1. F*ck Dynasty

Tim has been covering this story. Stop stealing my news, Tim!

Anyway, I’m all about the quotes in this CBC article. Before I get to the story, I share this comment by JD:

“It’s OK to be racist against someone with a beard, but not against being gay, well now you people are saying so, not much wonder coming from NS.”

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So, back to the article. Ed Cayer, a Shelburne resident, “voiced concerns about the word redneck because he says it has dual meanings. He said a redneck can mean a person who loves fishing, hunting and four-wheeling. But he said it can also refer to someone who holds racist ideas.” Huh. You’d never know that from reading all the comments from self-identified rednecks in the comments ranting about “political correctness.”

“Cayer also took issue with the event hosting a look-a-like contest where people emulate the bearded stars of TV’s Duck Dynasty. ‘And the connection of course to the kinds of religious intolerance, homophobia and racism I saw emanating from the lead character in that program,’ said Cayer, referring to Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson.”

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Now the event is going to be called the “Shelburne County Country Event.” Note: “the contests ‘inspired by the country lifestyle’ will still award best camouflage fashion, best duck call, and feature country humour and a ‘TV personality look-a-like contest.’”

I vote that name change for the “best camouflage of racism” award.

At the link: potential re-enactment of country humour contest.

I know this quote will shock people, but “Coun. Roy O’Donnell said he didn’t see race as an issue with the term redneck. ‘It was a discrimination of poor people working in the fields, basically. It had nothing so much to do with black and white,’ he said.”

Gee, which race of people do you guess, on balance, had the back of their neck burned red by the sun?
Photo: Lynn Jones
Photo: Lynn Jones

Not at all racist display of “redneck pride” in Truro, Nova Scotia.

Ah, yes. It has nothing to do with race, which is why the “country” event will feature rural traditions such as gospel. blues and spiritual singing, soul food, and political meetings about Civil Rights. There will also be a contest reading the work of Ida B. Wells.

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In all seriousness, Eric Williams’ Capitalism and Slavery examines how “white servitude was the historic base on which negro slavery was constructed.” Williams debunks the “climactic theory” of slavery: “A Mississippi dictum will have it that ‘only black men and mules can face the sun in July.’  But the whites faced the sun for well over a hundred years in Barbados…”  The term “redneck,” drawn from these histories of white field labour, is in fact deeply bound up with racialization, slavery, and the ways whiteness and Blackness came to be constructed.

Moving on, it’s also completely appropriate that an event celebrating the “rich history, heritage, culture and people who have made Shelburne, Nova Scotia one of the most interesting places in Canada” is totally devoted to celebrating local Nova Scotian history through perpetuating popular stereotypes of Southern American culture, including such iconic historic Canadian figures as Phil Robertson. Since the “founders” of Shelburne came from the deep American South and everything.

Why, can they not find enough wigs to hold a Captain Gideon White look-alike contest or something?

Photo: Nova Scotia Archives
Photo: Nova Scotia Archives

Captain Gideon White would like to point out that his last name has nothing to do with race. (Best quote from the biography of this slave-owner: “In spite of the area’s rocky terrain White managed to produce an income from a surplus of farm produce with the help of eight black families who worked as tenant farmers.” Other contender: “…in the aftermath of the great fire of 1792, in which he lost much property, he remained in the town when many others were defeated and left.”)

Naturally, as one would expect from an event named “Founders’ Days,” the schedule is packed with events recognizing Mi’kmaq presence and histories (sarcasm alert: it is not.)

Councillor O’Donnell also noted that the tendency in discussions about race is to reduce race to a binary of black and white, where whiteness stands for purity and Blackness is its antithesis. This not only positions Blackness as perpetually “other” to whiteness, leading to virulent anti-Black racism as the foundation of white supremacy, it also serves to erase other races and racial identities. He noted that in reducing the debate on racism to only “black and white,” for example, racism against Indigenous people is ignored, and Blackness is yet again implicitly seen to be an American identity, erasing histories of Blackness and anti-Black racism in Canada. (Y’all know this is also sarcasm, right?)

