Breaking down the coronavirus

The spread of a human coronavirus, which started in China, has prompted universal fear in the span of weeks.

While there is still a lot of uncertainty about the virus, it was declared a global health emergency on Jan. 30 by the World Health Organization (WHO). Panic has settled in as the death toll continues to climb, with 300 so far and more than 14,000 confirmed cases in primarily Asian countries, according to the New York Times.

The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, which is one of China’s main transportation hubs. It is home to over 11 million people, making it a difficult place to contain an outbreak. Amid the circumstances, many international airlines such as KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Air Canada suspended their flights to China, prolonging the process for nationals seeking a way home.

Given that this is a respiratory virus, MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis experts advise those who are in the vicinity of the virus to practice flu-prevention methods, such as washing your hands frequently and staying home from school or work if you’re sick.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of the coronavirus include runny nose, headache, cough, fever, and a sore throat. Human coronaviruses can also trigger respiratory illness causing pneumonia for those infected. For this reason, people are being warned to be wary of flu-like symptoms, much like the common cold.

People have demonstrated a great deal of concern given that the virus is highly contagious. According to an early SSRN study, an infected person could transmit the disease from 2.0 to 3.1 people, if the necessary preventative measures aren’t taken seriously.

The virus has been compared to SARS, another form of coronavirus that killed 774 people in China back in 2003. The coronavirus can travel through the air, increasing the risk of contamination when a sick person breathes, coughs, sneezes or talks. Although the statistics of the virus raise concern for people worldwide, there are ways to reduce transmission numbers. This is done by using effective public health measures such as keeping those who are sick isolated while monitoring people who might have been in contact with them.

As of Jan. 31, there are four confirmed cases in Canada as reported by Global News: two in Toronto, one in London, Ontario and one in Vancouver. In Ottawa, fears surrounding the spread of the virus happened to coincide with the Chinese Lunar New Year. This led to the cancellation of several Lunar New Year events, despite the fact that there are no confirmed cases in Ottawa.

With the virus having made its way to Canada, the National Post reports that the Chinese-Canadian community is facing discrimination in light of these events. The article also recalls the role media played in propagating misinformation and hurtful stigma against the Chinese Canadian community. On Feb. 1, at a Lunar New Year celebration in Scarborough, Ontario, Justin Trudeau called for all Canadians to stay united against discrimination.

The outbreak has sparked a shared sense of fear in various countries where the coronavirus is present. This became evident when a cruise ship in Italy containing 6,000 tourists was placed in total lockdown, according to The BBC. The two passengers suspected of being contaminated remained in isolation units until deemed safe.

As for the Concordia community, Concordia International has stated that they currently do not have any students abroad in China. University spokesperson Vannina Maestracci explains the University’s approach to keeping the situation under control for students who are worried about the outbreak.

“The University is taking its guidance from public health agencies at the local, provincial and federal levels, who are closely monitoring the outbreak, and providing public health and infection control guidance,” said Maestracci. “Canadian public health authorities advise that the overall risk to Canadians remains low.”

She confirmed that the University has communicated with “students, staff and faculty on the risk, symptoms and best behaviours for flu-like symptoms such as handwashing.”

Maestracci also made a comment pertaining to discrimination on campus geared at Chinese students, saying “our Code of Rights and Responsibilities, which governs the entire Concordia community has, as its grounding principles, the values of civility, equity, respect, non-discrimination and an appreciation of diversity as manifested within Concordia University and within society.”


Graphic by @sundaeghost


The hidden dangers of online dating

Some use them for fun, while others may be searching for their true love. But there is one thing that is certain about dating apps; they need more regulation.

A recent investigation discovered that most free dating apps don’t conduct background checks on sex offenders. In fact, Match Group, the largest dating app corporation in the United States, has admitted that they do not screen free dating apps for users with sexual-related charges. The company owns some of the most popular dating apps to date such as Tinder, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, and OkCupid.

