Make African history mandatory in the Canadian primary and high school curriculum

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The Canadian and World Studies curriculum in Ontario indicates that their programs will enable students to become responsible, active citizens within the diverse communities to which they belong. As well as becoming critically thoughtful and informed citizens who value an inclusive society. 

However, due to recent events conducted by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It is evident that there needs to be more emphasis on African history as well as the experiences of Black Canadians, Caribbeans, Europeans and African Americans. It is important for children of all grades to understand not only the history but also understand the effects of systemic racism and discrimination. 

When I was younger we barely talked about racism (even in February) and when we did, we talked about the same people. Rosa Parks, Malcom X, and Martin Luther King Jr, who are not bad examples but my classmates and I only had a surface level understanding of what they represent and we never went deeper than that. The most famous Black Canadian we talked about on a regular basis was Donovan Bailey, which is ludicrous since there are way more important Black Canadian figures to talk about. 

I remember talking about slavery in 7th grade, yet it was only through a novel. We never talked about what actually happened, why it happened, why or how it was abolished, nor did we talk about how did it affect the black community today. It wasn't until much later on did I learn about the Jim Crow laws, segregation, abolition, emancipation or the Black Panthers. By the time I learned these things I was in university and those subjects were taught in a class that I personally sought out and was merely an elective.

This type of teaching gives the kids an impression that racism has only occurred during slavery, which is ignorant and irresponsible. The have to understand that racism still plays a huge part in our society whether it is through police brutality and/or through the system. Thus, I propose that the Canadian curriculum should include black history before, during and after slavery as well as incorporating it into all subjects. Black people have made many contributions in areas of science, math, language, inventions, music and more. 

Although it can be uncomfortable to talk about these things, as educators and leaders it is our job to create a foundation for children to learn from our mistakes, because whether we like it or not, it is part of our history and still poisons our culture. If we are to change that, children must understand the history before they have the power to change the culture.