What being Black in Canada means for this teen

Published 2020-07-26 03:00

Cameron Davis talks fears, stereotypes and the importance of using his voice

From a young age, Cameron Davis says he was taught by his parents to be polite and articulate in order to minimize what he calls “negative stereotypes” associated with being Black.

Fighting those stereotypes is one of the main reasons Cameron made a video called My Teenage Life Being Black In Canada.

In the video, Cameron, 15, speaks to the importance of educating people on racism with the hope of sparking change in society.

“The hardest thing about being Black in Canada is the prejudice I face and that’s where my fear comes from.” — Cameron Davis in his YouTube video, My Teenage Life Being Black In Canada

But despite his efforts, he says those stereotypes still exist.

Cameron said he’s often asked by his peers at his Markham, Ont., high school questions like, “‘Why are you acting so white?” when he succeeds at something.

“I want to make sure that people understand that being successful as Black youth, or as minority youth, isn’t being white,” he told CBC Kids News.

“Being Black isn’t an act. It’s who I am.”

Cameron Davis sitting on steps and smiling at the camera.

Cameron Davis is a student, YouTuber, fashion designer, basketball player and a world traveller, who has been to more than 45 countries. (Photo submitted by Cameron Davis)

‘Incredible’ reaction to video

The video, posted to YouTube on June 15, was inspired by a speech he made at a Black Lives Matter protest in Markham earlier that month.

A screenshot of Cameron Davis's YouTube video called 'My Teenage Life Being Black In Canada.'

Cameron said the reaction to the video — which has racked up more than 20,000 views — has been “incredible.”

“I was happy about how people received my voice and acknowledged what I said,” he said.

“Change can happen. Don’t mistake my anger, frustration and sadness here today for pessimism. Don’t be discouraged, I’m not.”  — Cameron Davis in his YouTube video, My Teenage Life Being Black In Canada

What being Black means to Cameron

To Cameron, being Black means that he’s forced to think at all times about how he’s acting and how he could be perceived by others.

For example, he said he has to think twice before doing the same kinds of things his white friends do, like wearing a hoodie or bandana around his neighborhood or playing music out loud.

Following the release of his video, CBC Kids News interviewed Cameron about what being Black in Canada means to him. Check out that video below:

But to Cameron, it’s not just about how others perceive Black people, it’s about how powerful people view racism.

“It doesn’t help that there are people in high positions across this country, this province and this region, who don’t believe racism exists in Canada.”

Cameron said even one of his teachers told him racism didn’t exist in the country.

“I’m feeling it and experiencing it in my day-to-day life, in my every decision, and you’re telling me racism doesn’t exist in Canada?” he said.

“My educators need education.”

Hope for the future

Despite his struggles, Cameron said he’s optimistic about the future.

“Positive change will happen,” he said.

He hopes that sharing his message will encourage others to do the same.

“By me sharing my voice, at least that’s one Black voice that you guys can hear.”

CBC Kids News interviewed two other youth about what it’s like to be a Black Canadian. Watch below to see their answers:


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