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Open letter: McNeil, Savage must address root causes of violence in Black community

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Dr. Afua Cooper, well known author, poet and historian, is asking that premier Stephen McNeil and Halifax mayor Mike Savage take some responsibility for the recent loss of life of young members of the Black community due to violence.

In an open letter published on the Working While Black Facebook page she takes issue with recent public statements by the premier and the mayor that suggest “the solution is within the Black community.”

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Dr. Afua Cooper. Photo Pearl Pirie, Flickr

There is lots that can be done, and that can be done only by people who hold political power, Cooper suggests.

” Innumerable reports, including ones that deals with the root causes of violence in the community, have been published, and these reports detailed what is on the mind of the Black community. Surely, the mayor and premier are aware of this,” Cooper writes. “But it takes courage and commitment to address the root cause of the violence in the Halifax Black community.”

Lack of jobs due to racism, high school drop out rates as high as 50 percent, all contribute to the school to prison pipeline, says Cooper.

“The African Haligonian community, is now hemorrhaging, and yet it is called upon to solve its own problems. We do not see that happening to other communities when they are hit by a crisis,” she writes.

Cooper also takes issue with the subdued response to recent tragic events altogether.

“Where are the counsellors and psychiatrists that should be called in to counsel the grieving families and children? Where is the outcry from society at large? Where is the outrage at the tremendous loss of live and potential?”

“Is it because the victims and perpetrators of the shooting are Black that society has turned a blind eye to this tragedy? Is it because Black people are thought to be of no value and hence disposable? If these acts were taking place in an affluent part of Halifax and the victims were white boys, would there have been more attention paid to this crisis, and preventative measures put in place?”

Working While Black NS is a community project providing a space for discussions of racism within the work place.

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