It Is Official: Toronto District School Board Agrees To Open Black Focus School In September 2009


In the past, I would of said it is wrong for the Toronto District School Board to open a black focus school. There has been a passionate debate that I believe is a hindrance. The truth is, 40% of black teens are dropping out of school in the Toronto area. Also, only 5.2% of the teachers in the greater Toronto area are black. Only 9.6% of the principals are black.The question is why are a disproportionate number of black kids not completing their education? Let’s be real and honest here, the attitudes of some racists are that black kids are stupid, lazy, and lacking discipline.

It is obvious to me the issues some black children are encountering go deeper and deal with the psychological such as alienation, hopelessness, worthlessness, and despair. Next, people will whisper quietly of course that “the Asians and the white kids are adjusting and not having problems so why are some black kids struggling?” The covert racists will use this rationalization as an excuse to maintain the state sponsored racist curriculum that is detrimental to black youth.

The answer is obvious different groups are treated differently by the system. In the city of Toronto, black Canadians we have consistently been branded as the “out-group” and categorized as “the other”.

Toronto has a racial hierarchy, and in this racist hierarchy blacks are demonized consistently in the Canadian media and society compared to Asians. The editors, managing editors, editor in chiefs of Canadian newspapers are whites and Asians.

Pick up a Canadian newspaper you will notice no black people in high power media positions. I don’t think this is just a coincidence either. The racism is institutionalized. If more blacks were in power positions in the Canadian media the Canadian media would be run very differently then the lax journalism that currently takes place.

The Canadian media has a propensity to publishing in print or broadcasting on television and radio racist anti black pieces in order to create a pathology about us. Also, notice there are Asians that work in top media positions in Canada but blacks are excluded. Do you even have to wonder why? Race is socially constructed, and when a group of people are bashed consistently it can have a negative psychological effect on some members of a community.

Black lesbian Canadian feminist Dionne Brand, wrote a book about the racist attitudes of the Canadian media in her groundbreaking 2001 book “A Map To The Door Of No Return”. Please, I urge you go to the public library and read Ms. Brand’s excellent book about the ways in which the Canadian media and culture pathologize and demonize black folks. Also, read Dr. Joseph Mensah’s wonderful book “Black Canadians” Dr. Mensah provides statistical evidence with a strong polemical message about the entrenched racism against black Canadians. Both books are available at your local public library.I am sure since its black history month both books will be on “display”.

Dionne Brand and Joseph Mensah’s books didn’t receive a lot of ink in the Canadian press because Canada has this pretentious image of being less racist then America. The truth is, Americans are more real about racism then Canadians. Canada is a place where covert racism thrives and grows like a cancer. Some of these kids may even be depressed they don’t feel the material they are studying is engaging or interesting. When kids are interested in something the passion will emerge and they will try. When children have teachers that are anti racist that actually care about black kids they can achieve. However, the Toronto District School Board has a history of being racist against the Toronto black community and this is a fact.

However, I know from personal experience with the Toronto District School Board the course work is boring and anti black. Black kids are being alienated by racist teachers, racist principals, a system that is a form of systematic racism. I don’t understand the eruption of anger here there is only going to be one black focus school opening in the city in September 2009.

My question is where the hell does the segregation argument emerge from? The term “segregation” is an explosive word. However, aren’t black kids being segregated and alienated anyway by a racist Toronto education system that is anti black? Why is there such an imbalance in the number of black teachers teaching in the greater Toronto area? Teachers also have their own racist prejudices and biases against the black community. I remember when I was a kid back in the early 1990s. I had several battles with the racist teachers that wanted to hold me back because I am black.

Also, another important issue the media ignores is about the racist teachers that keep on discriminating against black kids. It is well known in Toronto that black students are treated differently then the whites and the Asians. In the 1990s, in the city of Brampton, which is a suburb of Toronto there was a teacher that was fired in the year 1993 he was a part of the Ku Klux Klan. Isn’t that scary the Peel District School Board didn’t even do a background check? The Peel District School Board allowed a member of the Ku Klux Klan to teach impressionable children.

However, I now understand this new school for black students that will open in September 2009 is so important. The bottom line is some black children are simply slipping through the cracks and it has taken the Toronto Board of Education this long to realize something needs to be done. I think one school is not the solution but a step in the right direction. It is obvious to me that the hiring practices of the Toronto District School Board needs to change they need to hire more black teachers.

The curriculum also needs to change immediately! Why should black children be forced and subjected to reading racist anti black books such as Harper Lee’s garbage white savior novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” or study just European history? Why can’t black kids learn about the history of the African Diaspora? There needs to be more diversity in the course material to engage and interest black kids.

