Nothing to be afraid of with Africentric School

By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE, Publisher

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) opened four new alternative schools on Tuesday. No, they were not all Africentric schools. That’s why you didn’t hear about them.

You only know that the TDSB opened a “controversial” Africentric School this week.

That’s because the other three schools are not Black, not Africentric. That’s why they were not “controversial”.

One is – wait for it – a school which will offer holistic education “that speaks to all kinds of interests that can be packed into a curriculum”.

The announcement that the TDSB had approved this particular “holistic” school, its 41st alternative school (because of the noise the Africentric school generated in the White media you might have thought it was the first and only one) came via a short (14 lines, one paragraph, one column) notice in the Toronto Sun last week (this paper literally led the campaign against the Africentric school) in a section called “Sun Flashes” on page 12 with five other similarly short news items.

No large headlines on upfront pages questioning the future of potential students who will be separated from the general school population. No questions about how they would eventually fit into (or not) society later on in life as they join the working world. No talk of segregation. No (feigned) concern for the future of these students.

Most of all, and this is truly puzzling, no comment from TDSB trustee Josh Matlow, who took it upon himself to diligently work to derail The Africentric School, even after it was established, even after it had started to enroll students, even after it had hired staff. Even now!

Matlow seems to have become the mainstream media’s go-to guy for comments on issues relating to the TDSB. It would be interesting to hear his thoughts on these new alternative schools. Or does he only have a problem with schools aimed at helping Black kids?

Black folks in this city could be forgiven if they felt that Matlow, the Toronto Sun and those who opposed the Africentric School did so only because it was seen to benefit Black children. How else could they view this campaign which at times seemed like a campaign of hate?

But, these new alternative schools have been treated just the way the other 39 were – with silence – as it should be. There is no reason for us to get our panties in a knot because some parents want to try something different for their children’s education.

We will dare to wager that some of the people who opposed (and continue to do so) the Africentric School are some of the same people who are first in line to criticize Black parents and the Black community in general for crimes committed by Black youth in this city.

What are they afraid of? We posed a similar question to the Toronto Sun in one of our earlier editorials. We wondered if they were afraid that this school will divert so many Black kids from a future life of crime that it would affect their crime coverage of our community – and reduce their readership.

In spite of all the opposition, the Africentric School opened it doors this week with about 115 students, almost three times the number required.

Some White people who oppose this school may be afraid the students will learn about slavery and the terrible suffering Blacks endured. News flash! They already know this.

What they will learn are the positive things, the many achievements of Blacks, in spite of slavery, and of the great kingdoms – and the kings, queens, princes and princesses – of Africa. They will learn of the many inventions by Blacks which have transformed and made better the lives of all of us. They will learn to be good and decent human beings as they are exposed to the positive and wonderful parts of their history. And, they will also learn the standard school curriculum, but in an environment that is affirming and supportive.

What’s there to be afraid of?

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