For the last few weeks, I’ve been planning to do a Morning File where I read the community newspapers from around the province and write about that “quirky” local news. Issues with RVs are apparently huge in rural community newspapers! I imagined myself covering which dog came 5th in an obedience contest or whose pumpkin is the largest. And then every week Black people get their parties cancelled by bars, or someone hangs a noose on their door, or we get thrown into prison in incredibly high numbers, and I think, I have to talk about that.
(I went to look for a picture of a puppy to ironically put here, and wow, when puppies make the news it’s actually always really sad. All the news about puppies in Nova Scotia is puppies being rescued from abusive breeders, and puppies freezing in the cold, and puppies being trapped under cars and losing limbs. Puppy news is just as depressing as the news about Black people!)
I always feel, because sometimes people tell me this or comment about it, that there’s people who read Saturday Morning File and think, oh here we go, another article about race. And the thing is, I sometimes feel that way too about the news. I want to write about kite flying contests, or who has the tastiest pie, or what festival is going on this weekend. But we keep getting put in prison or kicked out of school or not allowed to just shop in stores or not able to just be on a street or not able to just be in the world as Black people, and I have to write about it.
I have to write about it because there’s so few of us writing, what with us being in prison or not able to get an education, and someone has to make sure these issues get attention.
And it’s not that I’m not aware that every time I do write about it, to some people I just prove the stereotype of the “angry Black woman” that feeds in even more to the idea that Black people are a problem, or threatening, or just somehow wrong in our being — which is the same thinking that gets us sentenced and suspended at higher rates in the first place. And the obvious truth is, racism doesn’t exist because I write about it. It doesn’t go away if I stop writing about it. The experiences don’t become less real if I write about “nice” things or things that don’t make people uncomfortable or things that don’t make people roll their eyes. Black anger does not create racism, it’s the result of racism — that is, if we even accept that writing about race makes you automatically “angry.” There are lots of Black people who don’t write about racism, and guess what? Racism doesn’t magically go away.
And I understand what people mean when sometimes they express that they don’t want to wake up on Saturday and read another article on race. I want to wake up and go through my day without race and racism affecting my world too! But Black people don’t get the luxury of pretending racism doesn’t exist or that it will go away if we just don’t pay it any attention.
Like today, I woke up and read my sister’s Facebook status about how my nephew is being bullied at school, how the kids poke him and call him chubby and “poo face” and “fuzz head” and he knows it”s “because I’m brown and because of my hair.” And his best friends started doing it too, “but they stopped when I cried.” I don’t want to wake up to that. It makes me cry writing about it now.
But more than crying, I can try to write about racism, and write about what Black kids go through in school, so that maybe there’s changes, or maybe at least someone else who had to wake up to their kid telling them about being bullied for their skin or hair knows that someone is out there trying to take it on for them.
Nobody makes me write about race. If I wanted to I could write about pies and puppies and who would stop me? I choose to write about race even when it’s difficult or exhausting because I am well aware of all my ancestors who could not speak. Hell, I’m aware of all the people right now — those in prison, or scared of being evicted from housing, or worried about losing their jobs, or advised not to go on record about their case, or lacking literacy because they were put on an IPP (Individual Program Plan), or without the platform — who can’t speak. If I were complaining, I would have every right to, but I’m not. I’m only saying that those feelings that sometimes people get of how tiring it is to read this stuff? It’s tiring to write it. It’s tiring for us to live it.
But we wake up every day and more than survive, we love and create and organize and resist and support each other and fight together, and cry because we’re human, and get angry because we’re human, and also laugh and look at cats and puppies on the internet, and everything other people do because we are more than the conditions of our oppression. And everyone else should do those things too.
It’s just that as Black people, when we can’t be in the world, our laughter and our tears and our humanity, can be interrupted at any time, can be read as hostile, or denied, or used against us. So we have to write about it, for ourselves and for each other and for our right to live and for our future Saturdays that maybe won’t be fucked up by racism.
