Posts Categorized: Anti-racism

OER and Social Justice

[Theme music]

Josie Gray: Welcome to BCcampus Mixtape. This podcast is a remix of previous recordings from BCcampus offerings such as the Lunchable Learning radio show, Open Knowledge Spectrums, and more!

My name is Josie Gray. I am on the Open Education team at BCcampus. If you love to learn, you’ve come to the right place.

I am speaking to you from Moh’kins’tsis, which is what the Blackfoot call the area that is now the city of Calgary. This place is territory that is covered by Treaty 7, which was signed in 1877 by the Crown, the Blackfoot Nation (including the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai Nations), the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda (including the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley Nations). This place is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3. I am really grateful to be here, and to share this virtual conversation with you today, wherever you are based in the world.

We are nearing the end of the first season of the BCcampus mixtape. So be sure to tune in next week to catch the final episode.

In this episode, I speak with Marco Seiferle-Valencia. Marco is a Brown, two-spirit digital archivist and librarian. He is currently the Open Education Librarian at the University of Idaho Library. He is also a co-founder of the Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective, which is both a digital collection of Chicanx archives and oral histories, as well as the radical praxis that encourages non-institutional memory recovery as encuentro.

In this episode, Marco shares the work he is doing at the University of Idaho to support faculty in creating low or no-cost course materials that have specific social justice goals. He shares how his own positionality impacts the work he does in open and offers a critical perspective on citational practices in open education scholarship and discourse.

Let’s listen in..

[Theme music]

Josie: So to start, would you provide an introduction to who you are and what you do?

Marco Seiferle-Valencia: Yeah, so my name is Marco Seiferle-Valencia, and I’m the Open Education librarian at the University of Idaho library. I’m also the manager of something called the Gary Strong Curriculum Center. So that’s a small education library, like separate from our main library, and it’s where we actually have like all the state curriculum. So like, when K through 12 educators want to pick out a new textbook, we actually have all of the sort of like “official” approved state curriculums and all the different subjects for them to go check out. I’m also, in terms of professional roles, the technical director of a project called Chicana por mi Raza, which is a sort of grassroots digital memory project. And so we collect oral histories and we collect archives of what we might loosely term Chicana-feminist. I say loosely, because, you know, some of the people in our archive don’t identify as women, they don’t identify as Chicanas, they may be a different kind of Latinx background, and they don’t necessarily identify as feminist either. But that’s kind of the sort of grouping ideology that the project comes out of is looking at, how do we kind of recover this, sort of, submerged history of Chicana activism? The very sort of minimal kind of documentation we have around Chicano rights is sort of macho and male-centric and ignores a lot of the contributions that women who are artists, activists, educators, politicians made in all different kinds of areas across the country. So, we have a few geographic focuses like Texas, and Los Angeles, California, places like that. As well as other sort of like less expected places like Michigan. Like sometimes people are surprised like, “Ah, there’s Latinos in Michigan?” Like who knew. There are. [Laughs] So those are kind of my key, sort of, professional roles. And I always like to, sort of, contextualize myself personally as well. And so, I grew up in Northwest New Mexico. I identify as Brown. I am biracial—my mom is white, and my dad is Indigenous New Mexican. So, sort of a complex interweaving their different identities. And I’ve been a librarian for about, I guess, 10 years if you count when I was in grad school.

Josie: And what brought you to open education?

Marco: It was kind of an accident, to be honest. So, I had moved to this region to actually have a job at a university in the region (that will not be named). I was actually in kind of a completely different field. I was a digital scholarship librarian at my institution before. So, I was at Michigan State University as a digital scholarship outreach librarian. And so, I was in charge of trying to put together you know, sort of outreach and programming for our digital scholarship lab. So, at the time, we had gotten a huge grant and were putting in, you know, this like really exciting, like VR technology and sort of like 360 spaces. And so, I had a lot of digitization expertise, my undergraduate degree is actually in photography. And so, I had been, you know, sort of in the digitization, digital humanities, and somewhat archives. But the sort of like grassroots non-traditional archives, open archives, if you will. Not sort of like traditional special collections work. And so, I moved to the region for a job in that vein, working specifically with Indigenous communities using a well-known content management system. And I immediately had some challenges with the leadership on that team, and you know, was one of very few people of colour working on this people-of-colour-focused effort. And immediately running into some very… predictable and structural issues, we’ll say. And so, I made the really tough decision to quit that job, actually, not knowing what I was going to do and having [inaudible], now I’m in the Palouse region. There’s really not a lot out here.

And so, I got very lucky, and I saw this position in open education open up at the University of Idaho. And I had really never thought that much about open education, right, I’ve been thinking about digital scholarship and digital humanities, and this digital memory work, which had sort of veins in open, you know, these thematic things that I’m going to come back to later but weren’t overtly connected. And so, I thought, well, you know, I’ll try it out. I’d never thought of myself as an education librarian. I’d never thought of myself as an open education librarian. So, I did sort of the crash course thing and you know, gave the presentation and ended up really liking the library. Here at the University of Idaho, we have a lot of really innovative digital projects that actually kind of continue that digital humanities work that I’ve talked about, including that kind of emphasis on, sort of, grassroots or non-traditional or under-resourced archives via some of the software we develop here. And so, I was like, oh, this may be a different place than I was expecting. I really didn’t know anything about Idaho. I didn’t have ties to the region, right. So, I just really came into this role sort of completely blind. And it was very challenging, right? Because you’re immediately in the role as an expert. And I’m like, I’m actually not an expert in open education. And everyone’s like, “Oh, that’s your imposter syndrome.” [Laughter] And I’m like, no, it’s literally… the truth. You know, I don’t have that sort of, like, “Oh, I learned about it in grad school, and I’ve been doing it…” You know, people have some really deep histories in it. And for me, I was very new to it and brought this, you know, very kind of digital humanities focused perspective. And so, I started that role in 2018, and it’s been really exciting. And it’s been really interesting, the ways that I can, you know, have sort of synthesized that past experience in digital humanities, and digital project work, and that digital archiving work. And how those perspectives informed what I saw in open, when I saw those open histories, seeing the same kinds of things repeatedly play out. So, yeah.

Josie: Yeah, one of the great things about open is it is so flexible to be able to take those past experiences and use them to inform the work that you do in open is, yeah, really great way to approach it. In the work that I read of yours, you talk about the Think Open Fellowship Program. Could you provide a little bit of information about what that program is?

Marco: Yeah, so I like to try to, you know, follow a sort of citational practice and give people credit. So that was started by someone who was in my role, like a couple of people ago. And her name is Annie Gaines. And she’s actually a librarian at the Idaho Commission for Libraries now. And so, she started the Think Open Fellowship, you know, using sort of like a $10,000 grant that— I actually don’t know how she got it, because it’s sort of like soft money from inside the library. So, I think it’s very much like she came up with this idea, and then, you know, successfully pitched it and got the funding. And, you know, it’s a pretty big success story in that the state has picked it up and sort of provided funding to the library to support it. And basically, what it is, is it’s a kind of typical incubator program, if, you know, people listening are familiar with those. The kind of idea is that we incentivize faculty with a small financial reward, or award, to change a course from a traditional text to an open text. Different programs, of course, have different, stricter definitions of open, you know, kind of “open as a spectrum.” And so, at the University of Idaho, I think it’s a very pragmatic program, and it’s very low-cost focused. And so, when I came in, you know, vis-a-vis that sort of unusual process of arriving, I arrived halfway through an academic year, and so I came actually into a set of Think Open programs already happening. And I was like, “Oh, so this is interesting.” Like, you know, I think maybe one of them, the book actually still cost money. The solution was to use a really old edition of the book because chemistry hadn’t changed that much or something. And so, you know, it’s a $5 cost. And I was like, “Oh, so this is really interesting,” right? Because like, I’m learning about open, you know, and I’m kind of, I’m feeling like I’m starting out. And so, I’m like, oh, the five R’s and I’m like, “Well, where’s the five R’s in a $5 textbook?”, and it’s like, well, but that… this is part of the thing, right? Is it’s like, you know, Annie’s program I think really had a very pragmatic focus about let’s try to, you know, not constrain faculty to platforms or impinge on their intellectual freedom in any way, and just try to incentivize them and support them and getting, you know, the best possible option that they can come up with that’s as low cost as possible. And so, there are some pure, you know, sort of like textbook-transfer projects that we’ve had through Think Open fellows where, you know, we had a graduate student who was really successful in getting a lot of our core courses switched over the standard physics textbooks, switching those to OpenStax physics textbooks. And having just really great results with that in terms of the cost savings. You know, him saying, “You know, there are some challenges with the content. But there’s also challenges with the traditional content.” And so, you know, the grad students aren’t necessarily as entrenched in a particular format or anything and are sort of like, well, you know, they see there are issues with kind of either approach, and I think are more flexible. And it’s interesting, sort of that trajectory of that project also then kind of hit a limit in where it could go, because, you know, a faculty department only has so much input from grad students. Not every faculty is going to throw out their traditional texts just because Ross Miller has done a really great job [laughs] of making a persuasive case. We also had more intensive, kind of custom digital projects, like a custom music textbook, where it can actually be like, edited in real time, it can actually have students like annotate it, and it plays the music back or plays the score back. And so that was something that we had built actually in the library via our digital infrastructure librarian, Evan Williamson, who’s, you know, just kind of a technical genius. And he was able to collaborate with that faculty and really build this like, very unique offering, that happens to be OER, right? But that’s just sort of one piece of what it’s doing. And so those were all the kinds of projects that had been underway when I came into the Think Open Fellows Program. There hadn’t necessarily been an overt DEI focus—diversity, equity, and inclusion-for those who don’t know or aren’t in the acronym soup. And so because that is something that’s very present for me in my personal and professional identities and also something that’s a thread in my research, you know, I think that sort of was immediately in my mind, which is like, “Well, how does this, you know, how are we engaging with our sort of land grant obligations and opportunities to, you know, challenge limiting curriculums and improve representation?” And so, I think I kind of immediately brought that, sort of, tweak to the program, to what had been a pretty traditional and successful kind of mini-grant program.

