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Emmanuel College faculty and staff respond to recent events in the US, Canada and around the world, including the deaths of George Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and the viral video of Canadian Amy Cooper in Central Park.

Statements, Responses, Reflections
Statements, Responses, Reflections

Photo credit: Josh Hild on Unsplash

We affirm the wonderful polyphonic cacophony of ethnoracial groups and cultural traditions. Canada has a long-standing history of discrimination against many different ethnocultural and racialized communities. We refuse to remain silent; we take this opportunity to speak out against the reality of racism and discrimination in our context and society.  We also affirm the many ways in which people from many cultural backgrounds and ethnoracial traditions bring to our society.  Néstor Medina, Assistant Professor of Religious Ethics and Culture

Principal Michelle Voss Roberts, Professor of Theology


Lim, Swee Hong, Program Director, Master of Sacred Music

How might we understand the kingdom of God that is frequently talked about by Jesus in the Scriptures? Admittedly, the Church also has its own understanding about this theological imagery. At times, it buys into an earthly expression of power and domination by conflating God’s realm with earthly dominion ideology in its colonial endeavours. In recent days, we are confronted by racial tensions with deadly consequences in our land where a dominant group subjugates the subaltern others. In my view, this is a time for us to heed what Jesus says about the kingdom of God – where “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10, NRSV) What is God’s will for us at this time?


Néstor Medina, Assistant Professor of Religious Ethics and Culture

At this historical juncture, we stand by members of the AfroCanadians communities in their pain, anger, despair, and hope. We remember Africville and highlight the many other documented instances when Afro-Canadians have been discriminated against, prevented from getting a job, or been the object of racialized stereotypes and attitudes. As a learning community, we recommit ourselves to create safer spaces of mutual intercultural learning and appreciation. 


Thomas E. Reynolds, Associate Professor of Theology

Witnessing with heartbreak the events of the past weeks, we join with others to acknowledge and condemn anti-Black racism and other forms of systemic racism that sadly remain prevalent in attitudes and institutions animating Canadian society. This violence is apparent on many fronts, from gross abuse of power to lack of adequate health care support and the uneven spread of Covid-19 among racialized and impoverished communities. These are associated with other forms of injustice, and linked to white supremacy and colonization, which call for the work of resistance and transformation. We reaffirm our commitment to educating religious leaders and care practitioners toward building better communities, ones characterized by racial justice, economic equity, compassionate respect, and genuine belonging among and for all.

These times, during the pandemic, summon us to imagine differently and creatively, and begin generating a radically different “normal” – a “new normal”.  There is much personal, relational, social, and systemic work to do. This musical piece is a song written and improvised as a gesture, in sound beyond words, offered as a prayer toward this end.


Pamela D. Couture, Jane and Geoffrey Martin Chair of Church and Community; Director, Toronto School of Theology

Link to June 3, 2020- "Heartbreak," The Director's Diary, TST blog entry


William S. Kervin, Associate Professor of Public Worship

I'm deeply grateful for the words of my colleagues and their gift for saying what needs to be said, for saying what I also want to say. Like many, I’m struggling for words, knowing that action is also called for, and more for some of us than for others. Perhaps because of my liturgical leanings, I’ve been spending a lot of time in prayer (in silence and relying again on the words of others) and with things liturgical (especially musical). Take the Psalms, for instance, where, as Brueggemann points out, “nearly one half of [them] are songs of lament and poems of complaint.” And, I would add, those ones are seldom included in liturgical psalters or our worship resources. Having lost the liturgical language of lamentation, we may also have lost some of our capacity to express complaint, anger, even rage, as forms of faithfulness. Perhaps that’s why I’ve found myself returning to a piece of music some of us worked on a couple of years ago: Reconciliation Suite. I’ve noticed that I’ve been spending more time with the first two movements, 1) Trauma and 2) Lament. Meanwhile, the global outpouring of prophetic protests for change and transformation offer signs of hope, as suggested in the last two movements, 3) Healing, 4) Reconciliation.


Matthew Dougherty, Assistant Professor, teaching stream, in History of Christianity and Instructional Design 

We affirm that Black lives matter. We affirm that Indigenous lives matter. We make these affirmations from within a society and as inheritors of a history shaped by systemic racism and colonialism, which devalue the lives and personhood of racialized people across North America. We support those who mourn George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Chantel Moore, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and far too many others. We recommit ourselves to the daily work of building a learning community where we value and include a diversity of people, where we nurture mutual learning across racial and cultural differences, and where we repent of and make restitution for our failings.

