1. Karen Casey’s Lemonade
Hey, did you know racism can be pretty awesome for everyone, if you ignore the feelings of pesky Black people?
Education Minister Karen Casey says the South Shore School Regional School Board dealt properly with incidents involving the Confederate flag and what appeared to be a noose hung on a black teacher’s classroom door.
Casey said it was a “teachable moment.”
“I believe the board staff have recognized that as well and have taken it from an unfortunate situation into something that can be constructive,” she said.
Look, there’s a difference between the Black community criticizing the board’s secrecy about how the hanging of a noose and the displaying of a Confederate flag were dealt with and calling for broad education about these symbols, and saying that racism can be “constructive.” You see, one is about addressing systemic racism and making sure people understand the history behind these symbols and the other is pretty much saying that as long as white people get something out of it, who cares if Black people have symbols of lynching in their workplace? What’s really important is that white people take the lemons Black people have been given and make themselves lemonade.
To quote the school board’s race relations co-ordinator Lamar Eason, “WTF.”
Funny, I don’t remember the part in the bullying act that says “Bullying is bad, unless it’s the most violent symbols of terrorist acts against Black people, in which case it’s okay, we can learn from it.” Sadly, whatever they’re doing in these “information sessions” will probably be the most Black history they’ll learn in high school.
What I imagine the course content of the “nooses bad” educational program will be.
Thinking “constructively,” it’s too bad they probably only had the one Black teacher, because if there were more, sure they would have had to make more nooses, but on the other hand the student(s) could have got more exercise hanging nooses now that gym class time is drastically cut.
What we probably should do as Black people is pretend we really love nooses and Confederate flags. Because then just to spite us the same sort of people who don’t give a fuck about Cornwallis until Mi’kmaq people say it hurts and offends them and then suddenly Cornwallis statues are the most important thing in their lives, if Black people said we really pretty much dream about coming to work and finding nooses on our doors, then people would call in the radio to scream about how we can’t have any of those politically correct nooses and nooses would be gone tomorrow.
Far be it from me to be all prayer in school and everything, but pretty much Jesus is worse than racism.
No, literally, remember in 2012 when there was the big fuss about a student wearing a “Life is wasted without Jesus” T-shirt to school?
For the record, I think the request to wear a Jesus shirt that wasn’t “denigrating other people’s beliefs” was a perfectly reasonable one, so I’m not using this example to be all “CHRISTIANS ARE THE ONLY PEOPLE YOU CAN PERSECUTE THESE DAYS.” Especially since, obviously, you can still persecute Black people, duh.
But what happened when a student was wearing a love Jesus or else T-shirt? Apparently he was spoken to a number of times, then given in-school suspensions, and then given a five-day suspension when he wouldn’t comply. Damn, Daniel! (Note to people not up on viral memes: his name is not actually Daniel.) You should have worn a Confederate flag T-shirt. Then you could have rocked it for months with nobody saying or doing anything, Then you could have, I don’t know, hung a bloody crucifix on a door somewhere. I don’t know where I’m going with this analogy.
You just know there’s actually a T-shirt with that picture on it. So if you were a student and wore that, would they call you down to the office and be like, we need you to put tape over Jesus’ face but the Confederate flag part is fine.
Satan is like, “teachable moment, though.”
Wow, it’s like Nova Scotia is so racist, racism is literally stronger than Jesus love. Life is wasted without racism, but when life gives you racism, make lemonade and throw it in a Black person’s eyes until it burns.
2. Situation Normal…
Okay, so that isn’t even the commentary I was going to write about the South Shore noose incident. Thanks, Satan.
Let’s take a break and look at an image of a baby giraffe (So PC! Why does it have to be an African animal? What’s wrong with a good old Canadian not diversity animal.)
Okay, break time over.
So for the people who insist that the Confederate flag and nooses are American anyway, and that never happened here because Canada isn’t racist (tm Paul Martin,) let’s remember the lynching of Peter Wheeler.