Josie: Yeah, that’s really great. Could you talk a little bit about, like, what that shift looked like, and some of the projects that have come out after?

Marco: You know, I think it’s hard for me to quantify, right? Because it’s like, I will never know what Annie Gaines’ experience was like, or whatever. I think something that… and I don’t want this to be a controversial thing to say. But I do think that… my positionality in the university, you know, I’m one of 16/17 faculty librarians, three of whom are obvious people of colour, right. So very, very, sort of low representation for people of colour on campus. The library is probably one of the more diverse units on this campus. And so, it’s like, I’m sort of immediately conspicuous. And so, it was interesting to me that a lot of the people who applied the year that then I came onto campus, and I’m the person who is facilitating the Think Open Fellowship, they sort of naturally had this focus to their work as well. I mention this because I think I didn’t necessarily do some fantastic job of promoting DEI and Think Open Fellowships. But part of the reality of being a minority faculty is that you are sort of a walking advertisement for minority faculty concerns. And so that’s both good and bad, right? It’s the sort of like lightning rod where it’s like, so I tend to be the place where people want to come and bounce bad, racist ideas off of sometimes, or, you know, they want to share things that it’s like, hmm, maybe you shouldn’t be sharing that. But then it also does attract collaborators who are like, “Oh, you know, I noticed, you’re not only a person of colour on the campus, but you know, through conversation, that that’s one of your research interests, and I’m also engaging around those topics. And so, what about if I were to do a Think Open Fellowship”. So, in that first year that I came on, four out of the six projects that ended up being selected did have that strong DEI focus. Folks might wonder about, like, the selection process, which I think is, you know, potentially reasonable question. And we try to use a sort of model where we have like a little, like, panel of faculty librarians who review the applications. And at the time, I think the rubric was really around cost savings, like what’s the sort of potential overall impact. You know, probably angling for a higher impact and when possible, sort of weighting that. But also trying to sort of, I think, evaluate projects for sort of how unique they were in terms of, is this a unique contribution? Is this an opportunity to do something where maybe an OER hasn’t been developed before? Maybe working to develop a different kind of technical solution? And then, of course, evaluating them for feasibility, you know, sort of like, is this something that is actually within the scope of what this can support? I think those are sort of the main criteria. And I do you think that I modified the official kind of proposal, CFP, call for proposal thing, to actually say that projects that include an emphasis on DEI, you know, sort of supporting U of I land grant mission. It’s very conservative state here, and so, obviously, how we word things, we have to be very mindful of no appearance of support for any particular political positions. And so, you know, it’s all it’s kind of threading a tricky needle there. But I do believe that I went ahead and added that. And so, I don’t quite know what the magic is that made it so that this particular year that we had these projects. I think it’s partly that a couple of the fellows that I’ve worked with were people who had developed relationships with, and we were already talking about these issues. I think other people, I had had more sort of a, like a kind of professional acquaintance-ship. Maybe I’d done one or two lectures in that class, but not as strong of a collaboration. And then I think we had a couple of projects that year that really didn’t have any DEI focuses. You know, and I think that’s one of the things that I do think it’s worth trying to, you know, talk about a bit is, you’re kind of in this tension, where if someone isn’t interested in modifying their courses in this way, I don’t really feel that it’s my position to even really try to convince them, right. I feel like it’s more appropriate to support the people who actively have that and to, you know, to suggest things, when possible, when people are open to it. But in general, the Think Open fellows, we have a real range of collaboration, where sometimes I’m seeing people every week, in which case, those tended to be the ones where I did have a bit more input. Other times, it’s like, well I saw them twice a semester, and then when they’re done with the project. So, of that particular year, there’s kind of four main projects that came out of it, and that have that strong DEI focus. Two were actually by grad students, and then two were by faculty. And so, one is a project that is like still very much in progress because COVID hit right when we were starting it.

And the kind of concept of it is filming Indigenous community members in our U of Idaho community and having them talk about that experience of being a person who’s Indigenous and who’s also, you know, a faculty or, you know, staff-researcher on campus, something like that. And talking about the kind of overlap between those roles, tension between those roles, with a real focus on creating curriculum for education students. So, this comes from Professor Vanessa Anthony-Stevens who’s a really amazing education professor who also has a really great anthropology perspective, and a really great perspective from just doing a ton of work with different Indigenous communities in the area. She’s a big facilitator of our IKE program, which is our Indigenous Knowledge Education program, where we’re actually helping Indigenous educators figure out culturally responsive teaching strategies, culturally preservation teaching strategies. You know, trying to actually really create a space that nurtures our future Indigenous educators, as opposed to kind of trampling them down like our typical education systems do.

That was her idea was, you know, we tend to have these like really, really limited curriculums that in terms of how we depict Native American people. It’s pretty common for, you know, kids, even in a region like Idaho where we have these really strong Indigenous histories and presences, current realities, and histories to, you know, they’re like, “I don’t know any Indigenous people,” or, you know, I don’t know, like “Nez Perce people over there and we’re like, over here.” And so, trying to figure out, you know, how can we model for educators, this is a way that you can create curriculum, and also, you know, sort of this meta thing where the educator students are themselves hopefully learning something from the content as well. And so, the kind of idea for that was to replace some of her existing textbook with these curriculums that we created that are kind of focused around these interviews with those different Indigenous community campus members. So, we recorded a couple, but then, you know, COVID kicked in, and obviously, in-person recording was not ideal. And we were very particular about wanting a certain kind of aesthetic on this. And so, you know, one of the things that Vanessa rightly noted is that the sort of overall presentation of the thing, including the textbook or an OER, can be a place where, you know, white supremacy and structural racism also expresses itself. And so, we were very adamant about, like, these are going to be well composed, well lit, well shot, well recorded interviews, right. And so some people might be wondering, like, well, why didn’t you just do them on zoom? It’s like because we hadn’t—especially at that time—figured out a good way to record a high-quality interview that we can then turn into, you know, maybe a clip that includes some footage of that person’s reservation or home space, you know, some space that they want to share in terms of physical region. You know, really wanting to have some options to put in some extra sort of, I guess, you might say B-roll footage that provides that additional context.

Another was with Professor Ashley Kerr, and she was actually working on a Latinx survey course that was interesting because it’s like a sort of history of Latin America, history of South America. It’s a course that’s actually in Spanish, so that added an additional element in terms of trying to identify OER. And she wanted to challenge the traditional text’s really colonial perspective, you know. And so, she had just a number of examples where she was like, “You know, this is really an anti-Indigenous perspective in the text. This is a very anti-woman perspective in the text. This is a very anti-queer perspective in the text.” You know and wanting to really kind of explode some of these, just norms in the traditional texts that were themselves very, sort of, colonial. And so, I appreciated that she didn’t call it “Decolonizing Latinx Spanish Survey History Course.” Because, you know, the whole kind of concept of a Latinx, Spanish history survey course is sort of inherently colonial. [laughter] But I think she did a really good job of taking that traditional text and basically replacing it with a lot of different types of assignments. And so, they included things like some really innovative things, like particular political actors in history, and creating a Twitter account and trying to tweet from that person’s perspective. You know, especially I think this was during the sort of Donald Trump presidency, and there was this like real learning opportunity. How do different kinds of leadership—totalitarianism, authoritarianism, etc, fascism—how does it manifest in a sort of rhetoric in this kind of format? And so, I think she used that to sort of explore like, well, let’s look at some of these, you know, Latinx survey history, let’s look at that history and actually apply that sort of critical digital humanities perspective and allow students to, kind of, try something out there. And then I believe, we also identified a number of open resources from here and there, right, a lot of, sort of, searching on the web and finding things in Spanish that then we translated, or finding just raw materials, things coming from museums, even, where it’s like examples like… barbaric, like, Spanish caste system stuff, you know. And being able to use sort of like original archival elements to say, like, “Oh, look at this depiction, that’s like trying to sort out people by their skin colour and sort of rate different levels of interracial identity in colonial Mexico.” And this is something that we want to like shove away, because it’s so horrific and old and racist and gross. And it’s also very deeply relevant, right? Because colourism is like a major, major issue in the Latinx community. And so, taking sort of like raw archival objects, if you will, out of, you know, Mexican American Museum of History, you know, Ciudad of Mexico history kind of thing, and pulling that out and then having students work on digital assignment through that.

