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July 3, 2020

Jamaias DeCosta

Tell me a bit about yourself?
I identify as Jamaican, Afro-Indigenous. My maternal grandmother is Irish, my grandfather is Mohawk Irish cree and french, on my fathers side he is Jamaica/Afro Indigenous. I am super light skin and white presenting. I am a DJ and a mom, have lived in Toronto for most of my life, though did live in Jamaica for a few years. I currently live in the neighbourhood i lived in before i moved to jamaica as a young teen, I am back here now, and after moving so much it is significant for me to come back to.

I’m at coxwell and gerrard and have heard rumours that this neighborhood is historically black. There are some very interesting intersections between class and race in my neighborhood and they happen quite abruptly, it’s quite multi cultural, on my street mostly are family homes, and then at the top of our street there is Toronto Community Housing, and there is a significant shift in the neighborhood between the two.

I walk through the world white presenting, so I don’t experience the same racism and discrimination when I access spaces in my neighborhood, however my partner and I have been evicted for being native. I know that my daughter Kaya Joan has a different experience in this case. My lived experiences are vastly different than any one of the people I relate to as kin as POC and Black folks, because my skin is so light. At the bottom of our street on one corner there is Tea and Bannock, and on the other corner it’s a black owned african culture store, and them both taking up that space and sense of community, there being quite a few black families on this street.

I can see the lake from my house, and there are a couple rivers on either side of where we live - most have been buried but you can catch parts of them in parks in this area.

I see people I recognize that have been around since I was a kid, having moved around so much i’ve felt i've often lacked that history with a place.

Do you know of any rivers that pass through your neighborhood/area?
There's ones that run a couple of streets each of two blocks east of coxwell northside of gerrard and it’s one i use to walk beside as a kid, Smalls Creek that leads to the ravine I traversed as a child - I wouldn’t be surprised if you could lead it to Taylor Creek. There is another by Jones which is buried, but it shows in Withrow Park. And then the lake which I visit as often as I can - accessing is it’s own stress, physically it is difficult to reach the water but also there is a lot of white affluence that police the waters space, especially for ceremony or if they expect otherness.