Unfortunately, we aren’t all one big happy family in the Black Canadian community—its fragmented nature and the disadvantaged origins of its people mean dealing not only with the conflict and stereotypes that come from outside the community but also dealing with it internally as well.
Popular culture’s painted us as dangerous. Untrustworthy. As a people unwilling to lift a finger to help themselves, instead sponging off the efforts of other hardworking Canadians to get by. And many of these came to mind when I read Cassandra’s entry.
Now—those biases don’t mean she’s entirely wrong. It’s because we don’t come from a unified front that dissent, distrust and contempt can breed between us. And it doesn’t have to take much—you have Jamaicans who dislike anyone from Guyana or Trinidad. You have Caribbean immigrants who distrust anyone from Africa. We spend a lot of time focusing on the ills that’ve been done to us from outside the Black community, but we can’t ignore the shifts in attitude and healing needed within the community if we want to collectively grow past what’s holding us back.
I didn’t put today’s piece out to vilify anyone, but to shed light on a simple fact—if unification’s something our community’s seeking, we’ve still got a long way to go.
What does being Black Canadian mean to you?
To me, being a Black Canadian means diversity and being part of a country—a city, especially—that accepts black people, is cultured, and celebrates the achievements of black Canadians. Over the years, Black History Month’s become more recognised; we also have our first black-owned radio station G98FM as well as different black-owned businesses and companies. Opportunities are available as long as you are willing to work for it.
What’s your experience been like as a Black Canadian and how has it shaped who you are today?
My experience got better once I grew older. When I was a child, growing up in a predominantly white town just outside Toronto, there were only 3 black children in the school. I found that kids would treat you differently or ask questions like, “Why does your hair look like that?”, “You don’t look like me”, etc. I felt different and back then I wanted to change my skin colour, weight and hair to “fit in.”
When I got to university, I learned more about the diversity of Black Canadians. We are all different shapes, colours and even different hair textures. I realised it’s okay to be different and unique with different features. By going through what I went through in my childhood, it shaped me to be the person I am today. I was never “racially profiled” as a black Canadian until last year where I got stopped because my car windows were “too tinted.” Not all Black people are “ghetto” nor do they want to be ghetto. I am a successful black woman who is classy not ghetto, with a university and college education and a great job within the banking industry.
What’s something you’d like to see more of within the Black Canadian community?
Unity and better business practices.
I find that within the black community there is so much segregation because we don’t know how to support one another—my negative experiences have made me guilty of this as well.
I support anyone who runs their business appropriately and would love to support black women or men in their business but find some unprofessional or money-grubbing and lacking in customer service. Within every other community—especially the Asian and Indian communities—they support each other and believe in their companies. I don’t see that within the black community, which makes me sad. We need to do better.
What do you think those outside the Black Canadian community need to better understand in order to coexist with Black Canadians in a respectful and considerate?
Don’t put all black people in the same category. We are people. Society likes to make us look bad and that we will never amount to anything. They make us think we will just have babies, act “ghetto” and live on welfare. Not ALL black Canadians are like that. There are many successful doctors, nurses, dentists and financial planners within the black community. People should take the time to get to know them.
If your life could teach but one thing to your fellow Black Canadians, what would it be?
Support each other! Become one community that looks out for one another and uplifts each other instead of trying to “one up” everyone else. Let’s be like other races and communities and create unity and love.
My Name is Cassandra Chambers; the creator of Curvaceously Ambitious. My blog was created to give women with curves confidence, encourage their ambition and help them learn to love themselves while being stylish at the same time.
A little about me, I am 30 years young, living just outside of Toronto in Stouffville, Ontario. I have a university degree in Commerce and Marketing; as well as a certificate in makeup artistry. I work for a major financial institution as a Mortgage Specialist by day; I am a fashionista, aspiring plus-sized model, entrepreneur and beauty/makeup lover by night.
I have always been a very fashionable curvy woman from a young age. I love anything glittery and that shines. I believe society doesn’t allow for people to love themselves for what they look like. Society makes women (especially plus-sized women) feel they have to look a certain way to be accepted. I created my blog to showcase my styles, my inspirations and my views in the hopes of inspiring women to love themselves no matter what and be stylish at the same time. I believe every woman has a gift and a uniqueness about them and they should showcase it, it doesn’t matter how big or small you are, you were created by God so you’re perfect ?
I hope my blog will inspire others to love themselves no matter what!