1. Pushed Out
So this week in the Queen’s County Advance the big headline is “Wind blows down man’s favourite tree, barely missing buildings.”
And in Halifax news, Black kids are being denied an education and kicked out of school at unfair rates!
Last week, I wrote about the numbers released by the NDP that showed how Black and Indigenous people are being imprisoned at high rates.
The numbers showed that in 2014-2015, about 16 per cent of youth sentenced to a youth correctional facility were African Nova Scotian and 12 per cent were Indigenous.
For adults sentenced to jail, about 14 per cent were African Nova Scotian and seven per cent were Aboriginal.
For youth and adults in remand — meaning they were in jail but hadn’t been convicted — between 10 and 11 per cent were either African Nova Scotian or Aboriginal.
African Nova Scotians and Indigenous represent about two and four per cent of the population, respectively.
In that article last week, I included a section on the “school to prison pipeline” that outlined the connection between the over-discipline of Black students and the over-representation of Black people in the prison system. I wrote:
Reports show that teachers, for example, consistently read Black children as older, leading to harsher disciplinary consequences (a seven-year-old is imagined as a teenager, for example, and so the typical behaviour of a seven-year-old through that lens is seen as violent). Black girls have consistently been shown to be disciplined at twice the rate of white peers. Zero tolerance discipline policies and recent anti-bullying policies target Black children, and are used to push children out of school at young ages. One source inside the education system reports seeing Black children as young a grade primary being suspended from school — “what can you possibly do at that age to earn a suspension?” they questioned.
Harsh discipline practices directed at Black children reflect the idea that Black people are dangerous and must be subjected to social controls. This plantation mentality imagines Black people as a savage force only kept in check by white vigilance. Black people must be disciplined, whether by the principal or by police or by the warden.
As schools respond to calls for “safety” with more discipline, more lockdowns, more security, and less access to the community members, schools begin to resemble prisons. In-school police officers, placed into schools in “troubled” areas, accustom racialized students to contact with the law and with seeing themselves as subjects constantly under policing. Security measures like cameras, locked schools, searches of students, and so forth, contribute to creating prison-like conditions within the school, and to mimicking incarceration in the closing off of the school from the public.
This week, the suspension numbers for the Halifax Regional School board were released. (Note: Tina Roberts-Jeffers will be writing about the state of education of African Nova Scotians for The Examiner.)
Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) staff presented new numbers on out of school suspensions during a meeting Wednesday evening, comparing the first semesters (September to February) of 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Although the number of students suspended dropped hundreds overall from 1,418 to 1,038 this year, including those who identified as “other” than aboriginal or African descent (from 1,082 to 739), black children’s numbers dipped only slightly from 255 to 234 this year.
“We have this process of over many, many decades black parents saying our children are being treated differently,” Tina Roberts-Jeffers said Thursday after the meeting.
“It not until the system comes up with its own data … that things happen or things change.”
Black students make up 8 per cent of the student body, while the new numbers account for 18 per cent last year and 22.5 per cent this year of total suspensions.
Aboriginal students are also over-represented, staff said, with 65 being suspended this year compared to 81 last year.
Roberts-Jeffers said “it’s sad” to see the numbers, which also state boys make up for 75 per cent of suspensions.
“That plays out in schools, that impacts school atmospheres, that impacts how … kids relate,” she said.
The report is available here.
The short commentary is that while white students can apparently sport confederate flags and hang nooses with abandon, Black children are subject to harsher discipline and more disastrous consequences for their behaviour.
School discipline numbers are not just about a straight measurement of school practices. They reflect broader patterns in society of the disciplining and punishment of Black people. As the numbers by race in youth facilities show, Black children are criminalized early. Suspension numbers don’t just tell us that Black kids are being suspended more, they reflect societal narratives about Black people as dangerous. They speak to processes that economically and socially marginalize Black people, and that at their most severe place Black bodies into prisons at high rates. With all the attention paid to “bullying,” the bullying that Black people face from society from the time they are children — the state and institutional violence that labels, punishes and pushes Black people out — is not identified.
