More than 60 years ago today, the world watched with horror as police in South Africa opened fire and killed 69 unarmed people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid. Nineteen years later, the General Assembly of the United Nations announced a week of solidarity with peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination beginning on March 21.
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a painful reminder to all of us of the horrific actions of that day 60 years ago. It’s an opportunity to recommit to identifying and addressing systemic and individual racism and building equitable and inclusive communities for everyone. It’s also a time for all of us to take a moment to look inward, and work to understand how racial discrimination affects us all and prevents us from being strong and successful.
As someone who grew up in South Africa under apartheid, I understand in a very real way, how harmful systems that perpetuate racism and leave people out, can be. When parts of our society are excluded, we all lose.
I want you to know that at the University of Guelph, we are deeply committed to fostering a safe and inclusive educational, working, and living environment where all University community members experience an authentic sense of belonging. We are focused on removing all barriers to full participation and success for students, faculty, staff and the broader community. In fall 2020, we were pleased to launch the University’s Anti-Racism Action Plan which highlights 14 key initiatives to combat racism, hatred, and discrimination on our campuses. It includes the important work of the President’s Advisory Committee on Anti-Racism. In addition, the plan lays out various education and training initiatives, data collection, scholarships, community supports and more. It’s a roadmap, designed to help us create the supports and resources needed to meet the diverse needs of our U of G community and to build a strong foundation for our future. We have made tremendous progress on every item of this plan and you can learn more through our Anti-Racism Action Plan Dashboard.
In addition, this past fall, U of G was proud to join 40 other Canadian universities and colleges in signing the Scarborough National Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion to address anti-Black racism at Canadian post-secondary institutions and commit to building supports that foster Black inclusion on campuses.
Today, dedicate some time to your own anti-racism and anti-oppression education. We can do better and we must do better. The Office of Diversity and Human Rights has a number of resources and trainings available including:
- Anti-Racism & Anti-Oppression Resource List
- Principles of Belonging: Anti-Oppression & Anti-Racism
- University of Guelph’s Anti-Racism Action
For more information about anti-racism and anti-oppression training and education, or U of G’s Human Rights Policy, please reach out to DHR at email@example.com.
AVP of the Office of Diversity and Human Rights