Lack of Black Educators on University Campuses

A conversation taking place across many campuses throughout Canada and the United States is where are the black professors? Clearly, there are educated scholars and academics of colour, but why are they not getting hired and tenured by universities?

Reading over some comments by university presidents, deans and provost  they all argue the importance of having an inclusive faculty and what it brings to the university and student engagement, both academically and financially. Arguing that it is an economic necessity and can be used as a special feature for recruitment, funding, and ranking (James, 2009, p. 129). I always feel uncomfortable when the argument for diversity and inclusiveness on campuses is used for economic benefit they bring instead of bringing positive change to the learning environment. However, even with this argument, there is very little action being done to make faculties more diverse.

Carl E. James (2009) stresses that there is affirmative action or employment equity programs in place across most Canadian universities, yet there continue to be a low number of racial minority faculty members at universities (p. 132). There is no shortage of academics who are racial minorities or visible minorities, the main issue that is holding back the appointment of racial minorities in academia is institutionalized racism. James explains that critical race theory “names and discusses ‘the pervasive, daily reality of racism in society which serves to disadvantage people of colour (p.134).”  As it stands, some people have difficulty viewing racism as a systemic structure, most view racism as these one-off individual comments. As Stovall (2006) explains:

Racism, like capitalism, is an accepted structural phenomenon centered in maintaining the status quo. It is not, and never has been, the result of individual bigotry it is often reduced to. Instead of race as a category, racism (i.e., White supremacy) should be understood as a set of systemic structures that maintain a racial ruling elites as demonstrated through enforcement of policies and laws that govern the land (Stovall, 2006, p. 250).

Meaning there are structures in place to normalize racism in academia and in other fields. For real change, universities need to have improved policies that look at recruiting and hiring racial minority faculty members, at the moment most Canadian universities are lacking in this area. Even with diversity hiring officers and equity programs in place, they are just not enough. Les Back (2004) discusses the culture of universities and racism, they discuss that universities have always been a white hegemony from their inception. They argue:

The discourse is evident in the claims by institutions that the predominance of White faculty in unintentional – it is just that universities as the rationalization goes, are not able to recruit qualified minority members, for it goes without say that all ‘qualified’ individuals can apply and will be appointed. It is farcical that this constructed notion of ‘racial unintentionality’ remains and will persist as long as individuals continue to believe that minority members are ‘always welcome even though they are not there’ (Back, 2004, p. 252).”

It really makes you think, when you view universities campuses today in Canada, the student body is very diverse yet there is no to little change in the faculty members that are teaching these students. As mentioned earlier, a lot of it has to do with institutionalized racism and that some universities don’t want to have that conversation or believe that the equity policy they have in place will work and hire racial minority faculty members. James suggests that not only do universities need to have equity and diversity policies that ensure the recruitment of racial minority faculty members. But faculties and universities need to acknowledge “and [talk] about the identities of faculty members, noting who should be recruited in order to have a diverse faculty – one that not merely reflect the student population but also, and importantly, represents different perspectives (James, 2009, p. 141).”

Evidence shows that faculty members of colour bring much more to the university than their white counterparts. It is not just their scholarship and ability attract different funders and make the campus ‘unique’. Stanley (2006) reveals that they play a much more crucial role, they mentor students of colour, serve on the university equity and diversity committees, provide support to local communities, provide support to other faculty members of colour, and educate administrators, staff and students about diversity (Stanley, 2006, p. 719). Faculty members of colour bring a whole different experience to university campuses when they are hired, this aspect alone is a benefit to recruit racial minority faculty because there ‘reach’ is beyond the university campuses. However, the ‘reach’ that they have makes it more demanding to be a faculty of colour. Henry and Tator (2007) reveal that faculty of colour have more pressure on them than their white counterparts. They demonstrate that “there are inordinate demands placed on faculty of colour, for instance, minority students wishing to have them as mentors and role models, the broader students wishing to have them as mentors and role models, the broader student population seeking their expertise, their colleagues asking them to speak on issues of diversity and racism, and administrators needing their ‘physical presence on committees to prove that the committee is representative’ (Henry & Tator, 2007, p. 25).” This means that faculty of colour have an increasingly large role to play on campuses, which can also be a burden and result in them burning out. These faculty members have a dual role to play, not only do they have to meet their commitments related to their scholarship and contractual obligations, they have a series of other commitments mentoring students and educating others on racism and discrimination.

I was recently at a panel discussion in the Faculty of Environmental Studies on “Where are all the black professors?”, on the panel, there was a black professor from the Departments of Languages and Linguistics. He shared that it is difficult being a faculty member of colour because he has a lot of students that come to him for mentorship or discuss issues facing the Afro-Caribbean and Black community. This exemplifies the need for faculty of colour since students are coming up to this professor and seeking advice, mentorship, and someone they can talk to. However, he shared that he feels overwhelmed by this because he is one just out of few black professors on the campus.

