By Matthew Brett

Over 140 McGill students, faculty and staff participated in a July 13 event about allyship against anti-Black and systemic racism with the goal of introducing participants to the idea of effective allyship and moving toward concrete action.

The “effective allyship against anti-Black and systemic racism” event was part of an ongoing series of events and actions taken by the Social Accountability and Community Engagement (SACE) office in response to the killing of George Floyd and ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.

Prior to this event, the SACE Office held a community-based open forum for Black students, faculty and staff within McGill’s Faculty of Medicine to share experiences and reflect.

The allyship event followed in response to students and faculty community members appealing for guidance on what they can do in the fight against anti-Black and systemic racism.

Dr. Saleem Razack, Director of the SACE Office, shared a key takeaway following the event.

“Allyship is a practice, not a destination,” said Dr. Razack. “Deep listening to the voices of those one seeks to be allied with is the most important part of good allyship, coupled with tangible actions.”

This event was meant to be an introduction to the topic of allyship with a more concrete workshop about skill-building for effective allyship planned for the fall.

Dr. Pascale Caidor, the SACE Diversity and Engagement Program Officer, said this first event was an opportunity for allies to critically question individual and collective allyship with Black communities. She stressed the importance of naming systemic racism and speaking about anti-racist practice.

“The issue of anti-racism has suffered from invisibility,” said Dr. Caidor. “This notion needs to be made increasingly present in our narrative and discourses. This moment requires that we make explicit commitments to embrace anti-racism. We need to speak up and teach ourselves how to engage and dismantle systemic racism. Silence on issues of racism and microaggressions can no longer be acceptable.”

Dr. Caidor encouraged individuals and groups to take concrete action.

“We encourage the university community to become allies in the fight against anti-Black racism by taking concrete actions in their daily lives to overcome racism,” she said. “These actions can take the form of reading to become better informed or participating in anti-racism initiatives. We invite the university community to initiate actions in their respective units, programs, and departments.”

The workshop began with an overview about allyship from Charlene Lewis-Sutherland, the Equity Education Program Administrator with Teaching and Learning Services.

 A brief panel session provided the opportunity for Faculty staff member Matthew Brett, Dr. Jaswant Guzder and Dr. Saleem Razack to share their experience with allyship against anti-Black racism. This was followed by a brief breakout room session where all participants had an opportunity to share and propose concrete actions.

August 5 2020