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    OP-ED

    Op-Ed

    How many times at the end of a relationship have we heard the words, “It’s not you, it’s me?”

    Being Black in St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador often means being the only Black person in any room I enter. This can feel like I have to carry the entire weight of my culture and community as if I represent all Black people.

    I am choosing to stay anonymous due to the harm my family back home may experience if I identify myself. 

    “Wow, you're really pretty for a --” I’m sure you know how this one goes. Through my adolescence and early-adulthood in Edmonton, Alberta, I consistently heard, and unfortunately, welcomed, this cringe-worthy phrase for far too long.  

    Colourism is a colonial and white supremacist leftover from the enslavement that permeates every area of Black life. From the media (consider Netflix’s unspoken refusal to cast dark-skinned, Black actresses) to our celebrities (light-skinned women like Angela Davis, Beyonce), to our dating choices — colourism is effective in erasing dark-skinned Black people, especially dark-skinned Black women. 

    PHOTO: Nigel Gordijk’s grandparents were from Suriname (Dutch Guiana), and moved to Guyana (British Guiana), where they raised their family. The young child is their grandson, Jimmy. A casual conversation with someone I barely knew led to discoveries about my missing Surinamese heritage, including my enslaved great-great-grandmother.

    Like many Black Canadians, I have had my share of negative experiences in the school system. I remember a white kid not wanting to hold my hand as we formed a “sharing circle” in kindergarten. In Grade 1, the teacher never once called my name when I had my hand up. I was invisible to her. They created the gifted program in Grade 3. Apparently, I tested high enough to qualify. I learned recently that I was not admitted until my parent strenuously intervened. It had been difficult for the school to accept a Black child into a program that…

    In early August 2013, Ricardo McRae never imagined that his daily walk from the subway to his old apartment on Yonge St. and Davisville Ave. would land him in hospital. 

    Within the year 2020, we have seen one of the largest rises of young entrepreneurs in economic history; (Generation Z specifically). Even I, who was working towards a career in the corporate side of marketing, scrapped the idea of becoming part of someone's company. I wanted to keep my authenticity while establishing my own rules and culture, doing what I love.

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