The organizers of Convergences Conference stand with protestors worldwide who are demanding justice and accountability from their governments outraged by the brazen and endemic state-sanctioned racial violence and the increased militarization of policing across Turtle Island. We condemn the brutal police murders of too many Black people across this continent and globally, which have caused immense pain and public outrage. We stand in solidarity with all those that have been protesting in response to widespread systemic anti-Black racism and structural white supremacy.
Contrary to recent statements from leading public and political figures, Canada has not been inoculated from this culture of racist police brutality and state violence, which has been deeply rooted in enduring legacies of enslavement and colonialism. From Andrew “Buddy” Evans in 1978, Abdirahman Abdi, D’Andre Campbell, Jermaine Carby, Nicholas Gibbs, Andrew Loku, and Machuar Madut are just a few of the many Black people that have been killed in encounters with the police in Canada.
We also denounce the recent police murders of Indigenous people from coast to coast, including Jaime Adao Jr.,Jason Collins, Eishia Hudson, Chantel Moore, Josephine Pelletier, among many others. We emphatically condemn this systemic anti-Black racism and colonialism that continuously violates the humanity of Black, Indigenous and other racialized people with impunity. Systemic racism is a global pandemic and we must actively condemn every attempt to deny, trivialize, minimize, and rationalize racist police and state violence.
As a collaboration of students from the University of Toronto and York University, we demand transparency and accountability in all cases of injury and death involving police. We call for an end to police repression of peaceful protesters who are taking a stand against anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism.
History is often considered a discipline that marks human advancement and traces the development of society to the present day; however, we must acknowledge history’s role in the creation of the ideologies and institutions that shaped the systemic injustices we see today.
We must remember that the discipline of history was created as part of a nationalist agenda to support the superiority and racial purity of Western Europe and North America that created the false narratives of exploration, conquest and cultural/biological superiority.
History has been used as a political tool to deny the cultural and social achievements of many peoples whose labour and displacement have benefited the institutions we work in today. The denial of a history of a people is something we see time and time again to justify the marginalization of and violence against those peoples. In this context, we, as historians, acknowledge that historical actors and generations of historians have created a worldview of Western Europe that has justified the exclusion and subjugation of peoples of colour and other marginalized groups
The institutions we currently work under have long served to undermine the achievements of peoples of colour and entrench the hierarchies created by our discipline. We historians must work harder collaboratively and individually to challenge these personal and institutional advantages, making our discipline accessible and safe for historically marginalized groups. Only when we acknowledge the oppression inherent in our field can we fully accept our responsibility and role in the creation of these hierarchies and help to dismantle them.
We, as Convergences organizers, understand the role we play in this narrative and strive to rewrite our field in a way that does not obscure the origins of our discipline but rather recognizes its problems in order to move towards solving them.
We also recognize that we must be committed to addressing our own complicity in reproducing systemic racism. We must continue to hold ourselves and each other accountable for transforming deeply embedded racial inequity. We call on our academic institutes’ students, faculty, and administrators to take meaningful, concrete action, individually and collectively, to dismantle systemic anti-black racism and colonialism both within our institutions and beyond.
We must listen to Black students, faculty, staff and community members who have been raising serious concerns about anti-Black systemic racism at educational institutes for many years. We stand in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and racialized colleagues, staff and students during this horrific and scary time.
We urge all attendees and associates of Convergences to advocate for the reform of our field and in our own practices. We recognize that any celebration of history that is not inclusive or aware of the political role of history is a shallow attempt at historical study. Institutional racism and structural hierarchies are enemies to us all, and to this end, we at Convergences recognize that historians have aided the perpetuation of injustices for too long and we aim to end this role.