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Raymond Sheppard: Poverty 101 – An African Nova Scotian perspective

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – As an African Nova Scotian, there are many, many things I know little or nothing about, but I do know a little something about poverty and its many effects.

As one person put it, ” Money is the cause of poverty, because it is the device by which those who are too lazy to work are enabled to rob the workers of the fruits of their labour.”

So what is poverty? The dictionary definition of poverty states that it is the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. Well, in my humble opinion, poverty is a consequence of greed and corruption.

The condition of poverty was initially directed at people of colour based on exclusion, and was also put forth as a consequence for people failing the system that was set up for them.

As many say in the African North American community, it’s all about the Benjamins, baby!

As one directly affected by poverty, my life long research on issues of property has taken me in many directions and has taught me many things about the distribution of resources. 

For example, I discovered most conflicts between nations are struggles largely for the power and control of resources. I also discovered that 2% of the world’s population controls 98 or was it 100 percent of the World’s resources. And I also found poverty is profitable

So what does this mean locally? Well, in Canada there has always been a deliberate effort to destabilize groups of people and put wedges between people to secure and maintain the upper class.

In whole neighborhoods, the ploy has always been to create conflict, reduce property value and move the unwanteds out and move in those with the same value system, those that have succeeded in their system of mis-education.

As previously noted, property sells and it is profitable, why else would it continue to exist?

There has never been the political will to eliminate poverty anywhere on earth, and I would venture to say there never will be. Oh, there have been band-aid bandages applied to the mortal wounds of poverty, but these bandages have all been superficial and not intended to end poverty, nor to really take a bite out of poverty.

We are now witnessing the emergence of a generation of poverty-stricken young individuals clearly more equipped and more aggressively unwilling to continue to be victims of poverty like that of their parents, grandparents and great grandparents.

There many things tied into poverty including religion, socialization, racism, sexism and many of the other isms.

Poverty just didn’t happen, it was planned and poverty doesn’t just continue, it is supported to continue.

Many of those in the upper echelons, and many governments, are even responsible for inciting catchy sayings and phrases. 

For example, many poverty stricken individuals and families are quoted as saying, “we did not have much, but we had love.”

This is largely instilled to suppress, oppress and depress, which allows governments to operate above the law. Many, if not most governments imply poverty stricken individuals and families should “be glad for what you have, shut up and be happy”.

Equally, there is the popular belief that individuals and families should “feel good that you live in Canada, at least you are not in a third world country…”

Most of this seems to be backed by religion, English common law, and the legal system.

On this planet there are enough resources to feed, clothe and house all people, yet 2% of the world’s population controls 100% of its resources. This is not even an equation. 

So what makes the poor resilient? I believe it is the collective strength of struggle in an attempt to seek and create true equality.

It must be noted that when the natural balance and order of things are thrown off so-called bad things happen. Take for instance the environment.

And what about poor African Nova Scotians?

Well, after the Second World War, new social trends began to influence government policies. As societies became more materialistic and African Nova Scotians became more knowledgeable and aware, the notion of turning African Nova Scotians into Christians became just as important to Canada society, to make them more submissive.

African Nova Scotians continue to be either unemployed or underemployed and most times do not earn as much as white people do for the same jobs.

See also: Census 2016: African Nova Scotian poverty rates through the roof, unemployment numbers terrible

And even the nonprofit housing program for low-income communities including the African Nova Scotia community as administered by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) during the 1970s and 1980s, was hampered by an angry white backlash in many neighborhoods. This caused limitations and restrictions, to say the least.

Poverty also sends some African Nova Scotians to jail, even though there is said to be a Fine Options program. Given their inability to pay fines imposed on them by the courts when convicted, African Nova Scotians are often given the choice of sentences. a jail term or a fine. 

Most people faced with these options would pay the fine in order to avoid jail, however due to poverty a large percentage of African Nova Scotians have no choice in the matter.

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