A simple background check could have saved the lives of multiple men and women who ended up raped or murdered. A study conducted by Columbia Journalism Investigations has found that this lack of uniform policy to conduct background checks had left users vulnerable to an array of sexual assaults.

However, what remains shocking is that Match Group had issued statements pertaining to the protection of its users by ensuring extensive screenings of potential predators, but it has done the opposite, according to CBS News. For years, it had made false promises to users in which they agreed to examine sex-offender registries following the rapes of various women. Both women had matched with men whom they later realized had been convicted of sexual-related crimes on multiple occasions.

One woman matched with a man named Mark Papamechail on the Plenty of Fish dating app back in 2016. His profile indicated that he was divorced, just like her, and looking for someone to marry. The two chatted for months and even went on several dates together until he raped her. She became the second woman to file a police report against Papamechail following a sex-related crime.

According to the same analysis, in 10 per cent of the incidents, dating platforms had matched their users with a convicted criminal at least once before. These statistics should raise an immediate red flag considering the number of people using dating apps daily. The Community Justice Initiatives (CJI) released a study suggesting that this problem will continue, given the growing popularity of online dating apps throughout the years. In 2008, the percentage of adults who used dating apps went from three per cent in 2008, two 12 per cent in 2015. Furthermore, the BBC announced in an article released this year that the number of recorded sexual assaults had almost doubled in the last four years. In England, recorded offenses intensified from 156 in 2015, to 286 in 2018.

Despite the dangers surrounding these dating apps, there are precautions that can be taken for women to feel safer before going on a date with someone they met online. First and foremost, you should always let a friend or family member know about the date ahead of time. You can also let that person track your location using through the Find My Friends app or via Facebook Messenger. I also find that it’s usually best to meet your date in a public place in the event that if something bad happens, there’s always a chance that someone nearby will see something. Never forget, the internet is your friend! So in that case, don’t be afraid to do some digging on the person you’re meeting beforehand. Last tip, if your date takes place in a bar, always make sure to keep an eye on your drink if you feel uneasy because at the end of the day, it’s better to be safe than sorry!


Graphic by Victoria Blair


Are we doing Pride wrong?

Pride comes around each year as a way to recognize the LGBTQI+ community. It is celebrated in the month of June as a way to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising that took place in Manhattan, New York.

However, 2019 marks 50 years since members of the LGBTQI+ community fought back against police at the Stonewall Inn; and as a result, launching what is today known as the LGBTQ rights movement. Over the years, there has been a significant improvement in the legal and social protections that LGBTQ people have access to. This includes rights to same-sex marriage, employment security and the right to hold universal celebrations like Pride.

It’s important to note that Pride still remains pertinent well into the 21st century because there is still a lot of discrimination and injustice directed at LGBTQI+ people worldwide. On May 30, two women were the subject of a homophobic attack on a night bus in London. The pair was violently beaten by a group of teenagers, which goes to show that hate crimes still exist.

According to the BBC, attacks on the LGBTQ community have almost doubled since 2014 which means there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done regarding the safety of LGBTQI+ people.

As for the history of the LGBTQI+ rights movement, the Stonewall Uprising became a pivotal turning point for the Gay Liberation Movement that took place in the United States in ‘69. What initially started as a one-day celebration known as “Gay Pride Day,” which took place on the last Sunday in June, quickly developed into a month-long series of festivities.

Nowadays, Pride Month consists of parades, parties, concerts, you name it. Nevertheless, it is also a time to remember those who lost their lives to hate crimes or to HIV/AIDS. Overall, Pride Month leaves an impact on everyone, shining light on those who belong to the LGBTQI+ community and how they’ve influenced individuals on a historical, national, and international scale.

Despite the fact that Pride appeals to all audiences, it is important to remember that it was not born out of the desire to celebrate, but rather to demonstrate for the equality and inclusion of LGBTQI+ people. The movement stemmed from a demand for equal rights, which has evolved into a festival celebrated globally in the past 50 years.