Shawn Kazubowski-Houston, Events and Media Coordinator, Centre for Religion and Its Contexts

These are a few of the writers I’ve currently (re)turned to… and will continue to listen to:

M. NourbeSe Philip
Toronto poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, and former lawyer. Her collection of essays and interviews, Blank (2017, Book*hug Press), is an indictment of white settler erasure of BIPOC voices in Canada’s world of arts and letters. Philip’s writings “work to make the disappeared perceptible, [and] explores questions of race, the body politic, timeliness, recurrence, ongoingness, art and the so-called multicultural nation.” Philip’s poetry, such as her historical “recombinant antinarrative” book-length poem Zong! (2008, Wesleyan University Press), is also essential reading.

Christina Sharpe
Professor, Black Studies Program, York University. Sharpe, in her book In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, (2016, Duke University Press), combines personal history and literary/visual/cinematic critique to explore anti-Blackness. This book is the perfect companion while reading Zong!, as Sharpe engages with Philip’s poem extensively.

Claudia Rankine
Poet, essayist, playwright. Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric (2014, Graywolf Press) is a genre-blurring consideration of race and the imagination. This book will stay with you.

Billy-Ray Belcourt
Writer and academic from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He is an Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia. Belcourt's debut book of poems, This Wound is a World (Frontenac House 2017), won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize (making him the youngest ever winner). In his 2019 follow-up, NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field, Belcourt "takes on the political demands of queerness, mainstream portrayals of Indigenous life, love and its discontents, and the limits and uses of poetry as a vehicle for Indigenous liberation."

Anti-Racism Library Resources
Anti-Racism Library Resources

Photo credit: Alfons Morales on Unsplash

From the Emmanuel College Library - A list of Anti-Racism Resources


How to be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi (2019) E.J. Pratt, St. Mike’s, New College: Call # E 184 .A1 K344 2019

Antiracism: An Introduction, by Alex Zamalin (2019) E.J. Pratt, St. Mike’s, Robarts: Call # E 184 .A1 Z36 2019

The Denial of Antiblackness: Multiracial Redemption and Black Suffering, by João H. Costa Vargas (2018) – online; in print at Robarts: Call # E 185.86 .V37 2018

Do All Lives Matter? The Issues We Can No Longer Ignore and the Solutions We All Long For, by Wayne Gordon (2017) – on order

Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race in America, by George Yancy,  2nd ed. (2017) E.J. Pratt, Robarts: Call # E 185 .Y32 2017

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X. Kendi (2016) E.J. Pratt, St. Mike’s, Robarts: Call # E 185.61 .K358 2016

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (2016) St. Mike’s, Robarts, New College: Call # E 185.86 .T367 2016

Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, by Angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens with Jasmine Syedullah (2016) New College Library: Call # BQ 4570 .R3 W55 2016

Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward (2016) Robarts, New College: Call # E 185.615 .F526 2016

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement, by Wesley Lowery (2016) Robarts, University College Library: Call # E 185.86 .L69 2016

“A Case for Reparations,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, June 2014.

Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, by Martin Luther King, Jr. (2010) Robarts: Call # E 185.615 .K5 2010 (1967 edition at other UofT libraries)

The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin (1963) E. J. Pratt, New College: Call # E 185.61 .B195 1963


Racism & Indigenous Peoples

Canada at a Crossroads: Boundaries, Bridges, and Laissez-faire Racism in Indigenous-settler Relations, by Jeffrey S. Denis (2020) St. Mike’s: Call # FC 3099 .R34 Z7 2020

Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah (2019)  E. J. Pratt, Robarts: Call # E 93 .C428 2019

Racism, Colonialism, and Indigeneity in Canada: A Reader, edited by Martin J. Cannon & Lina Sunseri (2018) E.J. Pratt: Call # E 78 .C2 R245 2017

First Peoples, Second Class Treatment: The Role of Racism in the Health and Well-being of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, by Billie Allan (2015) – online


White Privilege

White Fragility: Why it's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo (2018) Emmanuel, E.J. Pratt, St. Mike’s, Robarts: Call # HT 1521 .D486 2018

White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White, by Daniel Hill (2017) – on order

The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege, by Ken Wytsma (2017) Emmanuel, St. Mike’s, Robarts: Call # BR 115 .J8 W975 2017

Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America, by Jennifer Harvey (2017) UofT Mississauga Library: Call # BF 723 .R3 H37 2017

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson (2016) St. Mike’s, Robarts, University College Library: Call # E 185.61 .A5438 2016

Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice, by Paul Kivel, 3rd ed. (2011) Robarts: Call # E 184 .A1 K477 2011

Seeing White: An Introduction to White Privilege and Race, by Jean Halley, Amy Eshleman, and Ramya Mahadevan Vijaya (2011) Emmanuel, New College Library: Call # HT 1521 .H265 2010

