Why is Africentric School still “controversial”

By MURPHY BROWNE

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965.

It is quite disconcerting to see articles published in the mainstream (White) daily newspapers repeatedly referring to the new Africentric Alternative School as “controversial”. I thought they had moved on from there. Who made this school “controversial?” This is something for which many members of our community have been advocating for decades.

Ideally, it should have been one of at least four Africentric public schools in four different areas of the city. Failing that, the Africentric Alternative School should have been housed in a building of its own; this school does not even have a wing of its own in the Sheppard Public School building. However, the community is supportive of the school and that will go a long way towards ensuring its success regardless of the obstacles.

Although the school is located in the west end of Toronto there are parents who live in Brampton, Etobicoke and Scarborough who have registered their children to attend the school. This, in spite of the fact that the TDSB is not providing transportation. These parents will be paying hundreds of dollars in transportation fees to give their children the opportunity to be educated in an African-centred environment.

It makes me wonder why there are people who are still against the establishment of this school. We are not demanding that anyone send their children to the school. People have a choice and this is a school that many in the community feel is needed. What has anyone else done to try to stem the school to prison pipeline that many of our youth are shuffled into in alarming numbers?

The powers that be know the root causes of the violence that exists in the communities; yet all we hear about is more policing. That does not solve the problem; it further marginalizes our youth who become prison fodder and it provides jobs for people who work in the “law and order” business.

There have been numerous studies done, mostly by White professionals (Frances Henry, Carol Tator, Scott Wortley etc.,) who have documented the over-policing of our communities and especially of our youth. Yet, guns continue to make their way into the hands of our youth. We do not manufacture guns in the lower income communities where many of us are warehoused. We know that many of those guns cross the border from the U.S.

There was an article recently in one of the daily newspapers about the former owner of a Chicago gun shop and shooting range who admitted to smuggling 234 firearms into Canada three years ago. Not surprisingly, this man was not African-American, African-Canadian or any kind of African.

When we look at the root causes of gun violence in the community we cannot discount the influence that living in poverty and in a system that does not value them have on our youth.

From Ryerson University Professor Grace-Edward Galabuzi, author of Canada’s Economic Apartheid: “The connection between violence and social inequality has long been established globally. Research indicates clearly that social and economic inequality leads to intensification of social and economic alienation and a variety of anti-social behaviours, including violence.

“In Toronto, Blacks are almost three times as likely to live in poverty (than non-Blacks) whether they are employed or not. In 2001, their poverty rate was 29.5 per cent compared to the overall average of 11.6 per cent for those from the mainstream population. Black youth unemployment stood at 21 per cent in 2001 compared to 7 per cent for the rest of the population.”

Our youth also see violence glorified in the White culture of North America. This is where they live. They have the example of the powerful George W. Bush regime violently invading another country under false pretences. What did they learn from that example? Might is right, the gun rules.

Our youth need to be educated about their history and culture so that they understand what is being done to them and how they can use the examples of generations past to resist the manipulation of their minds. They need to be educated to think critically and to be rooted in who they really are.

In ‘They Schools’, the hip-hop duo Dead Prez expresses the reality of African youth in societies dominated by a White supremacist culture: “The same people who control the school system, control the prison system and the whole social system. Ever since slavery.”

We all need to think critically whenever we read stories about our community in the White media. Our community is criminalized and we are expected to be accountable for anyone in our community who is accused of a criminal act. Yet, when a White person commits a criminal act, the White community is not expected to be accountable. The White criminal is situated in media stories as an aberration, whereas any racialized person, especially African, is framed in the media as representative of the community.

We do not ask White people to take responsibility for the criminals in their midst (the ones who fly out to developing countries to indulge in a little bit of pedophilia.)

Where is the labeling of White on White crime when White people attack their own? How about tribal warfare, when people in European countries slaughter each other?

Please keep in mind the source when reading negative stories about anything that involves our community, especially anything about the new Africentric Alternative School.

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz said: “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power.

“Because they control the minds of the masses.”

tiakoma@aol.com

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