News / Halifax

'It hurts:' Speakers to discuss their experiences in Dartmouth anti-racism panel

The Speakers Forum in Dartmouth will mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Panel speaker Quentrel Provo

Metro file

Panel speaker Quentrel Provo

Racism hurts.

That’s what Quentrel Provo says about his daily experiences as a young black man living in Nova Scotia.

“I’m all about change and equality and love and spreading kindness, and to still face racism and be discriminated against today? It hurts,” the founder of the Stop the Violence movement said Monday, a day ahead of speaking on an anti-racism panel.

He added it was disheartening when, as so often happens, no one would sit beside him or speak to him on the bus Monday.

“It was a packed bus and this one person got on and looked beside me and I even moved over so they knew they had a seat. They looked and kind of rolled their eyes, and just stood there instead,” he recalled.

“Then someone got off in front of me and they sat down in that seat. It happens regularly. It’s frustrating but I smile and go on with my day. But that’s real. It’s today’s society. People don’t sit beside you and some won’t talk to you because you’re a black young man.”

Provo is one of five speakers who’ll address a forum being held in Dartmouth on Tuesday night to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“Even though I do Stop the Violence, even though I went to school, I work for the government and I’m a community leader, as a young black man I still encounter racism. Every single day,” he said.

“I want to discuss that (Tuesday) because it’s real and I don’t want to sugarcoat anything. Racism still exists. It’s an important discussion.”

Provo said qualified young black men from North Preston face an uphill battle finding jobs because of the stigma that surrounds his community. He said too often people who’ve never been there immediately judge and make assumptions.

“I’m going to really talk about the stigma of being from a black community… I want people to see me and look at me for who I am, to look at me and not stigmatize where I’m from because of what you’ve heard,” he said.

“I want people to not judge a book by its cover, to not judge me as a person by the community that I’m from or because I’m a young black man.”

The Speakers’ Forum on Racial Discrimination is described by organizer Bill McEwen as a public night of education and understanding. He’s hoping it’ll attract a large crowd.

“Racism isn’t something new…With the rise in hate crimes, especially the horrific shootings in Quebec, I’ve been looking for a way to do something, to act beyond social media and my limited circle and this seemed like a great way to do that,” McEwen said when asked what prompted him to organize the event.

“The forum format gives people who are racially discriminated against a way to describe what that’s like, and to give us insight into what we can do to try and help fight it with them.”

Besides Provo, speakers include: Rana Zaman, community activist and leader in the local fight against Islamophobia; Tina Roberts-Jeffers, community and black education activist; Alan Knockwood, Mi’kmaq elder and residential school survivor; Dr. Ingrid Waldron, associate professor at Dalhousie University’s school of nursing and environmental racism advocate.

Where and when:

The Speakers Forum On Racial Discrimination happens Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Dartmouth’s Woodlawn United Church, 54 Woodlawn Rd. The facility is accessible and everyone is welcome.

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