On Wednesday, February 23, 2022 five YCDSB high schools were invited to hear Anthony McLean’s message on ‘becoming anti-racist.’ Anthony used his own experiences from growing up in York Region to living in California, to differentiate between cancel culture and passive cultures, to what he called “creating brave spaces.” A brave space is where we hold people accountable for their words and actions, but where we also bring people into the conversation. Students from St. Brother Andre, Father Michael McGiveny, St. Robert, St. Augustine and Sacred Heart listened to Anthony passionately implore students to think beyond ‘us’ vs. ‘them,’ and challenged all of us to be upstanders: “We can’t be non-racist; we have to be anti-racist.” Anthony also reminded us that our work in anti-racism is rooted in our faith where we are called to love our neighbors. Students and staff were asked to reflect on our own biases and were taken through examples of obvious, blatant racism vs. microaggressions: “can I touch your hair?” or “that name sounds weird!”
The session culminated in a Q and A session that generated questions showcasing how deeply rooted our students are in their commitment to becoming anti-racist. The questions were shared with all 5 schools to continue the work beyond the scope of the month of February. Anthony McLean is most certainly an example of #BlackExcellence, and we were truly blessed to hear his insights and calls to action.