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Charmaine Nelson

Professor of Art History

Dr. Charmaine Nelson is a Professor of Art History (McGill University). She has made ground-breaking contributions to the fields of the Visual Culture of Slavery, Race and Representation and Black Canadian Studies. Nelson’s six books, include: Racism Eh?: A Critical Inter-Disciplinary Anthology of Race and Racism in Canada (Captus Press, 2004), The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), Ebony Roots, Northern Soil: Perspectives on Blackness in Canada (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010), Representing the Black Female Subject in Western Art (Routledge, 2010), and Slavery, Geography, and Empire in Nineteenth-Century Marine Landscapes of Montreal and Jamaica (Routledge, 2016). Her honours include a Caird Senior Research Fellowship at the National Maritime Museum in London, UK (2007), a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at the University of California - Santa Barbara (2010), and a Montreal Women’s Y Foundation, Woman of Distinction Award (2012). Nelson is a member of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists (2016).
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Modern Racism In Canada Has Deep Colonial Roots

There can be no full comprehension of contemporary racism without an understanding and acknowledgement of its historical, colonial roots. Put simply, contemporary racism is historical racism; it is just a continuation and adaptation in another form, another guise of policies, strategies, systems.
02/20/2017 06:44 EST
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What a Wrongful Birth Lawsuit Can Teach Us About Race

A lesbian couple was informed that their egg had been inseminated not with the desired sperm of the white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed donor, but with that of the black male, the result of a clerical error. Where the outrage has ensued is with the couple's $50,000 wrongful birth lawsuit.
10/07/2014 05:22 EDT
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Racially Profiled for "Walking While Black"

How long does it take a new immigrant to be profiled in Montreal? Before you hazard a guess, place "black male" in front of immigrant and "racially" in front of profiled. The answer in my husband's case? One week. Bob crossed an intersection beside two white pedestrians. Singled out by a white, French-speaking police officer, Bob was asked to produce his identification without an explanation of his "offense." By the way, the two white pedestrians with whom Bob crossed the intersection were not stopped and interrogated.
02/24/2014 05:09 EST
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Getting Arrested for "Shopping While Black"

With the recent event at Barney's, New York, it would appear that blacks should add S.W.B. or "Shopping While Black" to the list of supposed crimes for which we are racially profiled. Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old college student purchased a $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt at Barney's, Christian alleges that he was stopped by undercover officers, questioned, hand-cuffed and taken to a local precinct.
10/28/2013 12:24 EDT
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Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Sheryl Underwood's Take on Natural Black Hair

The phenomenon of black women dismissing their own natural hair didn't happen overnight: the social control and economic exploitation of an entire race could not be ensured only through physical violence (whipping, branding, torture, rape etc.), but necessitated psychological and psychic violence to "convince" Africans that they needed to be "civilized" into the cultural, moral, social and yes, corporeal ways of the European.
09/10/2013 06:03 EDT
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What Sergio Garcia's and Paula Deen's Racism Really Tell Us

Both Sergio Garcia and Paula Deen, despite differences in age, sex and nationality, drew upon a limited knowledge of slave custom to express demeaning visions of blackness, which made light of or sanitized the brutality and institutionalized deprivations of slavery.
06/27/2013 07:57 EDT
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Why Did a Cheerios Commercial Spark a Racist Meltdown?

The controversy over the new Cheerios ad is not about a fear of cross-racial contact in general, but the fear of a certain type of cross-racial contact -- that between black men and white women. To understand the specific nature of this particular racist outburst, we need to go back to slavery.
06/05/2013 12:26 EDT
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Challenging "Blackface" Is Not Quebec-Bashing

If the whites in Quebec who are donning blackface are claiming to have no prior knowledge of the practice, how and why exactly are they coming to partake so frequently in its disturbing revival? Are some commentators then claiming that some white people are born with an inherent desire to spontaneously paint their faces black to stereotype, dehumanize, and ridicule the physical characteristics of their fellow citizens? Most people are intelligent enough to deduce that blackface is a popular form that you no longer tend to see on TV or in film anymore for a reason.
05/28/2013 05:21 EDT