Emmanuel College faculty and staff respond to recent events in the US, Canada and around the world, including the deaths of George Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and the viral video of Canadian Amy Cooper in Central Park.
Statements, Responses, Reflections
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We affirm the wonderful polyphonic cacophony of ethnoracial groups and cultural traditions. Canada has a long-standing history of discrimination against many different ethnocultural and racialized communities. We refuse to remain silent; we take this opportunity to speak out against the reality of racism and discrimination in our context and society. We also affirm the many ways in which people from many cultural backgrounds and ethnoracial traditions bring to our society. Néstor Medina, Assistant Professor of Religious Ethics and Culture
How might we understand the kingdom of God that is frequently talked about by Jesus in the Scriptures? Admittedly, the Church also has its own understanding about this theological imagery. At times, it buys into an earthly expression of power and domination by conflating God’s realm with earthly dominion ideology in its colonial endeavours. In recent days, we are confronted by racial tensions with deadly consequences in our land where a dominant group subjugates the subaltern others. In my view, this is a time for us to heed what Jesus says about the kingdom of God – where “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10, NRSV) What is God’s will for us at this time?
At this historical juncture, we stand by members of the AfroCanadians communities in their pain, anger, despair, and hope. We remember Africville and highlight the many other documented instances when Afro-Canadians have been discriminated against, prevented from getting a job, or been the object of racialized stereotypes and attitudes. As a learning community, we recommit ourselves to create safer spaces of mutual intercultural learning and appreciation.
Witnessing with heartbreak the events of the past weeks, we join with others to acknowledge and condemn anti-Black racism and other forms of systemic racism that sadly remain prevalent in attitudes and institutions animating Canadian society. This violence is apparent on many fronts, from gross abuse of power to lack of adequate health care support and the uneven spread of Covid-19 among racialized and impoverished communities. These are associated with other forms of injustice, and linked to white supremacy and colonization, which call for the work of resistance and transformation. We reaffirm our commitment to educating religious leaders and care practitioners toward building better communities, ones characterized by racial justice, economic equity, compassionate respect, and genuine belonging among and for all.
These times, during the pandemic, summon us to imagine differently and creatively, and begin generating a radically different “normal” – a “new normal”. There is much personal, relational, social, and systemic work to do. This musical piece is a song written and improvised as a gesture, in sound beyond words, offered as a prayer toward this end.
Pamela D. Couture, Jane and Geoffrey Martin Chair of Church and Community; Director, Toronto School of Theology
Link to June 3, 2020- "Heartbreak," The Director's Diary, TST blog entry
I'm deeply grateful for the words of my colleagues and their gift for saying what needs to be said, for saying what I also want to say. Like many, I’m struggling for words, knowing that action is also called for, and more for some of us than for others. Perhaps because of my liturgical leanings, I’ve been spending a lot of time in prayer (in silence and relying again on the words of others) and with things liturgical (especially musical). Take the Psalms, for instance, where, as Brueggemann points out, “nearly one half of [them] are songs of lament and poems of complaint.” And, I would add, those ones are seldom included in liturgical psalters or our worship resources. Having lost the liturgical language of lamentation, we may also have lost some of our capacity to express complaint, anger, even rage, as forms of faithfulness. Perhaps that’s why I’ve found myself returning to a piece of music some of us worked on a couple of years ago: Reconciliation Suite. I’ve noticed that I’ve been spending more time with the first two movements, 1) Trauma and 2) Lament. Meanwhile, the global outpouring of prophetic protests for change and transformation offer signs of hope, as suggested in the last two movements, 3) Healing, 4) Reconciliation.
Matthew Dougherty, Assistant Professor, teaching stream, in History of Christianity and Instructional Design
We affirm that Black lives matter. We affirm that Indigenous lives matter. We make these affirmations from within a society and as inheritors of a history shaped by systemic racism and colonialism, which devalue the lives and personhood of racialized people across North America. We support those who mourn George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Chantel Moore, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and far too many others. We recommit ourselves to the daily work of building a learning community where we value and include a diversity of people, where we nurture mutual learning across racial and cultural differences, and where we repent of and make restitution for our failings.
