"'The Real Toronto': Black Youth Experiences and the Narration of the Multicultural City" in Journal of Canadian Studies, 51 (3), 725-748
Looking back at more than 45 years of official multicultural policy in Canada, this article asks us to reflect on how the experiences of Black male youth in Toronto and the ways in which race, class, age, and gender intersect to alienate them from full access to educational and employment opportunities disrupt the construction of Canada as an “ideal” and “exceptional” multicultural democracy, built on unchallenged assumptions of inclusivity and impartiality. While Canadian multiculturalism promises respect for cultural differences, free education, and access to jobs for all citizens regardless of national origin or ethnicity, this promise is not borne out in the lives of poor black youth. The article centres the voices and perspectives of these youth by drawing on the documentary The Real Toronto, filmed during the “Summer of the Gun” in 2005, and on the findings from a three-year transnational study of the effects of violence on Black youth in Canada and Jamaica, collected eight years later in 2013. The article argues that Black urban male youth, by situating their precarious life experiences on the margins of a set of core Canadian values, destabilize our understanding of Canadian society by revealing the ways in which they are routinely criminalized and pathologized, and by demanding greater access to upward mobility.
Andrea A. Davis is an associate professor in Black cultures of the Americas in the Department of Humanities at York University and co-editor of the Journal of Canadian Studies.
Other publications from this author include:
- Horizon, Sea, Sound: Caribbean and African Women's Cultural Critiques of Nation (2022)
- "Celebrating Austin Clarke: The Man and the Body of His Work" in TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, 42 (2021)
- "Which Scandalous Bodies? Black Women Writers Refuse Nation Narratives" in Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review, 243, 146-152 (2020)
- "Un/Belonging in Diasporic Cities: A Literary History of Caribbean Women in London and Toronto" in Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, 13, 17-50 (2019)
- "The Black Woman Native Speaking Subject: Reflections of a Black Female Professor in Canada" in Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture, and Social Justice, 39 (1), 70-78 (2018)
- James, Carl E. and Andrea Davis, "Instructive Episodes: The Shifting Positions of the Jamaican Diaspora in Canada" in Journal of Education and Development in the Caribbean, 14 (1), 17-41 (2012)
- Jamaica in the Canadian Experience: A Multiculturalizing Presence (2012)
- "Black Canadian Literature as Diaspora Transgression: The Second Life of Samuel Tyne" in TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, 17, 31-49 (2007)
- "Diaspora, Citizenship and Gender: Challenging the Myth of the Nation in African Canadian Women's Literature" in Canadian Woman Studies, 23 (2), 64-69 (2004)