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Find the most recent updates here, as well as FAQs and information for students, faculty and staff.

Ways to take action

In the Classroom

Phrasing and question asking  

At times when discussions of racism, discrimination, race relations and racialization come up in the classroom, you may have comments and questions to ask. You may be curious as a lot of the content brought forth may be novel to you, worrisome, confusing, and/or interesting. Being mindful of how we discuss these topics in the classroom and with racialized students and peers is important as curious conversation can quickly turn into harmful and discriminative discourse, regardless of your intention. The power of language is important to remember as certain words and phrasing might trigger and exacerbate the historic and present-day harms that students of colour have experienced. Being mindful of tone, verbiage, reflecting on emotions before speaking, ensuring speech is not triggered by microaggression/white fragility/white rage, and differentiating between helpful and hurtful questions are important considerations for productive and safe conversation. Some thought points to consider when engaging are: 

  • If you are looking for “justification” or examples of an experience to legitimize a point, it’s harmful. Asking your peers to disclose instances of racism or discrimination to make it tangible and valid to you is not only traumatic but it is invalidating. If you are struggling to see how racism and discrimination is a present-day issue, ask your professor, look online into youtube videos, local news, blogs and books 
  • Asking questions about people's culture is a great way to gain an understanding of race, ethnicity, culture, and its role and importance in people's life. Be mindful about asking “why” certain races and cultures practice certain things or believe in certain things. Focusing on phrasing and question asking such as “This seems like a really important part of you! What is the significance to the ____ people and culture? Where can I find more information on the history of ____” 
  • Avoiding “you” and “your” statements. Generalizing community issues to a person or a group of people is quite violent. You’ve heard of the phrase “your people”. The phrasing, while neutral to you, can feel othering, marginalizing, and spotlighting to others. It also may be misidentifying or generalizing/lumping together cultures that are actually nuanced and different! 
  • Playing devil’s advocate for more information is harmful. You may have learned other perspectives from your own life and educational experiences that do not seem to match up with what you are hearing in the classroom. Rather than playing devil’s advocate or “offering a different perspective” to a discussion around lived experiences that you do not hold, ask for clarification. And ensure to ask for this clarification from leadership in your group, not the students of colour. Try, “I am struggling to grasps some of these concepts, can we clarify _____”  or “There are a lot of different viewpoints on this topic, can we zoom in on its connection to ____” and link to a tangible concept that is taught in class, not the disclosure or perspective that a student of colour may have shared. 
  • Sometimes, out of our learning, we may have breakthroughs and realizations that we feel compelled to share with the students of colour in class. For example “wow, I never knew it was that bad for you guys”, “this is so much, can you tell me what I can do”, “I just feel so bad, it must be so hard to be ___”. While your intention may be to sympathize, further understand, and resource building for your own journey to advocacy and allyship, phrasing such of this continuously places people of colour in victimhood statuses and it is quite offensive. Unpacking your feelings about a topic that is a reality for someone and new to you can be re-triggering and burdensome to people of colour. Think about groups you can join and other folks you may be able to interact with to unpack some of your new learnings

Advocacy and defending racialized students--how to challenge racism in the classroom  

At times, you witness and hear things in class that are outright racist and discriminatory. Silence or withdrawal from this situation is an action that continues to perpetuate violence and racism in the classroom as it allows the racism and discrimination to sit unaddressed in the room. You may be waiting for the instructor to jump in or for the student of colour to “stand up for themselves”. And while we may place the responsibility of tackling uncomfortable and harmful things in the classroom to others, there are opportunities for you to challenge yourself and speak up. This does not mean you need to have an argument with a perpetrator in class; sometimes that perpetrator may even be your instructor. And you may further worry about the impact speaking out may have on your social life, grades, and functioning. 

However, a lot of success and support have come from ally’s speaking out when harm is present and clear. Students of colour further appreciate the support and reprieve from having to tackle these things alone. And more often than not, when one person decides to speak up, many others follow. Trying neutral phrasing when racist and or discriminatory discourse is happening in the class can make you feel confident standing up for what is right! Here are some samples: 

  • “We are getting off-topic and what is being said is not productive, can we refocus” 
  • “What is being talked about here is quite offensive to people, I think we should stop” 
  • “What you are saying is harmful” 
  • “I think you should stop and think about what you are saying” 

If these feel uncomfortable, reporting to the Equity and Inclusion Office or having a private conversation with the leadership/faculty member of your class to assist in addressing conversations like this in the future is another useful step. Checking in with the students of colour in your class with phrasing like, “What was said in class today was really harmful. I just wanted to see if you are okay?” or “If something like that happens again, would you feel comfortable with me speaking out or addressing it in x,y,z, ways” may also be a helpful addition.

