The McGill Daily: Volume 113, Issue 18

Page 1

Volume 113, Issue 18 | Monday, February 19, 2024 | referending since 1911

The McGill Daily is located on unceded Kanien’kehá:ka territory.

Published by The Daily Publications Society, a student society of McGill University.


February 19, 2024 | The McGill Daily

table of Contents

3. Editorial • Celebrating Montreal’s Black History

4. News • Montreal’s 33rd Black History Month • International Study Permits

6. Features • When Big Man Talk Exhibit

8. Culture • Black Representation on TV • Review of Diggers • BHM Reading List


A previous version of the article “Amira Elghawaby on Islamophobia in Canada,” from Volume 113, Issue 17, stated that Amira Elghawaby’s talk on January 31 was hosted by the Institute of Islamic Studies. In fact, it was hosted by the Muslim Student Affairs Liaison in collaboration with the Office of the Provost and the Institute of Islamic Studies. The Daily regrets this error.


Volume 113 Issue 18

February 19, 2024 | The McGill Daily


editorial board

3480 McTavish St, Room 107 Montreal, QC, H3A 0E7 phone 514.398.6790 fax 514.398.8318

The McGill Daily is located on unceded Kanien’kehá:ka territory. coordinating editor

Olivia Shan

managing editor

Catey Fifield

news editors

Emma Bainbridge Sena Ho India Mosca commentary + compendium! editor

Gabriella Braia Gratton culture editor

Eliana Freelund

features editor

Elaine Yang

science + technology editor

Andrei Li

sports editor


video editor

Magdalena Rebisz visuals editors

Eric Duivenvoorden Genevieve Quinn copy editor


design + production editor


social media editor

Frida Morales Mora radio editor

Evelyn Logan cover design

Daylen Conserve contributors

Emma Bainbridge, Catey Fifield, Eliana Freelund, Arismita Ghosh, Sena Ho, Enid Koehler, Evelyn Logan, Andrei Li, Sabiha Tursun, Elaine Yang

Published by the Daily Publications Society, a student society of McGill University. The views and opinions expressed in the Daily are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of McGill University. The McGill Daily is not affiliated with McGill University.

3480 McTavish St, Room 107 Montreal, QC H3A 0E7 phone 514.398.690 fax 514.398.8318 advertising & general manager

Letty Matteo

ad layout & design

Alice Postovskiy

Celebrating Black History in Montreal and Beyond


his month, Montreal has been celebrating its 33rd annual Black History Month. This year’s theme is “Many Stories, One History” (Plusieurs nuances, une histoire). As part of its programming, the city’s Round Table on Black History Month has invited twelve laureates – one for each month of the year – to share their stories of Blackness in Montreal. While each of the speakers, who include the cyclist Papa Amadou Touré for February and the mentor Kathy Roach for March, will be able to discuss their personal history, they will also have the opportunity to reflect on the shared history of Black Montrealers. In this week’s editorial, the Daily wishes to honour this shared history by highlighting some of the many organizations working to preserve Montreal’s rich Black history and to present this history to the public. One such collective is the Afromusée, which is dedicated to preserving Black culture in current-day Montreal by pulling together historical artifacts and contemporary art pieces alike in a one-of-a-kind “living museum.” The museum hosts regular expositional and social events to promote knowledge and awareness of Afro-Canadian heritage, with the central goal of “spotlighting Africa, Africans and the Afro descendants in our communities.” The Afromusée collection itself is held in a database that draws items from numerous institutions across the city, such as the Redpath Museum and Université de Montréal. In addition to showcasing Black history in Montreal, Afromusée hosts regular events featuring prominent academics, artists, and cultural progenitors from the Black community. Their most recent artist-in-residence was the Afropolitan Nomad Festival, a group of musicians from across Canada as well as from Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Afromusée site also hosts a portal for visitors to submit emerging and/or underground local initiatives promoting Black culture to become part of the Afromusée cultural network. Another organization that contributes to the documentation and preservation of Black history in Montreal is the Black Community Resource Centre (BCRC). The BCRC is a resource-based organization that aims to strengthen Montreal’s English-speaking Black communities by providing professional support to individuals and groups in need. Their recent initiatives have included a research study called Black in Quebec as well as a youth-led book project called Where They Stood: A Historical Account of the Evolution of BlackAnglo Montreal. Between the fall of 2018 and the summer of 2019, the BCRC also put together an oral history project called Living History: 100 Years of Black History, Culture, and Heritage. The project consists of 15 memoryscapes, which are described as “sound walks that invite you to experience the hidden history of a place by listening to the memories of inhabitants, both historical and contemporary, as you walk through it.” Like the BCRC’s book project, Living Histories was written and recorded entirely by Black youth interns. The interns, recognizing that “when we understand our history, we understand our place in the world,” chose to document such

