McMaster has taken some steps to tackle anti-Black racism, but we still have a long way to go
By: Payton Shank, Contributor
CW: anti-Black racism
There seems to be an acquiescence around the concept of accountability. That being said, this infers that there is still, despite hesitance, the act of holding one accountable. However, it wasn’t always this way; for the longest time, no one even took the steps to hold someone accountable.
I have reached a point where I no longer accept people walking over me. I’m exhausted of people in a position of power due to their ethnicity and job title having the upper hand and getting out of instances scot-free.
Moreover, I despise the very act of sweeping things under the rug. If you follow me on social media, you’d have seen me calling out McMaster University for doing this time and time again. At this point in my life, I strive to hold those in power accountable for their wrongdoings. I insist on ensuring that they are backing their seemingly empty promises to “do better.”
I know that I’m not the only one that feels this way. There is a collective exhaustion amongst the community of Black students at McMaster. One particular demographic is the Black student-athletes. I have been a part of this demographic for three years now, and it has yet to be easy.
There is a collective exhaustion amongst the community of Black students at McMaster. One particular demographic is the Black student-athletes. I have been a part of this demographic for three years now, and it has yet to be easy.
Recently, the McMaster Black Student-Athlete Experience Systemic Review was released. It was plastered . . . everywhere. News sources covered it, there was social media outcry from students and moreover, the re-traumatization of the students that were reviewed came to light.
However, if it accomplished one thing, it was accountability. There it was, in print — the immoral treatment of Black student-athletes on behalf of McMaster’s own faculty. Something that had been scoffed at, ignored and, again, swept under the rug, for years. All 62 pages of it.
IT IS NOT JUST BLACK STUDENT ATHLETES THAT EXPERIENCE ANTI BLACK RACISM AT MCMASTER! Black students are experiencing anti black racism in the classroom, in leadership positions, in the lab, and on campus! https://t.co/4j1QFCofT3
— Kobina Baiden (@kobesbaiden) October 27, 2020
I feel like this report makes it seem like only McMaster Athletics is anti-Black. Let’s be real, the entire institution is complicit. The evidence here (& not included here) points to how Mac’s admin sustains such racist structures and employees that harm Black student athletes https://t.co/LwJ8lRKgps
— Theresa N. Kenney (@ToPoliticise) October 27, 2020
I won’t get into the nitty-gritty. In fact, I almost can’t. It isn’t an easy read, to say the least. It’s horrible, heartbreaking and downright infuriating. I had to break up my reading into small pieces to be able to digest it properly and I still don’t think I have.
Regardless, it needs to be read. We can’t continue to act as though everything is smooth-sailing in the well-oiled machine that is McMaster. Perhaps it is for the white students and faculty, but not for the other massive population of students and staff that are screaming out for help.
I have a lot of mixed emotions about the review. Yes, I’m relieved that they finally took the steps needed to get the ball rolling. I’m excited to finally get to work on what needs to be done and this review was truly the match we needed to light the flame. There are certain systemic steps being taken and finally acknowledged, which will open the door for a number of positive changes.
They are, however, being done so very slowly and with caution; this is unchartered territory for Mac. However, I’m growing increasingly frustrated, not only with the immediate aftermath but with the contents of the review. How could they let this happen? How has it taken so long for someone to finally put their foot down? Moreover, where the heck do we go from here?
I’ve been in close contact with various members of administration across numerous departments and the discrepancy between certain demographics of staff has been interesting to encounter. Some are equally, if not more infuriated as I am, demanding change yesterday. Some are still extremely hesitant, to say the least, about what the next steps are.
As we’ve seen on a multitude of occasions, “doing better” is easier said than done. This isn’t something that we have to put behind us and hope that everything clears up the next day; this is something that we have to carry with us for the rest of our lives — both in terms of those affected and in terms of modelling the future of McMaster.
As frustrating as this process is, I am thankful for the resilience of those that have not only stepped up to take action but that have endured the very instances that have now been brought to light and will continue to shed light on others to come. I have faith that with unity, a rich lens of intersectionality and the undying desire amongst those involved to make positive change, that we will see brighter days.
As frustrating as this process is, I am thankful for the resilience of those that have not only stepped up to take action but that have endured the very instances that have now been brought to light and will continue to shed light on others to come.
In order to rebuild, we must first break down. We are in the rebuilding process. In the meantime, keep fighting. Keep holding those in power accountable. Remain resilient and know that I am fighting for you. I will continue to do whatever I possibly can to hold those in power accountable and fight for the fundamental rights of BIPOC students in the McMaster community.