Poet Desiree McKenzie says Canada needs to showcase more Black talent

Oct 13, 2023 | Arts, Culture, Life

When Desiree McKenzie was a creative advertising student at Humber College in 2018, she didn’t see much Black representation on campus.

“While I think there has been more, there is always, always, always, gonna be work to be done,” McKenzie said. “I think little efforts like this [showcase] go a long way in terms of making that happen.”

The Ignite team at Humber College North campus held a Black Excellence Showcase featuring Black artists and professionals of all kinds on Thursday.

Screen grab of Desire Mckenzie smiling in a self portrait.

Desire Mckenzie, Toronto based spoken-word poet screen grabbed image. Photo credit: Karl Lewis

McKenzie, who was also the emcee at the event, said it was an important moment to highlight people of colour.

“I think it’s really special…[to] create that community and share that with the whole student body,” McKenzie said.

“It’s really beautiful to see,” she said. “There’s food, there’s businesses being highlighted. There’s so much at play. I think it’s a really great thing and I’m so proud, so, so proud.”

Poetry has become a major part of McKenzie’s life. She said her inspiration does not come from one single avenue but from a plethora of her own experiences, including her relationship with being mixed race.

“The joyous moments, the hard moments, the in-between moments is what I really like to share,” McKenzie said. “Not expressing myself in a monolith.”

That the grind in highlighting the Black and POC communities is seemingly never-ending means there should be more focused events on these matters, she said.

McKenzie said specifically Black History Month in February is not enough for a community so rich in culture.

“I think that is so important and so key in terms of how we learn and understand Black history, especially Black history in this country too, and the Black experiences of this country as well,” she said.

“I think, absolutely, these [events] should happen more and I’d love to see [them] in many different communities and spaces, especially this one,” McKenzie said.