important people, places, and events as the National Black Coalition of Canada, the Union United Church, and steelpan performances at Expo 67. Additionally, the Concordia University Library fosters a wealth of historical journalism, photography, and other documentation on Canadian Black history as part of its Special Collections. Beginning with its acquisition of the Charles H. Este Cultural Centre archives in 2012, the university library has cultivated a substantial body of historical information. The Special Collections draw on archives from numerous established cultural and academic sources compiled for the better part of the last century to create an extensive database on the evolution of Black Canadian history. Incorporating special archives on the city’s English-speaking Black communities, Concordia provides an invaluable resource for students and academics studying and appreciating the Black history of our city. Finally, the Jamaica Association of Montreal (JAM) Arts Centre has just concluded its multimedia exhibition When Big Man Talk. Organized by the Centre’s Pat Dillon-Moore, the exhibition was intended to capture “what it is like to be Black in Montreal” and to “allow our Black men to speak.” It included paintings, photography, textile creations, a virtual reality experience, and a screening of Roy T. Anderson’s African Redemption: The Life and Legacy of Marcus Garvey (2021). Garvey, the Jamaican activist at the heart of the exhibit, visited Montreal in 1917 and helped found the stillrunning Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1919. He was a “complex, controversial man,” Dillon-Moore told the Montreal Gazette, but he was also instrumental in organizing the Black community “here and in so many other places around the world.” More information on When Big Man Talk, as well as a detailed review by Culture Editor Eliana Freelund, is available starting on page 6. February is nearly over, but there are still plenty of Black History Month events to enjoy. Montreal’s Black History Month programming includes a host of musical, theatrical, cinematic, cultural, and athletic activities. Music lovers should catch French-Djiboutian musician Shay Lia at Le Studio TD on February 23, New York rapper Lil Tecca at MTELUS on February 27, and the Nigerian “King of Afrofusion” Burna Boy at the Bell Centre on February 28 and 29. There will be a screening of the TIFF award-winning documentary Black Ice at the Bell Centre on February 20, and you won’t want to miss the Afro-Colombian dance performance Detrás del sur: danzas para Manuel at Théâtre Maisonneuve from February 21 to 24. All McGill students, staff, and faculty members are encouraged to attend a talk by Dr. Niiyokamigaabaw Deondre Smiles on February 19, while Black students, staff, and faculty members are invited to a Black Community Gathering on February 20. Although February is drawing to a close, Montreal’s twelve laureates recognize that Black history should be discussed and celebrated every month of the year. They promise to sustain the celebration into next January – and beyond – by sharing their stories of Black Montreal.

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February 19, 2024 | The McGill Daily



“Many Stories, One History”

How Montreal is celebrating its 33rd edition of Black History Month Enid Kohler News Staff Writer


t the 2024 Round Table on Black History Month at the Honeyrose Hotel in Place des Arts, organizers and honourees gathered to celebrate the launch of the 33rd edition of Black History Month. The Round Table on Black History Month is a non-profit organization that has celebrated the accomplishments of leading members of Quebec’s Black communities for over 30 years. Each year, the organization honours 12 laureates who have demonstrated exceptional contributions to society. The laureates are honoured in a calendar, with each laureate representing a month. The President of the Round Table on Black History Month, Michael P. Farkas, stated that the laureates come from Quebec’s Black communities and are a “source of pride for us all.” He added that “honouring and recognizing them for their tireless work in the service of Quebec society is an immense privilege for us.” During the month of February, the Round Table also initiates an impressive range of artistic, social and historical activities across Montreal to celebrate Black History Month. Valérie Plante, Montreal’s mayor and partner of the Round Table, stated, “During this month, the many events and a varied program of activities invite us to discover and appreciate the contribution of Montreal’s Black communities to our city’s unique character.” This year, the Round Table’s theme “Many Stories, One History ” emphasizes the diversity of Montreal’s Black communities. In an interview with the Daily, Nadia Rousseau, Executive Director of the Round Table on Black History Month, explained that when

“[I]t’s important that we see [diversity] as something that adds to our community, rather than a nuisance and something that we have to overcome.” - Fimo Mitchell

“As Quebecois, [Black Quebecers] are part of the story of Quebec.” - Nadia Rousseau speaking about Black people, it is imperative to use the plural form “communities” and never the singular word “community.” She said that we should never talk about Black communities as a monolith because “we have many different social backgrounds, we come from different countries, some of us are immigrants, some of us were born on this territory.” Acknowledging this diversity, Rousseau also spoke to the unity inherent in Quebec’s Black communities and the importance of celebrating them: “As Quebecois, [Black Quebecers] are part of the story of Quebec.” The Daily also spoke with Stephane Moraille, a 2024 Black History Month laureate, entertainment attorney and international recording artist. Moraille emphasized the importance of celebrating Black History Month. She encourages “the emergence of [Black communities’] voices and visibility,” noting that “it is a really great thing that Black History Month still exists [because] it makes us come together and celebrate together.” Fimo Mitchell, meditation teacher, podcast host, writer, and English-language spokesperson for the Round Table on Black History Month helps to promote Black History Month events across Montreal. For Mitchell, the theme “One Story, Many Histories,” is a powerful one. In an interview with the Daily, Mitchell highlighted how “there is a lot of diversity within our community,” and that “it’s important that we see that as something that adds to our community, rather than a nuisance and something that we have to overcome.” In an interview with Cult MTL, Mitchell noted that with this diversity, “the question is, can we fit and share our cultures, our differences, celebrate that and figure out how we can harness and bring all that together to move forward as a collective?” Mitchell’s work in the meditation community informs the way he approaches his role as Black History Month spokesperson. Mitchell’s organization, When The Village Meditates, is tailored specifically to racialized and marginalized communities.

