Editorial: It’s Time for a Black Studies Program at Concordia

Graphic Theo Radomski

On Sept. 13, Queer Concordia hosted their first ever Queer Homecoming event wherein they announced the approval of a new major, Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality.

That same night, Concordia President, Alan Shepard, addressed the attendees of the event, stating how we live “in a society where we can be here tonight and not have to worry about the police arresting us.”

This new major will be joining other programs at Concordia that focus on important minority issues such as an Immigration Studies minor and certificate and the First Peoples Studies major.

So far, Concordia has shown that they can take the initiative by adding programs that are needed at the university level. In November 2016, the university hired two special advisors in order to develop Indigenous programs at the school.

These are some great steps in the right direction for the university as it gives students the opportunity to learn and critically think about these topics in a post-secondary setting.

However, there’s still room for improvement. Concordia, while having courses that focus on Black history, literature and communications, does not have a Black Studies program.

On Concordia’s website, it states that “[Concordia] dares to be different and draws on its diversity to transform the individual, strengthen society and enrich the world. […] Concordia values the openness and respect necessary to provide opportunities to a highly diverse student and faculty population.”

Last year, The Link published an article calling for the creation of the Black Studies minor, yet no visible progress has been made, and there doesn’t seem to be any discussion on the topic.

Groups around Concordia have also been advocating for Black Studies minor, but it seems like there hasn’t been a response.

Making efforts to instill a Black Studies program would help meet these qualifications that the school has set for themselves. Doing so would not only making their institution all the more open and opportune for students, but would also back up their words all the more with action.

If Concordia wants to boast about their reputation of being a school that values openness, then they need to further act on it. They need to be the role model where other universities all over Canada—let alone our city—have failed.

What makes this oversight even worse is the fact that Montreal’s Black history lives at Concordia. In 2013, the Negro Community Centre—that was a hub for Black Montrealers in Little Burgundy—gave permission to have their records donated to Concordia. Donations continued to happen in 2014 and 2015.

All of the centre’s archives now reside with Concordia, so our university has the resources to form the beginnings of a good Black Studies program.

We understand that the process of implementing new minors or programs isn’t simple, but Concordia needs to show a sign that a Black Studies minor is at least on their radar.

Implementing an Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality major has gotten the progressive ball moving once again for our university, so it’d be a good move to keep that momentum going.