And then our two graduate students did work. One did work on an English 101 and 102, trying to make sort of more culturally responsive materials. She was a graduate student who’d worked a lot with English as a second language learners and had noticed that a lot of the cultural reference points in traditional English 101 and 102 texts didn’t resonate for people, were actively alienating for people, were often racist. And so you know, she had sort of limited autonomy as a graduate student in an English department to rewrite these kind of fundamental syllabi, but she was able for her courses to actually experiment with some different solutions that I don’t know that you would necessarily call them exactly open, you know, things like using captioning on Netflix to allow people to, you know, have the captions in the language that they need, right? And so, to say, like, okay, you know, making sure that it’s just selecting something that she’s checking through and saying, like, oh, is there actually Spanish caption on this to help facilitate this for English as second language learners, or things like that. And so that syllabus is really interesting, because, you know, it wouldn’t pass anybody’s five Rs. But it did get the course cost down quite a bit for those particular sections. I think they were now like a $5 course, and she had found YouTube channels where she was able to actually have Spanish captioning and things like that. And so was able to find that and then have sort of supplemental things that people could do if they did have access to things like Netflix, etc, or, you know, the paid textbook. She couldn’t change the curriculum at the fundamental level where they stopped using the English 101 text, but she said students could get through the course without it because she was seeing students getting through the course without it and suffering. And instead, the course was now rewritten that it was like, yeah, it is actually optional. So, like, if you don’t do it, you’re not actually missing out, and also, hopefully, we’re not exposing people to so many of these, like really tired and racist cultural reference points. And then the fourth project was with a graduate student named Rebekka Boysen-Taylor. She’s a PhD student in the College of Education. And she’s also a seventh-grade instructor at Palouse Prairie Charter School. I think it’s K through 8. And that’s a really interesting school. For me, I went to public schools, and so I’m like, “Is this a Montessori school?” because like, it’s like, let the kids do stuff like they don’t have to sit in their desks, and you know, they do these interesting kinds of projects where they work with Indigenous communities. Like in sixth grade they like build a dugout canoe as they’re sort of learning like the Pacific Northwest history. And so, it’s a very, you know, sort of open environment to try out different things. And one of the things that Rebekka was working with, is you know, they had a kind of standard unit on chattel slavery and abolition. Frederick Douglass was sort of central person of interest that often a lot of the curriculums that she was working with would sort of tell this story of you know, the abolition of slavery using Frederick Douglass as kind of a central figure through that. And, you know, one of the things that popped out for Rebekka was the sort of misogyny of this, you know, the kind of way that his wife Anna Murray Douglass, was basically referred to literally as “Frederick Douglass’s wife,” you know, and very little was said. But at the same time, you know, there’s always this, like, very popular story told about how she is the person who makes his freedom possible, right? So, she gets this like, shout out as the person who’s like, critical to his emancipation early in his life in a very literal, logistical way, and then she somehow just becomes his wife and that’s like, the end of her contributions. So Rebekka, you know, is a white, cisgender woman who is very interested in sort of developing her own anti-racist potentials, I would say. And so, you know, when I met her, she was working on, I think it’s called, like, the white supremacy workbook? Not sure if you’re familiar with that?

Josie: Yeah, I think so.

Marco: And now, it’s like a book, I think that you buy. And at the time, it was like a PDF that you could sort of take on. And it’s intended for non-Black people to kind of, you know, be a workbook that’s like, here’s a bunch of exercises and sort of thought exercises, I guess, you might say. And also, practical writing exercises to help non-Black people unpack their anti-Black racism, and you know, hopefully, address it. And so, I had never heard of that resource, and that was like something she was working on. And I was like, oh, this is like, really interesting to see this like white women in Idaho is like, really, critically engaged around all this. Like, I’m sort of curious what’s going on here. And basically, you know, it just turned out that she has this, you know, kind of intersectional feminist perspective. And as she was reading this stuff about Frederick Douglass and preparing this curriculum, she’s just like, “What about Anna Murray Douglass? Like, this doesn’t sound right, you know.” And so, she looks into it, and it turns out, Anna Murray Douglass is, of course, instrumental in Frederick Douglass’ abolition. But she’s also, you know, a noted abolitionist in her own right. She’s a conductor on the Underground Railroad, she’s responsible for the freedom of probably hundreds of people directly, as well as then all of these support in a million different ways that she provides Frederick Douglass. And not just a sort of, like emotional supportive wife that we tend to sort of want to feminize, but also very real, like, no, this is like a logistical, practical, strategic political operation of which she is a key part. And so, Rebekka knows that and then she really just kind of picks it up. And she ends up working with the Frederick Douglass family and working directly with the descendants. She ends up working with some of the sort of best-known historians of Frederick Douglass in terms of writers, as well as folks at the Library of Congress. And she starts basically to pull together all these primary objects that are these like digital archive objects. And we’re wondering, like, how can we turn this into a curriculum that then supports this intersectional feminist perspective, without being really ham fisted about it, because we’re still in North Idaho, right? And so that’s kind of the launching point. And so, for her first Think Open project, that’s what she develops, is this kind of modular curriculum. And we actually try it out in this seventh-grade class with these kids. And it’s, you know, it’s pretty amazing the things that they’re coming back, and that their parents are coming back and saying. And then this is also a curriculum that gets presented to education students in the college education at University of Idaho, saying, “Hey, these are the kinds of assignments you should be thinking about making in your classes, you know. You don’t just have to teach these tiny, standard, limiting curriculums”.

Josie: Yeah, I love how all of those different projects, like they have different levels of intervention. And they’re also very localized, they’re very specific to the context of the course. In the context that I work in, we’re often trying to create resources that are very— like they’re localized in the context of the province, but not very to like an individual class. And I guess that’s because I work on a provincial level as opposed to in an institution directly with faculty, but it’s so great to hear those examples. Like really prioritizing that localization and making the content really relevant. Yeah.

Marco: Well, I think for me, it’s been kind of a natural fit, because, you know, I was doing what are sort of what we call like a lot of “boutique” digital humanities work. So, supporting these smaller, individual projects—that are often what you might call like, a “micro” history. You know, they are very specific, and they’re often focused around sort of a specific geographic region or a specific group of people, and so that’s a really interesting observation. And I think probably something that for me, I was like, “Oh, yeah! They’re like, you know, super nation-specific.” Although I do think sometimes, I have anxiety about like, okay, but how do we, you know… I feel like with open there’s always this feeling of like, well I should be making the next great thing that everyone can use. And it’s like, well… I don’t know.
Josie: Yeah, there’s like benefits and drawbacks to both models. And like, I think that localization is a lot where the change happens on like an individual student level, an individual instructor level. Yeah, you know, like those OpenStax books that can be used all across… like multiple countries—they use them in Canada, too. Like, they’re super powerful, but they don’t have that, like, localized, you know, knowledge that students like, see their communities in.

Marco: Right. Which means that they almost inherently then can’t be very Indigenous, or anti-colonial, right? Because it’s like they’ve got to be…

Josie: Yeah.

Marco: Sort of that global… Yeah.

Josie: Yeah, we kind of get into the problem of like, how we understand what textbooks are, as these like, you know, “objective” narratives that present “truth.” Right?

Marco: Right. [Laughter] As if. [Laughter]

Josie: So, kind of about your positionality, and how you fit into those projects. How does your positionality inform your work in those projects?

Marco: Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, I think my positionality is something that is complex for me, especially because it’s changed quite a bit fairly recently. So I am a Brown, transgender, queer, disabled person of colour, sometimes man of colour, in the academy, right. And so, I say sometimes, because my gender identity is pretty complex. I lived my life for 31 years or something like as an out lesbian, right? And so, it’s, it’s a very complex situation for me. And it’s interesting because I never quite know how things are reading, right? And so, I think sometimes when I initially start talking to people who are wondering why this man is interested in working on feminist projects, you know, and there being this sort of, like weird contradiction of like, “Well, does it make more sense if you know that I’m a trans man, and I’m interested in feminist things?” Like and is that a weird kind of like, transmisogyny? Like, you know, there’s kind of like a lot to unpack there. And so, each of these projects I come into, these are all very new relationships for me. And so, it’s like, we’re forming the relationship and the partnership as we’re going, which does include getting to know each other. And so, I think one of the things that does stand out for those four projects as compared to those other two—j that I’m sorry to say, I don’t remember for that year, because we just didn’t work that closely. I’m sure I could look them up. But they were more like a kind of just traditional textbook conversion. You know, these were the four projects that I worked closely with were people that I was out to in pretty much all of my identities. And so, I think that that really opened us up to have more candid conversations and more honest conversations where I could say, “Oh, well, you know, I think this is actually sort of transphobic,” or “I think this is sort of queer phobic.” And it’s not that I couldn’t say those things without being out, but I do think that if you’re sort of trying to be closeted, then there can be—which I again, I— that’s sort of like inflammatory language. So not everyone has the option to be out—but I think if you’re sort of like trying to preserve the “stealth-ness,” then it can be kind of tricky to be like, well, I’m not trying to let people know that I’m transgender, but I keep talking about like, well, where’s the queer people in this resource? You know. And so I think with each of these projects that I’ve talked about more in-depth, I found, you know, the person that I was working with, even though they didn’t necessarily have a lot of the same shared identities—I think everybody’s a cisgender, straight white woman that I was working with on these projects—I still think that we had a lot of the same commonalities in terms of those shared values around like feminism, around wanting a more intersectional perspective. And I think each person kind of coming to that with a sort of an awareness of their own privilege. You know, and so, me wanting to be mindful about not sort of taking up like “mansplaining” privilege kind of space, you know, and understanding the way that those kinds of pitfalls can manifest. And at the same time, also, sometimes needing to say, like, “Oh, I’m not sure that that’s like, you know, the best idea.” And so, I do think that it’s like, you know, part of being a person of colour is you don’t know what— you don’t know what any other experience is like, right? So, it’s like, I do sometimes wonder, like, would a person who didn’t have as many diverse identities, would they have necessarily brought the same perspectives? Probably not. But I think that that’s something where white people have an obligation—or people of privilege, whatever your privilege is, have an obligation to be developing those kinds of perspectives and interventions.

Josie: Yeah, I’ve been reading— as part of this project I’ve been reading different people who have wrote on epistemic justice, without using that terminology, but particularly recently found writing on white ignorance and ignorance that comes specifically due to white supremacy and racism. Which allows white people to not understand or to like, be ignorant of, either willfully or not, of the experiences of people of colour. So that’s been really helpful reading for me.

Marco: Now, that you’ve said that, it does make me think that I should also mention that I do think that working on these projects was also very affirming because it was a place where I got to sort of be more open in these different identities, right? And faculty position is still fairly conservative in many respects. And so, there’s not necessarily as many places on campus where I feel quite as comfortably being open as I did and those partnerships. And I think it then partly showed up in these kinds of dynamic interventions, that I could be a bit more my full person in those spaces, and then that brought that additional perspective in.