The murder occurred in the village of Bear River, at the western end of the Annapolis Valley, in the winter of 1896. When fourteen-year-old Annie Kempton was found brutally slain in her blood-spattered home, suspicion quickly fell on Wheeler, a friend and neighbour in his mid-twenties. Wheeler discovered the body and was one of the last people to see Kempton alive, but there was little evidence to link him to the crime — at least at first. Komar shows how a community’s demands for justice and vengeance, slipshod police work, and sensational media coverage combined to put Wheeler’s neck in the noose.
Although Wheeler had lived in Bear River for more than a decade, he remained an outsider. Born on the island of Mauritius off the coast of Africa, he was dark-skinned, and Komar finds plenty of evidence that the overt prejudice of the times was a major factor in his conviction.
The village’s rumour mill transformed Wheeler into a fiend who had tried to rape the girl before killing her. Local newspapers were replete with lurid details, false leads, and speculation about the crime, ensuring he was convicted in the court of public opinion long before he stood trial.
While an article in The Walrus finds only a “lone statistical aberration” in the lynching of Louie Sam, the execution of Black people on wrongful convictions or the handing down of disproportionate sentences was certainly not an aberration in Nova Scotia. George Elliott Clarke, for example, based “Execution Poems” on the hanging of his cousins. The symbol of the noose does not lose its potency in Nova Scotia.
As with the plaque whitewashing Cornwallis’ crimes, the symbols of violence against Black people become the products of amnesia. A student hanging a noose is treated as a mild disciplinary infraction rather than a death threat. Imaginary accounts of violent refugee children swinging chains are reported because Muslim children are easily seen as terrorists, but symbols of the white legacy of terrorism are made innocuous, just a “misfit” acting out. A Facebook post of rap lyrics prompts a school closure, but nooses and Confederate flags? Well, they’re not violent (read: Black) like hip hop.
Even in a story about racism, the Black teacher at the centre just falls away, and our concern is educating white students and not what happened to her. Invisibility, despite what Paul Martin thinks, is caused by racism.
(Probably not taught in the South Shore schools.)
When I heard about the hanging of a noose on a Black teacher’s door in the South Shore, I imagined that people would talk about the student responsible as an anomaly, a “lone statistical aberration.” It’s true this incident, like the 2010 cross burning, is extreme. But one of the problems with confronting racism is we want to treat it like something is “wrong” or “unusual” (or even “mentally ill”) about the perpetrators.
This continues the myth that only “bad” people are racist, or that racism is only “real” in incidences like nooses or cross burnings. This belief in turn creates the idea that because being racist is so bad, calling people racist must itself be extreme, and therefore it is worse to call someone racist or to talk about race than it is to be racist. Cross burnings and nooses are then used to deny all other incidences of “lesser” racism, telling victims that “it’s not like anyone’s burning a cross on your lawn. Get over it.”
If we want to really confront racism, we have to start by recognizing that while extreme expressions of racism are unusual, racism itself is normal. Just look at the decision of Halifax City Council to not even discuss the legacy of Cornwallis, but voting to commission a report on donairs. Acting like there must be something “wrong” with the student who hung the noose allows white society as a whole to disavow the reality of racism. The problem becomes one student, who we can assume is probably “going through something.”
It may well be that the student is acting out due to personal issues, but acting out violent racism is, again, not something foreign to our society or culture. That someone would act out their own issues through aggression towards Black people in itself shows truths about white fears and hatred of Black people and how racism makes white people feel more powerful: things may be wrong in my life, but at least I’m not a n—-r. That this anger is so easily taken out on Black people shows the position Black people still hold relative to white people, the “other” upon whom white people can project their anxiety, inadequacy, rage, impotency, etc.
The fact that the school board apparently did nothing until these acts became so overt as to no longer be able to be ignored in itself shows the acceptability of racism and its normalcy. As I pointed out above, apparently wearing a Jesus shirt is more readily identifiable as a problem than the symbols that have terrorized Black people for centuries. In the aftermath, the treating of these incidences as “constructive” and “educational” also shows the inability to take the humanity of Black people seriously or to prioritize Black trauma over white comfort. Even when a noose is hung, the focus remains on how white people feel and react, and not on what was done to an actual, living, human Black person.
