OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH BLACK AFFAIRS
The Global Reckoning on Anti-Black Racism at McGill – A Time of Denunciation and Action
In response to the purported 2020 global reckoning on anti-Black racism sparked by the murder of George Floyd, Black communities across the world coalesced to demand change and recognition of the ongoing anti-Black racism embedded across all societal institutions. McGill’s Black community ensured administrators were held to standards intended to usher institutional reforms aimed at dismantling anti-Black racism and reckoning with its own past. As, from its inception, McGill University was founded on anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism as its founder James McGill owned Black and Indigenous enslaved women and children. Moreover, James McGill’s wealth was acquired through profits from the slave trade. This is a history that McGill University administrators have for long attempted to erase and burry, but formally recognized after much pressure from Black and Indigenous students and staff that highlighted the ways in which this legacy is mirrored in the persisting anti-Black racism at McGill captured by the low representation and retention of Black students, faculty, and staff.
While there is a long tradition of Black mobilization and resistance at McGill, 2020 marked an unprecedented level of solidarity and collaboration across Black student groups, staff, and faculty that jointly denounced McGill’s performativity and most importantly, articulated demands to improve their experience and that of generations to come. This mobilization informed and paved the way for the student-led Take James Down Campaign, the Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism, the creation of the Dr. Kenneth Melville Black Faculty and Staff Caucus, and the Black Affairs Committee and Commissioner role within SSMU.
The Black Affairs Magazine
The Black Affairs Magazine highlights Black art, media, writing at the university. We are of, by, and for Black students, for now, for our ancestors in these spaces, and for a better future to come.
We accept prose, poetry, photography, drawings, sketches, short plays, music (lyrics), articles, interviews. If you do not see your specific art form represented, please reach out to the team and we will be happy to discuss your interest and craft further.
For more information see the following guidelines: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eTH09mhrCMVUt4VHP8jagAqRj_-B913KLoVaMAUFmqw/edit?usp=sharing
The Black Student Space
As part of the Provost Anti-Black Racism Plan, The Black Student Space located in 216 Ferrier is a space for Black students to meet, network and share experiences. If you are a Black student who would like to have access to the room please email: email@example.com with your full name and student ID.
Leadership and Institutionalizing Black Solidarity and Support at SSMU
In his capacity as SSMU VP External Affairs (2020-2021) Ayo Ogunremi proposed and successfully spearheaded the creation of the Black Affairs Committee chaired by a Black Affairs Commissioner within SSMU. The establishment of this position marks a pivotal moment to institutionalize and ensure long standing support for Black students at McGill. The Black Affairs Commissioner serves as the Chair of the Black Affairs Committee and is mandated to advocate for Black students at McGill, promote the equity and inclusion of Black students on campus, facilitate events, workshops, campaigns, and other advocacy initiatives. Moreover, this position ensures adequate representation of Black students within the SSMU council and works closely with McGill University’s Black Affairs team. To provide and ensure adequate representation, the Black Affairs Commissioner hosts a monthly committee with representatives from every Black student group and/or service to discuss ongoing challenges and identify solutions and avenues of support from SSMU. Starting fall 2022, the Black Affairs Committee will be funded through a mandatory and historic student levy voted upon and reaffirming the interest and commitment of McGill’s student body to support the improvement of the Black student experience.
To learn more about the Black experiences at McGill and resources available, please consult the following links:
- McGill Anti-Black Racism Plan
- SSMU’s Position on Anti-Black Racism
- Take James McGill Down Open Letter
- Black Student Groups
- Motion Regarding the Creation of the Black Affairs Committee
- Motion Regarding Referendum Question on the Creation of the Black Affairs Fee Levy
- Dr Kenneth Melville McGill Black Faculty and Staff Caucus
- The Black Presence at McGill University
- John Meagher, « Is there systemic racism at McGill? ‘Of course,’ says one of only 10 Black professors”, Montreal Gazette, (30 juillet 2020), en ligne : https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/mcgill-professor-says-systemic-racism-exists-at-university
- Rachel Zellars « Canada’s racist Ivy League: The virulence of McGill’s anti-Black problem», Ricochet (19 octobre 2020), en ligne : < https://ricochet.media/en/3330/canadas-racist-ivy-league-the-virulence-of-mcgills-anti-black-problem>
- Charmaine A. Nelson et al. « Slavery and McGill University: Bicentenary Recommendations » (2020), en ligne (pdf) : <https://www.blackcanadianstudies.com/Recommendations_and_Report.pdf>
- Black Student Network of McGill and McGill Indigenous Student Alliance, « FORGOTTEN NAMES: The People Enslaved by James Mcgill » (23 mars 2021), en ligne (vidéo) :<https://www.facebook.com/BlackStudentsNetworkOfMcGill/videos/forgotten-names-the-people-enslaved-by-james-mcgill/191857152701760/>
- Charmaine Nelson, Hadiya Roderique, Rachel Zellars, « Black Bodies and Anti-Black Racism » Conférence de l’Association des étudiants Noirs de l’Université d’Ottawa — Section Common Law, 8 novembre 2020, [non publiée], en ligne : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RO9xtM4ifM&t=7030s
- rosalind hampton, Black Racialization and Resistance at an Elite University, (Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 2020)
The SSMU External Affairs team is available and ready to help students seeking support to advocate for the Black community, whether it be by starting a political campaign, lobbying elected representatives, working with community community organizations, etc.
For any questions, comments, or general inquiries you can reach the Black Affairs commissioner at firstname.lastname@example.org.