Race is a concept of having to be twice as qualified, twice as good to go half as far. And I feel like at this point, in these economic times, it’s like being three times as good to go half as far.

Barbara Smith, This Bridge Called My Back, pp. 123 – 124

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.

The verb d d (djed) “to be stable,” “enduring”: Columns in the temple stand; that is, they are stable (djed). But standing is viewed as the result of a rising. The “standing” of the columns in a temple is not a static image, because the mind is always thinking of the firmness and stability of the columns as a process. Indeed, movement is conceived to be carried from the earth to the sky through columns. This means that humanity, by building civilization and spirituality on earth, must reach up to the world of Truth (maat) and eternity (djet). The “being” of a column as it stands (djed) in its stability (djedet) is, in fact, analogous to the cosmos itself. So, indeed, is the entire temple. The hardness of a column is a revealing reality because truth (maat) constitutes the real (maa) being of the column. – Théophile Obenga, “Ancient History of African Philosophy,” p. 38. In A Companion to African Philosophy, Edited by Kwasi Wiredu


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.

But it is not really difference the oppressor fears so much as similarity. He fears he will discover in himself the same aches, the same longings, as those of the people he shitted on. He fears the immobilization threatened by his own incipient guilt. He fears he will have to change his life once he has seen himself in the bodies of the people he has called different. He fears the hatred, anger, and vengeance of those he has hurt.

Cherríe L. Moraga, This Bridge Called My Back, p. 30