after the idea came to me, I was walking around our local Barnes and Noble. Now, on a normal bookstore trip, I leave with at least two new books and probably some kind of puzzle. On this particular trip, however, nothing was standing out to me. I walked the aisles for well over an hour and not one thing said, “buy me.” As I was getting ready to just give up, I passed one of the center tables and the only, I mean the only book that I saw, was Black Girl Magic. I tend to take signs literally, and I knew that I needed to really do this project. Only, at that moment, I knew it was turning into something else. I felt it in my bones, this urge to photograph black women. Not only for their beautiful hair, but for their inner beauty and their strength. 

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This feeling took me to Pinterest to research portrait styles and trends for photographing black women in particular. And do you know what I found? Not a whole lot. There were literally photographs of white women for every single scenario, but mostly only ad campaigns featuring black women, and not very diverse ads might I say. Immense sadness washed over me as I realized that young black girls growing up don’t see themselves portrayed in a positive light very often. We’ve seen a growth in representation, sure, but is it necessarily mostly positive? The black women portrayed in most movies or tv shows are loud, obnoxious, or out for revenge. Just turn on just about any Tyler Perry movie, and there’s a black woman out for blood (usually over a no good man). Or in any white movie, she’s the token black friend plugged in for the sake of variety. We must change the stereotype that women of color are only two-dimensional, and we must teach our young people to not only SEE but CELEBRATE color. So often, I hear white people say that their children are taught not to see color. But you guys, color should be seen! We have to show our children that there is no shame in color; that there is beauty and strength in our differences. 

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When I posted about needing models for this project, some asked if they could bring a friend. This simple question took me not only into documenting an individual’s beauty, but their friendships. 

34556028_10103233195442690_7440125358134788096_oTo say I was excited about this turn of events, doesn’t do the feelings I had justice. The morning of the first session, I was a little nervous to be photographing three women. But then when we met up, every anxiety faded away, and I knew exactly where I needed this project to go. It became a need to showcase not only photographs that were about strength, but photographs that showcased a sisterhood and love. It became so much more than what I envisioned a year earlier. Each portrait day, these women were stopped by others on the street, telling them how beautiful they were. And at the end of each session, there was a sense of joy and pride present that I can’t explain.

I have never in my life felt so invigorated while photographing anyone, and that week of sessions did more for my soul than anything I had ever done before. I made new friends, and I met some fierce and beautiful women of color. These women work in social work, they deliver babies, they teach children, they are mothers, sisters, daughters. They are bold, beautiful, educated, courageous, and kind. They embody love, loyalty, and wisdom. They are a wonderful force for good in this world and we need to celebrate their melanin. Because it is amazing. 

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Black Books Matter: The Importance of Diversity in Children’s Literature

by Channon Oyeniran

Reading is essential to everyone, but I think most importantly to children! For this Tuesday Justice post, I want to focus on children’s books and the importance for kids to read diverse books and read (or hear) stories with main characters who (unfortunately) aren’t normally showcased.

Why it’s important for Ara:

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My son, Ara, loves to read! Every night before bed either my husband or I will read him a story, and on the nights when we are both too exhausted to read a bedtime story to him, he will remind us! One of his favourite books is Please, Baby, Please by Spike and Tonya Lewis Lee. Not only is reading to children important at his age (my son is two, but much younger in the photo), but it is also important to choose books and stories that represent and reflect who my son is, his life and his realities. More and more I am on a search to find books for Ara with main characters who look like him and stories that showcase black people in a positive light, rather than through the negative views that all too often describe black people. I also want my son to read stories where he sees characters from all walks of life that teach him to be accepting of everybody he meets and encounters. 11340497Living in Toronto, I know my son will encounter people from various cultures and backgrounds, and we want him to see everyone as equal and important. Representation of black people and other minorities in a positive light, especially for children, deeply matters because for far too long, black children grew up without seeing powerful, strong role models who looked like them, whether in books, on TV or in real life! (In fact, this is such an important issue for me and my desire for my son to grow up with the experience of seeing black people just like himself has even made me want to write a children’s book on black history in Canada. Stay tuned…)

Why it’s important for white children:

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Not only is it important for black children to see themselves represented in an uplifting and positive way, but it is also important for children who aren’t black to also see black children represented in this way as well. For centuries, black people have been portrayed in a negative way, oftentimes being displayed to the masses as foolish, stupid, angry, dangerous, uneducated, oversexualized, etc, etc, etc. There is no shortage of negative images and portrayals of black people, so when we are portrayed in a positive and uplifting way, it is crucial that children (actually, all people) see these images and hear our stories. When we open up our children’s minds and hearts at an early age to diversity and inclusion, they grow up to become adults who treat others equally and don’t judge people based on isolated experiences. But rather, their upbringing and the stories they read as children would have shaped their views about people who look different than them. Reading is so powerful and the stories that are told can be even more powerful! That is why starting our children at an early age to read stories about different people and cultural groups is significant to their growth, learning and shaping as human beings and global citizens.

Marley Dias & #1000BlackGirlBooks:

“I’m working to create a space where it feels easy to include and imagine black girls and make black girls like me the main characters of our lives.” – Marley Dias

download (1)Marley Dias definitely understood at a young age the importance of reading and the importance of finding stories where the main characters are black girls. At the age of 11, Marley was tired of reading stories that had the same main characters, main characters that didn’t look like her or anyone in her family. So in November 2015, Marley launched the campaign #1000BlackGirlBooks, with the mission to find and list children’s literature that have black girls as the main characters. As of June 2017, not only did Marley accumulate more than 9,000 books, but she also obtained her own book deal! Marley said of her experiences with books before she started the campaign, “Frustration is fuel that can lead to the development of an innovative and useful idea.” After doing some research, Marley realized that there was a lack of books that had black girls or girls of colour as the main character and that if she was frustrated by the lack of representation in children’s books, then many other people probably were too.

