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Acknowledging and Supporting Black Flourishing and Black Excellence: Inaugural Inter-Institutional Forum and Symposium of the Scarborough National Charter

by Dr. Arig al Shaibah, Associate Vice President, Equity and Inclusion

In the last three years, McMaster’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Action Plan has served to elevate and action several transformative priorities that have long been raised by Black and racialized community members through McMaster’s African and Caribbean Faculty Association, the Race, Racism, and Racialization Working Group of the President’s Advisory Committee on Building an Inclusion Community, and most recently the Black Indigenous and Racialized Staff Employment Resource Group.

This past weekend, on behalf of McMaster, I attended a two-day Forum and Symposium organized to operationalize institutional commitments to the Scarborough National Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion – an event which took place in Vancouver and was co-hosted by the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. This was an historic galvanizing moment for those of us who came together with a common purpose to advance Black flourishing and Black excellence in our respective institutions.

The event brought together EDI leads and senior administrators, representing a rich ethnocultural and racial diversity of diasporic Black and racialized peoples as well as allies. As a racialized person of Afro-Arab decent who has been championing EDI in higher education for the past twenty years, it is difficult to fully articulate the affirmation and inspiration that I experienced in this space. I felt a deep sense of belonging in higher education in the ethno-relative, not the ethnocentric sense of the word. Rather than a concept of belonging that requires assimilation to be included in another culture, this notion of belonging allows for different ways of being to coexist on equal footing.

This profound moment of empowerment and hopefulness was disrupted by the jarring news of the racially motivated targeting and killing of several members of the Black community in Buffalo, New York. This stark reminder of the saliency of anti-Black racism, further reinforces the need to press ahead with our efforts to educate, resist, and eradicate racial hatred and systemic racism.

McMaster remembers Buffalo shooting victims, reaffirms commitment to anti-racism – Daily News