Ahead of International Women’s Day, a panel called Forum on Racism and Sexism was presented Thursday by the Dalhousie University Gender and Women’s Studies Program, South House and the Dalhousie Student Union.
A classroom at Dalhousie was packed with students from around Halifax; some people had to stand to hear the panel.
The panel focused on the problems faced by marginalized racial and gender communities, and how they relate to each other. The speakers discussed their personal experiences of racism, sexism and the problems faced in society by being a person of colour, a woman or non-binary. Non-binary means someone is nether male or female, or is a combination of both.
Panel speakers included Dorota Glowacka, a contemporary studies professor at University of King’s College; Halifax Regional Municipality Poet Laureate, El Jones; Greyson Jones, PhD student at Dalhousie University researching transgender issues; and Tino Chiome, QBIPOC community organizer.
Leandré Govindsamy faces racism in class at Dalhousie and thinks the panel was a good way to start the discussion about misogyny and racism.
“I am brown, I’m Indian, so I’m not a typical white student,” said Govindsamy. “Coming to class and being the only brown person does affect you. It makes you be not as confident which is kind of sad, because you should be confident no matter what.”
Govindsamy says that she also encounters sexism in class.
“In class profs will speak to the male students more than they will speak to the female students.”
Tino Chiome, one of the speakers, says he too faces racial problems in his daily life.
“People may not be overtly racist, but they subconsciously have these feeling and notions about people that they put into practice,” said Chiome.
“You walk into a store and you see security guards following you around, or you walk in a convenience store and the guy at the counter suddenly has to fix something in the back just to watch you,” said Chiome. “So it’s little things like that, where you realize this doesn’t happen to anyone else, only when you go in.”
This panel was created in response to a forum on misogyny in January that discussed the Dalhousie dentistry scandal.
In December 2014, 14 male Dalhousie dentistry students were found to have been involved in misogynist activities towards female classmates in the Class of DSS 2015 Gentlemen Facebook page.
While discussing the dentistry scandal, the January panel found racism to be a recurring topic in misogyny.
The panel was also organized as an International Women’s Day event. International Women’s Day was on Sunday.
Margaret Denike, associate professor at Dalhousie University co-organized and moderated the panel. She hopes people learn compassion and understanding from this panel.
“I want them to take whatever best helps them become more compassionate and more understanding and more accepting of others, and I think we have a really tall order in doing that,” said Denike.