Speech to President Lachemi, VP Equity Denise O’Neil Green, Dean Lisa Barnoff
Introduction of Black Liberation Collective-Ryerson
• The Black Liberation Collective is an international movement and multiple chapters and is a well connected network and strong collective.
• It’s a national and international (from Mizzou to here) movement for Black liberation.
• Well resourced, highly-skilled group of activists and organizers who are engaged across many campuses and linked to multiple social movements that are also off-campus
• We need one at Ryerson University because anti-Black racism occurs across this campus and experienced at every intersection of identities. This includes Black staff, faculty, and instructors and speaks to how we treat Black peoples on our campus.
◦ This includes visitors, people experiencing homelessness
• There is a long and persistent history of anti-Black racism on this campus. The recent incident that happened on October 27th, 2016, simply made visible in one interaction what many of us have known, witnessed and experienced on this campus. Our focus goes beyond just this individual/one interaction as this happened because of an entire atmosphere that allows, supports, and maintains anti-Black behaviour that continues without discipline, recourse, or accountability.
• We’re not here to tell our individual stories of anti-Black racism, and spill our guts about our pains and sadness, and we aren’t here to substantiate or validate that anti-Black racism is alive, well and thriving at Ryerson. This should be clear by now, and we’re not going to relive our traumas for you and unearth and share our experiences of violences here because we’re busy trying to heal. We also need to protect ourselves today because we are still students and we still have all this work to do. If you want our stories, we’ll give you direction for that later.
• What we are willing to say is the following:
◦ This institution is anti-Black
◦ This administration is anti-Black
◦ Your professors are anti-Black
◦ Your staff are anti-Black
◦ Your students are anti-Black
◦ Your services are anti-Black, including but not limited to:
▪ Counseling support
▪ Sexual violence prevention
▪ Office of Equity, Community, and Inclusion
▪ Financial Aid Office
◦ Essentially it’s all anti-Black
Action and Requested Responses (Numbers Associated with Demand)
1. An apology is non-negotiable because there has to be accountability for what we witnessed, experienced, and watched. As an employer Ryerson has a responsibility to demand accountability. We don’t care if you believe his actions were anti-Black, we know it is. Henry Parada needs to meaningfully apologize, and we’re at least kind enough to allow the apology to only be shared with the people in the room that day, which is BLC-Ryerson, Black community, and Black scholars. This is extremely generous and we’ve moved away from the public release, but we will not negotiate on this apology. He did something wrong and he must apologize and be accountable. He can send it to BLC-Ryerson and we will make sure the people in the room receive it, which is a huge concession for us. You would think that Ryerson University would be taking more seriously this issue given that on Friday, September 22nd 2016, another professor was written about in the Toronto Star around allegations of bullying and a toxic work environment where folks felt demeaned, overworked and disrespected. How many more times are we going to hear these narratives? Alex Ballingall is quite interested in our story and badly behaved employees of Ryerson. This is not academic freedom, this is freedom to marginalize and behave poorly. Do not conflate academic freedom and collective agreements to badly behaved people on your watch. There are many stores and quotes, we have the testimonials from graduates past and present, alumni, and undergraduates. Trust us that you don’t want us to release these testimonials. It won’t be good for the School of Social Work, the university, and especially not Henry Parada.
2. Anti-Black racism needs to come out o the mission until after the School of Social Work has done the work it needs to. The School has indicated in our communications that they know they have work to do. It doesn’t have to be forever, but it will be more meaningful this way and is non-negotiable. Words are words, if they want to fight us it indicates that they are more concerned about the words over the actions.
3. University-wide systemic review on anti-Black racism, which can involve the Office of Equity, Community, and Inclusion but should be led by a Black faculty member that does research in the area. There should also be a separate, very small, 4-7 Black faculty (1 position has to be CUPE) from across the university who focus on anti-Black racism. They would then help guide and support the review as well as ECI office. Denise’s office should be connected but at an arm’s length. The reason we want to work together but at arm’s length is because we need to be looking at what’s happening in ECI. It’s a non-negotiable and the faculty member needs to be well resourced. We have suggestions of who can help with this work, and this isn’t to make it into a popularity contest, it’s just we’ve done our research and know who we want.
