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Statement of the School of Labour Studies on Anti-Black Police Violence and Systemic Racism

Jun 22, 2020

Statement of the School of Labour Studies on Anti-Black Police Violence and Systemic Racism

The School of Labour Studies expresses its solidarity with the Black community in Canada and around the world in the face of ongoing anti-Black racist violence by the police. We acknowledge the grief and suffering of Black students, faculty and staff caused by these events. We condemn these and all forms of racial injustice. We endorse the statements made by the African-Caribbean Faculty Association of McMaster University (ACFAM) and the Indigenous Studies Program, which call on us to examine, challenge and undo our complicity with systems of white supremacy, of which police violence is one expression.

Labour Studies is a field oriented to social justice and the development of knowledge that empowers progressive economic and social transformation. However, like much of the social sciences, it has also been based on and taken for granted histories of exclusion, white supremacy, and settler colonialism. Further, as an academic program situated within the university, we are also part of an institution founded on and designed to reproduce inequalities and power structures of all kinds, most importantly white supremacy. Although the School of Labour Studies has been part of a process of diversifying the field in a host of ways, we recognize that this work is ongoing, incomplete, and requires more specific attention to the issues of anti-Black racism. We will work together as a School to undo white supremacy, and not leave this responsibility to racialized faculty and students. To that end, and with the knowledge that more will be required in the future, we commit to the following:

1/ Curriculum: We will consider ways to increase the diversity of representation in authorship and develop a more substantial commitment to an anti-racist and decolonized Labour Studies curriculum.

2/ Diversity in the School: We will use an anti-racist and equity lens to examine our historical graduate admissions and completion rates, with a view of identifying and eliminating patterns of bias. We will more clearly articulate equity as a consideration in our admission policies. We will also prioritize the hiring and retention of racialized staff and faculty, especially from the Black and Indigenous community.

3/ Graduate Funding and Support: We will critically examine our graduate funding patterns (including teaching assistantships, research assistantships and scholarships) with a view of identifying patterns of bias and developing policies and practices to eliminate that bias. We will also develop forms of financial support for students from historically marginalized groups.

4/ Inclusive Culture: We will engage in ongoing training on anti-Black racism for faculty, staff and teaching assistants, including how to foster equitable classroom dynamics, anti-racist pedagogies, respectful faculty-student relationships, and supportive supervisory practices. Further, we commit to using our annual speaker series to foreground issues of anti-Black racism and anti-racism, and to instituting a reading group to explore the work of Black intellectuals.

5/ Research: We reaffirm our commitment to working with marginalized communities, to bring to light the systemic issues that result in the unequal outcomes they experience. We further commit to increasing our collective capacity to do community service research that addresses the issues and problems that such communities themselves identify as a priority. We also commit to ensuring such research relationships are respectful, responsive and beneficial to the community.

6/ Advocacy: We commit to advocating for institutional changes both within and outside McMaster that dismantle white supremacy and foster genuine equitable outcomes. That includes developing and advocating for ways to recognize the amount of invisible labour Black faculty and staff (and other minority faculty) contribute to the School and the University. We commit to building an anti-racist learning environment and support Black and other racialized students’ struggle against racial profiling and over-policing on campus.

7/ Accountability: The Director, Graduate Program Chair and Undergraduate Program Chair will report regularly to School faculty, staff and students on our progress in meeting these commitments, and will issue an annual report at the end of each academic year.