Dispelling the myth that blacks are ill-suited to northern climates



Since 1995 and as a result of a motion in Canada’s parliament, February has been designated Black History Month in Canada. It has been so designated in order to recognize the contribution of black Canadians to this country inclulding such fields as science, business, sport, arts, politics, social justice, and so on.

Noted author, and lecturer, George Elliot Clarke, says there are still hurdles for blacks in Canada to overcome.  He is the E.J.Pratt professor of Canadian literature at the University of Toronto, visiting professor of Canadian Studies at Harvard, and Poet Laureate of Toronto.

In spite of the fact that there have been blacks in Canada since before it was a country, Clarke says there is still a general perception that blacks are ill-suited to northern climates.

African-Canadian award-winning author and poet, George Elliot Clarke © Thomas King-HarperCollins.

He is giving a talk on Monday, February 3 at York University in Toronto, with the theme. “Poles Apart? The ‘Great Black North’ in Canada and Sweden”.

He says that for hundred of years, various influencial thinkers have propagated the theory that certain ethnic peoples are ill-suited to live in certain climates.

He says for example that in the past, some scientists and philosphers held that while caucasions were highly adaptable to any climate, blacks were not suited to cold, just as Inuit of the far north would not thrive in southerly climates.

He also said Europeans often felt that the warm regions were prone to disease and corruption.

GE Clarke says these misconceptions have always held more sway than the facts, such as that one of the first to discover the North Pole with Robert Peary, was African-American Mathew Henson, travelling on expeditions to the north with him on seven voyages over 18 years. He even learned Inuit in order to help the exploration teams. Clarke also said several of the fur traders exploring across Canada were of African heritage.

As a final note, and in recognition of Black History Month, George Elliot Clarke recites one of his poems for us which he says is in praise of black women. It’s called “Daughter of Music”


One comment

  1. Avatar the russian says:

    blacks ARE NOT suited for northern climate. Its not racism its genetics. The northern man has a thin nose meant to heat the air thats inhaled, warm air for the brain in cold temperatures.

    africans have a wide nose meant to cool the hot air they inhale, cooling the brain in all that heat.

    africans also have a lot of melanin on their skin (the dark pigment) it provides UV protection from the sun. Do northerns have it? no. because theyre in the cold. because their body is adapted for the cold.

    I am sure africans can survive the cold arctic north just like any other people. but their body composition will make it much harder for them to live there then the thin nose white populations of europe and north asia and canada.

    Not racism. pure science. the adaptation your ancestors evolved primarly depends on their geographical location and climate.

    why do africans have no hair on their arms? while everybody outside of south/east/west africa does? because everybody outside of south/east/west africa has 1-8% neanderthal genome in their DNA. Science.

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