CAGS Launches New Webinar Series

“The Good and the Bad of Black Grad”

Produced and Hosted by Evelyn Asiedu, Ph.D.

CAGS is excited to announce a new webinar series being offered in 2021. The series is free of charge and registration is open to all deans, associate deans, faculty members, administrators, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and others interested in higher education. The webinar will be presented in English, and French interpretation will be provided simultaneously through a third-party service. This event will be conducted using the Zoom video conference platform.

See below for further information about “The Good and the Bad of Black Grad” webinar series, and to register for the next episode.

About the Series

The many crises and disruptions that occurred in 2020 have exposed and highlighted systemic racism worldwide. Canadian universities were not exempt from this reckoning. While often claiming to prioritize diversity and inclusion on their campuses, the fact remains that relatively few Black people can be found at Canadian universities. Furthermore, the absence of race-based data has empowered the Canadian Academy to deny its own racism with little consequence, while simultaneously undermining any calls to action expressed by racialized people.

At this particular moment in time, however, many higher education institutions across Canada are poised to critically (re-)assess their anti-racism strategies. As the infrastructure for the collection of quantitative race-based data slowly but surely gains momentum, the perspectives of Black community members can offer invaluable first-hand qualitative information.

The aim of this five-part webinar series is to create a space for dialogue that encourages Black academics to share their stories and experiences. These webinars will provide a platform to amplify the multitude of Black voices that are scattered across the country, with the ultimate goal of creating a digital anthology of the experiences of Black students and post-docs in Canada today. It is our hope that these diverse stories will serve to make connections among Black scholars, to inform University administrators of the challenges experienced by Black students, and to inspire prospective students to pursue and eventually achieve their educational goals.

In the media spotlight

Evelyn Asiedu, Ph.D.

Evelyn Asiedu, Ph.D.

Producer and Host

Evelyn Asiedu, Ph.D. – Producer and Host

In July 2020 Evelyn Asiedu published an article in Maclean’s titled “Canadian universities must collect race-based data,” which spoke to her experience as a Black female graduate student. Having ignored the feelings of rejection and isolation for her entire academic career, this op-ed was the first time she openly described her solitary journey as a Black female scientist. Following its publication, she received several emails from others with similar experiences across Canada – including some from students who were struggling with racism and seeking advice. The piece had struck a nerve. Building on the current momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement, Evelyn was inspired to create “The Good and the Bad of Black Grad,” a webinar series designed with and for Black students.

Evelyn Asiedu is a native of Brampton, Ontario. She received her Honors B.Sc. in Chemistry from Western University in 2013, and later that year moved to Edmonton to commence a Ph.D. program at the University of Alberta. Her thesis work aimed to identify chemicals in oil sands wastewater and to understand how long those chemicals take to degrade. Her volunteer activities have centered around environmental sustainability, community-building, and the promotion of diversity in science. Her writing on the latter topic has been published in Medium and the Chemical Institute of Canada.

Evelyn Asiedu Speaks with Eternity Martis,

Award-Winning Journalist and Author

5 February 2021

In universities across Canada, race-based data is not collected, so it’s almost impossible to understand the needs and challenges of students of colour—and there are many. Even more, there is no formal policy across all universities to deal with racism. According to a CBC investigation, while students of colour experience many race-based incidents on campus, most don’t file a formal complaint because they don’t feel they will be believed.

In this talk, Eternity shares her own journey as a university student on a predominantly white campus—which she details at length in her memoir, They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up. Debunking the myth of Canada’s racial tolerance and the idea that student life is “breezy”, she leads us through her own experience as a Black young woman on campus and ties it to the devastating history of racism at Canadian universities, the re-emergence of blackface parties, and the rise of the alt-right, white supremacy and hate crimes at schools, both from far-right groups and students. From there, Eternity will examine the impact of racism on campus on students, detailing well-researched links to poor health and a drop in academic performance, both of which she experienced herself as a student. The talk will end with possibilities for how we can all better support students of colour, from parents, friends, professors and allies, to what administrators and decision-makers can start doing now to make campuses more welcoming for students of colour.

Note: the core content of the original talk is not included in this recording to protect author copyright.

Episode 1: Being the Only One

25 March 2021

3:00-4:30 PM (EDT)

In the first episode of the series, three current and former graduate students will review the paths that led them to their research. We will discuss how they navigated various levels of their education as Black women and search for threads of commonality in their stories. Using some targeted questions as a point of departure, this webinar will feature an organic and free-flowing conversation about race and its impact on the panelists’ journeys. The dialogue will conclude with some observations and recommendations for improving the experience of Black students and scholars in Canada.

This live webinar and its recording will be preserved and shared with current students and scholars who may be searching for guidance, support, and community on this particular topic.

The Good and the Bad of Black Grad

Episode 2 – Recruit, retain, and represent!

28 April 2021

In this episode, we’ll ask our panelists who were the key figures who inspired them along their path. Through our discussion we will define characteristics of leaders in our communities and discuss the importance of diversity in positions of power. We will talk about the necessity of Black representation and how institutions begin to think about recruitment of talented Black scholars to Canadian campuses.

This live webinar and its recording will be preserved and shared with current students and scholars who may be searching for guidance, support, and community on this particular topic.

Episode 3

Black don’t crack???: The Blessings and blues of black mental health

The exhilarating journey of graduate school also has a complimentary side: It can be a grind with stress, fatigue, and anxiety commonly felt by students during their degrees. Campuses offer some support to assist students along the way, but few are equipped to address the unique and added pressures that racialized people experience at school. The inability to acknowledge racism on campus further alienates Black students in academic spaces. In this episode we’ll ask ourselves: Are Black academics so strong that they cannot break? How do students manage emotional and psychological fatigue? And what should universities be doing to help?

This live webinar and its recording will be preserved and shared with current students and scholars who may be searching for guidance, support, and community on this particular topic.

26 MAY 2021

2:00-3:30 PM (ET)