When it comes to social justice everyone has a role in ensuring our society is equitable and fair for all its members – no matter their race, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or educational background.
For generations, Black lives continue to be undermined within our society as a result of long-standing institutional racism embedded in daily practices. To dismantle these systems in place, and to truly be anti-racist, we must understand the experiences of Black lives in various communities and examine our view of ourselves and one another.
If you’re a Black student looking for a community or simply an ally interested in learning more about the Black experience, we’ve compiled a list of upcoming events, books and films we think are worth checking out! We welcome any additions in the comments below!
As we continue to acknowledge the rich history of Black communities, let’s remind ourselves to embed Black voices, excellence and stories into everyday life – not just one month a year. Diminishing Black experiences to a single month of the year is disregarding the very accomplishments made by Black people in every area of work. We also want to highlight the importance of centring (and creating space in our lives) to continually learn about Black History. It’s critical for us to learn from history – and not solely dominant narratives from Canadian and American History (and beyond) – to truly understand the immense importance of being anti-racist in our lives. Together.
Our Design Researcher, Heather Watts, wrote a thought-provoking piece on why it’s important to incorporate Black voices beyond February, which can be found here.
UofT Events to Attend
February 11th, 12 pm – 1:30 pm EST
- Black athletes across the globe find a sense of belonging, acceptance and achievement in sports. They are often referred to as exceptional and treated as such; however, this treatment doesn’t protect them from the everyday racial and systemic injustices they face because of their skin color. Now, as a result of COVID-19, new challenges have unfortunately heightened by a forced stand-still in their professional athletic careers. Join this virtual session to learn more about the varied experiences of Black athletes in professional sports.
February 12th, 12 pm – 2 pm EST
- Join for the screening of an incredible documentary on modern racial conflict in Canadian History. In her first feature-length documentary, Director Mina Shum takes a penetrating look at the infamous Sir George Williams University sit-in of February 1969, which began with a group of Caribbean students suspecting their professor of racism. It ultimately triggered an explosive student uprising that turned into a 14-day student occupation at the Montreal university.
February 12th, 10 pm – 1 pm EST
- Join us along with UofT Libraries & community partners to edit pages in Wikipedia for Black History Month. The sessions will begin with a brief on-boarding presentation by our facilitators to help us through all aspects of research and editing.
February 22nd, 5 pm – 7 pm EST
- Join the Hart House for a conversation with Jael Richardson, Ian Williams, and Andrea Davis as they share their personal journey as Black Writers and professionals in Canadian Literature. This event will also discuss how Black writers are shaping the future of Canadian Literature by working at the crossroads of identity, culture, and creativity. A wonderful opportunity for Black Students interested in literature and literary professions to learn from experts on how they can forge their own future in Canadian Literature.
February 24th, 4 pm – 6 pm EST
- Join the Hart House Black Future Series to listen in on continued conversations at the crossroads of art, culture and community to hear how Black and Indigenous artists (from Filmmakers, Afrofuturist Visual Artists, and Futurist Writers) are grappling with their place, culture and identity in a future that doesn’t exist yet.
February 26th, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm EST
- For its 19th year, UofT will be hosting its annual Black History Month Luncheon virtually for the first time. This highly anticipated event will feature a keynote speaker and a panel discussion. Another important aspect of the luncheon is the opportunity for attendees to support efforts at UofT that are meaningful and important to our community.
Books to Read
- In this New York Times Bestseller, Kendi takes readers on an exploratory journey behind the fundamental concept of antiracism and its potential in reshaping the views we have of ourselves and others. This book also helps readers observe the different forms of racism that exist, its monstrous impact on society and the active role we can play to oppose them in our day-to-day lives. How To Be an Antiracist is a recommended read for anyone who would like to go beyond awareness and instead make actionable steps towards an equitable, inclusive world for all.
- If you’re looking for a powerful account of what it means to be Black, especially a Black woman in America, look no further. This breathtaking memoir shares the reality of Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Co-Founder of the Black Lives Matter Movement, which was condemned as a terrorist group and a threat to America. Coming from an impoverished community in Los Angeles, Patrisse experienced her share of prejudice and persecution. She believes Black people are the most vulnerable people of America who are being ruthlessly targeted by the Criminal Justice System. Her resilience, strength, and survival has led her to become a global activist today and voice for ending racial injustice in Black communities.
- This eye-opening piece by Michelle Alexander, a litigator-turned-legal-scholar, reveals the truth behind the criminal justice system and its ties to the political and economic powers of the US. The New Jim Crow forces us to come to a realization of just how much the criminal justice system was not designed for Black communities.
- Considered to be a timeless classic, Baldwin eloquently has written a powerful novel consisting of two “letters” written at the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. The first letter is dedicated to Baldwin’s 14-year-old nephew, while the second letter dives deeper into American racism. If you’re looking for a novel that evokes feelings of hope & misery by sharing the uncomfortable truth of US race relations from 1963 that is still relevant now – this is the book to read.
- Beautifully written from the perspective of a Black woman, mother, queer, educator & cancer survivor, Lorde takes us on a journey of exploring her intellectual development and long-standing concerns on advocating differences & disparities regarding sex, gender, sexual orientation, and race. This collection of essays written between 1976 and 1984 summarizes the past & current experiences concerning the US and her feelings of being an ‘outsider’.
- In this powerful work, Ta-Nehisi writes a letter to his adolescent son attempting to answer questions of what it’s like to live in a Black body and how to survive in one. It offers a powerful new way of thinking about US history and its foundations being built off the idea of ‘race’. Between the World and Me provides a fresh take of history and personal narratives to delve into what racism currently looks like in comparison to the past, and what we can envision moving forward.
- One of the most prominent social justice leaders of our time, Shaun King, provides a clear road map for allies to dismantle systemic racism and advocate for social justice within their lives. As an activist and leader of the Black Lives Movement, King is committed to reforming the justice system in America to ensure its fair and equitable for all. Through this journey of activism, he faced triumphs, soaring victories and crushing defeats that he intimately shares to help inspire and educate readers, especially those who believe that change can, and must happen in America.
Films & Shows to Watch
- 13th – on Netflix
- When They See Us – on Netflix
- Deeply Rooted – CBC Gem & YouTube
- The Colour of Beauty – National Film Board of Canada
- The Loving Story – on Amazon & HBO
- Who Killed Malcolm X – on Netflix
- Journey to Justice – National Film Board of Canada
- LA 92 – on Netflix
- Nancy’s Workshop – on CBC Gem & YouTube
- Home Feeling: Struggle for a Community – National Film Board of Canada
- Selma – Amazon & Netflix
These are just a few of the many impactful work being showcased by Black communities. If you have additional resources, please feel free to comment down below or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to add to our resource list. For additional thought pieces and resources on anti-Black racism, check out our previous blog posts below.