February is Black History month in Nova Scotia.
We are so appreciative that our own Shakisha was willing to share her story and some excellent resources on why we need to focus on Black History this month and every month.
Thank you Shakisha for all you do for Halifax Learning and for sharing.
Below are 11 articles and videos that I believe everyone in Nova Scotia should read, reflect on and consider as we start 2021. It is a lot of information BUT if we are to really examine the history of Black Nova Scotians and have meaningful and informed conversations about Black History and the experiences of Black Nova Scotians, this is a good starting point.
I would encourage you to download and read one of these pieces each week, giving time to reflect on the social context in between.
I chose these pieces to share because they are very close to home to me. It was not until I began my Social Work program at Dalhousie University that I realized how truly removed and unengaged I was about my own cultural history, even as a Black Nova Scotian from the largest Black community in Canada, North Preston.
My ancestors were refugees from America and Jamaica who upon arrival to Nova Scotia were provided land in what is known today as the Preston communities. These communities were nearly impossible to build up and support efficient standards of living. Despite an incredibly rich legacy of dedication to the land they built into the communities they are today, residents of Preston still struggle for clear titles from the government to land that has now been in our families for many generations. In this way, structures in society enable the segregation of Black peoples within areas associated with and subject to poverty, crime, waste and pollution. In addition, the media predominantly portrays North Preston, in particular, as dangerous, violent, and puts emphasis on the issues of drugs, guns, and sexualized violence that the community has struggled with. These representations play a huge role in perpetuating the oppression of Black Nova Scotians as well as Indigenous populations in this province- they are strategically demonized into the position of “the others'', as depicted in these pieces.
With increasing awareness and remembering this history through literature and community engagement, I am able to recognize and critically analyze how our Black and Indigenous communities have survived on the basis of resilience, resistance and reclamation for so many years, and take action towards advancing social justice. I aim for this in both my professional and academic career, recognizing a clear connection between the opportunities for success, stability and autonomy available to marginalized communities and literacy skills. The importance of literacy to this cause is that it is essential for social and human development and expression.
Literacy provides us with skills that empower us to comprehend dynamic social justice issues that persist today and in turn transform lives, including our own.
Gbenga Akintokun. (2020, June 2). Once Upon a Black Halifax [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCFsRcOZT7A&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop
From 1992- 2021, has real change been implemented to make room for Black students and Black History in education?
I came across this article featuring a classmate of mine from High school who is finishing up his MSW. He highlights the importance of making space for Black learnings and teachers within the education system.
Links to a number of works on educational barriers for Black Nova Scotians from 1994- 2019.
More states, from the government "How Are We Doing? Baseline Data on African Nova Scotian Learners"
Africentric Mind, Body and Breath- A Mental health Partnership of the Black Wellness Cooperative and the Heather Association of African Canadians Funded by the Canadian Red Cross, based on yoga, breathe and mindfulness practice to open and relax the body, release tension build spiritual awareness and reduce stress.
And of course (our continued support for) L.O.V. E NS- HRM youth inspiration and goal achievement in academics and social skills.
Also, this article highlights Black Nova Scotian writer and their work and they situate themselves and their identities within our society, which is built on white colonialist agendas and frameworks.
Article on the need for Africentric counselling in Nova Scotia