This message came into my inbox today, and I thought our blog readers might be interested. (I've included it here with the permission of the author.) Comments welcome!
CARTOON DEPICTING AFROCENTRIC EDUCATION
For those of you who aware of the cartoon that was published by the Globe and Mail, Canada's largest selling national newspaper, on February 18th, please see my response to the Editor. Do be aware that whilst I have no intention of pasting and thus reproducing the image, I have posted the web link as those outside of Canada may not be privy to the information. For those of you reading this outside of Canada, the Canadian media has been having a wonderful time with their racist depictions of Afrocentrism, especially after a group of parents and community members won the majority vote in the Toronto School Council's Board meeting to proceed with Afrocentric schools in Toronto. If you can, please write to the globe and mail and register your outrage! Letters@globeandmail.com
Below is my letter and the web link of the cartoon they printed.
The Globe and Mail
444 Front St. W.
February 19th 2008
Re: With reference to your Family Day, February 18th 2008 cartoon, "Afrocentric Algebra".
The history of Algebra began in ancient Egypt, and thus it was Egyptians who taught Algebra to members of their society, those close by who came in droves from Greece, and the rest of the world. The last time I checked, Egypt was and still remains to be located in North Africa. Why on earth, would anyone assume that the teaching of Algebra in an Afrocentric school system would be accompanied by street slang, suggestive of a particular aspect of popular culture, which whether its origins are to be found among a select few among African American proponents of Black popular culture, does not mean that expressions such as the one your cartoon utilizes should be used to depict the teaching methods employed by Afrocentric teachers to their learners. The cartoon is racist, inflammatory, completely and utterly ignorant and highly out of a place, especially in a national newspaper, which has regularly sought to depict its stance among readers as a fair and just one. Ironically, it is the Eurocentrism of your cartoonist, and those whose racist views such a cartoon represents, that Afrocentrism seeks to address—the denial of the contributions made by African peoples, the right to be taught a history that truly and accurately reflects the contributions we have made in Art, Literature and the Sciences, and the right to be taught by people who represent us, who resemble us and who understand such a history. Clearly, your cartoonist is unaware of the African origin of Algebra!
Canada has many educated teachers and professors with highly desirable academic qualifications from the African and African Caribbean communities, who have been educated in many different parts of the world. Canadian schools have not educated learners from the African and African Caribbean communities towards prosperity—drop out rates and racial profiling tell the story of racism, alienation, ridicule and continued colonial arrogance, so much so that learners who survive never quite thrive. I have followed the debate on Afrocentric schools now for a long time and was delighted at the small victory a group of parents and community members achieved. I am completely and utterly disgusted by this display of racism. You cannot seriously think that it is acceptable to print such racist propaganda. Surely, you have higher regard for your newspaper?