Toronto teacher under investigation for wearing blackface to class

One Parkdale Collegiate Institute student, ninth-grader Otis Stang, told CBC Radio "the whole class was shocked and confused."

A Toronto teacher has been placed on home assignment after wearing blackface to the Halloween celebrations at Parkdale Collegiate Institute on Friday. 

One student, ninth-grader Otis Stang, told CBC Radio “the whole class was shocked and confused.”

A teacher at Parkdale Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Canada (above), has been placed on home assignment after wearing blackface to the school’s Halloween celebrations on Friday. (Photo: Facebook)

“It made me feel uncomfortable,” he added, 

According to Stang, when stunned students questioned the teacher about his costume, he replied that it “looked cool.” 

Stang’s mother, Liz Ikiriko, and other parents of PCI students are imploring the school — and the school district — to take further action. 

“As things kind of sunk in through the afternoon and evening,” Ikiriko said, “I realized that there were other instructors, there were other teachers who saw him and who were interacting with him throughout the day before he was asked to take the makeup off.”

“And that’s the part that’s really so devastating,” she noted, “is that really the only action that took place was because the kids stood up and said something.”

Parkdale Collegiate Institute Principal Julie Ardell called the incident “racist and dehumanizing.” The unidentified teacher is on home assignment “pending the outcome of an investigation.” 

“Caricatures of peoples’ race and culture are not appropriate and are offensive and hurtful,” Ardell wrote in a letter to parents. “While we have begun the work of addressing anti-Black racism and all forms of discrimination, it is clear that we must do more.”

According to local reporting, Parkdale CI is located in one of Toronto’s most diverse neighborhoods. Some parents noted that they chose the school for their children, in part, because of its diversity. 

A photo of the teacher was shared to Twitter with a user tagging several Toronto news sources. “There was a teacher at Parkdale CI with blackface on today. I am really disturbed and I need to know what are the next steps I need to take. He was removed from class. But more needs to happen,” the user wrote. 

petition is being circulated calling for change by the Toronto District School Board, including the creation of a zero-tolerance policy for hate and racial discrimination, as well as the creation of a safe, supportive and anonymous complaints mechanism that’s supportive of students and grounded in principles of anti-oppression — so as not to become a “snitch line.”

The petition also calls for public reporting on complaints of discrimination and racism, as well as hiring practices that are transparent, equitable and seek to diversify the workforce, plus actively hiring for trauma-informed, strengths-based and anti-oppressive teaching practices and skillsets.

Additionally, it seeks ongoing and frequent professional development in the areas of anti-Black racism, anti-colonialism, anti-oppression, while building in accountability through regular and rigorous performance appraisals.

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