The Woyingi Blog

About the Woyingi Blog

My Blackness-I got it from my papa!

This blog is about being Black…but what do I mean by Black?

This takes some explanation as Black doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.  In Britain and South Africa, for example, Black is a political term referring to pretty much everyone who isn’t purely European or “White” (Chinese South Africans recently won the right to be considered “Black” by the government). But in the U.S. Black usually refers to people who are descended from slaves brought from West and Central Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

In Canada, on our census, Black is considered a racial identity denoting descent from ethnicities indigenous to Sub-Saharan Africa. This has led to problems because as the many so-called Blacks in Canada are from Black majority countries their identity as Black-skinned peoples is something they only figure out when they come here. Before, they were either Nigerian or Somali from a particular ethnic group or clan.  As Black Nova Scotian writer George Elliot Clarke writes in his 1997 article The Complex Face of Black Canada when discussing Blacks of Caribbean descent:

As Quebec writer Dany Laferrière’s 1985 satire, Comment faire l’amour avec un Nègre sans se fatiguer (How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired), takes uproarious pains to point out, it is only on the North American mainland that a Haitian becomes “black,” or is expected to subscribe, instantly, to the white-black angst that plagues the white (and white supremacist) majority in the U.S. and Canada. In black-majority countries, social divisions occur around class and less so around race (though “colourism,” that is, discrimination by light-skinned blacks against darker-skinned blacks, is a problem). In 1973, the Barbados-born African-Canadian writer Austin Clarke described the “West Indian writer” as “a man from a society os-tensibly free of the worst pathologies of racialism, a man from a society into which black nationalism had to be imported from American Blacks.”

Clarke’s comment underlines the weirdness of white-vs.-black constructs for many Caribbean emigrés.

In this blog, I will explore my experiences as a Black Woman of mixed French-Canadian, German, English, Ijaw, Yoruba descent who grew up not knowing her Nigerian father and so had to figure out what being Black meant all by herself.

I don’t have the answers but by exploring my own life and the lives of other Blacks I hope to provide some directions as to what it all could mean.

I am committed to trying to never say what it should mean to be Black because I think people have been telling Black folks what we should be for far too long that we don’t need to be playing the same game with each other.

I am committed to  inclusivity in exploring issues facing Black communities around the world. I’m not going to discount a Black person’s Black authenticity because of their sexual orientation, religion, politics, etc. If you have a problem with that this is not the blog for you.

I want to explore the history and achievements of the peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa. So little is known about Sub-Saharan Africa. If I walk into a Chapters Book Store, I will be lucky if I can find any fiction written by Africans other than Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and the latest work by Adichie. If I look at the history section I might find a shelf devoted to Sub-Saharan African Affairs full of books written by White journalists…not even academics. AFRICA will be referred to as if it were a country, instead of a continent. And the titles of the books will usually include words like starve, famine, war, genocide, conflict, poverty, dark, etc. I want to help expose more people to writers, academics, and intellectuals from Sub Saharan Africa. (See: African Literature)

I also want to explore the diversity in Sub Saharan African diasporas. From Harlem to Kingston, from Rio de Janeiro to Lahore, from Montreal to Basra. Sub Saharan African communities have been scattered like seeds around the world, mostly through the horrors of slavery. But we’ve survived. What can we learn from each other?  (See: Black African Diasporas)

Also, check out my YouTube Channel, where I’ve gathered videos about Africa and the African Diaspora uploaded by other YouTube users.

2 Responses

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  1. InsideJourneys said, on March 8, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Exploring us in the Diaspora and on the continent is a project I thought about undertaking for several months now. Glad to see that you’re doing it.
    Came upon your blog during a search. Love what I’ve read, will subscribe and return to read more.
    Thanks, lots to read and digest here.

  2. Katherine J Barrett said, on September 28, 2011 at 8:10 am

    What an excellent blog! So glad I found you. I’m Canadian, living in Cape Town, South Africa. I write a column called Mother City Mama for Literary Mama in the US. Also interested in issues of ethnicity and identity — and exploring African literature. I’ll keep reading your site. Thanks.

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