Racism ‘Starts in the School System and It Ends in Prison’

Jon Tattrie, Metro News (Halifax), March 23, 2009

Racism “starts in the school system and it ends in prison,” said KC Brooks. The East Preston native was one of about 50 people at an International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination event hosted by The Hub in Halifax. The event was one of several taking place throughout the HRM to recognize the day.

Brooks lived in Toronto and Montreal before returning home.

“That was when I saw the racism that plagues Halifax,” he said.

Many of his friends became involved in crime after getting “shunned” out of the education system.

“They felt higher learning wasn’t for them; or better yet, they weren’t for higher learning.”

Marshall Williams, also from East Preston, said he only realized the role racism plays in Nova Scotia after he graduated from university and began reassessing run-ins he had as a boy.

“When you look back on it, you go, wait a minute: What was that about?” he said. “Everybody who’s not in a marginalized group is not racist, but a lot of times they may not understand the need for change because they can’t see it until someone tells them it’s there.”

Filmmaker Sobaz Benjamin grew up in the U.K., then lived in Grenada, Toronto and Nova Scotia.

“Race travels,” the father of two said.

He internalized racism, at one point using skin-bleaching creams. Coming to Canada, he found a society that said it celebrates multiculturalism, but “for most people, that’s not their lived reality. It’s a worthwhile ideal that we can aspire to, but we’re definitely not there.”

“For a long time, I want to do something about racism in Nova Scotia but I didn’t know what,” said Sera Thompson, one of the event organizers.

“I often felt it wasn’t my place. Something shifted for me; I took a little bold step and invited people together to have a conversation.”

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