Of course, recognizing Black History month does not mean we can ignore Black history the other eleven months of the year, or assume that only social studies and history teachers should be responsible for incorporating content. Black Canadians have contributed to every subject that is taught in schools and this should be acknowledged. It seems that Black history is largely taught, however, as something that Canada should celebrate by drawing attention to the underground railway or Black Canadians who have contributed to Canada. While these stories are important, we often fail to teach students about the institutional and systemic racism that people who are racialized as Black continue to experience in Canada. In fact, many students enter university believing there is a fair playing field and therefore no need for Black History month. There is also a common belief that Black history month and other similar months, weeks, and days aren't fair to White people. These beliefs are hardly surprising considering the history of Black slavery, segregation, and ongoing denial of human rights in Canada remains untold in many classrooms. For example, few students are taught that Saskatchewan's primarily white settler population was purposely formed through institutionalized and systemic racism that kept non-white settlers from entering and staying in the prairies. Students who are not provided opportunities to think about racism as a system of power cannot truly understand Black history, or anyone's history. Thanks to all of you awesome teachers out there for teaching to the truth. Here are some Canadian resources to check out!
The Little Black Schoolhouse (documentary available at Saskatoon's Frances Morrison Library)
The Little Black Schoolhouse unearths the little known story of the women, men, and children who studied and taught at Canada's racially segregated Black schools. It is a poignant and unfailingly honest evocation of the struggle of African Canadians to achieve dignity and equality through education. Using extraordinary archival footage, rare still photographs, and touching first hand accounts from past students, teachers, historians and community leaders, producer/director Sylvia D. Hamilton presents an unflinching look at the heart of racial inequality in Canada.
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