We welcomed journalist Nydia Dauphin and Professor Charmaine Nelson who discussed reactions to Nydia's May 5th article on Huffington Post Canada entitled, “Why the Hell are Quebec Comedians wearing Blackface?”. Nydia pointed out the resurgence of blackface dawned by white Quebec comedians and offered a number of recent images demonstrating this trend.
Her lucid commentary offered a moment to pause on the historical roots of blackface--- the transatlantic slave trade that brought millions of enslaved Africans to the Americas for more than three centuries. Blackface minstrelsy was a popular, nostalgic site through which whites lamented the end of slavery using dark "humour" delivered in song, dance, and jokes that celebrated white fantasies of violence against black bodies. It is a disturbing reminder of slavery’s evils and a symbol of anti-black racism. As Professor Nelson pointed out, the McCord Museum holds broadsheets, photography, advertisements, and other paraphernalia of Canadian minstrel troupes that performed in Canada in blackface in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Nydia’s plain assertion that ugly forms of racism persist in Quebec society was mocked in many media outlets as was Professor Nelson’s response to the hostile reaction in the press.
Professor Charmaine Nelson penned a May 28th piece in response to the reactions to Nydia’s initial blog post, entitled “Challenging Blackface is not Quebec-bashing”. In it, she writes: “Recalling our colonial histories and challenging the disturbing re-emergence of blackface is not "Quebec Bashing." Is that where we are in 2013? Does being a "true Quebecois" imply complicity in the silence surrounding Quebec's colonial histories and contemporary forms and practices of racism? ”
Nydia is a Sustainable Food Policy Advocate. Born to parents of Haitian heritage, she was born and raised in Montreal. She blogs about Canadian and international social and political affairs related to the right to food, food sovereignty and sustainable development. And her work has sparked a major discussion about race, racism, and representation in Montreal.
Professor Charmaine Nelson is an Associate Professor of Art History at McGill University who has made groundbreaking contributions to the fields of the visual culture of slavery, race and representation, and Black Canadian Studies.
We then featured an excerpt from Jackie Wang’s keynote address at the conference "(En)gendering Resistance: Exploring the possibilities of gender, resistance and militancy" at the University of Waterloo held in late-April. Revolutionary loneliness refers to the seemingly inevitably traumatizing and alienating effects of participating in revolutionary struggle, and to the sense of loneliness that the experience of gendered and racialized forms of suffering can produce. Historically, revolutionary movements have based their politics on masculine and white positions and fail to eradicate social alienation. Jackie explores the liberation narratives of militant women and gender-variant revolutionaries.