In an over-the-top letter sent to Toronto District School Board (TDSB) teachers on Nov. 3, the board’s new education director describes a blackface Halloween costume worn by a high school teacher last Friday as an “egregious incident of anti-black racism.”

The letter from Colleen Russell Rawlins, a woke activist and Black Lives Matter supporter, claims the act is a “grim reminder” of “how much racism and oppression” still needs to be defeated in the TDSB.

“This disrespectful and highly offensive act brought pain and harm,” she writes in the letter obtained by True North, calling what occurred a “dehumanizing incident of anti-black racism.”

The incident to which Russell Rawlins refers involved a high school teacher who sported blackface at Parkdale Collegiate last Friday. The costume, apparently in honour of Halloween, caused an uproar at the school and was reported by students on social media. The teacher is on home assignment, while an investigation is carried out. 

The legacy media, up in arms about the incident, ignored the three separate photos of Prime Minister Trudeau in blackface – the most recent when he attended an Arabian Nights costume party in 2001.

There was no mention of the hurtful actions of our prime minister in Russell-Rawlins’ letter either.

The new education director, who was said to hire anti-oppression activists to preach the “anti-black racism” gospel, while at the Peel District School Board, apologized to students, families and staff impacted by the blackface incident.

She chastised the teachers/adults at the school who did not report the incident, indicating that many staff have already integrated the “anti-racism” learning taught at the start of the school year into their daily practice.

“(These staff) work diligently to disrupt and dismantle oppression and discrimination and the ignorance and malice that underpin them,” she wrote.

“As members of the TDSB community, we all have responsibility to interrupt and confront racism, discrimination and hate when we see or hear it.”

Russell-Rawlins repeats the words, “anti-black racism” three times and “racism/anti-racism” seven times in her letter.

By contrast, when Desmond Cole caused a furor among Jewish teachers and insulted the entire Toronto Jewish community during four learning sessions in September, Russell-Rawlins did not address his ignorant and uninformed anti-Semitic comments in the slightest.

He was paid $16,000 for four sessions which were supposed to be about “anti-black racism.”

Cole quickly went off script during the first session on Sept. 20 spewing hateful tropes related to the “illegal occupation of Palestine and the theft of land” by Israel. 

He also berated and rudely interrupted those in attendance who questioned his diatribe.

Still, he was permitted to continue with three more sessions – two on Sept. 23 – after which Russell-Rawlins issued a weak apology to the superintendents interrupted by Cole.

“It is clear that we should have done a better job providing space for staff to unpack these complex conversations and I want to apologize for the harm that may have caused,” she said.

Her letter contained none of the stridency shown with respect to the Parkdale incident. But this should come as no surprise to those having to deal with the mess Russell-Rawlins left at the Peel District School Board, where she acted as interim director for a year before coming to the TDSB in August.

Sources say she brought in activists like Kike Ojo-Thompson to preach the “anti-black racism” gospel and issued a 12-page letter commanding Peel staff to report, disrupt, communicate and, investigate any discriminatory slur or statement, verbal, written, including online or on social media.

In her March 10 memo, Russell-Rawlins gives a detailed laundry list of how slurs should be reported and indicates in bold that “reprisal (for reporting a slur) will not be tolerated.”

As examples, she refers first to the use of the N-word or any slurs that “negatively impact” the black, African and Caribbean communities including inappropriate comments about “enslavement.”

She also highlights discriminatory statements made about the South Asian communities such as references to “terrorism” or minimizing the “cultural genocide committed in Canada” against the Indigenous.

I feel sorry for teachers and students who have to operate in an atmosphere that places perceived oppression and “anti-black racism” above learning, that rewards snitches above talented teachers and has placed a target on the backs of white staff and students.

I fear the oppressed have become the oppressors, academic standards are being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator and teachers who just want to inspire a love of learning in their students are in for a rocky time unless they sign on to the Cult of Woke. 


  • Sue-Ann Levy

    A two-time investigative reporting award winner and nine-time winner of the Toronto Sun’s Readers Choice award for news writer, Sue-Ann Levy made her name for advocating the poor, the homeless, the elderly in long-term care and others without a voice and for fighting against the striking rise in anti-Semitism and the BDS movement across Canada.