Chapter 2: What it Means to be Black


The common social rule is to never bring up four topics at a party: politics, religion, race, and health. Conversations about race and racism tend to involve discomfort, confusion, anger, and even denial. 

However, these conversations are important. What if we were to move beyond our own personal ideas about race and racism? Could we learn more about ourselves and those around us? Could healthy, productive discussions about race and racism help relieve fear and uncertainty and help us connect with each other? 

As we learned in Chapter 1, racism is deeply entrenched in our everyday lives: the existing systems, values, and beliefs were purposefully designed to favour, privilege, and empower broader white society while marginalizing and oppressing Black, Indigenous, and other racialized people. We also learned about the different types of racism and how they affect health. Racism is a lived experience, and by understanding anti-Black racism, we can gain insights into what it means to be Black: of Black African descent. Some Black people have redefined Blackness as a source of hope and resiliency.

Before discussing what it means to be Black, let’s explore white privilege.

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