So where are the black faculty members? They are not being recruited and hired, these academics do exist, but there is a structure of racism and discrimination that are holding them back. If universities really want to hire racial and visible minority faculty they can. What is next? How do we change universities to be more diverse and inclusive? There needs to be a change in equity policies that are in place at most Canadian universities to actively search for academics and researcher who are racial minorities. Universities need to have an honest conversation about racism in university and how they can address it. They also need to note that many faculty members of colour are playing two roles on campus, one of scholarship and contractual obligations and then one of a mentorship and support to students and staff. This can negatively impact hiring and tenure when these faculty members have these commitments. It is intriguing to know that provosts and deans can view the economic benefit and the benefit it has on student engagement of having faculty of colour, yet nothing is actively being done to make this happen.


Back, L. (2004). ‘Ivory Towers? The Academy of Racism.’ In I. Law, D. Phillips, and L. Turney (Eds.), Institutional Racism in Higher Education, (pp 1-6). Trent, UK: Trentham Books.

Henry, F. & Tator, C. (2007). Through a Looking Glass: Enduring Racism on the University Campus. Journal of Higher Education: Academic Matters, Feb, 24-25.

James, C. E., (2009). ‘It Will Happen without Putting in Place Special Measures’: Racially Diversifying Universities. In F. Henry & C. Tator (Eds.), Racism in the Canadian University: Demanding Social Justice, Inclusion, and Equity 137-159. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

Stanley, C. A. (2006). Coloring the Academic Landscape: Faculty of Color Breaking the Silence in Predominantly White Colleges and Universities. American Education Research Journal, 43(4), 701-736.

Stovall, D. (2006). Forging Community in Race and Class: Critical Race Theory and the Quest for Social Justice in Education. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 43(4), 7-29.

Recommended Reading:

Racism in the Canadian University: Demanding Social Justice, Inclusion, and Equity

E(RACE)r Summit on Race and Racism on Canadian University Campuses

Lack of  diversity leads to burden on professors of color

Absent from the Academy: The lack of black academics in the UK limits the wider impact of universities 

Canadian campuses suffer from lack of racial inclusion 


Exploring Black Lives Matter and Anti-blackness in Canada

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be exploring issues of anti-blackness in Canada. Specifically, I will be examining the social movements of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMTO). Over the past four years we  witness the rise of Black Lives Matter on both sides of the border raising awareness, providing support, and asking critical questions around police brutality, prison industrial complex, and anti-blackness.

Some may view the organization as only a group that protest or question their legitimacy. However, over the past four years they have garnered attention and have been able to create change through coroner’s inquest, highlighting bias in the legal justice system, and the public being more aware of police brutality cases.

Through this series, I will be examining a number of items related to BLM and anti-blackness in Canada. Some of the questions I will pose are:

How did Black Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter Toronto come to be?  What are they fighting for?

What separates them from past organizations such as the National Council of Jamaicans, Black Action Defense Committee, and Black Liberation Movements?

Why is it that protests by BLM and protests in the past by black people have been viewed as ‘criminal’ instead of political?

Is Canada exempt from anti-blackness?

I hope that the series will allow readers to be educated on anti-blackness and the tools that the legal system and the media use to continue this oppression. I also hope to provide some information on past social and civil movements and how they aided in the creation of BlackLivesMatter.

Photo Credit:

Melklsethian, S. (2015). #DCFerguson Solidarity with Baltimore 10 [Digital Image], Retrieved from (


Public Health Uncategorized

Alton Sterling

With the shooting death of Alton Sterling by the Baton Rouge Police Department, this adds to a list of actions that could get you killed if you’re black in the United States.

1. Selling CDs outside of a supermarket.

2. Selling cigarettes outside of a corner store.

3. Walking home with a friend.

4. Missing a front license plate.

5. Wearing a hoodie.

6. Riding a commuter train.

7. Holding a fake gun in a park in Ohio.

8. Holding a fake gun in a Walmart in Ohio.

9. Holding a fake gun in Virginia.

10. Holding a fake gun in Washington, D.C.

11. Calling for help after a car accident.

12. Driving with a broken brake light.

13. Attending a Bible study class.

14. Failing to signal a lane change.

15. Walking away from police.

16. Walking toward police.

17. Running to the bathroom in your apartment.

18. Walking up the stairwell of your apartment building.

19. Sitting in your car before your bachelor party.

20. Holding your wallet.

21. Making eye contact.

22. Attending a birthday party.

23. Laughing.


The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander, that’s not our job. If you have a critique for the resistance for our resistance, you better have an established record for critiquing our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions for those that do. Sit down

  • Jesse Williams

In Response to 3 Common Myths of Gentrification


Professor Sutton provides some strong arguments to combat gentrification within the cities through;

  • Policies that implement rent control
  • Restricting predatory investment schemes
  • Speculatory investment funds

All of these are very possible, however, cities are viewed as corporations, meaning that there main interest is to make money. This is one of the main reasons why you don’t see that much pushback from new developments and the gentrification of certain neighbourhoods. There needs to be a progressive government in place to create these progressive policies. If not, gentrification will likely continue. We also need to look into community land trusts and new development that support rent-geared-to-income housing. These actors won’t stop gentrification, but will reduce the impact it has on a community.

