To our community,

In light of recent events, we at BGSS wish to make clear that we stand in solidarity with the protests against systemic anti-Black racism and police brutality. The killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Breonna Taylor and more all come at the head of a long, revolting history of unjust policing and systemic injustice against Black people in North America and abroad. We stand explicitly and unconditionally with our Black student body here at UTM, the country, and abroad. Furthermore, we recognize the longstanding histories and systems that maintain racial inequality across our society, including within science, academia, and higher education. It is incumbent on all of us, regardless of our various identities or lived experiences, to come together to combat discrimination of any kind in order to build a more just and equitable society, and that includes here in our own academic department.

It’s easy to dismiss this as a uniquely American problem, and as something that doesn’t affect us north of the border, but the fact is that anti-Blackness rears its insidious head just as well in our country. Some examples of police brutality and violence we’ve seen right here in Toronto include the reckless, violent behaviour we saw from riot police during the G20 protests ten years ago; unjustified street checks (‘carding’) that disproportionately targeted people of colour; and the murders of Andrew Loku and many, many others. Many of these are highlighted in the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s 2018 report on policing of Black communities by Toronto PD. Certainly there are ways in which Canada lags behind other western nations in racial justice; to give one simple example, recall that the University of Toronto only began collecting racial demographics of the student body four years ago. The persistent absence of collecting COVID-related data with demographics remains an egregious example of the “one size fits all” fallacy and reflects a longstanding practice of failing to recognize the need for such data to address specific needs of Black communities. Our country has its own long and ugly history of hatred and prejudice against Black people and against Indigenous people, and it’s high time that we confronted it and strove to make things right. At the end of the day, racism doesn’t care about borders; it not only thrives within our own but also passes back and forth across them. Racism is a global problem, and as such, it demands a global effort to eradicate.

Please see here for a list of resources and ways to contribute.