COMMUNITY SAFETY & WELL-BEING PLAN FOR BLACK STUDENTS
COMMUNITY SAFETY &
WELL-BEING PLAN FOR BLACK STUDENTS
Developing a Community Safety & Well-Being Plan for
Black students in Hamilton Schools
Hamilton has seen many incidents of racism and was ranked the hate crime capital of Canada in 2019 by Statistics Canada. There has also been a steady increase in reported incidents of racism in Hamilton public schools, such as in 2019 when a hateful racist epithet was written in large letters in the snow on Bernie Custis Secondary School grounds.
Hamilton secondary school students have worked together to advocate for support around issues of racism and hate speech. Students conducted and released reports, and met with school board administrations in attempts to create safe environments for students to share their concerns. At Bernie Custis Secondary School, students formed the first ever Black Youth Council and hosted events to build community and creating ways for students to receive peer support when incidents of racism occurred on school grounds. Macnab Secondary School adopted a similar Black Youth Council model, and we hope to see it implemented at other schools across Hamilton.
Since the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, organizations across Hamilton have asserted a need to address anti-Black racism. Calls to action culminated into the 2020 Black Friday Rally in Support of Black Organizations. This rally focused on elevating support of Black-led institutions in Hamilton. The Black Friday Rally saw Black-led organizations outline the need for education-based anti-racism support for local youth. Additionally, there was a surge in calls from local Black youth for educational institutions to address anti-Black racism and policing in schools. This resulted in the termination of the police program in the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB).
Based on these catalysts, HCCI conducted a report to address community safety, well-being and create an action plan for Black youth in Hamilton schools. Click below to view the full report.
“In high school, I went out for lunch with a group of my Black friends, and I was dancing with my headphones on. When I came back to school, I was called down to the office on the PA. A police officer and the staff kept me in the office, and accused me of being a gang member and participating in gang activities. The school called my mom at work and the police handcuffed me. At the time, I didn’t have the legal knowledge to ask why I was being detained. I was 16 years old. When my parents see the police, they are all scared. I was heartbroken. They targeted me, they kept me cuffed in the office for two hours and the police said they were going to detain me, even though I never did anything illegal. It stayed with me forever because it impacted my whole family.” – Black (Former) Hamilton Student
81% of Black students said that they struggled in some or many capacities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
91% of Black students said that they felt unsafe from teachers and other students
95% of Black Students said that they have experienced racism from teachers & other students.
“The main racism I get is about my religion and colour. My religion teacher was talking about the terrorism on 9/11 and was looking directly in my eyes as if I was responsible for the attack.” – Black & Muslim Hamilton Student
52% of Black students said that they struggled in some or many capacities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
60% of Black students said that they felt unsafe from teachers & other students.
76% of Black students said that they have experienced racism from teachers & other students.
“My son has not yet started school. He will begin in September. However, given my own experiences in the education system and hearing of others, I am anticipating that as a young black boy he will experience racism in the education system. I have started to prepare him by reading books and ensuring he is able to speak up for himself and is proud of his colour, hair, name, and ability. I think as a Black parent you think about all the different little ways you can give your child tools to protect them because you know it is inevitable. I think that I am already playing ‘defence’ in a sense before he has even started.”
– BLACK HAMILTON CAREGIVER
Black Caregivers with children at HWDSB, HWCDSB and/or French boards reported that:
77% of respondents’ children struggled in some or many capacities during the pandemic.
59% of respondents’ children have felt unsafe from teachers & other students.
88% of respondents’ children have experienced racism from teachers & other students.
“My teacher used to call us monkeys and everything, and said it was a joke. […] She would call us her Black monkeys, her little monkeys. She’s racist, but she thinks she’s funny.” – BLACK HAMILTON STUDENT
Hamilton Center for Civic Inclusion
423 King Street East
Hamilton ON, L8N 1C5
(905) 297 4694