Teachers, parents, and members of Black Lives Matter held a walkout and subsequent demonstration in Toronto on Monday, protesting what they say is “anti-Black racism in Toronto schools.”
The protest comes the week after a report found that Black students were twice as likely to be enrolled in applied (instead of academic) high school courses. They were also more likely to be suspended. In a statement on Monday, Black Lives Matter – Toronto (BLMTO) also singled out the case of a Black six-year-old girl, who was handcuffed by two Peel police officers inside her school.
Earlier this year, CityNews reporter Cynthia Mulligan spoke to the girl’s mother, who said “No six-year-old little girl deserves that … she’s a good kid.”
The mother’s lawyers believe anti-Black racism is the underlying cause of the troubles.
“There’s never, ever a situation where a six-year-old should be handcuffed, never,” said Danardo Jones.
Monday’s demonstration was held at York Woods Library, near Jane Street and Finch Avenue. The demonstration included a series of workshops for parents on teachers on topics like navigating the school system, responding to suspensions and expulsions, and dealing with the Children’s Aid Society.
In a statement, one teacher said they were “sick and tired” of always dealing with the same problems.
“As a teacher, I am sick and tired of seeing these issues go unaddressed,” teacher Hawa Sabriye said.
“We will not continue to participate uncritically in an institution that habitually abuses Black children. We’re demanding better for Black children, now!”
Another parent said it wasn’t just anti-Black racism that concerned her. It was also anti-Muslim sentiment.
“I send my child to school to learn, and they should be guaranteed a safe environment when they’re there,” said Sindi de La Cruz, a parent in the Jane and Finch area.
“But with what’s going on now with anti-Black and Islamophobic school board trustees and administrators, I am terrified for my children each day.”