To listen to the full lecture, click above.
HALIFAX — "I don't want to be just entertainment for you," said Burnley "Rocky" Jones, as he opened his talk at Dalhousie University Tuesday. "At the end of what I say, it's then your turn … The question will be: What can we do?"
Jones is a lawyer, an activist and founder of the Dalhousie Transition Year Program, the Dalhousie Law School Indigenous Black and Mi’kmaq Initiative, the Black United Front of Nova Scotia and Ujamaa.
Jones opened his talk with stories from his childhood, growing up in the Marsh in Truro.
"The Marsh was a Black community. We had 14 Black families and three White families. We were all poor, although we didn't know it."
Jones says he's been able to accomplish what he has because of the love, support and strength he received from his tight-knit community, particularly from the women.
"I wish everyone could experience what it was like to grow up in a community where I had as many mothers as there were women."
His mother, along with all the other women he knew worked as domestics.
"They were raising their children, and raising someone else's children, doing someone else's housework and still taking time to look after their own children and give us comfort and guidance and direction … I can't praise them enough."
Jones traced the history of Black people in Nova Scotia, from when they arrived in 1605 and "were viewed as a source of cheap and readily available labour."
He challenged the mostly White audience to recognize the ways they've benefited from Black oppression.
"You, collectively, you benefit from the fact that slavery existed and that Black people were used as cheap and readily available labour," said Jones. "That's been passed down through generations …Those benefits that you enjoy, you enjoy them because we've been exploited."
"That's the hard part for the White people in this room," Jones continued. " How do you confront the racism that exists in this society when that means confronting your own family, your friends, the institutions that have spawned and protected you and given you your position of privilege? But they must be confronted and challenged."
A special thank you to Pierre Loiselle for help with audio production.
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