Anti-Black Racism Efforts in Higher Education Are the Subject of a Virtual Discussion on UWindsor

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The murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis nearly two years ago and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests prompted universities – including the University of Windsor – to introduce anti-racism initiatives. -black, many of which are well advanced today.

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While support for black students, new programs and the hiring in clusters of black professors show that “this is a really exciting time and a very promising time,” there is still work to be done. That’s according to Annette Henry, a co-appointed education professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Race, Gender, Sexuality and Social Justice, who gave a virtual lecture on Friday to cap off a series distinguished speakers presented by the University of Windsor office. of the Vice President of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“Higher education institutions are particularly prone to reproducing inequalities,” said Henry, whose fellowship examines race, class, language, gender and culture in teaching and learning. Racism is “deeply embedded in university culture”.

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For black professors at academic institutions, it’s also a “very trying time,” she said. Black professors are often tasked with serving on these new black anti-racist committees and hiring task forces.

“There’s a kind of racial taxation, a diversity burden,” Henry said.

“There are so few of us doing this work, and there is a need in so many areas.”

In the summer of 2020, the University of Windsor launched its 20-member Anti-Black Racism Task Force as part of a larger initiative to dismantle systemic racism on campus. In the months that followed, he announced a strategy to hire 12 black professors by the end of the 2023 hiring cycle, as well as a Black Anti-Racism Initiatives Fund, offering grants of $10,000. $ for research, teaching, learning and curriculum projects, and students. leadership opportunities.

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While “we know that hiring a bunch of people is not a silver bullet” and is “just one gap we can fill”, Henry said it’s an important strategy that has “the potential to increase the number of black faculty and diversify the discipline”.

“This promises positive effects for the universities concerned. These affect what we can teach, who we might attract as teachers, and students’ desires for people who are like them and who validate their background and work,” she said.

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Henry invited attendees to consider “how wonderful it would be” for students to have more curricular options and to see themselves represented “and also to understand the black diaspora from their own enlightened perspective.” Black graduate students at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Education whom she interviewed for research studies said the program was Eurocentric and did not take into account their experiences.

“Good things are happening and we need to celebrate that,” Henry said.

However, “structural change is needed. Until then, systemic racism will continue to manifest in the colonial way in which black Canadian professors are ignored.

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