Marley said after doing research and being in a position to try and change this problem, “I had a lot of choices about how I was going to address this problem. Option 1: focus on me, get myself more books; have my dad take me to Barnes and Noble and just be done, live my perfect life in suburban New Jersey. Option 2: find some authors, beg them to write more black girl books so I’d have some of my own, special editions, treat myself a bit,” she said. “Or, option 3: start a campaign that collect books with black girls as the main characters, donate them to communities, develop a resource guide to find those books, talk to educators and legislators about how to increase the pipeline of diverse books, and lastly, write my own book, so that I can see black girl books collected and I can see my story reflected in the books I have to read.” 

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She, of course, chose option 3 and I’m so glad that she did! Not only did she see a problem, but she recognized the gap and decided to fill it. Now, this campaign has not only benefitted her but benefits other children, and impacts the education system, so that more books on diversity are taught to all students. I love what Marley Dias has created and I love that she is shining a light on an issue such as reading that is so instrumental in the shaping of our children’s minds, thoughts and foundation.

So, now what? 

At Tuesday Justice, we like to let our readers what they can do, how they can get involved. This one is easy:

Read books to your kids!

Read books with diverse characters. Read books that tell stories about people of other ethnicities, other races, other cultures. Read books that teach empathy and inclusion.

And if you don’t have kids, buy those kinds of books for your nieces and nephews and cousins and friends’ kids.


For more information…

Books for children:

The Socially Conscious Artistry of Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”

by Channon Oyeniran

Video-Of-The-Day-By-Childish-Gambino-This-Is-America-Featured-On-Diabolical-Rabbit.jpgNot your ordinary feel good, music pumping, fun and colourful music video, Childish Gambino released “This is America” to the world on May 6th, and it has been a hot topic on all social media platforms since. Both the video and the song itself provide powerful social commentary, highlighting a variety of issues that are as relevant today as they were centuries ago for the black diaspora, not only in America but around the world. After seeing some buzz about the video on Facebook, I decided to watch it. I was struck by all that was going on in the video, the flashy dance moves, the beat of the song, all while trying to pick up what was going on in the background while Gambino was dancing, striking poses and showing off an impressive array of facial expressions. After my first viewing, I saw a few more articles on Facebook about the deeper meaning of the video. I was blown away that I had missed so much! I went back and watched the video at least four times and picked up on so many different symbols in the video. I would like to share three of the motifs within the video that you can easily miss if you let the catchy beat and entertaining dance moves distract you.

Guns vs. the worth of a black body:

There’s a pretty staggering image at the start of the video that struck me the first time through. (If you’ve seen it, you probably know exactly the one I mean.) It’s when Gambino pulls out a gun and shoots a black man in the back of the head. In doing so, he strikes a pose that is reminiscent of the Jim Crow character. After he shoots the man, Gambino carefully places the gun on a red cloth, while the black man’s dead body is dragged away. 980x(This motif is repeated when he places another gun neatly away a second time after he shoots church parishioners, a clear reference to the 2015 Charleston shooting of nine churchgoers.) It struck me how carefully Gambino places the gun back, almost as if he was being careful and giving reverence to the gun; meanwhile, the body of the black man was given no respect at all, not even a thought or look as he is dragged away out of the scene. This is an obvious nod to what is going on in America (and frankly around the world now) concerning gun violence. Guns have more rights, are more protected and are taken more seriously than the lives of black people.

The cell phone as a powerful (yet ineffective) tool for justice: 

“This a celly…That’s a tool…”

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In one scene, you see the camera pan up and focus on about four people with cell phones in their hands, taking video of the chaos taking place below. At this point, Gambino raps, “This a celly…That’s a tool…”. This lyrical line signals the power that a cell phone has to capture the injustice that happens daily against black people in America. The cell phone has been used to capture concrete proof of injustices against black people time and time again (e.g. Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott, Demetrius Hollins, Rolesville High student, Jacqueline Craig, Keith Scott,  teenager at a pool party, Charlie Kinsey, etc.). However, it still proves to be ineffective in actually bringing justice and righting the wrongs of injustice committed against black people.

Some have speculated that the cell phone can also appear to be a weapon in the eyes of some, just like the case with Stephon Clark, who was murdered on March 18th, 2018 because the cell phone he was holding was “mistaken” for a gun. So although a powerful tool to capture injustice, holding a cellphone while black can also prove deadly. Whether this was intentional or not is unknown, particularly because of the short period of time between Stephon Clark’s death and the release of the video.

Black culture used as entertainment, while black lives are disposable:

Something else that struck me when watching this video, especially for the first time, was how much I got caught up in watching the dancing and enjoying the beat of the song. My eyes did not automatically go to what was happening behind Gambino and the dancers and the depth of what was occurring in each scene. 

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I think for a lot of other people, including myself, who watched the video, we got sidetracked with the dancing and upbeat flow of Childish Gambino’s lyrics. I think that was part of the point. Black culture is so popular and influences every part of society; people from all cultures and backgrounds enjoy different aspects of it, music especially. However, when it comes to black lives, police brutality, racism and injustice against the black community are commonplace, and the world seems to turn a blind eye to these injustices that are literally killing us. 

Socially conscious art, like this music video, helps engage all who watch it, thus stimulating large-scale discussion on the subject matter covered in the video and raising awareness about things like racism, police brutality, suicide, gun violence, etc.  There are so many other meanings and symbols in this video that make it a masterpiece. The depth and thought that was put into this video is genius, and I really hope invokes thought and change for all who watch it. This video is important not only because it uses music to garner people’s attention, but also because it speaks on a very significant issue which continues to plague the black community but is often a tricky and sensitive topic – racially biased police brutality. I believe this video achieved what it set out to do, and that is to talk about a real problem facing America and how easy it is and has been for people to look the other way to the plight of the black person.

