Recently, the EIO issued a statement on anti-Black racism. While we engaged with our own staff in drafting the statement, we did not reach out to other campus organizations. We neglected to consult widely with Black leaders on our campus, instead we prioritised our internal pressures and sense of urgency. For this, we apologize. This needed to be a moment of intentionally reaching outwards and connecting to the larger Black community and we failed.
In light of this, and with apologies to Black students, staff and faculty, the EIO retracts its June 11th statement and issues the revised statement below. We stand fully behind the Black Caucus and Black community at UBC in their advancement of institutional change and to dismantle racist structures at our institution.
Recent protests and resistance in response to the murder of George Floyd, of Regis Korchinsky-Paquet, of Breonna Taylor, of Tony McDade, of Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, have forced the broad acknowledgement of historic and currently entrenched anti-Black racism.
Universities also reflect, produce, and reinforce the same anti-Blackness, and the structures, logics, and cultures uphold whiteness. The University of British Columbia cannot succeed when Black students, staff, and faculty face barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential.
This current moment of protest, resistance, and social organizing by Black communities emerges in the context of historic struggles that have challenged the afterlife of slavery and demands the recognition of Black experiences, Black knowledge, and Black intellectual traditions. For too long, this knowledge has been erased, co-opted, and silenced. Yet, protests and social outcry have always birthed new ways of thinking and doing, built on the emotional, physical, and spiritual labour of Black community members.
We must all act in solidarity and the way we do our work must change.
Our work at the Equity & Inclusion Office (EIO) is not just a job – it is deeply personal and political. We each hold a different relationship to what is happening in the streets. Some of us are from communities directly impacted, or our loved ones are profoundly affected. For others, we move through the discomfort of our complicity to learn meaningful allyship. For all of us, the commitment is to dismantle structures of power that allow for anti-Black violence to persist and to mobilize for Black liberation.
It is essential for the EIO to listen, to see, to hear, to speak up, to change, to do more, and to do better.
We commit to:
- Working with the President to implement the commitments made in his statement of June 1st and June 16, 2020.
- Supporting the work and recommendations of the Black Caucus to create institutional change and to dismantle racist structures at our institution.
- Continuing to uphold and care for Black faculty, staff, and students through ongoing engagement and dialogue on both campuses, to more effectively advocate for appropriate support and resources.
- Educating on the subject of anti-Black racism and white supremacy:
- Distributing and promoting anti-racism resources and campaigns
- Developing a framework for community members to grow their skills to combat anti-Black racism
- Partnering with the Senior Advisors to the Provost on Racialized Faculty, and Women and Gender Diverse Faculty on a mentorship program for both campuses.
- Advocating for the centering of Black voices and anti-racism and decolonial approaches in unit and divisional Inclusion Action Plans.
- Holding ourselves and our colleagues accountable as we challenge and unlearn behaviours and practices rooted in white supremacy, including:
- Hosting internal conversations to reflect on our own perspectives, biases, and privileges
- Incorporating learning about our own perspectives, biases, and privileges into our internal performance reviews
We can do more. We want to hear from you.
We will provide a status report on the above commitments and future developments in December 2020 to the community and the Vice Presidents’ Strategic Implementation Committee on Equity & Diversity.