U of T Graduate Department of Anthropology Statement on Anti-Black Racism

The Graduate Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto stands in solidarity with Black communities against recent and ongoing police brutality. We acknowledge the distress that members of our community may be experiencing in response to recent examples of anti-Black police violence and the subsequent protests and counter-protests across North America. We declare our opposition to the racial terror and state-sanctioned violence that shape the lives of Black people in North America. We support the demands to end police brutality and to move towards community-centered restorative justice. We acknowledge that some members of our community benefit from systems of white supremacy while others are targeted by and vulnerable to its systemic workings that disenfranchise, oppress, terrorize, and cause bodily harm. As such, we commit to takingĀ specific action.

While our actions as a small community of scholars cannot protect or insulate us from either violence or complicity, we can take ownership of our institutional roles. We commit to listening to, supporting, and caring for our colleagues and students. We can take solace in and remind others of the political power of Black feminist teachings of self-care (see: Audre Lorde). We can engage the tools of our profession to forward the broader cause. We recognize that white supremacy took centuries to assemble, and so too, may take generations to undo; still we commit to confronting it, both today and throughout our lives, knowing that future generations are depending on our work.

This statement affirms our commitment to anti-racist practice and to using our skills and resources to advance the production of knowledge for social justice. We reaffirm our departmental statement on diversity and decolonization, and understand anti-Black racism as a specific, historical system of oppression that is entangled with other oppressive systems, among them settler colonialism, extractive capitalism, classism, ableism, patriarchy, and heterosexism.

We recommit to addressing anti-Black racism in our lives and work. This requires specific, actionable, and measurable commitments. We commit and invite our colleagues to join us as we:

  1. Prioritize the integration of scholarship by Black scholars in our research publications and graduate curriculum
  2. Develop a coordinated strategy for public-facing scholarly projects that mobilize anthropological expertise in the service of addressing white supremacy and anti-Black racism
  3. Develop and put in place a strategy to attract and retain faculty and graduate students from the Black community by addressing implicit and explicit barriers to Black scholarship in our discipline and institution
  4. Address other issues of implicit bias and structural barriers in our institutional policy

We put forth these commitments as necessary, sound, and in accordance with the ethical commitments of our profession as anthropologists and our roles as scholar-educators. We offer these action points as a container, in hopes that they may foster individual and collective efforts in the service of a more just future. We consider this list as in tandem with our commitments to decolonizing our department, a related process of dismantling white supremacy. We commit to transparency, and a standing offer to share the details of each of the above points, including proposed timelines and specific action items with our community and the public.