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For more information…

The Basics: Racism

It’s worth asking, “Is what I just said racist?” So we can learn how to not say racist things. It’s worth asking, “Why did I assume the worst from that person? Was it the color of her skin?” So we can learn how to not make judgments based on race. It’s not fun, but it’s worth it.

 

by Michelle Palmer

A couple weeks ago, I was in a conversation, and someone mentioned a stereotype about black Americans and followed up the comment with, “Wait, is that racist? I never know.” (It wasn’t.) He’s an intelligent person, and it bugged me that he “never knew” if things were racist or not. But it kind of makes sense.

There’s so much talk about racism in the news and on our social media feeds right now. And the truth is that not everyone thinks deeply, if at all, about racism. Even though Channon or I have probably said everything in this post here on TJ before, it’s important for us to break it down to the basics so the word doesn’t lose meaning altogether.

What is it?!

The dictionary definition of racism is “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” What Dave* (name changed to protect the innocent) said what he did (which I now don’t remember), it was racial, in that it had to do with race, but it wasn’t racist because it wasn’t an indication that he felt himself to be superior on the basis of race.

Part of the confusion about when something is “racist” is that there has been a pervasive push towards “colorblindness.” It’s led to a world where it can feel awkward to acknowledge a person’s race. Attempting to see people without acknowledging their race is neither possible nor helpful. Acknowledging race isn’t racist, but making judgments, particularly negative ones, based on race is.

BUT WAIT. There’s more.

“Racism is a concept that operates on both an individual and institutional level. […] At its core, racism is a system in which a dominant race benefits off the oppression of others — whether they want to or not.” (Zeba Blay) That’s why there can’t be reverse racism. Yes, people of color can be prejudiced against white people; it’s happened to me. It wasn’t fun. But as a white person, the system operates in my favor and always has. (More on that is coming at the end of the month.) This explainer by Michael Harriot is helpful, Reverse Racism, Explained. (DISCLAIMER: Harriot’s writing can be quite colorful.)

What do we do about it?

I cannot stress this enough, fellow white people: WE ALL HAVE INTERNALIZED PREJUDICES. (You can take a test here: Project Implicit.) Yes, all. Step #1 is to admit that sometimes you have racist thoughts. Yes, you. Yes, me. Yes, all. Step #2 is to catch yourself when you think those thoughts, and then analyze and correct them. Then, here are steps 3-8 (in no particular order):

  • Read THESE Tuesday Justice posts.
  • Get educated. (Don’t know where to start? Click here.)
  • Do a cleanse! (Bias Cleanse)  
  • Widen your circle by making friends from other racial backgrounds.
  • Broaden your understanding by following people of other races on social media. 
  • Keep working on your mind: Pray about it. Meditate on it. Listen to podcasts about it. 

Like so much of what we talk about on this blog, the work of challenging our own racist perceptions and ideas is hard, but it’s worth it. It’s worth asking, “Is what I just said racist?” So we can learn how to not say racist things. It’s worth asking, “Why did I assume the worst from that person? Was it the color of her skin?” So we can learn how to not make judgments based on race. It’s not fun, but it’s worth it.

As always, if you have questions or need help to get started, reach out to us in the comments, on Facebook, or by email


For more information….

 

Answering YOUR Questions: Part 2

We answered several of the questions we got during the survey in Answering Your Questions, Part 1 back in February. That set of questions dealt with us personally and the blog itself. This week, we’re tackling the content questions!

What are some of the answers to these justice problems in your opinion?

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Michelle:  I’m not sure how answerable this question is, but I love it! This is what we answer in each post. From the beginning of Tuesday Justice, our model for most posts is “here’s the problem, here’s what’s being done about it, here’s how you can get involved.” Whether or not what’s being done is going to solve the problem is another story, but hopefully, it’s at least helpful on some level, and we do our best to vet those solutions before we publish our posts.

For a lot of what we talk about, the ultimate solutions would require equal treatment before the law, poverty alleviation, equality in education & opportunity, and other such development goals. But there’s an element of symptom treatment in some of this. While we want to fix the root causes of injustice, we also want to alleviate some of the immediate suffering people are facing. We have to use a both/and approach.

What situation have you been made aware of which had a “perfect storm” of factors such as poverty, slavery & immigration as the root cause?

Michelle:  I came across this report from Verite, Forced Labor in the Production of Electronic Goods in Malaysia, which included a case study that illustrates these three factors coming together. (You can find more info in the Research Findings section of the report, beginning on page 83.)

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The problems started when the factory asked their broker to raise the workers’ wages to meet the new legal minimum wage standard. The broker initially agreed to the wage increase, but was disingenuous with them about how many deductions would be taken from their base salary, having them sign a contract written in English and Malay, languages that none of the three understood. When the workers got their first payslips, they realized that their wages were much lower than they had agreed, and complained about it to the factory management. The factory apparently confronted their broker about the issue, because only days later, they were informed by the broker that they were being pulled from their jobs, that the factory was ‘throwing them away.’ Days later, they were made to pack their bags and move to a new housing area in Balakong, about 50 km away from their previous residence. […] After some time, the workers were informed that they must start working at a new, much less desirable factory. The workers knew this factory to have a poor reputation and objected to the new assignment, repeatedly asking the broker to return their passports to them, but the agent refused to give their passports back. At the time of the interview, the workers had not received pay for their final two weeks of work at the original factory, nor had they been paid at all since moving to Balakong. Instead of paying them their back pay, their broker offered to loan them money to cover their living costs. Since nothing had been resolved regarding the new factory job yet, while winding down the interview, the researcher asked them what they wanted to happen. They said that they were not asking for more than they deserved, and that they wished to remain in Malaysia to continue working since they had not been able to save money yet, due to spending their first two years in the country paying off their debts. They said that they do not want to run away because they wanted to get their passports back. They just wanted to be respected and protected by the agent, and if that was not possible, they wanted to be able to transfer to another agent.”

How do you build friendships with people of another race?

