Manitoba·First Person

Uncensored host aims to create space to share experiences, advocate for racial justice through conversation

While the recent coverage of police violence in the U.S. can become overwhelming, Alexa Joy, host of CBC Radio's Uncensored, says she wants to "offer some incredible voices from our community to help get you through any challenges you might be experiencing."

Alexa Joy hopes her series can help 'heal, uplift and be critical of the times we’re living in'

Host Alexa Joy says the conversations on CBC's Uncensored 'offer some incredible voices from our community, to help get you through any challenges you might be experiencing.' (Submitted by Alexa Joy)

This First Person article is the experience of Alexa Joy, a researcher, journalist and graduate student at The New School for Social Research. For more information about CBC's First Person stories, please see the FAQ.

If you've been paying attention to the coverage of police violence in the U.S. the past few weeks, it can become overwhelming. There's a numbness that strikes — it surpasses our conscious mind and makes its way into our subconscious psyche. This is a common reaction to trauma. 

When we're exposed to traumatic events, a biological reaction occurs. Adrenaline rushes through the body and the memory is imprinted into the amygdala, part of the brain where emotional memories are given meaning, attached to specific associations and stored.

Examining the biological reaction helps us understand our emotional significance of the event, including the intensity and impulse of emotion.

If you feel emotionless or numb, or you shut down altogether when you hear of another incident of police violence, resulting in a death — here's a reminder: 

It is not normal to see Black, Indigenous and people of colour murdered recklessly, senselessly and violently on your news feed.

It is not normal. 

I believe that most likely, we will not see an end to these injustices anytime soon. But we do have power over the content and media we choose to take in during these times.

This might seem counterproductive — telling readers to be mindful of the news we take in as I write this web story — but the news can trigger this subconscious numbing reaction in us. (Therefore, I am not bothered if people choose not to read this article.)

Partake in conversation

However, if you find that you have the energy and time to partake in conversations of injustice and police brutality, I'd like to offer some incredible voices from our community to help get you through any challenges you might be experiencing.

Last September, when CBC Manitoba and I launched Uncensored, it was in direct response to the summer of George Floyd.

I thought, "We have to keep this momentum going." Though I was nervous (and honestly skeptical) about working with the CBC to have these conversations on anti-Blackness and white supremacy in mainstream media, I felt something had to continue. 

But I too am human and can only devote so much of my energy covering Black trauma. We are more than our pain and our trauma, on display for the world to see or ignore. 

The relaunch of Uncensored earlier this year walked listeners through four episodes, each building on topics of mental health and self-care, Black and queer indignities, our solidarity between Black and Indigenous communities, and a perspective from our elders, asking if things have changed.

The following episodes will hopefully provide some support in these tense moments and remind us that you're not alone in your numbness. 

In Episode 1, premiering back in Black History Month, entitled Doing The Most, I sat down with Nampande Londe, a Winnipeg activist and founder of the online platform It Happens in Winnipeg. 

Nampande Londe was a guest on Uncensored with Alexa Joy. 'We explored the phenomenon of activist burnout, while building on the politics of care,' Joy says. (Submitted by Nampande Londe)

We explored the phenomenon of activist burnout, while building on the politics of care. Who checks in on the front-line activists putting their lives on the line for our justice and freedoms? 

Common struggles

The solidarity and common struggles faced in Black and Indigenous communities with regards to police violence and systemic racism is a narrative we shared across communities. 

In our second episode, Our Native Land, we hear from a PhD candidate, educator, community organizer and author Tasha Spillett.

Spillett helped us walk through the histories of Black and Indigenous communities in Manitoba and explored what lies behind these untold narratives. What does Black and Indigenous solidarity look like in the racial justice movement? 

In our third episode, Black and Queer, I sat down with community activist and artist Kayla Fernandes, to explore what it means to be Black and queer in Winnipeg.

Fernandes brought light to the intersections of Black and queer identities —specifically, challenging the erasure of Black queer activists in mainstream demonstrations of Black History Month, and bringing forth these narratives in a time that is so essential for exposure to all Black histories.

I hope these episodes provide a space for listeners to feel validated.- Alexa Joy

Finally, for our last episode titled, Before the Movement, we heard from one of our elders.

Longtime Winnipeg human rights advocate and community leader Beatrice Watson looked back at what has changed over the years in the fight for racial equity in Winnipeg. Ms. Watson's extensive career in community and social justice provided listeners with honest encounters of the past and its connection to our current moment. 

This time around, Uncensored led the conversation to heal, uplift and be critical of the times we're living in. As we see a glimpse of hope in the recent guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, we also see just as much violence. How much can we take?

I'm not confident in the criminal justice system in the U.S. or Canada. But I hope these episodes provide a space for listeners to feel validated and supported in their thoughts and anxieties. 

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.


Alexa Joy is a researcher, journalist and graduate student at The New School for Social Research.