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Harriet Tubman Institute and the Resource Centre for Public Sociology special event - The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Harriet Tubman Institute and the Resource Centre for Public Sociology special event - The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Date and time: Tuesday, March 28, 2023. Time: 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. EDT

Virtual Event via Zoom.

Register here:

Statements from panelists:

 Sharon Henry, PhD Candidate, Sociology:

As another year of the international day of the elimination of racial discrimination begins on March 21st, 2023, let us not forget our ancestors that have gone on before us without tasting the fruitfulness of racial equality, racial equity, racial inclusions, and the right for all persons to be seen as human beings. This day for me is another day of reflection on how far we still need to go when we consider the fruits of racial equality, racial equity, and racial inclusion within this system called academia. The elimination of racial discrimination seems so elusive; therefore, when we as black people can enter board rooms and see our brothers and our sisters at the head of the executive tables, or when we can see our brothers and our sisters in pictures and portraits on the walls in kt, then and only then can we say that we have tasted of the fruits of our ancestor’s labour here in academia. There is still much work to be done here, in Canada, and internationally.

Ify Okadigbo, PhD Researcher, School of Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies:

Racial discrimination remains pervasive in all sectors of Canadian society and strategies to meaningfully dismantle it remain elusive. The effects of racial discrimination are dehumanizing, and the long-term effects on people of color is connected to the broader challenges we face in our daily lives, particularly in the ways we value and see our position in the world. The multi-cultural and diverse environment that exist in higher education, creates a unique location for issues of racial discrimination to be tangibly confronted and tackled. The task of centering anti racist efforts that ultimately contribute to bringing about an end to racial discrimination in universities, requires a multi-pronged approach. This approach must be one that engages students, faculty/administrators, and the broader educational institution simultaneously. For faculty/instructors/teachers, acknowledge your bias, foster a learning environment that prioritizes the cultural difference that exist in the classroom and validate multiple perspectives. Listen to learn and not to judge or provide a counter when students of color share their experience of racial discrimination. For institutions, concerted efforts must be made to robustly build an anti-racist university by truly decolonizing the curriculum in addition to hiring and promoting racially diverse faculty. Steps must be taken to eradicate the culture of silence and establish an environment where students and faculty are encouraged to speak out when they experience racism without fear of repercussion. Ultimately, accountability must be prioritized to ensure that anti-racist efforts are produced and sustained. As Jane Elliot (diversity educator) points out, the goal is not to create a melting pot, but a salad bowl were black people in their uniqueness, can exist as their full selves without fear of censorship.

Sofia Ahmed, PhD Student, School of Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies:

The society valued and favoured some communities, and some are devalued and oppressed. Women, racialized minorities, indigenous populations, and people with disabilities are a few examples of groups that may face injustice, discrimination, racism, and oppression of all sorts. Especially women from racial background can be in ‘triple to quadruple jeopardy’ of experiencing discrimination in important structures of society. To address the direct and indirect racial discrimination, first it needs to define on micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Universities must devote resources to defining and comprehending the depth and scope of the unfavourable experiences that Black, Asian, and minority ethnic students encounter in order to successfully combat racism. Universities also need to focus on transnational feminism because global south and north feminists need feminism and each other both so that they can share their experiences, difficulties, and/or as Ahmed (2017) argues that to survive, killjoy moments, even though they can be killjoys to each other (p, 244). Arguably, all transnational feminists should be “killjoys” because they are critical of happiness derived from domination. Universities also needs a lot of representation from various racial background in their faculty and staff who are trained properly on cultural competence.

Kayne Rivers, PhD Student, School of Socio-Political Thought:

Without addressing the bitter rot at the root of many academic centers there is little that can be done of substance. However, the first step I firmly believe is to create a realm where BIPOC feel seen as academics. This means creating space where BIPOC academics feel supported in all manner of the word. Specifically, this should look like external forces like creating more student focused journals that uplift the thoughts of BIPOC but also creating more pathways for BIPOC academics to delve into their intellectual journeys without the burden of financial upkeep. Finally, we must also ensure that universities hire faculty that at the very least understand our lives and our stories. To often have BIPOC shared the experience of being hushed by professors whether it was in the classrooms or on our papers for sharing ideas that challenged their world view. Empathy backed with action is the only way we can emerge out of this predicament.

Dhouha Triki, PhD Student, School of Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies:

The academy is a complex institution that is built upon years of race and class inequities - and as racialized students, faculty, and staff, it becomes a place that many of us do not fit into. If we couple these phenomena with the ways in which racialized folks in higher learning spaces experience white supremacy, addressing racial discrimination in universities and colleges reveals itself as complex and nuanced. From this standpoint, I think universities can begin to address racial discrimination by recognizing and addressing racial tensions when they arise - whether in a classroom, during office hours, or during administrative meetings. While many of us are privileged to be in these spaces, we are faced with ever-increasing tuition fees, and cost of living, such as food inflation, transportation costs, childcare, and medical care, among others. To me, this means that racialized students from working-class backgrounds are not always afforded the luxury of being full-time students; they are often a student, a worker, caretakers, and community workers. In order to think about creating racial equities in university spaces, decision-makers in higher learning must first grapple with the realities of their racialized students’ lives.