Just across the street from CSI Annex, independent, multicultural bookstore A Different Booklist specializes in books from the African & Caribbean Diaspora. For the past twenty years, it has been owned by children’s book author Itah Sadu and her husband Miguel San Vicente, former Vice President of Steelworkers Local 6917.
Sadu and San Vicente have curated an incredible selection of books to browse through in their shop itself, and on the store’s website. Whether you are looking for children’s books, self-help guidance, compelling memoirs, teacher resources, or beach reads … there is something for you at A Different Booklist.
Here is a small selection of the store’s new releases by Black Canadian writers:
The Skin We’re In | Desmond Cole
Puncturing the bubble of Canadian smugness and naive assumptions of a post-racial nation, Cole chronicles just one year—2017—in the struggle against racism in this country. It was a year that saw calls for tighter borders when Black refugees braved frigid temperatures to cross into Manitoba from the States, Indigenous land and water protectors resisting the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, police across the country rallying around an officer accused of murder, and more. Month-by-month, Cole creates a comprehensive picture of entrenched, systemic inequality, creating a potent antidote to the all-too-present complacency of many white Canadians.
They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada | Cecil Foster
Canada’s black train porters were a familiar sight to the average passenger—yet their minority status rendered them politically invisible, second-class in the social imagination that determined who was and who was not considered Canadian. Subjected to gruelling shifts and unreasonable standards, they were denied secure positions and prohibited from bringing their families to Canada. It was their struggle against the racist Dominion that laid the groundwork for the multicultural nation we know today. The book demonstrates the power of individuals and minority groups in the fight for social justice
Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture | Cheryl Thompson
One of the first transnational, feminist studies of Canada’s black beauty culture and the role that media, retail, and consumers have played in its development, Beauty in a Box widens our understanding of the politics of black hair. The author explains the role local black community media has played in the promotion of African American–owned beauty products; how the segmentation of beauty culture occurred in Canada, and how black beauty culture, which was generally seen as a small niche market before the 1970s, entered Canada’s mainstream by way of department stores, drugstores, and big-box retailers.
How She Read | Chantal Gibson
How She Read is a collection of genre-blurring poems about the representation of Black women across the Canadian cultural imagination. Drawing from grade-school vocabulary spellers, literature, history, art, media and pop culture, Chantal Gibson’s sassy semiotics highlight the depth and duration of the imperialist ideas embedded in everyday things, from storybooks to coloured pencils, from paintings to postage stamps. Undoing the North Star freedom myth, Harriet Tubman and Viola Desmond shed light on the effects of erasure in the time of reconciliation and the dangers of squeezing the past into a Canada History Minute or a single postage stamp.
Other Side of the Game | Amanda Parris
“Toronto is not good at remembering.” This short, yet deeply poignant line opens up “The Other Side of the Game” where Amanda Parris does a remarkable job of delving into the realities of Black lives that start and restart and go in circles within the rubric of institutional racism. She deals with distinct contrasts of Black beings that exist on the periphery always consistently under surveillance by police; within the continuous cycle of daily survival and imprisonment or working towards revolution and change. Parris delves into “the other side,” not oft spoken about in the wear and tear of revolution; the actual humanity of individuals continuously working towards Black freedom
The Lost Sister: A Novel | Andrea Gunraj
Partially inspired by the real-life experiences of a former resident of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, The Lost Sister bravely explores the topics of child abuse, neglect, and abduction against a complex interplay of gender, race, and class dynamics.
Alisha and Diana are young sisters living at Jane and Finch, a Toronto suburb full of immigrants trying to build new lives in North America. When Diana doesn’t come home one night and her body is discovered in the woods, Alisha becomes haunted. She thinks she knows who did it, but can’t tell anyone about it.