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Remembering Blackness and anti-Blackness at Queen's

A Queen's Reads teach-in event highlights history and impact of anti-Black racism and the current work of Black students and researchers.

Graphic promoting Queen's Reads
Queen’s Reads will be hosting programming throughout the rest of the academic year, including a talk with Amanda Parris, author of Other Side of the Game.

The Student Experience Office recently hosted a virtual Queen’s Reads Teach-in focused on Remembering Blackness and Anti-Blackness at Queen’s. The event was an opportunity to learn more about the history and impact of anti-Blackness in the community and some of the work being done by the community of Black students and researchers at Queen’s today.

Queen’s Reads is a common reading program that uses literature to engage the Queen’s community in meaningful discussion, encourage critical thinking, and promote a sense of community among students, faculty, and staff. The 2020-21 book selection is Other Side of the Game by Amanda Parris. Parris’ book and this year’s Queen’s Reads program explore themes of anti-Black racism, institutional oppression, Black activism, and the ride-or-die philosophy in the civil rights movement.

“It’s time for us to take meaningful steps towards naming and disrupting the culture of racism we have in our community,” says Clarissa de Leon, Queen’s Reads Coordinator who organized and hosted the Teach In. “Holding space for critical and anti-racist events like this teach-in is just one way we can do that.”

The event featured a session by Edward Thomas, a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies, on the history of the expulsion of Black medical students in 1918, as well as a scene study from Other Side of the Game performed by YIKES a Theatre Company, a student group.

Other speakers included Bunisha Samuels (Robert Sutherland Award recipient, 2020), Célia Romulus (PhD candidate, Political Studies), and Taylor Cenac (a Social Service Worker student, St. Lawrence College). The talks highlighted why it is important to be critical of how we remember institutions and people, looking specifically at Queen’s history.

“One of the biggest things I took away from the teach-in was that it’s important that we hear people’s stories – not just read them, but hear and engage,” says Theresa Suart, a PhD student in Education who attended the event. “Events like this bring us together. It gives voices to people who traditionally have been silenced and gives all of us space to engage in the hard work of improving ourselves, our school, and our society.”

For those unable to join live, the recording can be found on the Student Experience Office website.

Queen’s Reads will be hosting programming throughout the rest of the academic year, including a January event exclusively for Black students, organized in collaboration with the Queen’s Collage Collective, the Queen’s Black Academic Society, and the African & Caribbean Students’ Association; celebrations of Black student leaders during Black History Month in February; and an author talk in March.

Learn more about Queen’s Reads and upcoming events.