by Melissa Theodore
In recent years, many Black History Month programs and themes have focused on Black Futures. Paying homage to Black people, who have paved the way by acts of resistance, in a white supremacist nation-state is important. It’s also important to address current issues and highlight the actions that are necessary to achieve Black Liberation/ Black Inclusion.
EUC’s theme for this year is Championing Black Inclusion and Enhancing Black Futures. On February 24th2021, York University launched Addressing Anti-Black Racism: A Framework on Black Inclusion and the Action Plan on Black Inclusion. Subsequently, EUC released the Black Inclusion Action Plan 2020-2025. These initiatives directly address the current issues and actions that are necessary to create an equitable, diverse and inclusive campus for not only the Black York Community, but for everyone. I strongly believe that when we address issues that affect the most historically marginalized, everyone benefits. In the words of Angela Davis, “There is a universality of when you work to empower the most marginalized.”
In summer 2020, when George Floyd was murdered at the hands of state-sanctioned police violence, the calls to address anti-Black racism were reignited in all aspects of society, including post-secondary institutions. In Canada, the demands such as decolonizing and including anti-racist pedagogies in the curriculum; hiring Black professors and ensuring their advancement; and removing barriers for Black people to access education and achieve success, have been made for decades. I hope that in 10 years, the actions currently underway are sustained, and that new calls of actions are being addressed.
During her talk on, Are Prisons Obsolete, Angela Davis pleaded that, “We have to re-imagine the way we live on this planet. The nation-state will not be the eternal example of how human beings organize themselves in this planet.”
Black futurism is dependent on the envisioning and actualizing the dismantling of systemic oppression. To move beyond Eurocentric binaries of Black/white, man/woman, gay/straight, etc. and create the possibilities where everyone can not only survive but thrive.
Melissa Theodore is a Senior Advisor, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Centre for Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion. As the EUC EDI Advisor, her role includes supporting the implementation of York’s Decolonization, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEDI) Strategy, in ways that are responsive to the needs of faculties. Her role also encompasses consulting and advising on EDI matters, implementing EDI initiatives and frameworks, including the EUC Black Inclusion Action Plan. She is passionate about dismantling systems of oppression within post-secondary institutions by removing barriers and embedding equitable and inclusive systemic practices.