A Few of Our Favourite Things: February 2023

February is Black History Month in Canada and the United States, so this month we wanted to highlight some stories, art, and reflections on Black history and Black futures. Happy Reading!

A group of dancers from the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater performing at the Kennedy centre. The dancers are facing away from the audience facing a backdrop that is bright blue.
Photo courtesy of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey's dance company marks 65 years

The story of Alvin Ailey and his dance company is both improbable and inspiring. To celebrate the company's 65th anniversary, artistic director Robert Battle spoke to NPR about his decision to explore themes of love and joy for this landmark season.

“Thinking about the pandemic and the racial divide and all of the things that we've been grappling with, it was important for me to express the fact that Alvin Ailey was a trailblazer in that sense, that he was the living embodiment of the notion that Black lives matter and Black excellence and creativity."

- Robert Battle, Artistic Director at Alvin Ailey Dance Theater
3 Black women sit in front of a grey backdrop. In the centre of the picture, Patrisse Cullors is wearing a teal tunic, with Black Lives Matter co-founders Alicia Garza and Ayo Tometi on either side of her.
Black Lives Matter co-founders (left to right): Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Ayo Tometi. Photo courtesy of Time

Patrisse Cullors on 10 years of Black Lives Matter

When Patrisse Cullors was tweeting about Black Lives Matter back in 2013, she was making a "simple and powerful demand for Black liberation." 10 years later, she's reflecting on what still hasn't changed and calling on people in power to take action.

“We need officials to reassess their values – what is more important, your political relationships or ensuring that the Black people in your city live long, full and healthy lives?”

- Patrisse Cullors, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter
A picture of a person wearing a black t-shirt that reads 'Good intentions are not enough.' The person's face is not visible.
Photo by Edgar Chaparro via Unsplash

Corporate Activism: True Allyship or "Woke-Washing"?.

Researchers at Bentley University have been looking into the actions and statements made by companies in the wake of injustice, to determine the impact that those actions have on the business' success, their reputation, and the national conversation..

“In the end, true allies will be rewarded by customers and in the eyes of the public. And to those companies who think that one Instagram post is enough: it’s not, and customers are watching.”

- Dr. Susan Dobscha, Professor of Marketing, Bentley University
A portrait of Canadian author Suzette Mayr smiling at the camera is shown next to a copy of the cover of her book The Sleeping Car Porter.
Photo courtesy of CBC

Black History Month Reading List 2023

The Toronto Public Library has put together a Black History Month Reading List that's updated for 2023! One of our favourites is the Giller-Prize-Winning novel The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr. It's a great read that really got us thinking!

“I want to acknowledge the importance of the sleeping car porters — the men and the communities around them who are an essential part of Canadian history and whom I wrote about in this book.”

- Suzette Mayr, Author of The Sleeping Car Porter
An illustration of a Black student raising their hand in a classroom. A teach and students are looking at them and on the whiteboard in the background there is a drawing of a brain.
Illustration by Alleanna Harris via Learning for Justice

Discussing Race, Racism, and Police Violence

Whether you're in a classroom or not, navigating conversations about race, racism, and police violence can be uncomfortable. If you're not sure where to start, worried about saying the wrong thing, or aren't sure you have all the facts, this resource package from Learning for Justice is a really good place to start. It's regularly updated and includes lesson planning tools, professional development webinars, data, and conversation starters.

“[These resources] can help spur much-needed discussion around implicit bias and systemic racism, but they can also help inspire us all to enact the changes that will create a more just society.”

- Learning for Justice, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center