Welcome to September Vol 2!
This week we launched our very first book club check in! We sent an email to those who signed up with the discussion guide that included activities, discussion questions, collected and curated conversations that get you thinking about the book and how it reflects society.
Don’t worry – there’s still time to sign up! Get in here and have some fun with us, learning and reading together as a community! When you sign up, we will send you the first discussion guide so you can get started.
As a teaser, here is one of the conversations we had about the novel Born A Crime by Trevor Noah:
“In the fight against apartheid, whose name comes to mind?
It would be hard to find someone who said anyone other than Nelson Mandela. But if you think critically about that – it HAD to be a group movement, right? So that means that Mandela was not the only actor. So who else helped abolish legal apartheid in South Africa? Any womxn (yes, obviously!!)?
Here is a fun article for you to read here about some of the incredible womxn who were a part of the anti-apartheid movement”
We want everyone to join in on the fun! If you are having difficulty participating because the cost of the book club is inaccessible and you are a BIPOC member of Simcoe Muskoka, OR if you would like to sponsor a book to allow others to participate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
**In this volume there are 8 sections: Art, Project UPdates, Terms To Know, Current Events, Book Recommendations, Important Dates, 2SLGBTQ+ and UPlift Spotlight.**
UPlift Black Art
The Music of Community – Musician Michelle Guy
Musicians want to be the loud voice for so many quiet hearts. – Billy Joel
Michelle Guy has lived in Simcoe County for 18 years. She was born in London England, then immigrated with her family to Canada in 1976; her family first settled in Scarborough Ontario.
Michelle’s community initiatives are as integral to her as making music.
This year she was both a lead organizer and performer at Black History Month celebration. In 2019 she was the featured woman for Our Mosaic Lives – a Barrie community organization.
I was fortunate enough to hear and experience Michelle’s performance at Barrie’s Black History Month celebration. Her energy and passion came through in her voice, body, and sheer understanding of the chronology and history of music. The carefully eclectic program she performed highlighted the different genres and decades of music performed by Black musicians. I came away feeling I had learned something as much as I had enjoyed listening.
Before making the move to Simcoe County, Michelle formed her first duo and band in 1999 and started singing in dinner and lounge venues in Toronto. She picked up the electric bass in 2002 and focused on the duo dinner/lounge act.
Later she started working on acoustic guitar, writing original songs and performing solo. A new duo The Station kicked off in 2005. The duo was nominated for Best Blues Song at the Barrie’s New Music Fest in 2011. Michelle’s latest cover project The Feelin Good Band started in 2015. She draws on a wide range of influences including Blues and Rock & Roll.
Michelle’s inspiration comes from her love of music and passion for mentoring and engaging with community.
An Interview With Musician Michelle Guy
Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a performer?
A: I have always known I could sing. I did not think of performing until I was well out of high school, in my 20’s; it took many years to get there.
Q: Something positive and something not so positive about being Black in Simcoe County or Canada.
A: Personally, I have had the luxury thus far to only be positive about being Black wherever I have lived, including Simcoe County. I think however it would be better for Blacks in Simcoe County, if there were more community connections to motivate at risk Black youth and to support Black families (emotionally).
Q: What challenges and barriers to success do you or have you faced?
A: The only barriers to success I have faced are the ones I have created for myself. When I have not moved forward (with goals) it has been my own road blocks. I have had much time and opportunity to work through what negative experiences I have had as a youth or child to make sure as an adult I can achieve what is important and meaningful to me. If I am not getting where I want to be I have to ask ME why.
Q: Highlight of your career thus far?
A: I would say getting to a place where I could play bass and front the band (as a singer) has been my highlight. I am not going to lie, at times I still doubt myself. I was most proud to finally perform at a Black History Month event in 2019 and 2020. The task was on my to-do list for many years.
Q: Which living musician would you most like to work with?
A: I can’t answer that really. I have not thought of it, and if I did I likely have more than one.
Q: Something you are working on presently or something that is your dream artistic endeavor.
A: Right now I am working on learning songs (on acoustic guitar) written or performed by Black artists that are not necessarily known as R&B songs. I am also trying to get the inspiration to start writing my own material again. It may or may not lead to a performance or show. As for a dream show I hope to be selected for a music festival style performance where we can include original material.
Musician Michelle Guy
UPlifting and UPcoming
Next issue –
Discover and rediscover, the work of seven black female performers whose place in the canon of music has not been fully validated. Their talent, energy, and political will, as black women, performers, and activists, has helped to lay the necessary notes for many of today’s performers.
