Between Two Worlds

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Canada, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2020-07-06 21:01Z by Steven

Between Two Worlds

Toronto Life

Anais Granofsky

I grew up in ​subsidized housing​ with my mom, ​and spent weekends with my wealthy grandparents at their Bridle Path mansion. If I wanted to be loved, I’d have to learn to live two lives

My mother, Jean Walker, was the 13th of 15 children, born in 1949 to a church-going black family on a farm in Ohio. The house had only two bedrooms, so her parents slept on a pull-out bed on the porch in the summer and in the living room in winter. Her seven brothers slept in one bedroom, while the eight sisters shared the other. They attended a small school where the white kids sat up front and the black students at the back, separated by a row of empty desks. When she wasn’t studying, she did chores around the farm. The girls planted the vegetable gardens with corn and green beans, churned butter, did laundry, and took care of the younger children. The boys helped with the heavy work and looked after the animals. “With 14 siblings,” my mother used to say, “you’d better get to the table quick, or you weren’t going to eat that day.” There was never enough food or money to go around, but the family didn’t feel poor. Everyone around them was in the same situation.

Jean was a sensitive girl who used to lie in the fields and watch the clouds scuttle by. Her parents were always quick with a whipping, and the casual violence wore on her soul. She found a cubbyhole in the back of a closet, where she’d hide out and devour books by the light of a bare bulb. Desperate to get away from her chaotic, rural home life, she worked tirelessly in high school to earn a scholarship to Antioch in Yellow Springs, Ohio, a liberal arts college and one of the first post-secondary schools to integrate. As a nascent feminist, she was drawn to Antioch’s progressive vibe. In 1971, she enrolled in women’s studies and journalism…

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POWER: Post-racial Canada still a dream

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-03-18 17:33Z by Steven

POWER: Post-racial Canada still a dream

The Chronicle Herald
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Megan Power

And we’re reluctant to face it, says Hill

Calling Canada a multicultural paradise is simply delusional, says author Lawrence Hill.
He made his comments prior to a public reading in Halifax last week, in which he was candid and forthright about the state of race relations in Canada. He doesn’t agree with Toronto Life magazine’s high-profile March cover story—the feature describes his book Black Berry, Sweet Juice as “quaint”—which proclaims Toronto the first post-racial city and declaring the end of single ethnicity status in the country’s megalopolis.
I detest that idea. I find it quite repulsive. … It’s just not true. Ask a thousand black students in high schools across Canada if they’ve escaped the challenges of race and I’m pretty sure that 995 of them will tell you absolutely not. I feel that it’s kind of self-serving and self-congratulatory to talk about a post-racial world.
“I’m not talking about myself. I’ve had a very fortunate life. But I’m not convinced that many black kids in society today are living in a post-racial world. Acting as if Toronto is some nirvana and everybody is happy and mixed, I think, is a slide into la la land.”…

…Hill was in town to give two readings at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. The morning session featured a reading from Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada, his 2001 non-fiction book about racial identity. The afternoon session featured his blockbuster, prize-winning novel The Book of Negroes (2008)….

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Canada Is Still Racist: And No Think Piece Can Change That

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-03-06 17:57Z by Steven

Canada Is Still Racist: And No Think Piece Can Change That

Vice Canada: The Definitive Guide to Enlightening Information

Anupa Mistry

When I was younger and more naïve and shielded by my parents, Canadian multiculturalism felt real and true. I grew up in Brampton, Ont., a restlessly expanding suburb of Toronto that teems with immigrants. In 1992, the city – or, at least, my grade two classroom – was a case study in the celebratory, preservation-minded policy of Trudeau’s multiculturalism: My pale blonde friend Zeyn was from Turkey and Afia and all her cousins were Pakistani. Ebony and Roxanne had parents from Jamaica, Seth The Pervert was a Newfie, and Natasha, whose surprise birthday party I ruined because I cannot keep those kinds of secrets, constantly had relatives visiting from Guyana.

There was never a need to question where I fit in, and that same school year when some sniveling, store brand whiteboy called me a ‘Paki’ I went home and told my parents and cried because I knew from TV that that was what I was supposed to do. In reality, while I still remember exactly how the light filled the air in that bustling elementary school hallway, I was left largely unfazed by first contact with overt racism. Even my eight-year-old mind could grasp that dude was either scared, stupid or, at the very least, outnumbered. In that multiethnic microcosm his bad attitude was undesirable, and I was the normal one. He had nothing to take. There might not be a better place to grow up brown or black than Brampton.

