It's unfortunate, but true, the word racism and Nova Scotia have always gone hand and hand. From the Africville days to current times, the stench of bigotry has been in the air since forever.
Racism comes in many forms and fashions, ignorance doesn't really hold back or set limitations. The criminalization and high rates of incarceration among African Nova Scotians are real statistic's. In the most recent carding survey within HRM, it's reported that African Nova Scotians are 3 times more likely to be stopped by the police than white people in the region. The province of Nova Scotia really doesn't think this is a problem, but half the people being carded don't even have criminal records. That's definitely a problem for the African Nova Scotian community.
So as long as we're dealing with systemic racism issues, we're definitely going to be dealing with racism on an everyday level. The issue Lance Sparks had with someone scrawling a racial slur on the hood of his car, wasn't handled the best way.
Every single day, someone is faced with some sort of racism, it's just an unfortunate fact that we have to be aware of. It isn't even surprising anymore when I see these stories in the paper. African Nova Scotians deal with these issues too often, but this is the world we live in!
I was more surprised that Lance Sparks hasn't been through a racial issue of this degree in 12 years! I quote Lance Sparks when he spoke of his students,
I have to say, it threw me off a little, the way the article in the news ended! But I also see It as a great learning tool, when you read between the lines. Sometimes people need to look at situations from another persons point of view, for example the children. Those same children face racism in their everyday lives too, on so many levels.
I also know from my own personal experiences, that when you face racism early and often, you start to become numb to it, and it really doesn't affect you as much! The best analogy I can use is, it's like getting punched in the face. The first time you get punched in the face, you don't know how to feel. It's surprising, it can hurt both physically, and mentally, or you might not feel any of these things. But, if you keep getting punched in your face, it starts to be less surprising, doesn't hurt as much, and life goes on.
Also, some people don't know how to speak about that type of situation. Not everyone is a social activist, and it's really not their responsibility anyway. Hey coach, just because the black high school kids were not the first kids to text you, it doesn't mean they don't have your back! All it means is they were not the first people to text you!
After reviewing the security tapes from the school, it was found the writing on Mr. Sparks vehicle, didn't even happen on school property. It's horrible that it happened, but also, it's good that it didn't happen on school property!
They say, it takes something to happen for people to learn, and this situation definitely qualifies as something. After going through this situation Mr. Sparks now sees there is more he can do for his community. That can never be a bad thing. Let's empower our youth, and use this as a teaching tool.
Here is what I took from the story...
One racist action, can affect more people than the person it was intended to hurt! Look how many people have a part in this situation. Coach Lance Sparks, the Dartmouth High School basketball team, Dartmouth High School, the police, and even more people than that.
But the situation serves as a great segway to speak about racism in a constructive way. Lance Sparks had his eyes opened in a real way, and with the opportunity he has to engage with the youth through the Dartmouth High School, he has a chance to make a real difference.
So hopefully, this negative situation, can be used to create a positive conversation on how to deal with racism, especially for the kids sake!
Africville disappeared for the sake of urban development! The issue with the North-End is different, but the same...
Well, February has been an active month with everyone, everywhere creating awareness in regards to African Canadian history. From the multiple news outlets promoting all the African Heritage Month events throughout the city. To the GoFund me page set up by Quentrel Provo, who recently look 400 of the local African Nova Scotian to see the Black Panther movie. Mad props to being a role model and for being a positive influence in the community at large!
Another engaging moment in the month of February was when "The Current", a CBC radio show came to the Halifax Central Library for a special edition segment. The segment was titled "Facing Race", and it looked at the racism, African Nova Scotians face on many different levels. The piece covers topics from environmental racism, community gentrification, and the racism that black women face every day throughout Nova Scotia. The unedited version of the taping is the best one to watch, and you can find the full version here (Click Here).
The topic of discussion today, is going to be the "gentrification" part of the segment. That's when Anna Maria Tremonti is interviewing Irvine Carvey president of the Africville Genealogy Society, Melinda Daye former chair of the Halifax Regional School Board, and Rodney Small a business development manager for Common Business Solutions.
These types of open mic conversations give anyone in attendance the chance to speak. This is good to see how racism is perceived from different demographic's perspectives. From the young people within our neighborhoods, to our community elders, everyone has a voice of their own. It's when these voices come together collectively, in situations like these, that bring a rightful awareness around the issues happening within the community.
It's unfortunate, but the truth is, if the people in the North-End of Halifax are already feeling like they're losing their community, does that mean the gentrification process has already started?
