This afternoon in Halifax, a rally was held to condone racism and show solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri. As troubling as the events are in Ferguson, there is a connection here in our city and province. Halifax we are a racist city, whether acknowledge by white privilege or not: it is there. On local talk radio shows today and across some Facebook groups that I follow I was very disturbed to hear/see some of the comments. People stating that racism is not bad here in Halifax, or that Ferguson and Halifax have nothing in common. Listening to and learning from members of our local black community, I realize that is not the truth.
Racism, intolerance and bigotry are problems that impact our society as a whole. Black people and black people’s lives have value, period – full stop. As a queer man, I have had a small taste of intolerance. However, as a white male even though I am queer I have been afforded privilege.
I have not had to worry that I would not get a job because I am queer.
I have not had to worry that I would not get a roof over my head because I am queer.
I do not have to worry that I will be followed in a store because the clerk things I may steal something because I am queer.
I do not have to worry that I will be shot by police because I am queer.
Yes, it is true that for my community this has not always been the case; however today right now that is truth. Even as an out queer, I can choose in what situations I disclose my queerness. My black brothers and sisters do not have that privilege. I show empathy to our brothers and sisters of African descent. I show respect to our brothers and sisters of African descent and you’re damm right that I do my best to check my white privilege.
If you believe there is no racism in Halifax, consider the fiasco over the dog park on the land of Africville – a National Historic Site. In 2014 we have a fight by, from what I could tell were mainly dog owners of privilege petitioning city hall to keep said park on the land of Africville. Would we even have had that debate if the land had been a former community of another group.? However, no there is no racism in Halifax-right?
Consider how so systemic racism is that it insidiously invades our governmental systems, our communities, our schools and even how we are socialized. We allow racism to happen, when communities are destroyed, when our black brothers and sisters are dropped into housing no one else wants. We allow racism to happen, when our support systems are not cultural sensitive and create barriers to education and to employment for our black brothers and sisters. Think about how people of colour are portrayed in movies, the media and how we allow our systems to label our black brothers and sisters as less important that whites. Consider how a history of violence against them, of marginalization, of subjugation, of slavery impacts every generation of people of colour. Lastly, consider how some white people think they have to place to say how Black people can and can’t protest. However, no we have no racism in Halifax... of course not.
Racism and intolerance against our black brothers and sister is a global issue – a human rights issue – an equality issue. There is no freedom, no equality until we are all free and equal. This is the correlation between Halifax and Ferguson. Racism knows no boundaries, no international borders. Today, and every day forward Halifax I ask you to continue to take a stand, check white privilege and stand with our black brothers and sisters against racism!