1. The report should include:
1. Action plan
2. Race-based data
3. Who is being admitted
4. Where they are in programs
5. How much are academic misconduct charges (i.e plagiarism)
6. Who is being reported to the conduct officers
4. The Black Liberation Collective-Ryerson needs resources, financial and space, on this campus to provide support to do workshops, to teach Black students and to also support the work that’s happening more institutionally. At the end of the year we will provide a report on the activities and use of these resources and submit it directly to the President’s Office. You don’t tell us what we will do with these resources however we will be accountable to it.
5. We want an award from the School of Social Work for Black students
6. We want a non-ECI university-wide award for Black students, and we want an entrance scholarship that is not from ECI either. This way we get them in the door, and we want to give them money when the are here.
7. All people who will be handling this issue (President Lachemi, VP O’Neil Green, Dean Barnoff) have at least one full day of listening and learning teaching exercises around anti-Black racism. This should come from Black people in this institutions doing this work. There are folks like Akua, Grace-Edward, and can be co-facilitated by members of the BLC-Ryerson.
8. President Lachemi is going to have a session on his own to meet with Black students, faculty and staff you don’t know to learn about their experiences of anti-Black racism on campus. Hear in the first person what exactly it means to be Black here. You can pick some of these folks and so will we. We want you to hear from the woman who works in the kitchen, to the people keeping our washrooms clear, to Denise O’Neil Green. These should be 7 conversations that across this campus throughout the year.
9. We want an action plan from the School of Social Work for what they will be doing, and we don’t want anymore emails from these folks. Until they come up with a plan we don’t want to hear from them. They aren’t doing anything but are trying to communicate with us. What for? We don’t want to talk about our feelings anymore, we want an action plan.
11. Dean Barnoff create committee of Black and Indigenous faculty to support FCS in dealing with these issues.
STATEMENT FROM THE BLACK LIBERATION COLLECTIVE-RYERSON RE: ACTION
-November 28, 2016
After one month of waiting for the School of Social Work to provide a genuine and meaningful response to our open letter released on October 28th, 2016, we are will no longer be waiting. After witnessing and experiencing years of anti-Black racism, we will not be idle. After watching the former Director Henry Parada of the School of Social Work perpetuate anti-Black racism, and the School be silent on this act, we cannot be silent.
Our action today is a manifestation of larger issues of anti-Black racism within the School of Social Work, that we are making public. We indict the School of Social Work of perpetuating anti-Black racism through placing our Black educators in the most precarious forms of employment, through particular educators allowing Black students experience anti-Black racism in the classroom without addressing these acts. We charge the School of Social Work of perpetuating anti-Black racism through providing zero funding specific to Black students and our experiences, community work, and acts of social justice. We charge the School of Social Work of perpetuating anti-Black racism through their complete lack of engagement with us, the Black Liberation Collective, to work towards a solution to the above issues.
Our action today is a display of our voice, and willingness to bring these issues to the School of Social Work. It is a display of our ability to work in solidarity with Indigenous students to liberate both of our communities, and our ability to engage other students to work in solidarity with us.
Our demands from this action are simple:
• Commitment to meet on January 18th, 2017 with Black students, community members, staff, and faculty to engage with Director of Social Work, Dean of Community Services, and other higher administration
• A commitment to starting the process of challenging anti-Black racism and anti-Native racism in the ways outlined by the Black Liberation Collective, the Indigenous Students Rising, and all other people who voice their concerns
• An official apology from Henry Parada that names what he did and why he stepped down
• A commitment to our previously stated demands in the open letter, and responses to the School of Social Work
For more information and/or an interview with a representative please contact:
The Black Liberation Collective