CARTOON DEPICTING AFROCENTRIC EDUCATION
[“APOLOGY” FROM GLOBE AND MAIL, BELOW]
For those of you who aware of the cartoon that was published by the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest selling national newspaper, 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 be privy to the information.
The Globe and Mail
444 Front St. W.
Dear Editor, 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?
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Rozena…I totally agree with your post…
Here is my letter to the editor…If it was truly printed I am appalled at the RACIST CARTOON that ran in your paper on Monday Feb 18th, 2008. What a terrible shame that it happened on family day as well. The caricature depicted a black teacher with the words” sup dog” in a bubble. There needs to be a full out apology to the black community in your paper and in various media outlets immediately by your owners. The creator of this distasteful Cartoon should be fired and the editor of your paper should be fired and/or reprimanded. These images as well as institutional racism continue the trend to discredit Black people and other minorities in this society. Why would you print this? Do you want to be like those European papers who print racist caricatures about Muslims etc.?I am deeply saddened as a Black man in my thirties who was born and raised in Canada! I though this country was “different” than America and all the other countries but “the Great White North’s” true colors have come out!Wow. Sad day for me when I got this email!There was a lame excuse as well from the Globe that makes light of the situation. I think this demands a protest. Blacks must be heard and they must know that now it the most important time to “Value Education” in the black community. Parents have been slacking and they need to be involved in their kid’s lives and support their academic endeavours. The TIME IS NOW! I for one believe there should be a protest at the Globe & Mail’s offices. These people must stop this covert assault on Black’s ability to get educated. I agree…the use of slang combined with the teaching of Algebra which originated in the motherland of Africa…was tasteless.Posted by: AE
I am truly happy to find your post. The cartoon in the globe and mail has been bothering me the whole week. This is a flagrantly racist cartoon depicting black North Americans as street thugs. In popular street slang peers often refer to each other as “dawg” referring to close acquaintances and friends; however the cartoon has “dog” referring Afrocentric Schools as teaching for the dogs. Someone should pull a human rights case against the globe and mail and then fire the Cartoonist for his ignorance. Everyone should understand that afrocentric schools are not only for the black community but for all nationals, only the education is going to be geared towards afrocentrism. There are numerous universities that have afrocentric education, why not schools? It will do better for the self esteem of all colored nationals in this country. Most education in North America is Eurocentric and it seems positive education of cultures and history outside Europe and North America is dismissed as trivial and primitive. This is preposterous.Posted by: Emad Chowdhury
February, 22nd, from Molefi Assante
Rozena, I have sent the following to the Globe: Thanks for your vigilance.
I was appalled to read the February 18th piece on Afrocentrism and to see the negative cartoons about Afrocentric education. As one of the principal founders of the Afrocentric paradigm I was struck by how little the article reflected the current state of scholarship. It was an emotional, oppositional, and anti-African outburst with limited reflection on the central issue: African descended people must be viewed and must view themselves as agents and actors of history rather than as on the margins of Europe. Those who insist on Afrocentric education simply state that the child who sits in the classroom must be given ownership of knowledge rather than be made to feel like a renter. There are several advantages to this type of education. First, black and white children learn to respect Africa as the birthplace of all humanity. Secondly, African descended children find teachers credible who do not ignore the contributions of Africans to human knowledge. Thirdly, children discover that education, not an imposedEurocentric particularism is liberating and opens them to positive discussions
about all human cultures.Afrocentricity is the anti-particularist position; it creates the space for education without hierarchy and establishes the basis for pluralism without hegemony. Of course, those who seek a narrow provincialism will find this view dangerous.
Molefi Kete Asanteauthor, An Afrocentric Manifesto
(Oxford, Polity Press, 2008)
APOLOGY FROM THE GLOBE AND MAIL
Dear Dr Maart, We have read and considered the many complaints we have received about the editorial cartoon of Feb. 18, which referred to the debate about a proposed black-focused, or Afrocentric, school in Toronto.
While the intent of the cartoon was not racist, we acknowledge that the presentation of the idea in it may well have been insensitive and that it certainly gave offence to many readers. The cartoonist’s intention was simply to comment in the way editorial cartoonists do on the concept of Afrocentric schools. Intention is by no means everything; the effect is vitally important, too. It is particularly striking that we have received complaints from people on both sides of the black-focused school question.
We have great respect for the African-Canadian community. Specifically, we take very seriously the problems that the school proposal is designed to alleviate or to remedy.
We hope you will view this cartoon in the broader context of our reporting and opinion writing. We believe that our reporting on the black-focused schools debate has been a model of fairness, in news stories by Carolyn Abraham, Caroline Alphonso, James Bradshaw, Karen Howlett and Jill Mahoney. Of our columnists, Margaret Wente (twice) and John Barber have supported the proposal, while an editorial by the editorial board and columns by Jeffrey Simpson and Rick Salutin have opposed it. The Toronto editor, Gregory Boyd Bell, has led a Web discussion of the topic. Two relevant feature articles are one by Patrick White in the Life section, on the proposal, and one by James Bradshaw on David Watkins and his black history course at Weston Collegiate Institute.
Beyond this particular debate, our reporter Joe Friesen spent four months of 2006 in the Jane-Finch area of Toronto, and wrote a extensive series of stories titled The Neighbourhood, which presented its positive aspects, so often neglected in the media.
Anthony Reinhart has written several stories about the black community of Toronto and the racism it suffers from. As Mr. Reinhart is one of the best writers for the Globe’s Toronto pages, his assignments are regarded as high-priority stories. We have also written several features on the Pathways program and its successes in encouraging children to stay in school.
Editorial cartoons are meant to stir debate, and contribute to it. The visual style is one of exaggeration of features, which can be problematic, but is not intrinsically derogatory, and is routinely applied to establishment figures. The idea in this particular cartoon is that mathematics is universal, not variable with ethnicity or race, though language may so vary.
We also recognize that a phrase associated with a judge of the television show American Idol is not one that a black teacher would ever use to address a Canadian class.
Moreover, through a mistake in transcription, the equations on the blackboard were not quite correct. This was our mistake, and there was no intention to suggest that the imaginary teacher in the cartoon was not competent.
This debate will continue, and The Globe and Mail will continue, with renewed energy and greater insight to endeavour that our presentation of it, and of related issues that concern the African-Canadian community, will be fair, balanced, thorough and respectful.