RUDE: CONTEMPORARY BLACK CANADIAN CULTURAL CRITICISM, edited by Rinaldo Walcott (Insomniac), 219 pages, $19.99 paper. Rating: NNN
Lately, I haven't had much patience with academics except for Paul Gilroy. His book The Black Atlantic: Modernity And Double Consciousness examined blackness in ways that changed me. Then along came Rude, talking black/Canadian, and I had to take a look.
Since I see rudeness as a good thang, Rinaldo Walcott's collection of essays had me by tha ballz before I turned a page.
The subtitle is a bit misleading -- I thought the contributors would all be of African descent. They aren't. I got over it.
Rude isn't the beginning of black cultural criticism in Canada. But it does continue this tradition, moving from hiphop to hockey to the place of black characters in (white) Canadian literature.
David Sealy's Canadianizing Blackness: Resisting The Political and Awad El Karim M. Ibrahim's Hey, Ain't I Black Too? critique identity and our place in this country's oppressive power structure in complexly layered ways that made me happy, excited and hopeful.
Joy Mannette's My Dearest Child, a white mother's letter to her black child, is an odd editorial choice that stirred up a whole heapa conflicting emotions and thoughts.
And I worry about the way Rude almost erases black people's historic relation to the First Nations. Why not look at black people's connection to the original caretakers of Turtle Island?
Also, Walcott mentions the absence of black queer writings in Rude. But imagine how queer words could have messed wit' nation, homogeneity and culture and expanded Rude's historical base. Nuff said.
Diasporic Africans in Canada have been asking difficult questions for years. Walcott and his contributors are a reflection of this process. And though I may not ever see myself as a black hyphenated Canadian, it may still be worth your while to check out Rude.
To contact books write