Memorial University, Department of Religious Studies’ Commitments to work for the Abolition of Anti-Black Racism
We know that words alone will not make a difference; we need to engage in sustained, meaningful and intentional actions. As a Department, we commit to acting, hearing instead of defending, excusing and rationalizing.
We commit to:
- Educating ourselves about Black history in religious traditions, about anti-Black racism in religious traditions and in Religious Studies as an academic discipline through, for example, departmental symposia on anti-Black racism and racism in the academic discipline of Religious Studies. In our first such symposium, to be held in the Fall of 2020, faculty and students would take part in discussion centered on specific texts or published works on anti-Black racism and racism in religions and/or in Religious Studies.
- Initiating a thorough curricular review (in the 2020-21 year) and reform (ongoing with annual review) to ensure our programs and our courses are adequately representing a diversity of Black voices, perspectives, and experiences.
- Developing and maintaining resources for instructors’ and students’ efforts to align academic work with anti-racist principles.
- Actively mentoring and retaining Black undergraduate and graduate students by, for example, creating resources and identifying funding opportunities to support Black students.
- Promoting Black scholars through Religious Studies’ engagement initiatives, such as the Text and Context symposium.
- According first consideration, in our specification of areas of expertise for future tenure-track positions, of areas relevant to anti-Black racism (e.g., critical race theory); where “first consideration” is understood as requiring clear and compelling evidence for excluding such expertise as part of the position description.
- Advocating for and actively participating in campus-wide or Faculty-wide initiatives to recruit and provide funding opportunities for Black graduate students.
- Advocating for and supporting university-wide efforts to initiate a cluster hire of Black scholars (i.e., a group of targeted tenure track positions for Black scholars, similar to what is currently under development to hire Indigenous scholars).
- Advocating for and/or participating in campus-wide or Faculty-wide initiatives to establish an effective anti-discrimination policy that addresses specificities of anti-Black racism.
- Reviewing, amending, and providing action plans and progress updates on these commitments once a year.
To contact the department about this work, please send us an email at BLMatRELS@mun.ca.
We wish to acknowledge the important feedback we received from Dr. Delores V. Mullings, Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Memorial. Our commitments were, in certain cases, inspired by initiatives of colleagues in the Departments of Classics and English at Memorial. Our statement and commitments were developed through a consultative process that included online meetings with faculty, instructors, and graduate students in the Department, as well as conversations in smaller groups and indirect input from broader discussions with the Faculty of HSS throughout the months of June and July.