I would argue with Professor Sutton that revitalization and re-development of communities are also forms of gentrification. We spoke about terminology and the importance of it in my environmental design course last term and we grouped terms like renewal, revitalization, and re-development under gentrification. There’s the example of Little Havana in Miami, where the community began a revitalization project that lead to the gentrification of the community. If you have the chance, I would recommend reading Back to Little Havana by Feldman and Jovilet.

Gentrification has impacted the working class and those with low incomes, but in the US it is slightly different since these low-income communities are for the  most part comprised of blacks. There are some scholars in the US that believe gentrification is a form of colonialism. I’ll discuss the topic of colonialism and gentrification in a later post. Lastly, the spotlight has been on gentrification in the media for the past few years. However, gentrification is not a new phenomena, it has been ongoing for the past 50+ years affecting communities across the globe.

You can read the original article on gentrification here: 3 Common Myths of Gentrification.

Politics Uncategorized Urban

On the Carding Controversy


I have been closely watching the exchange between Mike McCormick, the head of the Toronto Police Association and Desmond Cole, activist and writer. Since the discussion they are having around crime and carding is related to my major research paper for my master’s degree.

The comments coming from McCormick are erroneous and absurd, there is absolutely no data linking carding or street checks to the reduction of crime. It was cringe worthy to see him debate with Cole on CityNews and just repeat false information. During a previous interview, McCormick made an outlandish statement on the provincial ban on carding and how to due to the ban this is the reason for the current spike in gun violence in the city.

Here is what we know, “racial discrimination has long been an issue within Canadian society – particularly with respect to the operation of the criminal justice system” (as cited in Mosher, 1998, p. 305)

Carding and street checks are the manifestation of racial discrimination in the justice system due to that these processes are solely used on marginalized communities; those who are disabled and are visible minorities. So to say that the practice of carding does not discriminate is inaccurate. Skolnick (1966) discover that “police in the United States tend to perceive young, black males as ‘symbolic assailants’ and thus stop and question them on the street as a means of ‘crime prevention” (p. 402). From this observation, we can already see the criminalization of black and brown bodies. In a Canadian study about stop and search practices in Canada, Owusu-Benmpah & Wortley (2011) note that similar practices and racialization exist within the Canadian police environment. Through a survey, they discovered “blacks are over three times more likely to experience multiple police stops than whites or Asians and are three times more likely to report being searched during these police encounters” (402).

Simply, carding does not reduce or prevent crimes from taking place

What is more troubling is, the police forces and the government have not released data around carding and crime prevention. This creates a lot of question around the practice and what it being done if there is a lack of data. Are they simply practicing this due to the criminalization and black bodies or is there evidence supporting this? Henry and Tator (2005) refer to this as democratic racism:

An ideology that permits the emergence of two seemingly conflicting sets of values: a public commitment to racial justice and equality on one hand, but a refusal to seriously investigate and address racial inequalities and potential racial bias when these issues emerge (p. 349).

Owusu-Benmpah and Wortley (2011) state that the government and police forces withholding information on carding and street checks are a form of democratic racism. They go on to say that police forces, government, and the criminal justice system continue to ignore questions around carding because there is no empirical data. For all we know, the criminal justice system and carding are inherently racist.

Police forces and the criminal justice system needs to take a different approach when it comes to crime prevention and serving the community. Continuing these practices will create communities that fear the police and the authority due to these practices.


You can watch the debate between McCormick and Cole here.

Politics Public Health Uncategorized Urban

Coded Language and the Conservative Party

old stock

I think it’s all coming together now. The Harper campaign recently hired Australian political strategist, Lynton Crosby. Crosby is well known for using coded words to send a message to potential voters, these messages are usually racist in nature. With Crosby hired to help the campaign, I’m not surprised with some of the comments Harper made in tonight’s debate and over the past week. We’ve seen these coded words used when discussing the Syrian refugee crisis and how they have been used to villainized them. We also saw Harper using coded language tonight when discussing refugees and ‘old-stock Canadians’. I think it’s pretty obvious what both Harper and Crosby meant when they used this term tonight. The term ‘old stock’ was used by the Klu Klux Klan to describe the “original’ white settlers of America. In David Welky’s America Between the Wars 1919-1941, he discuss the creation of the KKK and the meaning of ‘old-stock’:

…The Klan…has now come to speak for the great mass of Americans of the old pioneer stock…

These are, in the first place, a blend of various peoples of the so-called Nordic race, the race which, with all its faults has given the world almost the whole of modern civilization. The Klan does not try to represent any people but these.

Here’s twitter reaction to Harper’s comment:




olstock2tl;dr  Harper is racist.


Lynton Crosby hired by Harper Campaign

How the Harper government is manipulation the refugee crisis

‘Old-Stock Canadians’ References by Harper Amid Refugee Debate