By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE, Publisher/Senior Editor
Thando Hyman-Aman, the outgoing principal of the Africentric Alternative School, is an intelligent, educated, articulate and very accomplished young woman. So, don’t fret for her. She will go on to another posting and do very well and, most assuredly, without the drama and the destructive behaviour with which she has had to put up for the past three years.
If anything, the ones we should be concerned for are the kids she is leaving behind. Are they going to get the kind of principal they need and deserve? That, of course, will be up to the Toronto District School Board. However, it was the board which posted Hyman-Aman to that school in the first place. So, we will see if they stand their ground and find another similarly gifted principal or cave in to the malcontents.
I understand that some of the kids have been saying that they want to go to the new school to which their favourite principal will be posted.
Kids! What do they know? Actually, they know a good teacher when they experience being taught by one, don’t they?
I hear some people have been taking issue with my saying that, if the destructive behaviour of a few people connected to the school continues, we could lose it just as we lost control of Caribana. I guess in their fairyland world, our community still owns and controls the festival.
Just because a few Black people, hand-picked by City Hall, are running the festival doesn’t mean we own it. Wake up!
When the councillor appointed by the city to liaise with the Caribbean Cultural Committee decided to withdraw the funding from the festival (both the city’s and the province’s, as it turned out), he showed who was in control.
Of course, it was within the government’s rights to withdraw funding. He who giveth can also taketh away. It was not within its (or his) rights, however, to turn it over to someone else, especially to a committee he put together. He couldn’t do that with any other festival or organization in this country.
The federal government (especially through its Citizenship and Immigration minister, Jason Kenney), has made withdrawing funding from groups they don’t like into an art. But, even they don’t set up their own organizations to take over the functions of the defunded organizations.
Of course, what was at stake for the city was the some $400-million its own figures show are pumped into the local economy each year. And, for us, the ability to continue playing mas and jumping up, regardless of who owns or runs it.
If this councillor decides at some later date that he is not satisfied with how the festival is being run or if he (and his fellow councillors) decide that it is costing the city too much money (especially now that the city is cash-strapped) and it could find a way to have another group or organization run it as well for less money, he has already set a precedent. If he can take it away once, he can do it again.
And, if that is the case, how can we say it is ours?
How many of you who are criticizing me know what is happening with the new committee? How are the members chosen, let go, replaced? Actually, who are the members of this committee? Do you know? And, who do they report to?
If the answer to any or all of these questions is that you don’t know, then we don’t own it. Period!
The only reason a lot of us remained quiet following the takeover is the behaviour of some of the people who were associated with the CCC, the founders of the festival. After so many years (decades, even) of constant embarrassment, it was a relief to have it all stopped. But that doesn’t mean we are happy about it.
And, what about those folks who made life so difficult for the CCC, the people who attended the membership meetings only to cause trouble or those who got on the board only to be disruptive? Where are they now? How come we don’t hear from them anymore?
The same will happen to those folks at the Africentric School if we lose it. They will slink away quietly into the shadows. That is why I equate both of them and that is why I will continue to do so.
This destructive behaviour must stop if we are to have anything in this society that we can call our own.