Some years back, a number of friends and I connected over Twitter, forming a group that loved good food, fun times, and cracking wise as often as possible. Marcel Dee is part of that group — Team Trolling — and has been many things over the years: a blogger, a photographer, even a brand ambassador at times!
He shares his views on what it means to be a Black man in his Tales from the 2.9 submission below! Check it out!
Hello, my name is Marcel Dee. I’m a Toronto-based photographer. I’m an easy-going guy, love to have a good time, love to laugh, love to make people laugh or bring a smile on their face. I try to make one person happy everyday. I’m a lover of Tech and I have no problem geeking out.
1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?
Anytime I think about Black History Month, I tend to think about why schools don’t teach about Canadian Black History. I can’t believe that all this time, everyone was having tea meetings or skipping rope. Why isn’t Canadian Black History taught here or mentioned? We only learn about the major stories, from Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Mandela or slaves escaping to the North.
2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?
It was sad to see what was going on in America last year. It only proves that the problem never went away. Years of people’s work went down the drain. Here in Canada I have two experiences. It’s either people want to hangout with me, because “Black” is the new cool, or badass; or people are afraid. I can’t simply approach a person and ask them a question or give them a greeting, without seeing them have a little fear in their eyes. I’m a tall person, it can be scary being approached by a big guy. But if you got other non-Black males my size and had them do the same thing you’d see the difference. It would be nice just to walk out and not worry whether people are stereotyping me.
3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?
To be honest, I just want people to be happy. I try everyday to bring a smile or laugh to someone. I never like to see someone upset or crying. I love the feeling of thinking back on a memory and remembering a good time. I just want to leave that feeling with the world.
4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?
To be honest, my Dad was. I’m going to be real for a moment here – most fathers you hear not being there for their child are Black. It’s either it’s publicised the most on TV or you all know that one single mother. My parents separated when I was young, it happens. But instead of my Dad taking off or not caring for us, he stuck around, because he knows what impact a father has on their child. He always didn’t want to divorce my Mom, because his benefits were better and it would help her out. To me my Dad broke the stereotype. Not only that, he’s always giving me life lessons, even though I don’t want them from time to time. He taught me how to be a man and how to stand out from the stereotype.
5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?
Support each other. We don’t support each other enough. We’re always fighting against each other or shooting each other. Stop with the gimmick, with this stereotypical gangster we tend to portray ourselves. If you want the world to take us serious, then act serious in a civil way. Pull up your pants as well, because you’re looking like clowns with your boxers showing.
Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!