The opposite of silence

Dionne Brand’s dialogues with herself and the world

The liberal humanist vision of the world imagines society on a slow, yet progressive march toward a more egalitarian, equitable, and free version of itself. Yes, there are the unfortunate missteps, the violent histories, and the regrettable mistakes, but our overall trajectory is toward greater freedom. It is out of such hopeful visions of the world that we get the Instagram progressivism of Trudeau 2.0 and the mantras of “Because it’s 2015,” and “Yes we can!”

Dionne Brand has long been a voice of staunch correction and opposition to this liberal optimism. Since her earliest work in the 1970s and 1980s, Brand has been interrogating the myths at the heart of such liberal narratives as well as the languages in which we tell them. Her work questions the “we” invoked in these fantasies, asking who is marginalized in this narrative, whose voices silenced, what histories erased, and whose bodies sacrificed. Yet...