Channon:  I think the most important thing to remember is that people are just people! We are all human beings and are all on this journey called life. We all experience love, joy, sadness, pain, heartache, healing, etc., and if we can always remember that in the back of our minds, then it will be easier to relate to people, even if they aren’t the same race as you! Take for example me and Michelle:  cc7We met in the UK, doing the same Masters degree, learning more about a subject that we both are passionate about. And we instantly clicked and became good friends (and are still to this day)! We also connected through our shared faith and ultimately because Michelle is just a great person and someone who I wanted to have a lasting friendship with. Even though we are black and white, we don’t dwell on that, instead we choose to focus on our shared interests, passions and genuine like of each other! So focus on the shared and similar interests with someone from another race and not your differences or the fact that you’re from different races.

Michelle: Yes, yes, yes to what Channon said! There are times when I, as a white person, need to understand how Channon’s experiences, as a black woman, are different than mine. And while it’s important to recognize that, when it comes to beginning a friendship, we often connect with others based on our shared experiences.

What do you think the most important way to prevent social justice problems is?

Channon: I don’t think there is one single, important way to prevent social justice problems. I think a couple of things need to be implemented in order to find success in preventing these issues globally. First, we must acknowledge deep-rooted hurts from the past. Brokenness within certain communities needs to be dealt with and forgiveness and healing needs to happen. Safe spaces have to be created for underrepresented groups’ voices to be heard and their opinions and ideas acknowledged. Also, I believe policies and laws have to be more strict when it comes to dealing with issues such as trafficking, modern day slavery in all of its forms. Also, plans have to be put in place so that poverty can be eliminated, so that people can live their lives comfortably without having to worry about where their next meal is coming from or whether they can afford to send their children to school. Looking at all of these things that have to be done is a HUGE task and slightly overwhelming, but Michelle and I have hope that one day we will get there!

Do you feel people should do more due diligence on what is being reported on the news before forming opinions on the issue? Also, we sometimes have dirty grids from past hurts that skew our opinions. How can we separate opinions from facts to not make an immediate emotional judgment?

Michelle: To answer the first two questions, YES. Yes, we should all do our due diligence before forming opinions. And yes, we all have dirty grids. (I’ve never heard the term “dirty grid” before; I’m just guessing it’s meaning from context.) Depending on where you grew up, who you’re around, which news gets to your feed, it’s tough to separate fact from opinion and take varying viewpoints into consideration. No one is completely neutral, and we all need to start from the understanding that our viewpoints on social justice issues HAVE BEEN affected by a number of variables. That’s key in beginning to understand why things are the way they are and how others could be viewing the same situation differently than we are.

The media we consume plays a huge role in this (see here: Political Polarization & Media Habits from Pew Research Center). So, the next step, and answer to the third question, is to make sure that you’re getting input from “the other side” (if you have a particular bent left or right) or both sides (if you feel like you don’t belong on the spectrum at all or if you feel stuck in the middle). It’s important that wherever you’re spending time getting news and information, you don’t create an echo chamber. As a liberal person in a deeply conservative region, I don’t need to curate my timelines too strictly; it happens naturally for me, both online and IRL. If the people around you mostly agree with you, it’s easy to only see the facts that confirm your opinions. (That being said, I’m not above blocking someone who regularly posts vitriol or fake news.) If you’re getting your news from TV, switch channels once in a while. If you get your news online, go to multiple sites. If you get your news via social media, follow multiple (reputable) sources. (Also, check out these tips:  Five Ways to Break Out of Your Online Echo Chamber.) It does take some effort, but it’s incredibly important to see from multiple perspectives in order to have a well-rounded, compassionate view of the issues. 

I looked up some charts to find the best news sources on either side. Obviously, this is somewhat subjective, but I didn’t see huge discrepancies. (Google “media bias chart” to see what I mean.) News sources like The Economist, The Atlantic, and Wall Street Journal both scored very well in terms of fact-reporting and minimal bias across most of the charts I saw (see photos).

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I am always interested in what we can do to help and ways we can use the information you have given us to get involved. Now that my social justice flame has been lit by a post, tell me what to do with that flame. You do this already, but I am definitely for it! // How can I get involved in social justice in my local area?

Channon:  What a great question!! There are many ways in which you can get involved in social justice in your local area.

  1. You can volunteer your time at a local organization that is working towards a specific cause.
  2. You can donate your financial resources to organizations who are doing great work locally, nationally or globally.
  3. You can choose a book that discusses social justice issues and create a book club and invite friends, family, your community, and those who may be interested in learning more about social justice and how they can help. (Our resource list has some great options for this!.)

Michelle also wrote a great blog post titled, “2017: But What Can We Do?” which lists some more ways in which you can get involved in fighting for social justice in your community. If you’re looking for something specific, but can’t seem to find it, get in touch with us and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

Michelle:  What Channon said, plus protest and most importantly, vote!


If you didn’t get to ask us that burning question back in August during the survey, don’t hesitate to ask us now! Comment below or shoot us a message on Facebook.

The Harmful Effects of “Colourblindness” in Politics

by Channon Oyeniran

“Failing to see race is a failure to see history and how it shapes the present.” – Vicky Mochama

With the Liberal Party in power in Canada and more people of colour (POC) holding Member of Parliament (MP) positions in Canada, the government, with Justin Trudeau as the Prime Minister, started to make positive steps towards healthy representation in government in 2015. In doing so, the government is attempting to showcase to both the country and the world the diversity within Canada and to create a government that reflects the various cultures of this country. Just like in 2015, I believe the current political climate in Canada right now is one of wanting change. However, one thing that has changed and is slowly improving, in the political world at least, is an increased reflection of people of colour and diversity. diversitypic-1Not only are these MPs doing great things for their ridings, they are also are leaving their marks across the country. One MP in particular who has made a big splash since she was elected to represent the Town of Whitby is Celina Caesar-Chavannes. Cesar-Chevannes is a Black woman who has garnered support and attention in recent weeks, following a Twitter spat with white male Conservative MP Maxime Bernier over “colourblindness.” This term is often used when talking about race and racism and is at the crux of a very public debate between Caesar-Chavannes and Bernier. (Michelle has previously written about the danger of colourblindness in a personal context.)Desktop12