These are a few of the writers I’ve currently (re)turned to… and will continue to listen to:
M. NourbeSe Philip
Toronto poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, and former lawyer. Her collection of essays and interviews, Blank (2017, Book*hug Press), is an indictment of white settler erasure of BIPOC voices in Canada’s world of arts and letters. Philip’s writings “work to make the disappeared perceptible, [and] explores questions of race, the body politic, timeliness, recurrence, ongoingness, art and the so-called multicultural nation.” Philip’s poetry, such as her historical “recombinant antinarrative” book-length poem Zong! (2008, Wesleyan University Press), is also essential reading.
Professor, Black Studies Program, York University. Sharpe, in her book In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, (2016, Duke University Press), combines personal history and literary/visual/cinematic critique to explore anti-Blackness. This book is the perfect companion while reading Zong!, as Sharpe engages with Philip’s poem extensively.
Poet, essayist, playwright. Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric (2014, Graywolf Press) is a genre-blurring consideration of race and the imagination. This book will stay with you.
Writer and academic from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He is an Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia. Belcourt's debut book of poems, This Wound is a World (Frontenac House 2017), won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize (making him the youngest ever winner). In his 2019 follow-up, NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field, Belcourt "takes on the political demands of queerness, mainstream portrayals of Indigenous life, love and its discontents, and the limits and uses of poetry as a vehicle for Indigenous liberation."
Anti-Racism Library Resources
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From the Emmanuel College Library - A list of Anti-Racism Resources
How to be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi (2019) E.J. Pratt, St. Mike’s, New College: Call # E 184 .A1 K344 2019
Antiracism: An Introduction, by Alex Zamalin (2019) E.J. Pratt, St. Mike’s, Robarts: Call # E 184 .A1 Z36 2019
The Denial of Antiblackness: Multiracial Redemption and Black Suffering, by João H. Costa Vargas (2018) – online; in print at Robarts: Call # E 185.86 .V37 2018
Do All Lives Matter? The Issues We Can No Longer Ignore and the Solutions We All Long For, by Wayne Gordon (2017) – on order
Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race in America, by George Yancy, 2nd ed. (2017) E.J. Pratt, Robarts: Call # E 185 .Y32 2017
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X. Kendi (2016) E.J. Pratt, St. Mike’s, Robarts: Call # E 185.61 .K358 2016
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (2016) St. Mike’s, Robarts, New College: Call # E 185.86 .T367 2016
Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, by Angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens with Jasmine Syedullah (2016) New College Library: Call # BQ 4570 .R3 W55 2016
Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward (2016) Robarts, New College: Call # E 185.615 .F526 2016
They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement, by Wesley Lowery (2016) Robarts, University College Library: Call # E 185.86 .L69 2016
“A Case for Reparations,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, June 2014.
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, by Martin Luther King, Jr. (2010) Robarts: Call # E 185.615 .K5 2010 (1967 edition at other UofT libraries)
The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin (1963) E. J. Pratt, New College: Call # E 185.61 .B195 1963
Racism & Indigenous Peoples
Canada at a Crossroads: Boundaries, Bridges, and Laissez-faire Racism in Indigenous-settler Relations, by Jeffrey S. Denis (2020) St. Mike’s: Call # FC 3099 .R34 Z7 2020
Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah (2019) E. J. Pratt, Robarts: Call # E 93 .C428 2019
Racism, Colonialism, and Indigeneity in Canada: A Reader, edited by Martin J. Cannon & Lina Sunseri (2018) E.J. Pratt: Call # E 78 .C2 R245 2017
White Fragility: Why it's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo (2018) Emmanuel, E.J. Pratt, St. Mike’s, Robarts: Call # HT 1521 .D486 2018
White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White, by Daniel Hill (2017) – on order
The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege, by Ken Wytsma (2017) Emmanuel, St. Mike’s, Robarts: Call # BR 115 .J8 W975 2017
Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America, by Jennifer Harvey (2017) UofT Mississauga Library: Call # BF 723 .R3 H37 2017
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson (2016) St. Mike’s, Robarts, University College Library: Call # E 185.61 .A5438 2016
Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice, by Paul Kivel, 3rd ed. (2011) Robarts: Call # E 184 .A1 K477 2011
