“Black lives matter,” called Charla Williams.
“Yes they do,” responded as one those gathered at Halifax’s waterfront.
Williams M.C.’d the Artists United: A Rally to Support the Black Lives Matter Movement event on Saturday afternoon that was organizedby Shawn Downey and Tamar Brown.
Her point in the repetition of the call and repeat with the all ages crowd through the afternoon of song, spoken word and discussion could be equated to the grammatical logic of the movement.
“Anti-racism is a verb,” said Williams.
“Sitting back and saying to yourself ‘I’m not racist’ isn’t good enough. You need to be doing something.”
The event was meant to be an act against the prejudice’s that persist within our own province, be ittoward African Nova Scotians, First Nations peoples or any other group.
“We’re afraid to call for mental wellness checks,”said Brian Knockwood, a Sipekne'katik First Nation prevention and addiction counsellor, referencing the recent killing of Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi at the hands of police in New Brunswick.
He laid out grim statistics faced by the descendants of this country’s first peoples – though they account for five per cent of our population they make up 30 per cent of those in prison.
Forty per cent of those killed by police over the past decade, he said, were First Nations members.
The hundreds gathered were largely African-Nova Scotian and First Nation members who are well aware of the problems faced at home, but the event was meant to help spread the message amongst those who don’texperience it directly that racism is not just something that tears at the fabric of society south of the border.
For all the seriousness of an event held to push back against the plague of prejudice which has long persisted in our society, it was an afternoon where people enjoyed thoughtful music in the sun.
“Black joy is a revolutionary force as well,” explained El Jones who composed and performed a poem for the event.
“Every time we’ve had a mass movement for our liberation, music has been a part of it. Artists have always played this prominent role.”