It all started on March 2nd when the Somalian-born Honourable Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship for the Government of Canada, Ahmed Hussen, tweeted that the government had set aside $19 million for Black youth mental health programs, something that the Black community across Canada has long been advocating for. While this was seen as a success by many, the announcement by Hussen was also put under scrutiny by many others, who questioned why money had to go towards a certain group of people. One of these critics was the aforementioned Bernier, who tweeted: “I thought the ultimate goal of fighting discrimination was to create a colour-blind society where everyone is treated the same. Not to set some Canadians apart as being “racialized.” What’s the purpose of this awful jargon? To create more division for the Liberals to exploit?”

Retweeted 1.2k times and liked by 2.2k users, Bernier’s tweet obviously struck a chord with many, who most likely agreed with what he said, and who ostensibly don’t understand the need for putting money into groups who have been marginalized for centuries. Caesar-Chavannes then replied to Bernier’s tweet: “@MaximeBernier do some research, or a Google search, as to why stating colour blindness as a defence actually contributes to racism. Please check your privilege and be quiet. Since our gvt’t like research, here is some evidence…” And after that, Canadians were in a frenzy, on both sides. Those who sided with Bernier said of the Liberal MP (Caesar-Chavannes), “How could she, a Member of Parliament, be talking about ‘white privilege’ when she herself is in a position of privilege?” Others were glad she called out yet another example of white privilege.

After many comments and commentaries written about this situation, Celina publicly apologized to Bernier: “@MaximeBernier I am not too big to admit when I am wrong. Limiting discussion on this important issue by telling you to be quiet was not cool. If you are willing, let’s chat when back in Ottawa. We are miles apart on this important issue and it is possible to come a little closer…”.

14345660However, the Conservative MP was less than forgiving in his response: “Thank you for recognizing my right to air an opinion. I don’t think we can find much common ground beyond that however. You and Min Hussen implied I’m a racist because I want to live in a society where everyone is treated equally and not defined by their race. We should certainly do everything possible to redress injustices and give everyone equal opportunities to flourish. And we should recognize that Canada is big enough to contain many identities. As a francophone Quebecer, I can understand this. But that doesn’t mean the gov’t officially defining us on the basis of “intersectional race, gender and sexual identities” and granting different rights and privileges accordingly. This only creates more division and injustice and will balkanise our society.”

“To overcome racism, one must first take race into account.” – Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun

The backlash that Caesar-Chavannes received for her comment was, in my opinion, unfair and uninformed and really took away from the issue at hand: addressing “white privilege” and the racism that is so prevalent in Canadian society. What was so evident to me in this “dialogue” between two opposing party members, by a Liberal and a Conservative, by a Black woman and a white man, was that the Black “voice” continues to be silenced, when the truth needs to be heard. Colourblind ideologies in politics are ultimately unhelpful and lend themselves toward racism rather than away from it. Dr. Monnica T. Williams put it this way:

“Racism? Strong words, yes, but let’s look the issue straight in its partially unseeing eye. In a colorblind society, White people, who are unlikely to experience disadvantages due to race, can effectively ignore racism in American [or Canadian] life, justify the current social order, and feel more comfortable with their relatively privileged standing in society (Fryberg, 2010). Most minorities, however, who regularly encounter difficulties due to race, experience colorblind ideologies quite differently. Colorblindness creates a society that denies their negative racial experiences, rejects their cultural heritage, and invalidates their unique perspectives. [Emphasis added.]

Blog-Image-YoungWomenHugThe $19 million that the government has allocated to Black youth and mental health will be spent over five years to research “culturally-appropriate mental health programs for black youth at risk.” Though the government has not decided yet, exactly how the money will be spent , according to MP and chair of the Canadian Caucus of Black Parliamentarians, Greg Fergus, “the $19 million will […] be tailored to meet diverse needs.” Mental health experts across Canada have commented that the funding will help to improve access to treatment for a large section of the population who has been and continues to be marginalized. Bernier said himself that “We should certainly do everything possible to redress injustices and give everyone equal opportunities to flourish.” We cannot do this while ignoring the realities faced by marginalized communities, which are so often different from those faced by white Canadians. In addition to the $19 million, the government has also set aside $23 million over two years, which will help support cross-country consultations concerning the new National Anti-Racism Strategy.


It is vitally important to allocate money to groups of people that have been oppressed for centuries. In Canada, systemic racism and oppression have plagued the Black and Indigenous communities and that legacy continues to this day. That’s why it is so important that employment equity is at the forefront in workplaces across the country. 3500Employment equity encourages workplaces to be free of barriers and conditions of disadvantage and recognizes that marginalized groups have for a long time experienced systemic racism in relation to employment. It’s also important to have people of colour in positions of power and influence, so that people in marginalized groups can see that they are being represented and feel that they have a person(s) in a position of influence to hopefully make things better for their community.

The colourblindness ideology is not an effective solution for addressing and solving the systemic racism that marginalized groups have faced in Canada for centuries. The spat between Caesar-Chavannes and Bernier highlighted the lack of understanding on this issue and showcased the need for further education and enlightenment for those who believe in it.


For more information…

Black Panther Resource List

As I thought about how to address Black Panther on the blog, I realized the best thing that I could do is exactly what we always do at Tuesday Justice: provide LOTS of resources! It’s been by reading various articles that I have come to better understand why this film is so needed, so beautiful, and so loved.

by Michelle Palmer

IMG_0905I’ve purchased advance tickets for a grand total of three films in my life, Black Panther being the most recent. One of the friends I went with told me as soon as the credits rolled, “You have to do a Tuesday Justice post on this!” (At least, that’s how I remember it. I was still reeling from the overwhelming beauty of the whole thing.) My first thought was, “But how?!” How do I, especially as a white woman, write about what this film means? How do I try to communicate its importance? There were so many issues that the film touched on that we talk about here (modern slavery, historical slavery, mass incarceration, immigration, refugees), but I wasn’t sure I was up to the task.

