Black History Month is an opportunity to build the awareness of young people on an important topic. Racism, prejudice, and intolerance were – and are – real in BC, Canada and the broader world.
On February 23rd, Byrne Creek Community School students and staff will be introduced to the personal experiences of a boy growing up and forging a future under apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid was the system of racial segregation and white supremacy imposed by government starting in 1948.
That boy mentioned above is now the adult UNICEF Children’s Champion, Chris Lubbe, a wise and inspirational speaker on the struggle against discrimination everywhere. As a result of his activist youth and contributions to the apartheid resistance movement, he was hired as Nelson Mandela’s bodyguard. Prisoner turned national leader, Nelson Mandela, spent a lifetime to secure the country’s eventual change to a democracy in 1994.
Mr. Lubbe will share what he learned from Mandela, but above all, he will help students understand Ubuntu (humanity) and the power of forgiveness in the face of blatant injustice.
The world continually provides us with examples of racial injustice. Parallelisms of South African apartheid and its long-lasting effects on a nation’s majority can be transferred beyond the country’s borders and provide important lessons today.
Books still taught in BC English classes reflect past Canadian discriminatory realities, including Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird. Social studies lessons on the Chinese “head tax”, the Komagata Maru, the Japanese internment, the continued disparity for First Nations peoples and other Canadian historical wrongdoings are also taking place.
In Canada, we saw the addition of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms into our constitution, meaning that injustices can now be litigated and righted, with unjust laws repealed. And while courts can set us on a better path, they cannot prevent actions from taking place. For this reason, we need to invite speakers like Chris Lubbe in, to work on underlying harmful attitudes.
Understanding the similarities between racist occurrences can inform how we, as Canadians, choose to treat others around us. We can begin to imagine the impact of any racism, prejudice and intolerance on any citizenry. From Chris Lubbe, we will be inspired to promote healthy and accepting communities in which every culture – our classmates, our neighbours and ourselves – can thrive.
The Vancouver Sun published an informative article on February’s longstanding claim to Black History Month. It acknowledges the struggle of black men and women as an unacceptable thread in Canadian history, and calls on all of us to take responsibility to make lives better for everyone. #BlackHistoryMonth
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Martin Luther King, Jr