Courtesy of Garfield Morgan ( “A practice like meditation has the potential to promote healing and thriving as a community, [which is] really important,” he remarked to the Daily. Mitchell uses his meditation organization to create an inclusive space for Black people and other communities of colour. Mitchell told the Daily that he previously thought yoga and meditation “were just for white women who wear Lululemon.” He said that many other Black people also feel that this space is not always inclusive of their communities. “When we started having BIPOC meditation circles,” he recalled, “the amount of people who came up afterwards were like, ‘wow, it’s so nice to be in a group where I feel like I’m fully seen and fully heard.’” On February 17, Mitchell led a meditation session called “Finding Rest.” He emphasizes the significance of “embracing rest as a fundamental aspect of well-being and liberation.” Another notable Black History Month event in Montreal is the screening of Black Ice (2022) on February 20, directed by acclaimed director Hubert Davis and

“[I]t is a really great thing that Black History Month still exists [because] it makes us come together and celebrate together.” - Stephane Moraille featuring LeBron James, Drake, and Maverick Carter as executive producers. Nadia Rousseau told the Daily that she strongly recommends that Montrealers attend the event, being particularly “something McGill students would enjoy” and benefit from seeing. Rousseau is also looking forward to the augmented-reality experience at the Phi Centre in Old Montreal, “Colored: The Unknown Life of Claudette Colvin,” which tells the story of the U.S. Black civil rights pioneer Claudette Colvin. The experience runs from February 7 to March 10. Mitchell praised the multitude of events taking place during Black History Month, but also noted that more work needs to be

done beyond this month in order to foster racial equity. He said that Black History Month is “an opportunity for us to celebrate and come together and reflect on what it is we need to do moving forward,” both through “reflection on an individual level” and on a community level. “We need to look at things generations from now,” Mitchell stated. “What do we want to see when we are long gone?” For more information on the Round Table on Black History Month and the complete programming list for February 2024, visit

February 19, 2024 | The McGill Daily



“No Appetite” for Higher Wages

TAs wrestle to reach an agreement with McGill administration

Sabiha Tursun News Contributor


ix months into negotiations with McGill, the Association of Graduate Students Employment at McGill (AGSEM) remains committed to bargaining for a new collective agreement for teaching assistants (TAs). After McGill shared their unwillingness to make concessions on AGSEM’s monetary demands during the ninth negotiation session, the TAs gathered for assembly to assess pressure tactics to win their proposals. On February 2, McGill offered their counter-proposal in rejection of AGSEM’s demands. At the negotiation session on January 16, McGill was unprepared to provide their own counter-proposal. However, they indicated they had “no appetite” for the changes proposed by AGSEM. Among those demands,

offer at their tenth session of negotiations for the new TA Collective Agreement, including a concession on payment and a proposal on Article 16, which covers leaves. “An offer like McGill’s amounts to a pay cut in the first year, and almost certainly pay cuts in subsequent years,” AGSEM expressed in an email to the Daily. McGill offered a 1.25 per cent increase in the first year of the contract, and a 1 per cent raise in subsequent years which, as AGSEM pointed out, amounts to a pay cut in terms of real wages. McGill justified their offer on wages in the claim that it was a relevant wage for the Quebec market and an appeal to “pay equity” as other McGill employees McGill’s Counter Offer are paid relatively low amounts compared to TAs. In addition, TA Assembly Nearly two months after AGSEM was also told to choose While the bargaining committee AGSEM shared their demands, between wages and healthcare. (BC) were able to secure McGill presented their counter- AGSEM told the Daily that they

AGSEM is calling for a wage increase competitive to that of their counterparts in other top universities across Canada, a Costof-Living Adjustment (COLA) when inflation exceeds 3 per cent, and three distinct healthcare funds. Emma McKay, mobilisation officer of AGSEM, told the Daily that “the teaching assistant contracts are continuing to get cut year after year with no explanation offered and student enrollment staying the same.” Last year, TAs in the Religious Studies and Psychology department experienced a 20-30 hours drop per term. However, McGill resisted providing a baseline for the number of TA hours that would be tied to undergraduate enrollment.

agreements in principle on the majority of their non-monetary demands, they continued their effort to secure an agreement on monetary demands. On January 30, the BC called a Special Assembly in an attempt to assess “the appetite of TAs” to advance its pressure tactics to win their monetary demands. “People are excited to fight for these monetary demands,” said McKay. The assembly had an almost record breaking turnout and was able to pass a unanimous motion that mandates the AGSEM to escalate pressure on McGill outside of the bargaining table through various creative actions. These actions involve organising a strike vote the week of March 11.

felt these were not serious offers and expected that McGill would return with a more pressing proposal at the next session. The TAs also do not have appetite for McGill’s unwillingness, as McKay told the Daily. “McGill is trying to get by on the most minimal amount of educational support that it can offer,” they argued. They concluded that, “We as teaching professionals want there to be quality education. It is McGill as an employer, as an administrative institution, that is not putting resources towards that. As the TA Assembly mandated a strike vote on the week of March 11, McGill offered a few possible dates for the next sessions of negotiations. Nevertheless, there is still hope for both sides to reach an agreement. According to AGSEM, McGill told the union that their offer is not final and that there exists more room within their mandate to negotiate.