First and foremost, I wanted my dear friend and Tuesday Justice co-founder to share her thoughts on the film. As a proud black woman, passionate about her heritage, I couldn’t wait to hear her reaction to the film. She graciously agreed to type it up for us!

Channon: “The excitement that I felt leading up to the evening that I was to go and see Black Panther was indescribable! I’m not normally someone who gets caught up in the hype of something, and that was the case leading up to the Black Panther’s release.seun and channon before black panther However, as I started to read more articles on the movie on Facebook and started to see all the of the clips of people going to see the movie decked out in their African attire, I started getting excited about going to see it!  The evening my husband I went to see the movie, we definitely dressed in our Nigerian and African attire (see pic) and even did a mini photo shoot before leaving for the theatre! LOL Getting to the theatre (45 mins before the movie even started!), we were with a long line of people waiting to enter. We finally got to go in and waited with anticipation for the movie to begin and once it did, man, were we blown away! It’s not just that there was an all-star cast or that the story was from the Marvel comic series or that the storyline was great and entertaining. It was the fact that I was watching a movie with an all black cast, with a black director, with a black woman as the costume designer, showing the masses what Africa is and will be as a continent when we unite, rise up and take back our voice and story that was taken so violently from us centuries ago. My favourite scene of the movie (there were many!) is when King T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman) goes to be crowned King of Wakanda and all of the various tribes and people of Wakanda were standing on the mountain in their various clothing and traditional jewelry. The colours in that scene were so bright, so colourful, so vibrant and all of those people represented the different people, traditions, customs, cultures and languages that make up the African continent today! I also really like all the symbolism and meaning that the movies contained (e.g. the Jabari people being reminiscent of the Maroon people of Jamaica) or the green, red and black outfits that Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira’s characters wore in the casino scene, representing the colours of the Pan-African flag. The movie was just full, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and was proud to see myself and my heritage represented!”

IMG_0607.jpgAs I continued to think about other ways we could talk about Black Panther here on the blog, I realized the best thing I could do is exactly what we always do at Tuesday Justice: provide LOTS of resources! As a “colonizer,” it’s been by reading various articles and editorials that I have come to better understand why this film is so needed, so beautiful, and so loved. Like Channon, I arrived at the movie theater 45 minutes early with my crew. We didn’t have a photoshoot beforehand, but I did manage to sneak a (terribly lit) selfie with the stunning Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). And it really did feel like something special from the time we stood in line to the very last tag scene. And after three viewings, it still feels like there is so much more for me to unpack and understand.

I started a list, only to be surprised with a much more comprehensive list. Dr. Brian Keith Mitchell, history professor at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, produced a fantastic reader list for faculty to use in classroom discussions of the film, which made it way to my mom’s inbox (she’s on staff at UALR) and which she thoughtfully passed on to me! (Thanks, Momma!)

Admittedly, I’ve not read every single article on the list, but the ones that I’ve read (or watched) and that have helped me the most are listed first (with excerpts). The remainder are listed below and categorized, thanks to Dr. Mitchell.