Josie: Yeah, for sure. In your presentation at Open Ed 2020, you talk a little bit about citational practices, and like the intellectual genealogy—you don’t use that word, but—

Marco: [laughter] I should have.

Josie: But, of open education scholarship, like who we point to as thought leaders or like the origin of the values that we claim in open pedagogy. So, could you talk a little bit more about that?

Marco: Yeah, I will say I feel a little reluctant. Because I don’t feel like I’m an expert on this by any means. I think there are probably other—I hope there are other people who know more. But basically, my perspective was, you know, as I mentioned, I was pretty new to open librarianship. So, in 2019, I believe it was, I took the Creative Commons licensing course to learn how the Creative Commons licenses work and so on and so forth. And, you know, they had a sort of typical introduction to open, you know, I now know is kind of the standard open narrative. But I remember reading it and it—and no disrespect to any Creative Commons, authors who contributed to the textbook or whatever—but to me, I was like, what I’m reading sounds like open education started in the 1990s. Like some white tech dudes invented it, and then like, some other white tech dudes were like, “Oh, yeah. This is great.” And then some, like white education dudes were like, “Oh, yeah. We love this.” And now here we are. And I was like, this is really weird, because, you know, as I mentioned, I’ve been working on this Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective. One of the big kind of sites of feminist activity in the 1970s, 1960s, 1980s, that timespan, is in education. And I was like, well, that’s weird that you would… why is it like, “Open education starts in 1990 with XYZ cisgender white man,” and not “It starts in, you know, 1970 Detroit, when Lucy Cruz is making her own museum to educate kids about Mexican American history because there’s all these kids living in southwest Detroit—to the point that it’s literally called Mexican Town—and they don’t have any curriculum, you know, there’s nothing.” There’s no curriculum that supports Mexican American history, and you have people in the community who are like, “That’s fine. I got curriculum. I make it, I scan it, I give it out for free.” She’s got a museum, it’s full of like, artifacts, you know, she’s giving out tours. And I’m like, that, to me, is a genealogy—you know, as you say, an intellectual genealogy—of open education. And I am really not an expert in Black feminism, but the tiny bit that I know, I was, like, you know, education is where so much of the core Black feminist thought that we now think of as the Black feminist kind of ideological canon. I mean, that’s where it comes from. So, I was just like, I don’t understand how you can have this history of open that ignores what systematically impoverished, poor people have been doing to make sure that we’re educated. I didn’t understand. And so, I thought, well, maybe there’s something missing in the research. But I think, you know, unfortunately, it’s the very kind of, this sort of meta thing, where it’s like I’m talking about while the “standard narrative,” right? And who’s not in the standard narrative, and how the standard narrative really just serves to sort of uphold typical white supremacy power structures. And I was like, and here it was again, where we’re talking about open education and acting like it’s sort of a technological intervention from the 1990s. You know, and also kind of ignores sort of, like, English open school stuff, you know, it’s like a weird…. I don’t mean to totally denigrate white folks, by any means, [laughter]. It’s like, this kind of like, this sort of history that’s like, so technology focused. I was like, this is very… It just feels very “of our time,” that has a culture that has a very particular attitude towards technology and likes to think of it as being this very recent and very particular thing that sort of particularly mastered by particular people, which happens to be the same old people who we tend to think of as wielding power in this country. And so that was my just immediate and obvious criticism. And as I looked into it more, I was like, “Oh, yeah, it doesn’t actually seem like this piece has really been connected.” And for me, it’s important for my work to be liberatory for me, personally, as much as that’s possible within these very confining systems. And it just seemed natural to kind of connect those things. And, you know, hopefully, seed some conversation in the community about the actual ideological history of OER.

Josie: Yeah, it really got me thinking a lot. I’ve been doing lots of reading on citational practices and like, particularly in the context of white feminism, and its appropriation and all of that. So, I’ve been doing lots of that kind of reading and so when I heard you make that critique of open, I was like, yeah, our definitions do point back to not that long ago, mostly tied to the internet, mostly tied to open licenses, which are under Western colonial understandings of copyright, and…

Marco: Yes, yeah.

Josie: Yeah, so that was a big “lightbulb” moment for me, for sure.

[Theme music]

Josie: Thank you for joining us today. If you liked this content, let us know. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn under @bccampus, and on Instagram

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You can also find more information about our podcast at, and tune in next week for the next episode of BCcampus Mixtape.

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—End of Episode—

Epistemic Violence in World History

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Josie Gray: Welcome to the BCcampus Mixtape. This podcast is a remix of previous recordings from BCcampus offerings such as the Lunchable Learning radio show, Open Knowledge Spectrums, and more! My name is Josie Gray. I am on the Open Education team at BCcampus. If you love to learn, you’ve come to the right place…

I am joining you today from Moh’kins’tsis on Treaty 7 lands, which includes the territories of the Blackfoot confederacy (which includes the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai Nations), the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda (including the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley Nations). This place is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.

This episode was originally published as part of my master’s major research project at OCAD University, a podcast titled Open Knowledge Spectrums. The episode was shared under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 licence, and you can find it at

In this episode, I am joined by Dr. Tadashi Dozono. Tadashi Dozono is an assistant professor of history/social science education at California State University Channel Islands. Through cultural studies, ethnic studies, queer theory, and critical theory, Tadashi’s research emphasizes accountability towards the experiences of marginalized students by examining the production of knowledge in high school social studies classrooms. His work draws on his experiences as a queer Japanese American cis-male, his family’s internment during World War II, and over twelve years of teaching in New York City public schools. He received his PhD in social and cultural studies from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, where his dissertation focused on “trouble-maker” students of colour in world history classrooms.

Let’s listen in…

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Josie: So, to start, I was wondering if you could share a bit about your background, as a person, as a teacher, as a researcher?

Dr. Tadashi Dozono: So, I’m Japanese American, grew up in Portland, Oregon, and I identify as queer cis male. And I taught in New Your City from like early 2000s to just like a couple of years ago, until 2019. And I did my PhD work, kind of course work right kind of in the middle of that and finished doing dissertation writing while continuing to teach in New York City. And then now currently, I teach at Cal State University Channel Islands, just about an hour north of LA. Yeah.

And kind of teaching wise, I always taught high school social studies. For most of the time taught ninth grade world history, but also taught nine through twelfth grade U.S. history, civics, economics, and world history.

Josie: Great. And what brought you to work on epistemic injustice in world history curriculum?

Tadashi: I guess a lot of it was through my years of teaching in New York City, teaching world history to ninth graders, and almost all of the students are/were Black and Latino, and just knowing after years of teaching them, just how they ended up like seeing themselves or not seeing themselves in the world history curriculum.

And I think in a lot of ways that reflected my own experiences in K to 12 schools, of not feeling like there was room in history classes for my background in history. Yeah. I mean, a lot of why I ended up going into teaching was because of experiences of racism that I had had growing up. And so, it was kind of— I guess teaching was my way of dealing with racism, as my way to sort of create change around that. And I guess going into doing research on this stuff was my way of kind of further processing that. And figuring out— I guess even though I had been trying to change the narrative of world history to be more inclusive of my students’ backgrounds, they still felt overall excluded from the narrative. And so, as a teacher, that felt frustrating to feel like, I’m trying to make these changes but it’s not really— it’s not doing the sort of change I intended it to. And so, going into researching this stuff was trying to figure out, okay, what else needs to happen? Like besides— you know, I think the content— changing the content is important, but what else is going on here besides just changing, you know, the places that are included in the narrative of world history?

Josie: Yeah. Absolutely. Could you maybe talk about some the research that you have done? Like general overview?

Tadashi: Yeah. I mean I guess my PhD dissertation work was then focused on interviewing high school students of colour—pretty much all like Black and Latinx students—10th graders in world history classrooms. And then trying to really document their experiences and their relationships to world history. And so, it was kind of building off of what I had seen in my students as a teacher, and then going back into classrooms to try to document those experiences of different students in like urban classroom settings. And so, I guess in terms of my research, part of it’s like documenting those experiences that students have and their relationships to make teachers and researchers more aware of that sense of, you know, ways that students can feel like unseen or negated through the curriculum.
And then part of my work is also then looking at curriculum—often world history curriculum, like textbooks, or state standards, or curriculum units—and trying to look at, okay, what’s problematic about these? Like where— what could change in how these are structured. Because I think oftentimes the people creating curriculum, I believe that they are trying to do a good job of being more inclusive. But there are still these sort of issues, right. So, part of my work comes from this sense of like, I know that I as a teacher had good intentions of changing the curriculum for my students but it still— it’s like, what’s that something else that’s still missing that’s not creating that change that I want it to? And then I guess, yeah, I end up doing a lot of theory work to kind of— I guess it’s trying to get to the foundations. Like what are the underlying things going on beyond just the surface of like, this looks like an inclusive narrative, but then what’s actually going on underneath?

Josie: For sure, absolutely. And so, I guess you were just talking about like recognizing that people come into this with good intentions, but even with those good intentions, there’s still some— there’s a gap there. And so where do you think that gap is? Is it kind of— Cause it’s not— You’re right, it’s not just curriculum. It’s also the teacher, and how it’s taught, and how students are brought in. Could you maybe talk about that?

