Growing up I had two favourite Bible characters (yes, I was raised in the church. Moving right along…), King David and his son, King Solomon. I was fascinated with the favour that David found with God (heard of the story of Bathsheba and Uriah? 2 Samuel 11), but King Solomon intrigued me even more. When told that he would be given whatever he asked, Solomon requested not silver or gold, not power or influence over the masses, but wisdom to lead them (1 Kings 3). He was also purported to be the author of my favourite book in the Bible, Ecclesiastes. I read it over and over again, wondering at Solomon’s conclusion that everything in life is meaningless without some relationship to God.

Not every shot makes it in. Not every swing makes contact. But even a few scores per game encourage people to play, and others to watch. Even something with as little goal potential as soccer is filled with anticipation because of the mere possibility of a score. You aim, kick, and miss. You head butt the ball in and graze the post. You pass it to a teammate who sends it right into the hands of the goalie. Sometimes you get fouled. You’re tripped or harassed by a player and the ref catches wind of it and gives you a free shot. Little to no resistance; open season. If you’re skilled enough you’ll make the shot. If not, it’s a wasted opportunity. This is your karma. If you play with integrity and someone loses track of the ball and tries to make you fall, you’ll be compensated. But if you do the same to others, you will also be forced to pay the price.

Token_Black2It’s not something everyone has to worry about. But it is something that people who work in white or mostly-white spaces have to be concerned with. I am (apparently) bold enough to think that I deserve to hold this space. That in fact, and much more than that, I have scaled mountains, journeyed through valleys and walked over hills to get to where I am. Which is not to say that I have not been helped along the way – I have. It is to say that I am capable of much more than is often assumed.

This year, the CPA’s (Canadian Philosophical Association) Annual Congress Distinguished Lecturer was Will Kymlicka. For those who do not know the name, he is a well-known philosopher who resides in Canada (is he Canadian? Google says he was born in London), who has written extensively on multiculturalism, liberalism, and “Left-wing” politics. However, he took a sharp turn in focus (at least according to one of my professors) when he and Sue Donaldson published Zoopolis: A Theory of Animal Rights in 2011. Unbeknownst to many, he was a staunch animal rights activist.

An interesting thing happens when you are the only black face in the room. For me, the last time around, it was poetry. Or at least, the beginnings of it. It started off, very shakingly in my journal, as TITLE: “Who are you looking at?” Verse 1: “When you see me, why do you look past me? No eye contact, really?” I know, sad. I used to write poetry when I was much younger, but the degree of vulnerability required (whether real or imagined) to do it well has discouraged me from developing in that area. So, the stuff that comes out when I attempt to write in rhyme is really not that great. I digress.

MAC10_WINNIPEG_POST05

One of the things that has been on my mind has been solidarity. In part because of a council orientation session I attended a couple weeks ago for my Graduate Students’ Association, but also because I do not encompass all ways of living or inhabiting this world. Yes. I am a black-woman-immigrant, who is a young-educated-citizen, in pursuit of her career. These intersections encompass and speak to certain degrees of privilege and disadvantage, but there are countless more spaces to be inhabited.

Sunken Place

But as humanity is prone to be inspired by the imitative rather than the initiative qualities of life, there was a tendency in many who had been freed from the slavery toil and soil to efface the traces of their origin and past servitude from a sense of shame and approximate, not to the rugged principles of the pioneers of the struggle, but rather to the antedated patterns of the vanquished class.


Claude McKay, Banana Bottom, p. 42

SPOILER ALERT: This is a response to (not a review of) Get Out. Do NOT READ if you plan on seeing the movie, and haven’t yet.