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  • Writer's pictureMichèle Newton

Acceptance moves mountains

Updated: Mar 4, 2019

It’s more than just black history—it’s indigenous history, it’s world history of people that are still suffering and their rights are being violated. Shelly Skinner

Believing that we’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect. —Brené Brown

Thoughts on Black History Month

The positive is that it's about the history—how we have persevered through all the tribulations we've experienced as black people. How we are able to be presidents of countries and engineers and business women and mothers and influencers. It's incredible what were able to do and how we continue to fight and never give up.

It’s hard though, because its just a month. At least we get that opportunity to focus on some real history that's important, but at the same time there's a downside. It isn't part of the everyday curriculum. It's more than just black history, it’s history that needs to be more current and more prevalent in all of our education. —S.S.


By Michèle Newton

Enter a room and find again

that I am the center of the eyes.

A token in my own right

One of these things is not like the others.

When will I overcome the urge

to notice that I am the only?

What’s it like to look around a room

and see your face reflected back at you?

Welcomed, accepted, included, understood.

An entitled security we are far from achieving.

We remain unique in our blackness,

our womanness, our assuredness.

We stand alone, yet together

in the knowledge that we.are.enough.

Who is Shelly

With a history of creating communities where none existed before, Shelly has always viewed equality through a lens of inclusivity. Shelly continually works to support women's rights, LGBT rights, and for marginalized groups to be seen and heard.

The acceptance and empowerment she’s experienced from the LGBT community have inspired her to advocate and fight for others in need of support and acceptance. Shelly now works to create safe spaces that support queer people, women, and people of colour. Whether it be for women to speak freely about their sexuality in an environment where they won't feel judged, or working with the local LGBTs with a focus on human rights and building community, her calling brings people together while shining a light on the issues facing our community.

In her role as “The Pleasure Diva”, Shelly is a sexual health educator with a focus on female and queer sexuality. She’s also a Community Producer and host on ROGERStv Simcoe County, with her program “Pleasure Diva”, a show that creates a platform for discussion of pleasure and sexuality in a positive light. Her work has led her to take the position as Vice Chair of Barrie Pride, an organization which works to increase the visibility of LGBTs in Simcoe County.

You are enough. In every way and everything that you are. —Shelly Skinner

How about Role Models?

Shelly’s ideas of role models evolved as she grew up, realizing that “people you assume you should be looking up to simply because of the status and celebrity” were merely false idols. As she looks back at her childhood and youth, two strong women stand out.

Her mother: “Her strength and her resilience through everything she had been through. How she was a fighter and how she always cared for us, making sure that we were okay.”

A friend’s mother Terry James, who was Toronto’s first black woman police officer: “She influenced me to appreciate art and music in a different way that I hadn't ever experienced. That's when I started learning about how to actually appreciate other people's sexuality and cultures.”

“As a black girl growing up in a predominantly white area it took a while to really truly appreciate my beauty and appreciate my body size and my shape. I was different.”
“The faces you saw on television and in magazines didn't represent me.”

Shelly encourages us all not to get to a place where we're too comfortable where we too easily become complacent. When we're complacent we don't fight for change and we don't fight for others. What about everybody else who still needs help and support? We need to be fighting for them as well.

Photo credit: Michèle Newton


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