Frontiers: Essays and Writings on Racism and Culture


286 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-920544-90-8
DDC 305.8'00971





Reviewed by Raj S. Gandhi

Raj S. Gandhi is a sociology professor at the University of Calgary.


Nourbese Philip, the great, courageous African-Canadian writer, has
produced some 26 beautiful pieces of writing (including the
introduction) in the form of essays, anecdotes, reports, and letters. In
“Who Is Listening?” she identifies her influences: “Male, white
and Oxford-educated, he stands over my right shoulder; she is old, Black
and wise and stands over my left shoulder—two archetypal figures
symbolizing the two traditions that permeate my work.” Such gems are
scattered throughout her book, which reads, in turn, like a monologue, a
personal memoir, and journalistic critique.

In her essays and writings on racism and culture (1984–1992), Philip
succeeds in making her voice heard in the midst of the loud noise of
Canadian “multiculturalism”; she is the “other artist,” and she
makes it known that she will not be excluded. She notes that “racism
has never been assigned a central place in the West. As an issue it has
remained remarkably absent from debates on economy, society or polity;
racism, in fact, has never been as privileged a discourse as
censorship.” Philip’s essays not only broach the subject of racism,
they project a detailed, unconventional exegesis of the problem. And we
are tempted to ask, will these kinds of analytical and accusatory essays
open the doors of white Canadian privilege?


Philip, M. Nourbese., “Frontiers: Essays and Writings on Racism and Culture,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,