What is shocking about these incidences is not that they occur, and not that people are still racist, it is only that they are so visible as to be no longer deniable. Unlike virtually every other incident of racism which can be blamed on Black people being oversensitive, having no proof, pulling the race card, that happens to white people too, you’re reading too much into this, stop ranting, and on and on, nooses and burning crosses are shocking because they force what is normally hidden and “polite” to the surface. What is “wrong” is only the directness of the act, rather than leaving enough room to be able to wriggle around later and say, if you see this as racist you must be the one with a problem with race.
I was reading a message board today, and someone was very happy because their city had been voted the best place to live. And I thought, wow, Black and Indigenous people get happy when our cities are voted most racist. And it’s not because we love living in racist places or we get off on experiencing racism every day, it’s because when there’s acknowledgement that racism actually exists and that we are not making up our experiences, it’s a relief. We feel seen and vindicated.
Dismissing racist acts like hanging nooses as being the deranged actions of a troubled individual pretends that racism exists in individuals, outside of society. Meanwhile, issues such as the lack of any education about Black history, the small percentage of Black teachers, bullying laws that consistently ignore racist bullying — somehow when it’s black kids being bullied, the solution is bringing in speakers or making “teachable moments,” but when Black kids break the rules, they’re kicked out of school — the disproportionate disciplining of Black students for infractions, or the indifference to an educational crisis among Black students, all reflect the racism present in the school system.
Getting a noose hung on your door isn’t an everyday occurrence for Black teachers, but teachers report systemic experiences of racism during their education and training, in the schools, from administration, and from parents.
While there are no official statistics on the number of Black teachers in the province, the unofficial estimate is about 120-130 out of 9,151 teachers (8,820 full time), which is at best 1.42 per cent of all teachers. So, for example, when “teachable moments” about racism are championed, there are not necessarily any Black teachers in the school to provide this teaching.
When students are not exposed to Black teachers, while being constantly exposed to Black popular culture, images of Black people, Black culture and Black intellect become skewed. Not seeing Black teachers doesn’t only negatively impact Black students who don’t see themselves modelled in the classroom, it also affects students of all other races who are consistently taught from one viewpoint, who don’t experience different perspectives or get exposed to teachers of many different backgrounds, and who are left with limited exposure to and experience of Black adults — meaning that many white students may have seen more Black people on TV than they have had a conversation with in real life. Having “teachable moments” about racism is difficult in the absence of anyone who isn’t white.
While Black teachers agreed that the racism they experience is less likely to come from students than from colleagues or administration, one teacher recalled teaching The Book of Negroes in class. A white male student was overheard telling students in a different class that he didn’t want to learn Black history, it was not something he could use in his life, it wasn’t important to him, and that he hated learning about Black people. He went on to say that Black people haven’t done anything worth learning about. A Black student overheard him, and shared with the teacher what was said. “So not only was I affected,” said the teacher, “but the student herself had to hear that her culture is not valued.”
Black teachers are often assumed to be the “equity hire” and to have their qualifications and “right” to be in the classroom questioned by their colleagues. One teacher recounts being moved to the equity hire slot so the school could avoid hiring another “diverse” teacher. Many teachers recounted feeling undermined in the classroom and having to fight to be respected by their colleagues.
Another teacher describes experiences, that while never “overt,” have been consistent since the B.Ed program. Like the teacher assumed to be an equity hire, this teacher feels that, “people naturally assume you don’t deserve to be there, regardless of how hard you’ve worked to get where you are.” The teacher remembers “students who said nothing in class for two years suddenly turning red as they vehemently refused the idea of affirmative action. Everybody had a cousin who was a fireman whose spot was taken.” He remembers students being reluctant to participate in group work with him or other passive-aggressive actions. And then of course these students graduate and become teachers and take those assumptions into the classroom to be wielded against Black students and parents.
Teachers also described being devalued in the classroom, such as being asked to teach subjects they know nothing about or expected to take on the work of culturally educating colleagues. One teacher points out that now that “culturally relevant pedagogy” is popular, the same people who dismissed the idea and questioned his teaching practice in a “degrading” manner are now “flying the culturally relevant flag.”