Supporting advocacy initiatives and Partnering with Students of Colour

There are a lot of BIPOC advocacy initiatives, research projects, and events happening around campus that are accessible through research institutes, caucus groups, and general marketing.

We encourage you to browse your school website, BIPOC caucus group pages/Facebook/social media to figure out how you may be able to support. If you feel uncomfortable attending or participating, reposting to increase marketing outreach and word of mouth promotion is a powerful tool for support and social action. Other ways are actively integrating BIPOC students into your groups/white-dominated spaces. Invite them to groups you may be a part of, partner with them in class on school projects, and/or develop BIPOC networks for mutual support and learning/strategizing exchanges. 

Do not be afraid to “seep yourself” in the culture; this does not have to be appropriative or invasive! Attending events and partnering with BIPOC students increases your exposure to different perspectives and ways of life that can be educational and transformative for you while adding to your toolbox of allyship. There are so many ways to partner and support initiatives for BIPOC students that are not necessarily costly in regards to time or finance. But it is an important intentional step necessary to a) close the racial divide on campus b) assist in ameliorating the social isolation BIPOC students feel on campus and c) cause campus-wide positive change for everyone, regardless of race. 

 

Ways to acquire knowledge

Opportunities for Learning More

As mentioned throughout, uncompensated labour is a central theme to the BIPOC student experience. Uncompensated labour is having to educate someone, often with your own lived experience, reading/literature, and facts, to support someone else's learning, unpaid. The responsibility of teaching about race, racism, and racialization is the responsibility of either yourself or your instructor. It is not the responsibility of students of colour to teach, disclose and comfort for the purpose of your learning journey. We encourage you to explore courses at mac, other literature in the resource list below and engage with instructors to acquire knowledge. Some suggestions are in the tabs here:  

Courses you could take at Mac that explore these issues  

  • Critical Perspectives on Race, Racialization, Racism and Colonialism SOC WORK 4C03 
  • The Sociology of “Race” and Ethnicity SOCIOL 2FF3 
  • Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality SOCIOL 2JJ3 
  • Case Studies of Social Inequality SOCIOL 2RR3 
  • Popular Culture and Inequality SOCIOL 3NN3
  • Work and Racism LABRST 2J03
  • Critical Race Studies ENGLISH 3A03, CSCT3A03, PEACEST3A03, WOMENST3H03
  • Introduction to Anthropology: Race, Religion, and Conflict ANTROP 1AB3 
  • Sport and Culture HISTORY 4LP3
  • Arts in Society: Social Constructions of Race and Gender ARTHIST 1PA3 
  • Race, Religion, and Media CMST 3RR3
  • Social Identity, Health and Illness HLTHAGE 2B03 
  • Health Inequalities HLTHAGE 3R03
  • Working Across Difference in MidWifery HTHSCI 1X06
  • Violence: Social Justice Perspectives and Responses SOC WORK 3L03 
  • Anti-oppressive Practice SOC WORK 2BB3 
  • Ethnicity, Race, and the Bible SCAR 3RB3 
  • Graduate Courses 
  • The New Constellation of Race: Sovereignty, Citizenship , Social Death CULTR ST 727/ ENGLISH 727/ GLOBALST 727
  • Sociology of Race and Ethnicity SOCIOL 758 
  • Race, Labour, and Migration in the Early Twentieth Century Transatlantic Imaginary ENGLISH 722/ CULTR STT 726
  • Race and Gender in Colonial History HISTORY 77- 
  • Theories of Work, Social Justice and Inequality SOCWORK 710
  • Theme in the History of Post-Slavery African Diaspora GLOBALST 761/ HISTORY 761 
  • Political Sociology SOCIOL 714
  • Sociology of Education SOCIOL 716 
  • Modern Caribbean History HISTORY 724 
  • American Foreign Relations HISTORY 728
  • Film Theories Social and Cultural Differences CULTR ST 702 
  • Cultural Production and Cultural Studies CULT ST 703
  • Social and Environmental History of Modern America HISTORY 754 
  • Rethinking Politics: Thinking Past War, Democracy and Terror CULTR ST 791/ ENGLISH 791 
  • Archaeologies of Identity ANTHROP 733

On-campus 

 

In community

Resources