Last night I attended An Evening With Malcolm Gladwell at the Toronto Reference Library as part of the Jamaica 50 celebrations. 2012 marks 50 years of independence of Jamaica and the Jamaican-Canadian community is celebrating in style. Last night Gladwell spoke of his Jamaican heritage and the influence it has had on his life and work.
It was an incredible talk. Gladwell is both incredibly smart and hilarious. He had the audience laughing as he told stories and shared his views on the world. I thoroughly enjoyed the way he would begin speaking on one topic then drift into another, then another. He probably could have talked for hours and we all would have enjoyed if he could.
He told the poignant story of a young African woman being taken as the mistress of the slave master and bearing children, thus setting in place the privilege his family would enjoy as part of middle class Jamaica. He spoke of the immigrant experience, putting forth the not often thought of idea that when an immigrant not only changes the country they are going to but also the one they have left behind. And of course, no talk would be complete without pointing out the differences between Canadians and Americans ;)
During the question period Gladwell was asked what he thinks of new media and blogging and how it fits into the media as a whole. He was asked if he thought blogs would be replacing print media. His answer was that they wouldn't replace but add and that blogs provide "opportunities to follow the thinking of people who otherwise wouldn't be published." He showed a deep appreciation for what blogs do, how they fit, and the world that they open up to us.
Last night was fantastic. Tickets sold out quick and many of us watched the talk on a screen in the library atrium. I wish I could share everything he said. I rushed home from the talk eager to tell my husband everything that was said, but unfortunately it wasn't as funny or poignant (or didn't make sense) when I told it. So if you ever have a chance to hear him speak, I highly recommend going.
A special thank you to Malcolm Gladwell, Eleanor Wachtel, Toronto Public Library, CBC and Jamaica50 for this amazing evening.
For more information about Jamaica50 check out www.jamaica50.ca