Navigating spaces that aren’t meant for you

In the latest edition of University Affairs, graduate student Jasmeet Bahia provides an insightful perspective on the life of a racialized person navigating the complicated spaces of academia. It is unfortunate that so many of us will be able to relate to the experiences illustrated in this opinion piece. Systemic racism does not stop at the Roddick Gates and shield us from the toxic soup of unconscious bias or conscious bigotry. Unfortunately, the boundaries of our institutions are fully permeable. This means both the best and the worst can find their way in.

You can read the full opinion piece here.

You’re wwwelcome, wwworld!

Photo credit: Internet Hall of Fame

You may not know Alan Emtage, but if you managed to find this blog post, you know his work. This year, the Internet Hall of Fame finally recognized one of the great innovators of the Internet Age. I must admit, I assumed this had already been done. Alan Emtage not only created and implemented the world’s first Internet search engine during his time as a McGill student, but after completing his M. S. in Computer Science in 1991, he chaired the committee at the Internet Engineering Task Force that established the standard for Uniform Resource Locators, aka URLs.

Since 1998, he has been a partner at Mediapolis, Inc., where he lends his considerable talents to everything from small non-profit organizations to large multi-national corporations. In 1999, DataLounge, a website operated by Mediapolis, won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding LGBT Interactive Media.

Read more about Alan Emtage here.

Read about Alan Emtage’s induction into the Internet Hall of Fame here.

Read about Mediapolis, Inc. here and DataLounge here.

Dr. Charmaine Nelson takes Canada’s slave history to Harvard

Charmaine Nelson – McGill Faculty of Arts

It is 2017 and Dr. Charmaine Nelson is the only Black tenured professor of art history in Canada. The lack of Black representation among Canadian tenure stream academics isn’t all that surprising; most Canadians don’t even know that Blacks have a history in Canada. Unfortunately, this unacknowledged legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and systemic discrimination is observable in almost every sphere of Canadian society. Fortunately, we have scholars such as Dr. Nelson who are willing to shine a light into that darkness.

For the next year, Dr. Charmaine Nelson will continue her research on fugitive slave advertisements while teaching at Harvard as the William Lyon Mackenzie King Chair for Canadian Studies.

Congratulations, Charmaine!

Read more about Dr. Charmaine Nelson’s journey to Harvard here.

Dying to be Black (or Native American)

Life Expectancy White

Life Expectancy - Black

Life Expectancy Native American

Many people have suggested that the election and re-election of Barack Obama are indicative of the end of racism in the US. However, the numbers don’t lie; if you’re black, you had better start on your bucket list early, because you’ll be gone from this earth before your neighbours.

While the gap is shrinking, the life expectancy of African Americans and Native Americans is still well below the life expectancy of White Americans. Not surprisingly, Norteastern states are doing much better than Southwestern states. However, it is interesting to note that Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans have a longer life expectancy than White Americans.

McGill researchers performed a new, state-by-state analysis to provide a clearer picture of the gaps, which are most likely indicative of deeper social issues.

Check out this article to read more about the study, and look here for some details on the life expectancy by state. The title of the web page is “USA Life Expectancy – Life longer, live better”. Food for thought.

Why we need to hear minority voices

Photo credit: McGill News

Photo credit: McGill News

When Dantes Rameau is asked to “show his credentials”, he does it because he understands the importance of “representing”. What he represents is possibility. To all of those young, economically challenged, inner-city kids that he mentors, he is a window into a life that they may not have believed was possible for them. Many minorities only see themselves depicted in the media as criminals, underachievers, and underdogs. Dantes Rameau shows them that it is possible to rise above the stereotypes. It is possible to become a celebrated classical musician, or a president, or an award-winning scientist, or anything else you imagine.

Too often, the media depicts success, beauty and achievement in the packaging of the majority. Minorities often struggle to find and maintain their own sense of self-worth and self-confidence because they cannot identify with the images of success that they are shown. We need to showcase minority success to give racialized and marginalized people (especially young people) a sense that they are valued in the world, that they too can be the face success, beauty and achievement.

Read about Dantes Rameau’s exceptional journey here.

McGill minorities take on the world – Imran Amed

Photo credit: Business of Fashion

Photo credit: Business of Fashion

We’ve all met that person. You know the one I’m talking about: smart, attractive, stylish, successful, charming. The person you secretly envy and can’t help but be impressed by. Imran Amed is all of those things and then some. This Calgary native chose McGill for his undergraduate studies, and we are so glad that he did. Now that the fashion world is at his feet, we can say with pride, “He’s a McGillian!” (He also got an MBA from Harvard.)

Imran Amed, a McGillian of Indian descent, is the founder of one of the most respected fashion blogs in the world. The Business of Fashion is  so well regarded that it received $2.5 million dollars in investment from Index Ventures, known for backing other winners such as Skype and Dropbox.

Mr. Amed was back at his alma mater last month to receive a Desautels Management Achievement Award, and at 38 years old, he is the youngest entrepreneur ever to receive the award. Not bad for a boy from Cowtown.

Read all about Imran Amed and his incredible success here and here.

McGill minorities rock!

McGill minorities give back – Gemma Raeburn-Baynes


Photo credit: Who’s who in Black Canada

Gemma Raeburn-Baynes knows what it means to give back. She seems to turn every opportunity in her life into an opportunity to help both the local community and the global one. On March 8th, 2014, this McGill alumna will be honoured for her 50 years of community activism.

Gemma Raeburn-Baynes was born in Grenada, but has lived most of her life in Montreal. Her island roots have definitely shaped her personality, as evidenced by her contributions to Montreal’s Taste of the Caribbean and Carifiesta events, but Ms. Raeburn-Baynes has also worked tirelessly to improve conditions for all people of colour both in Montreal and abroad.

Read more about this extraordinary woman from another McGill alumnus here.

Congratulations, Gemma! McGill minorities rock!

Happy Black History Month!

Photo Credit: Marie-France Coallier, The Gazette

When did slavery end in Canada? Wait. What? We had slaves in Canada? Yup.

Welcome to Black History Month. This is the month when we remember some amazing things that we should never have forgotten, and some less-than-wonderful things that we would probably prefer to forget. Fortunately, the McGill community includes people like Dr. Charmaine Nelson who can help to jog our memories.

Visible and ethnic minorities have made and continue to make countless contributions worth celebrating to McGill, to Montreal, to Québec, and to the world. However, while we are remembering those who have triumphed, let us not forget those who were lost in the struggle.

A glimpse into Canada’s slave-owning past

McGill Minorities Rock! – Dr. Nitika Pant Pai

McGill has some of the brightest minds in the world.  Therefore, it comes as no surprise when one of us makes the news.  The Montreal Gazette recently featured one of our own who is making big waves in the field of HIV testing in the developing world.

Meet Dr. Nitika Pant Pai

Photo from Dr. Pant Pai's website

Dr. Pant Pai and her team have developed an app which helps people get the information they need as they navigate the somewhat frightening world of HIV testing.  In the developing world, information can be hard to come by, and the stigma associated with the virus is a strong deterrent to seeking help.

Through her research, Dr. Pant Pai is looking at innovative ways to address some of the issues surrounding the detection HIV and STIs and the prevention of their transmission.  Read more about her work on her website.


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