The Equity and Diversity Office collaborated with the Muslim Students’ Association, the UTM Women’s Centre, Student Life, and UTMSU last Friday to host “Real Talk: In Colour”, a discussion on issues of faith, race, and gender.

The event was held in celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21 and also featured spoken word performances in honour of World Poetry Day.

“The idea of elimination of racism is to build and adjust an inclusive fair society where we celebrate every individual, no matter what their colour, their religion, and their race is,” said UTM’s vice-president and principal, Deep Saini, in his opening remarks.

The talk show–style discussion featured three guest speakers: Rima Berns McGown, a UTM history professor specializing in diaspora studies; Rabia Khedr, a UTM alumna, board member of the Ontario Women’s Health Network, and member of a research group at York University; and Rose Streete, a real estate sales representative and neighbourhood specialist who spoke at UTM last month for Black History Month.

Each guest speakers talked about their own experience with issues of faith, gender, and race.

“I’ve always had a great interest in diaspora studies, and Professor McGown is very inspirational to me. So for me, this was very, very interesting,” said Victoria Partyka, a fifth-year humanities student.

The discussion was moderated by Shefa Obaid, an executive of Students Against Israeli Apartheid, and Adaoma Emenogu, the volunteer coordinator of the UTM Women’s Centre.

Obaid, who came up with the idea for the event and helped organize it, said its purpose was to promote open discussion.

“We are definitely in need of more awareness on issues such as racial discrimination and privilege,” she said. “We were in need of more inspiration and motivation to teach us—women, in particular—how to break barriers and not let obstacles stand in our way. I hope [the event] was able to make a mark and be the first of many events to come that motivate, push boundaries, and seek out real change.”