Outsider Blues: A Voice from the Shadows


255 pages
ISBN 1-895686-65-2
DDC 305.896'071




Photos by Clifton Ruggles
Reviewed by Joseph Leydon

Joseph Leydon teaches geography at the University of Toronto.


The term “outsider blues” refers to the marginal spaces that black
people in Canada have been forced to inhabit through processes of
marginalization and discrimination. This book— comprising a selection
of columns written by Clifton Ruggles for the Montreal Gazette—is
divided into sections that deal with racism, education, intercultural
relations, and social problems. The text is enriched by numerous
photographs and by an autobiographical photo essay. Ruggles’s wife
contributes a critical deconstruction of a letter that was written in
response to one of her husband’s columns.

Ruggles’s heritage and observations of life in Nova Scotia and
Montreal inform his writing. He is a teacher and journalist who traces
his ancestry to the Black Loyalists and to the Cherokee and Mi’kmaq
peoples. Through his writing, he attempts to recover lost narratives and
to bring to light the stories of people that are obscured by theoretical
and statistical discussions. He also promotes nonstereotypical role
models and broadens the discussion of race to include gender, class,
ethnicity, and interracial issues. He writes in a clear and simple style
that makes his ideas accessible to a wide audience.


Ruggles, Clifton, and Olivia Rovinescu., “Outsider Blues: A Voice from the Shadows,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 2, 2023, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/4128.