Understanding Racism: A Guide for Students, Faculty & Staff

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Workshop Series Information


Acknowledging and Addressing Racism 

This workshop will help participants gain an understanding of how to recognize racism, how it can manifest, and what its impacts are. Participants will learn about strategies to address barriers to inclusive spaces, and become familiar with relevant tools, policies and legislation within the York context.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Zoom Registration 


Challenging Unconscious Bias and Microaggressions 

This workshop will take a deep dive into forms of unconscious bias, and stereotyping that lead to microaggressions and discriminatory behaviour. Participants will explore effective strategies to challenge our biases, reframing our ways of thinking and strengthen the experience of inclusion for all. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Zoom Registration 


Racial Inclusion and Employment Equity 

This workshop focuses on racism and discrimination in the workplace, highlighting the relevant policies and laws in place to support efforts that build healthy and inclusive workplace environments and culture. 

Thursday, July 8, 2021

12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Zoom Registration 


Intervening on Racism 

Please note that we strongly recommend participants to have attended at least one of the workshops above before attending this session. 

This workshop will be highly participation-based, and ask attendees to design strategies and practice tools to intervene on moments of racial discrimination, harassment, and microaggressions. Prior familiarity with these concepts is recommended.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Zoom Registration


What is Racism?

Racism is a form of discrimination which is defined as any individual action or institutional practice which treats people differently because of their colour or ethnicity. According to the Ontario Human Rights commission:

“Racism is a belief that one group is superior to others. Racism can be openly displayed in racial jokes, slurs or hate crimes. It can also be more deeply rooted in attitudes, values and stereotypical beliefs.”

There are two main forms of Racism

  • Individual Racism: refers to an individual’s assumptions, beliefs or behaviours that supports or perpetuates racism. It is a “form of racial discrimination that stems from conscious and unconscious, personal prejudice” (Henry & Tator, 2006).
  • Institutional/Systemic Racism: includes the policies and practices entrenched in established institutions, which result in the exclusion of racial groups.

Racial Stereotypes

Stereotypes are generalizations about a group of people whereby a defined set of characteristics are attributed to this group. A stereotype based on race ignores differences amongst individuals. Actions based on racial stereotypes can be harmful as it can result in discriminatory and harassing behaviours such as:

  • Racial profiling: action undertaken for reasons of safety, security or public protection that relies on stereotypes about race, colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or place of origin rather than on reasonable suspicion, to single out an individual for greater scrutiny or different treatment
  • Racial slurs and offensive, derogatory comments
  • Unfair and unequal treatment of individuals in the work environment

Racial Harassment and the Work Environment

Based on the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code), all individuals have the right to be free from harassment in the workplace and in learning environments based on race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship and religion (creed). Harassment is defined as a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. Racial harassment often times intersects with other forms of harassment such as harassment on the basis of gender identity/expression, sexual orientation and disability. Examples of racial harassment include:

  • being subjected to racial name calling or nicknames;
  • microaggression – subtle comments and behaviors that communicate negative and hostile messages to racialized persons;
  • racial jokes, epithets, slurs, cartoons or graffiti, including when circulated by e-mail;
  • ridiculing comments related to race-related characteristics; and
  • being subjected to references to racist organizations, such as having “KKK” written on your work station

Ongoing harassing behaviors leads to the creation of poisoned environments. The Code recognizes poisoned environments as a form of discrimination given the adverse effects on all individuals in the work space even if they are not directly involved.

Making York University REDI

The Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion promotes and builds a respectful, equitable, diverse and inclusive university community that upholds human rights, facilitates equitable access to opportunities, and champions diversity and inclusion as a strategic objective. It strives to be a leader in:

  • Providing and assuring excellence in the fair resolution of conflicts and complaints from faculty, staff and students under provincial human rights legislation and related university requirements.
  • Consulting, coordinating, educating and guiding the university community on best practices to instill human rights, equity and inclusion in all facets of York’s operations and governance.
  • Providing programs and services that are accessible, impartial, non-adversarial and confidential.

York University Policy:  Your rights and responsibilities

York University is committed to sustaining learning and working environments that embed the principles of respect, equity, diversity and inclusion. If you believe you are experiencing or have witnessed a form of racial discrimination or harassment:

  1. Address the person directly if it is safe and if you are comfortable to do so
  2. Notify your manager, supervisor, professor, residence don/co-ordinator and/or Dean with your concerns
  3. If applicable, inform your union representative
  4. Contact the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion

York’s Policy on Racism

York Resources

For more resources on preventing and/or addressing racism contact the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion, or visit yorku.ca/rights.

External Resources



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