McGill and Concordia on Strike Students protest tuition increases

Sasha Coderre News Contributor


n October 13, the Quebec government announced a tuition increase for Canadian and international students outside of Quebec for undergraduate programs, non-research and professional master’s programs starting in the 2024-2025 academic year. Initially, the tuition was going to increase from $8,992 to around $17,000 per year, almost double the initial tuition price. The higher tuition fees were put in place as a way for the Quebec government to collect more money to give back to French universities. Additionally, the increase in tuition was put in place as a means to protect the French language in Montreal. Later in the year, on December 14, the Quebec Government revealed changes to the tuition hike plans, reducing the increase to $12,000 instead of the initial $17,000. Despite its slight modification, the Quebec Government still faces backlash for the tuition increase, particularly from students at McGill and Concordia. From January 31 through February 22, student associations at McGill and Concordia went on strike to fight back against the tuition hike. At McGill, the

Geography; Religious Studies; and Sustainability, Science, and Society student associations went on strike, accumulating around 500 students according to McGill Undergraduate Geography Society (MUGS) co-president Emma Reddy. Concordia University’s strike saw around 12 student associations in attendance. During the striking period, many classes were cancelled, and those still held were often empty as students chose to miss class. Prior to the striking days, SSMU and the Concordia Student Union (CSU) had a week of mobilization to prepare for the strike. On January 29, between 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., a banner and sign making workshop was held for students at the Hall Building on Concordia University’s campus. The following day, on January 30, there was a “Picketing 101 Workshop” from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., to prepare students for picketing their classes in the following days. Later that evening, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., a “Revolutionary Solidarity Workshop” was held at Le Frigo Vert as part of the CSU’s “Get Radical,” series of community organizing workshops. During strike days, numerous workshops and screenings were put in place around the Concordia and McGill

university campuses. As the co-president of MUGS, Reddy took initiative to allow the Geography Department to strike at McGill University. She was approached by students in the Faculty of Geography on January 18 to discuss a possibility of a strike. On January 23, a general assembly was held to vote on a strike date, but there weren’t enough students present to hold a vote. On January 29, a second general assembly was held, and the motion to strike passed with many more students joining the vote. “The purpose of the strike is to raise awareness about the tuition increase that the Government of Quebec is applying to future university students that wish to study in Quebec,” said Reddy. “Although this was a small strike, we hope to build momentum and visibility for other departments at McGill University to join in other strikes later in the year.” After the recent tuition strike, there are talks of another strike that may occur in March, alongside the beginning of a social media campaign to continue fighting against the government’s tuition hike beginning next fall. On February 15, SSMU held a meeting to discuss the future of the fight against the tuition hike. Ever since the strike, there have been many government

Genevieve Quinn | Visuals Editor officials who have spoken on the tuition hike and have shared their opinions on Legault’s decisions, one of them being Valerie Plante, the mayor of Montreal. During an interview with the Montreal Gazette , Plante revealed her concerns and opinions on the tuition increase. “At this point, I think we need to keep in mind that though the government of Quebec decided to let go on their projects for Bishop’s University, which is in the Eastern Townships, it remains for the universities in Montreal. Why is it so?” Plante said. Bishop’s University has been excluded from the tuition increase, which has raised a lot of confusion amongst Montrealers. “Anglophone universities contribute to society and

they contribute to the entire university ecosystem whether it’s a francophone or anglophone university. So for me, I want the Government of Quebec to share with us why it’s okay for Bishop University not to have those rules and why it remains for the universities like McGill and Concordia, internationally known institutions. Why do they have to follow those lines?” Plante argued. As the Fall 2024 semester is approaching, the new tuition guidelines are set to be soon implemented. Despite opposition from students and government officials, the future of anglophone universities’ tuition rates remain uncertain.



February 19, 2024 | The McGill Daily

When Big Man Talk Lets Marcus Garvey’s Words Sing

A look into the JAM Arts Centre’s latest exhibition Eliana Freelund Culture Editor


hen we think of the legacy of Black history in North America, the impact of civil rights pioneer Marcus Garvey cannot be overstated. Born in Saint Ann’s Bay, Jamaica in 1887, Garvey spent much of his life traveling throughout America, Canada, the Caribbean, and all across Africa, championing his message of worldwide Black liberation. Garvey’s influence was monumental: according to the UNIA Papers Project, Garvey is considered “the leader of the largest organized mass movement in Black history

from Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” (1980) actually came from one of Marcus Garvey’s speeches. Garvey’s extensive political work led to him to found the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which by the early 1920s included over 700 branches in 38 American states. On 13 February, I made my way to Montreal’s very own UNIA branch to see When Big Man Talk: an art exhibition hosted by the Jamaica Association Arts Centre (JAM Arts Centre) to celebrate the legacy and spirit of Marcus Garvey’s work. Established in 1919, the UNIA Hall on Notre-Dame Street West is still alive and thriving over 100 years later. Walking

I immediately felt myself captivated by the artists’ masterful use of mixed media, bold paints, and dynamic photography. I could have spent hours gazing at these pieces, which each took unique artistic liberties to translate Marcus Garvey’s message into our present and future worlds. and progenitor of the modern “Black is beautiful” ideal.” Best known for his activism in the back-to-Africa movement, Garvey championed a kind of Black nationalist ideology built on celebrating Blackness and centering racial pride. His influence can be felt in every corner of the world. The famous lyrics – “emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind” –

through the second set of doors, I was greeted by a warm, cozy room lined with rows and rows of easels displaying the eyecatching, emotive artwork of the exhibition’s four featured artists. I immediately felt myself captivated by the artists’ masterful use of mixed media, bold paints, and dynamic photography. I could have spent hours gazing at these pieces, which each took unique artistic

