On the day Makambe K. Simamba was born in Zambia, Nelson Mandela was visiting the country for the first time since his release from prison. It was the voice of men like Mandela and Malcolm X that made up the soundtrack of her childhood. Born in Zambia and raised in Guyana, Virgin Islands, and the Cayman Islands, this 29 year old storyteller has been exposed to many cultures and people. After high school, Makambe left the islands for Canada and took up theatre at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta.
Skin symbolizes identity — its colour, shade and texture influences cultural currency and, by extension, self-identity. When we know who we are, we can honour where we come from and we can dance in our own skins with pride and passion.
The brisk cold air and the light dusting of snow could not stop the over 400 people who came to see renowned two-time bestselling author Angie Thomas at the Rose Theatre last night in Toronto. Though the room was filled with both young and old book lovers of all backgrounds and ethnicities, Thomas made one thing clear, Black voices and Black stories matter.
A 2018 University of Southern California study found that less than 1% of directors were women of colour, based on statistics related to the top-grossing 1,100 films and 1,233 directors in America, 2007 to 2017. In Canada, those type of statistics don’t even exist. But we know that women of colour are woefully underrepresented and underpaid.
A tall lean man of mahogany hue moves with ferocity of purpose, arms swinging with piston like precision belying a man of his 81 years. He propels his body forward, all swinging arms, contorted limbs and suspended frame. His steely eyes are locked on a hard won prize. The same prize that compatriots from the diaspora like Stephen Roach and Dudley Laws were severely punished for daring to reach.
Syrus Marcus Ware is a visual artist, community activist, researcher, youth advocate, and a key member of Black Lives Matter Toronto. Now he's adding playwright and actor to his resume, co-starring in 'Bubble Trans Pride' at this week’s Rhubarb Festival.
Frances-Anne Solomon is an artistic force to be reckoned with. As the director of CaribbeanTales and the International Film festival of the same name, she has grown the entity into a globally recognized institution that gives voice to filmmakers throughout the Caribbean diaspora.
In The Hate U Give we enter Starr’s world. She is the only witness to the shooting of an unarmed black boy, who also happens to be her childhood best friend. We are there from the start to the finish, from the shooting to the grand jury verdict and we observe and read each scene and experience a wave of emotions; shock, sadness, anger, defiance, hope, and hopelessness. All the while hoping that this will be the time when justice is finally served.
The struggles of Black Canadians who’ve paved the way for future generations must not be forgotten. During Black History Month we celebrate and remember the important contributions and achievements Black Canadians have made throughout history.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Photo by Andrew Eccles “Alvin Ailey was a pioneer in celebrating the human spirit through the African-American culture and modern dance, elevating the world of the performing arts and the hearts and minds of people of all backgrounds," says the man at the helm of a 60 year old cultural instititute.