Skip to content

Women and Girls: The race against the history

Pateman believes in the importance of sharing your voice.
Annette Pateman
Annette Pateman has been awarded an Ontario Arts Council grant to serve as a writer in residence at the Thunder Bay Public Library. (submitted photo)

THUNDER BAY -- When you look up the definition of race on your dictionary, multiple results are brought up, but in no way does any of it have a relation to any of the exterior features of the human species. It means a population within a species that is distinct in some way, especially a subspecies.

Over the years, as a collective breed, we have managed to redefine a simple term into a derogatory means of discrimination. Throughout the course of history, the colour of skin has been powerful enough to determine the quality of life for a person; with an ability to decide the societal treatment, education you receive and jobs you could get. Unfortunately, people of colour have been at the bottom of the pile for everything in life. Having said that, they are the ones to have to wade through the downfalls and mistreatment to see a brighter and a fairer world at the end of the tunnel.

We all know Michelle Obama, Beyonce, and Oprah Winfrey, who’ve fought their way to be who they are now. However, there are other black women fighting these demons, day after day and night after night to carve their way out of the societal depicted norms and pulled themselves up with pride. Such torchbearers are present on every other house of your street, throwing a smile of warmth while you cross their path.

One of those women is UK born, Jamaican descent, Annette Pateman, residing in our very own northwestern city of Ontario, Thunder Bay for almost a decade now, as a well published writer. Pateman has been writing for a long time and is inclined towards magical realism. Starting with her writing journey, Annette says she was inspired to write after her father’s unfortunate death when she was 15. She started to remember all the small and big stories of her life. When the pandemic hit, everybody was struggling to keep up with their normal. The same happened with Annette who still managed to publish a book in pandemic named Anancy and the turtle. It is based on an Ethican and Caribbean character- spider trickster semi-god character. Moreover, she has always been fond of writing about black identity, relationships, and family, which she depicted in her first published book Spectrum. Also, being a black woman herself, she considers that it is important for her contribution towards development of women which she mentioned in her very first writing piece which goes back to 1996.

Speaking of achievements and her contribution towards making a difference, Annette has readily worked in anti-racism community for the city and in CHART-Combating harassment and racial tension in south London. She was the first black woman to be nominated to interview at Waverly library. Her other works include advisory for the elementary schools on how they could have handled black history. She has also conducted a women talk group in Thunder Bay, where Northern women share their thoughts and voices.

Annette believes that racism is way more real than what it is shown. There is a subtle and strong presence in communities. From being called names on the street to being excluded in the job market, she believes that there is still a lot to be done. “Racism doesn’t end on the streets; it makes affects people’s mental health, which results in high drop out rates in high school. There are several challenges for black people, especially a woman. What the world needs is more education towards racism,” she says. For Annette, her inspiration and education come from reading stories of people of colour, which can be helpful for everybody; for example, reading about Bob Marley. She lays down the impact of not having a black teacher growing up, creating a void. “I wanted to be a teacher I could never have,” she says.

Pateman believes that sharing the stories help people of colour to retain their identity and learn how to take a stand against racism. People of colour have the right to be heard and understood properly. They make this world a more diverse and perfect blend of healthy society.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks