fear of a black nation-david austin

“As someone who migrated to Montreal from St. Vincent in the sixties, Daniel described her innate need for self-knowledge as akin to searching for a lost mother.” (125) Celia Daniel

“Even Miriam Makeba-the only woman in attendance with a high public profile-remained in the shadow of her husband, Stokely Carmichael.” (120)

“Despite the backlash, what makes the 1960s such a remarkable, unique historical moment is that so many people from so many different parts of the world exercised their right to express public dissent and opposition to the existing order-often putting their lives at stake.” (14)

i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again-we don’t have that many moves as humans. in this time of protests and the internet-has the pendulum swung back again? are things different? hmmm?

i saw this one at the book fair a few months ago, and read it during my november daytrip to the ‘trill. there’s a lot of crossover, not just with actual folks, but with the times and places and ideas. some of my closest aren’t ready to talk about it-or perhaps i still don’t know how to ask. or i don’t really want to. but all the love-forever.

“Sometime in the early 1990s, when I expressed my concern about the apparent pessimism of a distinguished African-American author, a friend simply suggested that maybe I should write down my own thoughts instead of complaining about someone else’s.” (xi-xii)

and once again, this reminder to write it yourself. i appreciated the concept of vertical and horizontal memory (like remembering the first game that lebron played with the heat as the first game that shaq played with the celtics) because it reminded me of the thoughts that i’ve had of vertical vs. horizontal miscegenation. it all goes back to the malleability of a constructed identity.

“While other European ethnicities have, to an extent, been able to integrate into the ‘Canadian mosaic’ over time, Blacks have for the most part been left on the sidelines of the nation’s narrative, sitting outside the boundaries of the nation and its entitlements.” (37)

“Indeed, if the French and the English are Canada’s founding ‘races,’ the members of those groups essentially become the only bona fide citizens of the country, effectively negating the humanity of others. Conveniently, the novelist’s tidy formula avoids the systematic use of state-sponsored and church-condoned violence against Indigenous groups. These fallacies and omissions form the thread that binds the entire book.” (38) on Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan

“While non of the West Indians with whom I discussed the issue openly acknowledged this sense of superiority, they did often talk about Canadian Blacks in condescending ways, incorrectly suggesting that there was little political consequence happening among Blacks in the city before they arrived and imputing that this was the result of the insecurities that saddled Blacks born in countries in which they formed a minority.

Interestingly, despite the view among many West Indians that they brought a rebellious spirit to Canada from the Caribbean, Jones suggested that the Canadian government favoured Caribbean migrants over Black Canadians because they were less likely to rebel. One of the reasons for this, he said, was that they were content with the opportunities that Canada afforded them given the limited economic and employment opportunities available to them in the Caribbean.” (145)

oh, canaduh. i think this one would be a better example than some of those that have made it on how the canadian context is special. and within that, how the montreal context is special. and within that-the french and english context. it’s funny, jay baruchel chose two solitudes within the last couple of years for canada reads. i made a note to check out h.nigel thomas’ behind the face of winter, because any story described as a reverse underground railroad is one that needs to be on my list.


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