It's Black History Month, and Toronto has the longest record of any city in Canada to celebrate this occasion. In the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, campaigns like Black Lives Matter, have spread across the streets of the GTA.
These efforts have highlighted the continued need for a dialogue about racism. Black History Month gives us an opportunity to engaged in these conversations with artists, musicians, filmmakers and comedians who have come together to celebrate the diversity and contributions of African-Canadians in Toronto.
Here are my picks for the top Toronto Black History Month events in 2015.
Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now's the Time exhibit
Jean-Michel Basquiat was the ultimate badass of the New York art scene in the 1980s. His politically charged paintings inspired by graffiti and comics waged a visual war against racism, poverty and colonialism. After years of struggling with depression and heroin addiction, the artist died of an overdose at age 27. Now's the Time is the first major retrospective of the artist's work in Canada.
The Wild Party
This musical will transport you to Manhattan in the roaring '20s where the gin and jazz were flowing. You'll be in the front seats watching as the reckless relationship between a Vaudevillian clown and dancer spirals out of control. The Tony-nominated musical is produced in association with Obsidian Theatre Company who are known for their award-winning work featuring the black voice.
If you want a crash course on the history of colonialism in Africa set against breathtaking archival images of the most daring moments in Africa's liberation struggle of the 1960s and 70s, check out filmmaker Göran Hugo Olsson's documentary, Concerning Violence. The film, narrated by singer Lauryn Hill, features passages from Frantz Fanon's seminal work, The Wretched of the Earth, about the dehumanizing effects of colonialism.
Kitchen Conversations: Palattes of Africa-Carnival
Equal parts history and culinary art, Palattes will satisfy your hunger for both great food and cultural exploration. This event, featuring New York-based chef and cookbook author Pierre Thiam is set up as a pop-up restaurant serving up traditional West African dishes as well as unexpected Afro-fusion twists. Be ready to taste-test new dishes like Jollof Rice Sushi rolls with jerked catfish. The ticket also gets you admission to the ROM's popular Friday Night Live (FNL) so you can drink the night away surrounded by dinosaur bones.
This is the 20th anniversary of Kuumba, Harbourfront Centre's annual Black History Month festival. The theme this year is Afrofuturism, combining science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magical realism as a lens to examine issues of race and ethnicity. The event features music, dance, comedy, film and much more.
What did I miss? Add your suggestions for the top events at Toronto Black History Month 2015 in the comments.
Follow Sima Sahar Zerehi on Twitter @SimaSaharZerehi.
by Sima Sahar Zerehi via blogTO