Eliana Freelund | Culture Editor

Eliana Freelund | Culture Editor liberties to translate Marcus Garvey’s message into our present and future worlds. Garfield Morgan’s work used a multimedia approach, using creative, unconventional materials to add a layer of dimension to his portraits. A didactic to the left of his exhibit listed gift wrap, a repurposed dress, African wax fabric, acrylic, oil paint, plaster, and repurposed plastic among some of the materials used. The exhibition program describes Morgan’s work as “resembling that of Jamaican master Daniel Heartman and the imagination of an Everald Brown.” I was particularly enchanted by Morgan’s striking use of contrast and silhouettes. One of my favourites was titled “Meditation (Echoes of a culture past, present and future)” which captures the serene, yet somber side profile of a young Black man in repose. The paintings by Anthony McLennon also included portraits: one was of his grandmother smiling gently, eyes glimmering, and another was of himself holding a wine glass while gazing back at the viewer. On When Big Man Talk’s program, McLennon is described as displaying “an uncanny ability to intricately render portraits, animals, and landscapes with accuracy and depth.” These skills were showcased masterfully in his painting “Can A Caged Bird Sing?” where a beach landscape forms the background for a row of crows, one of which is perched in a cage. His paintings depicting scenes from everyday life stirred even greater emotion. A piece titled “Just a Regular Day”

portrays passengers traveling on a bus, including a Black man in the foreground looking down at his phone with a white “X” across his mouth. In an interview for the Daily, exhibit curator and director of the JAM Arts Centre, Pat Dillon Moore, said that this painting “speaks to how invisible a visible and audible minority can be.” Daniel Saintiche’s photography was absolutely mesmerizing; the depth of movement, texture, and colour that he fits inside a single image make the contents jump to life before your very eyes.

Saintiche’s didactic described his photographs as a window into “Montreal’s Black Community life in the 70s.” Scenes from Carnival showing music festivals, parades, and joyous celebrations were the main focus of the exhibit. The text in his section noted that “the carnival arts at one time boasted over 150,000 predominantly Black people on St. Catherine Street to Lafontaine Park. This was a huge financial contribution to Montreal’s coffers when every hotel room was booked.” Pat Dillon Moore pointed to one

Eliana Freelund | Culture Editor


February 19, 2024 | The McGill Daily


Canada in a way that an intergenerational family – a grandmother and a grandchild – can both participate in. The grandchild can maneuver the joystick, while the grandparent or parent could speak to them about Garvey’s history.”

Eliana Freelund | Culture Editor two women during Carnival in the 1970s are captured laughing with their arms around each other as they made their way down St. Catherine Street. It was truly amazing to experience how Saintliche’s skills allowed for this joyous occasion to transcend both the boundaries of time and space, pulling the viewer into a single storied moment in history. The exhibition program describes his talents best: Saintliche’s “journey is a tapestry woven with resilience, passion for the arts, and an unwavering dedication to capturing the essence of Montreal’s Black community.” The other historical photographs in the exhibition were truly special to behold. Momentous instances of Black history in Montreal adorned the walls, tables, and complementary slideshow, detailing the rich contributions of Black visionaries in this city. A photograph of Bob Marley performing in Côtes- de-Neiges captures his first visit to the city, while a still from the 1968 Black Writers Congress – held at McGill University – featured Stokely Carmichael at the front

and centre. Another image in the back of the exhibition showed Leroy Butcher and Muhammed Ali walking through Dorval airport. Viewing these photographs alongside the work from the contemporary artists beautifully wove together the threads of the exhibit’s thematic material, creating an impactful, fully fleshed-out experience that upholds Marcus Garvey’s message of lifting up Black excellence worldwide. The final piece of this exhibit takes this message to another dimension entirely. Quentin VerCetty centres Garvey’s goal of Black interconnectedness in his virtual exhibition experience Inside Garvey Yard. A free viewing experience for all, allows visitors to interact with a virtual Marcus Garvey museum from anywhere in the world. Viewers can answer questions and collect Black Star Line tokens to “reawaken the spirit of Garvey and hear his special message.” Pat Dillon Moore explained that VerCetty’s work “creates a space that speaks to Marcus Garvey’s time in

The words of Pat Dillon Moore describe the impact of When Big Man Talk best: “I think the larger purpose behind When Big Man Talk is to put history and context behind our presence. And it’s no accident that we did it during Black History Month. In a sense, we are giving you the history within Black History Month. And there’s a lot of history that is hidden as time goes on. However, it’s about making the ties of yesterday to today. And prior to many of the movers and shakers, both men and women, there was a huge, impactful man by the name of Marcus Garvey, who from 1917 through the late 1930s, was here in Canada to improve the lives of Black people wherever in the world they were. And I think that’s important, to break the narrative that Black people, number one, just migrated here and that we take. No, we build. And the association that Garvey built, the UNIA, where we are now, is alive and thriving – and so is his legacy when it comes to improving the lives of Black people.” You can see an abbreviated version of When Big Man Talk on 24 February at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall. To support the four featured artists – Garfield Morgan, Anthony McLennon, Daniel Saintiche, and Quentin Vercetty – you can keep up with their work at www.garfieldmorgan. org, @tony_mendez_3219 and @ keepgrowingq on Instagram.

