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Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Western is committed to fostering Equity, Diversity and Inclusion within the campus community and as such has recently hired a new EDI Education Coordinator within Student Experience. Check this page as we will continue to add new educational EDI pieces and work. 

Key Concepts

Hierarchy of Justice

  1. Justice: fixing the system to offer equal access to both tools and opportunities
  2. Equity: custom tools that identify and address inequality
  3. Equality: evenly distribute tools and assistance
  4. Inequality: unequal access to opportunities


Dimensions of Racism

Institutional: policies and practices that reinforce racist standards within a workplace or organization

Structural: multiple institutions collectively upholding racist policies and practices (ex. Society)

Interpersonal: racist acts and micro-aggressions carried out from one person to another

Internalized: the subtle and overt messages that reinforce negative beliefs and self-hatred in individuals



Racism VS. Prejudice VS. Discrimination VS. Oppression

Racism: the belief that your race is superior to others (must have power and influence to believe so)

Prejudice: a preconceived opinion or belief that is not based on reason or experience (disregard for, or lack of, factual reason)

Discrimination: acting on one's prejudice

  • This can be denying someone their rights or access to spaces because of their gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sex, etc.

Oppression: a prolonged cruel and unjust treatment of a group by harnessing prejudice and discrimination within the legal, social, economic, and cultural parts of society

  • This is rooted in historical, institutional, ideological, and structural forms of power

What is Intersectionality?

Intersectionality is the interconnected nature or social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Examples: 

  • I am a gay, White male
  • I am a Black woman
  • I am an upper-class Asian female
  • I am a Black man with a disability

The goal of intersectionality is to acknowledge and show how multiple overlapping identity markers interconnect.

Anti-Racism

What does it mean to be anti-racist?

"Anti-racism is not an identity or a checklist; its an ongoing decision to uproot the ways white supremacy resides within you, your relationships and the systems you navigate each day."- Andrea Ranae

Here are some ways you can be anti-racist:

Raise awareness.
Being aware of racial injustice and oppression simply isn’t enough. It is important that you recognize your role in stopping the cycle of racism to actively work towards anti-racism.

Education is key.
The goal of self-education through books, podcasts and films is so that you are able to recognize the injustices around you through a more informed perspective. Education is foundational in better understanding the injustices and systems of oppression we live within, while also working towards better understanding the biases and privileges we hold individually.  

Unlearning is a necessity. 
We have a moral obligation to unlearn our learned thoughts, behaviours, and practices.   Begin by examining your immediate thoughts and reactions towards the efforts of anti-racism work. If you are feeling any discomfort, this means that your self-examination is beginning to settle in. Push through the discomfort and continue to self-examine your place and position in the world.

Teach others.
The responsibility of educating others should not continue to fall onto the Black community. Once you have taken the steps towards actively practicing anti-racism, the burden is shifted and the wheel of societal change begins to turn.  

Do your part.  
  • Take the time to better understand the Canadian context of #BlackLivesMatter.  
  • Become aware of the importance of demanding justice.  
  • Tap into existing resources for self-education.
  • Unlearn learned behaviour.  
  • Support the Black Community by shifting the responsibility of education on to yourself.   

What is Anti-Asian Xenophobia?

It is fear and hatred of "others" for their difference. Using COVID-19 as a method for further instilling fear of the Asian community is one form of Anti-Asian Xenophobia. Engaging in this form of anti-Asian xenophobia and racism reinforces harmful stereotypes and spreads discriminatory misinformation which directly impacts the well-being and safety of individuals of Asian descent.

 

What Can You Do As An Ally to Help Stop The Stigma?

  1. Continue to educate yourself and others from reputable resources such as public health officials.
  2. Share accurate information about the pandemic.
  3. Speak up if you witness xenophobia or racism through the spread of misinformation
  4. If you experience anti-Asian racism, you can virtually submit a complaint to the student code of conduct through this link.

Resources

PROTECH - aims to reduce the negative psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Chinese Canadians and other affected groups while promoting community resilience.
Addressing Anti-Asian Racism: A Resource for Educators - A TDSB resource to empower educators to take action against anti-Asian racism.

How can I learn more?

Actively working towards anti-racism begins with education. Here are some resources on racism and anti-Blackness that you can use for self-education.

Films and TV Series to Watch:
Dear White People - Justin Siemen
American Son - Kenny Leon
Clemency - Chinonye Chukwu
If Beale Street Could Talk - Barry Jenkins
The Hate U Give - George Tillman Jr.
Selma - Ava DuVernay
When They See Us - Ava DuVernay Just
Mercy - Destin Daniel Cretton

Books to Read:
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in The Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
White Like Me: Reflections on Race
from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise
How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
Black Feminist Through by Patricia Hill Collins
Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present written by Robyn Maynard
The Skin We're In written by Desmond Cole
Black Life: Post BLM and The Struggle For Freedom written by Rinaldo Walcott and Idil Abdillahi
Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter In Canada edited by Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson, Syrus Marcus Ware

Podcasts to Listen To:
Code Switch - NPR
1619 - New York Times Intersectionality Matters by Kimberlé Crenshaw
About Race
Still Processing - The New York Times
Race Haven
Facing Race: Stories & Voices
Putting Racism on the Table

Share these resources and use them to start a conversation about anti-racism with friends and family members. Be more than "not-racist" but actively "anti-racist".

