Monday, July 24, 2006


So, the Toronto District School Board believes it has found a solution to the problem of black children lagging behind in schoolwork.

The "solution" is a program called Africentric Curriculum to be launched in November with 10 social study units that it's hoped will interest black children enough to do better in class.

Among the units will be lessons on Canada's first black politicians and prominent black artists.
The "gem" of them all is a math unit on racial profiling, where students will grapple with data on how and why Toronto police "treat black people more harshly than whites."

This exercise is "not to get students all worked up about racial profiling" says University of Windsor education professor, Andrew Allen.

It is "to allow them to use data about who gets stopped by police to come up with their own conclusions and develop a critical view of the world."

Really, professor? Further, is the aim here to help black students catch up with their schoolwork? I don't think so.

What I see in all this Africentric nonsense is institutionalized racial profiling.
Studying statistics on how many black people are arrested and how "badly" they are treated by the police as compared to white criminals does not make a black student understand and suddenly be able to balance a math equation.

What I get from all this, and no doubt many students will too, is a scare tactic, perhaps to vividly warn black children of how the system allows police to mistreat people like them.

Shouldn't the fact that some Toronto police officers, who are supposed to "serve and protect" all of us are known to treat black people harshly, make it necessary that they attend lessons to deal with the data showing how they are doing a disservice to the black community?

And how does learning about the first black Canadian politicians and leading artists, in a two-week "Africentric" (whatever that means) program, help a student solve a physics or chemistry problem, or write a legible English composition?

If the idea is to address the problem of non-inclusion of black achievers in the formal curriculum for all Canadian students, the solution is simple, rework the curriculum and include the kind of heroes and achievers that black children will identify with.

Why is there an assumption that white or Asian students will not or should not be inspired by black luminaries?
And why should we assume that black students will not be inspired by achievers of other races?

There are deeper problems in the black community that began a long time ago when some people had a "bright idea" to treat blacks as sub-human.
Over the years, remedies have been made to a large extent and continue to be made.

However, amid all the efforts made to ensure equal treatment of all people, there come others -- including black people who should know better -- who get carried away with the idea of pleasing us and end up harming us instead.

When white children fail or lag behind in school, does the TDSB send them to some Eurocentric program to inspire them?

Of course not. They get tutors. They go to summer school. They do extra lessons until they improve.

This is what should be recommended for black students.

Their parents should be notified to help, either by giving their child extra home schooling on the particular subject they are failing or engaging tutors to help out.

Granted, many black families cannot afford such services as tutors. Therein, you see, lies the real problem -- economic inequality.


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