Tadashi: So, to some extent, I think, another layer of these tensions is how student thinking comes into play. I guess overall I think a lot about the idea of like knowledge production and the relations of knowledge production in the classroom. I guess I think about like, what’s the relationship between like students and the teacher and the text in the classroom? You know, okay, so if we just take the text itself, like the textbook or something. What went into producing that kind of set of knowledge that’s there? Right? And then I also try to think about, in terms of students, what’s the knowledge that students are bringing into the classroom, and how can that knowledge be incorporated into the overall kind of system of producing knowledge in the classroom. And then the teacher as well, right? What role does the teacher play in that in terms of kind of taking authority of themselves as the “expert” or kind of putting the expertise in the books that they are reading or the expertise in the students, right? And their ability to listen to what students are saying.
So, to some extent I— through my work with interviewing students, I really try to think about, okay, what’s all the thinking going on with that students are saying? Beyond just, is this a right answer or a wrong answer? What are the things going on into their thinking behind that, right? And to have the ways that students are thinking about history and world history to be just as interesting as what’s in the textbook itself. So, I think part of my goal is to get teachers to be really attentive to the ways that students are thinking about the world and to have that be just as important as the history that the world history textbook is presenting.

Josie: Right. And I was wondering if you could talk about, like how you do that in a context there’s this state-mandated curriculum with exams that students have to take. Like how do you do that kind of teaching with those structures being imposed?

Tadashi: Yeah with this I guess I’m thinking about this more from my own experiences as a high school teacher, and then also presenting this as like a possible solution for like other teachers to I guess to find the ways to subvert the state standards, kind of openings in the state standards. Like so for example, on the New York State exam, there would be these thematic questions about world history. And so, they don’t— They suggest some examples of cases that you could use. So, I would often try to take those themes and think about other examples that could be used that are not necessarily like in the traditional history textbook, right? So, for example like, thinking about like Jamaican Maroons, Maroon communities, as an example as kind of revolution or protest, right? So, thinking about like cases that might relate more to my students from the Caribbean and a New York City classroom, but that are not talked about much in the New York City textbook. Yeah. I guess it’s like trying to find those openings in the ways that you can—You can use the sort of bigger questions or themes and then find, you know, ways to incorporate different content into that.

Josie: Right. Absolutely. I guess that leads into another question that I have. My work life is very focused on textbooks [laughs], but I’m like fully aware that textbooks can be super limiting. So could you may talk about like, how do you feel about textbooks? And do you use them? Are they ever useful to you?

Tadashi: Yeah. It’s— I think textbooks are definitely useful in some ways I kind of think about their kind of like, something like Wikipedia, where it’s like a really good starting point, and it’s useful, but then it’s kind of moving from the sort of like kind of background knowledge, narrative foundation that the textbook might provide and then going into much more critical like depth of looking at primary sources and— I mean I think it would be great to do some analysis of what is going on in the textbook. So to get students to do kind of discourse analysis of like, okay, how is this narrative being constructed? Like what’s missing? What language is being used about certain groups and not being used around others? So, I think it would be great for teachers to use those issues around textbooks as a way to also study it as a text itself and to be critical about that text. Yeah. So, I mean I think— I definitely use textbooks as a teacher. You know, I will still use certain kind of base-narrative texts in my own classrooms, but then thinking of that as just the beginning point and then doing inquiry from there.

Josie: Right. Using textbooks as a tool to give students the abilities to kind of analyze like, what’s the narrative here? And be more critical about it rather than presenting it as this like “master narrative.”

Tadashi: And I think— I guess with my own work, I think it’s important to do the critiques of the textbooks, but then I also— I guess just for myself, I try to make sure that I’m doing a sort of balance of looking at like the problems that can be in textbooks but be also solutions-oriented. Right, so what would alternatives look like? And trying to look at models of that or examples of alternatives to using the textbook or ways to extend past just using the textbooks.

Josie: Yeah. I know that’s a question that I have, it’s like whether textbooks, just in the way that they’re designed, whether they could ever really be epistemically just. Or whether they could include multiple ways of knowing, like that’s a question I have about textbooks, is whether that’s possible based on how they are designed. Or if kind of new designs need to be imagined. Yeah, I don’t know the answer, but something that I’ve been thinking about for sure.

Tadashi: Yeah, and I guess kind of—I mean I think, I think one of the big tensions I have with textbooks is the presentation of “objective” knowledge. I think it’s important for the textbook and the teacher to be honest about this, this is presenting as objective, but there’s inevitably some sort of bias and ideological influence going into how this narrative is being presented. So, I think either the textbooks being upfront about that bias or the teacher helping students to unpack that bias and perspective that is there.

Josie: Yeah, absolutely. I’m trying to find a quote of one of your articles that I pulled out… mmm okay, there is a quote that went, “The promotion of ‘normal’ and ‘traditional’ curriculum is just as political as those deemed radical or politically motivated.” And I think that kind of speaks to what you were just saying, like claiming objectivity with a certain narrative is a political act even though it’s been kind of depoliticized by European ways of knowing or, you know.
So, you write a lot about epistemic violence. Could you talk a little bit about how you define the term and maybe an example of what that looks like?

Tadashi: Epistemic violence is— it’s basically when the ways that people understand the world and makes sense of the world when those ways of knowing are negated or ignored. It’s like when you deem someone’s way of making sense of the world as illegitimate, it’s really—in a big way, especially in terms of world history, it’s a way of dehumanizing people, of kind of taking away that part of their humanity. And I think in terms of world history, a big component of how being human is defined is that capacity to reason, and so when you take away the legitimacy of a group of people’s capacity to reason, then that’s an act of dehumanization. And so, to a large extent, that’s why I frame it through this term of violence. We often think of violence as these physical acts of harm. So, I use the term violence here to point to the way that like words can do harm and words can be an act in themselves. And so, to make that sort of judgement of whether someone’s way of knowing counts or not, to me it’s important, especially in schools, to understand that as a form of epistemic violence.

Josie: Right. And with you talking about language, in one of your articles, you really get into the language and grammar and look at how those are used to reinforce white supremacy in grade 10 world history curriculum. So, could you talk about some of the ways that white supremacy functions at the level of language?

Tadashi: Yeah, so it’s interesting because I— I think, partly I never really thought of myself as being a good student in English classes, and you know, I think I always thought that I was interpreting the text wrong, and things like that. But I’ve gotten really interested in the idea of grammar overall as really this representation of relationships of power. You know, it’s— Just the idea of who is the subject in the sentence and who’s the object in the sentence? And just doing some analysis around, you know, who gets to be a subject, who gets to be an actor in history versus who is the object, who is acted upon, I think really then opens up these power dynamics that can go kind of unnoticed. But they’re really kind of these powerful structures at the sentence level in these texts, right? And so— Yeah, and I guess beyond just sort of object/subject, there is also who then is being seen as passive? Or who has agency? You know, oftentimes non-white peoples in world history are included only once they are acted upon. They become a part of history once Europe has had contact with them. And then they enter history. And oftentimes, the events are only remarkable as a sort of reaction to something that Europe has done. If it’s a revolt or something. Like the Haitian revolution is remarkable only in terms of being a both an example of kind of redoing what Europeans were doing in terms of political revolutions, but then also sort of like repeating that action. But then also only in response to France’s actions. So yeah, so I think we can see these power dynamics at the sentence level in a lot of these texts.

Josie: Yeah, and I think like one of the examples that really illustrated it for me is where you talked about how passive voice functions both to remove the responsibility, or the— Yeah to downplay European or white actors that are often doing the violence and doing the dispossession and all those things, and how using passive voice means you don’t have to say who did those things. And then also how passive voice, like the same tool, is used to remove agency. Like it’s insidious the ways some of these things work.

Tadashi: Yeah, and that— that was an interesting process for me in my analysis, because I think initially, in doing my analysis of the state framework, was noticing those moments when the passive voice was used to kind of make non-white peoples objects being acted upon and then I started noticing this other dynamic of, oh, the passive voice is still being used for like white Europeans’ actions. And so, it was really trying to figure out, oh, but there’s still this significant difference in how that passive voice functions. So, it was an interesting process for me to figure out for myself what that meant, how the passive voice was being used differently. And it read very differently for me. I was reacting to that difference in the passive voice.

Josie: Yeah, yeah. Very interesting. I have an undergraduate degree in history, so— like history is very interesting to me, and how history is studied is very interesting. And you’re talking about how like history is periodized. Like all these frameworks that are “history,” how these come from a European tradition and are then imposed through all of history curriculum. And it trickles down through all of these levels. Even at the university level, a lot of these things that you have identified still exist, like these historical claims of objectivity and this periodization, like what kind of courses get offered and who teaches them.

Tadashi: Yeah. I guess along those lines, like, thinking about what epistemic violence can look like in curriculum is—Like I’ve been recently doing work at looking at like Indigenous belief systems in the curriculum, and a big tension that comes up with that is, you know, there might be room for Indigenous knowledge to be studied as an object of study, but not being acknowledged as having their own way of making sense of the world. So just the terms that are being used to study the knowledge of other people, it still takes the methods and the perspective of western science to then make sense of that and to make it intelligible. And otherwise, it’s just sort of like “culture” that we can study versus its own legitimate way of understanding the world and knowing. And so, I think that’s a way where epistemic violence can— it can have this appearance of like, oh this culture is being valued. But in actuality, it’s still being objectified. Yeah, it’s not being valued as its own legitimate system of reasoning.

Josie: Right, yeah, absolutely. This is another quote that I pulled from your article, which—and you said, “The goal isn’t simply to have marginalized people mentioned more often. Educators must always be attentive to how power shapes discourse.” And I think that really applies to what you were saying there. Like the goal is not just to talk about Indigenous knowledge systems. The goal is to value those as own knowledge systems equivalent to other knowledge systems and actually change how we think about knowledge and education, and all of those things.

Tadashi: Yeah. And along with that is— I think even in my early attempts to study world history on my own I would often still read, you know, books about Africa or China or the Middle East by white scholars. And then.. I think then at some point there was a shift for me of then trying to focus on reading texts about other places by people from those places. And you know, that’s not to say that scholars who are white who are writing about those places aren’t valuable, but it was to acknowledge that there’s this sort of difference in where the authors are coming from. Yeah just the approach that content ends up being different and the way it’s being presented is somewhat different.