Some people are getting all emotional but this is only one school so the vast majority of black children in the greater Toronto area still will have to attend regular school. I just hope the Toronto District School Board wakes up and realizes this is just a band aid solution. The real culprit is their apathetic attitude to the concerns of the black community. Why should black kids be subjected to reading Shakespeare? Who cares about Shakespeare? Why can’t black kids read about Canadian writers of colour such as Makeda Silvera or Evelyn Lau?

About orvillelloyddouglas

I am a gay black Canadian male.

14 responses to “It Is Official: Toronto District School Board Agrees To Open Black Focus School In September 2009”

  1. says :

    THis is prolly why there seems to be a bit of a trend with parents home-schooling their kids.

  2. janice says :

    I thought it was all ice cream and cake in Canada. Boy oh boy it looks like you guys are at a crossroads. Study the failures below the border.

  3. jason says :

    I’m really excited about this too!!!!

    I’m sick of the (mostly) racist hysteria in the media about this issue and the constant throwing out of that tired “segregation” boogie man. it’s funny how no one wants to talk about the ways the public school system is already “segregated” when black students continue to be marginalized and pushed out in appalling numbers. I am also curious about why “race” and “skin colour” are suddenly an issue NOW when people in our community are attempting to provide strategies that seek to address our realities and deal with the issues that affect our communities -no instead we get all this talk about how black schools will not prepare black kids for living in the “real world” (i.e. that multicultural hub aka Toronto) after all “having kids learn together” is so important cause young racialized kids being exposed to the values of the dominant culture is so conducive multiculturalism.

  4. orvillelloyddouglas says :

    Thank you Jason for speaking the truth! Black students are already marginalized due to racism. I think the media is just feeding into the mainstream’s prejudices about blacks they don’t want to see black kids do well! The real issue I also have is the hiring standards they need to hire MORE black teachers and change the course work ASAP!

  5. Helen says :

    I totally disagree with the black focus schools. I think that, yes, finally people are actually publically acknowledging the problems that are faced by black kids in the public schools, but this does not look like a solution to me AT ALL. It is segregation, on a public level. Having schools based on race or the colour of your skin is segregation. And done on a public level, I really don’t understand how this is going to help anyone. Honestly, great, there’s a wonderful little school that will allow for the development of black culture on a minor scale. What about the rest of Canada? What about the white kids–they’re not supposed to learn anything about black culture either? What about the latinos, ‘white trash’ kids, and any other lower class citizen whose problems are being ignored? Don’t they get the benefit of recognition within the system? Also, questions: who is going to pay for this system? will they actually get enough money? Racism is abundant in the education system allready, I’m not positive that this will miraculously change because of one public ‘black’ school. And if anything that might highten problems: you’re a black teacher, go teach in your own school…i could see that kind of thinking catching on. It feels to me that people are acknowleding that racism is a problem in Ontario school systems and then going ‘fuck it, let them deal with it themselves’, without taking into consideration that this is a national problem. It involves everyone in the education system, and a need to revamp it. This “bandaid” solution, as someone else put it, will not help in the long run. I think it will only cause further alienation between the black and white communities as they define each other as ‘other’.

    Furthermore, when people compare black focus schools to the Catholic school system, they need to remember that those are PRIVATE systems.

    And whatever happened to the civil rights movement? Segregation on this level is not a “boogey man”. Even if you think it’s the right thing, call a spade a spade and get it over with. There’s no way that this is not voluntary segregation.

    I don’t know…these are just my immediate reactions. I just feel like there are better ways to deal with this issue now that it’s finally been acknowledged. If people want to argue with me, I welcome it. I want to understand this issue better and get a fuller view of the situation. I just heard about it yesterday, which is also disgraceful. I can’t believe the lack of publicity it has!

  6. Jason says :

    The constant inferences made to “segregation” are really -really problematic for several reasons

    One is that it is used to generate a reactionary response that completely ignores the various ways black youth are currently marginalized, discriminated against, and well criminalized within the public school system and in society in general. So instead of addressing the way black youth are disproportionately and negatively affected by a racist public school system, instead we get all this hysteria in the media about “race based” schools, but it is funny when initiatives are put forward BY members from OUR communities that “race” is now suddenly a factor. This is disingenuous and I’m sorry the assumption creates these false divides that don’t neatly fit into the lives of black youth, I also believe that they do not even begin to adequately address the various complexities of our experiences living in this society.

    I also find the constant references to the civil rights movement and the media’s use Jordan Manner’s mother to discredit the decision to be really -really exploitative and just another way of “reframing” if not distorting the issue.