People mustn’t forget that this battle for acceptance isn’t over. Individuals from the LGBTQI+ community face challenges when it comes to living openly in society – especially Transgender people. Their emotional, physical, and professional well-being is in a constant state of jeopardy. But with more and more LGBTQI+ people showing the courage to live as openly as they wish, we will soon see a true step forward in accepting who others are. Their bravery sets an example to all.

Not too long ago, there was controversy surrounding the fact that certain straight people questioned the need for Pride even wondering why there aren’t any “Straight Pride” parades/celebrations. This goes to demonstrate that some people may not fully comprehend the history surrounding Pride and that it didn’t start out as sunshine and rainbows.

Furthermore, when straight people question the need for Pride, it indicates a lack of recognition towards a minority group that continues to face a multitude of challenges. This was seen in the violent murders of transgender women, among other examples.

The bottom line is that the LGBTQI+ community has shown so much resilience and progress in spite of these hardships – which is something that needs to be celebrated. Pride is an incredible opportunity for everyone to come together in solidarity, and reflect on the history of the LGBTQI+ movement.


Graphic by Victoria Blair


Intersectionality within mental health

Student Association discusses asking for help in the black community

Concordia’s very own ACSioN Network—which stands for African and Caribbean Synergic Interorganizational Network—hosted a mental health awareness event on Friday. ACSioN is an umbrella association within the black diaspora at Concordia along with the Caribbean Student Union, Haitian Students’ Association and the African Students’ Association of Concordia.

Tetdra Providence, a linguistics major and the president of ACSioN Concordia, said the objective is to beat the stigma surrounding mental health in black communities.

“For many of us, be it Caribbean and African backgrounds, it’s sort of a cultural thing where the way our families respond to issues of mental health makes it seem like an excuse,” said Providence. “It’s not normal within our culture, it’s just not approached the same way as it is in, say, North American culture for whites. It’s a thing that historically has been that way, and there hasn’t been the most interest or input in terms of changing it into something better.”

Providence hopes that by hosting these events, students from black communities will want to speak up about issues that are bothering them. Many clubs at Concordia such as BIPOC hold mental health awareness events all the time, but a lot of people are scared of stepping foot into a room where it’s being discussed, according to Providence.

Providence said that often times, people fear what others think of them, assuming that because they attend these types of events, they immediately have a mental health issue or need some type of support. She added that people also fear they will be treated differently once they speak up about their mental health issues.

“Everyone, not just in the black community, is sheltered about mental health,” said Providence.

To facilitate the process, Providence set up an anonymous link where attendees were able to ask questions prior to the meeting. In addition, two of the three guests were health professionals from the black community, a nurse and a psychologist.

“A lot of people don’t want to see a therapist if that therapist can’t understand their background difficulties, so we search and try to find people who are black who can come and directly inform our audience,” Providence said.

Andie Franceska Franklin, the assistant outreach coordinator for ACSioN, said the event raised the issue of mental health awareness in black communities being linked to religion and poverty.

“In black communities, they don’t see it as a real issue, they tell you to turn to the bible or if you have some kind of mental issue, they blame it directly on the devil,” said Franklin. “It’s big on religion.”

As a culture, there is a larger concern with what is immediate. According to the World Health Organization, socioeconomic status is largely linked to mental health, given that people who are impoverished, homeless or have substance abuse problems are at a higher risk for mental illnesses.

“Financially, it’s a lot of money to seek mental help,” said Franklin. “A lot of it has to do with income, too. If you’re living in an impoverished neighbourhood or a lower-class community, you don’t have time to be focusing on mental health, instead we’re going to focus on things that we can do now.”

According to Mental Health America, people need to be more conscious of the fact that issues such as racism and oppression continue to have a major impact on the mental health of those in the black community.

More information about ACSioN can be found on their website. A list of mental health services can be found on Concordia’s website.

Photo by Gabe Chevalier.


The U.S. government shutdown

Why we should care about the government shutdown in the U.S.

