Islamophobia, Black Lives Matter, missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW), the Val-d' Or police allegations, blackface in Quebec — like everyone else around the world, Montrealers are affected by issues of race.
This week, CBC Montreal launches its Real Talk on Race series.
With Real Talk on Race, we're focusing on the true but sometimes difficult feelings, experiences and ideas that we all have about race. It is a step towards a better understanding of each other.
Series producer Nantali Indongo, Shelagh Kinch, CBC Montreal's managing director, and Daybreak's Shari Okeke sat down for a conversation about how the series came to be and their hopes for Real Talk on Race.
Why are we doing this?
Shari: There's always the moment when we stop recording... and then people tell me other things. I so often was hearing someone say to me, "You know, in this province, we need to have a real conversation on race. We really never have a real conversation on race." I just heard it so many times… I thought maybe this is the time to do that.
Why is it important to have 'real talk' on race?
Nantali: A lot of people have spoken about the way that Canada [is]... so [politically correct] and that we just want be gentle, we don't want to offend anyone. But in not really having the conversations, we're missing where people are falling through the cracks, especially when it comes to our institutions.
We need to talk about race in the classrooms. We need to talk about race in the workplace. We need to talk about race in politics. Because we've been going around with this assumption that everything's great, everything's good.
What did Montrealers tell you?
Shelagh: Everybody was so straight with us, about us as a media organization. "Don't sugar coat this. Don't gloss it over. You have to be brave. You have to get in and tell those stories with that kind of gritty honesty that exists out there, [but] that we don't put on the air."
What was it like for you to work on this project?
Nantali: Because I'm a person of colour and so connected to my English Caribbean community and other visible minority communities, that personal connection with this kind of topic just gives you the drive to really want to get this right. And we really want to make sure that we have shown respect to the people we've spoken to, and the things they want to talk about, and how they identify the "real talk."
Shari: I think that there's a lot of learning going on our end — the editorial side — for a lot of people. And I'm hoping that after this, there's more opportunity to see stories where they might not have been noticed.
The reason I thought this was the time to pitch this... is because these are stories that don't make it to the headlines. This is what people are living.
What are your hopes for this project?
Shelagh: I'm hoping that we hear from our audience on this. I hope that they contact us online, I hope that they text into our radio shows, [that] they phone us. I really want to know what the reaction from the community is. It's so important that we make those links.
To me, if this is opening up that door where we can have enough conversation with our audience out there — the entire audience — I think we only stand to gain and we'll only continue to be able to grow those connections.
Shari: I don't think the goal here is to solve the problem, and there's not just one problem, but it's just to start something, to take a big step in the right direction. That's what I hope.