Courtesy of the JAM Arts Centre

“I think the larger purpose behind When Big Man Talk is to put history and context behind our presence. And it’s no accident that we did it during Black History Month. In a sense, we are giving you the history within Black History Month. And there’s a lot of history that is hidden as time goes on. However, it’s about making the ties of yesterday to today.” - Pat Dillon Moore

Eliana Freelund | Culture Editor


February 19, 2024 | The McGill Daily

The Death of Urkel


Highlighting television’s lack of multiplicity in Black representation

Eric Duivenvoorden | Visuals Editor Evelyn Logan Radio Editor


wa s n ’ t o l d e n o u g h t o wa t c h c l a s s i c B l a c k 9 0 s s i t c o m s , l i ke Fa m i l y Ma t t e r s , w h e n I w a s g row i n g u p. Instead, I wa t c h e d s h ow s l i ke A r t h u r a n d t h e B e re n s t a i n B e a r s o n P B S u n t i l my m o m f i n a l l y d e e m e d that I was old enough for t h e D i s n e y C h a n n e l . I wa s t ra n s f i xe d b y s h ow s l i ke G o o d Lu c k C h a r l i e a n d A n t Fa r m , b u t my f av o u r i t e b y f a r wa s Je s s i e . I s aw m y s e l f i n Z u r i – t h e s h ow ’s o n l y B l a c k m a i n c h a ra c t e r – w h o wa s s a s s y, s i l l y, a n d l o ya l . Wi t h A n t Fa r m , L e t it Shine, Lab Rats, and Doc Mc St u f f i n s b e i n g n o t a b l e exc e p t i o n s , there wa s n ’t m u c h r e p re s e n t a t i o n o n T V for young Black kids when I wa s g r ow i n g u p. Fo r t h e m o s t p a r t , B l a c k a c t o r s we re t y p e c a s t : a l wa y s t h e b e s t f r i e n d , a l wa y s s a s s y, a n d a l wa y s t h e r e f o r t h e m a i n c h a ra c t e r. A n d w h i l e a s p e c t s

o f t h i s c h a ra c t e r d o o c c u r i n re a l l i f e, t o re d u c e a l l B l a c k c h a ra c t e r s in c h i l d r e n ’s T V d ow n t o t h e b e s t f r i e n d w h o a l wa y s h a s s o m e t h i n g snappy to say is very harmful and re d u c t i v e. These p ro g ra m s t h a t B l a c k c h i l d r e n consume at such a young and influential age don’t a l l ow t h e m t o s e e t h e m s e l v e s re p re s e n t e d a c c u r a t e l y. R e c e n t l y, I s a w a T i k To k from Christian Divyne (@ xiandivyne) discussing his experience with the death of the “Black nerd” trope on television. When he w a s y o u n g e r, h i s b u l l i e s constantly called him Urkel because he wore big wire-trimmed glasses and liked video games more than sports. A bonafide derogatory name, Urkel r e f e r s t o Ja l e e l W h i t e ’s character on the sitcom Fa m i l y Matters Steve Urkel, a nerdy kid always dressed in his trademark suspenders, who always seemed to be making himself look like a fool.

Divyne said that he hated this nickname growing u p, a n d h a s b e e n f o r c e d t o confront it once again after receiving recent comments on his posts calling him “whitewashed” and the “whitest Black m a n .” He explains how people perceive his alternative, nerdy Blackness as whiteness, and that this perception stems from the fact that outside of Steve Urkel in the 90s, there is a lack of representation of the “Black nerd” trope in the media. While this kind of representation hasn’t d i e d o u t c o m p l e t e l y, i t has decreased to the point where most Black people portrayed in TV shows and movies are rarely characterized beyond stereotypes. This change in perception has caused a multitude of problems that are not only limited t o t h e B l a c k c o m m u n i t y. When people outside of the Black community only see

Black people in roles like the sassy best friend, angry Black woman, or the “on the come up” genre, their ideas of how Black people

These programs that Black children consume at such a young and influential age don’t allow them to see themselves represented accurately. are in real life will reflect those harmful stereotypes. Coinciding with the death of the sitcom, the multiplicity of ways Black

people are portrayed in TV and film has decreased r a p i d l y. D u r i n g t h e 9 0 s , there were so many sitcoms like The Bernie Mac S h o w , G i r l f r i e n d s , Fa m i l y Matters, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Martin, where Black people were shown in so many different ways. Within these shows, Black characters could b e s u b u r b a n , r i c h , p o o r, s p o i l e d , n e r d y, s p o r t y, o r any combination of nuances you would find in the real w o r l d . U n f o r t u n a t e l y, a s these sitcoms disappeared, so did the nuanced representation of their Black characters. Fo r t u n a t e l y, s o m e B l a c k creatives within Hollywood have since taken matters into their own hands, establishing production studios with the intention of reimagining the Black sitcom and telling stories that feature fully-realized Black characters. Some famous producers like Kenya Barris have tried

culture to reimagine the Black sitcom genre with shows like Blackish, which despite its headline-dominating controversies, didn’t have the same lasting cultural impact as the Black sitcoms of the 90s. While it w a s o n a i r, B l a c k i s h t a c k l e d many divisive issues like

