Narratives of Colour screenshot

June 30, 2021

Narratives of Color Project Report

Organizers: Neha Bhatia and Dušan Nikolić

The Narratives of Color project began as a response to stand in solidarity against the police atrocities after the unfortunate death of George Floyd. To address this issue and raise awareness of racial discrimination occurring in the Calgary area, we decided to submit an informed proposal for the Language Research Centre (LRC) Graduate Fellowship in 2020. After successfully receiving the Fellowship, we realized that the subject of racial justice makes people highly uncomfortable. Therefore, we explored a hybrid approach – one that combined knowledge about the issue with creativity (poetry, journaling, etc.) to express and learn about issues of racism. We created a website, found sponsors (Calgary Institute for the Humanities), and collaborated with experts from both academic and non-academic organizations to create a brave-yet-safe space for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour to learn about racism and share their personal stories of racism. 

The project culminated in three virtual workshops at the end of January 2021. The first workshop, called the Pre-Workshop, was an informal meeting between participants and the organizers. This one-hour introductory workshop took place on January 25th, run by the organizers and Melvee X, a multidisciplinary artist and creative professional. This workshop allowed participants to get to know the organizers and each other so that they would feel comfortable when participating in the main workshops on race and racial discrimination. Melvee X created several interesting exercises to build trust and start talking about these sensitive topics. 

Workshop I took place on January 30th and was run by representatives of the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation: their CEO, Iman Bukhari, and their Indigenous Liaison, Garret Smith. The goal of this two-hour workshop was to teach participants about the cultural and historical background of race and racial issues in Calgary and Canada, in general, and help them to become more knowledgeable of the concepts and ideologies underlying these issues. As the facilitators stated, learning about the concepts is the foundation of discerning what racism is or is not. Some of the concepts covered were race, racial discrimination, privilege, bias, intersectionality, representation, and present and past race issues in Canada. The workshop concluded with a group exercise, in which participants discussed news articles on recent racial issues in Canada, followed by a question-and-answer period. 

The Colour Factor is a non-profit organisation that seeks to to decolonize wellness and create brave spaces of healing for Black, Indigenous and Racialized People, through Conversation, Collaboration and Creativity

The Colour Factor is a non-profit organisation that seeks to to decolonize wellness and create brave spaces of healing for Black, Indigenous and Racialized People, through Conversation, Collaboration and Creativity

Workshop II took place on January 31st and was run by the co-founders of the Colour Factor: Priscilla Cherry, Iftu Hargaaya, and Nitu Purna. The goal of this two-hour workshop was to support participants to concentrate on reclaiming their narratives through self-care and healing practices. By design, this workshop was more interactive than the first, and opened with the dancing icebreaker, in which participants introduced themselves with a dance move that everybody repeated. A grounding exercise, which included meditation, guided breathing, and the spoken-word, facilitated a writing activity. The workshop concluded with a “resilience walk” in which participants were guided through a series of questions around the topics of privilege, racial and intergenerational trauma. 

After the workshops, each participant received a certificate of attendance and a participation gift, the book The Skin We’re In. We remained in touch with all the participants who expressed their gratitude and words of support for the entire project. In addition to the gifts, our colleague, Owen Brierely, created a video (soon to be published on the website) with the two main workshops' most important segments and details.

The main outcome of the project was that the participants learned to understand, unpack and analyze the topics revolving around race and racial discrimination issues, particularly those from BIPOC communities. The project showed that introducing and unpacking concepts and then having participants express their views and narratives through storytelling enhanced mutual understanding and helped to bridge the gaps between BIPOC and non-BIPOC worlds. This project deepened our knowledge of the BIPOC groups – their histories, cultures, struggles, belief-system, and values. Throughout the project, we realized that marginalized communities have unique and valuable perspectives. Understanding the mechanisms of marginalization is the key to healthy communication and future social justice. 

We also believe that this project, and future projects like it, are essential for raising awareness of the problems of racism and discrimination: how to recognize it, what to do when this gap is encountered, and what to do to promote self-care and healing. This project was a perfect opportunity for all involved to become more knowledgeable about race and racial discrimination discourse.

A list of media resources on race and discrimination can be found below. 

Additional self-learning resources and exercises can be found on the Narratives of Color website.

Films and Documentaries:

  • Time (Garret Bradley) — Amazon Prime Video
  • 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
  • American Son (Kenny Leon) — Netflix
  • Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
  • I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — Available to rent or on Kanopy
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
  • Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Amazon Prime Video
  • See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix
  • When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
  • There is something in the water  – Netflix

Podcasts to subscribe to:

  • 1619 (New York Times)
  • About Race
  • Code Switch (NPR)
  • Intersectionality Matters! hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw
  • Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast
  • Nice White Parents (Serial and The New York Times)
  • Pod For The Cause (from The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights)
  • Pod Save the People (Crooked Media)
  • Seeing White

A Year of Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Performance and Business

While it is no secret that the pandemic caused major shifts in all areas of the University, we at the Performance and Business Research Working Group have found moments to express gratitude for the new wide world of Zoom. Our vision for our third year as a CIH-funded working group was to host discussions featuring a researcher in theater or performance studies and a researcher in a business field such as finance, organizational theory, or strategy for a discussion on a theme relevant to both of their work. These scholars “came” from distant campuses to dialogue with us. 

artistic bubbles

Calgary Institute for the Humanities Newsletter Spring 2021