Black Knowledges & Resources

A collection of blooming white orchids.

For some, there is a tendency to root discussions of Blackness in the realm of trauma when the stories are more complex than that. The term "Black" represents the diasporic collective of peoples who may identify as being African, Caribbean, and Black and serve as a way to recognize the many intersectional identities for people of African descent (Scarborough Charter, 2021; York University, 2022). In the UTSC Campus Curriculum Review, "Black Knowledges" is understood as Africentric critical and pedagogical approaches that resist and disrupt the violent erasure of Black history through slavery and colonialism, including in academic contexts, by reframing those historical narratives and foregrounding the experiences and contribution of Black individuals and communities.

Among the collective of Black knowledges, there are stories rooted in trauma, connected to institutional oppression, and there are historical and contemporary narratives of resistance, creativity, and being. This section is intended to find a balance that acknowledges the presence, humanity, and flourishing of Blackness in a context too often rooted in the absence and problematic stereotypes.

FAQ - Black Knowledges

Statistics and Figures

The Scarborough Charter was signed in 2021 and published in November 2022 by the Inter-Institutional Advisory Committee for the National Dialogues and Action for Inclusive Higher Education and Communities which are committed to “redressing anti-Black racism and fostering Black inclusion in universities and colleges across Canada.” The document is broken into 4 key sections: 1. Black Flourishing, 2. Inclusive Excellence, 3. Mutuality, and 4. Accountability.

For the purposes of the curriculum review, the sections on teaching and learning are most relevant. A brief summary of each section is noted here:

1.3.1: cultivating naming practices that foster Black belonging, knowledge development and sharing

1.3.2: [enabling, supporting, acknowledging] Black student leadership, insights, energy and actions throughout academic programs, curricular,and co-curricular development

2.31: [the promotion] of curricular development across academic disciplines that decentres epistemic Eurocentrism [and] broadens disciplinary canons to include Black expertise and knowledges [supporting] Black thriving through to program completion

3.3.1: [enabling mutuality by] building grade school through university and college outreach programs

3.3.2: adopting policies... and practices that sustain harassment-free classrooms and other learning environments

4.3.1: provide anti-Black racism education for all members of the university... while developing performance expectations for faculty and staff that build capacity on anti-racism and Black inclusion

Related Viewing: Watch a video on the Scarborough Charter signing (Video Length: 1:00)

The University of Toronto report, builds on the term "anti-Black racism" as articulated by Dr. Akua Benjamin (1993) to "highlight the unique nature of systemic racism experienced by Black Canadians, and the history and impact of slavery and colonization on people of Black-African descent in Canada" (p.12). In the context of the curriculum review, there are three sections that are particularly relevant:  

Systemic Recommendations

One of the systemic-level recommendations was for staff, students, and faculty to engage in Anti-Black racism training. Opportunities for learning include: 

Faculty, Instructors & Librarians' Recommendations

The Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation (CTSI) is one of the faculty-facing offices providing support for developing more inclusive teaching and learning environments. Currently, there is an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion resource page for the tri-campuses highlighting:

  • Creating an Inclusive Course & Classroom: Strategies for Instructors
  • Syllabus Design & Course Information
  • Course Design for Inclusive Teaching
  • Inclusive Teaching

The UTSC Library created a downloadable multimedia resource critically examining anti-Black Racism, Whiteness, and anti-racism

Anti-Racist Pedagogy is a module developed by Nicola Dove, Educational Developer at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. The module provides resources and general guidance for integrating anti-racist pedagogical approaches in the following areas:

  • Teaching principles and practice
  • Curriculum and course development
  • Relevant resources

Student & Curricula Recommendations 

In Recommendation A.10 in the University of Toronto Anti-Black Racism Task Force Report, students noted that “more content on histories of people of African ancestry, before Columbus, should be offered in all disciplines. Black peoples’ histories should not be located within the pedagogy of victimhood.” The content posted in the Black Knowledges section is intended to showcase the richness, criticality, and diversity of Black people.

At UTSC, there are programs created to counter the narratives attached to anti-Black racism and continue contributing to the strength, expression and diversity of diasporic African cultures.

The Black Studies Summer Seminar (BLK-S3tudies) is a “comprehensive one-week research-intensive designed to produce generative and fruitful academic debates and professional development for Ph.D. candidates, postdoctoral fellows, pre-tenure faculty, librarians, archivists, researchers and artists” supported by the Department of Arts, Culture and Media. There are extensive resources in the Study section, from academics and artists of the African diaspora, and information about events and the presenters. 

Among the videos that have been uploaded to the developing YouTube channel for BLK-S3tudies, “Fugitive Accounts” explores the stories of enslaved Africans. This discussion is hosted by Assistant Professor of African American Literature at Queen's University, Kristin Moriah in conversation with Associate Professor of Romance Studies, Annette-Joseph Gabriel from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan.

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The Canadian Black Scientists Network “exists to elevate, make visible, celebrate and connect Black Canadians pursuing or possessing advanced degrees in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Medicine/Health).” This organization was co-founded by University of Toronto Professor of Biological Sciences and Canada Research Chair, Maydianne Andrade. 

Black in Science: The Legacy of Racism in Science and How Black Scientists are Moving the Dial” is a 2021 award-winning Quirks and Quarks episode hosted by Nicole Mortillaro on the legacy of racism in Science and the resistance and accomplishments of Black scientists. Within the episode several websites are featured, highlighting Black excellence in STEM fields:

Where are all the Black Astronomers and Physicists? Racism, Isolation keeping many away (2022) by Nicole Mortillaro examines and comments on the discriminatory streaming practices in high schools and the sense of isolation that emerges from a lack of Black mentors in STEM fields. Additionally, Mortillaro explores the resistance and community building in STEM fields for current and future generations of astronomers and physicists. 

BLK: An Origin Story

This four-part documentary series was created by filmmakers Jennifer Holness and Sudz Sutherland of Hungry Eyes Media in 2022. Each episode examines a different region of Canada, sharing stories and perspectives of Canadian history that are largely unknown. The trailer for the series may be previewed and the full episodes are listed and available for viewing through the University of Toronto Library system:

1. Three Epic Migrations, One People

2. Little Burgandy

3. Hogan's Alley

4. John "Daddy" Hall

Related Viewing: Watch co-creators Jennifer Holness and Sudz Sutherland discuss the significance of their docuseries as it relates to Canadian history and the significant role of Black Canadians in the development of this nation.  

National, Provincial, and Local History

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Our Dance of Revolution was released in 2019 by filmmaker Philip Pike who released a 4 decade-plus history of the Black LGBTQ+ community coming together in Toronto and the activism, resistance, and community they created, which paved the way for future generations of Black Queer folk in Toronto. Here is the trailer for the documentary: 

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Related Viewing: View the extra scenes from Our Dance of Revolution.


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