We're Rooted Here and They Can't Pull Us Up: Essays in African Canadian Women's History

Article excerpt


Six black scholars-Dionne Brand, Linda Carty, Afua P. Cooper, Sylvia Hamilton and Peggy Bristow-pieced together this study on the role of black women in Canadian history to break the myth that black people have been rooted in the Canadian mosaic for more than 300 years. The title is borrowed from a quote by Harriet Tubman and was stumbled upon by Adrienne Shadd in her research on Tubman's life. Tubman, denouncing the 19th colonization back-to-Africa movement, is quoted as comparing Blacks to a field of onions and garlic that cannot easily be uprooted. She said, "Whites had brought black people here to do their drudgery and now they were trying to root them out and send back to Africa. But they can't do it. We're rooted here and they can't pull us up." History has proved her right.

The authors offer a fresh analysis of African Canadian history and attempt to fill the gap which excludes the contributions Blacks have made to the social and economic development of this country. The book is woman-centred and shows how race and sex still impact on block women's lives.

The papers in this collection of essays offer a unique perspective of black people in Canada from their arrival in the 17th Century to the immediate postwar period. Most of the materials in these works were drawn from primary sources. There are elaborate quotes, full letters and other writings that draw the reader intimately into the lives of the subjects, allowing us to experience vicariously the tension, the pain and the every day as they confronted racism from a people who thought little of Blacks and didn't accord them the dignity that was human to have. …