Josie: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, reading some of your research I see you doing that, like kind of acknowledging your positionality and where you’re coming from and being transparent about your identity and how that affects the work that you do. So could you maybe talk more about how positionality of an author and who is being cited and all of those things play into epistemic justice?

Tadashi: Yeah, I think, I mean I think the idea of positionality to some extent I think that became important to me in a lot of ways through my students in New York in my first couple years of teaching. I think I learned humility pretty fast in teaching high school. And that it’s better to acknowledge those differences between me and my students than to make it seem like I know what they are talking about, or I know what they’ve gone through. And so, I think— I mean I think a big piece of that was like, having always identified as a person of colour, and then having my students point out that in their eyes, I’m not a person of colour because I, you know. And to acknowledge that my experiences growing up as Japanese American in Portland, Oregon, is so vastly different than my students growing up in New York City who like, grew up as Black and Latinx. And that even though I see a commonality there, there is still a big difference there.

Yeah, I mean I think in terms of positionality, it’s kind of an important piece of that is having a humility about the limitations of, you know, I’m not going to claim that I can understand this fully, or you know to, to acknowledge that perspective. And I guess that kind of comes to, like comes back to that conversation about textbooks. Like, you know, if I expect the textbooks to be honest about the perspective that they’re coming from and the bias that is inherent in those textbooks, I think it is important to be upfront about how where I’m coming from in my approach to writing of my research.

Yeah, and you know, that does play a role in who I end up citing in my papers as well. You know, I appreciate these sort of movements around citational practices. Things like movements to cite Black women. And that idea of, you know, what lineage are you creating in your work? And who are you placing at the kind of at the origin of knowledge for your work? You know, to me that speaks a lot of that idea of epistemic injustices is, you know, is the origin of all knowledge in Europe at all times versus changing citational practices and changing those lineages to be able to trace back to other locations beyond Europe. And I think there is, built into academia, there’s an expectation of who you cite. And you know, in the publishing process being told that I need to cite certain people. And that, you know, and that really becomes— it just kind of becomes this reproduction of lineages that will remain white if we just kind of continue those practices. So that— That’s kind of this other way that white supremacy can kind of become reproduced in the writing up of research is the expectation of who gets cited, how you’re tracing knowledge, often it ends up being tracing it back to Europe.

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Joise: So, I guess then queer theory is applicable much broader than just the fields of gender and sexuality like it can be used in other contexts, is that right?

Tadashi: Yeah, and I guess queer theory ends up also critiquing sort of inclusive models as well a lot of times. I think kind of a good example that I use to help understand this is like, like the idea of gay marriage is more of a normative kind of assimilating into the mainstream by adding gay people into the system of marriage. And the sort of queer critique of marriage is more like, why would I want to be part of a club that didn’t want me in there to begin with? And why would I want to be part of a system that has been known for excluding others or also has strong roots in kind of placing women as objects of property. And it is sort of, instead of trying to be included into the norm, it’s critiquing that power of that idea of normal and like let’s get rid of that category.

Josie: Yeah, that makes me think a lot of Sasha Costanza-Chock’s work on design justice. They write about, in the book, about their experiences as a trans femme person going through airport security and being flagged every time they go through because they don’t conform to male and female like norms of what a body is supposed to be. And they talk about how design justice isn’t about making a more inclusive airport security, it’s about like taking down those systems of surveillance and all of those things. It’s kind of like breaking down those systems, not just trying to be included in those systems that cause a lot of harm.

Tadashi: Yeah, and I think kind of as a high school teacher I think I often would link queer theory with like critical disability studies and the ways that my students were being categorized based on their learning styles and the ways that they think and process things. Yeah, like categories of able-bodied and normal versus, you know, abnormal ways of thinking or being then become this other category, right. So trying to dismantle what that idea of what the normal child is or the normal functional body and mind, you know, instead of trying to get students to, you know, be able to fit into that category, well let’s question what that category is and what it’s actually doing.

Josie: Right, absolutely. So I guess maybe you could talk a little bit about, I think you kind of did there, but how epistemic justice shows up in your teaching practices? Both maybe in the K to 12 levels but also in the university system.

Tadashi: Yeah, and you know and cause like we kind of started talking about like textbooks, but I think at the end of the day, like I don’t care so much about the textbook. What I care about is the students and their sense of themselves and their education. And so I think that idea of epistemic injustice really comes down to, what’s going to help my students, I don’t know, like just have confidence in who they are and in how they think about the world. And you know, to continually push them, but to you know, I guess my concern is really about the students and how they understand themselves. And so, I think a big part of how it comes up in my classroom is— I guess even like K to 12, is to break down the idea of what being smart is. Or you know, trying to move it past the sort of like, this innate inborn capacity and, you know, that the grade means— You know, like I was always really so bothered when students would have this sense of like, “Oh, I failed this class. That means I’m stupid.” And when a lot of times there were all these other factors that were impacting the work that they were turning in or not turning in to the classroom, to the teacher.

So, I think, like in my work now with teaching elementary school teachers how to teach social studies, I’d say a big component of the work that I do with that is kind of repairing students’ relationships to what economics is, government, geography, history. I think a lot of my future elementary school teachers come in with kind of like a bad relationship to some of those things. Like economics feels intimidating. And I think a lot of my work there is trying to break it down to both to acknowledge their relationships to those disciplines and to really broaden the definitions of what those mean, right? That economics is really about resources and how we distribute resources and so that can be as simple as, you know, like having like a bag of candy and how we divide it amongst everyone in the class. So really trying to break some of those ideas down to their kind of core concepts. So, I think like a chunk of that is kind of repairing students’ relationships to those disciplines and to really kind of broaden what counts as knowledge in all of those disciplines, and to really engage students’ own background knowledge as a part of those disciplines, cause often times they are not seen as that. So, a big part of it is like encouraging my future teacher students to really try and incorporate like the knowledge that their students have as a part of that process of learning in the classroom.

Josie: Yeah, absolutely. So where do you see a potential to disrupt epistemic injustice and epistemic violence in world history education?

Tadashi: I think an important component of that is to trust teachers and to provide teachers with the time and the resources to develop curriculum and adapt curriculum. Because I think localizing the learning is really important for teachers to be able to incorporate not just the background knowledge of their students but also of the communities in which the schools are embedded and the students are embedded. And, you know, that takes time and resources to be able to learn the histories of the communities and to incorporate those in. And I think— I think that’s where the learning just reaches new levels of depth and richness when the knowledge is able to be localized and embedded within students’ communities. So I think a big piece of that is really entrusting teachers with, you know, so not just, “This is the state curriculum and you have to teach exactly what this says,” to “Okay, here’s this sort of beginning point of state curriculum, and let’s also make sure that we’re trusting teachers to be able to develop curriculum or expand on the curriculum to really figure out ways to link students’ lives and their communities to these state standards and the state curriculum, or right. Or even just go beyond what the state curriculum says [laughs].

Josie: [Laughs] Absolutely.

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Josie: Thank you for joining us today. If you liked this content, let us know. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn under @bccampus, and on Instagram

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You can also find more information about our podcast at, and tune in next week for the next episode of BCcampus Mixtape.

[Theme music]

—End of Episode—

“Epistemic Violence and World History with Dr. Tadashi Dozono” transcript by Josie Gray is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 License.

Leveraging Change to Support Racialized Students

[Theme music]

Leva Lee: Welcome to BCcampus Mixtape. This podcast is a remix of previous live recordings from BCcampus offerings such as the Lunchable Learning radio show, Open Knowledge Spectrums and more! My name is Leva Lee.

Helena Prins: And my name is Helena Prins. We are both on the Learning and Teaching team at BCcampus. If you love to learn, you’ve come to the right place… I am joining you from the beautiful homeland of the Lekwungen Speaking people, which includes the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.

Leva: And I’m joining you from where I live on the ancestral and unceded homelands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking peoples.

Helena: Today’s episode features conversations with some of our favorite people in the post-secondary sector in B.C.! We’ll be exploring the topic of anti-racism and inequity in post-secondary institutions and leveraging change to support racialized students. First, you’ll hear from Rohene Bouarjam, the associate director, Strategic Indigenous, Black and Persons of Colour Initiatives at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver where she provides strategic leadership and direction on embedding equity and inclusion and advancing anti-racism in policies, initiatives and programming for Indigenous, Black and Persons of Colour (IBPOC) students. Then you may recognize the voice of guest host, Olaolu Adeleye, who is a dear friend of BCcampus and who is currently with Deloitte Consulting.

Leva: You’ll also hear the powerful voice of Nadia Mallay, who completed her doctorate in Educational Leadership in Post-Secondary Institutions with a focus on institutional mechanisms and change management that can be leveraged for anti-racism work and is a postdoctoral fellow. And last, but certainly not the least, you’ll hear an excerpt from a conversation with Donneil McNab who is an associate faculty at Royal Roads University, the co-founder and lead consultant at Power of Discourse Consulting, an EDI consulting company, and also the founder of the Award for Diversity and Community Building at Royal Roads University.

Helena: Let’s listen in.

[Theme music]

Helena: Well, I’m very excited to welcome our guests today. Rohene Bouarjam, thank you so much for being here with us Rohene.

Rohene Bouarjam: Thank you so much for having me.

Helena: We are super excited. So first of all, congratulations on being one of the recipients of the 2021 UBC President Service Awards for Excellence. We just saw this news last week, so we’re so proud of you. How does that feel and what does that mean to you?

Rohene: Thank you so much Helena. Uh, you know, I’m truly honoured to receive this official form of recognition, and behind my gratitude is a deep appreciation for the people I’ve come in contact with students, colleagues, faculty, community members from both my personal and professional spheres. So whilst I accept this award, this is really, something that I share with many as a recognition of how far we’ve come together.

