Less than fifty years after the last racially segregated school in Ontario closed its doors, another one will open – but this time by choice. The Toronto District School Board approved the creation of an Africentric high school, to open once they find space or a school willing to share quarters. It won’t be easy. The project was put on hold last year when parents were furious at the notion.
I’m not sure if this is necessarily a set-back for Black rights but it certainly makes you question why the need to re-introduce segregation after spending so long fighting to end it. Proponents of this idea claim that it helps students feel more self-confident, have a sense of belonging and have even boosted academic grades.
But at what cost? At the steep price of telling these students that it’s easier and better to create your own separate school than learn to integrate with the rest of the population. Maybe that will be too difficult so soon we will be hearing demands for Africentric universities and even workplaces.
I’m not trying to minimize the benefits of these schools but I feel strongly that we should not be reverting back to old ways. How will students learn about different cultures, religions and races when the only people in their schools are all the same culture, religion or race? How do you learn to get along with diverse types of people if you grew up segregated?
Instead of segregation, we should be encouraging schools to promote inclusion when there is a mix of races, religions and cultures in the school. If students can’t attend a non-segregated school without feeling lost and out-of-place, then schools have a bigger responsibility to make students feel a sense of belonging. If Black families want their kids to receive a certain type of education about some aspects of their history and culture, then let’s incorporate those subjects into the classroom.
As Canadians, we often pride ourselves due to our multiculturalism. Let’s not revert back to archaic ways and instead promote inclusiveness, not segregation.