From the Editor (2nd edition, June 2020)

I wear it joyfully. I wear it big. I wear it womanly. And I wear it Black. Black. Black. As night, deep and soft and endless with no moon. Just black and perfect splendour in life and in being a woman in this world.
—from “Mirrors” by Maxine Tynes

I was in Grade 3 when I first realized I didn’t look like the other kids in my class. A young boy used a word to describe my skin colour and in that moment I felt so small. I felt ugly. I felt different. All I wanted to do was run home, stay in my room, and never go back to school again. Up until that point I knew I didn’t necessarily look like my friends. Sure, my hair had far more volume than most, and I had hit a serious growth spurt that made me taller than most of the other kids at school. But for me, the differences stopped there. I hadn’t realized that other children might view my skin colour as a negative. It never occurred to me that my complexion would be something they could mock and point out as a fault. To my recollection, that was my first experience with racism, but it certainly wasn’t my last. When something happens over and over again, one can become numb to the action. It’s so common that it no longer has the same effect as it once did. But no matter how many times I was called a name or made to feel less than, it never hurt any less. If anything, it hurt more.

What we are seeing right now around the world are people who are saying in one voice that they will no longer let this be the norm. They will no longer accept the title of second-class citizen and, this time, they will ensure their voices are heard. People are starting to make a concerted effort to listen, to learn, and to try to grasp just how deep systemic racism has been rooted into every facet of life.

We’ve also seen a great many people looking to celebrate the beauty of being Black. And that is exactly what this issue of Understorey Magazine has set out to do. When the issue was first released in 2017, I was honoured to act as its guest editor. And once the call went out, I was blown away by the number of submissions we received from the African Nova Scotian community. This province is bursting with incredibly talented and proud Black women who are using their craft to celebrate the beauty of their race, their culture, and their ancestral roots.

Within these pages you will find works of poetry, essay, painting, sculpture, and beautiful quilts. I am grateful to Editor-in-Chief Katherine Barrett for giving these women the space and the platform to highlight their work. I’m also thankful to the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute who funded this issue in 2017 and is now providing the re-print to mark the extraordinary changes happening in our world in 2020.

I wish I had such a publication to show that Grade 3 little girl who was made to feel ashamed of who she was and what she looked like. I wish I could tell her that Black is beautiful and that, one day, in the midst of a civil rights movement, she’ll be telling her own daughter to be proud of who she is, to love herself fully, and to not be colour blind, but to be colour conscious.

Let’s celebrate our differences. Let’s lift each other up. Let’s make sure this is a movement, and not just a moment. Black women matter. Black artists matter. Black futures matter. Black dreams matter. Black lives matter.

Print Edition, 2020

The Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute has generously funded a second printing of Understorey Magazine Issue 12 with our new editorial. If you are interested in receiving a copy, please contact us at editor@understoreymagazine.ca.

About Our Cover

Our cover for Issue 12 features work by Nova Scotia artist Shreba Quach.

Shreba says, “I have been an artist all my life but only in the last five years have I called myself one. Creativity has been a tool for healing and recovery from a traumatic past.”

The full painting from which our cover was created is shown here.

About Lindsay Ruck

Lindsay Ruck is an author and editor from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her first book, Winds of Change: The Life and Legacy of Calvin W. Ruck, chronicles her grandfather’s life as a social worker, human rights activist and Canadian senator. She has contributed to several print and digital literary works, including The Black Battalion: Canada’s Best Kept Military Secret, and Against the Grain: A Biography of Dr. John Savage. Her newest book, Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians, will be released January 2021. Lindsay lives in Dartmouth with her husband and two children.

About Shreba Quach

Shreba Quach grew up in the North End of Halifax and currently lives in Alberta. She has recently opened her own studio, Healing Ground Studio, which will provide a safe place for people to discover their own creative voice and perhaps find wholeness as well.

One thought on “From the Editor (2nd edition, June 2020)

  1. Carol MacKinnon

    I just read this article and my heart sank, Honestly I grew up in a house where we were taught that all people were God’s children and he made and loved us all, so I never once thought of people being any different than I was. Lindsay Ruck your one of the dearest and best people I know and I admire you so much, Sorry you had to deal with hurt like this when you were a little girl in grade 3. I hope I live to see the day racism is gone for ever, Who made us all God and it is his world and we all live in it, no matter the race or color. Bless you all With my Love

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