Helena: That’s just lovely. Thank you, Rohene, and you have a big title here. You are the associate director for Strategic Indigenous, Black and People of Colour at UBC and providing leadership and direction on embedding equity and inclusion and advancing anti-racism in policies, initiatives and programming for racialized students. How and why did you get into this work?

Rohene: That’s a great question. I won’t give you a snapshot of my resume, but perhaps what I’ll do is I’ll draw on two pivotal points. The first is my experience of being an immigrant. I have been in tough spaces where I’ve been the other or excluded. And felt like I didn’t belong reflecting on these experiences. I’m mindful of leaving a country, Zimbabwe, that was once colonized to seek a better life with my family as a settler in Canada. And so when I look at my career trajectory, I have sought roles that allow me to deepen this privilege with accountability and responsibility of creating belonging. The second point is I’ve always had a strong imagination and desire for justice, even at a young age. My career trajectory has placed me in roles where I could contribute questions like why not or how about we try something different and then be part of finding the right solution. Through the lens of both of these points, my roles, including my current one, which is a very long title, creates an opportunity to bridge risk, compassion, courage, and expansive imagination. It allows myself and the colleagues whom I work closely with to rewrite what success looks like for different types of students and crack open structures that create space between what has been historically and persistently tragic on what is possible and it’s really in this space that I find the most rewarding to work in as we add in big and important concepts like equity, inclusion and anti-racism.

Helena: Yes, those are big words, and that’s actually part of why we invited you here. Because we’ve read the article that you wrote for University Affairs in August and the article was about supporting racialized students from an equity perspective. And for our audience, we will share that article again in our show notes later. But you wrote that universities need people, policies and protocols that take into account how to support the success of racialized students from an equity and not equality perspective. So how would those two perspectives differ and how get there?

Rohene: Again it’s such a lovely question because I think it opens up so many opportunities for us to unpack which would likely take hours. So I hope I’ll do this question justice and saying equality means each individual student has access to and receives the same support services and opportunities, which is something that we all strive for to offer as educators and practitioners. However, when we take an equity perspective, we move away from an assumption that everyone has access in the first place. What you recognize is that each individual student has different circumstances, different starting points, different needs, different help-seeking behaviours, and it’s in the space of difference that we as higher education professionals have the ability to match out institutional structures, policies, procedures to level the space between meeting students where they are and where they want to be. You ask me how do we get there. It starts with asking questions like who is accessing our services, programs, and support and who isn’t and then moving to curiosity around why is this happening? What could be missing and how could an aligned approach that supports the success of a student be achieved? Whilst I focused on BIPOC students in my article. Because I believe that race is often excluded out of important conversations in higher education. There is value in also considering intersectionality.

Helena: Yes.

Rohene: Placing importance on equity and not equality moves us in the direction of creating fairness. Inviting students who normally would not have been in our institutions in and finally creating outcomes that address the systemic inequities that we see across so many sectors. But perhaps to begin with, who gets a certain type of supportive post-secondary education and who doesn’t?
Leva: Very thoughtful Rohene, so I’m really thrilled to have this opportunity to meet you. And I enjoyed reading your article and in that you acknowledged your experience as a racialized individual working in higher ed. And if there’s one thing you could share about what this means to you. What would that be?

Rohene: Thank you, Leva. That’s a great question. I think being a racialized staff member means being able to connect with members of the institutional community. A community who don’t see many people who look like me at most Canadian institutions. Whilst this feeling can feel like a daunting position to be in, I look at it as an opportunity to bridge my lived experience with the compassion and understanding in all interactions with students and colleagues, whether it’s sitting with a BIPOC student who relays that they’ve been subjected to racism, and saying, “I believe you.” To sitting with a colleague who shares that they didn’t intend any harm by saying what they said in a particular meeting and supporting them with an understanding of how they can do better. So, as I think about what it means to me, we all have a lot to learn, including myself and in a vibrant intellectual environment that values critical inquiry, change and growth. The one thing that I’m grateful for is that there’s space to have these types of conversations.

Leva: I also wanted to ask you the one thing there is a misleading line you say in job descriptions, so the “other duties as assigned”…so you refer to that. Could you tell us more? About why you think that changing that one line could be the one small step for systemic change?
Rohene: Yeah, it’s a small step, a really tiny one. But what it does is it symbolizes an awareness that certain goals have shifted over time in response to who is at our institution now. And with this awareness, we have the opportunity to rewrite this one-line sentence that reflects a much deeper understanding of the required skills or competence and experience that an institution needs to provide an equity-focus level of support for all students that aligns with who they are, what they bring and where they could be as a result of studying, living and growing at all of our institutions. So, the purpose of writing this article from the perspective of “other duties as assigned” was to give voice to the possibility of rewriting job descriptions that actually match the type of support that’s needed based on who comes to our institution in a different way than what has been. Historically been considered the outcomes of one person’s job.

Helena: That’s a very interesting take on it, and I think maybe that’s already one challenge for this sector is to have a look at our job descriptions and our job postings and make sure that that line gets clarified. We also ask our guests, Rohene, to provide a challenge to the listener, so I’m very curious. What challenge did you pick for our listeners today?

Rohene: I thought something was tangible and also hopefully something reasonable. So, my challenge to our listeners is what step do you commit to doing differently today in support of your fellow racialized students and staff?

Leva: It’s a great challenge and something I hope people will think about and take to action.

[Theme music]

Leva: Nadia is an educator, Canadian born of Guyanese ancestry and has just completed her doctorate in educational leadership in post-secondary institutions with a focus on institutional mechanisms and change management that can be leveraged for anti-racism work.

[Theme music]

Olaolu Adeleye: So, can you tell us a little bit about your journey of how you even arrived in education and what your role or roles, the many hats that you wear, what they mean to you, and the significance of your voice as a Black person working in this space?

Nadia Mallay: Yes, so I am the descendant first generation born Canadian of immigrant parents. So, this will be a common narrative: Education is important. Education is valued, education is just what you do and there’s no real questions about that. Uhm, going through the education system in Canada is a different experience than immigrants would have had in their own country and going through as a racialized person, as a Black person is different. Positives and negatives, I’m sure the common story is one of negative experiences, and I certainly had those. So, as I’m going through education and focus on you know the teacher, doctor, lawyer, teacher, doctor, lawyer. [laughs] The immigrant rotation. I really was into the sciences, but I was really in a supportive environment in terms of my family home life and following interest and passion and I kept gravitating towards education. I actually went into medical sciences in my undergraduate. A very competitive program, a very white program. I was one of in a huge number of students and I won’t name institutions. That institution has a documented history of excluding, in policy, Black individuals. You can imagine what that journey was that was only recently changed. So, I landed in education because I was having, I was constantly faced with issues of racism and systemic racism, so I went into the field of education. I love it. I started in K12 education, and I moved through to leadership roles and then into higher education, starting with a consultancy and doing quite extensive volunteer work for years. And I’ve just sort of stuck with it in different forms and am now involved in EDI, but not necessarily purely EDI. It’s looking at systems change; it’s looking at how we how we run our institutions.
Olaolu: And can you speak a bit about the consultancy? Is it also working in the same area?
Nadia: So Biophilic Consulting is my consultancy, and I can help with EDI work, and I’ve done EDI scans, but it’s also about change management, organizational efficiency, helping people with their resume writing, and learning to be strategic. As they go forward with their job search and career development.

Leva: That’s interesting, yeah. There’s such more awareness now and I know that EDI work is really taking prominence, and BCcampus is actually also undergoing some EDI audits for some our programs, so I’m looking forward to learning more of how we can do better. I think and put something, and implement something, in the program rather than that we’ve been doing a lot of learning and talking, but it is time for action. So, one of the questions we had been thinking about is with your experience in post-secondary, what is the one area that you believe that post-secondary institutions need to give more attention to?

Nadia: Only one? [laughs]

Leva: Most prominently.

Naida: So, it’s a system of inequity, right? That’s what I think of when I now hear post-secondary education. Um, B.C. in particular Metro Vancouver institutions in particular are really struggling with systems of inequity. I’ve seen really great change and met some phenomenal people who are doing exceptional work, of course. And of course, people have done so much work before, but it’s a system of privilege. It’s a privilege based on race, it’s colonialism, and it’s not being dismantled, and so even as we have all these advances in EDI work, and I don’t actually generally use acronyms, I don’t think acronyms are working for us. I don’t think we can speak in binaries. It’s more exclusionary than it is inclusive. And that’s the problem. If we’re going to get to authentic inclusion these binaries, these EDI frameworks and these EDI spaces aren’t working for us, so I guess my roundabout way is that if they are going to be inclusive spaces because of all the benefits that come behind inclusion and having multiple voices, then they really need to work at privileges and systems of inequity and how they’re upholding those for profit.

Olaolu: And so really, even as you speak about the binary elements of it, is part of the way forward, then opening the conversation so that the contributions and the feedback really about these systems are a lot more expansive. And if that is the case, what does that look like in practice?

Nadia: Yeah, so it can’t really be a siloed approach. It can’t just be we have an equity office and an equity group of people doing the work. That’s important, a lot of work has been done to have those spaces, but it needs to be a distributed model. Each individual needs to be aware of how they’re enacting their own privilege in sustaining a system of inequity. So, if I have an equity office, let’s say, are they developing resources, is it capacity building? Are they challenging what I know? If I’m an expert, do I have opportunities to go and facilitate change in other spaces? So that’s what I think needs to happen, is the more distributed model of equity, because I think it’s being tacked on rather than foundation up, and nothing will change unless it’s foundation up, which is, which is a lot of work and PSIs, like everyone, we are facing a lot of challenges with an unprecedented pandemic. Um, budget issues, everything that’s happening on with a complex space like Metro Vancouver, but it needs to be done properly if it’s going to be done.

