Black History Month is an important month in our cultural calendar in Canada and for the Aurora Cultural Centre. We recognize that we are here to learn as much as we are here to share our insights and feelings on how we can contribute to awareness and education around Black History Month and the desired impact throughout the year.  Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility are informative in our work with all cultures, identities and accessibilities, and these core tenants help to guide us in our outreach for Black History Month. The songs written by our Artistic Outreach Coordinator, Glenn Marais are responsive artist creations based on his personal experiences with racism and his desire for a world that lives in harmony and peace without racial division.

I’m a Man

Early plantation music often consisted of stomps, hand claps and repeated vocal lines and I read about a group of singers from Africa called Gullah singers who would sing in a circle, echoing and answering. The notion of a man singing in the morning on a porch with his broom was a vision of these influences and informed the song, I’m a Man, which is in the voice of an enslaved African on a plantation, lamenting that no matter what is done to him, they can’t take way his dignity.

Perspective is one of our best allies in all relationships, and a historical one, can inform our reactions to the present. The more we learn the more we can understand each other’s perspectives

Dirty Wind

The power of a hurricane and how it change the landscape instantly and cause massive devastation which  was the image in my mind when I wrote this song. I wrote it as a response to seeing the KKK march again in America and having it dismissed by President Trump, who said, ‘There are good people there.” I knew people who were part of extremist groups would see that as permissive and racism would grow again and it did. It made me feel sick to see that and hear his ignorant response.

This song came naturally as a response to my shock and dismay at the winds of racism, the dirty winds being stirred up by a racist President and extremist groups around the world. Let the loudest voice be one of peace.

By My Side

This song was a vision of a woman standing at a cabin door with her man pleading to her to let him back into her life. He wasn’t a good man and hadn’t treated her well. The song says that you waited too long to realize the love you had, and despite his pleas of “Be By My Side, ” for her it is too late. I thought it represented where we are at now, in the sense of it is not too late for all of us to join together to combat racism and send the message that we need to stand by each other and that the person who is witnessing racism be the loudest voice in the room. It shouldn’t be African Canadians expressing that, it should be everyone else expressing their displeasure. That is the world I hope for, one in which we all look out for each other and protect each other’s rights and humanity.

Written as a love song, it speaks to the unwavering commitment required to evoke change. We must stand together, united and full of unwavering certainty in our course to eradicate racism and the hurtful rhetoric and actions that accompany it.

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