Statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD)

Next Monday, March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD).

On March 21, 1960, South African police killed 69 people demonstrating peacefully in the Black township of Sharpeville against racist pass laws that, among other restrictions, controlled where Black South Africans could live and work. The United Nations created IDERD in 1966 to commemorate the lives lost in the Sharpeville Massacre and to join global communities in the fight against all forms of racial discrimination and racism.

The University of Toronto has been officially marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD) for a decade. As a university community we continue to increase dialogue and efforts to address systemic racism in its many forms. While we acknowledge the progress that has been made over the years, we do so in recognition that much more work lies ahead.

The institutional reports that have emerged since 2017—the Final Report of the U of T TRC Steering Committee, the Anti-Black Racism Task Force’s Final Report, and the Final Report of the Antisemitism Working Group—are critical in guiding our way forward. Together with the Scarborough Charter, they call upon all of us to reimagine our roles and responsibilities in addressing the power imbalances that continue to define our institutional structures and our daily interactions. We are committed to building robust pathways to proactively address the needs and concerns of equity-deserving communities, including work to address Islamophobia and anti-Asian racism on our campuses. Such efforts will both inspire and enhance a range of anti-racism initiatives occurring within units, Faculties, and divisions across the tri-campus.

This year, in recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office (ARCDO) invites us all to reflect upon the many ways that universities can address racial discrimination and racism within their systems and their communities. Three virtual sessions on March 18, 22, and 24 will explore a range of topics, from decolonizing educational systems to action planning for structural change and strategies to support those experiencing antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of discrimination. I strongly encourage all students, staff, faculty, and librarians to register using the links below or by visiting the ARCDO website.

The University of Toronto continues the work of developing thoughtful strategies to deepen equitable systems change, increase the community experience of belonging, and nurture a transformative institutional culture. As a community, it is imperative that we take the time to continue our learning, reflect on our biases and assumptions, and treat each other with compassion and respect as we work towards eliminating all forms of racism and racial discrimination.

IDERD Programming

Embedding Intersectionality, Anti-Racism, and Decolonial Approaches in Educational Systems
March 18, 2022
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Speakers: Dr. Rosalind Hampton (Assistant Professor, Black Studies, Department of Social Justice Education – OISE) and Jennifer Sylvester (PhD Candidate, Department of Social Justice Education – OISE)

The dynamics of power which formulate the roots of higher education impact racialized and Indigenous staff, students, and faculty in distinctive ways. Often considered at odds with one another, this session explores the synergies and connections between anti-racism, intersectionality, decolonial frameworks and approaches to EDI and anti-Indigenous action planning and structural change.

Understanding and Addressing Antisemitism
March 22, 2022
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Workshop Facilitator: Shari Golberg, PhD

In collaboration with the Multi-Faith Centre, this workshop will explore the roots of antisemitism, its relationship with interlocking forms of oppression, and how to identify and address it in post-secondary contexts.

Beyond the Buzzwords: Understanding Islamophobia
March 24, 2022
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Workshop Facilitator: Gilary Massa

In collaboration with the Multi-Faith Centre, this workshop explores knowledge and skills to better support the needs of Muslim students and colleagues on campus.