On February 19, as part of Black History Month (BHM) at McGill, Rap Battles for Social Justice presented “Adwa & Beyond: The Panel.” With the goal of “inform[ing] and inspir[ing] the empowerment of the Black community in Montreal,” Adwa & Beyond featured a panel of community organizers and activists. The panel was an intimate conversation around experiences of the Black community in Montreal, and the future of community endeavours in the city.
Rap Battles for Social Justice “aims to forge community ties through consciousness raising in the form of art and entertainment,” mainly through hosting events to build awareness and education around social justice issues. The “Adwa & Beyond” series, held throughout BHM, has carried the spirit of afrofuturism — a communal envisioning of future narratives “in defiance of the future that was robbed from you.” The series will culminate with a show featuring artists from across the city on February 28.
The panel, facilitated by educator Shanice Nicole, brought together individuals each working in important areas of advocacy and action in Montreal. “[BHM] is just one month, and, at that, the shortest month of the year,” Nicole remarked, “this is to open the conversation.”
Neil Guilding aka “Zibz Black Currant,” who runs Jeunesse 2000 (J2K), a dropin music studio space for youth in Montreal, spoke about the role of belonging, Indigeneity, and prioritizing youth spaces. Walther Guillaume, a young researcher and activist with the participatory research project MTLSansProfilage, spoke about his work with the organization and the effects of racial profiling. Guillaume’s work centres on understanding youth experiences with the police in Saint Michel. Marlihan Lopez, a Black feminist activist and community organizer, spoke on her work to eliminate sexual violence and to raise awareness about its intersectionality. Lopez also discussed the ways in which Black lives are policed beyond formal law enforcement, leading into a discussion around abolition and justice. Lopez stated, “we need to talk about other forms of justice, like transformative justice — to overcome these institutional levels of violence.”
Organized by the Social Equity and Diversity Education Office (SEDE) and the Black Students’ Network of McGill (BSN), Black History Month at McGill runs until February 28. Events this week include a Cannabis Legalization Teach-In (February 25), Managing Microaggressions at Work (February 27), and SPEAK B(L)ACK, a Spoken Word Show being held February 28.