A note from the Fanshawe College Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: FSU PUBLICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT

I am often asked what equity, diversity, and inclusion means to me. I’ve been reflecting on this question, and I’ve been having trouble arriving at a simple answer. It is the hard work of dismantling systems of oppression that have become embedded in every facet of our lives. It is the joyful work of coming together in the spirit of community. It is the patient work of recognizing that the work of today may pay its dividends only years into the future. But it is also not new work. It is work that is rooted in the lessons of history, in the lessons we must glean from folks who engaged in their own patient but determined work of strategizing, agitating, and pushing for change.

To me, this is what Black History Month is about.

Black history is James Jenkins, a Londoner whose work of building community and organizing against discrimination led to the creation of the Canadian League for the Advancement of Colored People. Black history is Marsha P. Johnson, the transgender activist who forced a turning point in trans and queer justice at Stonewall, just as Black queer and trans Canadians were at the forefront of protests against anti-queer and trans police violence. Black history is the poets, artists, writers, educators, scientists, business owners and others who have been at the forefront not just of the movements for racial justice but also disability justice, immigration justice, and 2SLGBTQIA+ justice.

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In all of those path-breakers, we see models for action. We see folks who didn’t label their work as equity and inclusion work but fought to remove barriers and lay the foundation for change. Black History Months shows us that equity and inclusion work is generations in the making.

This Black History Month, I am hopeful. I am hopeful because of the energy that Fanshawe students and members of our broader communities bring to this work, a small sampling of which is showcased in the pages of this important edition of the Interrobang. And I am hopeful together we can harness the power of collective action to bring forth to today the lessons of social justice and community organizing that only Black History Month can reveal to us.