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) and is currently the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies at Harvard University (2017-18).
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.
While the organizers took pains to lay out the background and chronology of the Beaver Hall Group, "jazz" and its social and cultural history never made an appearance. In a show dominated by portraits, and admittedly vibrant, stunning and accomplished ones, I failed to find even one black sitter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have a confession to make. I did not watch the Travyon Martin case -- live on CNN. I deliberately avoided subjecting myself to the full brunt of the trial. Why? Deep down I knew the verdict would no...
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.
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.
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.