Evidence shows that even one out-of-school suspension for students in high school drastically increases their risk of dropping out. Suspensions shouldn’t be understood as just some temporary measure, but as having serious and potentially lasting effect on school completion, on future economic well-being, and on the survival of Black people in society.
The Nova Scotia Provincial School Code of Conduct states that:
When responding to unacceptable behaviour, schools will address consequences in a fair manner that does not disproportionately impact students based on race, culture, ethnicity, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability or mental disability, mental illness, age, national or aboriginal origin, socio-economic status, or appearance.
This code of conduct was implemented in September, 2015. It is only now in May, 2016 that numbers that show suspensions by race have been released. It is hard to see how a policy that doesn’t disproportionately impact students based on race can be implemented if there’s no evidence of what the numbers are or how they are affecting students.
As with the statistics released about Black people in prison, the numbers tell as little as possible. While the numbers show that Black children make up a hugely disproportionate amount of suspended students, there is no breakdown of these statistics by grade level, by gender, or by length of suspension. It is not only important to know that Black kids are being suspended at higher rates, it is important to know if they are being suspended earlier, or being given longer suspensions.
For example, the report shows that in September to February 2015-2016, there were 16 requests for suspensions to be extended beyond 10 days. These suspensions are not broken down by race. Longer suspensions are particularly acute because they effectively push children out of school. Children have more difficulty catching up classwork. The attendance policy mandates that students who don’t attend 80 per cent of classes may lose credit for the course. Long suspensions also mark the student as an “offender.” When children aren’t in school, they are more susceptible to influences out-of-school.
The report states that:
Previous to the 2015‐2016 school year the Education Act allowed school administrators to suspend students for up to 5 days for Severely Disruptive Behaviours. The Education Act was revised with the release of the new Provincial School Code of Conduct to allow school administrators to suspend students for up to 10 days for Unacceptable Behaviours.
So not only were the length of suspensions increased, but students can be suspended longer for less severe behaviour.
We know from the criminal justice system that Black people are given harsher sentences for the same crimes as white defendants. Just as the suspension data mirrors the criminalization and over-incarceration of Black people, it is likely that longer suspensions are disproportionately given to Black students. Lowering the threshold for serious suspensions make Black children even more vulnerable, as Black children’s behaviour has historically been interpreted as “worse” than white children. When Black people can be beaten by the police just for standing in buildings, it’s hard to believe that school policies that interpret behaviour and assign consequences are going to be magically free of racial bias. When being Black is an unacceptable behaviour in itself, Black children are going to be more vulnerable to punishment.
Also missing from the numbers are any indication of suspensions by race related to grade level. If Black children are being suspended at younger ages, and being suspended for longer at those ages, that should be particularly alarming. Data from the United States shows that Black children as young as three and four years old are being forced out of education before they even enter school:
…More astounding than these discipline statistics were the thousands of the nation’s youngest learners — nearly 8,000 preschoolers — suspended from school in the same year, often for relatively minor disruptions and misbehaviors. For researchers and educators immersed in this work, why preschoolers are put out of school and the entrenched racial disparity seems most closely tied to reasons such as teacher bias and children living in poverty whose hitting, biting, and pinching is frequently labeled misconduct rather than developmental delays…
…Most disturbing is that the patterns of inequality first uncovered in Yale’s 2005 survey are repeated in data released last year by the Department of Education. For the first time in 2014, preschoolers were included in the department’s Civil Rights Data Collection on school discipline—and disparities abound. Black children accounted for 18 percent of preschool enrollment but almost half (48 percent) of the children suspended more than once; in contrast, white children were 43 percent of preschoolers, but only 26 percent were subjected to repeated suspensions. Likewise, boys comprised 54 percent of children in preschool programs, yet represented the vast majority of pre-K students suspended either once or multiple times.
