During Black History Month, much attention is focused on the history and culture of Blacks in the Diaspora as a way of learning and sharing, connecting and re-connecting, educating and re-educating – especially our youth – in an effort to fill gaps in our knowledge of our rich and diverse history.
One of the reasons this is important is that, for most of us, information on the history, culture and accomplishments of Black people has been absent from the curriculum in our schools.
Through Black History Month activities, which are held during the month of February each year – and sanctioned by our various governments – we get to expand our knowledge in ways that many of us – even within the Black community – have found to be quite amazing. Knowledge is power. Knowing from whence we came; knowing of the struggles of our ancestors; learning of their fortitude and resilience; learning of their accomplishments and inventiveness could empower us and our children, even to greatness. It could also enlighten those outside of our community to the vastness and width of our footprint on civilization.
That’s why the decision of the Toronto District School Board to establish an Africentric School is such an important one for our community.
For some 30 years Black folks in this city have agitated for such a school. More than 30 similar schools for other groups have been set up during that time. Now comes our turn – better late than never.
There are those who continue to feel that such a school is not necessary since Black students receive – or are exposed to – the same quality education to which all students are exposed in our public school system. They say that to separate students based on race and colour is a step backward and smacks of segregation. They believe that students who graduate from this school may not receive the same acceptance in the workplace as would other graduates. And there are those who believe, with merit, that Black studies should be taught in all schools across the Board, not just in one school.
Folks who oppose this school also point to the many young Blacks who have come up through the prevailing education system and have gone on to enjoy very successful lives. We agree. Just about every week we feature in Share young people who have done well and who have been recognized for their accomplishments.
So, no, this school might not be for them.
But, there are parents in our community right now who are suffering silently and painfully with the deep down sense that their child is not getting that extra attention, that extra care, that special help he or she needs to get over some barrier to a successful life; that their child may be on the road to failure.
He who feels it, knows it!
It is not up to those whose children have been successful to determine how the needs of others are met or to limit the potential of those who might need this school.
This Africentric School is a good thing. It will be a blessing for many of our children. Parents who know in their hearts that their children may not be getting the opportunities they need – and to which they are entitled – should seriously consider enrolling them.
For one thing, the TDSB does not want this school to fail. They have put a lot on the line and they will do all they can – including hiring the best teachers and support staff – to make sure it succeeds.
Are your kids on their way to success as a result of the education they are presently receiving? Are they happy and fulfilled? Do you think something is lacking? Do you think they would do better if they had teachers who were more knowledgeable about their cultural and historical background and, as such, be in a position to help them in a more sensitive manner?
It’s your choice because they are your children. Don’t let the naysayers hold them back.