Education featured Racism

Tina Roberts–Jeffers: On Bill 72, anti-Black racism and averting your eyes

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Anti-Black racism is real.  It is heavy and it weighs a lot.  It is also agile and versatile. It covers all its bases.

Tina Roberts-Jeffers. Photo Robert Devet

It will subtly question the intelligence of a Black woman consultant by over-emphasizing the “errors” in her report.  Simultaneously, anti-Black racism will use the same well-qualified and thoughtful Black individual to deflect criticism and dissent.

Anti-Black racism is bold.  It reminds us that the government explicitly values and actively protects the political rights of largely European descended francophones in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, even as it unceremoniously dismisses the rights of African Nova Scotians. It without shame reveals its clear and unwavering disinterest in the “effective representation” of Black communities.

African Nova Scotians have mobilized around education for generations.  The commission that the government convened advised the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to “ALWAYS consider the broader roles and significance of the African Nova Scotian school board seats”.

Anti-Black racism however, makes it possible to receive that report and a week later argue there is a reasonable substitute for independent voices at the decision-making table.  Further, anti-Black racism will imply that African Nova Scotians are in fact myopic if they think any differently.

Without flinching, anti-Black racism suggests a system that routinely refuses to share information and leverages employment and funding to manufacture community discord is actually the only institution capable of creating “success” for the province’s children.

Anti-Black racism can and will rest the question: “why does everything have to be reduced to racism?” at the tip of your brain.  It will encourage you to be a multiculturalist, while imploring you NOT to act, not to see your freedom as tied up in the freedom of others.

Anti-Black racism asks you to simply avert your eyes in this moment. Let us be clear however, at least today, when we ask ourselves: “why does anti-Black racism persist?”  A decision like the one to legislate away the only non-partisan independent locally elected representation accountable to the people every four years is as clear an example of the “systems” part of systemic anti-Black racism, as any other.

There is a choice though.  There are alternatives to being complicit in anti-Black racism.  Democracy does not have to be sacrificed for coherence.  It’s a fool’s  errand to just “try” giving up democratic institutions.  Please pick a spot in the resistance and proceed.

Tina Roberts-Jeffers is currently a stay-at-home mom to three beautiful, bright children. A former school counsellor, she arrived in Nova Scotia in 2010. Tina is committed to community and believes strongly in progress through collective action.

See also: Media release: Black Educators Association – Glaze Report snubs the Black community!

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