Without knowing what percentage of early grade suspensions are Black children, it is impossible to know if Black children are being targeting by the school system early. These numbers would also suggest whether Black children are being given early intervention to identify behaviours caused by learning delays or other difficulties, or if they are simply being labelled unacceptable and disruptive and removed from classrooms.
Perhaps most critical in its absence is any data relating suspensions to race and gender. While we know 75 per cent of suspensions are boys, there is no data to show the extent to which Black girls are being disciplined and whether Black girls are being treated differently than girls of other races.
As the report Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected shows:
It is well-established in the research literature and by educational advocates that there is a link between the use of punitive disciplinary measures and subsequent patterns of criminal supervision and incarceration. Commonly understood as the “school-to-prison pipeline,” this framework highlights the ways that punitive school policies lead to low achievement, system involvement, and other negative outcomes. Efforts to reverse the consequences of this pipeline have typically foregrounded boys of color, especially Black boys, who are suspended or expelled more than any other group.
As the cases outlined above demonstrate, punitive disciplinary policies also negatively impact Black girls and other girls of color. Yet much of the existing research literature excludes girls from the analysis, leading many stakeholders to infer that girls of color are not also at risk.
Against the backdrop of the surveillance, punishment, and criminalization of youth of color in the United States, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected seeks to increase awareness of the gendered consequences of disciplinary and push-out policies for girls of color, and, in particular, Black girls. The report developed out of a critical dialogue about the various ways that women and girls of color are channeled onto pathways that lead to underachievement and criminalization. At the 2012 UCLA School of Law Symposium, “Overpoliced and Underprotected: Women, Race, and Criminalization,” formerly incarcerated women, researchers, lawyers, and advocates came together to address the alarming patterns of surveillance, criminal supervision, and incarceration among women and girls of color. The symposium was an effort to investigate the specific contours of race and gender in relationship to zero-tolerance policies, social marginalization, and criminalization.
The challenge is real. Black girls receive more severe sentences when they enter the juvenile justice system than do members of any other group of girls, and they are also the fastest growing population in the system. Despite these troubling trends, there is very little research highlighting the short and long term effects of overdiscipline and push- out on girls of color.
The invisibility of Black girls in these numbers reflects long assumptions that “all the women are white, all the Blacks are men.” One consequence of the lack of numbers showing the contours of how Black girls experience discipline in the school system is that it also masks other effects for Black girls. The recent story on Jade Brooks, for example, shows the particular vulnerability of Black girls to sexual exploitation and trafficking. It is impossible to have a sexual violence strategy for the province that responds to the needs of Black girls and women without any recognition and understanding of how Black girls are socially marginalized through mechanisms such as school discipline policies. The “double jeopardy” Black women experience from race and gender oppression must be specifically addressed. Policies on racism that treat the experiences of Black men and women (or LGBTQ Black youth and adults) as the same end up ignoring or denying the effects of misogynoir.
The book Getting Played by Jody Miller, for example, details the ways Black girls’ experiences of assault and violence are minimized:
Much has been written about the challenges that face urban African American young men, but less is said about the harsh realities for African American young women in disadvantaged communities. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, and even gang rape are not uncommon experiences. In Getting Played, sociologist Jody Miller presents a compelling picture of this dire social problem and explores how inextricably, and tragically, linked violence is to their daily lives in poor urban neighborhoods.
Drawing from richly textured interviews with adolescent girls and boys, Miller brings a keen eye to the troubling realities of a world infused with danger and gender-based violence. These girls are isolated, ignored, and often victimized by those considered family and friends. Community institutions such as the police and schools that are meant to protect them often turn a blind eye, leaving girls to fend for themselves. Miller draws a vivid picture of the race and gender inequalities that harm these communities—and how these result in deeply and dangerously engrained beliefs about gender that teach youths to see such violence—rather than the result of broader social inequalities—as deserved due to individual girls’ flawed characters, i.e., she deserved it.
