I am often at a loss for words, but I’m feeling more so that way at this time. My heart is heavy with the recent overwhelming and devastating acts of anti-Black racism and police brutality in the United States, in Canada, and beyond.
Earlier this week, I started my June members’ email, pulling together thoughts and ideas from numerous colleagues, and I am grateful for all of their contributions, but it wasn’t my message. I had hoped to convey a sense of solidarity with all who are suffering. I wanted to convey how the POD Network—and all our colleagues in it—are here to provide care, support, and guidance. I tried to weave together various voices, but it just didn’t sit right. No one who gave feedback said “yes, that’s it”. I needed to find my voice and tell my truth. So here goes, my words as me, not as any official POD Network statement…
I recognized during this past week that overall I feel inadequate to respond. I am a white Canadian woman of privilege, so who am I to say anything? I cannot fathom never knowing when someone—especially someone in authority—could take my life because of the colour of my skin, because of who they think I am. I cannot fathom my three beloved sons being in constant danger. And yet I acknowledge that this is the reality for the Black population, for my Black POD Network colleagues, and my heart bleeds.
To my Black colleagues, I fear for you and I mourn with you. I also greatly admire you. I see you taking a stand, fighting against racism and oppression. I see your great care for one another. I see your energy, your determination. It strengthens my resolve to do what I can to support you in changing our world. And to learn what I need to learn to be of more help.
I recognize that these turbulent times are unsafe for many others: my colleagues who are People of Color, who are Indigenous, who are members of any marginalized group. I see you too, and I support all you do to battle racism and oppression.
I look to our own organization and acknowledge the immense work ahead of us to challenge and change our systemic barriers around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). To have a community where everyone feels seen and heard and valued. In our February 2020 apology to our members for ongoing racial injustices within our organization, we committed to making changes. And we have begun, including hiring DEI consultants to augment our conference proposal review process and ensure a DEI lens is applied throughout. We will build on these efforts in the coming years with activities like training for reviewers. We are also seeking DEI-focused professional development for our organization’s leaders to help us understand our personal and organizational gaps and areas for development. And more work is to come.
I believe that as colleagues—and as people—we will stand together against racism and violence, and do whatever we can to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in all our spheres.
Stronger together (a current Canadian slogan),
Dr. Donna Ellis
POD Network President
Director, Centre for Teaching Excellence
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON Canada