Black Like Who?


190 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-895837-07-3
DDC 305.896'071





Reviewed by Joseph Leydon

Joseph Leydon teaches geography at the University of Toronto.


According to the author of this investigation of black culture in
Canada, music and other imaginative works best demonstrate the process
of black diasporic invention and reinvention. Walcott uses hip hop,
film, literature, sports, and the media to explore what it means to be
black and Canadian.

As this series of essays demonstrates, the author is heavily influenced
by postmodern thinking. This influence is particularly evident in his
sensitivity to issues of place and space. He points to the inadequacy of
using the “nation–state” to determine how Canadian blackness is
conceived. He argues that the influences of black people in Canada are
larger than the nation–state (i.e., continental, global) but also
smaller (i.e., local, personal).

Walcott’s sensitivity to geography leads him to question the value of
black Canadian movies that too readily imitate the “’hood” genre
popularized by certain black American filmmakers. Such movies tend to
simplify and perpetuate stereotypes of black culture. Walcott would like
to see discussions of black culture broadened to include issues of
gender, sexuality (especially homosexuality), and economic class.

Black Like Who? raises many important issues and provides a good basis
for further study and discussion. It will be especially useful for those
engaged in cultural studies. The more general reader may be discouraged
by the book’s often unfamiliar vocabulary and by the author’s
complex writing style.


Walcott, Rinaldo., “Black Like Who?,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024,