Seeing White: An Introduction to White Privilege and Race, by Jean Halley, Amy Eshleman, and Ramya Mahadevan Vijaya (2011) Emmanuel, New College Library: Call # HT 1521 .H265 2010
Silent Racism: How Well-Meaning White People Perpetuate the Racial Divide, by Barbara Trepagnier, 2nd ed (2010) Robarts: Call # E 184 .A1 T695 2010
Understanding & Dismantling Racism: The Twenty-First Century Challenge to White America, by Joseph Barndt (2007) Robarts: Call # E 184 .A1 B249 2007
The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism, and White Privilege, by Robert Jensen (2005) E.J. Pratt, Robarts: Call # E 184 .A1 J425 2005
Healing Racial Trauma: The Road to Resilience, by Sheila Wise Rowe and Soong-Chan Rah (2020) – on order
The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism & Engage in Collective Healing, by Anneliese A. Singh (2019) – on order
Healing Racial Divides: Finding Strength in our Diversity, by Terrell Carter (2018) St. Mike’s: Call # BT 734.2 .C37 2018
Racial Healing: Confronting the Fear Between Blacks and Whites, by Harlon L. Dalton (1995) Robarts: Call # E 185.615 .D35 1995
Church/Theology & Racism
The Bible and Borders: Hearing God's Word on Immigration, by Daniel Carroll (2020) – on order
Witnessing Whiteness: Confronting White Supremacy in the American Church, by Kristopher Norris (2020) – forthcoming
Burying White Privilege: Resurrecting a Badass Christianity, by Miguel A. De La Torre (2019) Robarts: Call # HN 39 .U6 D4 2019
The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church's Complicity in Racism, by Jemar Tisby (2019) Emmanuel, Robarts: Call # E 185.615 .T595 2019
Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice, by Eric Mason (2018) – on order
Anti-Blackness and Christian Ethics, edited by Vincent W. Lloyd and Andrew Prevot (2017) Robarts: Call # E 185.615 .A725 2017
Rescuing the Gospel From the Cowboys: A Native American Expression of the Jesus Way, by Richard Twiss (2015) Emmanuel, Trinity, Knox, Robarts: Call # E 98 .M6 T95 2015
Where the Cross Meets the Street: What Happens to the Neighborhood When God is at the Center, by Noel Castellanos (2015) St. Mike’s, Knox: Call # BV 625 .C37 2015
Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation, by Jennifer Harvey (2014) Emmanuel, Robarts: Call # BT 734.2 .H275 2014
Christology and Whiteness: What Would Jesus Do?, edited by George Yancy (2012) Emmanuel: Call # BT205 .C48 2012
Becoming an Anti-Racist Church: Journeying Toward Wholeness, by Joseph Barndt (2011) Emmanuel: Call # BT 734.2 .B33 2011
A Black Theology of Liberation, by James H. Cone, 40th anniversary ed. (2010) Emmanuel: Call # BT 78 .C59 2010
Living in Color: Embracing God's Passion for Ethnic Diversity, by Randy Woodley (2004) Emmanuel: Call # BR 115 .C8 W66 2004
From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race, by J. Daniel Hays (2003) Knox, Robarts: Call # BT 734.2 .H39 2003
Racism in Canada
Until We are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada, edited by Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson, and Syrus Marcus Ware (2020) E.J. Pratt, New College Library: Call # F 1035 .N3 U58 2020
Space for Race: Decoding Racism, Multiculturalism, and Post-Colonialism in the Quest for Belonging in Canada and Beyond, by Kathy Hogarth and Wendy L. Fletcher (2018) Emmanuel, Robarts: Call # F 1035 .A1 H64 2018
Racism and Anti-Racism in Canada, edited by David Este, Liza Lorenzetti, and Christa Sato (2018) E.J. Pratt: Call # F 1035 .A1 R317 2018
Racism in Canada, by Vic Satzewich (2011) St. Mike’s, Robarts, University College Library: Call # FC 104 .S2893 2011
Colonialism and Racism in Canada: Historical Traces and Contemporary Issues, by Maria A. Wallis, Lina Sunseri, and Grace-Edward Galabuzi (2010) UofT Mississauga Library: Call # F 5028 .W34 2010
Race and Racism in 21st-Century Canada: Continuity, Complexity, and Change, edited by Sean P. Hier and B. Singh Bolaria (2007) St. Mike’s, Robarts, New College Library: Call # FC 104 .R312 2007
Forms of Exclusion: Racism and Community Policing in Canada, by David Baker (2006) St. Mike’s: Call # HV 7936 .C83 B35 2006
Taking Responsibility, Taking Direction: White Anti-racism in Canada, by Sheila Wilmot (2005) Emmanuel: Call # F 1035 .A1 W55 2005
Racism, Eh?: A Critical Inter-Disciplinary Anthology of Race and Racism in Canada, edited by Camille A. Nelson and Charmaine A. Nelson (2004) E.J. Pratt: Call # F 1035 .A1 R328 2004
Racism and Social Inequality in Canada: Concepts, Controversies and Strategies of Resistance, edited by Vic Satzewich (1998) E. J. Pratt: Call # F 1035 .A1 R32 1998
The Invisible Empire: Racism in Canada, by Margaret Cannon (1995) E.J. Pratt: Call # F 1035 .A1 C38 1995
Films, Books, Conversations
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
“Where am I in this story?” Watch artists such as Wangechi Mutu, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Chimamanda Adichie discuss how black people are (mis-)represented in today’s society and culture.