  • Why ‘Black Panther’ Is a Defining Moment for Black America by Carvell Wallace for the New York Times – “This is all part of a tradition of unrestrained celebration and joy that we have come to rely on for our spiritual survival. We know that there is no end to the reminders that our lives, our hearts, our personhoods are expendable. Yes, many nonblack people will say differently; they will declare their love for us, they will post Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela quotes one or two days a year. But the actions of our country and its collective society, and our experiences within it, speak unquestionably to the opposite. Love for black people isn’t just saying Oscar Grant should not be dead. Love for black people is Oscar Grant not being dead in the first place.”
  • Race, Barriers and Battling Nerves: A Candid Conversation With Oscar’s Only 4 African-American Directing Nominees in 90 Years by Lacey Rose for The Hollywood Reporter – John Singleton: “There are enough people now that you can go to, to have a conference with or to say, “I don’t understand this world, can you help me?’’ So, I’m not assailing against anybody white trying to do a black story — try it, but get someone to help you. What’s interesting when you see Black Panther is you realize it couldn’t have been directed by anybody else but Ryan Coogler. It’s a great adventure movie and it works on all those different levels as entertainment, but it has this kind of cultural through-line that is so specific that it makes it universal.” behind the thrills black panther costumes
  • Costume Design in Black Panther from OkayAfrica (Video)
  • Black Panther’s Costume Designer on Dressing Every Woman As a Queen By Lindsay Peoples for The Cut – “When you put on your shapely garments and your beautiful color palette, and you wrap your hair and you put that knot at the top, you feel a sense of pride. Even though Wakanda is made up, it is still a part of the continent from which our ancestors came, and it gives people a context with which to think of people of color in a positive way — instead of in a radical militant way or a negative way. We’re making Africa chic again, and I hope when women see that, they go, ‘Tomorrow when I go to work, I’m going to wrap my hair up!’” – Ruth E. Carter
  • Black Panther director Ryan Coogler thoroughly breaks down the symbolism and visual effects of the Casino Fight Scene from Black Panther from Black with No Chaser (Video)
  • Why museum professionals need to talk about Black Panther by Casey Haughin for The Hopkins Exhibitionist – “The first step after this movie is to publicly confirm the reality of the situation; museums need to step up and acknowledge the fact that Killmonger’s anger in the exhibition and the experience he had were not entirely fictionalized, but rather a magnification of museum practices in the modern world. The next step is to listen. Listen to people of color, to communities, and to whole countries who see themselves both robbed by and cast out from international institutions. By communicating openly with the audience of a museum, professionals can determine how better to adapt their practices and make the institution a place that is relevant and respectful for all visitors. Until a truly symbiotic dialogue is established, this scene in Black Panther will represent the reality of museum politics where fact is truly more alarming than any fiction.”
  • Ryan Coogler Breaks Down The Making Of ‘Black Panther’, Black Girl Power, & Building Wakanda from Hot 97 (Video)
  • ‘Black Panther’ is a chance for black moviegoers to finally just enjoy the show by Zack Linley for the Washington Post – “It’s something many white filmgoers just don’t get. I’ve seen it many times: someone claiming it’s a double standard to celebrate all-black movies while calling all-white movies racist, or resenting that race is being brought up at all. It’s only a movie! Can’t we all just enjoy it? This is a question you would ask only if you had been overwhelmingly represented in every genre in every era of American film, and you simply don’t understand the sense of urgency for those of us who have not.”
  • In ‘Black Panther,’ Black Women Thrive by Erin Canty for Man Repeller – “Because I am a 32-year-old black woman immersed in a cinematic universe where black women thrive, I am overjoyed for the children who will grow up seeing these confident, courageous women taking up space and telling stories that are larger than life. black-panther-latitia-lupita-danai-angela-1_13005521_ver1.0I think about the young black girls who will watch these women and grow up inspired to carry out big dreams of their own. I think about all of this, and I am delighted.”
  • Feeling White Privilege When Watching Black Panther by Zoe and Ama from Not So Young and Dumb (Podcast) Also available here for non-Apple users: CastBox
  • The Feminism of Black Panther vs. Wonder Woman BY SHOSHANAKESSOCK – “I could continue to break down the narrative even further by speaking about the power of all these women and their representation as women of color, but as I said there are POC out there far better equipped to handling that conversation. In the matter of that topic, I step back and want to speak less and listen more. But in contrasting Wonder Woman and its feminist ideology alongside that of Black Panther, I can only conclude that while Wonder Woman brings us a kind of exceptionalist feminism, Black Panther brings us a vision of what a truly gender-equal society can accomplish, breaking down the barriers of gender stereotypes to present opportunity for anyone to be anything they wish in their full complexity and freedom of choice.”
  • Black Panther Is the Most Feminist Superhero Movie Yet (Yes, including Wonder Woman.) by Aisha Harris for SlateMoving as it was to see so many little girls dressing up as Wonder Woman, the fact that Black Panther has a wider variety of Wakandan women is a crucial step toward truly progressive feminism on screen.
  • The Most Important Moment in Black Panther No One Is Talking About by Benjamin Dixon for Progressive Army – “It is in that sadness that the film demonstrates the potential for the greatest impact: There is no Black Panther coming to save us. There is no Wakanda to go home to. And in the absence of such wonderful dreams, we — Black people around the world — must continue to stand up and be the fantasies of which we dream — just as T’Chaka told his son, King T’Challa, as they stood in the solemn moment of the ancestral plane, ‘Stand up. You are a King.'”
  • The ‘Wakanda Curriculum’ Is One Teacher’s Attempt to Take Black Panther Conversations to the Next Level by Julie Muncy for Gizmodo – “Tess Raser, a teacher of sixth graders at the Dulles School of Excellence in Chicago, has built the “Wakanda Curriculum” to drive discussions in advance of and after viewing of Black Panther. As Blavity reports, Raser was inspired after her own conversations about the film to take those debates—about black revolution, black feminism, and the legacy of colonialism and anti-black racism—to her students.” The 46-page unit can be found HERE. (More resources for teaching about Black Panther: The Best Resources For Teaching About The Black Panther Movie)

19panther-students-superJumbo.jpgBut this next one was far and away, THE BEST….

  • ‘I Took 7th Graders to See “Black Panther.” Here’s What They Said.’ [The New York Times]

 


Academic Food for Thought  

  1. Introduction to the Wakandan Syllabus
  2. ‘“Black Panther” Forces Africans and Black Americans to Reconcile the Past’ [Buzzfeed]
  3. ‘The Revolutionary Power of “Black Panther”’ [Time]
  4. “Black Panther” and the Invention of “Africa”  by Jelani Cobb for The New Yorker
  5. ‘Behind the Scenes of “Black Panther”’s Afrofuturism’ [Wired]
  6. ‘How “Black Panther”’s Costume Designer Created a New Vision of Africa’ [Refinery29]
  7. ‘“Black Panther” Is Great. But Let’s Not Treat It as an Act of Resistance.’ [The Guardian]
  8. ‘“Black Panther” Is Not the Movie We Deserve’ [Boston Review]
  9. Black Panther Movie Boldly Tackles Black Excellence – Refinery29
  10. Killmonger is the real hero for those who refuse to assimilate into an elitist blackness that leaves many behind
  11. How Black Panther Echoes Afrofuturism and Disses French-Speaking Africa
  12. The Viral ‘Black Panther’ Middle School Curriculum Provides Parents Real Insight
  13. The ‘Black Panther’ Revolution – Elitist
  14. “Black Panther” Is Inspiring Black Brazilians to Occupy Elite, White Shopping Malls
  15. ‘Black Panther’ is a revelation but also a reminder of what we’ve been missing
  16. “Black Panther” villain Killmonger is a symbol of Black pain
  17. Opinion | The Afrofuturism Behind ‘Black Panther’ – The New York Times
  18. How ‘Black Panther’ Changes Marvel’s Message – Forbes
  19. The Real History Behind the Black Panther – History in the Headlines
  20. Black Panther’s symbolic African costumes – HeraldLIVE
  21. Black Panther: The Ultimate Alt-Right Hero | Squawker
  22. The Racial Politics of Black Panther | Psychology Today

