Social Issues Commission hosts conference on racism & inclusivity

CARED conference shares strategies for discussing race, social justice issues in social settings

As Black History Month came to a close, the Committee Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination (CARED) sought to continue the conversation about race on campus.

On Mar. 3, CARED hosted a conference on Racism and Facilitating Inclusive Conversations to provide delegates with strategies for discussing race and social justice issues in social settings.

As part of the Social Issues Commission of the AMS, CARED is an anti-racist, activist, and educational committee responsible for organizing the conference. This year’s events were organized by Rania Belhadjhamida, ArtSci ’19, and Samira Levesque, ArtSci ’20, the CARED Co-Chairs for the 2018-19 school year.

More than 50 attendees participated in the conference, alongside various panelists and speakers. The event was partially funded by the Social Issues Commission, but also received “generous donations” from various sponsors, including the departments of Life Sciences and Biochemistry, Biology, Political Studies, Sociology, and the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre.

“We were very excited to have students, faculty, and members of the Kingston community from all demographics join us to discuss and learn more about inclusive conversations,” Belhadjhamida and Levesque wrote in an email to The Journal.

The committee selected the theme based on their observations of social dynamics on campus.

“CARED noticed that anti-racist dialogue on campus, and within the greater Kingston community […] requires more growth to truly improve the quality of anti-racist initiatives on [this] campus,” Belhadjhamida and Levesque said.

“For example, today we’re sitting in Robert Sutherland Hall. Sutherland was a monumental figure in Queen’s history. He was also [B]lack. The question becomes: how do we discuss Sutherland in a way that doesn’t acknowledge the still-present anti-[B]lackness on campus?”

Both Belhadjhamida and Levesque recognize that these types of conversations are “difficult and require a high-degree of education.”

The conference was designed to provide attendees with strategies for identifying and approaching racist conversations in public settings, such as classrooms or with friends.

Within this training, the committee stressed the importance of allyship within social movements.

“Conversations such as these cannot be facilitated just by the marginalized group to which they relate to. They also require the constant support and solidarity of allies,” Belhadjhamida and Levesque said.

The conference featured four collaborative workshops organized in partnership with other advocacy groups and activists on campus, a keynote and endnote address, and a student panel.

Workshops included a micro-aggression workshop with the AMS Social Issues Commission, an anti-oppression workshop with Levana Gender Advocacy Centre, an Allyship workshop with Professor Bob Lovelace, and a "caucasing" workshop with Lavie Williams from the Human Rights Office. The student-led panel discussed the concept of “Calling In [to the conversation] vs. Calling Out.”

“We hope the activities and reflection will allow [attendees] to better understand how to discuss anti-racism effectively, be a better ally, engage with anti-racism [movements] and yet be critical of anti-racist conversations that don’t go far enough,” Belhadjhamida and Levesque said.

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