3. Community Engagement and Partnership

3.1 Engagement and Partnership With Black Communities

3.1.1 Connecting meaningfully and building capacity

The discussion explored ways to build and strengthen lasting relationships with Black alumni and external Black community partners, to apply knowledge and practices towards addressing the challenges that face communities. Institutional groups and organizations in higher education were seen as exclusionary, often neglecting to connect meaningfully with members of the Black community. The lack of Black leaders included in essential discussions contributes to the status quo and minimizes representation in these spaces.

Addressing this requires a reimagining of how community engagement and partnerships function within institutions. Participants recommended practices to ensure that engagement with Black communities is not based on a deficit model, but recognizes and values community assets. It must operate based on fairness, reciprocity and mutually supportive community development. This requires expanding representation and building the capacity of Black community stakeholders to exercise agency in addressing issues around anti-Black racism and Black exclusion.

3.1.2 Improving the standards of community engagement

Looking beyond the institution was seen as a must in the process of addressing anti-Black racism within the institution. Discussion centred on improving the processes, outreach and approaches to working with local Black community organizations, to help institutions address concerns amongst Black faculty, students and staff that they are not recognized, acknowledged or appropriately compensated for their labour or for the extra burdens they take on. Post-secondary institutions do not have all the answers and need to listen to the communities they serve. They should work with Black leaders to develop and implement procedures and practices that are culturally inclusive, according to the community’s definitions; and in the use of existing local community-based research to enhance the effectiveness of institutional services.

Many participants urged institutions to commit to sharing with Black communities the privilege of power, access and leadership that they hold. Improving the standards of institutional engagement with the local community could ensure that the institution’s resources are used to support and benefit the community. There should be a willingness to openly engage with Black communities through consultation efforts, strategic initiatives and research plans that incorporate community expertise from the beginning, rather than trying to add this in the middle of the process.


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