Race and Ethnicity I: Resistance and Anti-racism Strategies

Wednesday May 18 11:00 am to 12:30 pm (Eastern Daylight Time)
Virtual Platform

Session Code: RAE1A
Session Format: Regular Session
Session Language: English
Research Cluster Affiliation: Race and Ethnicity
Session Categories: Regular Session

In three case studies, this session explores the racialized experiences of Black, Indigenous and people of color and how these groups come together to resist against systems of colonialism and racism. These papers critically interrogate the notion that Canada and the United States are ‘post-racial’. Instead, they use critical race theory to shed light on how communities of colour are racialized in politics, social movements, education and religious institutions. The authors illuminate on the different resistance strategies that communities of color adopt Tags: Race and Ethnicity

Organizers: Jennifer Adkins, University of British Columbia, Hyacinth Campbell, Brock University, Jessica Stallone, University of Toronto; Chair: Jasmeet Bahia, Carleton University


Melissa McLetchie, York University

The significance of racial and ethnic consciousness to anti-racist resistance: A case study on the Moorish Science Temple of America

In 2013, the United Nations declared 2015-2024 the International Decade for People of African Descent. During this time, international governments have agreed to commit to the recognition, justice, and development of Black peoples as part of their communities around the world. While there has been much political, public, and academic discussion exploring solutions to anti-Blackness and systemic racism in Canada, Black peoples and their communities continue to be one of the most marginalized groups in Canada. Using a case study exploring the teachings of the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA)—a religious group that catered to Black Americans in numerous northern cities in the 1920s and now has an established community in the City of Toronto—this paper offers alternative recommendations to uplift Black Canadians. This paper uses existing literature to examine the organization’s various arguments and how they self-presented to the public. It aims to answer the following questions: (1) How did the resistance rhetoric’s of the Moorish Science Temple of America position the organization in relation to the dominant political and social rhetoric of Black worthlessness and inferiority at the time? (2) What can the practices of the Moorish Science Temple of America teach us about the significance of racial and ethnic consciousness to anti-racist resistance? This paper looks at how the MSTA was able to counteract the dominant political and social rhetoric of anti-Blackness during a time of explicit racism.

Shukri Hilowle, OISE, University of Toronto

The Trump Effect: Debunking the False Narrative of "Post-Racial" America

This paper debunks the ‘post-racial’ myth of America through examining contemporary issues including the rise of the Alternative-Right movement along with the divisive campaign of President Donald Trump. This paper also addresses how colorblindness is used to ignore White hegemonic systems and also continue to mask contemporary issues including the ongoing violence Black Americans endure at the hands of law enforcement. This paper uses critical race theory as a framework to show that the fallacy of a “post-racial’ America introduced during the election of Former President Barack Obama has been completely undermined by the rise of the Populist movement in America. The Trump campaign was riddled with hate speech including his slogan “Make America Great Again”, which was a direct message to move back to the status quo when it comes to race-relations. This paper also examines the Black Lives Matter movement along with the push back from the All Lives Matter movement; the ALM movement was created solely to juxtapose itself against all the BLM movement seeks to address. The ALM movement follows this trend of subverting any discussion regarding race despite evident that shows that Black people are more likely to be harassed and murdered by law enforcement. Racial profiling statistics along with carding also debunks the myth of colorblindness. This paper examines the 2016 Presidential elections to show that race is a central issue and how it is embedded in America’s society.

Augustine Park, Carleton University; Jasmeet Bahia, Carleton University; Alex Bing, Carleton University

Comparing the experience of BIPOC graduate students in the social sciences and humanities and STEM disciplines

In the context of ongoing racialized and colonial disparities in Canadian academia, this paper centers on the experiences of graduate students who identify as Black, Indigenous or people of colour (BIPOC). Based on qualitative interviews, we compare the experiences of BIPOC graduate students who are in the social sciences and humanities with the experiences of BIPOC graduate students in STEM disciplines. Key themes we address include the experiences of students in the classroom, with supervision, as researchers and as teachers. This paper investigates the following questions: (1) What are the common experiences among BIPOC graduate students in social sciences and humanities relative to students in STEM disciplines? (2) How do their experiences differ? (3) What are possible explanations for similarities and differences? To analyze participants’ experiences, this paper uses critical race theory (CRT) to argue that racism is structurally embedded in Canadian academia. Moreover, we use critical race theory to challenge colour-blind and meritocratic ideologies of Canadian academia, and situate contemporary experiences in relation to colonial histories. Moreover, this paper uses a critical race methodology (CRM) that focuses on experiential knowledge and counter-narration in relation to the hegemonic discourse of Canadian academia. A core goal of this project is to imagine strategies to improve the experiences of BIPOC graduate students through exploring their recommendations for universities.

Rhonda C. George, York University

Grappling with Symbolic Anti-racism as Institutional Praxis

The emergence of a global pandemic and several high-profile killings of Black civilians by police (George Floyd and Breona Taylor), followed by a groundswell of global protests against police brutality, exposed the current state of race relations in North America and the ways in which various institutional structures (health care, education, politically, etc.) continue to fail Black populations in interconnected ways. Through a comparison of formal educational policy from Ministries of Education in two of Canada’s most multicultural and racial diverse provinces, Ontario and British Columbia, myself and colleagues (George et al., 2020) found that both educational contexts ignored systemic racial inequality through symbolic anti-racism as institutional praxis. We defined symbolic anti-racism as “policy language that gestures toward a commitment to racial equity in line with the doctrine of Canadian multiculturalism and the imperatives outlined in various legal acts, but does not enact any targeted, substantive programming to identify, rectify, or prevent structural racism (George et al., 2020, pp. 168–169). Underpinned by Critical Race Theory, this paper in progress will further develop and unpack the concept of symbolic anti-racism to argue that it is a form of systemic praxis that is rooted in liberal incrementalism and is resistant to substantive and radical change regarding systemic racial injustice. As a concept, symbolic anti-racism names and grapples with the persistent structural stasis embodied vis-à-vis symbolic actions. While this paper may use mostly the Canadian context as a case study, it contends that symbolic anti-racism and its elements are employed in many contexts, particularly those that have a sizeable population of African diasporas such as the U.S. and the U.K.