By Sean Graham
All across the country, students have either returned, or are gearing up to return, to school. While there is great uncertainty about what the school year will look like and the safety measures being implemented in the midst of the pandemic’s fourth wave. For thousands of young Canadians, they will also be returning to spaces that are hostile and efforts to improve the situation have been rebuffed.
Systemic racism in school is the subject of Habiba Cooper Diallo‘s new book #BlackinSchool. A memoir profiling her experiences in high school, Diallo powerfully documents the systemic racism and stereotypes found in the education system and how she processed and resisted this while in school. A great writer who has won multiple awards, Diallo is able to not only document her experiences, but also elicits a strong response from her readers, who are encouraged to think about educational structures and what we can all do to make the classroom a more welcoming place.
In this episode of the History Slam, I talk with Habiba Cooper Diallo about the book. We discuss her experiences in school, system racism in education, and the impact on racialized students. We also explore how to identify microaggressions, the connection between curriculum and school culture, and how we can work together to eliminate racism in school.
Sean Graham is a historian, Adjunct Professor at Carleton University, and a contributing editor with Activehistory.ca