Here is quote from Irvine Carvery, "Today, currently, people living in public housing cannot look to leave public housing because the rents in the area are way beyond their needs and home ownership is a dream. There has been this dramatic shift".
I believe that conversation goes a level deeper, and financial literacy is really where it starts! It's all money at the end of the day, from owning a small business to buying a home! So the faster that our younger generations can understand just how important things like credit and money management are, is the faster they are going to have the tools to obtain businesses and homes.
It's so true what Rodney Small said about changing the narrative in regards to small businesses and working. We shouldn't be focusing on just getting employment within our community, but ownership as well!
I definitely agree with Irvine when he said "Historically the marginalization of the black population in Nova Scotia and Halifax did not adequately prepare us to take advantage of the economic opportunities and the home ownership opportunities that became available", which makes now the time to arm our future generations with the knowledge they need. The background processes need to be understood first, in order to understand the steps to owning a small business and home ownership.
A great example of what I'm talking about is the organization Hope Blooms. I bet the children working within their organization have learned so many lessons, in regards to the way money really works.
The majority of those same people in the North-End today, are descendants of the Africville community that has long since been a casualty of racism. So the feeling of losing their community really isn't all that new to a lot of the people, but how do systemic problems get fixed? We can't get a new system, so knowledge is going to be the best line of defense. Knowledge is power when you use it properly!
My favorite part in the whole video, is at 2:06:28 during the Q&A session. A young man in attendance asks the minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs, Tony Ince some great questions. His questions pertained to everything from mental health, education, and the criminalization of African Nova Scotians. The questions never get answered, and to be honest, I don't think they could of been answered by the minister at that time. The questions were too deep!
What are the quantifiable metrics used to see if the black community in Nova Scotia is being served by the elected government? Is it determined by how many more times African Nova Scotians get carded by the police? Or maybe it's decided by the historically poor employment rates within the African Nova Scotian community.
All I know is, I don't need to read any metrics to know the province of Nova Scotia needs to do better on so many levels! These discussions need to be continued, as often as possible to keep the awareness where it needs to be.
What do you think about the issues? Everyone has a voice!
I love this documentary that was created in 1991, and reflects on the history of Africville. Throughout the documentary there is video footage from the 60's to the 90's, which is blended together so beautifully it just works perfectly.
Remembering Africville is so insightful because the film is told from so many peoples perspective. The residents of Africville, the local media, and the general public all had their own perspective, and this film shows that. The way the film is put together, it shows some of the challenges the former Africville residents faced.
The community of Africville paid taxes, but yet they didn't have access to any of the municipal resources that the rest of Halifax had. Of course the living conditions in Africville were not the same as the rest of Halifax. If the city didn't invest ANY money into the community, how was it expected to be the same?
The community didn't have proper plumbing or even roads, so it wasn't even comparable. So the city of Halifax basically starved the community of every available resource, and then attacked the community when they thought the time was right.
It was obviously a strategic plan to use the power of influence to dismantle the Africville community, and it worked! Once the elderly people signed their homes over, the younger generation of Africville residents had no choice but to follow. And once the more influential people from the community started signing their homes over, it made it easier for the people with less to make the decision to leave Africville as well.
One by one, the homes in the community of Africville were demolished. The community felt defeated after fighting for their land for so long. The knockout blow came in the dead of night, on November 20, 1967!
That was the evening when the city of Halifax bulldozed the Seaview African United Baptist Church to the ground. The crazy thing is the city of Halifax didn't even own the Church when they took it from the community! And just like that, is how the community of Africville was taken awake from the people.
The former Africville residents were placed in housing projects and throughout the North-end of Halifax. The people never lost their sense of pride or love for Africville, and today the memory of the great community still lives on! I Am Africville...
Grants are like leprechauns and I found a pot of gold...
Everyone knows someone getting a post secondary education...
The Africville Heritage Trust hands out up to 5 post secondary bursaries to Africville descendants every year! I say up to, because I'm pretty sure they never gave out 5 grants in a year! Not too many people know about the opportunity, and I'm sure there are at least 5 Africville descendants deserving of the grants. It's just that nobody knows! I'm just trying to make sure the grants reach the community as they should.
So here is the MAIN criteria for the grants, right from the Africville Museum website. The links at the bottom of this post will give you all the information you need, right on the Africville Museum website... Good luck...
