February is Black History Month. Ontario Black History Society President Nikki Clarke asked a youngster during a school presentation why we celebrate Black History Month. The youngster
said, “because we treated black people badly and we have to feel bad.” Out of the mouth of babes. Slavery happened. It was economic, brutal and a crime to humanity. But it was in the
past and we have to focus on the present. It’s all we have control over. Here’s what happened this month, February 2016 to a friend of ours.
Our friend has a 15 year old son who is a straight A student. He is Canadian with parents from the Caribbean. A teacher accused this young man of stealing someone’s lunch. The principal
got involved with the result that the teacher had to apologize to the young man. This teacher, no doubt, felt angry. The teacher saw the young man out at the mall some days after. No words
were exchanged between them. The teacher went back to school and told the principal that the boy verbally threatened her. Without investigating further, the principal called the police. In my
opinion, this was irresponsible. The police arrived at the school and had the young man not called his father so that he could be present, the boy might have been charged. He might have
gotten a record. His parents want answers as this clearly seems to be an issue of racial bias, and is the type of incident that can hinder a person’s opportunities. Now that the father wants to
pursue this through legal channels, suddenly the school wants the parents to drop the case.
This is the present.
Black History Month is not only to remember the past and to honour the black men and women who have changed our lives. It’s for us to check our biases, our racial hatred and to treat people
as individuals and not as the negative stereotypes perpetuated by the legacy of slavery. Black History Month is the month to understand that discrimination has been passed down to us from
our forefathers and like a bad habit, it’s hard to break. It’s up to us to be vigilant in our negative thoughts about other races. It is up to us to break the cycle of discrimination, one person at a
time, so that one day, the legacy of slavery no longer exists.