Thursday, February 28, 2008

Afrocentric Schools in Toronto (Part 2) - The White Media Condescends to the Poor Black Folk

For a collective group (white media and white politicians) that has done all it can to pretend that there is no black/white issue in Toronto over the last several years, it was quite amusing to see them falling over each other in an attempt to clarify, explain away or condemn the issue of Afrocentric schools. After all, it's another chance for the "big, white brother" to show his love and care for the "po' black folk" whose hands need to be held at every turn. Let's examine a cross-section of responses from the 3 largest dailies in Toronto - the Star, the Sun and the infamous Globe and Mail.

Toronto Star
Find a link to a commentary by of all people, the Ontario National Democratic Party (NDP) Leader, Howard Hampton -

As my name suggests, I am a social conservative, so hopefully I can be forgiven for what may be perceived as a biased point of view about (against, really) the left-wing, "support every liberal, but black issue" NDP.
Old Howard starts off with a very gratuitous statement about how hard black parents work and what the impact on family and school life is. I can just imagine the Chinese immigrant father who works two jobs, and his wife who works another 2 or 3, and yet both have kids who come home with A's and B's, while our kids are coming home with D's and F's - or do the Chinese have 2 heads?
Then Howard, whose party hasn't done a single meaningful thing for blacks in Ontario that I can remember - either while they were in power or in the opposition - tries to inform his educated readers that segregation claims are unfounded. That sounds just like the KKK or Aryan Nation telling us that they don't segregate per se, rather they want to keep their race separate to avoid pollution. Howard, please look up the meaning of the word segregation before using it, and don't think that because the left-wing NDP says something isn't segregation, it will be universally accepted.
The compounding of his crime however, is when he compares the opening of an Afrocentric school to a gay-friendly one recently opened. I think it's quite sick and despicable to introduce such gay themes (which I don't approve of, it must be said) into the lives of young kids who don't even know what sex is, all in the name of being inclusive (I digress), and NO ONE should compare blacks and gays, not today and not tomorrow. We were born black, they chose to go the way they did (and yes, most scientific evidence points to that fact, even sociology agrees with that).
Read the full article and marvel at the condescension and half-wit of a man who wants to be Premier someday.

Toronto Sun
Article by Sid Ryan, a Sun columnist -

Sid Ryan chooses to play the role of the sympathetic white man, who isn't really as bad as the black folk think, and who knows his black history. His points are well taken, except when he doesn't explore the reason why black parents are crying out for help. They are doing so because they are looking for a cop out. It's the simple age-old tactic that post-civil rights black folks use - if they can't navigate the system, then the system must be wrong.
Affirmative action in the US didn't increase the number of blacks that graduate from high school - all it ended up doing was increasing the number of white women in the labor force, and increasing the number of blacks who could get into university with a C+, where before a B- or B would have been the minimum. If anything, reports out of the US suggest that the percentage of blacks who fail high school hasn't really changed. Why? Because their failing school has very little to do with lack of opportunities, and more to do with some of the social factors I mentioned yesterday.
It is the same thing here. The Afrocentric school might motivate students who would otherwise have performed at an average level due to lack of motivation or "role models", but it won't make someone who has no interest in learning do well.
Then again, good white boy Sid wouldn't want to say that - he might risk getting black people angry at him, and we wouldn't want that, would we?

Globe and Mail
The Globe took two approaches to this - an article tailored to their black readers (a facetious, yet interesting critique of Afrocentric schools linked below), and a cartoon tailored to their non-black (read: majority) audience - both saying the same thing, however. It was a classic case of two-faced, yet similar, journalism at its best.

I won't bother linking the cartoon, except to say that most black people found it insulting, while other black people, like myself, could care less one way or another. If image has suddenly become a problem with black people, then maybe we should be more active in declaring war against street gangs, eschewing violence among our youth and stop bad parenting habits, as these all do a million times more damage than that cartoon. Besides, if our kids step onto the buses or streetcars, and all people hear them saying is "s'up dawg", etc, why do we complain about other people associating such so-called ebonic terms with us?? Let us stop the hypocrisy, which may have worked for old Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, but is becoming redundant in this day and age.

Back to this article, the Globe makes sense, except for the underlining theme of "let's ignore the issue and make it go away". In this blog, I've tried to outline what I think is at the root of the problem, not just my criticism of the proposed idea, and I would much rather have a flawed solution like the Afrocentric schools than none at all. Sadly, that's all the article offers us no such relief, so to the Globe and Mail editor, please note - critique without a remedy is the last thing the problem of underachieving black youth needs.

Tomorrow, this space will examine why black leaders constantly look for handouts and affirmations of silly ideas, and why they are not interested in the real solutions.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Afrocentric Schools in Toronto (Part 1) - A Blight on the "Black" Landscape

This has to be one of the silliest ideas I've ever heard of. Why would educated, supposedly intelligent, black folks decide to insult themselves and their "people" by requesting a return to the dark days of segregation, cloaked under the guise of "equality" and academic progress?

I should preface this by stating that I know the two foremost proponents of Afrocentric schools VERY well. One of them is a Ghanaian-born professor at the University of Toronto, who I've spoken with on several occasions and who I invited to, and had, deliver speeches a few times to the U of T chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) in my days there. The other is a brilliant professor at York University, whose son, currently a PhD student in Aerospace Engineering at U of T, mentored me in my early years at U of T Engineering and as a chapter member and later officer of NSBE.
They are clearly role models for upwardly mobile black youth and professionals, a group I like to associate with.
On this topic, however, I firmly disagree with both, and have had the opportunity to let them know.

