Blackness in Academia from Multiple Perspectives (Waterloo Womxn + Nonbinary Wednesdays)

Wednesday, September 28, 2022 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EDT

Featuring Margaret Mutumba, Colleen Phillips-Davis, Naila Keleta-Mae, this session is in an informed informal conversation among three Black female colleagues at UW whose positionality in relation to the institution informs their perspectives on blackness in academia. We have each chosen as departure points an article or experience that relates to and informs our experiences of blackness at UW.


Naila Keleta-Mae has selected Dr. Andrea Davis’s Scholar Strike Canada talk entitled “Black Tax and the Invisible Labour of Black Women in the Academy” as the point of reflection for the session. Dr. Davis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities at York University and Special Advisor on the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies’ Anti-Black Racism Strategy. In this session in particular, Dr. Keleta-Mae is interested in thinking through Dr. Davis’ astute reflection that, “The time for talk is past and Black and Indigenous women experience even greater degrees of alienation not only because of the nature of their research but because their bodies and ideas and knowledges position them always and already on the margins of the academy” (Davis, 2020). 

Colleen Philips-Davis on Black in WIL – The Students’ Story: During a time of social upheaval, demonstrations resulting from George Floyd’s death, and a global pandemic, we wanted to amplify the voices and lived experiences of Black students from various post-secondary institutions and programs in Ontario as they navigated the work integrated learning (WIL) space through hosting a Black in WIL Panel. Key to engaging the students in the panel discussion was building relationships, creating trust, and psychological safety prior to the event. They had the opportunity to share their journey - how it has impacted and shaped them and their successes and challenges. 

Margaret Mutumba has chosen a short documentary titled “Young, British and Somali at Cambridge University” showcasing the internal contentions experienced by intelligent, highly ambitious, young women in an elite institution. The dichotomy between recognizing how fortunate we are to be in these spaces while the spaces themselves remind us that we do not belong. The lack of preparation for the physical, social and mental displacement experienced in historically white institutions brings about multi-layered imposter syndrome. Margaret is a PhD candidate in the School of Public Health and Health Systems, originally from Uganda.

Attending W3+ Events

W3+ (Waterloo Womxn + Nonbinary Wednesdays) is a community of womxn and nonbinary grad students, post-docs, staff, and faculty that meets on the last Wednesday of the month. W3+ events take place in the W3+ Team on Microsoft Teams. You'll find them in the "General" channel there. You can also email to request a calendar invite.