Ontario Black History Society makes renewed push for curriculum change with #BlackedOutHistory

By Lincoln DePradine

Mawuli Chai and Natasha Henry

The Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) is  is making a renewed push for curriculum change in schools in  the province with the recent launch of #BlackedOutHistory.

“The teaching of Black history should no longer be optional,’’ said OBHS president Natasha Henry. “We really want to elevate the decades-long demand to have mandated learning expectations in the curriculum.’’

OBHS, in its current #BlackedOutHistory campaign, uses a 255-page Grade eight textbook and erases all but the non-Black history from the book. What remains are just 13 pages related to the Black presence in Canada.

“That is astonishing,’’ said OBHS vice-president Mawuli Chai. “The campaign is quite simple. It’s really to raise awareness about the lack of Black history that is taught to Canadian students, and really to pressure the government to including explicit learning expectations to the curriculum, from Kindergarten all the way to Grade 12.’’

OBHS has created a video of the Grade  eight  text with the didactic pages that is being promoted on social media.

Members of the organization also have sent copies of the book to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario education minister Stephen Lecce, and other notable public figures, urging curriculum change that would give Black history a more prominent place in the school system.

“It really is about ensuring that Black history – the 400-year presence of people of African descent here in this country – is integrated into the curriculum document,’’ explained Henry, a historian by training. “The curriculum continues to be quite Eurocentric.’’

The latest intensification of efforts to incorporate explicit, mandated Black history teaching in schools, comes just ahead of a scheduled revising of the Ontario curriculum.

As part of the revision process, Henry suggests that the education ministry should utilize the expertise of Black professionals, including scholars and historians, as part of a strategy to address anti-Black racism.

“The systemic exclusion of Black history from the curriculum across Canada must be addressed,” said Henry.

Making the curriculum changes, she said, will help to “disrupt ideas of prejudice and the development of stereotypes, which we know perpetuate and reinforce racism in broader society’’.

OBHS is asking for systemic change, added vice-president Chai. “Black history is Canadian history,’’ he said. “Please join us on this campaign. Use your voice, add your voice to this and let this issue be heard.’’

The OBHS can be contacted at  admin@blackhistorysociety.ca