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Ishmael Nunez, Dual Degree Master's of Urban Planning and Public Health student

 

Born in Cali, Colombia, raised in North Delta, British Columbia. When I’m with my family, I’m home.

 

My father wouldn’t let me say the word negro, or gente negra when referring to other Black people:
“The word we use is Gente Niche. This is to say that you are also these people you are referring to. It inextricably ties yourself to the broader community, identity, and historical context of your/ourselves as a people”.

 

When you think of a thriving Black community and cities, what do you see?

I see a community that owns the spaces they live in. They own the meanings of their spaces. They own the ability to feel home and remain in place. They own the access and ability navigate their spaces without exclusion.

 

What neighborhood, city or space affirms your Blackness?

My father is from Buenaventura along the Pacific Coast of Colombia. Colombia has one of the largest representation of the African Diaspora with the majority of Afro-Colombianos living along both the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts. Growing up where I did in Canada, even though my network was predominantly non-white, it was also non-Black and non-Latinx, let alone both. So, for so long any connection through my father, and my grandmother to Buenaventura has been the strongest affirmation of my Blackness. Growing up and even until recently, my experience of being in a Black community, has only ever been in a Latin American context.

 

Who do you think best embodies Black excellence?

I grew up with Muhammad Ali being a very important person in my house. This is a person that we can recognize with conviction as likely being the greatest athlete of all time. Yet still, could have all of his athletic achievements stripped from him, and still be recognized as such an important activist for civil rights and justice is literally a single man representing the fight in every fiber of his existence.