Recognition of A Day of Mourning
A Call to Action against the Historic and Ongoing Violence Endured by Black Students and Faculty
Monday, December 7, 2020 will be recognized as a Day of Mourning by those united against anti-Black racism at the University of Windsor. We must act now to support the well-being of Black students and faculty. There has been ongoing, grotesque violence, threats of violence, and enduring trauma that Black students and Black faculty have had to face as conditions of work and study while on campus at the University of Windsor. The idea that Black students and Black faculty should be expected to cope with the grief and trauma of losing their University community without any accommodation beyond tepid institutional statements of regret is simply untenable.
UWindsor RAACES asks faculty members who are in solidarity in the fight against anti-Black racism to stand with us by promoting the following:
- Black students should have the same accommodations for grief and trauma as is customarily given to students mourning the loss of family members – including assignment extensions and exam cancellations. They should be informed of this proactively via class Blackboard sites and email. Accommodations should be extended back to the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester.
- Faculty members supporting this action should take a stand with no emails, on the Day of Mourning – 7 December 2020. Again, this information should be spread widely via Blackboard and with an email auto-response message.
- Days of Mourning must continue on the first Monday each Month until the university has addressed the demands made by Black students and faculty.
- Black student activism must be actively amplified. Faculty must distribute information about anti-racist panels, teach-ins, and talks, and encourage students to attend while attending themselves. Support initiatives to reclaim spaces for collective resistance, gain secure spaces for organizing, and fund radical collective care measures on campus.
Unfortunately, the messages that you stand in solidarity with Black faculty and students have been insufficient to effect real and meaningful change. Saying “Black Lives Matter” has also proven insufficient. We call on you to risk something and to inconvenience yourself to act for positive change.
Black students and faculty are rendered unsafe:
• The recent threats made with seeming impunity by members of the University of Windsor Delta Chi fraternity mean that Black students and Black faculty are not safe.
• The zoombombing of student meetings with racist epithets including assurances that the hacker knew where students and their family members could be found and hurt means that we are not safe.
• The violent threats and racist and sexist slurs employed in the hate emails received by individual students and students groups known for their activism in the Faculty of Law, on November 28 and December 1 specifically, mean that we are not safe.
• The stalking and doxxing of Black faculty among us by Storm Front mean we are not safe.
• The use of the n-word in the University of Windsor classrooms, with its putative employment of the idea that Black people are inherently inferior, deserving of discrimination and abuse, or are unaffected by hearing this word uttered in public spaces means that we are not safe.
• The cavalier use of the n-word and other anti-Black derogatory comments by law students in their first year orientation means that we are not safe.
• The institutional targeting of Black student activists means that we are not safe.
• The ways in which the happenings at the University of Windsor are being internationally reported, making our community a well-known bastion of racist hatred and collective apathy, means that we are not safe.
• The routine ways in which even the most basic dignity is denied to Black faculty and students means that we are not safe.
It is the collective apathy that is most stunning. Simply, the willingness of the white majority to shake their heads, mutter something about this being terrible, distance themselves from it, and then look away is what allows this to continue.
The Institutional Response
The university was able to act very quickly, as it should have, when faced with the emergency of COVID 19. Options were urgently vetted, and decisions thoughtfully made and acted upon. Yet the emergency of anti-Black racism has been a pandemic for a much longer period and there appears to be little real systemic action in sight.
The President has begun to take action by establishing a black scholars’ hiring initiative by 2023, and establishing an anti-Black-racism Initiatives Fund; as of Tuesday December 1, he took steps to ensure that the problematic Office of Student Experience is restructured to become safe and equitable for Black students.
There is further urgent work that needs to be done in light of the virulent anti-Black racism erupting on campus; earlier this year the President picked “his” Anti-Racism Working Group, Task Force, and Lawyers to deal with anti-Black racism. They have now begun a lengthy process of deliberation and investigation that has no clear accountability. The President’s timeline and deliverables, which he will announce once he decides on them in Fall 2021, a full year from now, take us to where we were in April 2008, twelve years ago per the SACDI workplan. At this point, with luck, a year from now we will have watched Black people do the work again, for a white man to decide what, if anything, should actually happen. It is important to note here that the 2008 plan makes note of racist incidents and apologies stretching back to 1993- before many of the students currently being terrorized were born.
We can do better than a “piecemeal,” “one-off” approach to the violence (SACDI workplan 2008, p. 13). We have to demand better. Not just Black faculty or racialized faculty – but all faculty who stand against anti-Black racism. We call for a Day of Mourning for our University, community, and well-being, as we demand a better University of Windsor. We start with the demands of RAACES and other community stakeholders, including the Hour a Day Study Club, the Black Council of Windsor Essex, Parents of Black Children, and Black Law Students Association of Windsor. We call for solidarity in this action as a way to propel our community into a more equitable future.
Example Email Message and Blackboard Announcement
I will not respond to email or other messages today, Monday, December 7, as I participate in the Day of Mourning over anti-Black racism at the University of Windsor. I stand in solidarity with Black students and faculty who are being victimized by the institutional racism at our University. In situations of injustice, to be neutral is to side with the oppressor.
In showing my solidarity, I send this message as my last communication with you until tomorrow. I will also be learning more about what Black faculty and students seek to achieve from this action, and I recommend you do as well. This information is available here: Blog – UWIN RAACES (wordpress.com). In addition, I am encouraging my Black students to let me know they are in mourning, and I will extend to them the same accommodations to which all of my students in bereavement are entitled.
Beginning in January, 2021, Days of Mourning will occur on the first Monday of every month. Days of Mourning will continue until institutional equity is the structure in which all my students and colleagues learn and work — equally.
Robert Gordon, President, University of Windsor
University of Windsor Board of Governors
Hour a Day Study Club
Black Council of Windsor Essex c/o Leslie McCurdy
Parents of Black Children
CBC c/o Sanjay Maru
Windsor Star c/o Mary Caton