Black History Shouldn't Be Confined To 1 Month A Year

It is a known fact that beyond the 28 or 29 day stretch, the significance of black history is analogous to a barely visible flicker in the dark of night.

03/01/2018 09:50 EST | Updated 03/01/2018 10:00 EST
Chris Wattie / Reuters
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during an event to mark the 20th Anniversary of Black History Month in Canada on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb, 24, 2016.

February just ended, which means for some I am out of time to weigh in on issues that affect black people.

It is a known fact that beyond the 28 or 29 day stretch, the significance of black history is analogous to a barely visible flicker in the dark of night. It is rarely the topic of any on-going conversations, and/or daily teachings to present the truths to the misinformed and under-educated populous at large.

One can never fully understand Canada without reference to black people, but at the same time, black people cannot afford to wait to learn about black history when it is convenient for the rest of Canada, but instead should remain owners of their own enlightenment, keepers of their own achievements and ultimate missionaries of their own salvation.

Canada has, and continues to, pride herself on her exceptionally inclusive ways, even Quebec included. However, for this to ring true, recognition and contributions of all peoples must first take place. History must be told in its entirety.

Currently, black people have been largely eradicated from the history books, so that there are no reminders of the brutal discrimination of the past — or the subtle racism of the present.

While inventions and new discoveries have changed the face of math and science in schools, history has remained static, under the assumption that our scholarship of it was factual and complete. How can this be achieved if certain facts fail to form part of history, and have left black students to cope with the omission and erasure? In addition, invisibility within the curricula and the predominantly white demographic makeup of educators continue to negatively affect black students.

Recent viewing of the documentary "Speakers for the Dead", revealed some hidden history of black people in Canada, and also hidden secrets of Canada's past. The majority of the attendees confessed to never having heard of the "sundown laws," being totally unaware that in the 1920s in Canada, black presence in public spaces was restricted in some places with sundown laws, or curfews imposed that forced them to be indoors by a certain time.

The documentary served as a deflator to the "not in our backyard" myth, the false notion that persists to this day that Canada did not enslave Africans like our American neighbours

A heightened level of shock permeated the audience on being informed that under Sir John A. Macdonald, abusive residential schools were created and the practice of segregation ensured that black children receive substandard or no education.

The time has come for the history pages that were lost to be incorporated into the curriculum at any cost. The past must be faced with honesty, and the input of black people should be included in the history books for all to see.

Intention alone is inadequate in producing change. School boards are called upon to diversify teaching staff, and provide teachers with reference books that will give students the true picture of Canada, so that the next generation will not have to face the same prejudices. Otherwise, the goal of an inclusive curriculum runs the risk of being relegated to a feel-good rhetorical attempt at compromise.