The Current Situation

Notes on the current situation from a Canadian rapper

If you’re not from Canada, chances are you haven’t heard of Canadian rapper (yup, that’s a thing!) Shad, a.k.a. Shad K, a.k.a. Shadrach Kabango. His parents are Rwandan, he was born in Kenya, and he grew up in London, Ontario (he has my sympathies). As a rapper, he’s one of Canada’s best — in 2011, his album TSOL beat out Drake’s Take Care album for a Juno Award (Canada’s analogue to a Grammy). He also hosted CBC Radio One’s show Q (which you can hear in U.S. on public radio) in 2015 and 2016, and hosts the Netflix series Hip-Hop Evolution.

He recently posted this online, and it’s worth reading, thinking about, and taking to heart:

So I’ve gotten quite a few messages from people asking how they can help right now and I’d suggest following (not DMing!) our community leaders and activists for their best advice, but this is what’s been on my mind lately with respect to this.

6 things:

  1. Your relationships: The beliefs and conversations among your family and friends
  2. Your work: The atmosphere and dealings in your workplace
  3. Your schools: The environment and practices in your kids’ schools
  4. Your communities: The messages communicated explicitly and implicitly in your community groups and religious communities
  5. Your money: Where you choose to invest and how your spend your discretionary income
  6. Your vote: At every level

Petitions and donations are very helpful, especially in moments like these, but there are relationships and environments where you and only you can help dismantle anti-Black racism in an ongoing (and thus sustainable) way.

These dimensions of our lives are, in sum, who we are. Rather than looking out into the world for someone to attack or someone to save, my hope is that well-meaning folks would look into the mirror of these things and change themselves. This process will likely be more uncomfortable than sending cash or adding a signature but such feelings can be a good sign: Change is by definition unsettling.

As you educate yourselves, scrutinize these aspects of your life, and set out to make changes in some or all of them, remember again that the larger story is good; Black people have been surviving and fighting this fight for a long time and you’re welcome to partner with us for our freedom and for yours.

But have no illusions: The work probably won’t be glamorous and it won’t undo past harm. It will cost you something. Perhaps literally. And expect more pushback than praise. It is work after all.

Well put, sir.

I’ll close with a couple of my favorite Shad numbers:

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