This academic year 2020-2021, the Department of Human Geography at UTSC launched the Anti-Black Racism Awards to invite students to reflect on the events of summer 2020 and the murder of George Floyd. Such public depravity haunts us. Additionally, such hauntings are also evidenced by the way Black people continue to suffer disproportionately from COVID-19 across the world from South Africa to the US and Canada and to Brazil and on and on. These deaths, like that of George Floyd, are in part the ongoing consequence of systemically racist disparities in professions that are mandated to care for all. The ongoing pandemic and racial injustice reminds us how race and racism, in its variety of formations and intersections (coloniality, white supremacy, Islamophobia, Transphobia, sexism and misogyny, heteronormativity; ableism) are central to the constitution and ongoing formation of our societies. At the same time, such injustices through awareness, political and social will, expose the urgency to create more equitable and just pathways forward. As such, UTSC students from across the campus were invited to ponder: Why is it important to recognize and reflect on anti-black racism as a pathway to our collective anti-racist futures?
We received a diverse set of submissions ranging from poems, spoken word, political commentary and scholarly essays. The department would like to honor the following awardees: Kibati Femi, Michael Clement, Anthia Waugh, Tala Lambu and Justin Rhoden. Each student will receive a monetary award and recognition on the department’s website later this summer. We are grateful for the creative and scholarly participation of our students in this Inaugural Year of the Anti-Black Racisms Awards in the Department of Human Geography at UTSC.