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    OP-ED

    Op-Ed

    Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Toronto, the suburban town of Oakville boasts of having some of the "most picturesque harbours" and "best dining options" in the GTA. It is home to many of Ontario's most affluent residents...residents who are predominantly white.

    A big change happened in Ontario’s education system last week. It a game changer for Black and racialized kids, and you likely have not even heard about it.

    “Ya, you’re smart for…you know…a Black girl”.  I’ve always thought it was strange that as a society we allowed White people to capitalize on the characteristic of intelligence. More importantly, we’ve accepted the universal stereotype that marginalized cultures lack sophistication and intelligence. Therefore, allowing dominant White culture to use this as a justification to continue to oppress ethnic groups, predominantly the Black community.

    As the Ontario Government gears up to end Grade 9 streaming, this will have important implications for the Black community, as well as other racialized communities and marginalized people. As a Black person of immigrant parents who themselves experienced the Ontario high school system, I actually benefited from streaming. I started to think about how that, and other privileges I experienced helped shape my high school opportunities. I also began to question how some disadvantages may have had lasting impacts on my peers and other Black, racialized or marginalized people.

    The Internet is racist, sexist, homophobic, as well as every other type of vile manifestation of behaviour that you can imagine. If you don't believe me, you can consult the work of a few notable academics (Dr. R. Benjamin, Dr. L. Nakumara, Dr. S. Noble, to name a few), whose research uncovers some of the dark, deep, spaces of oppression that exist online. Still, no one can deny that the Internet also brings life to fascinating new media technologies and interesting social platforms which expand interconnectivity.

    As two Black women in academia, nothing irks us more than seemingly well-meaning colleagues presenting racism as an unfortunate outcome of history. A stubborn moral irritant that simply requires hardy dialogues and cross-cultural potlucks. However, to broach the insatiable echoes of Eric Garner and George Floyd rasping ‘I can’t breathe’ requires an understanding of the violence that is inordinately mapped onto Black lives that cannot be simply talked away nor commodified ‘one dish at a time’. In fact, far from accidental or incidental, anti-Black racism was birthed to sustain white supremacy by design.

    Black women in North America spend billions of dollars a year in the beauty industry, capturing the lion’s share of the “ethnic” beauty market. But when it comes to ownership of our own brands we are still lagging far behind.

    (PHOTO: Harrison sisters: Fern, Audrey, Yvonne) “But where are you really from?” is a question I'm often asked. I’m Canadian, from Hamilton Ontario to be exact. Sometimes it’s hard for people to wrap their minds around it, but my family has been rooted in Hamilton, Ontario (nicknamed “Steel City” due to the steel companies that have historically resided here) for around 110 years.

    If you’ve been paying attention, (and I hope you have), systemic racism and its agents are being upended across North America. One space where the fight for anti-racist Black futures has long been waging is in our nation’s schools.

    In unison with the cries for justice and equality of Black lives across the globe a rally was held at Vaughan City Hall, July 4, 2020 to confront anti-Black racism. With the support of the organizers, local support groups and allies: Vaughan African Caribbean Association (VACA), BCFN, Black Lives 4 Change, Italians for Black Lives, etc. the community spoke up about the impact this has on the lives of Black people who call the City of Vaughan home.

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