Then, I enrolled in a performing arts high school north of the city only to transfer after two years because it was too white. Race as it actually functions, as a tool of human insidiousness and despotism, became real beyond my imagined utopia. As a millennial citizen of the Western world I move with an according sense of privilege: whatever you got, I’ma have that too. It’s my birthright, regardless of the colour of my skin or where my grandparents are from. Until it’s not. In hindsight my problem with that school was an inability to articulate feeling exposed and significantly different and, for the first time in my life, outnumbered. I’d taken diversity for granted; my normal was not so much…

…Two recent high profile pieces by Canadian writers are willfully naïve about the psychic reality of this country’s demographics…

…Fear is kind of the subtext for “Mixie Me,” a personal essay about being mixed race by Nick Hune-Brown in Toronto Life, with the attendant claim that the city is set to be the world’s first post-racial metropolis. Mixed race people are a more common sight on the streets of Toronto now, more than ever, and there’s comfort to be taken in that kind of visibility, he writes. Anxieties about interracial unions have given way to curiosity. Sexy, ethnically ambiguous mixies are what makes Toronto desirable next to taco restaurants and condos and a trap music party every night of the week. The beige and the beautiful will blur the lines that constitute xenophobia, or at least confuse us into submission.

Glib eugenics aside, there is a lot of merit to visibility. It’s why I was able to easily dismiss that second grade bully. But I’m skeptical that birthing a Yoruba-Guinea-Indian child, though a political act, will dissolve the structures that preserve xenophobia unless, maybe, that hot multiracial baby grows up to marry a Weston

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A new mixed-raced generation is transforming the city: Will Toronto be the world’s first post-racial metropolis?

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-02-12 23:13Z by Steven

A new mixed-raced generation is transforming the city: Will Toronto be the world’s first post-racial metropolis?

Toronto Life

Nicholas Hune-Brown, Author

Kourosh Keshiri, Photography

Interviews by Jasmine Budak

I used to be the only biracial kid in the room. Now, my exponentially expanding cohort promises a future where everyone is mixed.

Last fall, I was in Amsterdam with my parents and sister on a family trip, our first in more than a decade. Because travelling with your family as an adult can be taxing on everyone involved, we had agreed we would split up in galleries, culturally enrich ourselves independently, and then reconvene later to resume fighting about how to read the map. I was in a dimly lit hall looking at a painting of yet another apple-cheeked peasant when my younger sister, Julia, tugged at my sleeve. “Mixie,” she whispered, gesturing down the hall.

“Mixie” is a sibling word, a term my sister and I adopted to describe people like ourselves—those indeterminately ethnic people whom, if you have an expert eye and a particular interest in these things, you can spot from across a crowded room. We used the word because as kids we didn’t know another one. By high school, it was a badge of honour, a term we would insist on when asked the unavoidable “Where are you from?” question that every mixed-race person is subjected to the moment a conversation with a new acquaintance reaches the very minimum level of familiarity. For the record, my current answer, at 30 years old, is: “My mom’s Chinese, but born in Canada, and my dad’s a white guy from England.” If I’m peeved for some reason—if the question comes too early or with too much “I have to ask” eagerness—the answer is “Toronto” followed by a dull stare…

…For today’s mixies, growing up multiracial has meant inner debates about which parent to identify with, how to explain one’s back­ground, and coping with the urge to blend in. Rema Tavares, a half-Jamaican 30-year-old with curly hair and light brown skin, says her looks have provoked strange responses in people. “I’ve had someone say to me, ‘Don’t say you’re black because you don’t have to be. You can get away with it!’ ” She was raised in a small town outside Ottawa and gradually moved to bigger and bigger cities. “I hated being the only person of colour on the bus in my hometown,” she told me. Another mixed-race woman, Alia Ziesman, grew up in Oakville and was so ashamed of her mother, an ethnically Indian woman from Trinidad, that she refused to walk on the same side of the street as her. Ziesman and Tavares and everyone else I spoke to agree that it is a pleasure to be in a city like Toronto today—a place where you’re guaranteed not to be the only coloured face on a city bus…

Minelle Mahtani, a U of T associate professor, is one of the pre-eminent Canadian authorities in the field, and has just written a book on multiraciality in Canada. Mahtani has long, dark hair, a toothy smile and a collection of features that are impossible to place on a map. When she was growing up in Thornhill, people would guess at her background without ever hitting on the actual mix, Iranian and Indian. “As a kid, I was one of the few minorities in my neighbourhood, and there was pressure to acclimatize to whiteness” she says. When I met her in a café near U of T in December, she had recently come back from the second Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference at DePaul University in Chicago, a four-day exploration of race and racial boundaries that also acts as a place for mixed-race academics from across North America to hang out and share nerdy in-jokes about the successful 1967 challenge to Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws

…The reality of being mixed is far more complicated. The Pew study didn’t reveal a world where skin colour is irrelevant: a newlywed Hispanic-white couple will earn more than the average Hispanic couple, yes, but less than the average white couple. The same is true of black-white pairings. What’s also clear is that mixing doesn’t happen evenly. The success of Asian-white couples like my parents can be attributed to a number of things, but the fact that immigration laws often hand-pick the wealthiest, most educated, most outward-looking Asians is surely part of it. It’s easy to imagine a future in which upwardly mobile Asians and whites mix more frequently, while other minorities are left out of a trendy mixed-race future. Marriage across racial lines is increasingly possible, but mixing across class has always been tricky. And class, it goes without saying, remains stubbornly tied to skin colour…

Read the entire article here. View the photo-essay here.

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