Still I Rise: Anti-Racism Resistances

Session Code:  RE1                                            Session Format:  Roundtable

With the rise of systemic racism in various forms, it is important to explore the creative resistances that are also taking place. This session will explore these resistances taking place in the Canadian context.

Organizer and Chair:  Maria Wallis, York University


  1. Breaking Silence and Opening Windows

Author(s): Sonia Aujla-Bhullar, University of Calgary 

Quite understandably, emotional responses, whether controlled or spontaneous, whether positive, negative or apparently neutral, permeate our day-to-day interpersonal interactions. Although the roles and functions of emotions are seldom acknowledged in either the social sciences literature concerning relationships between dominant/dominated individuals and groups, or in one’s workplace, emotions pervade all socially constructed systems and structures of power and concomitant social relations. In one’s workplace, for example, emotions are often relegated to the margins. They are regarded as unnecessary intrusions or viewed as being individual, personal, subjective, instinctive, feminine and accordingly, allowable to some extent, in private spheres of one’s life. With the use of stories of various women from a larger study, this paper draws on important works of critical emotional studies and critical feminist studies to explore the roles and functions of emotions (positive and negative) as nsights into identifying forms of social control. It further explains some key strategies of enforcement of dominant discourses in public educational institutions. As importantly, it identifies minority women teachers’ responses to the socio-economic and cultural work environments in which minorities are seldom welcome. The discussion will include a few findings from my far larger study about the experiences of South Asian women teachers in a western Canadian, prairie city as a window revealing insights concerning emotions previously silenced.

  1. Practice of Sakihitowin: Mediation of racism from a Nehiyaw/Cree worldview

Author(s): Davina Rousell, Carleton University     

To date the study of prejudice has and continues to be informed by Western theories of knowledge and resulted in the marginalization of non-Western ways of knowing such as Indigenous theories of knowledge. This study addressed this dearth in the literature by employing inductive methodologies (Indigenous and Grounded Theory) to examine a cohort of 21 Indigenous students’ lived experience with an option course called the Photography class. This class taught students about the mediation of racism from a Nehiyaw/Cree worldview through the teaching and practice of sakihitowin/love. By strategically interweaving Indigenous and Grounded Theory methodologies, the study facilitated the emergence of a substantive process theory term the sakihitowin learning circle. This theory provides critical insight into how community stakeholders can begin developing more effective and meaningful approaches to mediation of racism in the Canadian context of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations.

  1. Allying While White: Three Frames for Praxis

Author(s): Ismael Traore, McMaster University     

Antiracism study in Canada mainly focuses on differentiating itself from multiculturalism, identifying the latter’s ineffectiveness, unearthing the resistance of white educators and service providers to antiracism education, and promoting antiracist education. Very little empirical studies look at the intersection of quotidian bystander antiracism and whiteness; what I call “allying while white”. Drawing from qualitative interviews and surveys with 35 white participants, I present three frameworks participants use to conceptualize antiracism as external action. These include: equality and human rights, anti-oppression, and unpacking whiteness. I also cover key facilitators and challenges participants face in doing antiracism. Of particular significance is participants’ cognizance of the psychosocial consequence of racism to Whites. I argue that this generates a personal investment in doing antiracism that is more stable than bystander action that is exclusively motivated by images of the ‘suffering racialized other’. Recent movements such as Black Lives Matter and Idle No More have led to fiery debates about the role of moderate white progressives in racial justice seeking social movements. Drawing from social identity theory and racial identity development theory, my study maps out the ideal way Whites can position themselves in these movements.

  1. Whither Multiculturalism? Anti-Black Racism and Black Resistance in Toronto, from the BADC to BLM

Author(s): Storm Jeffers, University of Toronto       

This work challenges the trope of Canadian multiculturalism by taking stock of the history of anti-black racism, black resistance , and efforts to dismantle resistance through symbolic and physical violence. I analyzed 198 newspaper articles and self-made webpages to identify and compare factors which facilitated or hindered the efficacy of 2 Toronto-based resistance groups; the Black Action Defence Committee ([BADC] most prominent from 1988-1992) and Black Lives Matter Toronto ([BLMTO], 2014-2016). BLMTO has had more relative efficacy at meeting their own goals than their predecessors. This is because 1) the efforts of the BADC brought anti-black racism into the public consciousness, creating a foundation for future black liberation movements. 2) BLMTO has benefitted from social media and demonstrated mastery of social media as a tool in their repertoire of resistance. 3) Leadership characteristics (race as it intersects with gender, class, education level, and sexual orientation) impact the outcome of social movements. Those who contend resistance groups use rhetoric predicated on hegemonic narratives based on these characteristics to suppress credibility and situate both movements as social problems . Nevertheless, as compared to BADC, the leadership characteristics of BLMTO position them as less of a threat than their predecessors and invites allyship .

  1. Comparative Perspectives on an Antiracist Sociology

Author(s): Jarrett Rose, York University     

As a product of the Enlightenment, sociology—the scientific study of society and social behavior—is founded on an “objective” approach to analyzing social phenomena. Yet, despite aspirations to universal equality, social “perfectibility,” and neutrality, many founders of the discipline have been accused of racial discrimination and Eurocentrism. To address this paradox, I assess two distinct theoretical paradigms aimed at the genesis of racism and racial categorizations in social theory by asking the question, “Can there be an antiracist sociology?” By analyzing the differences between Karl Marx’s historical materialism and Michel Foucault’s genealogical method, this paper will evaluate the implications of such divergent perspectives on systemic racism within the fields of sociological and philosophical analysis in an effort to assess possibilities for a future antiracist sociology.

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