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For some context, authors Jessica Halliday Hardie and Karolyn Tyson examine the intersection of race and class in the term “redneck” (citations removed):

The term redneck is typically applied to a particular stylized white person, usually poor and southern, and often male, who may also be called “white trash,” “hick,” or “country.” In addition to being derogatory, some of these epithets make both whiteness and class explicit, possibly because of the presence of an identifiable culture that goes against popular notions of what it means to be white. Stereotypical rednecks are depicted as speaking in “hick” or “country” accents, fighting with little provocation, and wearing clothing associated with manual labor. While redneck whites share the “symbolic capital of whiteness,” they are often stigmatized in American society and occupy a low status. They frequently are found in lower academic tracks at school, particularly vocational classes and blue-collar and low-wage jobs in the labor force. Consequently, they are often in direct competition with nonwhites, particularly blacks. The resulting stigma, combined with preexisting racism toward blacks, creates a situation in which poor whites may attempt to exert power and superiority by reemphasizing their cultural identities as rural, white, and male. As a result, they are often more aware of race and racial identity than are middle-class whites…

Given the growing crisis of rural poverty in Nova Scotia, it shouldn’t be surprising to see a surge in celebrating whiteness. Part of white supremacy is also the policing of whiteness, with the implication that if you are poor and white you are not “really” white. Because the myth of white supremacy depends upon maintaining the fiction that whiteness is pure, the presence of poor whites is a problem. Terms like “white trash” work to separate “trash” from “true” white people, which allows whiteness to remain uncontaminated. Images like People of Walmart are intended to hold up “low class” white people for mockery and to draw connections between “ratchet” Black people and rural/impoverished whites. Redneck pride in this context is a way of disenfranchised white people to claim superiority over the racialized people they actually have more in common with. Historically, as Robin Blackburn writes:

[Racial segregation] laws helped to create a form of racial solidarity…Increasingly whites, even poor whites, could identify themselves as part of the privileged race. The privilege of their colour exempted them from slavery and granted them certain civil rights. The plantation owners’ fear of resistance and rebellion evolved into a more general white fear of black rebellion.

You can see this interaction between race and class in Nova Scotia, by the way, in the comments on this week’s articles on the Rainmen, where we get  racism:

please do not encourage these types. what happened in the final was pretty embarrassing to our fair city . you can expect more of this behaviour and nonsense if they come back.

clowns….much like the trouble that FSU(florida state university) has had withe past couple of years with their quarter backs of late.(look it up) or the NFL has had with Rolando McClain,Ray Rice,Darren Sharper ,kobe bryant, or twins Marcus and Markieff Morris.Jared Sullinger,DeAndre Liggins, Royce White, the list goes on and on…

and classism:

people in cape breton are not gonna spend their pogey money on basketball games when they could be spending it at the nslc.

Going back to the CBC article on Shelburne again, we get this quote:

It could be tricky judging the “TV personality look-a-like contest,” as O’Donnell told CBC News he’s not on that committee and doesn’t know which star people are now supposed to look like.

Cayer is pretty sure the contestants will bear a strong resemblance to Duck Dynasty.

Now that people can dress like any star, what are the odds that at least one person is going to show up to the costume contest in blackface?

2. Black History moment: Douglass and the Cunard Line

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image from

The Queen Mary 2 is in town, marking the 175th anniversary of the Cunard Line’ first ocean crossing.

There’s some interesting Abolitionist and Black history with the Cunard line. As Edward E. Baptist relates:

In 1845, Frederick Douglass, a fugitive from slavery, joined dozens of white passengers on the British ship Cambria in New York harbour. Somewhere out on the Atlantic, the other passengers discovered that the African American activist in their midst had just published a sensational autobiography. They convinced the captain to host a sort of salon, wherein Douglass would tell them his life story. But when the young black man stood up to talk, a group of Southern slaveholders, on their way to Britain for vacation or business or both, confronted him. Every time Douglass said something about what it was like to be enslaved, they shouted him down: Lies! Lies! Slaves were treated well, insisted the slaveholders; after all, they said, the masters remained financially interested in the health of their human “property”.

