COLOURED CHILDREN AND COMMON SCHOOLS
Toronto, Feb. 10, 1846.SIR, -- I observe with pleasure, in your fifth number, reference to a letter from the excellent Lewis Tappan, of New York, respecting the education of coloured children in these Provinces; and you rightfully call their exclusion, wherever it exists, paltry, disgraceful, and unjust.
On what are common schools founded?
On the Scriptural duty of communicating and cultivating useful knowledge, both natural and revealed. We receive from God talents, not to expend them upon ourselves, but to extend their usefulness to others; not to bury, but to cultivate them: and we sin against God and our neighbour, when, having received freely, we refuse to give freely; as well as when we neglect those individual improvements which God places within our reach.
The right and Scriptural education of the human mind, lies at the foundation of human happiness; and not merely at the foundation, but it yields to the structure, when erected, its beauty, its symmetry, its healthfulness and strength.
The educated and benevolent amongst men erect and open schools; and the uneducated throng to be admitted.
An enemy meets them at the very threshold.
I confine myself here to the immediate question before us, leaving the other forms of the same evil, which abound elsewhere and in other relations, to their respective spheres.
An enemy meets them, and cries, Are you of free parentage? We are, reply the applicants. Then enter freely, says the enemy.
Are you of free parentage? again it cries. No, reply the applicants; our mothers were slaves. Stand off, cries the enemy. We have no place for you here.
But our mothers were not criminals, add the applicants, imploringly; tyrant power alone made and kept them slaves. No matter! We were born free, continue the applicants, though our mothers were tyrannically enslaved, and though, as soon as we were born, the same tyrant power, by mischief-making laws, tore us from God, and our parents, and our country; and, plundering us at once of every night, crushed us into slaves. No matter!
But we are poor and ignorant, and need instruction. No matter! We are fugitives, some of them add, from slavery to this city of God's refuge, and thirst for knowledge for the God who has delivered, and of the land so blessed of Him, which receives and protects us. No matter! cries the enemy. We care not for the wrongs inflicted upon your mothers; we care not for the outrages perpetrated against yourselves. Who is God, and what is the Government under which we live, that we should concur in rendering this city of refuge, a city indeed of refuge and salvation to you? And why should we aid in teaching you your duty to God, and in preparing you to become good subjects and neighbours amongst ourselves---we, who would rather keep or send you far away? No; you are poor and ignorant, and we will keep you so---you are destitute strangers, and we will spurn you---you are corrupt, and we will provoke your corruptions, by our neglect, contempt, and aversion ---we will chill all that is good, and irritate and aggravate all that is evil in you---and then we will turn round, and wipe our mouths, and rail at your vices, and overlook your virtues, and hide the immense disadvantages to which our crimes, and the crimes of our class, have subjected you; and indulge ourselves in all the grossness, and cruelty, and guilt, of our proud superiority, without pity and without shame; for, this noble reason, is our reason---
Your poor mothers, or your ancestors, were slaves!!!
I say slaves, not coloured people. Because, it is a notorious fact, that many of the people called coloured, are fairer (many of them with straight hair into the bargain) and even, according to white ideas of beauty, more beautiful than multitudes of those who are called white. It is slave-parentage, the crime of our class, and not the colour of the sufferers, that fosters this Satanic prejudice against them.
THE PREJUDICE OF COLOR.[We have to apologize to the author of the following communication for the delay that has occured in its insertion. We greatly fear, however, that is not yet out of date. --ED. WIT.]
Amherstburg, March 6, 1846.It is to be deplored, that there exists great prejudice in the minds of the white population here, against the blacks, who are very numerous, so much so, that amongst several common school divisions, I know of none that will allow the coloured children to attend school with the white children. The Common School Act gives equal privileges to all, and coloured people tried without success, to avail themselves of that Act, but their children were refused admission by the white people. They have now their own schools, and get their proportion of the Government allowance. But this, in thinly settled places, is doing much harm---particularly to the coloured people, as they are not so well off as the whites. In some places they have no school at all; and in other places where they have one, their teacher--as may easily be supposed, from the small pay afforded--is but ill qualified.
The prejudice existing here against the coloured man, is of such a nature, that a whole neighbourhood, of old and richly settled farmers, are now offering their farms for sale in order to leave and settle elsewhere, because the colured people are settling around them. Some of these persons, are offering their farms for very little more than the first cost of their buildings.
The following are specimens of the public mind here, in relation to the coloured man--they are taken from the mouths of some of our most respectable farmers, leading men in society; men who are looked up to by their neighbours.
One, in speaking of coloured people, said; that they ought to be sent out of this country, to their own. That God never intended the whites and blacks to associate together. Another said, that if they ever go to heaven, and mix with the whites, they will undergo some chnage.
Another individual, after strongly denouncing their being permitted to eat at the same table with a white man, said; that he did not know that it had ever been clearly shown, that the coloured man had a soul!!!
Another person, speaking of them said, that the people in the township of----, are better than those of the township of----, because they will not allow coloured people to pass through unmolested!!!
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