The U.S. government has shut down yet again, only this time it’s being regarded as the longest shutdown in U.S. history. It all started on Dec. 22, right before the holidays and unfortunately for the time being, there’s no end in sight. According to CBS News, this is the third government shutdown in 2018 alone. In order to gain a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem, there have only been three government shutdowns in the past 25 years up until 2018.

Government officials failed to come to an agreement concerning President Donald Trump’s decision to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump’s refusal to approve a federal budget unless it includes funding for a border wall is beyond absurd. Democrats have rejected Trump’s request to do so for $5.7 billion. This has affected nine federal departments, leaving about 800,000 federal workers without pay.

The shutdown has had an impact on all sorts of industries. Employees such as prison guards, FBI agents and airport staff have been working without pay. Flying is now deemed less safe than before due to a shortage of TSA workers. Airline companies such as Delta airlines will lose revenue of $25 million this month given that fewer government contractors are flying.

On Tuesday, Jan. 15, a federal judge in Washington denied the request to pay workers who are continuing their jobs during the shutdown, including the nation’s air traffic controllers. According to NBC News, the union that represents thousands of air traffic controllers filed a lawsuit on Friday. They’re searching for a temporary restraining order against the federal government for violating the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. constitution, given that they’re being denied “hard-earned compensation without the requisite due process.”

On Thursday, federal workers all over the country missed their first paychecks since the beginning of the shutdown. According to NBC News, air traffic controllers and TSA workers expressed their concerns surrounding passengers’s safety during the shutdown. The air traffic control system in this country is an economic engine. At this moment, we’re seeing this incredible strain on the system, which is unacceptable given that it’s negatively impacting thousands of people.

Meanwhile on Craigslist, listings from federal workers trying to sell their possessions have been flooding the site. These items varied from beds to old toys, which have been listed as “government shutdown specials.” According to the BBC, of the 800,000 federal employees going unpaid, approximately 350,000 are furloughed, which is a temporary lay-off, while the rest remain at work. This past weekend, one of the country’s major airports, Miami International, closed an entire terminal because too many employees have been calling in sick.

Both the House and Senate have passed a bill on Friday to guarantee that all government workers will be receiving retroactive pay once the shutdown is over. Trump is still expected to sign the legislation but for the moment he’s still demanding that Democrats approve funding for a border wall. People’s lifestyles have been placed on hold as a result of this shutdown. Some fear for the worst, wondering if they’ll have enough money to pay next month’s rent, or for their medication.

Even though the shutdown isn’t directly affecting Canadians, it is highly relevant. Thousands of American citizens are left wondering how they’re going to pay their rent and provide for their families as the shutdown perseveres. Trump has been directing all his attention towards building this border wall when in reality this shutdown isn’t a fight about security. It’s affecting thousands of communities and families across the nation and makes us question whether Republicans in the White House are living in the same reality as the rest of the country.

All we can do now is hope for this shutdown to end before more damage is done. Even though they’ll get their pay back once the government reopens, these federal employees aren’t receiving money as their costs of living keep piling up.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin



“Boys will be boys” encourages predatory behaviour

The recent allegations against Brett Kavanaugh highlight a deeper issue

On Sept. 27, Christine Blasey Ford testified against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about an alleged sexual assault. After Ford went public, two other women came forward with similar allegations. As a result of the accusations, Ford’s world has been turned upside down. It wasn’t long before Ford, a college professor living in California with her husband and two sons, started to receive death threats.

Victims of sexual violence face an immense amount of pressure when coming forward. The way they’re treated and oftentimes ridiculed is a clear indication that people don’t grasp how serious sexual violence truly is. The alleged assault took place 30 years ago, back when Kavanaugh and Ford were teenagers. But this story is still relevant today. Much of the blame is being placed on the fact that they were young and intoxicated, raising the notion that “boys will be boys,” which places teenage girls in a very despairing position. Present in this problematic societal norm is the concept that men can do what they want and women should succumb.