Child Prodigy – Hazel Scott American/Trinidadian
The Godmother of Rock n Roll – Sister Rosetta Tharpe – American
Calypso Rose – Trinidadian
Queen of the Whistle Register – Minnie Riperton – American
The Barefoot Diva – Cesaria Evora – Cape Verde (former Portuguese African colony)
Canada’s First Lady of Jazz – Eleanor Collins – Canadian
Mama Africa – Miriam Makeba – South Africa
Sean George – Black Art and Aesthetics Coordinator
Are you a local (Simcoe/Muskoka) Black artist or do you know one that should be featured? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPlift Black Youth Care Packages – Bike Donations
Thank you to Laura for donating bicycles, locks and helmets for the youth care packages. Thank you to Geoff at Firebird for working so hard to fit and supply all the bicycles. Firebird Community Cycle is a registered not-for-profit, ‘dedicated to the promotion of bicycle education and culture through the sustainable and accessible rebuilding, reusing, recycling and redistribution of all bicycle products.’ Check them at firebirdcycle.ca for more information.
Thank you to all who signed up for Book Club and took part in our very first contest! Without further ado…
The winners of our youth membership contest, winning a free copy of the Black Kids, are: Makena Beaver-Pitre and Christine Nugent!
The winners of our adult membership contest, winning a free copy of Born A Crime, are: Case McNabb and Ginny Kaner.
Our first email check in that included a discussion guide was sent out on Wednesday. Don’t worry it’s not too late, simply sign up for Book Club here. We’ll take care of the rest!
Help us fundraise for a Pro Zoom account to run our Book Clubs and so much more! Click here to donate!
Terms to Know
Hashtags can start a revolution. As we have seen from #BlackLivesMatter, and from the surge in social activism at a time when we are in the least amount of direct contact with each other (thanks, Covid-19). Social media has immense power to act as a voice for the people, a platform for the oppressed and marginalized. Let’s take a look at some of the ways Black activists have amplified the Black narrative on social platforms.
This is a movement that was started and popularized in 2013 by a person by the name of CaShawn Thompson. It is a movement that “celebrates the beauty, power, and resilience of Black womxn” (Julee Wilson – HuffPost) and to congratulate Black womxn on their accomplishments. It is a way for Black womxn and girls to celebrate the moments of Black excellence that go unnoticed every day. It is a hashtag of solidarity and celebration. Always the right time to celebrate #BlackGirlMagic.
This hashtag was started this year! It is a response to the “White Noise” that was created by the Black Square challenge on Instagram. After everyone posted their black squares ‘in support of’ Black lives on #BlackoutTuesday, the result was a drowning out of information that was important to #BlackLivesMatter and silenced a lot of Black social media. Started on Instagram, Alisha McCullough (@blackandembodied) and Jessica Wilson (@jessicawilson.msrd), the campaign called for white creators on Instagram to refrain from posting their own content for the week of June1st-7th this year, and to uplift and amplify the voices of Black content creators. What resulted was a lot of people’s feeds becoming diversified. #AmplifyMelanatedVoices is now a prominent hashtag that helps to uplift the Black narrative on Instagram.
Urban Dictionary, our source for all popular information, describes Black Excellence as “Someone that is black and portrays great qualities and abilities that make the black community proud.” A publication by the name of Black Excellence describes Black Excellence as “a celebration of beautiful black culture as well as the promotion of ideas and actions that benefit and advance the black community at large.” Jay-Z actually popularized the term about a decade ago and still refers to it today. The #BlackExcellence hashtag is now used countless times on Instagram every day and has so much beautiful Black energy in so many diverse forms.
This hashtag is so cool. If you want a popular social justice education, check out this hashtag. It has resources for learning about issues from queer and trans rights to abortion rights to racial justice to climate issues, and quite literally every issue in between. The #SocialJustice hashtag is our favourite tag to follow in order to stay informed and properly educated about current events in the social justice world. Make your social justice footprint bigger and learn something new, using this hashtag!
Check out these hashtags on Instagram or Twitter and see what you discover!
Treaty Rights Attack
This week in the territory of the Mi’kmaq (what is currently known as Nova Scotia), there has been an attack on the Treaty rights of the local bands. The Sipekne’katik band, a member of the Mi’kmaq nation, opened the first Moderate Livelihood fishery in Nova Scotia one week ago, and the Paqtnkek and Potlotek are scheduled to open theirs later this year. However, since the first fishery opened, the Sipekne’katik lobster fishers have been the subject of attack by non-Indigenous locals in what is currently known as Saulnierville. As of September 4th, The Department of Fisheries and Oceans also has officers involved, seizing the Mi’kmaq lobster traps. Local non-Mi’kmaq (mostly-white) communities are upset that the Sipekne’katik are lobster fishing outside of lobster fishing season in order to earn a living.
