Censor Brathwaite? | The Journal of Montreal

Normand Brathwaite’s biography, written by Isabelle Massé, was published ten years ago. But when I speak to you about this book on the radio today, I could not pronounce the title. Otherwise I risk a reprimand from the CRTC.

My friend Normand’s (black artist) biography, written by Isabelle Massé (black journalist), is titled after a book by Dany Laferrière (black writer): Brathwaite, How to Work Like a Negro Without Getting Tired.


do you notice Ten years ago, Normand and Isabelle found it normal and amusing to wink at Laferrière’s book with the “N-word”. How the world has changed in just 3650 days!

Last week, the CRTC ordered Radio-Canada to apologize for using the “N-word” on a radio show where a columnist mentioned the book. White niggers of America by Pierre Vallieres.

Since then, the Quebec Journalists’ Association has condemned this “dangerous precedent that imposes censorship on the media that is as excessive as it is unjustified.”

And on Friday, thirteen media personalities, including Bernard Derome and former Radio-Canada ombudsmen, also issued an open letter condemning the CRTC’s decision.

One thing about the CRTC’s decision particularly shocks me. Then the federal authority accuses the Crown group of having “shown too little respect and sensitivity towards the communities affected by the term”. But who judges what is shaking “the affected communities”?

Aren’t Isabelle Massé, Normand Brathwaite and Dany Laferrière part of these “affected communities”?

To the Spicy aperitif, the podcast I co-host with Richard Martineau, we received Normand Brathwaite at his home on May 18th. In this episode, which you can listen to on QUB Radio starting Thursday this week, Normand tells us via the title of his bio that when we talk about the “N-word,” context changes everything. It all depends on what you put before the “n” word.

I would like to encourage CRTC members to listen to this podcast. But I have a question for you: as an interviewer, how am I supposed to tell Normand Brathwaite the title of his bio…without naming him?

Do you have what it says on the back of Normand’s bio? “As an actor, improviser, comedian, presenter and musician, Normand Brathwaite undeniably shaped our television and radio history. We are a long way from the Negro on duty…”.

It’s crazy how things can change in ten years…


Finally, a word about the “artist” who initiated the complaint against Radio-Canada that led to the CRTC’s decision.

He’s a musician I mentioned earlier in my column for daring to seriously ask the question, “Does Quebec only like white artists? “. He was also one of the leaders of the resistance to the play SLAV.

In short, a Permanent Victims subscriber who sees racism everywhere.

But this time, this activist led a fight that threatened the freedom of expression of all Quebecers, regardless of the color of their skin.

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