Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Montreal 101(Update)

So I was in Montreal this past week for the Association of Black Sociologists and the American Sociological Association meetings. The meetings went well, I got chance to see a number of people that I haven't seen in a year or two and I got a chance to fish around for future opportunities (graduate school must come to an end).

The title of the post comes from my tour guide on the "Tour of Black Montreal". Our tour guide was a 50 year old White man who was of French descent. I should have known the tour was going to be shady when he told us that he was going to give us "a standard" tour of Montreal and highlight some Black history. Well, for two hours, I sat on a bus, along with about 50 Black sociologists and we heard him randomly mention Black people. I learned that there are two Black communities in Montreal: the Black English and the Astians (that's Haitian to you none French speakers ;) I also learned that the World Expo of '67 changed his life and he met people from Africa and that the Africans loved the Expo so much they just decided to stay. I learned that lgbtq prefer to be called "sexual minorities" because it's politically correct.

I also learned that there are no ghettos in Montreal, which is interesting. Well really interesting because my friend stayed in a "hotel" in the "red light district" and while walking her to her door, I saw two drug transactions, a fight, and we had to ask the resident prostitutes to move off the stoop so she could get in. Come to think of it, it does make sense there are no ghettos, cause there are no poor or homeless. After all, I learned from our guide that there are enough social services and that anyone I saw on the street (those who we in the States would consider homeless), wanted to be on the street. I mean even if it does get down to -37c (-34.6f) according to our tour guide. They just didn't want to go into shelters. I guess the human condition is just different in Montreal.

Well maybe not, my friends came across "The Illuminated Crowd" Statue on McGill, it's pretty intense.
A visitor to downtown Montreal almost can'?t help walking by a large sculptural group outside a bank building on McGill College Avenue. Called The Illuminated Crowd, the work is by the European artist, Raymond Masson, and it was installed in 1986. It'?s made of polyester resin painted a kind of vanilla yellow and itÂ?s a crowd, all right! Dozens of figures, from the frenzied to the serene, seem to jostle each other for a place on the sidewalk. According to the descriptive text, the piece deals with the nature of man, violence and hope and the quest for the ideal. According to this writer, it'?s one of those works that divide people into two groups Â? those who love it vs. those who hate it. Quote from Montreal Behind the scenes

Here are some more views of it (1,2,3,4). Well I'm back and still black at Michigan so I'm gonna get to working.

Update: I neglected to mention that at the close of the ABS conference we shared the hotel with Anthrofest aka a Furry convention. Now I wonder what my tour guide would have referred to them as???


Anonymous said...

Very good synopsis of the bus tour. I can't wait until we get our photos from the International Graffiti Convention. Sosa said that when you have conventions you are conventional. LOL All I gotta say is wait until you see our photo essay of the event, tentative title...Ethnic Options Gone Wild!

RachelsTavern said...

LOL!!! That's exactly why I don't go on any tours. I'd rather experience the everyday folks and activities.

And about those furry folks--I was trying very hard not to laugh too much at them. I kept thinking about the MTV True Life with them. I didn't know there was a convention, but I did see a few tails and other animal suits. LOL!!

Dumi said...

Yeah, ironically heard that someone when on a tour during ASA about Black folks in Montreal and it was much better, go figure. On the furries, I didn't realize it was the huge convention, I probably would have tried to snoop around, uh I mean do some ethnographic observations, but since I only saw some folks riding the elevator, I kind of avoided them.

andrea said...


Hatian in French takes an H just like in English. The H is just silent.

Take care,


Dumi said...

Andrea, Yeah, I know. I just wrote it like that as a joke. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I would like to say that the tour bus and the tour guide was very much misleading. Montreal is a multicultural city which has a ethnic diversity about itself. The city is mixed with all types of people. English and french can be your first or secondary language. And just to let you know, there's more then just 2 black communities. You have many people from different countries that live in montreal besides quebecqoi citizens that make up the city. Native indians, Asians, caucasians, West Indians and more... I wouldn't say montreal has no ghettos but I would say montreal has lower income families living in projects and in co-op communities. Theres basically rich and poor people living in the many boroughs of montreal which is just the similar as other cities and states. And if there was enough social assistant svc's, jobs and shelters there would be no one on the streets. Trust me because I live in montreal and lived through it all. Montreal isn't as different then any other place. There are positives and negatives to this city as any other city. Don't believe everything you hear unless you have proof that justify the facts.

Dumi said...

I hear you Trey. I wrote the review as "tongue in cheek" commentary about a misguided, guided tour. thanks for the comment.