Four years after the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the emergence of BLM both as a political and social movement, the Christian church has largely failed to advocate for the lives of black people. At times silent and at others deliberately distancing itself from BLM, the church has sent a clear message: Black lives do not matter.
I watch him go down from the one-two punch of a Taser and several gunshots to the body. I don't know why they followed up a successful non-lethal takedown with lethal force, but I'm not a police officer. If you were to take every single piece of shaky cam and mobile phone footage showing police officers killing unarmed or complying Black people and splice them together, you'd have a horror movie. Or a snuff film. When it's time for me to die on camera, how will it look? Who will film me? What small physical imperfection, what inadvertent stumble will be the reason I'm murdered on a jittery impulse?
As someone who's been a working journalist and video content creator for more than a decade, I want to take my storytelling to the next level, particularly when it comes to telling the stories of black women. I want to be someone who helps change the narrative. The 20th anniversary of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) seemed like the right place to cultivate creative inspiration.
For as long as I can remember, being black and gay was like the biggest crime one could commit in my community. It didn't matter where you were born, the culture was one that saw black churches openly bashing homosexuality and parents disowning their children, leaving them on the streets to survive however they could. Fast forward to 2016, and the black LGBTQ community is growing by the minute and more and more black gay men and women are embracing who they are without apology. Here's what pride means to us.
Where are our friends and fans of black music and black people when the partying stops and the subject turns to the reality of being black? When I attend concerts for some of these artists, non-blacks are the ones front and centre, filling more than half of the seats. Switch to a Black Lives Matter march... these folks are nowhere to be found
If being Black represents strength and a great history of kings and queens (and therefore feeds my personal identity), why then does everything I tell myself about being Black seem more like a story that I tell myself so that I can deal with the actuality of being Black? I grew up around Black people who told other Black people, and who learned from non-Black people, that being Black was ugly.
I am often reminded of Martin Luther King, who uniquely demonstrated that eloquence trumps bigotry, when researching Canada's earliest LGBT activists. They, like King, were at the forefront of a dramatic civil rights movement, making powerful and persuasive arguments for social justice in the face of sometimes brutal suppression.
As we speak, there are thousands of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender folks from across the world who are not able to spend Christmas with their families this year. They have been beaten, cursed at and made to feel like they do not belong, leading them to say goodbye to their family and friends.
Yes, our basic human right to live matters. The fact that our pigmentation is a target of death and destruction is a crime against humanity. We are in the midst of one of the world's longest -- and visible -- genocides. But what happens when we are no longer just treated like raccoons? The omnipresent pest of city streets, devoid of human dignity, one to be exterminated and only recognized upon our untimely deaths?
The Book of Negroes is reminding me how much my ancestors endured just to survive. It makes me feel obligated to live out my full potential so their pain and struggle isn't in vain. On the ratings front, it will be interesting to see how The Book of Negroes compares to BET's other primetime specials. This is important, because we want networks to continue telling these stories.
I won't go into the details of black groups being marginalized at the hands of white people who dominate the "center," because if you're smart enough to think that you fooled us into feeling remorse for "leaving you out" during the protest in Toronto, then you're smart enough to do a Google search to figure out historical black oppression and its endless contemporary reproductions.
The same issues of white versus black racism aren't as deeply woven into Canadian society. Think this is what Whoopi was trying to get at. But racism and discrimination still exist. It has the same purpose it has in the U.S. Just because it's coming out of the mouth of a Canadian doesn't change its meaning or context. People in Canada still want to touch a black woman's braids with amazement and wonder. Canadian cities have pockets of poor community housing disproportionately populated by blacks. The racial issues are still there. They're just served up on a different platter, because it's a different country, with a different history.