Department of Communication Studies Statement in Solidarity
The Department of Communication Studies, located on traditional Kanien’kehá:ka Nation Territory, stands in solidarity with and strives to learn from Black activists in Canada, the US and around the world fighting against white supremacy and police violence. As a pedagogical and research institution, we commit to honoring the leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement in the fight for freedom, liberation, and justice. In doing so, we renew our commitment to examining and teaching about the systemic violence and structural inequalities that shape our world, from society and its media to the university and its classrooms. We strive to foreground minoritarian knowledges and to shed light on practices of resistance developed to address the intersections of racism, colonialism, patriarchy, heteronormativity and ableism.
We recognize that it is not enough to stand in solidarity; we must also acknowledge that the problems at the heart of the policing system are also at the heart of academia. As the hashtags #BlackintheIvory and #CommunicationsSoWhite testify to vividly, academic institutions are disproportionately white and discriminate both structurally and substantively against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of colour) scholars, students and staff. Engendering change in society at large starts by enacting change in our own communities.
We therefore recognize the legacy of systemic racism at one of Concordia’s founding institutions, Sir George Williams University, in the late 1960s, and highlight how students have then as now been at the forefront of demanding racial justice. This activism has subsequently forced frank discussions of racism in Canada and impacted the paths forward for social and racial justice. Beyond the university, we recognize that racial violence is systemic worldwide, and that the global pandemic has intensified and amplified this violence against Black, Indigenous and people of colour, against non-status workers in Canada, against the Asian community, against the Muslim community, and against people with disabilities and immuno-compromised communities.
This racism is in evidence in Montreal/Tio’tia:ke, in documented and widespread anti-Black, and anti-Indigenous policing and in the failure of Montreal police to address racial bias. Thus, we join the call from Black Lives Matter and other BIPOC activists to defund the police, locally, federally and internationally, and to invest instead in building more just practices and infrastructures that support and keep our communities safe. We emphasize in these times that safety means both the freedom from racism and structural discrimination, but also a living wage, access to healthcare, and workplace safety rights.
Our Statement of Commitments includes concrete steps and measures the department is taking in the 2020-21 academic year and beyond. We understand that these are only small steps in a difficult and ongoing struggle towards building a more just society. We will continue to self-examine and take the lead from Black, Indigenous and people of colour activists to build a world free of white-supremacy, colonialism and inequality.
Statement of Commitments and Calls to Action
Department of Communication Studies, Concordia University
The Department of Communication Studies has been committed to minoritized knowledge for many decades, in its curriculum, its graduate research work, and its research labs, grants and projects. We do this work conscious that there is much more to do to fight white supremacy and violence through the scholarly engagement, research, and pedagogy developed in the program. We thus commit at the departmental level:
To develop new forms of active outreach to recruit BIPOC students, staff and faculty in order to redress their underrepresentation in the department, and the Humanities more broadly, and to advocate for such transformations in other departments and at university-wide levels through concrete measures (inclusive job descriptions that valorize multiple career paths and forms of academic labour, admissions processes that centre the experience of BIPOC students, robust peer mentoring, and others);
To undertake a self-review of our curriculum and teaching methodologies to include more BIPOC scholars, artists and activists—not only in special topics courses that deal with questions of race, Indigeneity and/or cultural difference, but throughout the curriculum of the department as a whole. We will seek to recognize, validate and encourage teaching and research methodologies developed in non-Western and minoritized contexts, and recognize alternate paths into and out of the academy including through Concordia’s Indigenous Directions Action Plan to decolonize and Indigenize Concordia and our curricula.
To support research excellence among our existing BIPOC students, actively recruit new students, and address structural and systemic inequalities in funding through a targeted recruitment allocation in the 2020-21 academic year.
To reinstate the Annual Lecture on Diversity and Canadian Media, in order to elevate critical discussions on the intersections of race and media; and organize an event series featuring emerging BIPOC scholars working on communication and racial & social justice.
To ensure that the critical, intellectual and creative contributions of BIPOC students to Concordia University become a more visible part of our campuses’ institutional history. This includes but is not limited to hosting an online exhibition about the protests against systemic racism in the classroom that started in 1969 with the occupation of the ninth floor of the Hall building by Black students.
This Statement of Commitments is a living and evolving document, which will be updated and expanded upon over the course of the coming year, as events and actions become elaborated and commitments met with actions.