Joy Drop: February an inspiring month of cultural, historical learnings

Jasmine Brown with her book, Twice as Hard. (Submitted by Jasmine Brown - image credit)
Jasmine Brown with her book, Twice as Hard. (Submitted by Jasmine Brown - image credit)

Dear readers, another week of winter is under our belts. I had the good fortune of experiencing some warmth at a Toronto Raptors game on Thursday night that featured Caribbean culture. I went with my friends Courtney and the Crocker/MacLean family from Halifax.

The anthems were performed by Pan Fantasy, an amazing steel pan ensemble. Truly the rhythm and mood of steel pan makes you almost forget that all of downtown Toronto was lined with slush amid freezing temperatures.

Kevin Little performed, and at halftime Soca legend Patrice Roberts absolutely killed it. I have been singing "drink water and mind my business" constantly.

I appreciate the cultural nights and believe it's an amazing space to share heritage and traditions. A connection through food and music is so profound and effective in sharing with wider communities. Obviously I am biased toward the Raptors' games operation crew (my husband, Mark, works with them) but the performances and costumes from The Northside Crew were fantastic.

I do feel that not only do cultural nights help connect people, they include various communities into sport in an impactful way. And now I'm craving my husband's oxtail.

It is carnival time in Trinidad right now and one of my friends is there celebrating. I had been watching her social media and started to look into the festivities and found an article from Vogue magazine about The Lost Tribe (a carnival band). There are so many Caribbean communities in Canada and knowing about their own traditions emboldens us to participate here and continue learning — even after the parties!

As Black History Month comes to an end, this is a reminder that learning is constant. This week, I listened to an NPR interview with Rhodes Scholar and American medical student Jasmine Brown. Brown recently just published a book called Twice as Hard about Black women and their histories becoming physicians in the 21st century. According to the interview, there have been so few histories chronicled of Black women physicians and the insurmountable barriers they faced; these experiences are important to hear. Brown has also experienced (and continues to experience) racism in her field despite being a brilliant researcher and student.

As you all know, I adore cats. One of my favourite social media accounts is of Abdul & Fosters on Instagram. Abdul is the foster cat dad of many kittens. He chronicles his adventures as he and his wife care for these tiny little fur babies. His stories include how to bathe them, how to soothe scared and anxious kittens, kitty antics and just pure joy. It is truly a series of adorable videos. His dedication to the kittens is incredible. Abdul has a great website with photos and merchandise and his tagline is "Cat inspired, human loved."

Quite often the intensity of joy comes from having struggled through and experiencing triumph of survival as well. The Haitian women's national soccer team recently qualified for their first Women's World Cup. Over the last few years, the Haitian federation has been wracked with an abuse scandal and the country has been hit with a series of natural disasters and a troubled economy.

But the success of the women in beating out Chile and earning their first World Cup berth has been exciting. The Haitian people are behind them and so is the women's soccer world. It has been so important to see this happiness and success stem from the resilience and dedication of football from the women of this small Caribbean country. I can't wait to watch them play!

I leave you with Mind my Business, an absolute banger from Patrice Roberts that I guarantee will have you dancing and singing on repeat! May the warmth of family, food and joy envelope you!