February 19, 2024 | The McGill Daily 90s, which were almost exclusively aimed towards a Black audience. Nowadays, the future of Black representation in television is constantly being reimagined. Producers like Shonda Rhimes, Issa Rae, and Marsai Martin, are changing

This battle isn’t just about getting a Black actor in a role – which it has been made out to be for a long time. It’s important that in addition to getting roles, Black actors are playing characters that are reflective of real, dynamic people, rather than just being the butt of others’ jokes. colourism and police brutality in America. In part, these episodes served as education for its wider audience, as Kenya Barris sought to bring the Black sitcom into the homes of Black people and beyond. This intention was slightly different from the approach of Black sitcoms in the

the game. Shonda Rhimes, s p e c i f i c a l l y, h a s t a c k l e d the issue of diversity in TV in a distinct fashion. In all of her shows, Rhimes includes people of all different races, because she wants her shows to reflect how she sees the world in r e a l l i f e . To h e r, h a v i n g a diverse cast isn’t a chore,

i t ’s a g i v e n . I n a n i n t e r v i e w with Oprah W i n f r e y, Rhimes elaborated a little more on her process of picking actors for her hit s h o w G r e y ’s A n a t o m y : “ We read every color actor for every single part. My goal was simply to cast the best actors. I was lucky because the network said, “Go for i t .” I f t h e y h a d h e s i t a t e d , I don’t know if I would have w a n t e d t o d o t h e s h o w.” Some of her most popular s h o w s l i k e H o w To G e t Aw a y With Murder and Scandal feature Black women in positions of power surrounded by a supporting cast of actors of all races. In an unprecedented deal earning her millions, Rhimes recently decided to move all the series p r o d u c e d b y h e r c o m p a n y, Shondaland, to Netflix. Black representation in television and media has been a long, hard battle for many Black creatives in Hollywood. This battle isn’t just about getting a Black actor in a role – which it has been made out to be for a l o n g t i m e . I t ’s i m p o r t a n t that in addition to getting roles, Black actors are playing characters that are reflective of real, dynamic people, rather than just

While this kind of representation hasn’t died out completely, it has decreased to the point where most Black people portrayed in TV shows and movies are rarely characterized beyond stereotypes. being the butt of others’ jokes. When I was 10 years old, the Disney Channel came out with their hit s h o w, K .C . Undercover. Zendaya played the starring role, portraying a character


from a family of spies who fought evil in the world. Her character had a nerdy younger brother named Ernie, played by Kamil M c Fa d d e n , w h o w o r e w i r e rimmed glasses and was a bonafide snitch. Her father was played by Kadeem Hardison, who had a major role in the Black sitcom, A D i f f e r e n t Wo r l d . I n a f u r t h e r homage to the classic Black s i t c o m s o f t h e 9 0 s , Ta m m y To w n s e n d , w h o f e a t u r e d i n Fa m i l y M a t t e r s , w a s c a s t a s Z e n d a y a ’s m o t h e r. M y family and I used to look forward to every Friday n i g h t w h e n K .C . U n d e r c o v e r a i r e d . I n a w a y, t h a t s h o w was our sitcom. Urkel might ’ve died in the 90s, but his legacy survives in the reprisal of the “Black nerd” trope found in Ernie. I find myself wondering, w h o ’s g o i n g t o b e n ex t ?

February 19, 2024 | The McGill Daily



Donna-Michelle St. Bernard’s Diggers is an Ode to the Unsung A review of Black Theatre Workshop’s latest play

Arismita Ghosh Culture Contributor


n February 6, I made my way to the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts to watch a moving tribute to the essential workers whose efforts often go unsung: gravediggers. Co-produced by Black Theatre Workshop – Canada’s longest running Black theatre company – and Prairie Theatre Exchange, Diggers is a production written by the celebrated Canadian playwright Donna-Michelle St. Bernard as part of her “54-ology,” where she aims to write a play for each of the 54 countries in Africa. Diggers centres around the lives of gravediggers in Sierra Leone during a pandemic, spotlighting their worries and dreams as their community withdraws support. It had its world premiere on the first of February 1 in Montreal, marking the advent of Black History Month with an ode to the under-appreciated backbone of our community. The play introduces three generations of gravediggers to its audience: the oldest of the trio, Solomon, is played to perfection by Christian Paul as the wisecracking, quirky uncle. His fellow digger Abdul is the most cynical of the three, yet Chance Jones expresses subtle nuances in his performance

What follows is a story of reconciling dreams with reality, and of learning how to maintain hope in a world where everything seems determined to dash it down – a world where everything is destined for the grave.

