By Kien Saningong Azinwi and Rawan Habib
As a long-overdue conversation occurs nationally and globally on the persistent and systemic nature of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism within our societies, we know all too well how complicit our post-secondary institutions are. Our institutions “pride” themselves on equity, diversity, and inclusion while simultaneously targeting, harassing, and oppressing Indigenous, Black, and racialised bodies on their campuses.
Institutional racism in PSE
Our campuses are a reflection of society. The narrative of diversity and inclusion fails to acknowledge the institutional racism that exists amongst our society as a result of our colonial history and the current influence of neocolonialism. The same anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism that fills our streets and spaces, also fills lecture halls, senate meetings, and all the corners of our postsecondary institutions.
Following the death of George Floyd, institutions and corporations nationally scrambled to formulate tweets that expressed the fact that Black Lives Matter, in an attempt to distance themselves from their own anti-Indigeneity and anti-Blackness. When the world is watching, our administrations choose to be vocal about incidents of anti-Black racism, but have always been silent when it comes to those very instances happening on our campuses. No amount of disingenuous statements will change that. No amount of disingenuous statements will change the fact that our administrators would rather protect their colonial and racist namesakes than protect their Indigenous, Black, and racialised students. No amount of disingenuous statements will change the fact that our administrations hide behind non disclosure agreements as they target and harass Indigenous and Black staff and faculty, and no amount of disingenuous statements will change the fact that our institutions would rather hide behind working groups to address racism, than work to enact real tangible change that Indigenous, Black, and racialised students have been calling for, for years.
As Indigenous, Black, and racialised students, we’ve been watching and listening to our administrators’ empty message boxes for some time – we’ve heard all about various institutions’ mandates and commitment to social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, they certainly haven’t followed through with tangible support for Black, Indigenous and racialised students. We believe that enough is enough. We have led and organized many campaigns, actions, and protests, but now we believe it is time to strike.
This call to strike is inspired by the growing global movement against anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, including the recent strikes by professional athletes in so called “Canada” and the “United States” and the #ScholarStrike “Canada” led by Black, Indigenous, and racialised faculty.
Orange shirt day
Building off the momentum of these strikes we are calling for a virtual province-wide, Orange Shirt Day commemoration and student-led strike against racism on Wednesday, September 30, 2020 – Orange Shirt Day. A strike led by students for students, staff, and faculty.
Orange Shirt Day occurs annually on September 30 to commemorate and honour the experiences of Indigenous children that were stolen and lost to the Residential School System. This is an opportunity to host the necessary acknowledgements and conversations surrounding the long-lasting impacts of the Residential School System on Indigenous communities as a colonial tactic of erasure and genocide.
From the demand to recognize and implement orange shirt day province wide and campus wide, to decent work and decent pay, to the collection of race-based data, to cops off our campuses and to a free and accessible educational system and many more, these demands are a reflection of where the system and our institutions have continuously failed Black and Indigenous students.
So, save the date! On September 30th, we will come together to commemorate Orange Shirt Day and STRIKE against anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in our institutions. On September 30th, we’re going ALL OUT to support Indigenous and Black students, staff, and faculty!
More information can be found on our socials, @allouts30 on Instagram and Facebook. You can register for sessions at: https://s30strike.eventbritestudio.com/. As the #S30Strike falls on Orange Shirt Day, folks are asked to attend wearing orange. #AllOutS30 #S30Strike #OrangeShirtDay
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