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Black Voices

Stereotypes crumble in the face of real people.
There are some people from Africa that believe they are different than people from the Caribbean. They openly make a reference that they are "African" and the others are "black people." The divide between some of my people gives me a headache. The entire purpose of colonization in Africa between the fifteenth and nineteenth century was to separate African people from their culture and place them around the earth to make it hard for them to figure out who they are.
The worst experience I recall from high school would be the grade 12 academic advising. I remember being very excited because I had managed to earn an 85 per cent average after three difficult years. As I sat down with my guidance counsellor, he told me that trade school would be suitable for my perceived skills.
My initial reaction to hearing about the appropriation prize was feeling like I was being slapped in the face. I now realize the Twitter revelations are actually incredibly affirming: they let me know that I am not just imagining things; that Canadian media really is incredibly hostile to the voices of indigenous, black and people of colour.
My parents raised me with a good head on my shoulders and taught me the rights and the wrongs of the world: Follow your morals, get an education, and live life to the fullest. They have also taught me that I will have to work twice as hard as others, because the system has set me up for failure.
For too long, the achievements of our community were rarely listed in text books, showcased in film, or shared with a wide audience. Black Canadians have come to expect their stories to be ignored in Canadian history.
Four years after the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the emergence of BLM both as a political and social movement, the Christian church has largely failed to advocate for the lives of black people. At times silent and at others deliberately distancing itself from BLM, the church has sent a clear message: Black lives do not matter.
I watch him go down from the one-two punch of a Taser and several gunshots to the body. I don't know why they followed up a successful non-lethal takedown with lethal force, but I'm not a police officer. If you were to take every single piece of shaky cam and mobile phone footage showing police officers killing unarmed or complying Black people and splice them together, you'd have a horror movie. Or a snuff film. When it's time for me to die on camera, how will it look? Who will film me? What small physical imperfection, what inadvertent stumble will be the reason I'm murdered on a jittery impulse?
As someone who's been a working journalist and video content creator for more than a decade, I want to take my storytelling to the next level, particularly when it comes to telling the stories of black women. I want to be someone who helps change the narrative. The 20th anniversary of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) seemed like the right place to cultivate creative inspiration.
For as long as I can remember, being black and gay was like the biggest crime one could commit in my community. It didn't matter where you were born, the culture was one that saw black churches openly bashing homosexuality and parents disowning their children, leaving them on the streets to survive however they could. Fast forward to 2016, and the black LGBTQ community is growing by the minute and more and more black gay men and women are embracing who they are without apology. Here's what pride means to us.