In an effort to build respectful and inclusive relationships with Black faculty, instructors, staff and students at York University and to transform York’s ways of knowing and being, York University is committed to meeting the priority objectives outlined below. Each of the objectives is important in addressing anti-Black racism from a holistic perspective. The Draft Action Plan on Black Inclusion will follow the Framework on Black Inclusion to ensure the University’s approach to addressing anti-Black racism will not be piecemeal or sporadic, or only actioned during times of crisis. York’s approach will be holistic with a comprehensive methodology – keeping sight of the need to shift culture in all areas and at all levels of the University.
Ensure that Black people, in their diversity, are represented in all areas of the university – Board of Governors, senior administration, all staff, tenured faculty, instructors, undergraduate and graduate students, and alumni.
Review recruitment/admissions, hiring, retention and advancement practices of the university with an anti-Black racism, equity and inclusion lens to remove barriers to access and inclusion.
The University is committed to increasing the numbers of Black faculty and staff in all Faculties and departments and at all levels of the University, including at the leadership level. This commitment includes ensuring that opportunities are created for advancement.
The University is also cognizant of the need to address the barriers faced by Black people in the hiring and admissions practices of the University including recognizing the additional emotional labour that is often placed on underrepresented individuals. The University must also work to retain Black faculty, instructors, students and staff once they become members of the York community. Mentorship is recognized as important in creating success for Black faculty, instructors, staff and students.
Representation is a key consideration for creating inclusion at the University. Black faculty, instructors, students and staff have consistently stated that the University must do a better job of ensuring that its population is reflective of Black communities – including the diversity within Black communities based on intersections with gender identity, gender expression, ethnicity, language, disability, creed, sexual orientation, family status and other aspects of identity.
Create an environment where Black people feel physically, psychologically and emotionally safer.
Establish new, culturally safer mechanisms for complaints about racial discrimination and harassment that are available in both English and French languages.
Black faculty, instructors, students and staff have indicated that they do not feel safe on campus. They have identified experiences ranging from microaggressions to racial profiling. The University must consider the respect, dignity and safety of Black people, including visitors to our campuses, when establishing and enacting community safety policies, procedures and programs. Furthermore, Black faculty, instructors, students and staff must have safer physical spaces where their knowledge and experiences are understood and centred.
Black faculty, instructors, students and staff have indicated that the University must do more to provide a clear message and create an environment wherein anti-Black racism is not tolerated and incidents of anti-Black racism are swiftly and effectively addressed.
Recognize York University’s role in producing research and ideas that have reinforced anti-Black racism.
Ensure that Black scholarship is represented in the curriculum, research, information resources and collections in all disciplines.
Ensure that Black excellence in research is recognized in awards and in selection of research chairs.
Support specific initiatives including those that build capacity and research that address anti-Black racism in Faculties and organized research units.
Increase funding for scholarships, bursaries and other forms of financial aid in support of Black students.
The University will work to recognize and support Black scholarship, including recognition of the diverse approaches to research, by ensuring that knowledge created by Black scholars is included in the curriculum.The invisibility of Black scholars’ work in the curriculum, research, information resources, and collections has served to elevate whiteness and denigrate Black ideas and thought. As Professor Audrey Kobayashi writes, “Whiteness as denigration is the dominant form of academic racialization. It denigrates the work of academics of colour not directly, but by valuing the Eurocentric.”6
York University’s curriculum, research, information resources and collections should be inclusive of the voices and experiences of Black people. Professor Carl James notes, “…there must be curriculum, and resources, that speak to every student sitting in the classroom. Even in math or sciences, an inclusive school would have curriculum in which every student can see something about themselves or their experiences reflected.”7
The work of Black scholars enriches the teaching, research, innovation, information resources, collections and overall learning environment for our students. Black scholarship must be taken up and recognized in the curriculum, research, information resources and collections in all disciplines at the University – from the humanities to science to engineering. Knowledge produced by Black scholars will enhance our students’ learning and ensure that they are better prepared to thrive in a diverse society.
Black students and faculty have identified the ways in which anti-Black racism has limited access to academic resources – including grants, fellowships and scholarships. To support Black knowledge production and dissemination, there must be sufficient funds in place to move research forward – particularly for the research units and programs at the University that are focused on studying Africa and its diasporas. In terms of sustainability, this requires supporting researchers in grant applications and promoting recruitment to these programs. Financial barriers must also be reduced for Black students.
Provide culturally relevant and bilingual resources to address the catastrophe of anti-Black racism including identifying relevant accessible community resources.