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This is the account from the Belfast Banner of Ulster of Douglass’ speech, “The Cambria Riot, My Slave Experience, and My Irish Mission:”

…When he went forward to the saloon-deck, to address them, there was one party which was resolved that he should not speak. He found them cursing and swearing, and uttering the most horrid sentiments with reference to him; but the Captain, after a hymn had been sung, introduced him to the kindly notice of the passengers assembled. He proceeded to address them, but he had uttered hardly five words, when one of the slaveholders stepped up to him, shook his stick in his face, and said it was a lie. Three times, in succession, he pronounced what he said to be lies. He (Mr. Douglass) then said to the audience that, since all he had said was pronounced to be lies, he would give them a few facts, in regard to slavery, as shadowed forth by their own Legislature. — At once the slaveholders knew he was about to expose them; for there is nothing they more dread or avoid than letting strangers know their laws with reference to the unfortunate creatures over whom they hold absolute sway and uncontrolled dominion. (Mr. Douglass then read a list of laws from the slaveholders’ code of regulations with regard to the slave…)

The reading of these before the audience caused the slaveholders, on the occasion, to writhe in utter agony — for those laws were not intended to be known to the Christian world, and they were crying out on every side, shaking their fists at him. One would say, “Oh! I wish I had you in Cuba!” Another, “Oh!” I wish I had you in New Orleans!” And another, “I wish I had you in Savannah!…

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As Baptist points out in connecting this history to today’s issues, white people “remain reluctant to believe black people about the experience of being black.”

…We’ve still got white magazine writers refusing to believe first-person accounts of history, which re-enforces white privilege at the very time when we should be revoking it. In the meantime, both historians and advocates of contemporary change often have to turn to the strategy of getting white people to vet black testimony before other white people will believe it.

Back in 1845 on the Cambria, as the attackers surrounded Douglass, threatening to throw him overboard, he told the other white passengers that if they didn’t believe his words, he would speak the words of the enslavers. Straight from the book of state law in the south, Douglas read aloud those punishments allotted to slaves, then — “lashings on the back, the cropping of ears and other revolting disfigurements” — as now: “for the most venial crimes, and even frequently when no crime whatever had been committed”.

You can read a reaction to Douglass’ speech here.

In The Age of Cunard, Daniel Allen Butler rather bizarrely sees Cunard as the victim in all this, and paints Douglass as a liar.

3. The internet is for porn…

Eastlink will be capping rural customers’ internet use at 15 GB at month.

In the article, Andy Kerr, who runs a website development business from home, provides a list of common internet activities and their bandwidth usage, consisting of such respectable activities as watching Netflix, sending email, downloading music from iTunes, etc.

Hmmmm. I know it’s not the point of the article, but is that really how we’re using the internet? According to this article from Vice, the most popular Google searches in Nova Scotia are “murder, herpes, assassination, big cocks, BDSM, justin trudeau, ISIS, torture.”

Quote from the article:

“Nova Scotia didn’t rank at the top in our Google Trends searches all that often, but when they did, they sure fucking went for it. First of all, the fact that they were fervently searching for both assassination and murder is a bit off-putting. Especially when you tie in the province’s fascination with torture, BDSM, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. But at least they keep their image somewhat clean by looking up everyone’s favourite teacher-turned-political-leader Justin Trudeau. Although, when combined with the province’s other fascinations, that may not be a good thing.”

The list of what people are doing with the internet in Nova Scotia is more like:

  • Making Facebook groups over 3.5 years to sexually harass your female classmates in a professional program.
  • Generally cyberbullying each other.
  • Stalking.
  • Arguing that racism, homophobia, sexism, and other discrimination doesn’t exist and people should “stop whining.” Rants about “political correctness.”
  • Posting racist comments on any story about Indigenous people.
  • Complaining about the weather.
  • Gambling.
  • Gaming.
  • Cute baby animal videos

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4. Peter MacKay goes swimming Possible shark sighting


Ah, remember May and June? Those were more innocent times. There was a cute baby whale in the harbour, awwwww. Now the ocean hates us. If it’s not sucking tourists into its gaping maw, it’s fish in sharkface terrorizing beach goers.

A wildlife biologist says he “99 percent sure” it’s just an ocean sunfish: ”

“What they do, they lie on their side on the surface of the water and their one pectoral fin flops in the air, and it looks like a shark fin,” Bondrup-Nielsen says. “And that’s why people often mistake that fin for a shark, as opposed to a sunfish.”

Despite the sunfish’s parents confirming that it is not of shark descent, the sunfish told reporters it “identifies as a shark.” The sunfish pointed out that maybe people should stop fishwashing all the good work it’s done for sharks, and described drawing pictures of itself with pointy teeth as a child.


(Great White sharks would also like to point out that race isn’t an issue with their name.)

It admitted it may style its fin in different ways, but insisted the issue is more complex than whether it’s a fish or a shark. “This is on a very real, connected level how I’ve actually had to go there with the experience, not just a visual representation.” The sunfish added, “I definitely do not stay out of the ocean.”

