Economist Thomas Sowell, born in the American South and raised in Harlem, and the expert on race, income, and culture, once gave an example of why the notion that racism is the dominant or even only factor in explaining economic or other outcomes is flawed.

Historically, he observed, the Italians dominated fishing fleets around the world, unlike the Swiss. Was “systemic” racism against the Swiss the reason? Or is the explanation that Switzerland has no coastline, while Italy is almost all coastline. Italians thus grew up with a natural advantage in fishing and enough of them made it their career to dominate the industry globally.

Sowell, now 93 years old, has 60 years of research and 58 books to his credit, many analyzing the effect of race and racism on incomes. He is someone the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and its staff should read. That would help them understand the errors in a “teaching resource” the Board recently sent out to its staff.

The 40-page document is entitled “Facilitating Critical Conversations: A Teaching Resource for Challenging Oppression in Toronto District School Board Classrooms.” Written by one teacher (with a specialization in hip-hop), two school principals, and an education consultant—but no economists or statisticians—the “oppression” guide makes bold claims.

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