When we reported what happened to his sensei at karate, because we knew he was not himself when he went to class, we were told that he has to get used to being called a nigger because the world is racist. We were accused of not giving him coping skills, as though one ever gets used to being called a nigger. We have done our due diligence with our child and I daresay he is far more socially aware than most and yet somehow his victimization was blamed on us – his parents.
I am watching the clock now and waiting for 9 AM so that I can arrange yet another meeting with the principal to discuss this matter. We are always shown terrible statistics about how children of colour are doing in school, but where is the discussion about the racism and harassment that they must deal with? We all know that bullying is wrong and should never be considered a part of childhood and yet teachers turn their back everyday to what is happening right in front of them. How am I supposed to instill a love of learning in my child, if he associates the very place I send him for an education with debasement? The following is from the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
A poisoned environment can specifically arise in the context of educational services. Schools have a duty to maintain a positive non-discriminatory learning environment.108 Students are entitled to be free from a poisoned educational environment created either by inappropriate behaviour of an education provider or by other students. Education providers have a responsibility to take immediate steps to intervene in situations where racial teasing, bullying or harassment may be taking place.
A poisoned environment is based on the nature of the comments or conduct and the impact of these on an individual rather than on the number of times the behaviour occurs. As mentioned earlier, even a single egregious incident can be sufficient to create a poisoned environment.
So, it is a matter of law that my child have a positive place to learn and yet starting at the age of five, he was called “Brown boy”. It then escalated to racially charged jokes like, “what do you call 5 Black people lying under a red blanket? A nigger Kit Kat”. And finally, on Friday he was simply called a nigger. No reasonable person could possibly argue that this is acceptable and yet I expect that they shall once again try to placate his father and I with empty promises about diversity programs and speaking to the student who verbally assaulted him. Make no mistake about it — a slur of any kind amounts to a verbal assault on the soul. This time, his father and I do not want to hear false promises of diversity training, we want results. The system is broken and my child is paying the price for their bigotry.
Not only did they do little to stop the racist taunts, no one thought that it might be a good idea to notify us, so that we were prepared to help our son when he came home. I write this post today to say as publicly as I can that there will be no more. I will not have my child develop a dissonance of worth and value because teachers are either to lazy, or afraid to enforce the law. I am tired of holding my child as he weeps in my arms because of someone else’s bigotry. There will be many things in his life that I will not be able to protect him from, but I can certainly help him fight this battle. The next time you are tempted to think about how far we have come, remember that my child, my nine year old son, cannot even go to school without being called a nigger.