By: Lovey Reid
Afrocentric women face social prejudice and discrimination on a regular basis in Canada. As a Black Canadian growing up in various areas around the GTA, I’ve experienced first-hand prejudice, ridicule and even isolation from my own peers because of my race and gender. Being Black holds a world of unequal opportunities, stereotypes and discrimination. Being a woman while also being Black doubles the stigma. Facing sexism and racism and thus becoming the butt of every joke, being hypersexualized in media, disrespected and ridiculed for our unique features.
Women of Afrocentric backgrounds are constantly mocked, hypersexualized and disrespected within media and daily life. In a speech given by Malcolm X at the funeral service of Ronald Stokes in Los Angeles, who was killed by the LAPD, Malcolm stated, “the most disrespected woman in the world is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”
This quote dates all the way back to 1962, but I believe it still applies today, even within a Canadian context. It is 2018, yes, but still– the Black woman is constantly disrespected, overlooked and discarded throughout our society.
In my own experience in Toronto as an adolescent, I experienced men twice my age gawking at my pre-pubescent body, my male counterparts giving themselves the permission to cop a feel of my body and witnessing Black women I looked up to have their bodies and sexuality devalued and disrespected. The female Black form and our culture have been oversexualized, shamed and mocked in our culture. From our hairstyling, to our mannerisms, to
dancing and “twerking.”
The issue continues beyond just our sexuality. Black women are still treated as less beautiful and deserving of love and respect, than those of lighter and fairer skin complexions. We have been shamed for the darkness of our skin, the width of our hips, and thickness of our hair.
Growing up in Canada I was taught from a young age that my hair was a mess. It was referred to as “nappy, dirty, and unacceptable.” If I chose to style my hair in other ways whether it was a perm, braids or weave, I was still ridiculed, there is no winning. This is only part of my story, one Black female growing up in Toronto. So many Afrocentric women in Canada share similar stories. The Black female has gone undervalued and oppressed for too long all across North America. The idea that this form of prejudice and discrimination does not exist in Canada is absurd. It’s time to have conversations about race relations and hold ourselves accountable for how we raise and treat Black women in Canada.