Kamal Al-Solaylee

Speaking topic: What being brown in the world today means (to everyone)

While issues of racial discrimination and bias have never really disappeared from public and private conversations, they have returned with a vengeance in the last few years. A global refugee crisis, the election of Donald Trump, Brexit and the mass migration of workers from the developing world have forced most of us to reconsider what we know (or think we do) about race and skin colour on one hand and justice, social cohesion and labour on the other.

In this talk, Kamal Al-Solaylee, journalist, university professor and bestselling author, takes an international look at the intersections of race and politics through the lens of brown skin and the emergence of brownness as distinct racialized experience that often gets left out when we see the world in black and white.

From the emergence of brown workers as the source of cheap labour around the world to the racial baiting of a sitting president of the United States to the return of ethno-nationalism in Europe, Al-Solaylee attempts to explain a world that has become increasingly confusing and unsettling. Throughout this talk and his book Brown, Al-Solaylee stops to take a closer look at the lives of men and women caught in the turmoil of these massive global movements and at Canada’s place in that larger narrative.

Kamal Al-Solaylee is the bestselling author of Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes, shortlisted for the CBC’s Canada Reads, the Writers’ Trust Hilary Weston Prize for Nonfiction and the 2013 winner of the Toronto Book Award. His second book of nonfiction, Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone), a finalist for the Governor General Literary Awards and Trillium Book Award, won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing in 2017. Brown was a Best Book of 2016 selection for The Globe and Mail, CBC Books, the National Post, The Walrus, Toronto Life and Chatelaine.

Based in Toronto, he was previously the national theatre critic at The Globe and Mail and over the last two decades has written on books, the performing arts, film and politics for The Walrus, the Toronto Star, Literary Review of Canada, the National Post, Quill & Quire, Elle Canada, Canadian Notes & Queries, Chatelaine and Maclean’s. He holds a PhD in Victorian fiction, which remains one of his passions. Al-Solaylee is an associate professor of journalism at Ryerson University and the 2018 Chair of the Scotiabank Giller Prize.