March 8, 2021
The Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID)’s Executive Committee (EC) is appalled at the recent response of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences to the requests of the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA) regarding Congress 2021. The Federation’s response compounds the harms caused by earlier incidents of racism within Congress and the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black and racialized scholarly community.
The BCSA approached the Federation with two requests:
- that it waive Congress fees for BCSA student-members and community members; and
- that it make a formal commitment to a Black Studies theme for Congress in the near future.
These requests were made in light of the systemic racism that persists in academia in Canada and beyond; the Federation’s harmful response to the incident of racial profiling of a BCSA student member at Congress 2019; and the previous cancellation of Congress 2020 on the theme Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism.
Rather than taking steps to respond appropriately, the Federation initially denied both requests. It is unacceptable that the Federation failed to take these relatively minor, yet meaningful, steps in responding to anti-Black racism within its flagship event. As a result, on February 9, 2021, the BCSA elected to withdraw from Congress 2021. The BCSA reports that the Federation’s decision continues to demonstrate its lack of commitment to dismantling anti-Black racism within the academy and at Congress.
In solidarity with the BCSA and its important anti-racism work, CASID’s EC has voted in support of a motion to withdraw from Congress 2021. Instead, CASID’s Annual Conference and AGM will be held independently of the Federation.
CASID’s EC demands that the Federation take concrete steps to meet the BCSA’s requests. In the future, we hope that the Federation will refuse performativity in the face of systemic racism and urgently take transformative anti-racist action that reflects the seriousness with which its association members view systemic racism, including anti-Black racism. The Federation should also share with its members comprehensive information about the recent recommendations of its own Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Decolonization (EDID), and how it plans on taking concrete steps to prevent discrimination, harassment and racism in the future.
The 2021 CASID Annual Conference focuses on decolonizing development. As an organization, we are in the early stages of assessing and transforming our practices and policies to better respond to racism and colonialism in the academy, the development sector, and in our organizational practices. CASID’s Executive Committee recently committed the organization to become a signatory of the Anti-Racism Framework for Canada’s International Cooperation Sector and to work towards its many commitments, including the overarching aim to:
commit to ensuring a continuous process of anti-racist change while centering colleagues, partners, and communities with experiences of racial bias and discrimination, particularly Black, Indigenous, and/or people from historically disadvantaged countries.
Given these commitments to transformative action, and while we remain hopeful, the CASID membership will have the opportunity to take the Federation’s historical and ongoing actions into consideration at the AGM this summer as we contemplate the future of CASID’s relationship with the organization.
More information on the Annual Conference and AGM will be coming soon.
The CASID Executive Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org