Non-racist letter racist

In response to My's letter, "Help yourselves, poor," May 8:

Although you claim "The problems of Uniacke Square aren't racial, they are social," you cannot reduce a black community down to "drug dealers," "criminals" and "thugs" and not have it be about race. Social problems have a history---in this case the dispossession of Africville from the African-Nova Scotian community, widely regarded as a racist act commissioned by the provincial government. Many residents of Africville were forcibly relocated to what is now known as Uniacke Square. This violent dispersal resulted in a great loss of history, a loss of community and caused much of the poverty you speak of. These issues cannot be disconnected from the current stigmatization of Uniacke Square.

Your "solution" to poverty is "You've made your bed, now lie in it." You seem to believe we're all coming from a level playing field. We are not. Hand out a resume with a Uniacke Square address on it and your chances of finding employment go down drastically.

You also talk about quick evictions being "an easy fix." Everyone has basic rights, including tenant rights. Throwing people onto the streets is not addressing the roots of the issue, which are poverty and racism.

People go on social assistance because they are in need. If you have a family and you are poor, you probably can't afford childcare. You must stay with your children. To get a higher paying job, you need college or university, but education is inaccessible to low income people. Poverty is not easy to climb out of, and services for the poor are not as generous as you characterize. Our "hand up" is not as strong as you seem to think.

There is a legacy of racism connected to poverty, and it cannot be avoided. Children are racially stigmatized in schools, and communities are continually hounded by a strong police presence. Many generations have had to deal with separatism and exclusion. For many, homes in Uniacke Square are the only option available, and unbelievably, you would have them lose even that. As much as you'd like to deny it, you're only adding to the stigmatization of an entire community of people, and that stigmatization DOES reek of racism.

By Jasmine Marsh and Asaf Rashid

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