Teachers Don’t Belong in Blackface

2 min readNov 3, 2021

Not the teachable lesson we needed

Gorian Surlan — Toronto teacher in blackface

None of this would hold any weight if Canada already didn’t have previous discrepancies in the name of blackface.

But like the US, homegrown minstrel shows like Saskatoon Minstrel Show and The Saint John Amateur Athletic Club were birthed right on Canadian soil. So when Gorian Surlan shows up the Friday before Halloween in blackface to teach at Parkdale Collegiate in Toronto, he had to know it would not sit well. And wasn’t questioned until after 9 AM when a student asked him what his Halloween costume was.

The even bigger problem here is according to Principal Julie Ardell, Surlan had been in contact with various staff members and students before the initial student said anything. Once The Vice Principal was made aware, he was asked to wash his face and then placed on home assignment.

The saddest part is the students were uncomfortable and confused by his choice in costume while he thought it “looked cool.”

When Trump was elected into office so many people joked about moving to Canada. But as minorities its the other side of the same coin. And for this teacher the lesson was loud and clear way before he uttered a word. Blackface has never been anything other than a way to demean and degrade black people.

So thank you Gorian Surlan who instead of educating used your position to further support the racial divide and hatred for people of color by purposely donning wear that screams your racism and bigotry.

You actually did your job. You showed up close and personal the uncomfortable truth that blackface spoke.

No book could’ve done that better.


A wonderer writing my way through