Not only do many falsely believe that slavery did not happen in Canada, far too many are unaware that Jim Crow laws existed here as well. In 1946, Viola Desmond was arrested for daring to sit in the White section of a movie house. She was dragged out of the theater by two men, injuring her knee in the process. To further shame Desmond, after her arrest, she was held in a male cell block. Eventually, she was charged with tax evasion because of the difference in price between White seats and Blacks seats. It was a difference of one cent. With the help of the NSACCP (The Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People), Desmond would take her fight to the supreme court of Nova Scotia. Desmond was a trailblazer and instead of being recognized as such, the Canadian government recently sought to pardon her, as though her arrest was actually a stain on her life, instead of the government itself.
Growing up and attending Canadian schools, I never learned a single word about Desmond and I believe that this was to continue the indoctrination that Canada is a tolerant, racially just society. I did not learn about the porters strike. I most certainly did not learn about the destruction of Africville. As a child, it forced me to look southward to find examples of people of the African diaspora to function as role models, rather than in my own country. I would continue to live in ignorance, had I not made a great effort to look beyond the lack of education I had been given in schools.
Black history month was intended to be inclusive, and teach about the sacrifices of people of the African Diaspora and instead, in my education, it served to further White supremacy — because specific events were chosen to frame Canada as a nation of tolerance. If we factor in that Black history month creates Black history as an additive, because it is not deemed important enough to focus on throughout the year, with the fact that it is often structured in such a manner that places importance on reducing the effect of White supremacy, the very existence of the month is problematic. It is hardly surprising that White supremacy would effect the celebration of our history, given that there is nothing outside its purview in North America.
- Read the full post at Womanist Musings