Black at UTM celebrates Black Literature and promotes productive dialogue on Black student experiences at UTM
Black in Focus and Pages of Colour invited the UTM community to come together to learn and share their experiences on campus as Black students.

This month, Black at UTM, an initiative at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), hosted two events to celebrate Black literature and culture in a safe space where Black students connected with each other as well as faculty members.  

On March 12, Black at UTM held its first Black in Focus session, an initiative that promotes productive discourse on Black student experiences at UTM. The topics discussed at the event included but were not limited to expanding inclusive spaces and fostering mental wellness, financial literacy, and empowerment. The event was organized by Black at UTM student staff research assistants Khamecia Williams, Diery Leando Saint-Vil, and Lillian De-Heer. 

The Medium attended the inaugural event to gain insight into the concerns Black students have regarding campus life. Eileen Waweru, Coordinator of Black Initiatives, welcomed students to the event and emphasized the importance of such events to expand socio-political dialogue and foster inclusivity. 

At the event, students discussed various topics including mental health concerns, financial hurdles, and barriers Black students face when trying to establish a sense of belonging on campus. They also discussed the necessity for inclusive sanctuaries where Black students can experience and identify with their culture.

Divine Angubua, a student staff research assistant at Black at UTM, told The Medium, “The goal for Black in Focus was simple. We wanted a safe space for Black students to discuss their experiences and needs at UTM, let their voices be heard, and contribute to positive change by simply socializing over ice breakers, food, and other engaging activities.”

“We wanted to give students closer access to the university staff and faculty who could mediate more closely with the institution through the framework of the antiracism task force recommendations as a part of our blended application of research, advocacy, and activism,” Angubua continued. 

Before this event, Black at UTM also hosted Pages of Colour on March 7. At the event, the UTM community engaged in activities that fostered learning on Black literature, interacted and celebrated Black vendors and authors, literature, and spoken word performers. The event was organized by Akaila Wright, Lillian De-Heer, and Rayshaun Whyte.

According to Angubua, “Pages of Colour was framed as… part two of an event that we held at the start of Black History Month called Black on the Shelf, as a continued promotion and celebration of Black literacy and literature.” 

The event provided a platform for authors, writers, and faculty from UTM’s English department to showcase their work. Angubua stated, “It was beautiful to see such diverse literary talent come together in one place, and the audience was thoroughly engaged and entertained. The event truly celebrated creativity and [was] a fantastic opportunity for all involved.”

“We hoped that this event would ignite the imagination of those who attended, widen their perception and conception of what it means to be Black, and what it means to be Black and excellent, passionate, and on their terms, successful,” Angubua noted. 

Four speakers—Dr. Sam Tita, Christene Lewis, Professor Anna Thomas, and Rola Fawzy—shared their insights into Black literature and identity at the event. Their contributions highlighted the importance of writing as a tool for the Black community’s empowerment and healing. 

To stay informed of future events visit the Black at UTM website, and click on the Events tab.

Staff Writer (Volume 49); Associate News Editor (Volume 48)Razia Saleh is currently completing a Biology degree at UTM. She has been involved with The Medium since 2020 as a contributor and continued to write for The Medium as an Associate News Editor during Volume 48. She hopes that her experience as a writer with The Medium will help her contribute to society's efforts to provide authentic and factual journalistic media to educate her readers. She hopes to take her interest in ongoing research within the scientific field and explore ways to share it with others through this platform. In her spare time, she paints natural landscapes inspired by her travels and enjoy a few live concerts throughout the year. You can connect with her on Linkedin.


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