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Jim Crow visits Halifax

Earlier this month, Flash posted an article on the topic of a city in Nebraska that was talking about possibly creating what amounted to segregated school districts in order to create schools that would better represent minority populations. In a comment, I suggested that the problems to me seemed to be more economic - rich/poor rather than black/white, and I then suggested in a comment that we had a similar divide here in Nova Scotia.

Little did I know that someone was going to propose this for Halifax, too. Wade Smith, vice-principal of St. Patrick's High School said in an interview on CBC radio this morning, and in this article, that Halifax schools are failing black students, who would be better served by a racially-segregated school.

To me, on the surface, this does not look at all like a good idea. As Flash wrote, schools teach a hell of a lot more than reading and writing, and setting up segregated schools is backwards. Among any good things it might do, it also will teach segregation, which I think we can agree is a bad thing. It is just too easy to extend the argument that if a separate school is good for self-esteem, maybe separate sections on the bus would work, too.

Simply from a mundane practical standpoint, how would this work? Where would this school be located? The black population in Halifax is spread quite widely, therefore students will have to be bused from all over the city; would the school have a larger budget to support that? If so, good luck selling that to the other residents of the city as their Art and Music budgets get cut still further. If not, will some areas simply not get bus service in which case those students would end up being an even smaller minority in a more white-dominated school? For those students, would African History courses still be available, or would they be cut for a more white-centred curriculum? After all, they have a school to go to for those courses. (I know, I know, the curriculum is already white-centred. Could this be the heart of the problem?)

I'm sure Mr. Smith's concerns are valid, although I am not black and did not live here when I was school-age and can't answer to it from experience. However, segregating the schools to teach self-respect seems counter-productive in the long run. There have got to be better alternatives.

I have no idea if this blog has any African-Nova Scotian readers, but I would love to hear from you on this topic. Heck, I wanna hear from anyone on this.

Actually, this is Flash, calling from the wilderness...
Self-respect is one thing, but the opportunity to teach respect for others is critically important for citizens of a just society, even if we're not there yet.
Teach kids the value and importance of diversity as early as possible, and you will be creating the next generation of police, policy makers and teachers (among many others)who will be tolerant of others and outraged by injustice. Don't sweep it under the rug by giving up and going to your own isolated locations.
We would all be the lesser for that.

I am surprised that it was Wade Smith who had suggested this! I have met this gentleman and substituted for him while he was a teacher at St. Pats. He is a very charismatic teacher and connects very well with the students at that school. Many were very excited when he was offered the post as principal. On that note, I do disagree with the segregated school idea. It goes against all of the work that has gone into the elementary school curriculum (developed by all races in Nova Scotia!) to foster respect for everyone regardless of race, etc.
We do have to find ways to continue the fight against racism, but Wade Smith is wrong for suggesting this.
Though there is something to ponder: Do you think he said this to stir the pot a little to get people to think about racism, as it may be sliding to the back burner too often? It is easy for any society to forget about something if it does not get the spot-light very often.
just two cents.

Do you think he said this to stir the pot a little to get people to think about racism, as it may be sliding to the back burner too often?

Quite likely, Paul. If he's the least bit intelligent I don't think he would actually expect to get a plan of this nature actually in place, so goading people is indeed the best explanation.

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