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It's time for white people in Halifax to get down to work on racism

How Game Changers 902 is changing the game and centralizing African Nova Scotian voices in Halifax.

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Kate Macdonald - SABRINA ALLISON
  • Sabrina Allison
  • Kate Macdonald

Game Changers 902 wants to make sure all the newsfeed posts and Instagram stories about the Black Lives Matter movement amount to more than a look at a moment in time. As the name of this new group says, they want to change the rules of the game in order to give young African Nova Scotian perspectives a chance to actually play. 

One of the three organizers, DeRico Symonds, says that means giving those voices a seat at the table so that they have a legitimate chance, and legitimate way to play this game called life. "Because the systems that we're working under and living under have not been equitable,” he says, “they have not given us a fair chance of playing.”

(Just one example of “a fair chance” would look like Black and white people in Halifax being stopped equally by police, while the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission found that Black people were actually stopped at a rate six times higher than they should have been given the percentage of the population they make up.)

Symonds, along with Kate Macdonald and Trayvone Clayton, started Game Changers 902 to meet people where they are—on social media—and provide an opportunity for action that goes beyond an Instagram highlight reel.

Trayvone Clayton - SABRINA ALLISON
  • Sabrina Allison
  • Trayvone Clayton
“The point of making it was to show everyone our stories and our backgrounds, share our thoughts and ideas,” says Clayton. And to “get others to stand and fight with us against racism throughout Nova Scotia or even make it throughout the country.”

In the past few weeks, thousands of people in Halifax have come out to vigils and rallies to show their support for Black Lives Matter and honour the lives of Indigenous Canadians killed by Canadian police. Game Changers is aiming to organize and mobilize this momentum.

As of Tuesday, over 600 people had signed up for Game Changers’ Google form, which asks white people to commit to continuing the fight for racial justice in the city and across Nova Scotia. “We are reaching out to white people in the city of Halifax,” reads the call for support—and action. “When the dust settles, the protests end, our pain in the Black community continues. Will you continue with us?”

The form will be up until Friday, June 19. After that, the heavy lifting starts. Macdonald says they’ll be using the skills and resources that folks who have signed up can bring with them, to organize and orchestrate the change people want to see. 

“Whatever you're naturally drawn to,” says Macdonald, “there's a way and a role and a purpose for you to start breaking down and analyzing how that system exists.

“Everyone has a role in this,” she adds. And it’s time for white folks in Halifax to not just show support, but get work done. 

DeRico Symonds - SABRINA ALLISON
  • Sabrina Allison
  • DeRico Symonds

“These issues for so long have been seen to be Black issues,” says Symonds, “because it was largely Black people who are rallying around these issues and organizing around these issues.”

But “Black people didn't create racism. Historical fact is we didn't create this problem, but we're always asked to fix it. It's always been Black people rallying to try to fix it.” 

Clayton, Macdonald and Symonds have been invited to sit at the table before, but one voice at a table simply isn't enough in a province where most of the positions of power are held by white people. 

“We're just tired,” says Clayton. “We're tired of going to places, showing our proposals or whatever ideas we have, but yet they look at us and then just boot us out the door and don't want to interact with us due to our skin colour.”

And as white people in Halifax—and around the world—start “waking up to a lot of their privilege and having these hard conversations,” says Macdonald, it’s about asking: “What are some privileges that I hold and what are some things that I have access to that I can redistribute or share with folks?”

The answers to that question will shape the changes that Game Changers 902 goes after, but their sights are set on all levels of government, all departments and bodies that hold power. The education system, policing, health care, entrepreneurship opportunities, you name it—racism affects it, because as Sparkling Wine Socialist says on Twitter: “‘Systemic racism’ doesn’t mean ‘lost of racists in the system.’ It means that even if there were *zero* ‘racists' present, the system would still disproportionately harm people of certain races.” 

Whether it’s more seats at the table or a whole new table, Game Changers 902 plans to change the game by redistributing the workload.  Just imagine the playing field if more than 600 people in Halifax walk into their likely white-majority workplaces or schools and say at once: “It’s time we centre African Nova Scotian voices and experiences and get some actual work done about racism in this province."

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