West Island students learn history of racial slur in presentation planned for several schools
MONTREAL -- Students at a Montreal West Island school took part in a special anti-racism presentation Wednesday, a day after their board banned the use of a certain racial slur, regardless of the context.
The teens at John Rennie High School were asked to understand the issue in more detail -- they learned about the history of the n-word through a Zoom presentation that's being rolled out to high schools throughout the region.
Grade 10 students in the Lester B. Pearson School Board began Monday. The talk, presented by the non-profit Overture with the Arts, includes a history of negative stereotypes and how many of them have become common in modern Quebec.
Omari Newton led the discussion at John Rennie on the history of the n-word, its uses, and even his own experiences with the word.
"I hope that they understand the origins of the n-word and the historical context was used throughout history," he said.
"I’m realizing -- because I’ve given a few of these -- a lot of kids don’t know. They don’t really know about the transatlantic slave trade. They don’t know about lynchings, about whipping of enslaved people."
The hope is that by putting the word in context, students will be less casual with using it.
Newton said he's been called the word as recently as last year.
"It’s not enough to sit at home passively and say, ‘Hey I’m not a racist, I don’t say racist things, I have friends from different religions and ethnicities and racial groups so I’m good,'" he said.
"I think that’s not enough."