The costs related to going to school go way deeper than the price of tuition. The sacrifices some students and parents make, you will never hear. But every single day the struggle is real for so many people. It's a few thousand dollars for everybody that receives one of these grants.
Everyone knows somebody in post secondary or going into a post secondary institution. And if you ever had to pay for any of all the moving parts associated with going to school, then you know already!
So lets share this information so we can make more people aware of the opportunity as soon as possible, because the deadline to apply is on March 31.
Here is a link for the bursary application, on the Africville Museum website, and here is a link to find out the COMPLETE details in regards to the student bursary through the Africville Museum.
These next 2 individuals that we're going to focus on are exceptional examples of young leaders from our community!
This all starts with a young man whose name was Demetreous Beals, and was just a joy to be around! He was well liked by teachers, students, and anyone who had the pleasure of meeting Demetreous! Some people can light up any room they walk in, and Demetreous was definitely one of those individuals. Everyone he encountered could feel the positive energy running through his veins, and he will truly be missed by everyone that has met the young man. Demetreous was a valuable member of his community, and the legacy of his positive attitude will forever live on! Demetreous was instrumental to having a basketball court put in his Dartmouth neighborhood! This was the young man that made the regional municipality see his vision for making his community a better place! Those are the exact type of issues a young Lindell Smith was acknowledging when he was just a young boy, and look where he is now! That's the type of person Demetreous Beals was. He was a person for the people, and people being his community!
Unfortunately, Demetreous had a tragic swimming accident the evening of June 27th, 2007, when he was only 14 years old! The loss to the community was evident, the community lost an outstanding citizen that was destine for greatness! But more than that, a mother lost her son and a family is one less amazing!
The legacy of Demetreous Beals lives on in many ways! From every person that has ever stepped foot on the basketball court that Demetreous lobbied for the City to create. To every person that knows what the Demetreous Beals Community Spirit Award is! The award mentioned above is an award given out by Bicentennial School in Dartmouth, which was the school Demetreous was attending at the time of his passing. Bicentennial School gives out the Community Spirit Award to a positive student within the school that lives a lifestyle of selflessness. The focus on team building and community is a wonderful thing, plus so many other valuable qualities come from being part of a community, a team! It's awards like these that let our younger generations know that they don't have to be a grownup to make a difference! So it's only right we acknowledge the last Community Spirit Award winner.
With Black Heritage Month set to go into overdrive the first thought that comes to mind is someone that has done something in the past. Today we are going to focus on the new leaders of today, which the Millennials and Generation Z are definitely those! The power and passion of the future generations are undeniable. There are some amazing people making a difference in our communities, and here are a few of the people we'd like to thank for their community service! Every single one of your efforts are appreciated.
There is no particular order to this list! Each person on the list below have their own special way they are being positive role models in the community. Let's get right into with the first person on this list.
Being the first African Nova Scotian councilman to be elected to the Halifax region council in 16 years is definitely something to celebrate. Since Lindell was 12 years old making DVD's about how he would make his community better. It was evident Lindell was going to go grow up and make a difference in his community! If it was up to the 12 year old Lindell, Uniacke Square would have had brand new playgrounds and rust free fences. Lindell also spent quite a bit of time at the North Memorial Library, where he landed his first job as an outreach worker. Another great cause that Lindell co-founded is Centreline Studio which is a not-for-profit organization. Centreline Studio is a recording studio and arts centre focussed on getting youth to express themselves through creativity. These are just some of the most notable causes Lindell is known for, so even before his campaign started, he already had the vote of the people in the community. The diverse group of people that support Lindell, are the same group of people Lindell always showed support throughout his whole life. Lindell is the perfect person to serve our community, his community.
Our next leader in the community, we're about to mention shining in the community is Quentrel Provo. Quentrel Provo is the founder of Stop the Violence, which is a not for profit organization focused on doing just that. The hard work this young man is putting in, hasn't gone unnoticed. Quentrel has even caught the attention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who also recognizes the dedication Quentrel has to supporting the community. On June 10th, 2016, history was made when that day was designated Stop the Violence Day in the province of Nova Scotia. On that day, everyone is encouraged to wear red and also do an act of kindness in the community. From schools and prisons to churches and organized marches, Quentrel is definitely out here making a difference creating awareness about violence!
