* I completed my thesis in May 2018 and many aspects of this project have been reshaped and expanded since my defence, as projects often do. On some levels it feels odd to share what feels like a dated version of my ideas but on another I feel it is an important body of work that speaks to many of the core values I want to carry in my practice. In response to these mixed feelings around my thesis I’ve decided to put a hold on publishing my thesis till I publish my book which feels more urgent and relevant. As for the parts of my master’s experience and my thesis that I do want to share I’ll be adding them slowly below. With this page I hope to share bits and pieces from my thesis and unpack what it was like for me to be a Black scholar writing about my personal and my community’s Black experiences.
ABSTRACT - Understanding Blackness in Montreal: A Toolkit for Engaging Youth in Critical Dialogue Around Race is a research-creation project that explores the potential for engaging youth in critical dialogue around racial dynamics in Montreal. Through the creation of two alternative educational tools, rooted in principles of critical pedagogy, I aim to help youth contextualize the effects of the racial fabrication of Blackness. In this goal, I center the lived experiences and histories of Montreal’s Black communities using the methods of character-facilitated autobiographical storytelling and participatory archive revival. The first tool, MF’s Handbook to Navigating Blackness in Montreal, is a 100-page youth-aimed handbook narrated in the first-person by a character who represents my younger self. In this handbook, the character MF, invites young readers to join her as she speaks about the process of becoming critical and informed about the factors that shape how Blackness is understood in Montreal and how this idea of Blackness impacts her lived experience as a Black girl in Montreal. The second tool, Mapping Blackness in Montreal: An Archive Revival Workshop, is a 3-part workshop series aimed at small to medium-sized groups of youth (aged 8 to 16), which invites youth to take on the role of ‘young radical researchers’ in their exploration of Blackness in Montreal. On one level, the goal of this workshop is to help the participants identify absence and misrepresentation of Blackness in hegemonic culture, while on another it encourages the participants to collectively build and map their understanding of Blackness through the revival of archives sourced from Montreal’s Black communities. With this workshop, participants are able to learn about both the presence and contributions of Montreal’s Black communities while also critically discussing the reality of these communities. My goal in designing these two alternative educational tools is to explore creative methods of facilitation that could successfully engage youth in critical dialogue around racial dynamics in Montreal.