Critics argue that the sunfish is appropriating shark identity without having to deal with the lifelong stigma of being a shark.  The sunfish apparently sued the producers of Sharknado in 2014, arguing that they showed a “discriminatory purpose to favour sharks.”

The sunfish also stated for the record that its great great great great grandmother was a Cherokee princess.


Image of the sunfish as a child released by its parents.


1. Because Confederate flags in Truro and redneck pride aren’t bad enough…

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…Daniel L. Paul points out the continuing celebration of Edward Cornwallis:

Reconciliation when?

On Monday, I attended the robing of Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Lester Jesudason at a courtroom in Halifax. It did my heart good to see my friend, a person of colour, attain such a high office in this province. Perhaps, I thought, racial relations are really improving in Canada.

However, my feeling was short-lived. During the proceedings, I happened to glance out the window and saw the Canadian Coast Guard ship Edward Cornwallis sailing out of the harbour. The sighting almost ruined my day.

The history of British Governor Edward Cornwallis is well known, especially the cruelty his troops visited upon the wounded rebel soldiers during the Battle of Culloden and his efforts to exterminate the Mi’kmaq by paying bounties for the scalps of men, women and children.

Yet Canada and Nova Scotia continue to hold him high as a hero. Reconciliation? I don’t think so. Continuing to honour this man is a slap in the face of the Mi’kmaq and other races of people upon whom he inflicted inhuman barbarities.

It’s time to remove him from public honour, rename the ship, place his statue in a museum, and rename Cornwallis Park in honour of somebody highly esteemed by all — Ruth Goldbloom, for instance.

Cornwallis should not be erased from history books but he should be relegated to them exclusively.

Daniel L. Paul, Mi’kmaw Saqmawiey (Eldering)

2. Trolling the comments again

The best comments are on the shark story this time around. Ranger2 is unimpressed by the presence of ocean creatures in the ocean. “Oh my god, I just looked out my back door and saw a large furry brown deer in the woods…” 

There’s a debate about whether shark or deer kill more people. Hippos come into this discussion as well.

Steve Guptill wonders, “What does this guy teach, drama?” 

Deep Cover wants to know:

The Atlantic Ocean poses some danger to swimmers and tourists. Where is “Jaws” Police Chief Brody when you need him?

The last that I heard the Police Chief was busy putting up a barrier rope line along the black rocks at Peggy’s Cove and erecting warning signs that say: ‘DANGER- SLIPPERY ROCKS AND ROGUE WAVES- DO NOT CROSS OVER THIS LINE” and “YOU HAVE CROSSED OVER THIS LINE AND ARE NOW IN GREAT DANGER- GO BACK OR RISK PERMANENTLY SAYING FAREWELL TO NOVA SCOTIA’!”

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El Jones is a poet, journalist, professor, community advocate, and activist. Her work focuses on social justice issues such as feminism, prison abolition, anti-racism, and decolonization.

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  1. The redneck comments are compelling and challenging as usual. The Ida B Wells piece adds horrid detail to a piece of the sordid history of black-white relations that everyone is aware of – but not the painful detail so well documented there.

  2. Frederick Douglass was an inspiration. Illuminating story about his experience on Cunard.

  3. Not all Loyalists were from the deep south – my family came from New York. And yes, a Redneck Festival is a horrible idea for so many reasons.

  4. Douglass was very well received in Britain drawing large crowds at anti-slavery meetings.
    ” The working class supported the abolition of slavery. This seems odd since the working class would compete with the freed slaves for jobs. There are two ways to explain this unexpected support. One was the hatred of the working class for aristocracy and their way of life. Secondly, the labor unions saw this as an opportunity to expand membership. The labor unions felt that with the membership of the freed Blacks they would be able to gather numbers to support their goals of changing the working conditions in the factories. During the mid-19th century, Europe was under going an industrial revolution in which the working and lower classes were looking for opportunities to improve their lives. With the support of the newly freed slaves, the working class and unions looked to better their position in society. This idea would lead to the support for the abolition of slavery in Britain.”

    and : “Mr. Frederick Douglass, whose appearance was hailed with loud and prolonged cheering[, spoke]. Of his long and eloquent address we can merely present an outline; but we will make our abstract as connected as possible, and shall merely premise that we have heard Mr. Douglass to much greater advantage than on this occasion—he was evidently labouring under severe indisposition. ”