Here is another one of our hometown heroes and a truly amazing man, and even better boxer. Custio started boxing when he was only 8 years old. Having a passion for the sport the young man quickly developed his skills and started his amateur career. With 99 bouts under his belt, you can say Custio has definitely made his bones in the square circle! It was over 10 years ago when this young man first fought at the national championships, in 2007. Custio made it to the podium in 2011, claiming 3rd place, but in 2009, 2010, and 2012, this young man landed at the top as the Canadian champion in the 69 kg weight class. Custio also has experience fighting internationally on multiple occasions, and has made it be ranked top ten in the world as an amateur fighter.
It was in the end of 2014, that Custio announced he was turning into a pro fighter and he never looked back. His pro career is even more stellar than his amateur one. Currently Custio has fought 13 professional fights and it victorious in all 13! Not to mention he holds the WBO international Welterweight title for his last fight and that's not even the only title he holds. Mr. Clayton also holds the IBF International Welterweight title and Custio as well as the WBC Continental Americas Welterweight title. So Custio is more than just the peoples champ, it's Official Custio Clayton is definitely a Champion 3 times over! S/O to Custio for being an inspiration for all the young athlete's in the Nova Scotia community!
This is Alex Ross a descendant of Africville and a valuable member of his community. The message behind the Family Over Fame clothing line is truly inspirational! The whole concept is to never forget where you came from, while staying positive in the process promoting unity! In 2017 Alex received the "Courage to Give Back Award" from the not for profit organization Family SOS. The organization Family SOS does a great job working with the youth within the community. The organization focuses on empowerment of our youth and cultivating their young minds. They have programs on everything from parenting to building confidence in the future generations. I'm going to put them on another list!
Hope Blooms started as a beautiful story even without Dragons Den. The organization was founded in 2008 by Jessie Jollimore a Community Dietitian in the North-End of Halifax. The organization started as a way to deal with food insecurities, and give people in the community a better opportunity to eat a healthier diet. Well, didn't Hope Blooms blossom into a beautiful flower! With over 40 of the local youth and their families taking part in the organization, you can easily see that it is definitely about more than food! Their program is structured to be youth lead, so I can only imagine all the skills they are learning along the way. The real value though is in the skills they are learning that are hard to see, you know the intangible qualities that are worth more than gold. Like teaching the children self-confidence and the feelings they get when they know they're making a difference in their community! How do you even measure that? It's simple, you can't! Anyway, I just wanted to give Jessie Jollimore and everyone over at Hope Blooms some love, they definitely deserve it!
Are any of these people part of your community? If so feel free to let them know they're doing a great job being a positive role model!
photo credit: Andrew Hill
The future is here the next generation is quickly turning into the NOW generation. It’s a beautiful process watching the children of yesterday turn into the leaders of today.
That’s not to say being Black in Nova Scotia doesn’t come with its challenge. The inspiration to overcome those challenges is what makes the process even more priceless. The statistics below just make it that more important we support the future!
These facts are based on the information compiled by Stats Canada.
Based on those statistics alone, it's easy to see how the deck is stacked against us! In life, I try to see the silver lining in every situation. The fact of the matter is, to do something bigger than yourself, you have to be humbled by humility and put yourself out there. Looking from a distance sometime we forget how hard it is to stay positive when life can be as hard as it gets! It's the people out here creating awareness and doing positive things in their communities that are making a real difference trying to make OUR communities a better place!
It's those same people in our communities that we have to acknowledge even more than we do! There are really 2 options you have when it comes down to it. You can act like you didn't see it, do nothing and be part of the problem. Or you can do the right thing and show your support for people trying to make a real difference. It's easy to point the finger and say this is what needs to done, but it's much harder to DO what needs to be done! So supporting this next generation is the best blessing we need to be giving them!
Encouragement goes a long way! When someone feels like they are making a difference in another persons life, it just motivates them to make an even more positive imprint on the community. The key is to strengthen the community so that, future generations have it better than us. The community of Africville can identify with the struggle better than anyone, but the people of Africville have been dealing with these same issues, its time to break that trend!
The POWER of Africville always the people of Africville and the sense of togetherness the community had as a whole. We cannot forget that in 200 hundred years we're not going to be here anyway, and to make our children stronger, faster, smarter, is the biggest thing we can do for ourselves. The real winners are the next generations of all walks of life! They are the people out here changing the narrative of history, so lets fuel their fire and encourage them to be passionate as ever, while offering our support. It's such a small investment to make, with potentially the biggest return!
So make sure you support the young people in your community. It really doesn't matter if your Chinese, White, or Black. The youth is the movement. The proof is in the pudding, so let them know you see them!