It has become very apparent that Settler Canadians do not understand what Treaty rights are. The Mi’kmaq have year-round fishing rights. The Sipekne’katik have a constitutional right to fish these waters. Because the local non-Indigenous community misunderstands Treaty rights, they are cutting fishing lines, boats and gear are being vandalized, and they are firing flares at Mi’kmaq boats. For more information on this issue, check out the Mi’kmaq fishing rights news hub here.
“Today it’s lobster, but the Treaty rights extend to other resources as well.”
If you think you don’t know enough about Treaty rights, you are probably right. And if you live in Simcoe Muskoka, you actually live on Treaty land! This means that Indigenous people have rights to share the land and coexist peacefully, but that is often not respected because of ignorance or not knowing what a Treaty is. Time to learn! Start here.
A Reggae Pioneer – Toots Hibbert
On 11 September 2020 the music world lost a pioneer in Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals. The story ran on major news outlets – much to my surprise – commemorating one of the most distinct voices animating West Jamaica’s landscape and culture.
Toots death gives us the opportunity to reflect on the many thefts of Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities’ cultural outputs by white artists in the name of profit.
Sublime, the beloved fratboy band, borrowing from Hip Hop, Reggae, Roots, Ska, and other Carribean styles, covered one of Toots’ greatest songs – 5446 Was My Number – on their eponymous debut album. The song stands out on a heavily sampled, predominantly cover album. The band still sells under a new name – Sublime with Rome – and made millions off of the hard work of Black artists.
Amy Winehouse, another beloved white crooner, also covered Toots and the Maytals songs on a regular basis, again making it big off of the hard work of racialized artists.
More recently, on an episode of American Idol, finalist Arthur Gunn covered Take Me Home Country Roads in a reggae style. In that case, only the John Denver version was acknowledged, not Toots’ arrangement. This was an even starker reminder Black art forms, foods, and culture are at once at the centre of North American society, but at the margins of socio-political life.
Although Black culture flies under the radar in Simcoe/Muskoka, it is worth noting that Indigenous art forms, foods, and products are often appropriated by white businesses much in the same way Toots’ music had been appropriated for mass consumption. Whether it be mass produced moccasins, the newly found fascination with bannock, birch bark canoes, or the imitation of Indigenous art forms like the Inukshuk or the Totem Pole, Indigenous culture is constantly a source of inspiration for those seeking to find “authenticity” while making a profit.
It is imperative that we remember that the way we consume contributes to systems of power and relations of oppression. Make smart choices about the local businesses you support and ask questions about the legitimacy of their goods.
- Lullaby (for a Black Mother) – Langston Hughes
- Brown Boy Joy – Dr. Thomishia Booker
- Imani’s Moon – JaNay Brown-Wood
- Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron
- Let Me Hear a Rhyme – Tiffany D. Jackson
- On the Come Up – Angie Thomas
- Well-Read Black Girl – Glory Edim
- The Girl with the Louding Voice – Abi Daré
- I Almost Forgot About You – Terry McMillan
Date: Friday, October 2nd, 2020 at 530-7 pm
Event: UPlift Black Dance Class
Location: Brock Park, Innisfil St, Barrie
Come out and prepare to sweat! Bring water and dress for the weather. Get ready to be UPlifted through dance! Social distancing rules will be adhered to. Please remember to wear your masks while not dancing. Limited spots available – to reserve your spot please email email@example.com with the subject line UPlift Black – Dance Class.
Please e-transfer firstname.lastname@example.org with $10 or PWYC with “dance class” in the message line. Proceeds will go towards UPlift Black Projects and Programming. The warm up and class will feature Black Artists, and music inspired by and from African Caribbean diaspora.
Date: Wednesday, October 14th 2020
Event: Second Book Club check in
Location: Online – check your emails
For the second book club check in, it will be much like the last. You will receive an email that will have a number of helpful things in it. This will include: some questions that help provoke your thoughts about the books, a reflection about the book by one of the book club facilitators or UPlift Black members, other resources to find if you are interested in learning more, and other fun facts about the book or author. This will be the last check in before the final virtual discussion.
Date: ADULT – Oct 27th 7-830pm OR Oct 31st 10-1130am
YOUTH – Oct 28th 7-830 OR Oct 31st 1130am-1pm
Event: Virtual Book Discussion
Location: Zoom – all members of the book club will receive a link.