Another teacher agreed that while “blatant incidents” are not common, the racism Black teachers experience is “more in line with exclusionary practices.” He points to an African Nova Scotian teacher/administrator group that was created to advise the Halifax Regional School Board, but then was disbanded as soon as they started work. He also pointed to the exclusion of qualified applicants from jobs. Racism, he said, is “swept under the rug.”
One teacher said, “I’m less concerned with being called the n-word or nooses, it’s the barriers they put up for us to get or maintain a job. I’m more concerned about my survival, whether I’m able to put food on the table.” This teacher pointed to the use of unfair evaluation practices for Black teachers, stating that Black teachers and administrators are held to higher standards. These practices affect the hiring and promotion of Black educators. “Our path is a lot longer to promotion.” This also means that Black people are not in decision making positions, so when incidences like the noose occur, there are less likely to be Black people responding.
The teacher described trying to have conversations about racism with colleagues or administration as “like if a kid tells you they want to be an astronaut, and you just shake your head. That’s how they react when you try to explain racism to them.”
Like other teachers, this teacher agreed that incidences of racism from students are less common than systemic racism. In fact, he suggested that often students of all races are happy to have a Black teacher. One issue he pointed to is that often students try to relate to Black male teachers “as though you are a rapper.” Some students also can’t accept being disciplined by a Black teachers, and when they go home and tell their parents, their parents are more likely to question the discipline coming from a Black teacher. He described students and parents being conditioned to see Black people as scary or intimidating, or as not entitled to have authority. He also suggested that parents are more likely to question the evaluation of a Black teacher.
This teacher pointed out that the same attitudes colleagues hold towards Black students — that they are violent, unwilling to learn, less capable — also get transferred to Black teachers. He gave the example of how, when he was in school, a white student who got in a fight would be given an in-school suspension, but a Black student would be suspended for the entire year. These stereotypes about Black students also affect the way Black teachers are treated and the perceptions of their competence. The issue of the racism Black teachers encounter therefore can’t be separated from the evidence of Black students’ marginalization by the school system.
“They won’t talk about racism,” said one teacher, “but they’ll make the focus cultural events, like dancing, having drummers, that sort of thing.”
“It’s not really about the noose. It just takes a noose to get people to pay some attention to racism.”
3. Shawn “Shady” Cleary Vs. Linda”The Bandit” Mosher
Linda Mosher is accused of being a domain squatter.
A Halifax man who plans to run this October for the District 9 seat on Halifax regional council got a big surprise this morning.
When Shawn Cleary went to register the domain names shawncleary.com and shawncleary.ca, he discovered they had been snapped up by someone else this week.
Curious, he searched the registry database whois.com and learned a person using the name Linda Mosher had bought shawncleary.com.
Linda Mosher is the current councillor for District 9, Halifax West Armdale.
Shawn Cleary should get the domain name shawnthrowsshade.ca because DAAAAAAMMMMMNNN. He starts with this:
“I laughed a lot because I thought, why would someone go and do that to someone who hasn’t even announced their candidacy yet.”
WHO DOES THAT.
Then he follows it up with this:
Cleary, who is an assistant professor of business administration at Mount Saint Vincent University, says Mosher should be running on her record, which he says includes a failure in leadership.
He says she should have supported opening up discussions about whether to remove the Edward Cornwallis name from city properties. And he says Mosher should have consulted with residents about whether they wanted sidewalk snow clearing on the peninsula. He says the service the last few winters has been poor and taxes have gone up.
Mosher also recently championed making donairs Halifax’s official food, which Cleary says is not a priority issue.
God, Linda. Don’t you have a report you could be writing on donairs instead of stealing my name?
Damn, I sort of want to snap up shawnclearycouncillor.ca just to watch him lose his shit on me. “MAYBE YOU SHOULD BE COPYEDITING THE EXAMINER, HUH? GOT SOME CAT PICTURES THAT ARE A PRIORITY ISSUE THERE?”
Do you think Linda Mosher secretly registered the names of everyone in her district?
