In Honour of Black History Month: Shining A Light on Anti-Black Racism

A magnifying glass looking into a heart

As we approach the month of February, the Innovation Hub will be recognizing and honouring Black History Month, a period dedicated to celebrating the centuries of traditions, heritage and achievements made by African Diaspora across the world. This upcoming month, a new chapter of history will be added to this powerful novel, based upon the series of unfortunate events that transpired over the past year. The previously existing racial injustices and violence faced by Black communities were for the first time observed on a world-wide scale. But most importantly, what was clearly observed was the concern of not only the past and present, but the future to come.  

‘Silence ensures that history repeats itself’  

Erin Gruwell

When we think of ‘history’, we often mistakenly interpret it as part of the past, when in actuality it’s presence can be felt till this day. Despite generations of actively fighting for equal opportunity, justice and the abolishment of slavery in North America, the fight against systemic racism continues. The UofT community is actively working on eradicating any form of racism that exists in our institution to ensure our campus continues to be an equitable, diverse space inclusive for all its members. Here at the Innovation Hub, every day we continue our commitment to co-creating a campus experience designed for all students. From hosting discussions, interviews and focus groups with diverse student identities, we empathize and integrate the needs of racialized communities within our work and beyond.

UofT Resources of Support for Black Communities

We would like to take this opportunity to highlight UofT campuses and student organizations actively addressing anti-Black racism and supporting members of our Black community and racialized groups. This by no means is an exhaustive or complete list, and we welcome additional resources in the comments below or connecting with us directly.  

Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office (ARCDO)  

  • Supports the tri-campus community on issues regarding race, faith and intersecting identities 
  • Educates and collaborates with campus groups on anti-racism tools, principles, and strategies that can be applied in spaces of higher education, and the broader community   
  • Builds relationships with the internal and external UofT community acknowledging its positionality and capacity to eliminate systemic racism  

Restore @UofT 

  • A restoration program in partnership with ARCDO and Hill Studio aimed at creating a community supporting the intersecting identities of student, staff, and faculty at UofT  
  • Led by BIPOC culturally sensitive counsellors, therapists, and yoga instructors to help create a community to activate agency, strength and restoration  

Anti-Black Racism Task Force 

  • An institutional task force aimed at addressing anti-Black Racism and promoting Black inclusion 
  • Welcomes all members of the UofT community to engage in real conversations on concerns and recommendations brought to the task force  
  • Reviews current policies and practices in place and provides actionable recommendations to the President, Vice-President Human Resources and Equity, and Provost 

Black Students’ Association 

  • A student-led campus organization comprised of self-identified Black students at UofT, aimed to educate and empower Black-Canadians and the international community 
  • Leads community events and outreach with a social, political, and academic focus to support future Black leaders  

Students for Barrier Free Access 

  • A levy-funded student organization that advocates for disabled and mad-identified students at UofT 
  • Works with students, faculties and allies to build an accessible, diverse UofT community 
  • Advocates for socially, environmentally, and financially accessible education  

The efforts made by these campus and student organizations named above are incredibly valued. Other UofT groups need to continue identifying ways of incorporating anti-racism practices in their respective capacities. To dismantle systemic racism, we must individually and collectively uplift Black communities by providing spaces and platforms for their voices to be heard.  

This upcoming Black History Month let’s reflect on the recent and ongoing events of systemic racism existing in our world, the progress that we’ve made, and the actions that have yet to be made. It’s also a time to be hopeful of our future – seeing how a countries’ series of tragedies can awaken other nations, and ultimately an entire world is truly inspiring.  

For additional resources on how to stay committed to anti-racism, check out our previous blog post here. We’ve shared a collection of books, podcasts, and films by Black creatives for you to engage with.

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