Queer Black organizer Mia McKenzie describes solidarity as “showing up for each other” (The Solidarity Struggle, 2016). Somali artist Farhiya Jama articulates that solidarity is “moving with kindness, intentionally travelling the world with empathy and the desire to offer nourishment, and allowing those who need the space to have it” (Exploring Black & Indigenous Futurisms, 2020). Cree scholar Karen Recollet envisions solidarity as “embodying care and radical relationality” (Exploring Black & Indigenous Futurisms, 2020). The BIPOC Solidarities JHI working group will embrace these understandings of solidarity and bring together community members, organizers, and scholars from interdisciplinary backgrounds, diverse communities, and various fields of study to read about, discuss, and imagine the potentialities and necessities of BIPOC solidarity work. We will particularly focus on solidarity work that honours BIPOC women, feminisms, and LGBTQ2IA+ BIPOC communities. The working group will centre Anishinaabe/Ashkenazi scholar and theatre artist Jill Carter’s assertion that “if theory cannot be put onto the ground and manifest itself through practice, it holds little interest for me” (Hart House Communications, 2019). As such, we will contend with the following questions: What does it mean to bring academic theorizations, concrete grassroots organizing, and community-building into active, lasting relationships in meaningful, material ways? What brings BIPOC communities together, but what is currently holding us apart? What principles should we uphold as we aim to work in solidarity?

The BIPOC Solidarities working group is open to anyone interested in respectfully and collectively working towards dismantling colonialism. The working group will provide a space for members to develop research goals, enhance their scholarship, and further bridge the relationship between academia and community organizing. We will meet once a month from September 2020 to April 2021 to engage with readings, films, theories, and scholarship emerging from diverse disciplines, a wide array of grassroot organizations, and from community-based voices and perspectives. To develop our skills as scholars and organizers, each member of the working group will have opportunities to select literatures to ground our monthly discussions, facilitate monthly meetings, share research in progress, and organize events and excursions that guide the field of BIPOC solidarities. 

Our group will attend two local events organized by and for BIPOC communities, such as: the Toronto Black Film Festival, imagineNATIVE Film Festival, Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, Inside Out Film Festival, book launches at A Different Booklist and Another Story Bookshop, and/or events at the UTM and UTSC campuses. In May 2021, we will host an end-of-year one-evening symposium that working group members can present at and which will feature the work of BIPOC LGBTQ2IA+ women writers, artists, community organizers, activists and scholars. The symposium will center on imagining and creating futurities beyond colonialism and “damage-centered” narratives (Tuck, 2009) — futures that honour the BIPOC love and joy that has existed since time immemorial; futures that celebrate our BIPOC ancestors; and futures that ensure the continued and ongoing living, loving and thriving of BIPOC women and LGBTQ2IA+ communities.