    People keep talking about separate “walls” separate “buildings” etc. well, we don’t need separate walls or buildings to feel “segregated” when we have laws, institutions, media, and a culture -all (re) enforced by a dominant ideology that maintains whatever level of marginalization (re: “segregation”) we experience in our lives -a distinction that is well, ignored given the constant and very disingenuous trotting out of the term.

    And for all the “out cry” over this –people seem to forget that there are a number of TDSB funded alternative schools designed to meet the various needs of youth (yes, even marginalized, at risk youth) in safe equity based learning environments like Oasis Alternative S.S. (Triangle Program) or SEED or First Nations School of Toronto so should I look forward to media and other mainstream scrutiny of these institutions?

  7. orvillelloyddouglas says :

    Jason I cosign with your argument you make some excellent points. I attended an alternative high school when I was a teenager over a decade ago and it help me get on the right track. The TDSB already has programs available for disadvantaged youth for the homosexuals and First Nations. So why can’t black kids also have a school program too? The pernicious anti black racism is the real culprit. When 40% of black teens in Toronto are dropping out of school in alarming numbers this is so sad and shocking. The media and the haters don’t seem to care about the real issue here and that is helping black kids that feel alienated by a racist education system. Nobody is thinking about the concerns of black children all the while ignoring the bigotry of the system.

  8. Jason says :

    Tell me about it. I went to a Catholic High school which “just happened to be” uh mostly white and needless to say it wasn’t a great experience and I know all about having to sit through classes learning about the great Harper Lee or History class learning about the “slaves” and the disappearing “native people” I didn’t even know about “alternative schools”. I totally support this -I want to see back youth have real opportunities for growth and success just like other marginalized youth we deserve to have our needs our education our experiences respected and prioritized on our own terms and not have to beg for white culture and or institutions to see us deserving in order for us to have issues that affect out communities “put on the table”. Honestly, I think if I had the chance to go to an alternative school I would of had a very different and a way more experience then the one I had. I want that for all youth esp. back youth getting fuck over by this racist system…

  9. Jason says :

    ^ insert positive enriching experience :)

  10. orvillelloyddouglas says :

    I think for far too long Jason black Canadians we have been too quiet about the racism in Canada. We can’t just sit back and go with the flow. We know it is the time to rock the fucking boat! We cannot sit here and watch black youth drop out of school and become alienated by a racist Canadian society. The black children that are having problems were born in Canada they are a product of Canada.

    I can honestly say Jason that alternative high school saved my life. You are so right Jason all we ever learn about black people in history class is the negative shit. We discuss slavery and the underground railroad and all that. What about the stuff going on in black history right now? Black children are marginalized and the scapegoats and racist haters ignore the fact 40% of black teens are dropping out. The black school is being created because we are in a crisis. If the gays and the Native kids can have alternative schools why can’t blacks? What is the difference? I feel there is a fear and the explosive issue of anti black racism is being exposed.

    When I was fifteen years old I was a mess I just started to attend an all white high school and I hated it. I felt so alone. I hated school, I hated myself and I hated my life. I started to skip school and my parents found out about an alternative high school. Alternative high school really helped me to be comfortable. I started to take school seriously, I worked hard and graduated high school and went on to university and completed a B.A. degree. I believe black children can achieve in school in the right environment.

  11. Den says :

    I guess they’ll be teaching in “Gangsta”.

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  14. anyomous says :

    Thank you author for your informative post.
    There are so few black teachers. In my entire life I only had 1 black teacher and he was a language teacher who I am pretty sure the school hired just to make sure they did not look racist. Now considering that I lived in North York which has as high as 30-40% black you can see where I’m coming from.

    There are many racism taught in our education system that go to offend and degrade the value of black people. Firstly, the educational system is eurocentric. It looks at everything from a eurocentric view. For a so called multi-cultural society this is very wrong to do. It portrays the enslavement of black people of the mass genocide known as the mafaa as simple slavery. Millions of blacks were murdered by British and americans resisting the mafaa. Blacks were thrown overboard, tortured at sea, hung, burned alive, raped, child raped, sodomized, forced abortions where a white man would cut open a black woman’s stomach, while all the other black slaves starting with the pregant black woman were forced to watch, and the white man would cut open her stomach, stick his hand in and rip out the baby and bash the unborn babies head in the floor while the mother was watching and screaming. The white man did this so that the other women’s baby would be born with fear of the white man.

    further our education system undermines the genocide against native canadians and blacks and the active role taken by our government in doing so. The educational system purposely leaves out the contributions of black people throughout history and only mentions black people in regards to slavery or MLK.

    The educational system is white supremcisit. It tells you that the greeks or romans were the founders of all of the major studies from art, music, literature, math, science and so on. If this is the case that white man found everything, any kid would come to the conclusion that the white man is superior which explains why black kids are dropping out. The reality is most of the fields were invented in black africa and in black kmt egypt but that is not taught in the curriculum. Blacks are subjugated to the role of slaves and nothing more.