Black faculty, instructors, students and staff consistently spoke of the daily harms they experienced at the University. Black members of the York community experience a disproportionate level of emotional, psychological, intellectual and spiritual distress as they engage with people and ideas that regularly demean their knowledge and existence. The City of Toronto notes:
It’s not only overt racism that harms Black people’s mental and physical well-being. Anti-Black racism takes many forms. Black Torontonians frequently experience undue mistrust and scrutiny as part of daily life, in workplaces, schools, public spaces, or during interactions with public institutions. Common experiences are microaggressions, difficulty in accessing appropriate care and support, and even disbelief from care providers when expressing distress or trauma.8
Develop additional opportunities for the York community to engage Black communities outside the university, recognizing the diversity within the Black community.
Support Black-owned businesses by ensuring local Black-owned vendors and suppliers are aware of contract opportunities.York University is located in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Toronto. “Visible minorities” comprise 69% of the population compared to the City of Toronto average of 51%, with Black people being the largest racialized group in the area.9 The University is in a position to establish new relationships and deepen existing relationships with surrounding Black communities building on initiatives such as the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre. Part of developing relationships and trust with Black people involves supporting and strengthening their communities.
York University should also continue to partner and collaborate with external organizations that focus on addressing anti-Black racism and reducing barriers to educational opportunities for Black people.
Collect and analyze disaggregated race data from students, staff, instructors, faculty and alumni.
Collect data on anti-Black racism incidents and complaints.
Data collection will be utilized to identify gaps and trends that signal systemic racial disparities so that appropriate actions can be taken.
At the faculty level, the University collects data on the representation of the four designated groups outlined in the Employment Equity Act, including visible minorities. This data is now disaggregated by specific racialized groups, so we know more about the representation of Black faculty members within the university. The University does not collect self-identification data from students; however, York is currently developing a student census. The same data collection processes should be implemented for staff, instructors and students. In addition, the quantitative data should be complemented with qualitative data which will help in the interpretation of the findings.Disaggregated race data collection and analysis, collected with careful consideration of privacy and confidentiality, will contribute to advancing racial equity for Black faculty, instructors, students, staff and administrators. Similarly, collection and analysis of data on anti-Black racism incidents and complaints on our campuses will bring to light any systemic issues at the University. As the Government of Ontario notes, “By identifying and monitoring systemic racial disparities, public sector organizations will be better able to close gaps, eliminate barriers, and advance the fair treatment of everyone.”10
Both self-identification data and complaints data can also be used to assess the effectiveness of University initiatives to address anti-Black racism. The University will endeavour to have individuals with anti-racism expertise on the team responsible for the collection and analysis of the data.
Ensure all students, instructors, faculty and staff receive ongoing education in understanding and addressing anti-Black racism, starting with the leadership of the University.To eliminate anti-Black racism from our campuses, it is imperative for all members of the York community to understand the roots of anti-Black discrimination including intersectionality, and to gain the knowledge and skills to combat it. Leaders, faculty, instructors, staff and students should learn about White supremacy and colonialism, its impact on York University and Black people and work to assess their own personal values.11 It is particularly important for University leadership to engage in education, self-reflection and self-examination.
The University recognizes that education is “…useful, effective, and successful when it is timely, planned, related to improved performance and organizational environment, and located within a systematic and ongoing change process.”12
Consider the impact of any decisions related to policies and programs on diverse Black communities.
Include diverse Black members of the university community in decision-making processes.
All policy and programming decisions at the University must be filtered through an anti-Black racism lens that considers the needs, experiences and histories of Black peoples. An example of an anti-Black racism impact assessment tool is the City of Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit’s “Anti-Black Racism Analysis Tool for a Radically Equitable COVID-19 Response.” The document outlines clear operational principles and questions, noting that:Through years of research, advocacy, and organizing, Black communities in Toronto have highlighted the impact of direct and systemic anti-Black racism on Black Torontonians and has called on policy-makers and community groups to adopt an Anti-Black Racism Analysis in developing and implementing policies, programs and practices to address the needs of Black communities and achieve transformative change.13
Black people also need to sit at decision-making tables as active and empowered participants. Diversity of thought and perspective based on the lived experiences of Black people will only serve to enhance decision-making and ensure that an anti-Black racism lens is applied appropriately.
Create an Anti-Black Racism Advisory Council within the Division of Equity, People and Culture that represents the diversity within the Black community.
Engage in regular updates and evaluation on the implementation of this framework.
York University pledges to implement this framework, ensuring that voices of Black faculty, instructors, students and staff are heard and considered throughout the implementation process. The University will create an Anti-Black Racism Advisory Council with an understanding that the diverse and intersectional identities of Black faculty, instructors, students, staff, administrators and alumni must be represented and that such a council will also include allies from the university.
The University will also engage in a yearly review on the progress of the implementation of this framework
6A. Kobayashi, “Now You See Them, How You See Them: Women of Colour in Canadian Academia”, Racism in the Canada University: Demanding Social Justice, Inclusion & Equity
11 Anti-Racism in Higher Education – A model for change https://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1071&context=rpj