August Show: Nydia Dauphin and Professor Charmaine Nelson discuss reactions to Nydia's Huffington Post article on blackface in Quebec, and Jackie Wang's revolutionary loneliness

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 also 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.  

Listen to the show here.

July Show: Bethany Or from the film Être Chinois au Quebec, immigration policy, poetry, Trayvon Martin verdict

Victoria interviews Bethany Or in studio, to speak about a new documentary she co-created, called Être Chinois au Quebec.

From the film's website:

How do young Chinese living in Québec feel about themselves, their community and their place here? What do they know about the history of Sino-Québec?These are some of the issues to be explored by this film.

In the wake of the Apology given by the Canadian government in 2006 and the partial redress for the Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act, many in the Chinese community feel the need to explore their place in this society and the need to be included. This film will explore the younger generation of Sino-Québecois and their struggles of identity, integration and building a life for themselves in this province. The filmmakers will search out the Chinese settlements in the different regions of Québec as well in the metropole of Montreal. This journey of discovery starts today as we see Québec through the eyes of two young Chinese, Bethany and Parker. 

We also featured a poem by Preeti.

Malek spoke about recent changes to Canadian immigration policy.

Alyssa discussed various recent news item and provided a commentary on the Trayvon Martin verdict. 

Listen to the show here

June Show: Racism in Quebec

When Nydia Dauphin published a post on HuffPost Canada on May 16th, bells and whistles went off; sirens even.  Her crime:  pointing out the resurfacing of blackface minstrelsy in Quebec.  Dauphin was responding specifically to the dawning of Blackface by Mario Jean at the annual comedy award show, the Gala Les Olivier.  The show aired on Radio Canada.  Jean was apparently attempting to impersonate a black comedian.

Dauphin's post also included a slideshow of blackface performances  by white Quebeckers in recent years and provided some much-needed context of the offensiveness of these sitings and her personal observations as a black quebecker.

We, as women of colour, lamented the reaction and the outpouring of mischaracterizations and attempts to dismiss Dauphin's remarks.  Flat out defenses of blackface were given in media.  The assertion that ugly forms of racism persist in Quebec society were mocked.

As a show that comes together every month to say NO to the silencing of the voices of women of color, to provide a platform for women of color to have self-determination as they discuss their lived experiences, we felt compelled to spend this month's show looking more closely at racism in Quebec today.  From the resurgence of blackface to the Quebec Soccer Federation's initial ban on the wearing of religious headware to the hostile reactions in the press at the assertion that racism persists in Quebec today, we took to the airwaves to give voice to our experiences as women of color members of the press confronting this discourse head-on.

To that end, we spoke with illustrious critic, writer, podcaster, and artist Fariha Roisin.

Alyssa Clutterbuck  also responded to the denials that blackface, slavery, and other forms of anti-black racism form part of Quebec's history in her piece, "Are people still denying that slaves were brought to New France by French settlers?”

Mercedes Bonair presented a personal testimony of growing up in Little Burgundy in Montreal.

We also had a reading by Lili Dao - The Silencing of Racism in Quebec, which is a book review of Jan Wong’s Out of the Blue.

Listen to the show here.