Notes From A Youth Symposium

The other day I attended a Youth Symposium in celebration of Black History Month.   This was the second annual Symposium that originally was the idea of a young man who believes in helping African-Canadian youth to learn about their identity embedded in race, culture, and history.   Listening to the speakers you could realize how much this debate and acknowledgment of race and history is important.

One speaker was a teacher who had done a very interesting research.   She had gone through history books being taught in schools here in British Columbia.  These history books from grades 8-12 had very little almost to the point of zero information about the history of African-American or black-Canadian people.  This teacher made a point that should be brought to the attention of policy makers or school boards.  Teaching history should be about history, meaning what has happened to our ancestors whether white, black, yellow, red, and any other color.  This teacher had gone through all these story books from the content to the index to realize there was no information about black history, slavery, racism, or the challenges that black people face.   According to her, the African-Canadian students are not recognized at all and in general students do not learn about the impact of race on their identity.   The following speakers all emphasized how much racial identity and knowing about history is significant for children to develop a healthy sense of self-perception.   Listening to a young black poet was an epiphany for me.  He spoke eloquently and performed his poems beautifully, to the point you had to hold your breath to not miss his words.   Another speaker illustrated a picture about how black history month is a human history month.   Other speakers empowered youth in their work to find  their identity and to create the life path they deserve.

Listening to all these important talks, I was thinking how youth from every culture and from every community need to work on their cultural-racial identity.  I was also thinking how our Iranian youth would need to discuss their identity as the notion of diaspora hits our youth more than ever.  I guess the amount of topics that needed to be discussed among us Iranian is still covered in the dust and confusion of a very unpleasant mixture; delusional ideology and exaggerated culture.
We should keep up the hope in any case.

Poran Poregbal
Febrauary, 22, 2009

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