William Doan | Visuals Contributor that elevate his character beyond his apparent pessimism. Abdul and Solomon take on the responsibility of introducing teenaged newbie Bai, played by Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren, to the intricacies of gravedigging. The developing dynamic among the trio gracefully balances humour with moments of heartfelt connection to create a deep bond beyond just family or friendship. What follows is a story of reconciling dreams with reality and of learning how to maintain hope in a world where everything seems determined to dash it down – a world where everything is destined for the grave. As director Pulga Muchochoma explains in the program, “Diggers is about self-questioning our position in society in times of struggle.” The pandemic that serves as the backdrop for the play is left intentionally vague, so as to reflect a sense of timelessness. The gravediggers’ work is never ending, and continues “through seasonal flooding, ebola outbreak, and [...] political upheaval.” Even though the play’s setting is situated in the specific context of Sierra Leone’s history, the narrative strikes a universal chord with the audience, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the events unfold, the viewer is made to contend with their own role in relation to essential workers, regardless of which country they

are in. Diggers makes us think twice about the things we take for granted in contemporary society, and perhaps even leads us to question how we can do better. Warona Setshwaelo – who plays Sheila, a member of the town council – precisely portrays the complexity of grappling with personal loss while owing a responsibility to one’s community. The chemistry between

and choreography draws the audience in even further. Diggers incorporates song and dance into dream sequences, adding a surrealist quality that helps to foreground the characters’ genuine nature. This musicality familiarizes the audience with the gravediggers in a more intimate way than plain dialogue, allowing us to fully

This musicality familiarizes the audience with the gravediggers in a more intimate way than plain dialogue allowing us to fully step into their world. Sheila and Abdul lends itself to explosive arguments between the two, highlighting both sides of a fraught situation: Abdul claims that Sheila does not do enough to sway the town council into adequately supporting the gravediggers, while Sheila maintains that she is only able to do so much as one woman dealing with tragedy both inside and outside of work. Neither are satisfied with the other’s answers, nor have the will to argue any further: they are caught in a deadlock. Diggers never shies away from having tough conversations, even when they may be hard to digest. The play’s use of music

step into their world. It also provides a much-needed release in tension from the play’s more serious moments, giving us a chance to share laughter and song with those onstage. These surrealist breaks from

the linear narrative trip up the viewer, making them question what they are seeing and how to respond to it. This approach reinforces Diggers’ overall aim in leading its audience to introspection. In its final notes, Diggers moves towards an ending which promises tears and heartache amidst an ever-resilient hope for change. Solomon, Abdul, and Bai’s story ends with a promise from the town council that seems to point towards a brighter future. As I watched the curtain close, and the house lights slowly begin to illuminate the theatre, I had a feeling that there might just be some brightness for the rest of us, too. For more information on Diggers, visit their event page on the Segal Centre for Performing Arts’ website. To support future Black Theatre Workshop productions, you can volunteer, donate, or attend events at www.

In its final notes, Diggers moves towards an ending which promises tears and heartache amidst an everresilient hope for change.

January 8, 2024 | The McGill Daily



Black History Month Reading List Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe I first read Things Fall Apart three summers ago, and Achebe’s simple, cutting prose still pulses, like I’ve just turned the last page and closed the book on the table. Okonkwo’s tale is a story of resilience and of weakness, of fury and tragedy. His inner strength fades into fallen hubris as his world flips by the hands of the White colonizer, leaving him tumbling into the abyss. Achebe’s work makes us question the worth of individual willpower in this apathetic world where “what is good among one people is an abomination with others.” — Andrei Li, Sci+Tech Editor

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston A classic of the Harlem Renaissance, Their Eyes Were Watching God is American writer Zora Neale Hurston’s best known work. It follows protagonist Janie Crawford through central and southern Florida as she transforms from a “vibrant, but voiceless, teenage girl into a woman with her finger on the trigger of her own destiny.” In this novel, Hurston interrogates traditional gender roles and explores the liberatory capacity of Black women – liberation from domestic violence, from racial history, and from their own self-doubt. Hurston’s writing is compact and concise, but her words are as vivid as they are lyrical, and Janie’s voice rings loud and clear. — Catey Fifield, Managing Editor

The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole In this book, journalist and activist Desmond Cole travels across Canada to document the stories of Black Canadian communities. He explores how anti-Black racism is embedded in Canadian institutions such as the police, the education system, and the immigration system while also highlighting how Black communities are resisting these injust systems. He also draws on his own lived experiences as a Black Lives Matter activist and journalist, reflecting on how those two roles can complement rather than contradict each other. — Emma Bainbridge, Coordinating News Editor

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Cotes Composed as an open letter to his only son, Between the World and Me is an intimate exploration of the author’s own experience with Black identity, excellence, familial love, and violent injustice. Following his journey from a young boy in Maryland to a student at Howard University before he started his career as a professional writer and journalist, the book revolves around his coming to terms with the inherent corporeality of his humanity. Through his beautiful prose, Coates tenders the complexities, both joyous and tragic, of the experiences and relationships that came together to shape the world in his mind. — Elaine Yang, Features Editor

Beloved by Toni Morrison A haunting tale by acclaimed novelist Toni Morrison, the Pulitzer Prize winning Beloved explores the complex relationships within the life of female protagonist Sethe in a reconciliation with her past. Told through a disjointed timeline, Morrison utilizes the magical realism genre to tell the story of a woman haunted by the actions of her past life while struggling to survive on the plantation. Sethe sheds bits and pieces of her former self to readers by recounting her lived experiences, creating an air of anticipation for what’s next to come. Morrison’s every word sags beneath an emotional weight, forcing readers to encounter how the history of slavery is not merely a fragment in the past, but is intimately intertwined with our present reality. — Sena Ho, News Editor

February 19, 2024 | The McGill Daily

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