October Vol 1, Welcome!
It’s Thanksgiving weekend and we wanted to take a moment to say thank you! Thank you to you the readers for reading, please share this as well! We are living in a time of a lot of uncertainty, a pandemic that not all believe is happening. It’s been wild, heavy and hard to carry on at times. We do though, because of the support we receive from the community and beyond. We strongly believe in UPlifting one another, it’s even in our name, we are so thankful for those who UPlift us as well. Without the support we receive in various ways we would not be able to keep doing what we are doing. Thank you.
Make sure you are resting. Make sure you are finding time to laugh, to do something you love, to be silly. Soak in those moments. Let them fuel you for what’s next, for what’s now. Now is not the time to ease up. Now is not the time to let up. Rest when you need to, yes – don’t you take that foot off the pedal, there’s no cruise option here. Find joy, yes – keep sharing, supporting, donating, amplifying, showing UP anyway and every way you can. Thank you, we still need you.
**In this volume there are 9 sections: Art, Project UPdates, Terms To Know, How We Got Here, Current Events, Book Recommendations, Important Dates, 2SLGBTQPNIA+ and UPlift Spotlight.**
UPlift Black Art
Social media is an incredible platform that has given a voice to so many people that never previously had a platform to speak. Platforms like Instagram and Twitter have given a voice to the voiceless. And honestly, there is some beautiful Black art on Instagram.
Looking to follow some Black artists? Check out these amazing people!
Are you a local (Simcoe/Muskoka) Black artist or do you know one that should be featured? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pay it Forward – The Good Food Boxes
UPlift Black is honoured to be the chosen organization to receive Urban Pantry Barrie’s “Pay it Forward” Barrie Good Food Boxes. Good Food Boxes are packed with fresh, high-quality, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Members of the Black community in Barrie and Innisfil can register to receive a Good Food Box for their household. To be delivered on the 3rd Wednesday of every month (based on availability) Boxes will be given out on a first come, first serve basis – one box per family, every 6 months. Fill out the form here, to purchase a pay it forward box for UPlift Black visit www.barriegoodfoodbox.com
Terms to Know
This concept is a social construct, meaning that humans invented race in its entirety. Scientists classified humans, plants, and animals into races, trying to name a biological difference within species. This didn’t pan out – biologically, there is actually more difference between two people of the same race than of two people of different races. What is also interesting is that racial categories and their meanings change over time. For example, Mexicans have been considered both white and non-white in the USA.
There is no biological basis for race.
This is not to say that race is not real. Race is a construct that has very real implications for people who are racialized. There is evidence that BIPOC are disproportionately targeted by the police. There is evidence that BIPOC are less likely to be hired for the same job as a white person.
This concept is also socially constructed. It is formed by your association with a group. Ethnicity puts people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as values, language, behaviour, political interests, and hxstory. Canadian is an ethnicity. Black is also an ethnicity.
A social system of meaning that helps ensure human group survival in a specific environment. Cultural groups are distinguished by sets of unspoken rules and norms that shape how members within the culture act and think. Culture is the backbone of human biological success.
Those who practise their indigeneity live more closely to the traditional ways of being and knowing than to the dominant country or nation’s culture.
How We Got Here
#2 – On Abolition, Black Agency, and White Saviour Complexes
Last time around we talked about the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the role of Africans in the perpetuation of the Plantation Complex. At the heart of the question of African collaboration in slavery is the idea of Black agency; in other words, the ways Black individuals and groups acted in the past to help shape the present. Just as Africans played integral roles in the procurement and transport of slaves, participating in the Plantation Complex that linked the Transatlantic world, another aspect of the history of the slave trade that often goes unnoted is equally as important to #howwegothere: Black resistance to slavery, Black cultural vitality in the context of duress, and, ultimately, the abolition of the most inhumane labour system ever devised.
The common stories of abolition often elide the role that slaves themselves played in the elimination of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In the British context, the abolition of slavery is often conceived as the work of well-intentioned missionaries and humanitarian advocates who made British politicians and the British public confront the brutal reality that undergirded the Industrial Revolution. In another telling, the Plantation Complex was simply no longer profitable and, as such, capitalists found new ways to make plantations more efficient and profitable in the early 19th Century. Meanwhile, in the American context, the story centres on the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln as the freer of the slaves; Lincoln’s benevolent hand, the story goes, extended to the enslaved and released them from their captivity. Here in Canada, of course, we often fail to talk about our role in slavery at all, save for being one of the destinations of the Underground Railroad. In each case, the white saviours came to the aid of the enslaved and the repressed, centring their actions over and above Black agents of change.
The reality of abolition is far more complex and multifaceted. It is true that missionaries and well-intentioned humanitarians lobbied the British government to officially abolish the slave trade, but slave revolts, resistance in Africa, and various forms of shirking slave duties and stymying production on plantations long pre-dated the moral fervour in the white British public. Meanwhile, in colonial societies in the Caribbean, “freedom” for slaves continued to look a lot like slavery well into the 19th and the early-20th century. After 1884, when the Berlin Conference ‘partitioned’ (or, more accurately, stole) Africa, Europeans outsourced unfree labour practices back to the African continent. In just two brief examples, King Leopold’s Congo existed as an unfree labour colony until 1908, while in Kenya the same missionaries and humanitarians who lobbied against slavery decried indentured labour until at least the 1930s. Finally, as recent events have highlighted, Jim Crow laws ensured the continuation of partially unfree labour and segregation after the Civil War, bringing into question the actual efficacy of ‘abolition’ in the United States. It took concerted Black action in each case, alongside strong allyship, to get to the rotten core of unfree labour concealed beneath the layers of slavery.
