BLACKS-IN-HISTORY

Black History Month (Year 3) | Day 7 | Phil LaMarr

Phil LaMarr is a graduate of Yale University where he founded the improv comedy group, Purple Crayon. In 1989, he became a member of the award winning sketch comedy group, The Groundlings. LaMarr also studied improv at The Secondy City and at the Improv Olympic. Through his connections within his improv network, he was able to start a film career—-his first movie being “It’s Pat”, in 1994. He has also appeared in a plethora of tv shows before it started his voice acting career—such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, “Hanging with Mr. Cooper”, “MADtv”, “Living Single”, and more. He’s even had a role in the popular cult classic  Tarantino Film, “Pulp Fiction”.

But the meat of his work is within the cartoon and video-game industry. Name a cartoon right now, go ahead. Did you do it? Yeah, he’s been in that. LaMarr has led an impressive voice acting career, his most notable roles being Jack (Samurai Jack), Static Shock (Static Shock), Hermes Conrad (Futurama), Wilt (Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends), Green Lantern (Justice League).

LaMarr is set to reprise his role as Samurai Jack for the show’s fifth and final season, this March.

If anyone ever tries to tell you that slavery never existed in Canada, they’re lying to your face and are perpetuating myths of Canadian benevolence and US-Canada contrasts. They’re ignoring over 200 years of enslavement, and the recorded 2,683 Indigenous slaves, mainly from the Pawnee Nation, and the recorded 1,443 Black slaves that occupied New France ALONE before the Conquest by the British. By the way, the entire population of New France back then was apx. 60,000, and the enslaved population made up 4,200 of those.

(So if French Canadians tell you that slavery appeared with the British Conquest, in actuality the British took steps to make it easier for people to own slaves through Article XLVII of the Articles of Capitulation, that many French settlers at that time took advantage of.)

Slaves were held by fur trading post officers, colonial officials, members of the military, Jesuits, Roman Catholic Churches, Baptist Churches, 50% of the later Quebec Parliament, and the common people who often went into debt to have the status symbol of owning a slave.

In 1781, the island of St. John (now P.E.I) passed a law that legalized slavery and paid a 40 shilling bonus for every Black slave brought into the province. In 1790, the Imperial Statute allowed British Loyalists from the states to bring in slaves to the whole country without tax. The same went for the cutlery, furniture, and farm tools they brought with them.

People will try to tell you that Indigenous people owned slaves as well. They kept prisoners of war and exchanged people to pay off debts and replace war-dead, but they were never dehumanized like slaves under European slavery. The two systems are not the same and aren’t even remotely interchangeable.

Slaves weren’t treated like members of the family or like well-loved butlers. They were subject to the same treatment endured by slaves in the 13 colonies. Ownership was justified in similar ways as well: using the Labour Supply argument, where white workers were “too costly” to hire and Black slaves were sometimes said to be “too expensive to import from the French Caribbean.” (They were sold here anyways.) This explains the higher amount of Indigenous slaves.

It also means that Black people have been in Canada for as long as whites; the first recorded slave in Canada showed up in 1629. He was from either Madagascar or Guinea.

People will cite Canada’s lack of a Code Noir as proof of a lack of slavery. Just because we didn’t have a specific document to regulate it doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. It did. There are newspaper advertisements in such papers as the Montreal Gazette for runaway slaves and slaves that were up for sale.

The life expectancy of a slave in Canada was 17 years old. The 1790 Act to Limit Slavery pushed by John Simcoe said that slaves born after 1790 would be freed at age 25. See how that doesn’t work?

But most importantly, people will try to tell you that slaves didn’t resist. They did. They launched legal protests and challenges, but were opposed by Judicial members who owned slaves themselves.

Well-known Canadian figures who owned slaves include but aren’t limited to:

James McGill of McGill University fame, Joseph Brant, Sir John Johnson, and William Jarvis.

