Recent protests and resistance in response to the murder-by-police of George Floyd, of Regis Korchinsky-Paquet, of Breonna Taylor, of Tony McDade, of Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, have forced the broad acknowledgement of historic and currently entrenched anti-Black racism. Universities reflect, produce, and reinforce the same anti-Blackness, and the structures, logics, and cultures uphold whiteness. The University of British Columbia cannot succeed when Black students, staff, and faculty face barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential.
This current moment of protest, resistance, and social organizing by Black communities emerges in the context of historic struggles that have challenged the afterlife of slavery and demands the recognition of Black experiences, Black knowledge, and Black intellectual traditions. For too long, this knowledge has been erased, co-opted, and silenced. Yet, protests and social outcry have always birthed new ways of thinking and doing, built on the emotional, physical, and spiritual labour of Black community members.
We must all act in solidarity and the way we do this work must change.
Our work at the Equity & Inclusion Office is not just a job – it is deeply personal and political. We each hold a different relationship to what is happening in the streets. Some of us are from communities directly impacted, or our loved ones are profoundly affected. For others, we sit with the discomfort of our complicity. For all of us, the commitment is to dismantle structures of power that allow for anti-Black violence to persist and to mobilize for Black liberation.
It is essential for the EIO to listen, to see, to hear, to speak up, to change, to do more, and to do better.
We commit to:
- Continuing to uphold and care for our Black faculty, staff, and students through ongoing engagement and dialogue on both campuses, to more effectively advocate for appropriate support and resources.
- Educating on the subject of anti-Black racism and white supremacy:
- Distributing and promoting anti-racism resources and campaigns
- Developing a framework for community members to grow their skills to combat anti-Black racism
- Partnering with the Senior Advisors to the Provost on Racialized Faculty, and Women and Gender Diverse Faculty on a mentorship program.
- Working with the President to implement the commitments made in his statement of June 1st, 2020.
- Holding ourselves and our colleagues accountable as we challenge and unlearn behaviours and practices rooted in white supremacy, including:
- Hosting internal conversations to reflect on our own perspectives, biases, and privileges
- Incorporating learning about our own perspectives, biases, and privileges into our internal performance reviews
We will advocate for:
- The creation of a taskforce on anti-Black racism.
- The creation of a Senior Advisor to the President on anti-Black Racism.
- The creation of a program in Black Studies.
- The equitable distribution of resources for Black students, staff, and faculty on our campuses, such as ongoing resourcing for the Black Caucus and the Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IPBOC) Connections.
- Consultations with community members for alternative ways of providing security on the campus including, for example:
- The creation of a peer responders program, and
- The use of social workers and counsellors for wellness checks.
- In our work with unit and divisional Inclusion Action Plans, advocate for the centering of Black voices and anti-racism and decolonial approaches.
We can do more. We want to hear from you.
We will provide a status report on the above commitments and future developments in December 2020 to the community and the Vice Presidents’ Strategic Implementation Committee on Equity & Diversity.