People of Georgian: Cabinetmaking professor driven by disrupting racism, homophobia
March 05, 2021

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The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet Lynn MacKinlay

There’s this saying that everybody comes into the world with the same potential.

But, in reality, not everyone gets the same opportunity to fulfil their potential because of barriers. It’s got nothing to do with people, it’s about societal systems.

That, for me, has been a driver for most of my adult life.

In spaces where I show up, I have a sense of responsibility to use whatever privilege I have to speak to those inequities.

A person smiles at the camera in a selfie.

As a woman in trades, those spaces were typically white and male. I witnessed misogyny, homophobia, racism and xenophobia, and poor bashing.

I had to practice for a lot of years disrupting the spaces I was in because I didn’t want to ever appear to be complicit with those types of behaviours.

A teacher and a student stand together in a woodshop, with the teacher extending a measuring tape on a table.

I’m passionate about everyone being able to show up and feel like we all have the same ability to reach our potential, without societal barriers in the way.

At Georgian, I’ve stepped into some equity work to try and make the college a more welcoming place for all of diversity.

Three people stand in a woodshop, with one working on a project and the other two talking and gesturing with each other.
Students at work in the wood shop in July of 2017 at the Barrie campus

‘How we can engage in people’s humanity’

One of the things I’ve been considering for many years is figuring out how to reach across our differences in an effective and wholehearted way.

When I was younger, I was in the anti-Apartheid movement and other activism.

I remember having a debate during a protest with this angry guy. He said, “we won the war,” meaning whatever the status quo or dominant culture is right now, that’s what we must follow.

I went away from that conversation thinking so much about how we can engage in people’s humanity. For one reason or another, we don’t always acknowledge everybody’s wholeness.

It’s easy for me to not want to engage in other people’s humanity when they’re saying something I find troubling. I might be compelled to say, “what an idiot.”

At Georgian, I’ve stepped into some equity work to try and make the college a more welcoming place for all of diversity.

Lynn MacKinlay, Professor

But that’s not going to engender a meaningful conversation.

To find the humanity in anybody I’m engaging with, I have to continue to unpack my own privilege and marginality.

The more I work on myself, and the more I work on staying with my humanity and other people’s, what happens is this magic where there’s a vibrational connection. People are more compelled to listen.

Lynn MacKinlay, Professor in Georgian’s Cabinetmaking Techniques program, and co-chair of the college’s Anti-Black Racism Forums and other antiracism events.

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