By Preeteesh Peetabh Singh
It’s a mixed bag of emotions. Some are satisfied with the recognition, while most are not. February is Black History Month, also known as African Liberation Month.
Black History Month is a month of recognition of African-Canadians who excelled in various fields in Canada, including politics, education, public service and human rights. It is also a month of commemoration and remembrance of the African struggle in history.
Jason Roach, 33, a student at the pre-business school at George Brown College (GBC) does not have a problem on the month being called either Black History or African Liberation Month. “I respect the recognition that we are being given for all the suffering that we went through.”
On being asked if he would like to have a black student association at the college like some universities, Roach said, “I don’t really mind having an association but I do not believe in segregation of different cultures. I feel we are all Canadians and we should all mix.”
Heather Edmund, 34, another GBC student, was not so cordial, “The groups and so-called recognitions don’t do us any justice. It’s bullshit! We don’t want any of these. No, thank you!”
“We lost our identity, we don’t even know our names, we don’t know our ancestry, and we don’t know our genealogy. No one has suffered as Africans have. We don’t know our roots; I don’t know which part or country of Africa I am from”, Edmund blurted in anger.
African students at GBC feel Black History Month is a lot more than just remembering black leaders who did some outstanding job. They feel it’s about the community as a whole, their upliftment and proper recognition.
Shayeal Phelemba, 22, asks, “Why does only the wrong doings of the black community get promoted? When we do something good, people don’t really talk about it. We have people in the parliament who are black, why this stereotype? Why are all of us termed as ‘gangster’ types?”
“Lot of people don’t even know what Black History Month is. All they know about is Caribana. Our culture is not just about the singing and dancing, it’s very deep,” said Phelemba, “We have a month but it needs to get promoted. People need to acknowledge it and give the respect which we deserve in the society.”