African Nova Scotian community meeting about violence issues was just for ‘family’: advocate
The African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia says future meetings tackling the problem of violence impacting the African Nova Scotian community will, as have always planned, be open to anyone who wants to participate.
On Monday, the group held what Rev. Lennett Anderson, senior pastor at EBC: The MEETing Place, called “a family meeting” at the Halifax North Memorial Public Library.
He said it was for black Nova Scotians, people with black family members and/or strong connections to the community.
It was requested that reporters and politicians not attend.
A few current and former politicians who were black attended because of their connections to the community, according to Anderson.
He said at least two white people who tried to attend the event that evening were turned away.
“I sincerely apologize for any harsh actions,” Anderson said. “I just heard that there was some confrontation, and as I said, that saddened me to hear of the mistreatment of anyone who came with best intentions.”
The meeting offered a “safe space,” he said, to mourn and mentally process the large number of black people who have been killed in homicides this year; another aim was to come up with paths to put an end to this uptick.
El Jones, the municipality’s former poet laureate, said she attended the three-hour event, and that there were more than 100 people there, including white people.
“The analogy I would use is if you go to work with somebody and they die, and their family is holding a meeting around their estate – planning the funeral – would you feel entitled to knock on the door, barge in and then complain if the family says, ‘It’s only family now?'” Jones said.
“If the white community wants to hold meetings about violence in their community, I encourage them to do so, and, as a black woman, I certainly would not be knocking on the door.”
She said that there have been other meetings, including at local churches, open to everyone to discuss the violence.
Jones also said that it’s hypocritical for people to call the violence a “black community problem” and then criticize the community for gathering to figure out solutions.
“To try at this time, when there’s so much pain in our community, to add more pain by now forcing us to go on-camera and speak about why we have the right to talk to each other and now create more negativity for us, is that helpful for us? Is that going to really help us solve the problem you want us to solve?” she said.
Anderson said that one of the next steps is to hold future meetings with the wider community – including anyone interested in attending – and involving multiple levels of government.
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