A full background can be found here:

Basically, their argument is that the only way black youths can excel in high school is by having black teachers teach subjects in a "black" or to use their politically correct term, "afrocentric" way. The very idea that there is an afrocentric way to teach Math and Science offends me, as someone who excelled in those subjects, and never for once had to think about whether I was learning the afrocentric way of doing Math! Does this make me any less black? I spent most of my high school years back in Nigeria, so presumably I was being taught in an "afrocentric" manner. Why didn't I feel any difference when I moved to Canada?
The same argument can be used for Science, whether it was physics, chemistry or biology.

Even in the social sciences, is anything really wrong with a student learning about world civilizations, European history or even American history and literature? Does that take away their ability to think, read and write essays? Why do Asians (Oriental or South Asian) who rarely hear about their own culture, manage to excel in these subjects? Certainly, they aren't any smarter than we are.
I attended a high school in Toronto where a subject called "African Civilization" was offered and taught by an African-Canadian teacher. I never took the subject myself, but is it any surprise that this was the most rowdy, indisciplined class in the entire school? Or that it was mostly populated by students who ended up either not graduating or taking the easy way out by going to college, when a university education was within their grasp? (this is not meant to denigrate community colleges, by the way)

Why don't we face up to the real problems instead of tackling them with such a blunt and crude object? The biggest problems the black youth in Toronto faces are broken-down family structures, lack of leadership, parental apathy and laziness borne out of seeing the "easy way out" through the ostentatious lifestyles of sports stars, entertainers and BET pop culture in general. After all, LeBron James didn't go to university and he's a multimillionaire, so why should they?

Until black parents preach the value of an education to their kids, until my fellow black men stop being selfish by walking out on their families, until my beautiful black women stop getting themselves knocked up before they are ready to bring up a child and until we stop blaming others for our problems, we will continue to regurgitate half-baked measures without ever getting to the solution of the problem.

Tomorrow, this space will examine the response of the white "liberal until it involves a black issue" media, including the infamous Globe and Mail cartoon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Black Conservative for Obama

Things are a bit quiet at work, so I figured I'd ride the blog wave till sometime before my weekly project review meeting with the boss.

Perhaps the easiest way to start is to show my cards on the issue of the U.S. presidential election. I'm not an American, nor do I live in the States, but this is an election that could signal a major shift in overall US policy not just towards my home (Canada) and native land (Africa), but also in terms of voter turnout and (gasp!) making politics "cool" again.
Despite my conservative leanings, I am hoping for an Obama victory in November. This actually has nothing to do with his "blackness", after all I scorned the idea of Al Sharpton running for that office in 2004, and more to do with the repercussions if Hilary "don't call me Rodham" Clinton or John "i'm going slightly senile" McCain became President.

First, let's deal with the NY Senator: Bill Clinton turned the White House into his own private bordello for 8 years, and I see no reason why he should be allowed to return there, especially now that he won't have an official job. I mean, let us contemplate for a few seconds what Bill could get up to while Hilary is on a goodwill mission to Africa, for example...that's what I thought. Now to his wifey - this is the same person who supported Dubya when he went to Iraq, whose husband came up with the crap called NAFTA (which she has waffled on) and whose biggest claim to fame is that she was a first lady. She claims to have a grasp of the issues, but let's be honest, how many presidents actually come up with policies? It's the beaurecrats, dummy.

Twenty years ago, McCain would have made a great president. At 71, this war veteran doesn't seem to be as coherent as the two Democrats, and frankly, seems to have benefitted from what can best be described as a weak Republican candidate pool. Other than the fact that he can't seem to express a sentence without stammering or fumbling for words, the old man is liberal on issues a true conservative shouldn't be, especially when it comes to moral conservatism (my ideal of true conservatism). I'm also a bit concerned about his campaign speech that tries to validate the Iraq war in principle, if not literally. That's not the only issue conservatives want to hear, but then he is weak on those issues. Furthermore, isn't it strange that in a culture where people are forced to retire at age 65, folks want to elect someone who, assuming a 2nd term, could be 80 by the time he's leaving office??

Barack may admittedly be weaker on the issues, mainly from lack of experience, but that didn't stop JFK, Lincoln or even Bill "I have an itch that needs scratching" Clinton from becoming President, and on balance they did OK. Let's give the black man a chance, even if this represents settling of the highest order.
Yes, you heard it here first - in the absence of a true moral conservative in this race, Barack should be elected because the alternative choices are crap.

Sticking to the task

I've often wondered why I would start a blog, and then fade after a few entries. Then I realized that this was a common phenomenon that affected most bloggers. The key is to find a niche area and write the heck out of it, so this is what I'm going to try to do.

Looking at the realms of sports, politics, the environment, etc, the one area that really stood out was politics which is quite encompassing. It's also where I can spout the most amount of interesting-sounding BS and when you talk of black politics, then we are looking at a vertitable minefield. Besides, one can always infuse a bit of sports talk, or anything else really, in politics (case in point - "Is Barry Bonds being targeted for reasons other than mere allegations?"). The reverse is not necessarily true.

We'll see how this latest go-around plays out...hopefully, I get those critical 2 or 3 readers who can keep the page alive.