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Statement from Dean Glen A. Jones on anti-Black racism

June 3, 2020

To the OISE community – our resilient and thoughtful students, faculty and staff,

Anti-Black racism has no place at the University of Toronto, at OISE, in our communities or anywhere in this world. I write to you today to express my deepest sympathy and solidarity with our Black faculty, staff, students, alumni, volunteers and donors. What a difficult time. We are horrified, profoundly upset and angry that the lives of many Black people – locally and abroad – continue to be violently taken away. The most recent events in the United States and Toronto are a reminder that anti-Black racism and prejudice is rampant and merciless in this world.

The coronavirus pandemic, which we know has unfairly affected Black communities at home and abroad, has added anxieties and so much more to the shoulders of our community. Please allow me and the OISE family to take that weight off of your shoulders. We want to help you carry the burden of eliminating anti-Black racism and racial violence in all its forms – explicit and implicit, structural and subtle.

Here at OISE, we deeply believe in the power of education, that it can give the public the tools, empathy and resources to bring profound positive change in our communities. We want to help hold difficult conversations, to explore and imagine futures that support Black communities. We want to make concrete commitments to anti-Black racism research and community programming. And we want to embolden the crucial anti-Black racism work of our students, faculty and staff.

We stand in full solidarity with those seeking to address anti-Black racism through education and critical scholarship.  We pledge to amplify their voices and support their work. We want to centre racial justice within our ongoing core mission – to advance the cause of education. Above all, we want to make sure OISE is a place that is accessible to learning. We want to continue removing barriers to education – including financial and social barriers – and create opportunities for growth within our community, in Toronto and beyond.

Anti-Black racism and any form of racism is a vile beast but we have reached a turning point. I am optimistic that our work can make a difference.

In sorrow and in strength, take care, and be well.

Glen A. Jones