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  • Alyssa McQuaid

Courageous Conversations

I learned of the term "Courageous Conversations" in a Teaching Assistantship Certificate course offered by York University's Teaching Commons. It was designed to support high achieving teaching assistants to become more effective educators. The Human Rights Department at York came in to give a guest lecture on diversity, equity, and inclusion. One of the presenters, when discussing addressing harmful race- and gender-based comments made by students and colleagues. She placed the onus on us to address these comments and their underlying issues; to be leaders in what she referred to as, "courageous conversations".

Fast forward one year-- the deaths of Aubrey Ahmed, George Flloyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others catalyzed the remobilization of the Civil Rights Movement to fight against police brutality. Faced with the stark realization that Black lives and people are still undervalued and exploited for economic advantage, I am terrified, exhausted, and angry. I have wasted a lot of time worrying about being resented for speaking my truth but the events of 2020, specifically violence against Black women and girls, has gifted me with new found purpose.


I am now in teacher's college and I have made a point to never shy away from an opportunity to educate and re-direct. These courageous conversations have often landed me in tense situations with friends and colleagues because it was the first time for a lot of them seeing me for who I am: a Black-biracial woman. And through this identity I understand the importance of social justice, cultural preservation, and advocacy for change.


These sentiments are what lead me to advocate for Black, Indigenous, girls, women and their access to education, healthcare, and safety through the platform of sport. As health and physical education teachers we function as the gatekeepers to how youth engage with physical activity and sport. It is up to us to provide inclusive, diverse, and above all anti-racist spaces for them to reap the immediate and lifelong benefits that sport offers.



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