Leva: And to be done in a way that can be sustainable, right? Not just tacked on. And then everybody gets fatigued over time. You don’t have the capacity to continue the work.

Nadia: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, hugely important. The sustainability.

Olaolu: These are all great points, especially as you talk about, you know if there’s an office versus whether or not it’s finding its way into curriculum, way into classrooms, way into the culture and the community on campus too.

Nadia: Yeah, but I wonder if students are coming in knowing more than the people delivering certain components of their education.

Olaolu: Right.

Nadia: Are we meeting, we’re always meeting the needs of students coming in, so are we meeting their needs? Are we meeting their abilities?

[Theme music]

Leva: Olaolu should we ask Nadia if she had a challenge? I think we asked if she had a challenge for our listeners. We often like our guests to give something that people can sort of focus on based on the topic of discussion, but did you have a challenge you’d like to invite our listeners to do?

Nadia: Just to stay with it, I know there’s been some great movement on anti-Black racism and if you have it within you, it doesn’t have to be every day, every moment. But when you can speak up and speak out and be supportive, really advocate. Advocate in all the spaces. If you’re in a retail space and you’re wondering if that person is receiving the same treatment and engagement that you are, ask. Not everything needs to be a confrontation and actually works best when it’s not, but just ask a question.

Olaolu: That’s great in personalizing it to really getting people to see the tangible and really actionable steps that they can take as individuals.

Nadia: Yes.

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Helena: So let’s start with some good news. One of our earlier guests on the show, Rohene Bouarjam, has been involved in an excellent new program, the Beyond Tomorrow Scholars Program. That’s a first of it’s kind initiative in Canada, and it provides both scholarships and a range of integrated institutional supports to help provide a pathway to success for black Canadian students at UBC. Olaolu, I’m very curious to know your take on the significance of this program for the post-secondary sector.

Olaolu: Yes, this is a great program. Great initiative, the Beyond Tomorrow Scholars Award it is something that offers an opportunity for people who perhaps don’t have the financial resources to get involved in post-secondary education. I hope it is something that other institutions will take into consideration, and they will follow suit in a similar vein. But I think what’s most significant about this is side, removing the financial barriers is a mentorship component. You know, none of us arrive where we are without some form of support or mentorship. And you know, there’s no one singular experience. So, giving students a wealth of resources or networks to tap into to ask questions to see modelled what it looks like, what it takes to be successful. I think that’s essential and especially important as we think about the representation of voices and students who are Black at Canadian post-secondary institutions.

Helena: Yes, that’s very exciting. I didn’t know about the mentorship piece. I think that’s really crucial.

[Theme music]

Helena: We are so pleased today to welcome the lovely Donneil McNab.

Donneil McNab: Hi, thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here and I look forward to our conversation today.

Olaolu: Pleasure to have you here Donneil and first off, congratulations on your new appointment as an associate faculty member at Royal Roads University. We want to begin by asking you to tell us a bit about yourself and we’ll start our conversation there.

Donneil: Yeah, most certainly. I think this is always the hardest question to answer, but anyways, I’ll still share a bit about myself. I was born in Jamaica. I came to Canada in 2018 to pursue graduate studies and I’ve been here ever since. A few things that I like to do: cook, I like to dance as well. I like to hang at the beach. Being somebody who grew up on a tropical island, of course, it’s not quite the same here in Canada, but I do. I do still try to hang at the beach with a good book when I can, and I also like to volunteer, which is really what brought me to quite a few of the roles that I’m in right now.
Olaolu: OK, everyone loves the beach obviously and hard to compare, yeah, the sands of Jamaica to the ones here in the Pacific Northwest, but I’m glad you’re by the water, nonetheless. Could you expand a bit more on your speaking about volunteering and the capacities and the roles that you’re currently undertaking? What are some of those roles?

Donneil: Yeah, most certainly so at Royal Roads, I do have two roles, my primary role being a student engagement coordinator in our student services department. And most recently, as you mentioned just now Olaolu, have also shifted into the academia side of things as associate faculty, and I initially got involved in higher education through volunteering. So as a student at Royal Roads University, I was looking for ways to be a bit more engaged in the university outside of the classroom setting and that’s when I started volunteering and through that, I started developing a liking for supporting students because most of my background is in hospitality, so working in hotels. So essentially customer service and I found that there are quite a few transferable skills that I have that could help support students in that space as well. So eventually I shifted to a student role, a casual student role, and when the opportunity came up for me to get a full-time permanent role, of course, I went after that opportunity. So, I really came into higher education by happenstance. Didn’t think I was going to be on the admin side of things. I’ve always wanted to be an instructor as long as I’ve known myself but not quite admin, but I find that being on both sides and being in this scholar-practitioner model really does help me to support students holistically because I do get to see both sides, and I find that really, really helps when I’m in the classroom or when I’m in the office supporting a student who has an issue. Also, for our Discourse Consulting, which is an equity diversity and inclusion consulting agency that I co-founded with two other amazing women. That also started through volunteering so my colleagues and we saw the need to reach out to educators and youth workers in Victoria and B.C. to hopefully provide them with training, which is what we eventually did. So, we created and facilitated workshops for free, for educators and youth workers, with the goal of helping them learn how to create safe spaces for all students, but specifically for BIPOC students as well. Because a lot of them don’t necessarily have the knowledge or the tools required to support students who are marginalized.

Olaolu: Right.

Donneil: So that’s the angle we came from, and we offered them for free because we do, we know that in some of these areas there are those financial barriers. So that was our angle in offering those for free and eventually, we just got to the stage where we wanted to be a little bit more official and branch out some more and support organizations as well. But we have not abandoned that volunteering piece and we do have an educational arm still within the company and we still offer free workshops to educators and youth workers who need that service but can’t necessarily say pay for that service or pay full price for that service.

Helena: You do amazing work and so many roles, so many hats and I wanted to keep all those roles and hats in mind with this next question because you know, we kind of want to just start conversations and we want to talk about what you, our guests, think we should be talking about. So, what is that area that you think post-secondary institutions need to give more attention to?

Donneil: I think there are quite a few areas that we can still give a little bit more attention to as we continue on our respective equity, diversity and inclusion journeys, but I think I’d say the one that stands out most to me or the one I’d like to highlight today is for post-secondary institutions walking the talk. So, we see many of them will have these grand statements on their websites or in job descriptions of where they think they are or where they want to be, but we’re not quite there as yet. And it comes across as being somewhat performative because even for some they’ve gone as far as to employ folks as directors of EDI or similar roles, but they want them to transform these organizations, but they’re not empowering them to transform the organization, and it can be frustrating. Because I imagine as somebody who is genuinely committed to the cause, being a role, regardless of how much you’re being paid, if you’re not able to do the work that you see that needs to be done, it is frustrating, and it’s also something that requires a lot of emotional labours. If you don’t have that support, then I can see why folks have been resigning lately from some of these roles because it is overwhelming. For a lot of institutions, you will interact with their stakeholders. They’re marginalized stakeholders and they think they’re doing something great. But when you talk to these stakeholders, they’re still experiencing systemic oppression, and they’re still very unhappy in these spaces. So, I think their institutions really need to be a bit more intentional about, you know, about the work that they say they’re doing. They need to be collaborative because you know no one knows what you go through like you do. So definitely it’s worth reaching out to those marginalized individuals in your community and seeing exactly what they’re going through and working with them and meeting them where they’re at, but I find that’s not exactly what many of us are doing, but I know it’s a journey. And I think a lot of institutions have started on that journey and I hope they do continue on that journey, but I think we can maybe pick up the pace a little bit.

Olaolu: These are all good points and just to mention the name of your consulting agency “Power of Discourse” cause you haven’t actually said it, but can you speak a bit too, you know you spoke about some of the motivation and the connections to the previous expansion previous desires.

Donneil: Yeah, most certainly, uh, so it’s Power of Discourse, most of what we’ve been doing as mentioned before, working with educators, but also going into organizations and seeing what their EDI goals are and again meeting them where they’re at. So, everybody starting at, we’re all at different places in this race, and it’s really important to not take a “one size fits all” approach when doing this work, but really seeing where individuals are at where companies are at collectively and individually. And providing the services and the resources and the knowledge they need from there. So, a lot of what we do includes EDI audits, for example, that’s a core way to really get an understanding of where organizations are in their journey and tailoring any support services to where they are at that point in time. Again, the goals are important. We try as best as possible to talk to not only management and leadership but also employees because management may say one thing and employees may feel another way. So, it’s important to get that perspective as well, which is what we do when we’re doing audits. So, the audits can include interviews. We also do policy audits and from there we start to develop that learning and development piece. So that could be workshops. We also have, because again, our name is Power of Discourse, so we believe in the power of discourse, so we do try to have spaces outside of our workshops as well. For individuals to really come together, think about what they’ve learned in these workshops and how they wish to apply it in their respective organizations. And also, just you know we provide activities for them to be able to do that are specific to their organizations or examples that are specific to what their situation is. So, the point is, once we are finished, you know doing these workshops or these sessions folks should be confident to address racism in the workplace when they see it, or any other isms, they should be very confident saying, you know, through our work or collaboration with Part C, which is what we call it, Part C, we were able to get this knowledge. This knowledge and these resources and these tools that can help us really elevate our organization and really be intentional about our EDI journey. And we do encourage folks, even if we’re not the ones that they are continuing that journey with, is to just be very focused on that continuity and not let it be something where you know. Part C comes in. We do three workshops and that’s it. Because as we all know, this is a lifelong journey. It is ongoing. It’s not something that you can do as a one-off and transform the organization. It’s something that needs to keep happening.

Olaolu: Absolutely, and I love the name because it really does speak to the importance and significance of that interaction and exchange.

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Helena: Thank you for joining us today. If you like this content, let us know. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn under @BCcampus and on Instagram at

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[Theme music]

—End of Episode—