Black Like Who?
20th anniversary edition
by Rinaldo Walcott
Narrated by Nigel Shawn Williams
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 15 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 01 Aug 2021
ECW Press Audio, Bespeak Audio Editions
Rinaldo Walcott’s groundbreaking study of black culture in Canada, Black Like Who?, caused an uproar upon its publication. With its incisive readings of hip-hop, film, literature, social unrest, sports, music, and electronic media, Walcott’s book not only assesses the role of black Canadians in defining Canada, it also argues strenuously against any notion of an essentialist Canadian blackness. As erudite on the issue of American super-critic Henry Louis Gates’ blindness to black Canadian realities as he is on rap, Walcott’s essays are thought-provoking and always controversial in the best sense of the word. They have added and continue to add immeasurably to public debate.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 8 members
This was such a fascinating book! I'm so glad it is coming out in audio because admittedly, it was a bit too academic than my usual reading, but the audio format helped as I could go back and listen to certain sections again to fully grasp the points Walcott was making.
For anyone who is interested in an engaging and smart look at how Blackness in performed, perceived, categorized, and treated in Canada and specifically in Canadian cultural spaces, this is a great read. Walcott discusses the various arts and culture institutions that make up Canada's cultural spaces and contribute so much to building Canada's idea of itself as a nation; literary works; pop culture, music, and film; and even delves into some cultural policies and shifts in the city of Toronto.
It's remarakable that this book was written in the 90's (I know it was updated a few years ago as well) because so much of what Walcott discusses is still relevant today, and in a way, he was ahead of his time getting into these discussions - or perhaps the larger society is just very late!
Anyway, this was great and I'm definitely going to reread it because I'm sure I've missed some things!
In Chapter One of this book, the author begins with a quote then continues with, “This is a meditation on the place of Black Canadas in contemporary discourses of Black diasporas and the Black Atlantic.” Clearly in my mind, meaning a treatise on Black men and women in Canadian history. Continuing, a clear, academic feel arises. This is not to say the book (I listened to the audio version) was boring. Far from it. The author Rinaldo Walcott (and the narrator, Nigel Shawn Williams), created a very interesting reading on the view of Black culture in Canada by way of the use of literature and music and other cultural aspects. One chapter of interest is Chapter Five on the politics of 3rd cinema in Canada. Featured is the Canadian film director, Clement Virgo and discussion of his first featured film, Rude. He states that Black bodies (physical body) had gone MIA in public debate. "The Black body in western discourse is a marked body--marked with a history of enslavement and disenfranchisement." The author goes on to say that discourses concerning Blackness shifted since the 1950s and the 60s and 70s and “Black post-modernity is an unsentimental approach to addressing the complex and varied history of diasporic Black peoples.” There is some comparison and discussion of Blacks in America, Britain, and other parts of the world in a historical sense. The title of this book, “Black Like Who?” deserves some pondering.