The discipline of Black girls is inherently linked to the violence Black girls experience in schools, in their neighbourhoods, and in society at large. Without numbers, we cannot even begin to name the experiences of Black girls. When we exclude Black girls from policy considerations or pretend that sexism does not impact Black girls and women in specifically racialized ways, we are endangering their bodies and even lives.
The Safer Schools Act is supposed to create safe schools for students. It’s clear from these numbers that Black students are not safe in school. They are certainly not safe from racism, and they are not safe from experiencing the harsher consequences of simply being Black in society.
Black parents should not have to fight to get even the barest numbers to show what their children are going through in school. That it has taken until 2016 to get any statistics on one of the most important indicators of race in the school system is appalling, and shows the ongoing disregard not only for the success of Black students, but for the general well-being and rights of Black people.
So Black children are pushed out of school, Black tenants are pushed out of housing, Black neighourhoods are pushed out by gentrification, Black workers are pushed out of jobs, Black customers are pushed out of stores, and Black bodies are pushed out of society into prison.
2. What does a pirate say? ARRRRR VEEEE
In the Shelburne County Coast Guard, we learn that somebody stole an RV in Upper Rawdon:
“The motorhome also has several interior add-ons, including two flat screen televisions and a washer and dryer,” the media release said.
That’s nicer than my apartment.
In other RV news, over in the Queens County Advance, the Friends of Hank Snow Society has asked the province for permission to run a 24-hour RV park in Liverpool:
“We see dozens of RVs travelling Highway 103 every day who are not looking to camp for the evening, but simply park for the night to be able to continue on their journey. These are the RVs who pull off the highway to park in the Wal-Mart and Superstore parking lots. Right now, all of these RVs are bypassing our little town, travelling to more populated areas like Bridgewater and Halifax.”
You should check if one of those RVs is stolen and has flat screen TVs.
Wait a minute though, because RVs are good in Liverpool, but bad in Lake George!
From the Kings County Register/Advertiser:
Speaking on behalf of several concerned citizens, Ken Langille told council that he hosted a meeting at his house in April. The consensus was that an action plan is needed and it would be “totally unacceptable” for council to approve a development agreement.
Langille said the situation with the RVs “broke every rule in the book” with five domiciles on a lot, clear-cutting of an entire lot, the installation of an unapproved septic system and the clearing of a 70 foot strip of shoreline.
Now you are all caught up on the latest RV news.
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
Also, NBD, there’s just a bear wandering around Lawrencetown’s Main Street.
“We have had a report of a bear in the Village,” said clerk Lisa Taylor in the village’s post. “For the past two mornings around 4 a.m. the bear has been spotted between the restaurant and the gas bar. So far we have not had any reports of damage, but please (be) cautious when you are out and about.”
This may not be an actual representation of the Lawrencetown bear.
Sounds like that bear has been smoking weed and is out looking for a snack.
[Department of Natural Resources Area Manager John] Stacey said it’s probably a young bear travelling to find food. He said because there has been no damage, and it hasn’t been invasive, his department won’t take any action at this point. He said if things change, officers could put out a live trap and relocate the animal, but he described that as a last resort.
Oh. Since it’s a young black bear it probably got kicked out of school.
4. Viral News
Oh, also a cop did a thing. Yay.
5. I say ARRRGHHH
And in other racial news, (#some, #95.7FMcallers) white people are making a big deal about cultural assessments for African Nova Scotians.
You see, it’s okay for Black kids to be kicked out of school at high rates, and it’s okay for Black kids and adults to be sent to prison at high rates but OMG A CULTURAL ASSESSMENT THAT’S RACIST TO WHITE PEOPLE.
Yes, racism officially entered our justice system on Tuesday when a cultural assessment report was ordered for Kale Gabriel. HAHA CULTURAL ASSESSMENT WHAT IS THAT BLACK CULTURE IS LIKE BEING CONFUSED ON FATHER’S DAY BECAUSE BLACK KIDS DON’T KNOW WHO THEIR DADS ARE FUNNY JOKE. ALSO HIP HOP.
Oh sorry, I accidentally hit the racism key there.
