A Youth-Engaged Approach to Understanding and Addressing Anti-Black Racism in Social Services

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With the shared goal to combat, counter, challenge and dismantle systemic and institutional anti-Black racism in social services with a youth-engaged approach, it was natural for the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute (DBDLI) and Wisdom2Action to come together to bring their own experience and expertise to this issue. This came as a response to growing unrest and the cultural and institutional shift of recognizing the bottleneck of inequity that has pervaded through our services and communities, and finding opportunities to move this work forward in a meaningful way.

In June 2020, W2A and DBDLI launched an evolving project to engage Black youth to identify and address the gaps and challenges related to anti-Black racism in youth social services. Both Black service users (youth) and service providers in community, health and social services engaged with our consultations to identify and refine key areas of importance and action for addressing anti-Black racism in social services. These areas were Education, Recreation, Community, and Justice. However, participant collectively identified that while efforts to tackle anti-Black racism in social services are important, anti-Black racism is a systemic issue requiring a systemic response. Social services cannot do it alone.

For more information on this initiative, you can review the interim report:

Read our final report and download the infographics here:

Through these consultations, the idea of surveying Black and African youth in Nova Scotia arose. In August of 2020, led by Black and African youth, and thanks to our partners Frayme and DBDLI, a survey was developed to identify what barriers exist within Nova Scotia’s social services as a result of systemic anti-Black racism. The project, which surveyed Black and African youth within Nova Scotia, confirmed the prevalence of anti-Black racism within the social services they had accessed. The following report shares the findings of this study as well as recommendations compiled throughout the project to address anti-Black racism within Nova Scotia’s social services sector. 

While the recommendations in this report can help to address anti-Black racism within social services, participants in the initial project consultations collectively identified that anti-Black racism is a systemic issue requiring a systemic response, therefore social services cannot do it alone.

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