Sunday, November 18, 2007

Racism by any other name: a letter to Royson James

Royson James writes for the Toronto Star. He covers the City Hall beat, usually, but has taken an interest in an issue that has recently popped up in Toronto: the notion of an "Afrocentric" alternative school.

You see, some folks feel that the cure-all for gangs and drop-out rates amongst "black" teenagers (in this day and age, someone needs to define "black" to me, by the way) is to give them the opportunity to attend a school where the curriculum revolves around African culture and history. (All this cropped up within days of a provincial election in which the people made it crystal clear they do not support faith-based schools.)

I can't tell you how much this troubles and disgusts me. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: racism is bad, period.


I don't have the time nor energy to go into it all here. I just want to point out an article Mr. James wrote and a quick reply I drafted and sent to him. I was so frustrated with what I read that I had to write something. Here's the article.

Here's my letter to him:

Mr. James:


Get beyond your preconceived notion that a racist is a white, southern redneck with a pitchfork in his hand; a racist is someone who discriminates between races. This is what you do and suggest the TDSB do by creating a race-based alternative school.


"Let's try something new." Are you insane? What is new about segregation and racism? Dr. King is spinning in his grave, I am sure.

And why is it that if there are gangs and if kids are dropping out of school that it's the school's fault? That the school system is broken and failing? And that it's failing because it doesn't cater to African culture? What about Latin culture or Asian culture? Why aren't Asian kids dropping like flies?

Maybe, just maybe, the reason kids in Flemington Park are more likely to die violently than to go to college - as your favourite quote seems to suggest - is not because they didn't have a black teacher or study the history of Zaire, but because they live in Flemington Park. Perhaps we should be looking to the City of Toronto or the Province of Ontario to help solve these issues with more social funding and infrastructure; more sports teams, more social events. How is it that dividing people by race is a better solution than bringing them together?

You applaud Dari Meade's statement: "We need that kind of special caring that white teachers in the white schools give to white kids ... people who are going to go the extra mile in caring about educating black kids." That statement is racist to the core and is extremely troubling. So let me get this straight: we're accepting for a fact that white teachers give preferential treatment to white kids? Why? The only logical conclusion is that the person making this statement believes a teacher cannot help but feel more empathy for a student of their own race. Why would someone believe this? Because they feel that way themselves. Do you really want to support the statements of a racist? (By the way, what does it matter if the school is not exclusive to "black" students? If, by your own argument, the black teachers will treat the black kids better than the "white" kids - just as white teachers NATURALLY treat white kids better - why would anyone else attend?)

I went to a high school in the north of Brampton. There was a great mix of students. The neighbourhood was largely south/southeast Asian and Caribbean, with many Italian students busing in from Caledon East and Bolton. The faculty reflected a cross-section of Canadian backgrounds. What's wrong with that?

"Eurocentric"? What is that, exactly, pray tell? We didn't study European history, we studied Canadian history. Yes, there's a difference. Granted, we studied Shakespeare in English class - a Brit, yes,'s Shakespeare.

But I digress. My intention here is to outline how repulsive the idea of a race-based school is - whether you call it a "black-focused" school or an "Afrocentric school". Doesn't matter.

And anyone who supports such a school is, by definition, a racist.

Give your head a shake.

Racism is bad.


No exceptions.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Jiri Tlusty should not be embarassed: media and girl should

I'm not sure how many non-sports fans have heard about this one, although it was carried by all major media outlets from what I can tell.

Seems Toronto Maple Leafs (that's hockey for you folks in Zimbabwe) rookie forward Jiri Tlusty hooked up with some gal over the internet a year ago and, one thing leading to another, he sent her a picture of himself "hanging out" at home, so to speak.

A year later, these photos mysteriously appear on the Web and the press is all over it. Shame! Scandal! Surely this will ruin the young man's career!

Tee-hee! Peepee! Poopoo!

But a surprising thing happeend on the way to the front page; the players interviewed seemed unaffected by Jiri's cyber "indiscretion". They didn't say, "the kid screwed up" or "let's send him to rehab and couselling, poor guy." Instead, they chalked it up as no big deal to anyone but the press. And guess what? The press ran it anyway.

Do you care, dear public?

I don't.

So why is this occupying space in my newspaper and time on my sportscast?

Seems the press have nothing better to do than to try to magnify any embarrassment the poor guy might be feeling, when perhaps they should be investigating what kind of person betrays a man's trust and leaks such "intimate" material to a website. If anyone should be hounded and embarrassed, it ought to be the person who sought to embarrass this guy: the gal, followed closely by the media themselves.

Frankly, it's no big deal to me. I cringe at the media's response - not the fact that a guy takes a picture of himself in the buff to send to an object of desire.

Hell, I wish women who fancied me would send me pictures of themselves in all their glory. I'm sorry for you prudes out there, but that's just hot. Ridiculously hot.

And I'd return the favour, if so desired and conditions permitting. Of course, I wouldn't send pics to an "internet girlfriend" as it appears Jiri did, but that's no excuse for betraying him. See, trust is the key here. When you share something "intimate" like that, you trust that the person won't go around flashing it (pardon the pun) to everyone in sight. That's a given. But if the person betrays that trust and the pics get "out there", then why should the "victim" feel shamed? Because something personal was revealed?


First of all, dear critics, get over yourselves. You have "private parts" too. Stop acting like they don't exist. I often envy "exhibitionists" who have no fear of public perceptions and criticism (though many folks would suggets I am quite shameless myself). I shake my head at folks who think sex is dirty and shouldn't see the light of day.

Jiri need not feel shamed for being sexually expressive. The only mistake he made was trusting the wrong person.

Shame on her.