4. ATTENTION CHRONICLE HERALD
Nova Scotia schools are welcoming students from Fort McMurray.
OH NO! Someone get the Chronicle Herald on the case. There’s all kinds of unsubstantiated stories they could publish. Wouldn’t want to miss out on the scoop of Fort Mac children attempting to choke locals with a noose made out of Barbie hair, or reports of Fort Mac children yelling “HARPER RULES, MCNEIL DROOLS” in the playground. I’m sure you can find a parent who can give unsubstantiated evidence of Fort Mac children dismantling the monkey bars to bury the metal in the playground and then using the swingset edges to grind the pieces into a shank to attack the other children with. Fort Mac children giving the other children prison tattoos! News at 6!
Ohhhh, you wouldn’t write stories like that about these children? Wonder why.
Editor’s note: El Jones is an important and strong voice in the community, and we at the Examiner are proud to host her work every Saturday. To help us continue to provide Jones’ needed voice, please consider subscribing to the Examiner. Just $5 or $10 a month goes a long way. Or, consider making a one-time contribution via PayPal. Thanks much!
If I had a death threat posted on my workplace door, FEAR would rule over my employer’s assurance that whoever threatened me probably didn’t mean it
I would have found it helpful if the article explained what would have been an appropriate response to there horrible actions.
Speaking of nooses, I’ll raise the sad case of Azraya Kokopenace, a 14 year old first nations girl who recently hung herself from a tree in Kenora Ontario. Video of her being restrained (or assaulted had I done it) by a police officer is all over the internet.
She had allegedly been arrested for being outside after her 9pm curfew and taken to a local hospital from which she later escaped and killed herself. Three weeks prior to that, screaming she was forced to the ground an apparently kneed in the back to keep her there by Ontario Provincial Police for reasons as yet unclear beyond the claim she was drunk.
You can watch video of that here… https://news.vice.com/article/video-shows-altercation-between-an-aboriginal-girl-and-police-just-weeks-before-she-committed-suicide
Prior to that is was claimed she had attempted suicide twice.
I’ll be watching for the reasoning behind why the OPP did this to her.
I wonder how the school, school boards or Department of Education might react if a swastika were anonymously plastered on the door of a Jewish teacher by some brave anti-Semite? Just a “teachable moment”?
Of course I understand most Jews are white…
This is drawing from the real issue here, but as a half-Jew who was born and educated on the peninsula, I must say I saw swastikas scrawled on desks, and in bathrooms of every school I attended, and regularly heard the term “Jew” used in a derogatory manner. I am not aware of any action taken by the school board to address any overt or covert racism in the school system during my time there.
Do you think they were personally targeting you, Jews in general or just being rebellious by drawing forbidden symbols Jake?
The noose and the flag incident illustrates the kind of insidious racism that exists in this province and Karen Casey’s response shows why we still have it.
I am sorry Minister but this was much more than a “teachable moment”. It was a blatant act of racism that warranted a criminal investigation and subsequent charges. It is most absolutely and unquestionably in the same category as a burning cross.
The message sent is that such incidents are considered trivial because and only because they target Blacks.
And for the record, I am not Black.
Right on, Dartmouth Oldie. I was appalled this was even allowed to be treated as a misbehaviour, as vs a criminal threat. As far as I know, we haven’t heard what “extreme” punishment the school handed out but I’ll betcha it didn’t include a criminal prosecution.
I grew up in the US and there, racism is right out front and horrible, but I have to admit the racism (and sexism) here in Canada is creepier – it bubbles along under the surface and it is still there, evil and oozing, and yet you don’t have an easy way to grab it by the tail and give it a shake.
I’ve been here five years now and I have to say I remain astounded by the racism present here, from accusations against non-white immigrants to daily comments about populations. I am gobsmacked the council won’t even discuss removing Cornwallis as a “guiding light”. Is it just ignorance? Is it the lack of outward view?Is it the presence of so many people who have never ventured as far as Canso in their lives? I dunno. But it makes me embarrassed. I am proud of Canada and Halifax and Nova Scotia, I adore the place, but this kind of stuff makes us seem like a backwater.