Modern historians and scholars have tried to deny this. A historian who tried to tell the true story was Professor Marcel Trudel, who wrote “Canada’s Forgotten Slaves: 200 Years of Bondage” in the 1960’s. He was shunned by the academic community, relocated to Ottawa University from his previous chair, and was personally asked by Quebec politicians to stay quiet about the matter because he revealed that slavery existed in New France before the British - destroying the idea of French Canadian moral superiority in that regard. He died in 2011, and his book which so many tried to discredit but so many never could, was only translated into English in 2013.

Slavery existed in Canada. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

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Black Heritage Stamps with Ella Fitzgerald, Hattie McDaniel, Madam C.J. Walker, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Bessie Coleman, Sojourner Truth, Anna Julia Cooper, Marian Anderson, Shirley Chisholm.

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Black History Month (Year 3) | Day 11 | Static, Static Shock

Static was created by Dwayne McDuffie and Robert. L. Washington III. He first appeared in Static #1 in June of 1993. He full name is Virgil Ovid Hawkins, which is the same name of the first African American male to go to law school. Static was a key character and staple in the Milestone Comics line-up. In 1997, Milestone stopped publishing comics which left Static up in the air until September of 2000 when the WB (now CW) released Static Shock. The animated series series lasted four whole seasons which lead to the rebirth of Static in the comic world. Static Shock: Rebirth of Cool, a comic book miniseries, was released in 2001 and in 2009 the trade paperback of the series was nominated for a Glyph Comics Award for Best Reprint Collection.

In 2008, Static joined the mainstream of the DC Universe where he would be added to the Teen Titans. He made his first canonical appearance in Terror Titans #4. In September 2011, as part of an effort to better integrate Static into the DC Universe, DC relaunched a new Static Shock series which takes place in New York City instead of Dakota (where Static is originally from).

Aside from his own, Static has had other appearances in a number of different television shows and films. He appears in Batman Beyond, Justice League Unlimited, Young Justice: Invasion, and Justice League: War (cameo, first appearance in a DC Film). During his series’ original run he has crossed paths with the Justice League, he teams up with them to take down Brainiac.

Static has the extraordinary ability of creating, conducting, and manipulating electricity. Otherwise known as electromagnetic phenomena generation. He is capable of interacting with wireless communications, and grows to eventually become an expert scientist, inventor, and strategist.

In the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, there is a framed copy of Static #1 on the wall in Will & Carlton’s pool house.

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( Second photo) This is by far my favorite shot of Black Panther so far! My love for Angela Bassett is endless but I do want to take a minute to share a quick history of the Zulu inspired headdress she’s wearing:


The flared shape of these Zulu women’s hats (isicholo), dyed with red ochre, reflect the original design of the hairstyle on which they are based. Originally a mother would sew her daughter’s hair into this complex design for the initial stage in the series of ceremonies associated with her daughter’s marriage. The hats are a relatively new aspect of Zulu traditional dress that were developed in the late 19th or early 20th century and are based on the cone-shaped hairstyle that indicated the wearer’s maturity and marital status. Marriage and its affirmation of maturity is one of five key rites of passage in the life of a Zulu woman alongside: birth, naming, death/burial and ukubuyisa, “bringing home of the spirit”.


Once Zulu culture accepted hats as an alternative to the hairstyle, a young bride-to-be would begin sewing her hat as soon as she knew to whom she would be married. They are made by overlaying dyed string on a basketry foundation. Isicholo play a role in the ukukhehla ceremony, the second ceremony in which the future bride and groom exchange gifts and thanks before the actual wedding. For the majority of the ceremony the hat (or originally the bride’s hair) would be protected by a wrap of white fabric. At the appropriate moment in the wedding songs, the groom-to-be removes the wrap and pins a note to the headdress. Once married, a Zulu woman would wear this hat on a daily basis to signify her married status. The hat was one of very few adornments worn by married women, who, although part of a culture where beadwork plays an extremely significant symbolic role, wore nearly none.

Today the isicholo is no longer worn on a daily basis, but it continues to be used on special ceremonial occasions, when it is commonly worn with an imported scarf tied over the hat to keep the read ochre pigment from rubbing off on the wearer’s clothes.

(Side note: I am literally securing my wig because I am NOT ready for how great this movie will be!)