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Oct. 16, 2017
For Immediate Release

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Waterloo – Blackface minstrel shows had their heyday in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when white performers used makeup to impersonate black people and perpetuate racist stereotypes. However, blackface continues to exist today.

Wilfrid Laurier University will host a day of events called The Arts Against PostRacialism: Strengthening Resistance Against Contemporary Canadian Blackface on Oct. 27 at its Waterloo campus. Laurier is the third university to host the project, which is led by Professor Philip Howard of McGill University’s Department of Integrated Studies in Education and involves collaborators from Laurier, including Professor Jasmin Zine, Laura Mae Lindo, director of Laurier's Diversity and Equity Office, and Laurier’s Association of Black Students.

The project challenges blackface on Canadian campuses through art and dialogue. Events include:

  • Sculpture and video installations by Canadian artists Nadine Valcin, Esmaa Mahonoud, and Quentin VerCetty, which will run all day.
  • A workshop by VerCetty, titled Future Memories, in which participants will talk about blackface and its eradication and incorporate their thoughts and feelings into art, which will be placed in a time capsule.
  • A performance and social practice art session led by Camille Turner, titled Afronautic Research Lab, which will bring participants into contact with archival and documentary evidence revealing the roots of anti-blackness in and beyond Canada.
  • A performance art piece titled Scream Café, by Anique Jordan, in which audience members are invited to participate and witness an act of audible or silent screaming.
  • A keynote presentation by Howard, which will contemplate contemporary Canadian blackface incidents on Canadian university campuses and beyond.
  • A panel discussion on the Arts Against PostRacialism project.

For more detailed descriptions of events, times and locations, see the Arts Against PostRacialism website. All events are free and open to the public. The touring project is funded by a knowledge mobilization grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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Media Contacts:

Jasmin Zine, Professor, Sociology and Muslim Studies Option

Wilfrid Laurier University

T: 519.884.0710 x3267

Kevin Crowley, Director

Communications and Public Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University

T: 519.884.0710 x3070


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