Black History Month is a time in Canada, and across the globe, where we can step back and take the time to appreciate and celebrate the achievements of so many Black Canadians. They’ve not always been treated kindly, and that’s something we need to not only remember, but take time to stop and listen, so we can be apart of the change. And part of that change is to take time to honour all the contributions that they’ve made to our society. Not only one month of the year, but all year long and the years to come. Because I CAN!
I’ve had the privilege of being able to meet and share the stage over the past 3 years with the amazingly talented Wakefield Brewster through the National Hope Talks Movement. It is a blessing for me to now to share Wakefield’s story and his talent with you all on this stage.
Since January 1999, Wakefield Brewster has been known as one of Canada’s most popular and prolific Performance Poets. He is a black man born and raised in Toronto, by parents hailing from the island of Beautiful Barbados and has resided in Calgary since 2006. He has spoken across Canada and in several states speaking about a bevy of topics he’s passionate about.
On top of being a poet, Wakefield is also a 3-Time Calgary Poetry Slam Champion, Registered Massage Therapist, classical pianist, and advocate for the humanities, to name a few of the hats he wears.
He would like to thank you all sincerely for being a part of his life. Wakefield’s close affiliation and fierce advocating for Recovery Through The Arts are because of his own very present wellness journey with alcoholism, addictions and mental illnesses.
Now please welcome Wakefield and hear his amazing pieces of poetry, “I CAN” learn a bit more about him and his story, and also see some answers he’s been gracious enough to share with you all relating to COVID and black history.
I CAN - Wakefield Brewster
I CAN - Poem Lyrics
After a decade of delivery on the m.i.c. unbelievably people still asking me what can you DO with poetry?
That question used to make me angry it used to make me hot
Now i tell ‘em take a seat and ask ‘em how much time dey got
For you see with poetry i can duly dance down dem same halls of learning where i once had the yearning to be a well accomplished human
With a 4.0 but my G.P.A. was sadly way far below
I never got the knack of the educational flow they made me sit still so i stood still
I can comfortably confidently cruise into classrooms
Where i was coerced to create a cornered captured mental state
So i could clearly create a way to hate my own mind by my educators they were edu-haters they formed a form to form my formative years
Tainted with intolerance and a tidal wave of tears that sailed all of my dreams away from me for they likened my self-image with one of stupidity
It was all that i heard and all that i could see i can now be free where i was once imprisoned by a mental prism
My errant splayed thoughts were like hot coloured rocks
Endless ammunition for the slings of possibility but impossibly
All of my targets alluded me for i was living in the kingdom of ‘couldn’t be me’
I couldn’t see the lock so i didn’t need the key
And when they finally let me go they said you don’t know poetry
I can versify being victimized into a valiant victory verify that when you vilify
You eventually gotta deal with me
The transformation was tremendous i took the word stupid and i made it stupendous
I be-gan to man hand-le the land ’o language dat languished
In apathetic and anonymous anguish I did decide to dissect and divide indefinitely indubitably what diction was doing to me stab a psyche with a simile and sometimes slip left of centre see so to step off into a skill-iloquoy ail the English alphabet with an oral aural atrocity I can wear the face of mental agility dispel the myth of dental fragility and proudly embrace my so called disability ADD ADHD OCD PTSD now I’ve made an acro-nympho-maniac outta me and never once before have I so ever loved me.
I can turn my inventive imagination into a physical infatuation not like sugar not the hard refined not like sweetener not the artificial kind don’t need heroin cuz I’m a hero in my own mind spent some time with my mentality and what I did find is I can learn and poetry taught me when the truth is unfurled I’m the only one man who can change my world so I can do anything what can I DO with poetry?
I ask YOU why don’t you tell me?
The Premise Behind the Poem
“I wanted to display the onslaught of tribulations and finally triumphs, of being a young Black child, already drinking at age 8, dealing with hidden and repeating traumas, suffering from mental illnesses – and dealing with school. From there, my personal story dives deeper into darker places, where substance abuse finds substance. Truth be told… Of all of the many ‘things’ that I had to quit… Putting down the bottle was never an action I fathomed that I could feat. Now, I hope that sharing my story may help others to not only write their own story, but ‘Write A Way To Wellness’. Always remember that when told that you can’t, you probably can – and probably should. I Can.”
Wakefield is one of the many voices of hope and courage in our Nation and now the World. To hear more stories that will encourage and enlighten you to say I CAN BE THE CHANGE, watch the National Hope Talks Conference here.
Up Close And Personal With Wakefield Brewster
How has COVID impacted racism and communities?
“…If in any way, shape or form you wish to gain a greater understanding of Black History, BLM and Systematic/Systemic Racism in our very own societies, communities and lives. Now is a great time, it’s always a great time – but due to the activities of late that have cast many different blindingly exposing racist lights in our very own Calgary, Alberta and Canada. Now is the time to be realizing and accepting why there are those stark differences and historical disadvantages. Now is the time to gain that greater understanding.”
How can we help BE THE CHANGE?
“In my opinion, to gain greater understanding, to help be the change, to assist as an ally, one may begin with these four steps. Acknowledge, Ask, Accept, Avoid.
Acknowledge this racist reality.
Ask black people the ‘W5-How’ on what’s-what with black people – because black people know.
Accept the answers that my people give you. We know the answers. We will give you the answers. You will not like many of the answers. They are the answers.
Avoid telling black people anything about what’s-what with black people. We have an entire existence of knowing what’s “not.” Never again tell us what ‘is.’”
“Vahen, this has truly been more than just a pleasure, to have this sincere connection of collaboration and creativity with you. I am elated, flattered, grateful and honoured. If there is anyone who embodies ‘I Can,’ it’s Vahen King.”
Want to Connect with Wakefield?
My response to Wakefield is, “You’re VERY WELCOME my brother, and I return the same sentiments of feeling grateful and honoured by your kind words and am blessed to have you in my circle and now in my space!
If you’d like to connect with Wakefield Brewster, ask questions, find out what he’s doing today, or invite him to speak, check out his Instagram Facebook and his website.
Wakefield Brewster, RMT Registered Massage Therapist Owner & Operator: WakeFull Wellness Registered Massage Therapy and HealingSpace
Bleed The Same – Mandisa ft. Toby Mac, Kirk Franklin
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