About this Training Session
Have you been a bystander to racism and wondered what to do? Have you stood, frozen, not knowing how to intervene?
As I sat at my desk, hurriedly scribbling my 3rd "Racism isn't welcome here" statement, that was totally me.
You see, yet another swastika was found etched into the bathroom stall door on the campus where I worked, under my watch, while I was the Director of Diversity and Equity. I was starting to feel like maybe I wasn't really an expert in anti-racism and social justice because these statements simply weren’t working!
That’s when I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and I started to think about what I did know:
First, I knew that the "go-to" approaches were NOT working.
Second, I knew that no leader could do anti-racism work alone.
Third, I knew that if it was true that racism operated in systems, then I need to approach this work with the system in mind. Starting to feel a bit better, I kept digging. I thought about my Masters and PhD in Education and what it had taught me about how racism operates (at the system level), and what is needed to do this work effectively (real action planning). I thought about some of the red herrings that distract us in our fight for racial justice (looking for individual racists) and the ways that we can engage more meaningfully in racial equity work (creating and promoting policy changes).
And then it hit me. I knew a fourth thing.
I knew it was time to A.C.T.
What does A.C.T. mean to me?
It means associating meaning: Connecting the racist incidents being witnessed to the larger social justice movements taking place in our communities.
It means co-creating solid plans: Demonstrating our commitment to racial justice by developing solid strategic plans that outline how we are imagining getting “there” from “here”.
And it means tuning and fine tuning: Consistently assessing the steps we are taking and adjusting as needed so we stay focused on building an anti-racist world.
This is what the A.C.T. for Racial Justice will help you do too!
By engaging in these three steps, I started to make anti-racist choices that had a bigger impact. Instead of writing another statement, I announced the creation of the e(RACE)r Summit on the Status of Race and Racism on Canadian University and College Campuses. I sent out invitations to decision makers across the sector inviting them to join the movement for racial justice in post-secondary education. And on March 21, 2016 when senior leaders from 19 institutions came together to talk about the importance of co-creating anti-racist campuses, we experienced the power of connecting individual racist incidents to the larger racial justice movements like Black Lives Matter or Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation so that we all had a deeper understanding of the why behind our day-to-day anti-racist work. These decision makers did more than simply admit they needed help. They committed to co-creating solutions and sharing action plans that could create real change. By the time I was back at my office, 20 new institutions wanted to join the movement for racial justice knowing that if they changed their campuses, they would be changing their communities. And now, no matter where you are looking to make the change, when you register, you can join the racial justice movement too.
Looking forward to working with each and every one of you!