feature: ubuntu talks: my web series demystifying black experiences through conversation

May 6, 2016

My name is Chelsy Monie and I am a communications and art history student at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. I was born in Washington D.C but spent most of my life in Cameroon, and then Tanzania, before moving to Canada. Growing up in Africa, I never felt the need to define my blackness. My actions and experiences as a black person were never questioned or threatened. Everyone was treated equally and with the upmost respect regardless of the color of their skin. That drastically changed when I moved to Canada. Here, my whole identity was looked at under a microscope. Not only did my blackness begin to mean different things, but it also proved to be a limitation.

By Chelsy Monie, AFROPUNK contributor

My new experiences in Canada as well as recent events concerning black lives led to the creation of my YouTube channel, Ubuntu Talks. Ubuntu is an ancient African philosophy that involves compassion, human virtue and community. Loosely translated, it means: “I am what I am, because of who we are”. With this channel, I seek to practice this philosophy by bringing people together and creating a community-wide conversation about black lives. I think that it is important for us to define ourselves, instead of letting social institutions wrongly define our lives. Inspired by the people around me, this channel has become my way of contributing to the black community.

A new topic is introduced every week. Each video tackles a specific hardship that we go through as black people; be it our hair, accents or identities. The people that I interview are easy to relate to because they are young men and women who are trying to understand their place in society. Though my focus is on black experiences, I am also interested in how other young adults view black lives. After all, our interactions with others influence the way we are perceived. I want people of other races to be able to use this platform to voice their opinions, as well as educate themselves.

Discussions like these show how ridiculous and untrue stereotypes really are, while simultaneously breaking down the mystification and exoticization of black communities. I want to show the world that black people are beautiful beings. We are proud of our melanin, and we deserve to be regarded as equals.