Overviews/Ending

  1. Black Panther – Rate And Discuss With Spoilers
  2. Black Panther End Credit Scenes: What Happens, And What They Mean
  3. One Major Mistake Black Panther Makes
  4. Why Black Panther Included That Character In Its Post-Credits Scene
  5. The 9 Funniest Moments In Black Panther
  6. Why Black Panther’s Surprise Cameo Didn’t Happen Until The End Of The Movie
  7. The 9 Coolest Wakanda Inventions Shown In Black Panther
  8. Kendrick Lamar Gives ‘Black Panther’ a Weighty Soundtrack

Reactions

  1. What Marvel’s Chris Pratt Thought Of Black Panther
  2. Oprah’s Review Of Black Panther Is Better If You Read It In The Oprah Voice
  3. What Marvel’s Kevin Feige Really Thinks About Black Panther
  4. What Michelle Obama Thought Of Black Panther
  5. How Disney’s CEO Reacted To Black Panther’s Success
  6. Review: ‘Black Panther’ Shakes Up the Marvel Universe
  7. Black Panther’ Brings Hope, Hype and Pride
  8. ‘“Black Panther” and the Revenge of the Black Nerds’ [The New York Times]
  9. Black Panther Review: the Marvel Universe Finally Shows Us Something New

MCU Connections

  1. How Black Panther Sets Up A Possible Future For Iron Man
  2. Black Panther Has Some Shocking Similarities To A Recent Marvel Movie
  3. How One Black Panther Scene Nods At The Original Iron Man Movie
  4. Why Black Panther Doesn’t Have More Ties To The Larger Marvel Cinematic Universe
  5. Ta-Nehisi Coates Helps a New Panther Leave Its Print
  6. The Black Panther Reading List
  7. Black Panther Royal Family Tree (Video)

Characters

  1. All The Major Characters You Need To Know In Black Panther
  2. Is Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger Marvel’s Best Villain Yet?
  3. Where Black Panther’s Shuri Goes From Here In The MCU
  4. Why Black Panther’s Agent Ross Is Different From The Comics
  5. Did Black Panther Reveal An Important Development For A Key Marvel Hero?
  6. In Defense of Erik Killmonger and the Forgotten Children of Wakanda
  7. ‘Black Panther’: Why Not Queen Shuri? (Guest Column)
  8. Why Black Panther’s T’Challa Is a Better Man Than Most Superheroes …

Gender

  1. Finally, “Black Panther” Is a Movie Black Women Can Celebrate’ [Independent]
  2. ‘Kevin Feige on the Future of Marvel’s Women’ [Vulture]
  3. Black Panther Breakout Letitia Wright Smashes Disney Princess Expectations
  4. Princess Shuri: The Hero We Needed | The Amherst Student
  5. There’s a True Story Behind Black Panther’s Strong Women. Here’s …
  6. The women of ‘Black Panther’ are empowered not just in politics and …
  7. Black Women Are Black Panther’s Mightiest Heroes – io9 – Gizmodo
  8. Black Panther, black women, and the politics of black hair | Cinema
  9. The power of ‘Black Panther’s’ army of African women – The Lily
  10. In ‘Black Panther,’ Wakanda’s Women Are Both Funny And Fierce
  11. The Powerful Women Of ‘Black Panther’ | HuffPost
  12. After Black Panther and Wonder Woman, Batgirl needs a female …
  13. The Women in ‘Black Panther’ Rock – Why ‘Black Panther’ is a Win for …
  14. Get to know the Dora Milaje, Black Panther’s mighty women … – Vox
  15. The Female Cast of Black Panther Is So Freakin’ Badass, I’m Crying Tears of Joy
  16. The Most Important Debate in Black Panther Is, Unsurprisingly … – Elle
  17. How Danai GuriraOkoye redefines the female warrior in ‘Black Panther’

LGBT

  1. ‘“Black Panther” Screenwriter Joe Robert Cole Addresses Rumors of a Deleted Gay Scene’ [ScreenCrush]
  2. ‘Don’t Play With Our Emotions: “Black Panther” and Queer Representation’ [The Root]
  3. Could There Have Been a Lesbian Romance in Black Panther? Let’s Investigate

Director/Cast Takes

  1. Ryan Coogler’s Open Letter To Black Panther Fans Is Wonderful
  2. The Amazing Black Panther Set That Led Daniel Kaluuya To Recognize The Epicness Of Black Panther
  3. The Best Wakandan Technology, According To Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan
  4. Black Panther Director Ryan Coogler Explains His Infinity Stone Decision
  5. The Stars of ‘Black Panther’ Waited a Lifetime for This Moment
  6. Black Panther’s Director Ryan Coogler Breaks Down a Fight Scene
  7. Black Panther designer Ruth Carter reveals the African symbols … – Syfy

Box Office

  1. Why Black Panther Overperformed At The Box Office
  2. Black Panther Made Even More This Weekend Than We Thought
  3. Black Panther Box Office: There’s A Party Going On Over At Marvel
  4. After ‘Black Panther,’ Will Hollywood Finally Admit That Black Films …

Opposition to Black Panther

  1. ‘Alt-Right’ Group Takes Aim At ‘Black Panther.’ Ryan Coogler …
  2. Alt-Right Group Tries To Take Down Black Panther Film – Refinery29
  3. ‘Black Panther’ Targeted By Alt-Right Trolls Who Also Tried to Tank …
  4. An alt-right group threatened to attack ‘Black Panther’ on Rotten …
  5. Racist trolls are saying Black Panther fans attacked them. They’re lying …
  6. Black Panther: Twitter bans trolls who claimed white cinema-goers …

OTHER:

  1. Can Superheroes Be Woke?: Black Liberation and the Black Panther
  2. ‘Black Panther’ teaches women how to show up for themselves in life and in love
  3. The power of ‘Black Panther’s’ army of African women
  4. ‘Black Panther’ fully embraces its blackness — and that’s what makes it unforgettable
  5. Wakanda forever: The overt feminism of ‘Black Panther’
  6. ‘Black Panther’ Cast Made Sandra Bullock Cry ‘As A Mother’