This notion is even rooted in every girl’s education; if a boy is mean to you, it’s because he likes you. The idea that masculine violence is natural, and therefore should be excused, is a problematic idea that continues to exist even in adulthood. Boys become men, and women, whatever their age or social status, are still expected to accept and endure masculine violence as a sign of affection, as something they should be grateful for. Kavanaugh’s defenders have tried to downplay the severity of the accusations, implying that what happened in high school somehow matters less.

“Isn’t it strange how every woman knows someone who’s been sexually harassed but no man seem [sic] to know any harasser?” tweeted singer Zara Larsson last year. This question in itself is an explanation for how our society operates. Women experiencing sexual violence in their everyday lives has become the norm.

Many men are raised with the idea of legitimate ownership over women and their bodies. This idea becomes even more apparent when men are in positions of power. On the other hand, women are taught to believe that their sexuality is frowned upon. Half of the world’s population is continually shamed for what they wear, how they talk, and whatever else is deemed inappropriate by society.

There’s an obvious problem when addressing how systems of power operate in the professional world. The conversation concerning sexual violence begins with consent. When discussing sexual violence and sexual harassment, there’s a lack of clarity in what constitutes the two.

Don’t get me wrong––both types of acts are horrific and must be condemned. But I’ve noticed that depending on a person’s circumstances, sexual harassment is often undermined because it really has to do with how something makes you feel. What constitutes as sexual harassment can be different for different people, which makes it harder to recognize and condemn it––what one person might feel is harassment might not be felt that way by someone else.

Ultimately, predatory behaviour can be hard to recognize, but even when it’s in our face, we feel hesitant in calling it out because of normalized behaviours and boundaries. As members of our society, we are all responsible for how we call out predatory behaviour. Unfortunately, as shown by the allegations against Kavanaugh, we’re still living in a time where survivors of sexual violence are not immediately believed and are doubted. When something of this nature happens to a survivor of sexual violence, they are reminded that they are not in control, which is extremely upsetting.

Oddly, sexual consent only comes up in conversation when it has already been violated. People’s actions during their adolescent years may not define who they become as adults, but they can permanently change the lives of others. We must remember that.

Graphic by @spooky_soda


#NeverAgain: A demand for change

Students-turned-activists fight back against gun violence in the United States

Yet another devastating mass shooting rocked the United States on Feb. 14. This time, it occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Seventeen lives were lost that day. Students who survived the school shooting decided to take immediate action and started protesting against gun violence in the United States.

We have seen an eruption of anger from these students, many of whom lost friends and teachers on that horrific day. Rather than staying home and grieving, they are channeling their outrage to give voice to the issue that devastated their school.

There is truly nothing more empowering than watching a group of teenagers speak up about gun control, form an alliance against politicians who are funded by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and spark a nation-wide movement now known as #NeverAgain.

Many Douglas High School students are advocating for change because they are tired of the normalization of mass shootings in the United States. They have expressed particular disappointment in the government’s failure to ban semi-automatic weapons—the type of gun used in the Parkland shooting—and all other accessories that make them fully automatic. Furthermore, these student activists are pushing for stricter background checks for gun buyers.

Just four days after the shooting, these students began planning the March for Our Lives demonstration, to take place on March 24 in Washington D.C. Numerous celebrities have demonstrated their support for the Parkland community, including Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney, who donated millions to the upcoming march. Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have both taken to Twitter to praise and express their support for the teens’ efforts. The former first lady tweeted: “Like every movement for progress in our history, gun reform will take unyielding courage and endurance.”

In light of this activism, it’s extremely maddening that President Donald Trump keeps highlighting mental illness as the prominent issue when mass shootings take place. Yet, as many gun control advocates have pointed out, Trump repealed an initiative in February 2017 that would have made it harder for people with mental illness to purchase guns. This was just one of the many points made in a heart-wrenching speech given by Emma González, a senior at Douglas High School, on Feb. 17. This speech became the defining moment at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale the weekend after the shooting.

