TAN: How would you describe the Afrik community in Canada today and perhaps give an overall global perspective?
It is very diverse: we are regionally different within Canada, and come from many sources. This is a strength, mostly. We have Africa as the reference point, but multiple, rich experiences.
TAN: When did you first come to realize that you have a role to play in building communities?
Gradually. My work came about through my own questions about identity. I realized that by answering them, I was also answering the questions of others like me, with a thirst for knowledge and history.
TAN: As a very brilliant and accomplished intellectual, can you help us understand what we have to do in today’s Canadian society for better representation and how to build our Afrik communities?
We need to speak out, and to use all venues and channels of distribution. (The Afro News is one excellent example of this.) There is an unfair push to imply that there are few black people in Canada, and in the west in particular. These myths must always be countered. We are here, and we are significant. We must speak that truth, everywhere.
TAN: In your recent book ‘AFTER CANAAN’, what are the key message points?
That we are at a crossroads for the notion of “race” — it is a scientific fallacy, and we need to re-think old modes of liberation struggle that come from the idea that “race” is real. Understanding this will put us on a more sound, and more effective, footing. Notions are “purity” are dangerous, and unnecessary. Black identity is a fluid and open position.
TAN: Do you believe our youth today are getting the message and to be fully ready to take their respective leadership role in society?
Youth need to know about the history, to understand how to take a position in the present. They need to understand our place in Canada, too, and not just in the various homelands: Africa, the US, the Caribbean, etc.
TAN: Do you have any regrets?
Ideas always evolve. Mistakes I have made have produced the position I believe in today, through argument and re-thinking, so no.
The Afro News (TAN) thanks you for your time and service in leadership development efforts toward our community and wish you much continued success.
Wayde Compton is a Vancouver writer whose books include 49th Parallel Psalm, Performance Bond and Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature. He and Jason de Couto perform turntable-based sound poetry as a duo called The Contact Zone Crew. Compton is also a co-founding member of the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project, an organization dedicated to preserving the public memory of Vancouver’s original black community. He is also one of the publishers of Commodore Books. Wayde Compton teaches English composition and literature at Emily Carr University of Art + Design and Coquitlam College. He has a book forthcoming from Arsenal Pulp Press in fall 2010 titled After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing and Region. www.waydecampton.com
Repost interview from 2010