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Colour Me tells the story of black identity in suburban Ontario 

Sherien Barsoum's doc examines cultural and racial stereotypes

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Colour Me is a documentary about six kids in a Brampton, Ontario high school, all of whom identify as black. They're interviewed by Anthony McLean, whose own mixed ethnicity made for struggles in his youth. He's a motivational speaker, but also a high school dropout, struggling to make ends meet by working as a waiter in the evenings to help feed his family.

Though Brampton is as much a middle-class suburban milieu as you can imagine, the black kids at the local high school take tips on identity from hip-hop and popular culture. The kids who we meet are resisting a lot of that, self-aware enough to not buy into the gangsta mentality, but are still far from the honour roll, which McLean points out to them: how can you buck the stereotype if your grades are well below average?

The doc is even-handed, informative and touching. It peels back the changing fabric of race in our country by examining one expanding community. For anyone in high school in Canada right now, or remembers the pressures to fit in, to excel, to be cool and figure out who you are, this is essential viewing. (Colour Me screens Wednesday at noon at the Oxford Cinema.)

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Vol 24, No 39
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