Updated: Mar 31, 2021
"As much as I was being told outwardly that we didn't exist or
we had no value, that wasn't the message I was hearing at home."
Ayoka Junaid was born in Montreal, Quebec and was raised in St. John's Newfoundland with her parents, who are of Jamaican and Nigerian descent and her two brothers and three sisters. Ayoka's parents met in Montreal where they both had gone to study. They married and started their family and once her father completed his doctorate in mathematic, they moved to Newfoundland, where her father got a faculty position at Memorial University. Ayoka lived in NL till the age of 21 and returned each year for visits up until her mid 30ties.
Ayoka has talked with her son about the importance of learning "our" stories. To take advantage of the opportunities he has, and to recognize that with great privilege comes great responsibility. Ayoka wants him, "To recognize that he has the right to dignity and respect and regardless of whether or not the person who is trying to tell him that is someone who has less melanin than he has or someone who has just as much or more, that his right to personal dignity and respect exist."
Akoya talked with me about being other, shame, gaze, finding space to breath, and figuring out how to speak in languages other than colonizer languages.