Another name that has become familiar with the American public and over social media is David Hogg. Hogg is a reporter for the Douglas High School newspaper, now known for his comments on CNN the morning after the shooting: “We are children. You guys are the adults. […] Work together, come over your politics and get something done.”

In addition, Cameron Kasky, a Douglas High School junior, confronted Florida Senator Marco Rubio about accepting millions of dollars from the NRA at the CNN town hall meeting held on Feb. 21. People have praised Kasky for his courageous use of words when talking to the politician on live television. The crowd cheered for the young student and booed Rubio, who couldn’t even respond with a simple “yes” or “no.”

The words of these students over the past two weeks convinced President Trump to call for a ban on bump stocks, which make semi-automatic weapons to fire faster, and prompted Rubio to announce new measures to prevent school shootings, according to CNN. These students’ actions led to CNN hosting a town hall meeting, and their actions led certain advertisers to leave the NRA, according to The New York Times. These students have also raised millions of dollars for the upcoming march in D.C., reported CNN.

I believe this shooting triggered such an uprising because the victims were high school students, some of whom are getting ready to go to college and commence their adult journeys. But what’s most important is that these students have demonstrated they will not tolerate any more gun violence in the United States. Enough is enough.

As I look back on the Parkland shooting, I reflect on how it has affected me personally. I lived in Miami, Fla., for 10 years, and to hear about such a tragedy occurring only an hour away from where my family lives is horrifying. My younger brother is in the sixth grade at a public middle school in Miami, and everyday I fear the worst, knowing he lives in a nation where teenagers can purchase AR-15s.

It’s remarkable to see a group of teenagers who endured such trauma work so hard to change gun laws in the United States. Children shouldn’t have to fear for their lives when they go to school, and the survivors of the Parkland shooting are doing everything they can to make that a reality. As Emma González stated during her speech at Fort Lauderdale: “If us students have learned anything, it’s that if you don’t study, you will fail. And in this case, if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead. So it’s time to start doing something.”

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth


Trump’s “shithole” comment is plain old racism

The president’s choice of words with regards to immigration contradict the age-old American Dream

On Jan. 11, President Donald Trump was reported to have referred to Haiti, El Salvador and parts of Africa as “shithole countries” during a White House meeting about immigration reform, according to The Guardian. His response came as a reaction to the idea of allowing immigrants from those countries into the United States, according to the same source.

The Internet was quick to erupt with outrage following the horrific statement. Many people, including notable journalists such as Don Lemon and The Daily Show host Trevor Noah are labeling Trump as racist. The comments came as Haiti was preparing to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of lives lost during the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck eight years ago, according to CNN. According to Time magazine, individuals from Haiti have been under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) since the devastating earthquake struck the island back in January 2010. CNN reported that Trump appears to have ignored the fundamental humanitarian purpose of TPS, which allows people to live and work in the United States if their countries are affected by natural disasters, war or any type of political conflict that would prevent citizens from safely returning to their homeland.

Following Trump’s comment, an opinions piece in the Washington Post argued that American news media “has long treated black and brown countries like ‘shitholes.’” The news media in the United States has systematically reported on Haiti and African nations as poverty stricken and disease ridden—and that’s when those countries are even considered worthy of coverage in the first place, according to the same article.

However, I believe the news media did an exceptional job of calling Trump out on his racist comment. Essentially, what the president is asserting is that he doesn’t want to welcome anyone from those countries no matter how qualified they may be, all because of where they come from. A fundamental value of the United States is the American Dream—the idea that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, you can still make it there. You don’t have to be rich to be worthy nor do you need a college degree.

Part of what’s important to keep in mind is that, not only was Trump’s comment exceedingly racist, but it’s also inaccurate. According to Vox, 30 per cent of people born in the United States have college degrees whereas 43 per cent of African immigrants have college degrees. Additionally, 10 per cent of white Americans have advanced degrees compared to the 25 per cent of Nigerian Americans who do. These facts completely refute Trump’s ignorant opinion about people from Africa. In my opinion, the fact that Trump seems to believe an entire country should not be welcome in the United States is the textbook definition of racism. You can’t dismiss entire countries whose populations are not white—let alone refer to them as “shitholes”—and not expect to be called a racist.

I believe there have been numerous examples of Trump demonstrating he is indeed racist, despite many people only now starting to realize it. It’s especially appalling that words such as “shithole” are being used to describe entire countries and continents by those in the White House. For years, African immigrants as well as Haitians and Salvadorans have been coming to the United States and bringing up the learning and entrepreneurship rate—thus helping make America a greater nation, according to The New York Times.

Politically speaking, it would also make no sense to exclude parts of the world seeking entry into the United States given that an influx of immigrants will only help better the economy in the long run. In my opinion, Trump’s racist comment is yet another piece of evidence that the United States is being led by a man who applies policies that will “make America white again.”

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin 


The history and inappropriateness of blackface

Looking into our province’s relationship with blackface and why it must be condemned

This Halloween, a high school vice-principal in Montreal sparked outrage over his use of blackface for his costume. Jocelyn Roy, the administrator in question, showed up to Collège de Montréal dressed up as Jamaican reggae icon Bob Marley for a Halloween costume parade. This ended up offending many students.

Given that Roy’s use of blackface wasn’t well received by students at his school, he quickly removed both the costume and the face paint. He later apologized for the incident.

There is a long history behind blackface. More than a century ago, Montrealers attended minstrel shows at local theatres for entertainment. People would gather to watch these musical comedy performances, which featured white actors wearing black face paint, according to CBC News. Blackface minstrel shows originally started in the United States, but were common in Quebec from the late 19th century up until the 1950s, according to the same source. Historically speaking, blackface was born from discrimination against black people and against integrating actors of colour on stage.

Blackface is truly intertwined with Canadian history. According to CBC News, Calixa Lavallée, the composer of the Canadian national anthem, was a member of a blackface troupe that toured North America for several years. According to Quebec’s Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales, Montreal’s oldest permanent theatre, the Theatre Royal, was home to multiple successful minstrel shows known at the time as “Soirées éthiopiennes.”

According to CBC News, Blackface minstrel shows never failed to sell out theatres—even after they fell out of fashion among professional theatre troupes. In the 1920s, these minstrel shows experienced a revival within several Montreal communities since they were considered cultural events for white audiences.

Ever since blackface first emerged as a theatrical art form, it has ridiculed people of colour. White performers portrayed slaves and free blacks, while using insulting and degrading stereotypes about black people. Examples of these include the aggressive man with his lustful eye on white women or the freed slave who couldn’t pronounce his words correctly but aspired to be part of high society, according to Esquire. All in all, blackface humiliates black people, but it also desensitizes white audiences to the hidden horrors of slavery.

I believe Quebec has a bad reputation surrounding racism. A book that explores Quebec’s relationship with anti-black racism and provides more insight on the issue is Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada From Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard. I believe instances of blackface and general anti-blackness are still common here, given that the province is renowned for being rather inconsiderate towards unfamiliar races and ethnicities. An example is Quebec’s problem with racial profiling. Part of the blame might also be directed towards the French-Canadian media and their lack of attention towards the insensitivity of using blackface. As recently as 2015, a Quebec actor wore blackface to portray hockey player P.K. Subban in a comedy sketch, according to The Globe and Mail.

Despite its comedic intent, the use of blackface is blatantly racist and disrespectful towards black people. Even though it is nearly 2018, many people all over the world still think it’s acceptable to paint their skin a darker colour while pretending to be a different race. Race relations in North America still remain fragile, after several killings of black men and women by police officers in the United States and Canada’s own alarmingly high number of black prisoners, according to the Toronto Star. Nowadays, the use of blackface is highly frowned upon. It does not celebrate, honour nor pay homage to any culture or ethnicity.

Overall, I believe it’s important that people, not only in Canada but also around the world, become more conscious of blackface, because it is just part of the larger issue of anti-black racism.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

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