Module 3: Anti-Black Racism
This module was designed purposely to initiate and deepen reflection on anti-Black racism and the discourse that has real impacts on people’s day-to-day interactions. Anti-Black racism (ABR) is defined as “prejudice, attitudes, beliefs, stereotyping and discrimination that is directed at people of African descent and is rooted in their unique history and experience of enslavement and its legacy” (“Glossary“). Anti-Black racism is institutionalized, and Canadians of all races (including other racialized non-Black people), are socialized to be inherently anti-Black. Because anti-Black racism is institutionalized and expressed in hidden or subtle ways, people find it difficult to identify behaviours or outcomes that are rooted in racism. These behaviours and outcomes are typically cloaked by a narrative of “that’s just the way things are” or “that’s how it’s always been done,” not attributing factors of racism in shaping them. This is what makes systemic and structural racism invisible, as they are left unchecked and unaccounted for. The reality, however, is that anti-Black racism can be severe, resulting in job loss, lack of access to healthcare, inciting violence, and exclusion. This module describes the legacy of White supremacy and its existence in institutions and influence on everyday practices, prompting users to begin the acknowledgement of anti-Black racism.
Anti-Black Racism and EDI – A Synthesis
So, how do these models relate to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policies and practices? Recall Module 1, in which diversity was noted to involve increasing the mix or variety of different people but not necessarily guaranteeing integration. Inclusion goes beyond compositional mix and is characterized by the participation of equity groups in decision-making. There is a clear recognition that conditions of equality presume sameness amongst groups and are distinct from equity. Seeking equality serves to mask barriers and leave narratives that perpetuate discrimination uninterrupted.
Equity involves the elimination of power inequalities, resources, and access among social groups. These concepts, coupled with this module, aim to provide strategies for self-advocacy for Black-identifying students and highlight responsibilities for co-creating inclusive work and learning environments. Beginning that process of acknowledging anti-Black racism by pushing toward equality and equity. EDI is meant to equip people with the proper tools to dismantle, disrupt, and demand more within organizations. However, it is essential to understand that people need to work with the dignity of having their histories acknowledged and their life experiences valued. It is vital to feel a sense of belonging and be able to witness and acknowledge restorative justice in the actions of those around you who are actively creating an inclusive environment for individuals.
Here is an image that helps with understanding the difference between equity and equality. Notice the impacts and actions associated with each concept. In this picture, it has “Justice” as a separate endeavour from Equity, highlighting the impact of moving toward justice-seeking initiatives. Most importantly, it illustrates that justice does not look the same for all people. It is with the inclusion of Black and racialized people that justice will best be determined. Focusing on the voices of those affected to identify the direct impacts and experiences of disproportionate resources and exclusion will inform more inclusive, safe and welcoming environments.