Silent Racism: How Well-Meaning White People Perpetuate the Racial Divide, by Barbara Trepagnier, 2nd ed (2010) Robarts: Call # E 184 .A1 T695 2010

Understanding & Dismantling Racism: The Twenty-First Century Challenge to White America, by Joseph Barndt (2007) Robarts: Call # E 184 .A1 B249 2007

The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism, and White Privilege, by Robert Jensen (2005) E.J. Pratt, Robarts: Call # E 184 .A1 J425 2005


Racial Healing

Healing Racial Trauma: The Road to Resilience, by Sheila Wise Rowe and Soong-Chan Rah (2020) – on order

The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism & Engage in Collective Healing, by Anneliese A. Singh (2019) – on order

Healing Racial Divides: Finding Strength in our Diversity, by Terrell Carter (2018) St. Mike’s: Call # BT 734.2 .C37 2018

Racial Healing: Confronting the Fear Between Blacks and Whites, by Harlon L. Dalton (1995) Robarts: Call # E 185.615 .D35 1995


Church/Theology & Racism

The Bible and Borders: Hearing God's Word on Immigration, by Daniel Carroll (2020) – on order

Witnessing Whiteness: Confronting White Supremacy in the American Church, by Kristopher Norris (2020) – forthcoming

Burying White Privilege: Resurrecting a Badass Christianity, by Miguel A. De La Torre (2019) Robarts: Call # HN 39 .U6 D4 2019

The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church's Complicity in Racism, by Jemar Tisby (2019) Emmanuel, Robarts: Call # E 185.615 .T595 2019

Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice, by Eric Mason (2018) – on order

Anti-Blackness and Christian Ethics, edited by Vincent W. Lloyd and Andrew Prevot (2017) Robarts: Call # E 185.615 .A725 2017

Rescuing the Gospel From the Cowboys: A Native American Expression of the Jesus Way, by Richard Twiss (2015) Emmanuel, Trinity, Knox, Robarts: Call # E 98 .M6 T95 2015

Where the Cross Meets the Street: What Happens to the Neighborhood When God is at the Center, by Noel Castellanos (2015) St. Mike’s, Knox: Call # BV 625 .C37 2015

Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation, by Jennifer Harvey (2014) Emmanuel, Robarts: Call # BT 734.2 .H275 2014

Christology and Whiteness: What Would Jesus Do?,  edited by George Yancy (2012) Emmanuel: Call # BT205 .C48 2012   

Becoming an Anti-Racist Church: Journeying Toward Wholeness, by Joseph Barndt (2011) Emmanuel: Call # BT 734.2 .B33 2011

A Black Theology of Liberation, by James H. Cone, 40th anniversary ed. (2010) Emmanuel: Call # BT 78 .C59 2010

Living in Color: Embracing God's Passion for Ethnic Diversity, by Randy Woodley (2004) Emmanuel: Call # BR 115 .C8 W66 2004

From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race, by J. Daniel Hays (2003) Knox, Robarts: Call # BT 734.2 .H39 2003


Racism in Canada

Until We are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada, edited by Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson, and Syrus Marcus Ware (2020) E.J. Pratt, New College Library: Call # F 1035 .N3 U58 2020

Space for Race: Decoding Racism, Multiculturalism, and Post-Colonialism in the Quest for Belonging in Canada and Beyond, by Kathy Hogarth and Wendy L. Fletcher (2018) Emmanuel, Robarts: Call # F 1035 .A1 H64 2018 

Racism and Anti-Racism in Canada, edited by David Este, Liza Lorenzetti, and Christa Sato (2018) E.J. Pratt: Call # F 1035 .A1 R317 2018

Racism in Canada, by Vic Satzewich (2011) St. Mike’s, Robarts, University College Library: Call # FC 104 .S2893 2011

Colonialism and Racism in Canada: Historical Traces and Contemporary Issues, by Maria A. Wallis, Lina Sunseri, and Grace-Edward Galabuzi (2010)  UofT Mississauga Library: Call # F 5028 .W34 2010

Race and Racism in 21st-Century Canada: Continuity, Complexity, and Change, edited by Sean P. Hier and B. Singh Bolaria (2007) St. Mike’s, Robarts, New College Library: Call # FC 104 .R312 2007

Racism and Discrimination in Canada: Laws, Policies and Practices, by A. Marguerite Cassin, Tamara Krawchenko, and Madine VanderPlaat (2007) – online

Forms of Exclusion: Racism and Community Policing in Canada, by David Baker (2006) St. Mike’s: Call # HV 7936 .C83 B35 2006

Taking Responsibility, Taking Direction: White Anti-racism in Canada, by Sheila Wilmot (2005) Emmanuel: Call # F 1035 .A1 W55 2005

