People of Georgian: Professor helps launch anti-Black racism forums
February 05, 2021

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People of Georgian: Meet Clement Bamikole

The more visibility we give to racialized and underrepresented groups, the more people who don’t know much about them will warm up to hearing more about them.

The whole emphasis about Georgian’s anti-Black racism forums is to make the college a more welcoming space for everyone, regardless of socio-economic background, faith, orientation, what you look like… So that when people come to Georgian, they show up as their full selves.

So that when people come to Georgian, they show up as their full selves.

Clement Bamikole, Professor

When everybody started to talk about the death of George Floyd last summer, and there were local protests, one of my daughters wrote a letter talking about how frustrated she’s been with all that has been happening.

She shared that with me, and then I spent the weekend drafting a five-page letter that I shared with Georgian’s senior leadership: “I hope you guys are feeling well. I’m not, and this is why.”

I wrote, “I’m here to represent everyone who looks like me – faculty, staff, or students – and to make Georgian a more welcoming space, and I challenge the college to do something about it.”

I was surprised that less than two hours later I got a reply from Georgian’s President and CEO MaryLynn West-Moynes saying I’d encouraged them to take action.

That’s how the anti-Black racism forums got started.

Being ‘comfortable with the uncomfortable’

We want to make Georgian a more welcoming place for everybody – not just for Black folks, but for Indigenous folks, people of colour, LGBTQ, etc.

It became obvious that for Black folks to feel comfortable sharing their experiences and ideas, they needed to have a safe space and a medium for them to exhale and share what they have been struggling with.

And they needed to do that with one another before they’d feel comfortable sharing with the rest of the community.

A person smiles at the camera.

One of the things I challenged Georgian’s senior leadership to is that it’s not just enough for you to hear the stories, watch the traumatic videos, and all of those things.

You should be able to speak out and reach out to other people that may not look like you. I appreciate the fact that they took the challenge.

I know it’s not going to change overnight and win over everybody, but I believe it’s going to get better. We all need to take the time to learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

This is something we need to engage in to be respectful of each other and to promote oneness. We’re not that different; we are all people.

Clement Bamikole, Professor in Georgian’s Liberal Arts programs, and Coordinator, Degree Breadth, Liberal Arts. Clem is also the co-chair of Georgian’s anti-Black racism forums.

Stay tuned: Later this month, we’ll share news about the recommendations that have come out of the anti-Black racism forums.

Learn more: Check out our anti-racism resources curated by Georgian’s Centre for Teaching and Learning.

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