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Resources to start learning about racism in Halifax and beyond

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tep one in addressing racism and white supremacy is learning. Here's a non-exhaustive list of local, national and international resources to watch, read, listen to and follow.

Watch


Ingrid Waldron’s book-turned-documentary, There’s Something in the Water, is required watching for any Nova Scotian or Canadian who thinks Canada “isn’t as bad as the US.” Watch this movie (or read the book) then email your elected representatives to ask what they’re doing about environmental racism in this province.


Remember Africville from the National Film Board tells the story of Africville, the Black settlement in Halifax which in 1960—only 60 years ago—was demolished to make room for “urban renewal” AKA the Cogswell Interchange. This Twitter thread lays it out too. 


The Black Halifax project covers four centuries of history through 14 stories celebrating Halifax’s vibrant Black community. Each short video combines local poets and actors, storytelling and archival footage to highlight a person, place or event of historic significance in the African Nova Scotian community.


It takes a riot: Race, Rebellion and Reform Black Action Defense Committee revisits the events of May 4, 1992 in Toronto—where media and politicians described a riot and anti-racism activists as a “rebellion” and even an “uprising.” A good place to start to answer the “but why do people have to be rioting?” question in a Canadian context.


Read


Start by supporting independent bookstores like A Different Booklist, which specializes in literature from the African and Caribbean Diaspora and the Global South. And, don’t forget that Halifax Public Libraries has upped its virtual collection game to bring more stories to you at home.


The Street Check Report by Nova Scotia’s Human Right’s Commission and Scot Wortley is 186 pages of first-person accounts from Black people living in Halifax of their interactions with police. Once you’ve read the whole thing, email your elected official and ask them if they’ve read it too.


In The Hanging of Angélique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old by Afua Cooper, the former Halifax poet laureate completely demolishes the myth of a benign, slave-free Canada, revealing a damning 200-year-old record of legally and culturally endorsed slavery through the story of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a slave woman convicted of starting a fire that destroyed a large part of Montréal in 1734.


The autobiography Burnley "Rocky" Jones: Revolutionary, co-written by Jones and James Walker, chronicles Jones’ life while illuminating “the Black experience in Nova Scotia.” It also explains “the evolving nature of race relations and human rights in recent Canadian history, and it reveals the origins of the 'remedial' approach to racial equality that is now practised by activists and governments.”

(Wendie L. Poitras also wrote in The Coast about the sacrifices Jones and his wife Joan made to fight for civil rights in Nova Scotia, which built a community that continues to fight against the oppressive racism in this province.)


The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole chronicles one year of anti-Black racism and the struggles against it. Cole told The Coast in February: “My book is first and foremost for Black people. So I hope every person in Nova Scotia whether they say I'm Black, I'm African Nova Scotian, I'm Somali, I'm an immigrant, I'm a person of colour, whatever way people describe their Blackness, I hope they read this book. And I want them to share with us how this book catches on or reflects their own realities. Beyond that, this book is for anybody who longs for racial justice, right.”

(If you're new to Cole, you should also read his 2015 Toronto Life essay, The Skin I'm In, which helped make racism in Canada a mainstream issue in the last decade.)


The syllabus for Dalhousie’s African Nova Scotian History course taught by Isaac Saney is a good place to find more resources and things to read, and searching #BlackCDNSyllabus on Twitter gives even more resources.


Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad started as a PDF workbook for white people to take note of—and work through—their role in white supremacy. It’s since been turned into a book. It’s not easy to do and that’s the point. 


Halifax Public Libraries has more books on its Anti-racist reading list you can browse here.


In her 2017 Globe and Mail essay Black on Bay Street, Hadiya Roderique talks about her journey to becoming a lawyer and learning “that success isn't necessarily about merit. It's also about fitting in. As a person of colour, that's a roadblock that comes up again and again.”


Writer and artist Letitia Fraser chronicles the almost impossible walk to Africville, examining the journey through the eyes of an African Nova Scotian, while exploring what emotions or memories popped up crossing an urban landscape dense with unearthed Black history.


The 1917 Halifax Explosion and Structural Anti-Blackness in Times of Crisis by SMU professor Rachel B. Zellars talks about racial disparities in the response to the explosion—worth rethinking the oft’ repeated phrase “We shall not rebuild Halifax unless everybody works.”


Briarpatch Magazine has compiled a list of stories it’s published over the years by Black writers on policing, transformative justice, Black-Indigenous solidarity and more.


Julia-Simone Rutgers followed Nova Scotia’s street check story for over two years for The Coast—from the intentional ignorance of street checks to what it means when an expensive report confirms what the Black community has been saying for years.


Listen


Halifax singer, rapper, producer, songwriter and sound engineer Kye Clayton released this song via Instagram this week: 


The podcast Sandy and Nora by Sandy Hudson and Nora Loreto talks about abolishing the police and how the economy is code for white supremacy.


The New York Time’s 1619 project led by journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones tells the story of 400 years of American history transformed by slavery. (After listening, read about the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University’s connections to slavery.)


And more required listening from Hannah-Jones is the 2015 two-part podcast for This American Life on school segregation: The Problem We All Live With. (Nova Scotia was home to Canada’s last officially segregated school in Lincolnville NS, which was segregated until 1983—just 37 years ago.)


Every Wednesday from 9-10:30pm tune into CKDU 88.1FM to listen to Black Power Hour for conscious hip hop with discussions of political, cultural and social issues relevant to Black people (or listen any time via the internet.)


Follow


A huge part of learning is paying attention to the information you’re consuming. Wondering why you’d never considered a lot of the things being shared on social media before this week? Because you’re not exposed to it.


By filling your timelines with Black, Indigenous and racialized voices you’re making space in your own world for new ideas. This list is a tiny start featuring local and broader voices. See who they follow, follow them. See who they retweet, follow them.


Twitter
Shireen Ahmed, writer and sports activist
Denise Balkissoon, executive editor of Chatelaine
Sherri Borden Colley, NS journalist
OmiSoore Dryden, James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies, Faculty of Medicine associate professor of community health and epidemiology
Jazmine Hughes, journalist and editor
Sarah Jama
Duane Jones of Art Pays Me
Dr. Notisha Massaquoi
Robyn Maynard, author of Policing Black Lives: State violence in Canada from slavery to the present
Bashir Mohamed
Crystal Watson, educator, researcher and recreational therapist
And here’s a list of Black speakers hosts and moderators based in Toronto compiled by Nana Aba Duncan.


Instagram
A.C.C.E Halifax, a network of enterprising, young Black leaders building the arts community, culture and economics of the African Nova Scotian community.
Rachel Cargle, academic, writer and lecturer
Mona Chalabi, data journalist and visual artist
She.nubian, by Halifax advocate Kate Macdonald
Kardeisha Provo, student, vlogger and storyteller
No White Saviours, an advocacy campaign led by a majority female, majority African team of professionals based in Kampala, Uganda.
The Conscious Kid, “full of profound, accessible resources for parents and teachers,” says Rachel B. Zellars.


This editor doesn’t have Facebook, but can recommend following El Jones as a starting point.


Editor’s note: Please share additional resources and people to follow in the comments below. This list could and should go on forever. Treat it as a starting place. There’s so much learning and work to do.

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