Microagressions

Types of racial microagressions and their effects

Microinvalidations: subtly or obviously denying or attacking the experiences, feelings, and thoughts that people of colour have

  • Ex. "I don't see colour, we are all human beings, all lives matter," and grouping different experiences a of racial/ethnic group
  • What it does: can make people of colour feel invisible and frustrated

Microinsults: verbal and nonverbal insults that demean or discredit people of colour

  • Ex. "you speak so well/articulate, he's so angry/she's spicy, I can't believe you wrote that," judging appearances
  • What it does: can affect the self-esteem of people of colour

Micro-assaults: very explicit verbal or nonverbal attacks against people of colour

  • Ex. Using racial slurs, avoiding eye contact, saying things like "Black men scare me/FEM (female to male transgender individuals) are not real men."
  • Ex. Guilty before innocent for Black youth

Allyship and Calls to Action

Where to Start

Racism & Anti-Blackness in Canada is very real. It is deeply woven into the fabrics of society and normalized in everyday practices. Silent solidarity or simply re-sharing social media posts is simply not enough. Everyone has a role to play in creating change. Here’s what you can do.  

Here are other ways you can contribute to the Black Lives Matter Movement:

  • Donate to a legal defence fund locally in Canada or internationally in the US.  
  • Buy from Black-owned businesses as much as possible.

Sign petitions on change.org:  
  • Justice for George Floyd Petition 
  • Colors of Change Petition  
  • Justice for Breonna Taylor Petition 
  • Justice for Ahmaud Arbery Petition  

Donate to Canadian Black owned non-profit organizations such as:  

Ways to Practice Allyship

Being in a position where you can learn about racism through theory, rather than through lived experiences is a privilege you were born into. Using these privileges in everyday practices are unavoidable. However, while benefiting from systemic privileges and power, you can also do your part as an ally to actively practice and commit to fighting racism wherever you find it, including in yourself.

A Guide To Practicing Allyship:

1. Listen intently. Listen to those impacted by racism to learn and listen to those who are inflicting the cyclical pain of racism to call them in and educate them.

2. Self-evaluate your own practices and implicit biases. For example, are you sub-consciously choosing to only have friends from the same socio-economic or racial backgrounds as yourself?

3. Stand up and speak up in the race of racism, discrimination and oppression in person and digitally.

4. Speak WITH not FOR marginalized communities by uplifting the voices you are trying to support.

5. Transfer the benefits of your privileges to others.

6. Learn to receive and accept criticism on your practices with grace. Learning to practice allyship is a journey. You are going to make mistakes and people will correct you. Don’t take it personally. Learn to accept the feedback gracefully and learn from the mistake.

Racial Trauma and Support

What is racial trauma?

Racial trauma is the physical and psychological responses to the cumulative effects of racism and discrimination. Like survivors of other forms of trauma, racialized and Black people may experience the mental and physical symptoms of racial trauma after constant exposure to racism.

Some possible symptoms of racial trauma could include: Headaches, Insomnia, Body aches, Shame, Depression, Anxiety, Self-blame, Increased vigilance, Hyper-sensitivity, Disassociation, Burn-out, and Irritability.

What are some ways to cope with racial trauma?

There is no one universal way to cope with racial trauma but we want to offer you a few tips to help you cope with your own experiences of racial trauma.

Feel. Allow yourself to acknowledge and feel all of your emotions. You may be experiencing a range of emotions right now that may include, sadness, anger, frustration, hopelessness, or even numbness. That is okay. We encourage you to allow yourself to feel all of the feelings you’re currently experiencing.

Connect. Surround yourself with people who give you a safe space to express emotions. A space where you do not have to feel like you need to continue carrying the burden of educating others. Stay connected with your loved ones. Stay connected with Black members of your community. Reach out for support as necessary.

Set boundaries. You get to decide when, where, and who you want to engage in these conversations with. You also get to decide which direction and how much energy you want to give to these conversations. This applied to online and offline. YOU set the boundaries.

Embrace Black art. As we try to remain engaged and up to date with the Black Lives Matter movement, we are repeatedly being exposed to traumatic images of Black bodies being beaten and hurt throughout these protests. Take some time every day to consume Black art and celebrate Black joy.

Don’t let go of your basic needs. Make sure to eat healthy and regular meals, stay active and hydrated, and try to get a healthy amount of sleep. We need you to take care of YOU right now, and we’re here to help you do that.

Try new coping methods. Check out this Black Lives Matter Meditation for Healing Racial Trauma by Dr. Candice Nicole on #SoundCloud.

How can I support someone experiencing racial trauma?

The person who can decide how to process racial trauma is the person who is experiencing it. As allies, your responsibility is to offer the support and space your friends, peers, and colleagues need to cope with the racial trauma.

Here are some ways that you can support someone in need:

    • Send a message to your friends who are impacted by this the most. Recognize that you may not receive a response, and that is fine as that is part of the grieving process.


    • If possible, drop off contact-less care packages to your friends who are impacted by this the most. Be sure to take the opportunity to include items and resources that you know they could really use right now.


    • Donate in your friends’ names to Black-owned non-profit organizations that are offering resources to the Black community.


  • Offer your friend the space to call/facetime and freely talk without feeling the need to offer solutions or “fix” the problem. The problem is systemic. You can do your part to change the system in your everyday practices. But when giving your friend the space to grieve, it is okay to not have to “fix the problem”.

Where can I go for support?

For those who would like to access additional support, you can do so by accessing Western Health & Wellness. Those who are experiencing racial trauma can access a safe and compassionate space to talk about their experiences and receive support without necessarily needing to contextualize. We are in support of your well-being.