With a focus on youth, students at Lloydminster Comprehensive High School were the first in the Black History Month lecture series taking place at various schools.
As an icebreaker, students were challenged to build ducks from Lego blocks with the lesson being the ducks were fairly similar just like humans who are some 99 per cent the same, said instructor, Ben Acquaye.
The guest speaker delved into the theme “Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build”, saying, “It’s wonderful to celebrate success. It makes people feel good. It encourages these young students to go and make a difference in a very tough world. And knowing other people have laid some foundations that you can build on is a great thing.”
During the interactive presentation, Acquaye reflected that students of diverse backgrounds were able to share in the successes of Black Canadians.
“My hope is that continues to happen and spur us on to some greater outcomes for the society.”
On racism, Acquaye sees the benefit of explaining racism as a systemic issue.
“It is about who has power, and how they are using their power to take advantage of other people. Instead of the emphasis on bigotry and prejudice, let’s talk about the systemic issues in education, healthcare, and housing – even in the legal system. The more young people understand the systemic nature of the problem the better prepared we are to advance solutions that would work.”
Acquaye noted that in 2015, the UK government finally completed paying off the descendants of slave owners for their losses with slaves were freed in the colonies. Notwithstanding the issue of reparation for slavery he stressed the three Rs of Rights, Representation, and Resources.
“Black people and minorities want the opportunities to enjoy their rights like everyone else. They need resources to do things like this – to educate ourselves and to address some of the systemic imbalances. And very importantly, we need representation at the table where decisions are being made. These things will make a difference right here – right now.”
The lecture series will continue at various schools over the next few weeks along with an essay writing and video contest open to schools.