The politics of being a Black youth

29 March 2021 / by Jess Goldson
young boy jumping with his arms spread out

CJRU speaks with community leaders around the impact of anti-Black racism and systemic racism on the lives of young people. Kearie Daniel is a parent and education equity advocate with Parents of Black Children.  She works toward racial justice in the classroom. Dr. Fatimah Jackson-Best is a project manager with the Black Health Alliance and Pathways to Care. Daniel and Jackson-Best share the gaps in support for Black youth prior to the pandemic and now that many services are shifting online.

Parents of Black Children have sent ten demands to the Government of Ontario, specifically the Ministry of Education.  Daniel outlines some of the recent improvements around their third demand to eliminate all forms of streaming from K-12. 

“The provincial government has announced that they are going to start de-streaming grade nine, starting with grade nine math… People have been asking for decades to end streaming and it’s not enough to just say we’re starting with grade nine math. It needs to stop full stop,” Daniel says.

Even within virtual classrooms, Daniel says equity issues are prevalent for Black youth. 

“The pandemic has really highlighted our pandemic. For Black kids there’s a crisis in the education system. They’re not getting equal education and they’re not accessing a peaceful education because there are so many barriers… The pandemic, we know, has hit racialized communities hard. Access to technology is a big concern and also mental health,” Daniel explains.

Along with education, this digital divide impacts health care too. Jackson-Best explains the barriers to care that the pandemic has created for Black youth. Insufficient internet capacity and bandwidth are just a couple of the new barriers to accessing virtual services. Jackson-Best mentions Pathways to Care’s scoping review, which is a type of systematic review, assessing the quality and quantity of barriers to care.

“Our work found that 23% of Black youth were introduced to mental health care treatment through the police… And youth who had [hospitalization as their] entry point into mental health services often felt regretful about seeking treatment. And that was usually associated with less follow-up.” Jackson-Best says.

Jackson-Best argues that low-cost mental health services should be part of our rights as Canadians, regardless of race, culture, religion, gender, and gender identity.

To learn more, listen to the CJRU interview below. This story is the last in a four-part Waves of Knowing series centring women’s reproductive health and family planning.