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‘Living With Black Skin’: How 2 Edmonton friends are keeping the conversation going

Click to play video: 'Edmontonians launch Living with Black Skin initiative'
Edmontonians launch Living with Black Skin initiative
WATCH ABOVE: Two friends are kicking off Black History Month with an Instagram series aimed at sparking larger conversations about being Black in Edmonton. Jessica Robb explains. – Feb 7, 2021

Thousands of people gathered at the Alberta legislature in June to take part in a Black Lives Matter rally. Conversations were sparked on social media in the following months, focused on educating and how to be an ally.

Now, months later, Clarisse Bosco and Gallican Buki noticed a shift.

“Our feeds started changing from all these quotes, protests, pictures and all these educational things to kind of back to normal daily life,” said Bosco.

“Being a Black person and the issues that we live with is something that we don’t get to turn off after a month or a trend.”

Bosco approached her friend Buki, a photographer in Edmonton, with an idea. They recently started a series on Instagram called “Living With Black Skin.”

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The videos are two to three minutes each and feature some of their Black friends who speak share their own experiences and stories. They range from student athletes, to business owners, to entrepreneurs in Edmonton.

“It’s all people from different walks of life, so not just students or graduates,” said Buki. “It’s amazing to see what they’ve been able to experience as a Black person trying to start their own business.”

Bosco and Buki saw the start of Black History Month as the perfect time to launch the series. So far, they have interviewed five people and have 15 more lined up. And now, people are reaching out and asking to share their stories.

Making sure these voices are heard is important for Bosco and Buki.

“By ending the conversation, we’re really silencing and minimizing real issues that happen to people every single day,” said Bosco.

For their friends involved, these types of conversations aren’t new.

“That kind of understanding, respecting somebody’s space and time and emotion is just kind of been a given,” said Bosco. “We’ve been able to do and have that because these are all our friends. These are topics that we talk about all the time as Black people.”

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Their goal is to localize a larger conversation about discrimination and hate.

“Racism and the systemic issues are very real here within Canada, and even here within the city. I think a lot of the times we get overlooked because the United States and other places are so much bigger than us,” said Bosco.

Following COVID-19 guidelines meant that Bosco and Buki had to keep their distance when interviewing their friends for the series.

“After you have a conversation like that you can’t really hug your friend or even give them a high five,” said Bosco.

But they say as difficult as these types of conversations have been, they have also been pretty enlightening.

“There has been a lot of eye-opening moments, but also the celebration of being Black. The joyous moments, the way our culture is, the way we behave, the way we conduct ourselves and how we laugh,” said Buki.

Buki hopes putting these voices out there on Instagram will reach a younger audience.

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“What we’re really trying to do is represent and make them feel loved and welcomed and embrace who they are at such a young age. I feel like a lot of us, even Clarisse and myself, would have very much benefitted from seeing these videos and being able to relate to them.”

As a photographer, Buki sees a lack of representation in his own industry. Specifically the way darker skin is edited.

“It just washes them out or blows them out. You don’t necessarily see the true beauty that melanin has.”

The friends want this series to celebrate the complexities of what it means to be Black and make sure the conversation doesn’t stop.

“It’s honestly been a reminder to be proud of who we are, to be proud of being Black and continue to strive for a better world,” said Buki.

You can watch “Living With Black Skin” on Bosco and Buki‘s Instagram pages.

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