"Hear our trauma. Hear our voices. Hear that things need to change. Today is our day to begin changing the story of humanity." Adam Kilner, Emmanuel College alumnus (MDiv, Emm 1T0) and Minister at Dunlop United Church, appeals to all of us to "give voice to where you stand" in his Facebook video reflection.
Adele Halliday - What I need from white people right now: It’s way past time to confront anti-Black racism
Halliday (Emm 1T7, UCC General Council Office employee) implores white people to "stop saying that you are not a racist... to be pastoral... to be prophetic... to pray. preach. protest (and repeat)" in Broadview Magazine.
There is no questioning that Canadian publishing has a lot more work to do when it comes to representing Black authors, and addressing racism in our industry, our communities, provinces, and the country as a whole. Amplifying the voices of BIPOC writers and artists is a key part of that, and, while there is far more work to be done, there have been waves of authors published in this country who have fought an uphill battle to be read and heard, and who are creating powerful work for future generations of readers and writers.
In a society that sees whiteness as the default, how do we interpret and interrogate what it means to be white in America? Award-winning poet, playwright, and editor Claudia Rankine discusses the nature of race in America as it relates to our current political climate and America’s racial legacy.
Urgent, controversial, and undeniably honest, The Skin We’re In is a wake-up call to complacent Canadians. Racism is here. It is everywhere. It is us and we are it. Following celebrated journalist Desmond Cole as he researches his hotly anticipated book, this documentary from acclaimed director Charles Officer pulls back the curtain on racism in Canada. The Skin We’re In invites viewers into the mind of an emerging intellectual and firebrand. Boasting intimate access to one of Canada’s most intriguing voices, it profiles Desmond Cole as his most exciting chapter unfolds.
I know, as many do, that I’ve been living a pandemic all my life; it is structural rather than viral; it is the global state of emergency of antiblackness. What the COVID-19 pandemic has done is expose even further the endoskeleton of the world. I have felt tremendous irritation at the innocence of those people (mostly, but not only, white) finally up against their historic and present culpability in a set of dreadful politics and dreadful economics — ecocidal and genocidal.
The Toronto Star, July 4, 2020
Principal Michelle Voss Roberts talks with Jordana Wright about anti-Black racism both homegrown and abroad, exploring recent examples like Amy Cooper's potentially death-dealing weaponization of race, and offering concrete steps towards racial justice for United Church communities.
Therapist and trauma specialist Resmaa Menakem is working with old wisdom and very new science about our bodies and nervous systems, and all we condense into the word “race.” “Your body — all of our bodies — are where changing the status quo must begin.” Find a quiet place and experience this short, simple body practice offered in Resmaa’s conversation with Krista Tippett on the On Being episode, ‘Notice the Rage; Notice the Silence.’
The author of White Fragility: Why It's So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism has 5 tasks for white people struggling with issues of race.
Many of us have been seeking out books and resources to better educate ourselves on how to be anti-racist and become better allies. The United Church Bookstore carries a variety of volumes that you may find useful in doing this work.
This is a selection, not an exhaustive list, of resources available across the University of Toronto Library system on the topics of anti-Black racism and violence in Canada, Black resistance, race and health equity, and educating against anti-Black racism. These categories are not mutually exclusive, as the histories of Black life, discrimination, and resistance are rich and complex.