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Toronto Lit Up: Cheryl Thompson

February 24 at 7:30pm
Toronto Lit Up Banner with Uncle book cover by Cheryl Thompson. Free Book Launch Wednesday, February 24 at 7:30pm

Join Cheryl Thompson on Wednesday, February 24 at 7:30pm ET to celebrate the launch of Uncle: Race, Nostalgia, and the Politics of Loyalty. Beginning with a brief reading, Cheryl will then be joined by Funké Aladejebi and Nana Adwoa Frimpong for a conversation and Q&A.

About the Book

From martyr to insult, how “Uncle Tom” has influenced two centuries of racial politics.

Ever since Harriet Beecher Stowe first published her great anti-slavery novel in 1852, the figure of Uncle Tom has morphed from literary hero into lacerating insult, but never once faded from view. Uncle Tom’s shape-shifting presence moved off the page and into vaudeville revues, then movies, radio, television, consumer packaging, advertising, and ultimately politics.

In this highly original cultural history, Dr. Cheryl Thompson unpacks the evolution of Uncle Tom, tracing his influence from minstrel shows to Amos ‘n’ Andy, Uncle Ben, O.J. Simpson, Bill Cosby, and President Barack Obama. In exploring the impact of Uncle Tom on the civil rights movement and contemporary race relations, Thompson offers jarring insights about how pop culture, revisionism, and nostalgia have set the stage for the politics of race and systemic discrimination of recent years.

The event has passed. Thank you for joining us!


Cheryl Thompson is an Assistant Professor at Ryerson University in the School of Creative Industries. She is the author of Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture. She previously held a Banting postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto. Her work has appeared in The ConversationToronto StarMontreal GazetteSpacingHerizons MagazineHalifax Coast and Rabble.ca. She was born and raised in Toronto, where she currently resides. She has also lived in the United States.

Funké Aladejebi is a scholar of the twentieth century with a specialization in Black Canadian history. Her forthcoming book, Schooling the System: A History of Black Women Teachers, explores the intersections of race, gender and access in Canadian educational institutions. She is also currently co-editing a collection entitled, Unsettling the Great White North: African Canadian History. Her work explores the importance of Black Canadian women in sustaining their communities and preserving a distinct Black identity within restrictive gender and racial barriers. Dr. Aladejebi has been involved in a variety of community engagement and social justice initiatives in Toronto and her research interests are in oral history, the history of education in Canada, Black feminist thought and transnationalism.

Nana Adwoa Frimpong is an MFA Candidate in the Film and Television Production program at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Nana previously attended the University of Toronto where she graduated with Distinction in English. While a student, Nana hosted the fifth annual TEDx conference, served as Vice-President Equity of the student union, and created the online and print photo journal, Maya, to honour women storytellers. Nana is committed to directing, writing and producing stories that illuminate the humanity of women, girls and people of colour, while at the same time creating more opportunities for women to collaborate behind the camera. At USC, Nana is a George Lucas Scholar and the recipient of the John Huston Scholarship for Directing. Her short film, What Nina Said, about black women and their experiences of misogyny, shame and liberation was a finalist in the 2020 Women in Cinematic Arts Feminist Festival.

Toronto Lit Up is a three year initiative, spearheaded by the Toronto International Festival of Authors and the Toronto Arts Council, designed to spotlight Toronto’s writers and empower local artists with career-building opportunities. Click here for more information.


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