Our world is filled with so many amazing Black men and women who courageously share their stories and experiences, while actively battling racism year-round. It’s important that we seek these stories consistently, to listen and learn so we can better understand how we can act to create a better future for our youth. While I come nowhere near these amazing human beings, I’m honoured to have the opportunity to share one of my experiences this year through the Halifax Public Libraries.
Something was missing
Around the age of five, I moved to a predominantly white neighbourhood, and transferred to a predominantly white school. I could count the other Black kids in my grade on one hand (and it just so happened that of the other Black kids at the school, one was my cousin and the other had the same name—I know, the irony). I was fortunate to meet so many great friends (most of whom I still hold close to my heart today), but I felt like something was missing… I didn’t feel like I fit in.
By grade 9, I'd convinced my parents to allow me to transfer to Oxford Junior High School, as I desperately wanted to be around others who looked like me. For the first time, I felt comfortable in my environment. This was the first time I really realized that the reason I didn’t feel as though I fit in was due to the lack of representation of Black people at my previous school.
Shaping the future
Fast forward to today, I’m fortunate to have a beautiful Black family, with a fiancé who has shared similar experiences to mine growing up. This is important because we’re able to analyze the many situations in which we didn’t understand why we felt out-of-place as kids. We now have these conversations with a goal of ensuring our son feels differently as he grows up, to the best of our abilities.
What does this look like? Making sure our son will be represented in the school system when he gets there—not just by other kids, but by the teachers as well. Too often, our Black youth feel as though there’s a cap to their abilities and potential in this world, with lack of representation being a big part of that. It’s critical for Black youth to see themselves represented in these spaces to feel as though they belong, and more importantly; they can do anything they want to.
My fiancé, Marcus Eaton, knew he could help better the future of some of the female youth in a field he knew well—basketball. He did so by creating Halifax Havoc Basketball: a women’s summer organization dedicated to true diversity and inclusion, with a goal of preparing female athletes for university, teaching them how to use basketball as a driving tool to reach university, while developing their skills for outside of the academic and basketball world. This includes having a range of diverse female guest speakers educating the athletes on their career paths, multiple university visits, as well as basic financial training for athletes to ensure they’re set up for their future.
Halifax Havoc providing their athletes with an opportunity to see themselves represented in a career space they may not have thought possible, is only one of the ways in which the program acts to show Black youth they have the power to control their future. What are some ways you can help with change? Share with us in the comments below!
About Teyana Haley
Teyana Haley is a creator, lifestyle blogger, fashion enthusiast, and proud mother. Located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Teyana inspires her community through coaching, styling, and sharing thoughtful insights and reflections from her own life. Family, community, and supporting Black youth are central to all she does. Follow her on Instagram for beautiful images, her unique and candid takes on life, and adorable cameos by her son.
About African Heritage Month at Halifax Public Libraries
More than a month.
Every year in February and the months that follow, Halifax Public Libraries, in partnership with the Black History Month Association and countless dedicated individuals and groups, offers high-quality programs that highlight and celebrate the rich diversity, culture, and heritage of our African Nova Scotian community and people of African Descent.
The TD Ready Commitment is the generous presenting sponsor of African Heritage Month 2021 at Halifax Public Libraries. Their ongoing sponsorship—2021 marks 6 years of support!—increases our capacity to host important programs and conversations, and expand our collection, year-round.
Discover more stories, events, resources, and videos on our website at ahm.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca.
Check out the rest of our Black History Matters: Listen, Learn, Share, Act community voices series.
Creators have been compensated for sharing their talents.