The Contours of Anti-Black Racism: Engaging Anti-Oppression from Embodied Spaces

Martha Kuwee Kumsa, Magnus Mfoafo-M'Carthy, Funke Oba, Sadia Gaasim


We reflect on our embodied experiences of living out the various layers of anti-Black racism in our daily lives. Our starting point is our powerful gut reaction to the experiences of Black youth in a research study exploring youth violence and healing in Canada. We were awed by the intensity of anti-Black racism that youth wrestle with and their creative strategies of healing from its violence. As researchers, we were stunned into reflexive realization that we were inextricably woven into the tangled webs of anti-Black racism even as we were struggling to disentangle ourselves and break free. We were astounded by how the tensions that grip Black youth were our own tensions as well. In this paper, we ground ourselves in these tensions that we harbour deep within our bodies as we explore the theoretical contours of anti-oppression. The stories we tell emerge from our stepping back in critical self-reflection and following our powerful gut feelings to their cultural and structural roots. We seek to critically engage our own anti-oppressive practices in order to open up transformative possibilities for ourselves and those we work with.

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