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Reflection: Black Abolition and Dreaming

Abolition. What does that mean to me? To me, it means ending the need to meet the expectations of the dominant culture.

This release gives space to dream, and dreaming propels change, and change encourages others to dream, too.  

Dreaming looks different to me now. As a kid, I dreamt about fitting in. 

Being the only Black girl in a small, white town adds a complex layer to one’s identity. You grow up measuring yourself against the dominant culture’s expectations. And you don’t realize it, but you’re internalizing what you’re “supposed” to sound like. Look like. 

Memories of my childhood are joy mixed with an endurance of microaggressions. “If someone calls me articulate, is that a compliment or an insult?” “You’re so pretty for a Black girl.” “Does that mean that people that look like me aren’t pretty?” 

Being the only Black girl in a small, white town, I didn’t see grown-ups like me in our community to understand what I might want to be. My mentors were on TV.

The exclusion of my identity caused me to internalize the lack of representation as a reflection of my worth. It meant choosing assimilation to fit in. Brushing off the jokes and joining in. So that people wouldn’t feel bad for the only Black girl. 

Reflecting as an adult, I see how dangerous this was. Allowing white kids to belittle me without consequence. Nobody corrected their ignorance. 

I moved away to a city where I could blend in and find community, and I promised myself I would never be the only Black girl in a small, white town again.

Until six years ago.

I moved back and found myself in situations that young me would have tolerated, but adult me had no time for. Setting boundaries and leaving toxic friendships behind. 

Returning to a place that always made me feel boxed in and carving a place for myself was the beginning of my abolition. 

It was the end of my tolerance and assimilation. 

I remember a conversation I had with my dad once when I said, “Why does it feel like Black people don’t live here?” He said “We do. We’re just hiding.”

Hiding because the thought of being visible and alone is draining. 


Realizing that if I didn’t try to make it work in this town being my full Black self, how could I expect anyone else like me to settle and be seen here?  


To convince myself that this was a good decision, I dug in. I dug into the community experience, I showed up. 


No more hiding.

My abolition became my visibility without shame and fear. 

I remained present. 

And in 2020, when our community looked down at the US for their treatment towards marginalized communities, I took the opportunity to call it out.

I held a mirror up to everyone who felt it was an American problem.  

I named the reason why I ran away. 

I named why Black people are here and hiding. 

And 24,000 people clicked and read and commented. And shared. And then we weren’t hiding anymore.

“Your blog connects this broader atrocity to our local community and invites us to consider how we think about and see race, how we can be allies instead of bystanders, and how we can create a more just and loving society in our own backyards.”

“I am a black man who grew up in Kingston in the 90s. I struggle today with ptsd and anxiety from the racial violence I experienced as a young child and teenager. I’m illustrating a book. That place was a nightmare for us as kids, so I can’t express how HAPPY it makes me to see a campaign like this come together in Kingston!! I have two young sisters being raised there, and no child, woman or man should ever have to endure the kinds of experiences we had growing up there. I look forward to connecting with this campaign. Thank you!! THANK YOU!!

“Change is gonna come. LOVE”

“As a black biracial kid who was born and raised in Kingston thank you for writing about this and please push to show more of yourself in your work. Representation matters, I live in Toronto now but I would have killed to have known and seen people like you making work when I lived in Kingston. I know there has to be so many black and biracial kids who feel the same way. It is such an isolating place and I also relate to being the brunt of so many jokes, being the other.”

This opened the door for Black people living here to find me. Vent to me. Share with me. 

I put out a big Black bat signal.

I couldn’t believe how many of us were having the exact same feelings.

Navigating the exact same trauma. 

It was comforting and maddening all at once to see how many could relate. 

A year later, and I’ve found community. I’ve used the same platform to spotlight the incredible Black people that choose to live here. And what they are doing to make it amazing. 

Today, I was on a call with almost 30 other Black people discussing community care and planning future play dates so that our kids don’t feel alone the same way some of us did. 

We talked about hosting Black Block parties in this very white town. 

We talked about our favourite hair and skin products.

But most of all, we talked about how happy we were to see each other. 

How comforting it is to know we aren’t alone. 

How reassuring it is that we don’t have to carry our burdens in isolation. 

Black people are here shining through the resilience that comes with navigating this town. 

We are doing it together.

Not hiding. 


Not leaving. 

And some are even dreaming. 

I recognize the many privileges I have in this reflection and understand that many don’t share these advantages. This is a personal reflection on my very personal experience and journey. There is still lots of work to be done.

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