In post-World War II Canada, black women’s positions within the teaching profession served as sites of struggle and conflict as the nation worked to address the needs of its diversifying population. From their entry into teachers’ college through their careers in the classroom and administration, black women educators encountered systemic racism and gender barriers at every step. So they worked to change the system.
Using oral narratives to tell the story of black access and education in Ontario between the 1940s and the 1980s, Schooling the System provides textured insight into how issues of race, gender, class, geographic origin, and training shaped women’s distinct experiences within the profession. By valuing women’s voices and lived experiences, Funké Aladejebi illustrates that black women, as a diverse group, made vital contributions to the creation and development of anti-racist education in Canada. As cultural mediators within Ontario school systems, these women circumvented subtle and overt forms of racial and social exclusion to create resistive teaching methods that centred black knowledges and traditions. Within their wider communities and activist circles, they fought to change entrenched ideas about what Canadian citizenship should look like.
As schools continue to grapple with creating diverse educational programs for all Canadians, Schooling the System is a timely excavation of the meaningful contributions of black women educators who helped create equitable policies and practices in schools and communities.