Maybe we should just order some phrenology reports and measure the skulls of Black people. That will prove we’re just genetically more criminal!
Ugh, I don’t even have anything to comment on this. Like, obviously Black people are disproportionately impacted by the justice system. Obviously I’ve typed the word “disproportionately” about a million times in this Morning File already. Obviously there are factors that lead to Black people being over-incarcerated. Obviously it’s only fair to take those factors into account. Obviously Gladue reports exist, so there’s already precedent for recognizing the effects of race and colonialism on oppressed people.
But the rule is Black people can’t have shit, so NOT ONLY IS THERE NO WHITE HISTORY MONTH, BLACK PEOPLE GET TO HAVE REPORTS BEFORE THEY GO TO PRISON FOR WAY MORE TIME THAN WHITE PEOPLE. REVERSE RACISM.
Must be a glitch in my computer there. The racism keeps getting stuck.
6. I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger
Does this seem sexist to anyone else?
A drug dealer’s girlfriend has been convicted of living off the proceeds of crime, despite her claims that she didn’t know where the money was coming from.
Jacqueline Garnett was Sean Decker’s girlfriend. He’s serving a 9½ year sentence for trafficking in marijuana, hashish and cocaine. He was arrested in October 2011, as part of a major drug bust, Operation H-Timber.
Garnett claimed at the time of Decker’s arrest that she was “shocked” to learn he was a major drug dealer. But Justice Jamie Campbell of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court wasn’t buying it.
“Sometimes love isn’t actually blind. It just pretends not to see,” Justice Campbell wrote in a decision released today.
Oh sort of like how the justice system pretends not to see racism? Anyway, moving on.
Where I have issue is in the judge’s comments, which seem to imply that she’s some kind of gold digger or something.
The judge noted instances where Garnett seemed to know she had access to a lot of money, such as when she offered to buy a used Porsche Cayenne for $60,000 cash. Garnett also ordered a custom-made engagement ring, worth $13,225. The judge said Garnett put $6,225 of the cost of the ring on her Visa card and paid the balance in cash.
“Jacqueline Garnett’s evidence makes it clear that she is not a person who is naïve about money,” Campbell wrote.
“She knows the costs of things. She knows that nice things costs money.”
Jesus, knowing about money is a crime now? Someone convict Randy Delorey. Oh right, he’s a dude and it’s okay for dudes to not be “naive” about money, like that’s called being a businessman. Sorry bitches have nice stuff, judge.
Like the nerve of women buying things.
God, being poor is a crime if you’re a woman and you end up in prison for welfare fraud or whatever. But it’s also a crime to know that nice things cost money. And if you’re single then everyone goes on about single moms can’t get no man, ruining society. But get a man and he buys you something and you go to jail because how dare you live off him.
Meanwhile there’s all kinds of men running around sexually exploiting women and living off that but that’s okay.
And of course women in relationships with men involved in violent crime are never abused or coerced, and “pretending not to see” is never necessary for women for survival. And those “sketchy, tough or undesirable” friends could never possibly threaten a woman’s life if she says anything. No, just selfish bitches be shopping all the time.
And it’s not like there’s a wage gap and everything which makes it harder for women to support ourselves, but then women get blamed if they “live off” the money of a man.
I mean, sure, it’s likely she had an idea where the money was coming from, just like it’s likely the wives of corrupt politicians and businessmen know where that money is coming from. I just object to the scornfulness in the judgement as if the fact that she’s seen as greedy or materialistic makes her guilty.
7. That’s nuts!
And then a squirrel got stuck in a bottle.
Once extricated from his predicament, the squirrel was placed in a recovery cage and fed some peanuts before Harrison took it back to Springhill and its woodpile.
Harrison said she has seen cats and dogs get themselves stuck in strange situations and she has even had to free a lizard from an obstacle in an aquarium. This was the first squirrel escape she’s had to do.
Now if only Black people could escape from the PLASTIC BOTTLES OF RACISM SUFFOCATING US.
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