'Overwhelming and emotional': Teachers' union president feels encouraged after sharing experience with racism
A community of educators is rallying around Jennifer Brown, the president of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, after she shared her disturbing experience with racism.
“I’ve been supported by my fellow teachers coming out in droves and many people sharing their story and many people stepping forward,” Brown told CP24.
She was the target of a letter that included racial slurs.
Toronto police are investigating the note as a hate crime.
“We know that hate crimes not only victimize an individual but also the entire group they identify with,” a spokesperson said.
A Black Toronto high school teacher told CTV News Toronto a similar incident happened to him earlier this year.
“I want to air this,” said Brown. “We need to speak about it.”
CivicAction and BCG consulting released a report in 2020 uncovering the depth of anti-Black racism in Canada.
The existing data they compiled found 70 per cent of Black Canadians said they had either experienced racism and/or believed racism exists in Canada.
Leslie Woo, CEO of the non-profit organization, says there’s a “big disconnect” between some racialized and non-racialized groups.
“When we asked non-Black Canadians what they thought the situation was, relative to cases of racism, only 30 per cent said this was an issue, a problem,” she said.
The report looked at four key areas: education, policing, employment and hiring, and health care.
When it relates to getting a job, the report found discrimination towards people with Black-sounding names in initial resume screenings. Woo says other minorities experience similar discrimination.
In the school system, the report found Black students are disproportionately suspended and expelled, receive less positive reinforcement and are sometimes deterred from pursuing higher education.
“They’re being told that they wouldn’t be well-suited to that and that they should take up a trade instead or do something slightly different,” Woo said.
She said it can be overwhelming, but organizations can be part of the solution.
CivicAction has a tool called “HireNext” — a free 10-minute questionnaire that offers three action steps to make a workplace inclusive.
Meanwhile, Brown says she will continue working to give a voice to anyone who feels silenced.
“Because this is our reality. We need to call out hate messages and tell those people to stop.”