Letter from a white home, to other white people:

Nova Scotia, 1896

I write this to you, from my home, a home far more lovely than I ever thought I would live in. It’s an old house, the dream house of my predecessor, my husband’s first wife, who died of breast cancer when she was forty-three, when their children were two and five years old. I’ve inherited the house, and adopted her children. Her mother and her sisters have adopted me. Out of so much tragedy and loss has come so much love and laughter. Life goes forward, especially when children are involved. Adults mired in grief, or a longing for the old ways, enshrouds children in a pain that is not theirs.

While I have never felt her shadow over me, I’ve often felt her presence. It some ways, I feel I’m the keeper of her memory in a way her sisters and her mother cannot be. I nurture the bushes and trees she planted. I love and raise her children. By the time they had moved into this house, she was so ill she didn’t live long enough to do much. But she had such dreams for the property.

It’s in this big yellow house where my husband and I, and our oldest child, have spent lock down. Our other two boys went to spend March Break with granny in a small seaside house across the province on the South Shore. They have been there now for three months and every week we take food and laundry. For the entire lockdown we’ve been doing food and laundry for ten people who have not been able to do so for themselves, sometimes for a few other vulnerable people.

And we’ve been here in this house reflecting on family, on how fortunate we are, here in Nova Scotia. We have been having conversations with the children about racism, systemic racism and white supremacy. We live in Nova Scotia, where systemic racism and police violence is an everyday reality for Black Nova Scotians.

In the midst of lock down and social distancing, of COVID 19, like so many, I’m grappling with my whiteness, with white supremacy. Holy precious lord, white people from where I am from, hate that term. 

We live outside of a small and progressive university town. But I did not grow up here. I’m from the deep Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, rural areas and tiny towns. People are sorry about what’s happening to Black people but it’s not their fault. Some people call this area the Alabama of the North. 

When we were children, my youngest brother used to call the university town a cosmopolitan oasis in a redneck sea. There was a longing in his voice and I can hear it now, through all these years, a longing for a place where there was diversity, challenge, discussion, conversation. He doesn’t live in Canada anymore. His partner is mixed race. 

Home, where I was born and raised, is an incredibly racist place. It’s a white world where to even discuss racism, let alone white supremacy, is anathema. You become an outcast if you speak up. In one branch of my family, there are open white supremacists. I am in in deep water right now, reading, learning and listening. Grateful for the many resources available to learn from, the resources available for any age. Grateful for the home I have now, where we can have these hard conversations, where there are other white people who know we cannot continue to pretend that there is no antic Black racism here, that the entire system is intricately structured to privilege white people, and exclude and systematically destroy Black people.

We take our kids to Africville, in Halifax, to the museum, every year. This year, of course, we haven’t been able to. You can learn about Africville and donate to the Africville Museum.

And buy books written by Black authors, for your children and yourself. A few suggestions:

Africville by Shauntay Grant

Andre Fenton. His new novel, Annaka, coming out in June, 2020. Preorder!

And amazing online resources for parents, and where you can also donate:

The Conscious Kid.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter Toronto

10 documentaries that explore race, racism and policing in North America

How to Explain White Privilege to Your White Working-Class Friends and Family