But overt resistance to slavery was not the only way slaves opposed the institution. Slave societies continued to practice cultural traditions from the African continent, fusing with other more localized practices to forge resilient and vibrant cultures in the Americas. One need not look further than the hybrid culture in Brazil, or many parts of the Southern United States, to understand how slave cultures made beauty amidst appalling conditions and continue to influence popular culture today. The overriding point remains that Black individuals and societies drove the history of the slave trade and abolition; they were not freed, they freed themselves over a centuries’ long struggle that included grand events like the Haitian Revolution and John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, but also everyday resistances
The issue of Black agency is no mere fascination. Black cultures, especially African American culture, dominates in all nodes of the Transatlantic world. But the lion’s share of the profits that come from Black culture still ends up in white hands. Whether in sports, music, art, or other forms of media, Black culture is still exploited for the profit of the few. When Black communities speak of reparations for slavery it is because they still see far too little from the economies and cultures for which their labour served as a foundation. Systems of oppression and exploitation have the common root of slavery and the turns of history that fostered new techniques once the moral justifications for slavery withered away; for that the balance owing to Black communities is incalculable.
Finally, when white folks stand aside in awe at the presence of Black protestors and social movements it is because they are so unaccustomed to acknowledging the Black agents of change in their history. Rather than seeing legitimate political actors, they see an unorganized mass of lawbreakers or some new phenomenon. The reason we are in this position today is that we have not told the history of the Transatlantic World honestly. We have not acknowledged the debt – not of gratitude, but in very real material terms – to the unfree labour that built those societies. So, #howwegothere is a matter of storytelling. It is essential to public discourse and social change that Black agency is acknowledged and celebrated by telling stories, past and present.
On October 3, the Green Party of Canada elected its new leader. Annamie Paul, who is currently running in a by-election in the riding of Toronto-Centre, is the first Black Canadian and first Jewish womxn to be elected leader of a major political party in Canada. When it was announced that she won in Ottawa this past Saturday, she took the stage and proudly proclaimed that she is a descendant of slaves and an ally to those, such as Indigenous communities, who are fighting for justice. Check out this video outlining the reasons Annamie Paul stood against the Speech From the Throne, her plans as leader of the Green Party of Canada, and her sharing her experiences of the racism and anti-Semitism she experienced during her campaign here.
- Stolen Words by Melanie Florence
- Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee
- Mixed Me by Taye Diggs
- Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
- Not So Pure And Simple by Lamar Giles
- The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert
- A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott
- Mamaskatch by Darrel J. McLeod
- Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga
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: Sunday October 18th 2pm
Event: Firebird Community Cycle Annual General Meeting
Location: 134 Anne st, Barrie, ON – around back
Are you looking to get more involved in the community with a great NFP? Do you have a passion for getting more people on bikes and creative ideas in how to do that? Well, look no further! You are invited to Firebird Community Cycle AGM! Member’s input for next year is encouraged, and there are board vacancies. Please dress for keeping warm while sitting still and bring a sit-upon and your favourite snacks. Please also be prepared to keep 2 metres apart from other attendees.
Date: Adult October 27th 7-830pm OR October 31st 10-1130am
Youth October 28th 7-830 OR October 31st 1130-1pm
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!
Have any UPcoming Important Dates? Let us know, email us at email@example.com
Did you notice a change in the title of the section above? We added some letters! In order to truly reflect the diversity of the spectrums of gender and sexual identity, we added P, N, I, and A. Let’s go over these four identities:
P – Pansexual! Breaking down the word, in Latin pan means all. Pansexual implies that you are attracted to all genders; however, to be pansexual is to be attracted to someone regardless of their gender. Gender is not a factor in their consideration of who they might see themselves being with.
N – Non-binary! Fun fact – I am non-binary! A person who is non-binary feels that their gender identity does not fit within the binary system of man and woman. It is important to note two things: (1) non-binary is not to be confused with gender neutrality, and (2) there is not one way to be non-binary. A person who is non-binary may adorn a dress and also grow out their beard. A person who is non-binary may use she/her pronouns. A person who is non-binary may choose to have gender affirmation surgery. A person who is non-binary has a gender identity that exists outside the binary.
I – Intersex! Someone who is intersex may have variances in their hormones, chromosomes, reproductive organs and genitalia that put them outside of the traditional definitions of male or female. Intersex is a common thing, with intersex babies being born 1 in every 100 births – about the same prevalence as people with Celiac disease.
A – Asexual! This term actually acts as an umbrella for a spectrum of identities that people use if they do not experience much (if any) sexual attraction and have a low or absent desire for sexual activity. Some identities that exist under this umbrella are demisexual (must feel an emotional connection) and aromantic (feel sexual attraction but romance is absent).
+ – If you think about gender identity, gender expression, sex, and sexuality all as spectrums, then you will begin to see that everyone has their own gender. With more representation and faster ways of communicating with more people, more identity words are being included in the queer terminology library all the time. For example, I didn’t know I was androsexual until 2015 when I found the word. Then I was like – “hey! This word fits me as I understand myself and as I understand this word! I’m gonna use it to help others understand my experience better and communicate more fully about myself.”
Words are powerful devices of communication. Make sure you respect the words people use to describe themselves and their identities – all queerness is valid!
Check out more queer terminology at OUT Saskatoon’s website here.
Christopher Fee – 2SLGBTQPNIA+ Coordinator
Bala Taxi & Tours
A reliable, honest Taxi service providing Bala and Muskoka Lakes with a courteous and helpful support. No job is too big, no job is too small! For more information about services and tours contact Troy or visit them on facebook here.
Congratulations to Isaak Phillips for being drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2020 NHL Draft. To hear from Isaak himself, watch the Barrie CTV News story here.
Do you know a Black individual or a Black Owned Business that should be Spotlighted? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.