Racism, Eh?: A Critical Inter-Disciplinary Anthology of Race and Racism in Canada, edited by Camille A. Nelson and Charmaine A. Nelson (2004) E.J. Pratt: Call # F 1035 .A1 R328 2004   

Racism and Social Inequality in Canada: Concepts, Controversies and Strategies of Resistance, edited by Vic Satzewich (1998) E. J. Pratt: Call # F 1035 .A1 R32 1998

The Invisible Empire: Racism in Canada, by Margaret Cannon (1995) E.J. Pratt: Call # F 1035 .A1 C38 1995

Films, Books, Conversations
Films, Books, Conversations

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

6 Artists on Black Identity

“Where am I in this story?” Watch artists such as Wangechi Mutu, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Chimamanda Adichie discuss how black people are (mis-)represented in today’s society and culture.

Adam Kilner

"Hear our trauma. Hear our voices. Hear that things need to change. Today is our day to begin changing the story of humanity." Adam Kilner, Emmanuel College alumnus (MDiv, Emm 1T0) and Minister at Dunlop United Church, appeals to all of us to "give voice to where you stand" in his Facebook video reflection.

Today's nonreligious sermon

#racialjustice | By AdamFacebook

Adele Halliday - What I need from white people right now: It’s way past time to confront anti-Black racism

Halliday (Emm 1T7, UCC General Council Office employee) implores white people to "stop saying that you are not a racist... to be pastoral... to be prophetic... to pray. preach. protest (and repeat)" in Broadview Magazine.

Black Authors Canadians Should Be Reading Right Now (Open Book - Toronto)

There is no questioning that Canadian publishing has a lot more work to do when it comes to representing Black authors, and addressing racism in our industry, our communities, provinces, and the country as a whole. Amplifying the voices of BIPOC writers and artists is a key part of that, and, while there is far more work to be done, there have been waves of authors published in this country who have fought an uphill battle to be read and heard, and who are creating powerful work for future generations of readers and writers.

Claudia Rankine Lecture (Literary Arts Podcast)

In a society that sees whiteness as the default, how do we interpret and interrogate what it means to be white in America? Award-winning poet, playwright, and editor Claudia Rankine discusses the nature of race in America as it relates to our current political climate and America’s racial legacy.

Desmond Cole - The Skin We're In (Documentary)

Urgent, controversial, and undeniably honest, The Skin We’re In is a wake-up call to complacent Canadians. Racism is here. It is everywhere. It is us and we are it. Following celebrated journalist Desmond Cole as he researches his hotly anticipated book, this documentary from acclaimed director Charles Officer pulls back the curtain on racism in Canada. The Skin We’re In invites viewers into the mind of an emerging intellectual and firebrand. Boasting intimate access to one of Canada’s most intriguing voices, it profiles Desmond Cole as his most exciting chapter unfolds.

Dionne Brand: On narrative, reckoning and the calculus of living and dying

I know, as many do, that I’ve been living a pandemic all my life; it is structural rather than viral; it is the global state of emergency of antiblackness. What the COVID-19 pandemic has done is expose even further the endoskeleton of the world. I have felt tremendous irritation at the innocence of those people (mostly, but not only, white) finally up against their historic and present culpability in a set of dreadful politics and dreadful economics — ecocidal and genocidal.
The Toronto Star, July 4, 2020

Jordana Wright - United Church Virtual Penpals

Principal Michelle Voss Roberts talks with Jordana Wright about anti-Black racism both homegrown and abroad, exploring recent examples like Amy Cooper's potentially death-dealing weaponization of race, and offering concrete steps towards racial justice for United Church communities.


Resmaa Menakem - Race and Healing: A Body Practice

Therapist and trauma specialist Resmaa Menakem is working with old wisdom and very new science about our bodies and nervous systems, and all we condense into the word “race.” “Your body — all of our bodies — are where changing the status quo must begin.” Find a quiet place and experience this short, simple body practice offered in Resmaa’s conversation with Krista Tippett on the On Being episode, ‘Notice the Rage; Notice the Silence.’

Robin DiAngelo: How 'white fragility' supports racism and how whites can stop it.

The author of White Fragility: Why It's So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism has 5 tasks for white people struggling with issues of race.

United Church Bookstore: Books on Anti-Racism

Many of us have been seeking out books and resources to better educate ourselves on how to be anti-racist and become better allies. The United Church Bookstore carries a variety of volumes that you may find useful in doing this work.

UofT Libraries Anti-Black Racism Reading List

This is a selection, not an exhaustive list, of resources available across the University of Toronto Library system on the topics of anti-Black racism and violence in Canada, Black resistance, race and health equity, and educating against anti-Black racism. These categories are not mutually exclusive, as the histories of Black life, discrimination, and resistance are rich and complex.