    Books like the underground rail road and to kill a mockingbird simply further portray anti black stereotypes. Every word in the book is N- this or N-that, I didn’t even want to read that and I am a so called black nerd.

    Also in ontario and canada catholic high schools are not private, I went to one and paid a $80 enrollement deposit and that was it

    @overille, you are right for decades we tried these race neutral solutions that pretend race does not exist. Race only exist as a social concept but it permeates all aspects of life and it has only resulted in harm to pretend that race does not exist. Blacks are targetted by anti black racism in this society and have been for centuries. If a black person robs-a bank the media description of the suspect is male black wearing… When a white man robs a bank suspect is male wearing… but no mention of race.
    Jews have jew school
    irish have protestant school
    catholics/italians have catholic school
    gay/lgbt have a gay school
    girls have a girl school
    boys have a boy school
    red have the first nation schools
    yellow have predominately asian schools (markham-steeles area)
    blue/indian have indian schools in bramptom
    muslims have muslim school
    french have the french schools
    But Lord Jesus the water will turn to blood if black folks get a black school. all the above examples are not segregation nor stroke fears of such, but if black folks get an elementary black school that focuses on issues relevent to black people that doesn’t portray black people as some stereotype then it is worse than a 40% drop out rate, or an explusion rate 20 times that of white kids

    Its funny that the same white folks claiming that black people should not be allowed to set up a black focused school because thats segregation, would drag their feet if we tried to implement a black focus curriculum in the regular school, or if we tried to get rid of a white teacher/principal practicing racism. They won’t teach you that Mali aka Timboktoo was the world power of the world for 700 years, the centre of education and place of the first university until grade 12. So after 14 years of being told your ancestors were nothing but slaves-even if your from africa, they final decide to tell you the truth in grade 12 history, all while continuing to deny that the ancient egyptians or kmt was a black african civilization.

    @Helen, your view is one I hear mostly from white people but from a few black people who claim that if black people have their own school then white people will discriminate against blacks more to get them out of their school. The reality is that non racist white will not discriminate if they are non racist. Whereas those white racist will amp up their racism. This simply goes to acknowledge that white racism in education is a serious problem in the education system. However the right response should be lets fire those white teachers who behave more racistly, rather than to lets prevent black people from achieving social justice.

    Further Helen you have been misinformed, the school is neither based on race nor skin color (illegal) it is based on black culture.

    White students are welcomed to enroll in the afrocentric school, in fact I believe I saw one on enrollment day on the news who did do so.

    Who has been paying for the system all along, black people pay taxes too and their tax money has been going to the education of white kids for years. It is time that black taxpayer money start going to be used on EFFECTIVE programs for black kids. Why should the government run a program that is failing?
    One black school will not change everything but it will change the lives of hundreds or thousands of people and it will make a small difference but it is still better than nothing, which is what the current anti black system offers.

    The way how things are going now if a white teacher says hey blackie go teach in your own school at least it is an option now. Before when white principals would not hire black teachers they were just shit outta luck. If anything this shows the need for more afrocentric school to combat racism.

    In the last 600 years the grand sin of the white man has been racism. From Hitler, to Diefienbaker(former canadian prime minister) who said he would not allow one Nigger in Canada unless it was as a domestic servant, and it was true thats what he did to jim crow, to european racism. I went to the holocaust muesum in europe and saw what hitler did. Then when you look at how what happened to the indians in india, in americas, in africa, in australia, all at the hands of the white man, you realize that racism in Hitler was not unique in white people and this kind of racism exist in all white people. So for black people to go and beg white people for help with our social problem is well intentioned but foolish.

    The grand sin of black people since slavery and colonisation is our dependence on the white man to solve our problems. This of course is the legacy of mental slavery and mental colonisation where the white man has ingrained in most of our heads that if we try to do something ourself we will fail because we are somehow below or inferior to whites. This was done so slaves would not run away, so that free socities would not overthrow there white racist oppressors in africa. In Zimbabwe the black locals were told they never built the ruins of great zimbabwe, why? They were told the white man built them even though the black man built it 700 years before the white man arrived. Because if black people bult great zimbabwe, then the white man was not needed for dependence. We black people are studying the white man’s psychology to solve our problems when the white man’s psychology does not even solve the white man’s problem. You have Hitler, Stalin, Bush, murderers in yugoslavia and kyrgystan, mass killers down in australia and they are all white, you think the same white psychology that taught Hitler is going to solve black people’s problems. You must have lost your mind.

    Black people need to end their reliance on white people for fairness or justice, we need to teach and educate our own

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