During Black History Month, Canadians are encouraged to celebrate the many past and ongoing achievements and contributions of Black Canadians. Celebrate Black History Month by placing holds on these titles by Black Canadian authors. See our catalogue for more titles by Black authors.
This collection, edited by A. Gregory Frankson, features the personal journeys of Black Canadian poets told through poetry, essays, conversation, and short fiction.
“Set in an imagined world in which the most vulnerable are forced to buy their freedom by working off their debt to society, Gutter Child uncovers a nation divided into the privileged Mainland and the policed Gutter. In this world, Elimina Dubois is one of only 100 babies taken from the Gutter and raised in the land of opportunity as part of a social experiment led by the Mainland government.
But when her Mainland mother dies, Elimina finds herself all alone, a teenager forced into an unfamiliar life of servitude, unsure of who she is and where she belongs. Elimina is sent to an academy with new rules and expectations where she befriends Gutter children who are making their own way through the Gutter System in whatever ways they know how. When Elimina’s life takes another unexpected turn, she will discover that what she needs more than anything may not be the freedom she longs for after all.
Richardson’s Gutter Child reveals one young woman’s journey through a fractured world of heartbreaking disadvantages and shocking injustices. Elimina is a modern heroine in an altered but all too recognizable reality who must find the strength within herself to forge her future and defy a system that tries to shape her destiny.”
“Antonio Michael Downing’s memoir of creativity and transformation is a startling mash-up of memories and mythology, told in gripping, lyrical prose. Raised by his indomitable grandmother in the lush rainforest of southern Trinidad, Downing, at age 11, is uprooted to Canada when she dies. But to a very unusual part of Canada: he and his older brother are sent to live with his stern, evangelical Aunt Joan, in Wabigoon, a tiny northern Ontario community where they are the only Black children in the town. In this wilderness, he begins his journey as an immigrant minority, using music and performance to dramatically transform himself. At the heart of his odyssey is the longing for a home. He is re-united with his birth parents who he has known only through stories. But this proves disappointing: Al is a womanizing con man and drug addict, and Gloria, twice abandoned by Al, seems to regard her sons as cash machines.
He tries to flee his messy family life by transforming into a series of extravagant musical personalities: “Mic Dainjah,” a punk rock rapper, “Molasses,” a soul music crooner and finally “John Orpheus,” a gold chained, sequin- and leather-clad pop star. Yet, like his father and grandfather, he has become a “Saga Boy,” a Trinidadian playboy, addicted to escapism, attention, and sex. When the inevitable crash happens, he finds himself in a cold, stone jail cell. He has become everything he was trying to escape and must finally face himself.
Richly evocative, Saga Boy is a heart-wrenching but uplifting story of a lonely immigrant boy who overcomes adversity and abandonment to reclaim his Black identity and embrace a rich heritage.”
“Bernie Saunders had a passion for hockey. His prodigious talent was on display at all levels. But because he was Black, he was stymied at every turn and experienced nothing but taunting from opponents, spectators, coaches and even his own teammates. Despite this malevolence, Saunders continued to play, adopting a style akin to that of the historic house slave: serve but remain invisible. Signed by the Quebec Nordiques, he played with them for two years, but spent most of his career playing collegiately at Western Michigan University and in the minor leagues in Canada and the US. In the end, it was all too much for Saunders. Dogged and overwhelmed by racism, he finally left hockey to work in the corporate sector.
This is a memoir about professional hockey by a player who had the potential to become a star but was blocked at almost every opportunity because of his race. In spite of this, Shut Out is a hopeful and uplifting book about facing adversity, overcoming it and moving ahead. Woven throughout the book is Saunders’s love of his family, especially his brother, John, who died at age sixty-one. Now retired, Bernie Saunders is still sought out by the hockey community for his observations and advice.”
“When a Nigerian woman falls for a man she knows will break her mother’s heart, she must choose between love and her family. At twelve years old, Azere promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man and preserve her culture, even after immigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping — well, forcing — her to stay within the Nigerian dating pool ever since. But when another match-made-by-mom goes wrong, Azere ends up at a bar, enjoying the company and later sharing the bed of Rafael Castellano, a man who is tall, handsome, and… white. When their one-night stand unexpectedly evolves into something serious, Azere is caught between her feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother. Soon, Azere can’t help wondering if loving Rafael makes her any less of a Nigerian. Can she be with him without compromising her identity? The answer will either cause Azere to be audacious and fight for her happiness, or continue to be the compliant daughter.”
Join us for our library program on Zoom on February 28 as presenter Channon Oyeniran, Vice-President of Ontario Black History Society, delves into the rich history of Black people in Canada.
For more information on Black History Month in Canada, and the 2022 theme February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day, visit the Government of Canada website: https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/black-history-month.html