Since the rise of the “Black Lives Matter” movement in the US, there has been a wave of change that is quickly taking place in Canada. Of course, this change has been long coming but perhaps there needed to be a precursor to get it started and the BLM movement did just that. After George Floyd was murdered in daylight by the Minneapolis police, people all around the world realized that something needed to change, even here in Canada.
While racial profiling was familiar territory for many, what happened to George Floyd over some counterfeit money was where they drew a line. The recent up-rise and protest in the US with respect to the police and their power abuse specifically towards African-Americans, has resulted in much reflection and a reassessment about the roots of this historic problem in different parts of society. I remember as a child, in the early 90s when we immigrated to Canada, I had a hard time in school as a minority. I would get racist comments from my fellow classmates, making fun of my dark features and clothes even though it looked like theirs.
As I grew older and proceeded to secondary school, I experienced sexism and racism at higher levels, from teachers and counselors. I specifically remember being encouraged and advised to proceed my education on to college instead of university in fields such as early childhood ed., and becoming a kindergarten teacher, or social services. I actually did apply to the School of Social Work at York U (an honours program) and got accepted. I remember visiting my high school advisor and letting her know that I got into university despite her discouragements and she gave me a surprised look.
Racism exists on all levels and unfortunately it starts early on in elementary schools onto higher degrees. A couple weeks ago the Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that academic streaming would be phased out in our province. This process was developed in the late 1990s as a way to cater to students with different learning styles and essentially became an academic guideline for them to follow to graduation and onwards.
However, experts say that streaming has impacted racialized students profoundly, affecting graduation rates and test scores, and has also created a division between students at such a pivotal stage in shaping their identities. As someone who has experienced racism, specially at school where I remember having low self-esteem and always trying to fit in, this was great news. Perhaps it is a start to reshaping our societies around acceptance, not only towards African Americans but other races and ethnicities as well and teaching early on that diversity and equality is our identity as a nation.