BLOG: Living In Colour explores how race, ethnicity impacts the daily experience of PoCs
I know what it’s like to walk into a room and be one of only a few minorities — if there are any others at all.
I know what it’s like to walk outside minding my own business, yet still have someone call me the n-word or to hear someone yell, “Go back to where you came from.” (I’m born and raised in Toronto, by the way.)
I also know what it’s like to have someone say, “You’re pretty for a black girl,” “You’ll have to work twice as hard because you’re black,” or even that I’m an “oreo” — meaning I appear black on the outside but act white on the inside … whatever that means.
And it’s all so frustrating and exhausting walking outside of my door every day knowing that the world will always judge me and hold prejudices against me because I’m a double minority: a black woman.
But my story isn’t a unique one. In fact, many people of colour (PoCs) have very similar experiences to mine, whether they’re Jamaican, Somali, South Asian, East Asian, Middle Eastern, Indigenous etc.
So I asked myself, “What can I do to tell our stories?” I wanted a way for PoCs to be able to share their experiences in a safe environment, without prejudice and stereotypes for once.
That’s how Living In Colour came to be.
This YouTube exclusive series isn’t about pointing fingers or finding someone to blame, it’s about starting a conversation within our respective communities and providing those who are outside of them a firsthand look at what we go through on a daily basis.
Host Farah Nasser will be joined by four guests each episode to discuss their experiences, such as being a PoC on dating apps, dealing with mental health, facing stereotypes and being in the LGBTQ2S community.
Episode 4: Living In Colour — LGBTQ2S
I learned a lot from the guests we had on during the first season of Living In Colour, but I personally learned the most from these amazing panelists on the LGBTQ2S episode.
I know what it’s like to be a double minority – I’m black and a woman – but there is a whole other set of challenges when you’re a PoC in the LGBTQ community, according to our guests.
Some of the eye-opening experiences included Kiley May saying she feels as if there’s a triple risk against her since she’s an Indigenous, two-spirit, transgender woman, therefore she’s very careful on how she walks through the world.
Yasmeen Persad spoke very candidly about the rate that trans women of colour are being murdered simply because they are just that: trans, women and of colour.
Joel Seetahal expressed how mainstream media made it seem as if the number one issue in the gay community was marriage – when it fact it wasn’t for most people. Take for instance transgender people still fighting for their right to use the washroom that they should be allowed to use.
Lastly, but certainly not least, Iris Robin spoke about gender and the importance of pronouns since Robin’s pronouns are “they” and “them,” meaning Robin doesn’t exclusively identify as either male or female.
Again, this episode was an eye-opening experience that I feel really needed to be discussed from a perspective that wasn’t just about being gay, but what it meant to be trans, what it meant to be non-binary, what it meant to be two-spirit or even pansexual.
Episode 3: Living In Colour — Stereotypes
Have you ever been asked, “Where are you really from?”
I have, and the guests on this episode of Living In Colour, including Patrick Dennis, Sidrah Ahmad, Cole Forrest and Teeshia Sheldrick, have all been asked that same question too.
For me, that question makes it seem as if I couldn’t possibly be born and raised in Canada, as if the person who’s asking me that question is more superior than I am. I mean, it definitely makes me feel “less than.”
During this panel discussion, the guests speak about backhanded compliments they’ve all received, such as people being surprised that they speak really well for someone of their ethnic background. They also talk about their experiences of feeling as if they don’t belong in their own communities because they aren’t black enough or Indigenous enough, as Dennis and Forrest pointed out in their conversations.
To hear more about what the guests had to say about the stereotypes they’ve had to deal with, watch the video above.
Episode 2: Living In Colour — Mental Health
Mental health affects everyone, regardless of race, age, gender or ethnicity. In fact, one in five people are affected by mental health, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association and National Alliance on Mental Illness.
In the second episode of Living In Colour, we took a look at how race, racism and culture could affect a person’s mental state.
WATCH: Living In Colour guest ties mental health crises caused by stresses of poverty leading to rise in gun violence
One of the guests, Uppala Chandrasekera, director of public policy at the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario, spoke about how racism could be a traumatic moment for racialized individuals and how it can come back to affect them years later.
“People say, ‘Oh, why is that coloured woman so angry?’ They’re not just reacting to what happened today, but what happened last week, 10 years ago,” said Chandrasekera during the panel discussion.
David Lewis-Peart, human services counselor and mental health advocate, spoke about how men of colour tend to internalize and externalize mental health issues differently than their peers.
“I think that shows up in the way that some young men are violent or are harmful to other folks with their words or with their actions,” Lewis-Peart said. “It shows up in what the news would categorize as another incident, another violent incident with another young, black man.”
You can watch the entire panel discussion, which also included former city council candidate Munira Abukar and mental health advocate Asante Haughton, about PoCs and mental health above or here.
Episode 1: Living In Colour — Online Dating
One of OKCupid founders, Christian Rudder, wrote a blog about race and attraction when it comes to online dating.
In a nutshell, the statistics he collected between 2009-2014 showed that black women and Asian men were the least desirable when it came to other races.
For the first episode, Living In Colour host Farah Nasser was joined with Hadiya Roderique, Andy Hoang, Haran Vijayanathan and Tacha Wilks to speak about their persoanl experiences as PoCs on dating apps, including OKCupid, Bumble, Tinder and Grindr.
During the panel, Roderique spoke about a social experiment in which she created similar profiles but one had photos of herself as she is, a black woman, while the other was an edited version, or what she called her “white persona.”
When she had her regular profile up she got one to two messages a day. However as her white persona, she got 64 messages in three days.
If you have any comments and/or questions, please leave it in the comment section. Or, feel free to fill out the box below with your thoughts.
Alley Wilson is a multimedia producer.
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