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Activist Trayvone Clayton speaks out about being Black in Nova Scotia
HALIFAX -- Trayvone Clayton, a 21-year-old activist, says the first time he felt connected with everyone in his home province of Nova Scotia was during the Take a Knee to Make a Stand protest in Halifax Monday night.
“I felt connected with everyone and it made me feel welcomed. It made me feel like people were really listening to what we had to say, or what was going on, and their eyes were open,” says Clayton.
“The only place that I felt welcomed (before) was the black community, because we can all go to each other and say we experience the same things. We all know that experience is racism.”
Clayton says he has been repeatedly racially profiled, including at the age of 16, when he left a party in the South End of Halifax.
“I thought leaving by myself would be the best idea, because leaving in a crowd would probably cause more attention and so I left by myself. A police officer saw me, he basically almost hit me with his car,” recalls Clayton.
“He got out of his car and yelled at me to get on the sidewalk. I was like, I’m going, I’m not running, cause I’m not doing anything wrong, but I guess that was the wrong part there for speaking back, speaking up to the police. Then he grabbed me, put me in a chokehold, threw me to the ground, with his knee to the back of my head. It just makes me think, the same thing just happened to George Floyd, but his was for a longer period of time. That could have been me when I was 16.”
On a trip to Ottawa to visit Parliament Hill as part of a human rights coalition, Clayton says, once again, he was racially profiled.
“The whole point of that was to go and speak about problems like that. That hurt me. So I put it all on my social media accounts and, after that, it just blew up and took off,” says Clayton.
When news of the incident got back to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he apologized for the incident.
“He couldn’t really relate to it, because he’s not Black,” says Clayton.
“But I am happy that he made the effort to come here to Halifax and give us an apology and talk in front of everyone and say I’m sorry for what you guys have been going through.”
Over the last week, Clayton says people have repeatedly asked what they can do to help stop racism.
“I’ll say, ‘do you understand what is going on?’ If they say no, then you are the problem. If they say ‘yes, I understand it,’ I’m like ‘hey, so speak out of your mouth, use your privilege. Use that advantage you have, because when we use it, you see the results we have, we’re either in handcuffs or we’re dead,’” says Clayton.
“There’s a lot of people who talk about donating money, donating money doesn’t fix nothing. Everybody thinks money rules the world, but it doesn’t. The people rule the world. We’re the ones who can fix everything and so if we all come together and do the same things, we’re all on the same page, trust me, it would be ten times better than what it is right now.”