BLACKNESS AND BRITISH ‘FAIR PLAY’: BURGEONING BLACK SOCIAL ACTIVISM IN ONTARIO AND ITS GRASSROOTS RESPONSES TO THE CANADIAN COLOUR LINE, 1919-1939

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Authors
Shaw, Melissa
Keyword
Black Canadians , Ontario , social activism , Black women , interwar period , anti-Black racism
Abstract
“Blackness and British ‘Fair Play’: Burgeoning Black Social Activism in Ontario and its Grassroots Responses to the Canadian Colour Line, 1919-1939” centres community-building as an effective method to reject the notion of Blackness as racial alterity and second-class citizenship in Canada. This project highlights the understudied and informal everyday acts of resistance that Black Canadian women crafted to fight anti-Black racism during the interwar period. After identifying how white Canadians expressed the colour line during the 1920s and 1930s, I consider how Black people pragmatically responded in Ontario. In this study, I argue that Black women worked as community leaders to engender a shared intra-racial collective among Black Canadians of varying backgrounds. Their dynamic leadership changed over time, developing through church fundraising social activities, starting church youth clubs, to launching much-needed leisure, recreation, and learning activities premised on a Black international scope and a Pan-Africanist ideology. A close examination of oral history interviews, church records, activist organization records, and newspapers offers a thoughtful consideration of historical contingencies. These factors informed the everyday, local ways that Black people in Ontario challenged their racialized alterity and ostracization in Canadian society.
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