For the final virtual discussion, we will gather as a large group on Zoom and discuss everything we have learned as a result of reading this book. We ask that you bring three questions or comments to the discussion, but no obligation to bring anything except yourself! When RSVPing choose only one time to join. Details on this to come!
Date: November 2020
Event: Shak’s World Opening
Location: 59 Maple Avenue, Barrie, ON
Youth from across Simcoe County, will soon have access to elite-level programs at Shak’s World Community Centre located at 59 Maple Avenue in Barrie, Ontario. Opening in November, Shak’s World Community Centre (SWCC) will use basketball, innovation, and mentorship as a bridge to youth employment, education, and training. This new, youth-led urban community development project is designed to tackle some of the underlying issues that can lead to youth addiction, homelessness, and mental health challenges. For more information visit www.shaksworld.com or follow them on Instagram Shaksworld_.
Have any UPcoming Important Dates? Let us know, email us at email@example.com
Why does the Pride flag need to have a Black and brown stripe?
What does race have to do with queerness?
To be queer is to be Black. Though obviously not the same, the queer community has been almost completely shaped by, and would not be anywhere close to where it is today without the work and toil, and sacrificed lives of Black and Brown queer heroes. Queer culture is also largely formed by Black culture. Queer heroes like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Barbara Smith have pioneered the queer movement, and are often the people who are the most vocal. The ballroom scene in New York, which was a safe place where you could be anything or anyone you wanted to be, was created by Black trans womxn (for more information on this, watch Paris Is Burning on Crave – also while you are there, check out the first season of Canada’s Drag Race! Episode 9 specifically has information about ball culture and Blackness)
Okay, so let’s start with the original flag. What does it represent? The original flag dates back to 1978 and was created by Gilbert Baker. The original flag had 8 colours, which morphed into six over the next couple of years. Each colour represented a different aspect of queer pride. According to the Gilbert Baker Estate, pink was for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit.
In 2017, in response to growing awareness and understanding of police and state violence, as well as understanding of the integral role Black and Indigenous People of Colour played in the queer revolution, Philidelphia added a brown and a black stripe. This design was designed by the marketing company Tierney.
The very first Pride was a riot led by Black and Brown trans womxn who were tired of the intense police and state brutality their community was experiencing. The black and brown stripes remind the queer community that we are still fighting. That we as a community are not free until every person, the most marginalized of us, are free.
Another intention of including the black and brown stripes on the flag is to honour those who were lost to the AIDS pandemic, and those who are still living and fighting. The AIDS pandemic of the 80s disproportionately affected Black and Brown people.
Since the black and brown stripes were added, there has been a new, more inclusive redesign that seeks to include the trans community more prominently. Artist Daniel Quazar designed the Progress flag in 2018. The Progress flag has a backdrop of the original 6 colour flag, with a chevron design at the left portion of the flag. The chevron’s design includes black and brown, as well as pink, blue, and white for the trans community. The pink represents femininity, the blue for masculinity, and the white for those who are transitioning or are gender nonconforming. The chevron points toward the left to represent the idea that there is still progress to be made.
It baffles me that when the version that flew in Philadelphia in 2017 was debuted, people were upset. How dare Black and Brown queer people take up space. I had a similar feeling when #BlackLivesMatter sat to petition police involvement and police violence at the Toronto Pride Parade in 2016. For some reason, the people around me decided it was their right to tell me that Black people shouldn’t stop the parade. It’s not their community, it’s not their place. Black and Brown queer and trans people have every right to bring attention to their specific needs within a community. What was the most interesting was the response by white gay people: “I fought to have police respect me and attend the parade – why get rid of them now?”
Well, the police are still disproportionately killing Black trans womxn, at the top of that list. But that is a topic for another day.
Queer community: it is time to wake up. It is time to acknowledge and know your own hxstory. Never forget who threw the first brick.
Christopher Fee – 2SLGBTQ+ Coordinator
Fay A McFarlane & Associate Professional Corporation
You can find Fay A. McFarlane at 12 West Street North, Orillia, ON practicing in Simcoe County. Her practice includes Family Law, Real Estate and Wills and Estate.
For more information visit the Facebook page here, or call 705 326 8215.
Angie’s Place Canadian Caribbean Eatery
You can find Angie’s Place in Stayner, ON at 5968 27/28 Sideroad all year round Tuesday-Saturday. Angie’s Place will satisfy your cravings with every dish cooked dripping in flavour and love! There’s no such thing as the last bite as you’ll be left always planning your next visit!
Do you know a Black individual or a Black Owned Business that should be Spotlighted? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.