LA&PS strategy to address anti-Black racism

At a time where discussions around anti-Black racism are proving to be critical, Humanities Professor Andrea Davis has stepped into a year-long role that aims to position LA&PS in the centre of this discourse.

On September 1, Davis began her term as Special Advisor on LA&PS’ Anti-Black Racism Strategy, a position that was developed by the LA&PS’ Dean’s Office as part of the Faculty’s comprehensive response to combating anti-Black racism.

Special Advisor

Department of Humanities Chair Andrea Davis

Andrea Davis

Prof. Andrea Davis, who has had a long career of teaching, research and community engagement in Black Diasporic Studies, and is completing a five-year term as Chair of the Department of Humanities, will serve in the Special Advisor role from September 1, 2020 until August 31, 2021. She brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to this important advisory position. Her visionary work in the foundation of the Black Canadian Studies Certificate, and her cutting edge scholarship, including her new book, Horizon, Sea, Sound: A Post/Diaspora Critique of the Nation, forthcoming from Northwestern University Press, are just some of her accomplishments.

Leaning into her comprehensive background in Black Diasporic Studies, one of her first priorities as Special Advisor will be moderating a LA&PS Teach-In on Friday September 18 (2:00 – 4:00 PM), in conjunction with scholars from the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, OCAD and York, to discuss how Black scholarship engages and interprets Black life in Canada and other Black diasporas. Click here for event registration instructions.

Beyond moderating the September 18 LA&PS Teach-In event, the Special Advisor role will entail key responsibilities such as:

  • Reporting to the Dean and providing guidance and input on questions related to race and equity, and anti-Black racism specifically;
  • Establishing an Advisory Committee made up of students, faculty, and staff to identify priorities and develop recommendations to be conveyed to the Dean;
  • Advising the Dean in the hiring of Black faculty, as well as the hiring and promotion of Black staff; and
  • Liaising with the Special Advisor to the President

Over the next year, Prof. Davis will play a significant role in initiating the Faculty's response to anti-Black racism by working with the Associate Dean, Global & Community Engagement not only to disburse $100,000 of funding for initiatives identified by faculty, students and staff, but also to deliver the Explore YU summer program for Grade 10 and 11 students in Summer 2021.

In addition to this, she will work with the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies & Research to disburse $50,000 of research funding for Black contract faculty and Black YUFA members in a CLA, Assistant, or Associate position.

Her portfolio will also include advising the Dean’s Office through the Associate Dean, Programs on the development of a major/minor degree program in Black Studies, and advising on a process for a permanent Advisor position on race and equity in LA&PS.

While supporting the Special Advisor on the strategies above, the Dean’s Office will also:

  • Facilitate discussions and action on anti-Black racism and community engagement and action for staff, students, and faculty
  • Work with collegial committees on anti-Black racism curriculum in light of student petitions through CCPS including looking at learning outcomes
  • Work with Faculty Council to strike a permanent committee on equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Establish a confidential communication point for staff, students, and faculty to share their experiences and suggestions
  • Establish a website collecting resources on anti-Black racism
  • Institute unconscious bias training for all members of any hiring committee in the Dean’s Office
  • Develop equity targets for the hiring of CPM positions
  • Develop mentoring and career advancement pathways for Black staff colleagues
  • Expand the Explore YU summer program for Grade 10 and 11 students (suspended for Summer 2020 due to COVID-19) to ensure up to 50 fully subsidized spaces for Black youth participants
  • Establish five new DARE Awards targeted for Black undergraduate student researchers
  • Establish five to ten internships focused on equity and social justice
  • Establish $50,000 research fund for Black CUPE colleagues and Black YUFA colleagues at the CLA, Assistant, or Associate rank
  • Establish $100,000 community engagement fund for anti-Black racism initiatives proposed by staff, students, or faculty

In this new role, Prof. Davis anticipates having meaningful engagement on anti-Black racism with members of the LA&PS community throughout the year. She can be reached through email confidentially at lapsspecialadvisor@yorku.ca.