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June 10, 2020

10 Books About Racism and Black Lives in Canada to Purchase at Black-Owned Bookstores

The brutal death of George Floyd, at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers, sparks a movement for Black Lives. Meanwhile, as protests continue in the United States, you read or hear ‘But it’s not that bad in Canada’!

Tell that to the family of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, an Indigenous-Black Canadian woman, in Toronto, on May 27, 2020, dies due to a mental health call gone wrong by under-trained police officers. Or Dafonte Miller, a Black man in Whitby who lost his eye in a violent confrontation with an off-duty Toronto police officer and his brother. And, Chantel Moore, an Indigenous woman shot and killed by the New Brunswick police, on June 04, 2020, in Edmundston and so many more.

Their deaths activate Black or Indigenous people around the world in action to highlight their own countries’ police killings (Recommendation Read: Letters to America from Black Canadian). These stolen lives are reminders of a wound we all feel when you are marginalized through systemic racism tactics and the people in a position of authority with low training in their implicit bias or their cultural competency.

I found myself for the past two weeks expressing my sadness and hurt by being a listening hear to my community and transferring my anger and frustration by sharing posts online plus on the podcast, in order to inform non-black people who follow me to 👏🏿 START 👏🏿 DOING 👏🏿 THE 👏🏿 WORK. But, the common response is: “I want to help, but I do not know where to start or where to look”. REALLY!

BUT ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW IS ONLINE, AT A LIBRARY OR BOOKSTORE!

So… here we are. Where to start?!? Perhaps this list can be a good start. Some literature by Black Canadian authors and black voices and perspectives to purchase at a Black Canadian owned bookstore.

FOR ADULTS:

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present
by Robyn Maynard

Delving behind Canada’s veneer of multiculturalism and tolerance, Policing Black Lives traces the violent realities of anti-blackness from the slave ships to prisons, classrooms and beyond. provides readers with the first comprehensive account of nearly four hundred years of state-sanctioned surveillance, criminalization and punishment of Black lives in Canada.

 

The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole

The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power
by Desmond Cole

A bracing, provocative, and perspective-shifting book from one of Canada’s most celebrated and uncompromising writers, Desmond Cole. The Skin We’re In will spark a national conversation, influence policy, and inspire activists. In his 2015 cover story for Toronto Life magazine, Desmond Cole exposed the racist actions of the Toronto police force, detailing the dozens of times he had been stopped and interrogated under the controversial practice of carding. Both Cole’s activism and journalism find vibrant expression in his first book, The Skin We’re In. The year also witnessed the profound and professional ramifications of Desmond Cole’s unwavering determination to combat injustice. Month-by-month, Cole creates a comprehensive picture of entrenched, systemic inequality. Urgent, controversial, and unsparingly honest, The Skin We’re In is destined to become a vital text for anti-racist and movements in Canada, as well as a potent antidote to the all-too-present complacency of many white Canadians.

New Framings on Anti-Racism and Resistance: Volume 1 — Anti-Racism and Transgressive Pedagogies by Ayan Abdulle | Anne Nelun

New Framings on Anti-Racism and Resistance: Volume 1 — Anti-Racism and Transgressive Pedagogies
by Ayan Abdulle | Anne Nelun Obeyesekere | U of T Students

This collection of essays generates important enquiries into the teaching and practice of anti-racism education, by way of working through conversations, contestations, and emotions as presented by a diverse group of strong women committed to social justice work in their own right. Throughout the collection, contemporary educational issues are situated within personal-political, historical and philosophical conversations, which work to broach the challenges and possibilities for students, educators, staff, administrators, policy-makers, and community members who engage in critical anti-racism education. You can also purchase the kindle version if you are unable to find the paperback.

Conversations with white people by IC Bailey

Conversations with white people by IC Bailey

Conversations with White People offers a raw, challenging, front-line look at the current state of the racial divide. Pulled from thousands of online and offline conversations, Black people lead the way in these dialogues addressing head-on white people’s views of racism, , and White privilege. Covering topics that range from the basics of what racism is to cultural appropriation to racist messages in and sport, Conversations with White People makes one thing crystal clear: the race divide is bigger and more complex than many people think. You can also purchase the kindle version if you are unable to find the paperback.

This one is special to share. Our Friend IC dedicated HIS LIFE to fight and educate people on racism. He even took the time to visit us at the studio to talk about his journey on Black Canadian Content Creators (posting soon).  Just as we started building a friendship and had many amazing conversations. The world lost a great man and a warrior in social justice on December 12, 2019. This book consists of not only true dialogues between B.I.POC & white people, but in this time of change and shift, his words and the team at Conversations With White People need to be read. Rest In Power IC! 

Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada by Rodney Diverlus | Sandy Hudson | Syrus Marcus Ware

Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada
by Rodney Diverlus | Sandy Hudson | Syrus Marcus Ware 

The killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 by a white assailant inspired the Black Lives Matter movement, which quickly spread outside the borders of the United States. The movement’s message found fertile ground in Canada, where Black activists speak of generations of injustice and continue the work of the Black liberators who have come before them. Until We Are Free contains some of the very best writing on the hottest issues facing the Black community in Canada. It describes the latest developments in Canadian Black activism, organizing efforts through the use of social media, Black-Indigenous alliances, and more.

They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada By Cecil Foster

Smartly dressed and smiling, Canada’s black train porters were a familiar sight to the average passenger — yet their minority status rendered them politically invisible, second-class in the social imagination that determined who was and who was not considered Canadian. Subjected to gruelling shifts and unreasonable standards — a passenger missing his stop was a dismissible offense — the so-called ‘Pullmen’ of the country’s rail lines were denied secure positions and prohibited from bringing their families to Canada, and it was their struggle against the racist Dominion that laid the groundwork for the multicultural nation we know today. Drawing on the experiences of these influential black Canadians, Cecil Foster’s They Call Me George demonstrates the power of individuals and minority groups in the fight for social justice and shows how a country can change for the better.

FOR THE KIDS:

Big Dreamers: The Canadian Black History Activity Book for Kids Volume 1
by Akilah Newton | Tami Gabay | Danielle Murrell Cox

Big Dreamers: The Canadian Black History Activity Book for Kids Volume 1 is the first in a series published by Bright Confetti Media Inc. that celebrates the inspiring contributions of Black Canadians who overcame adversity and went on to achieve greatness while changing the course of history. The book highlights the achievements of Black Canadians who’s stories are often left untold. Big Dreamers is an overview of people, places and events that paved the way for future generations of Canadians. The book profiles individual “Big Dreamers” from A-Z, provides a historical timeline, examines Black History in each province and territory, and keeps readers engaged with a variety of activities.

Shades of People
by Sheila M Kelly | Shelley Rotner

A celebration of the diversity of everyday life, this exploration of one of our most noticeable physical traits pairs simple text with vibrant photographs. At school, at the beach, and in the city, diverse groups of children invite young readers both to take notice and to look beyond the obvious. Combining lively action shots and candid portraits, Shelley Rotner’s photographs showcase a wide variety of kids and families — many shades, and many bright smiles. For even younger readers, this title has also been adapted as a board book, All Kinds of People.

Africville by Shauntay Grant | Eva Campbell

When a young girl visits the site of Africville, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the stories she’s heard from her family come to mind. She imagines what the community was once like — the brightly painted houses nestled into the hillside, the field where boys played football, the pond where all the kids went rafting, the bountiful fishing, the huge bonfires. Coming out of her reverie, she visits the present-day park and the sundial where her great- grandmother’s name is carved in stone and celebrates a summer day at the annual Africville Reunion/Festival. Africville was a vibrant Black community for more than 150 years. But even though its residents paid municipal taxes, they lived without running water, sewers, paved roads and police, fire-truck and ambulance services. Over time, the city located a slaughterhouse, a hospital for infectious disease, and even the city garbage dump nearby. In the 1960s, city officials decided to demolish the community, moving people out in city dump trucks and relocating them in public housing. Today, Africville has been replaced by a park, where former residents and their families gather each summer to remember their community.

Africville by Shauntay Grant | Eva Campbell

Happy memories sparkle in this journey through poet Shauntay Grant’s childhood visits to North Preston, Nova Scotia. Her words bring to life the sights, sounds, rhythms, and people of a joyful place, while Susan Tooke’s vibrant illustrations capture the warmth of one of Canada’s most important black communities. Up Home celebrates the magic of growing up and the power in remembering our roots now in a new softcover edition.

 

 


BLACK OWNED BOOKSTORES IN CANADA:

A Different Booklist, Toronto
From First Canadians to African-Canadians, from the Caribbean to Asia, from Adults’ books to Children’s books, we open the door to literary gems from the Canadian Cultural Mosaic. www.adifferentbooklist.com

Knowledge Bookstore, Brampton 
It is an independent Afrocentric bookstore located in Brampton Ontario that sells African Canadian, African American, Caribbean and Children books. www.knowledgebookstore.com

Librairie Racines, Montreal
En Français  — Since 2017, Gabriella Kinté has been offering books from all walks of life, but also a fair place for racialized authors. Far from addressing only an ethno-cultural clientele, Librairie Racines aims to be a representative showcase of society and wants to promote diversity in the literary landscape, and in our libraries. Beyond commerce, Gabriella dreams of building a community around reading, exchanges and discoveries, because she is convinced that stories are not transmitted solely through the paper.

In addition to its collections in literature, children, novels, issues, poetry, the bookstore offers loan services, writing workshops, reading, and a selection of used books. www.librairieracines.com

If this has been helpful, or you have any other recommendations, love to learn more in the comments.

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