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Ask Dr. Editor

Doing anti-racist academic work

How to practice and perform anti-racist research, teaching, and service.



It feels like we are at a historical turning point. The ongoing protests against systemic oppression and police violence in the United States and Canada have called on white people, like me, to listen, learn, and act against racism. My research doesn’t connect with racial issues. How can I ensure my work is actively anti-racist?

– Physics

Dr. Editor’s response:

If you look around your lab – if you look at your department’s faculty, and your university administration – and you don’t see Black people, then your research does indeed connect with racial issues. Simply stating that Black lives matter is a very low bar to clear. Do that, and then continue the work of dismantling structural racism in academia. Here’s how:

1. Practice anti-racist research

2. Perform anti-racist service

3. Be anti-racist in your teaching & training

4. Embody & enact anti-racism

5. Hire a Black editor for your academic writing


Dr. Editor’s fee for this month’s column has been donated to Black charities and anti-racist organizations.

Letitia Henville
Ask Dr. Editor is a monthly column by Letitia Henville, a freelance academic editor at She earned her PhD in English literature from the University of Toronto. Have a question about academic writing or editing? Send it to her at
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  1. May Griffith / June 17, 2020 at 13:58

    We should also remember that racism is not all black and white. It exists everywhere where people react, usually to some form of adversity or societal stress. Anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hate has been on the rise since Trump has decided to call the SARS-CoV2 virus the Chinese virus instead of the coronavirus or COVID-19. Racism is often ingrained. For a real change, the only way to overcome racism is education – starting with reaching out to young kids from all backgrounds to let them know that everyone is equal, at least in Canada.

  2. Dr. Abdulghany Mohamed / June 24, 2020 at 16:11

    Doing Anti-Black Racist Academic work also includes acknowledging that modern science we currently teach/research (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology, maths, etc.) also draws from knowledge co-created for centuries (by current as well as by traditional scholars from Africa and those of African descent in the diaspora). In short, it involves: the active and purposefully endeavouring by all of us (non-Black and Black academics) to explicitly stop the conscious and unconscious marginalization and rendering invisible of the scholarly and scientific contributions of Peoples of African Descent. Dr. Abdulghany Mohamed (@Mwalimu_Mohamed)

  3. Katharine O'Moore-Klopf / December 8, 2020 at 15:13

    Thank you for this column, Dr. Henville. I just now came across it and will be sharing it in my network.

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