When Africa Meets Canada in Downtown Toronto: Refugees, Immigrants, Blackness, and Identities North of the 49th Parallel
Awad Ibrahim, Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa
Haitians have just crossed the borders from the U.S. into Canada. But they are the latest group of refugees and immigrants to arrive in Canada. Before them, in the 1990s and early 2000s, continental Africans did the same en masse. My aim in this presentation is to understand – ethnographically – what happens to these groups in terms of their cultural, racial, linguistic, and social integration. Exploring three studies (1997, 2007, 2011) that focused on continental African youth and their cultural, racial, linguistic and social integration in three separate high schools in Ontario, I will argue: 1) continental African youth were not Black in Africa, but that 2) they enter a social imaginary where they become Black, 3) this social imaginary impacts what they learn and how they learn what they learn, 4) they learn Black English as a Second Language (BESL) and take up Hip-Hop as an identity, and hence 5) the end result of this process of becoming Black is a complex, complicated, ever-changing, and ever-shifting identity that I am calling the rhizome of Blackness, where Blackness is not a uni-dimensional category but a multicultural, multilingual and multinational category. WORD!
Awad Ibrahim is an award winning author and a Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa. He is a Curriculum Theorist with special interest in cultural studies, Hip-Hop, youth and Black popular culture, social foundations (i.e., philosophy, history and sociology of education), social justice and community service learning, diasporic and continental African identities, ethnography and applied linguistics. He has researched and published widely in these areas. He obtained his PhD from OISE, the University of Toronto, and has been with the Faculty of Education of the University of Ottawa since 2007. Before that, he was in the United States where he taught in Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Internationally, he has ongoing projects in Morocco, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the United States. His current projects include an ethnography of an inner city high school in Ottawa and the daily struggle of ‘becoming citizen’ in Canada. He is the creator and the leader of the Urban Education Community at the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa. This is a project that intends to immerse Bachelor of Education students into urban middle and high schools. He has more than 100 publications. His books include, Critically Researching Youth (Peter Lang, 2016; with Shirley Steinberg); Provoking Curriculum Studies: Strong Poetry and the Arts of the Possible in Education (Routledge, 2016; with Nicholas Ng-A- Fook & Giuliano Reis) The Education of African Canadian Children: Critical Perspectives (Montreal: McGill- Queen’s University Press, 2016; with Ali Abdi); The rhizome of Blackness: A critical ethnography of Hip-Hop culture, language, identity and the politics of becoming (Peter Lang, 2014); Critical Youth studies: A reader (Peter Lang, 2014; with Shirley Steinberg); Global linguistic flows: Hip-Hop cultures, youth identities and the politics of language (Routledge, 2009; with Samy Alim and Alastair Pennycook). For his high school students, he was known as Dr. Dre.