Menu Close
This image shows a close up a fist. All people in the photo are kneeling with raised fists.
Fists raised in solidarity for George Floyd in Charlotte, N.C. (Unsplash/Clay Banks)

Listen to ‘Don’t Call Me Resilient’: Our podcast about race

Today, we are launching Don’t Call Me Resilient, a new podcast about race and racism.

If you’ve struggled with how to understand what is going on around you when it comes to race and racism and how and why it matters, our new podcast, Don’t Call Me Resilient, can help with that.

Resilient is a beautiful word and yet, as our podcast title says, don’t call me that. Why?

I’ve read and heard many hopeful stories over the past year about people being resilient in the face of adversity. With millions of tragic deaths due to COVID-19 worldwide, as well as job losses, illness and the psychological impact of a racial reckoning, many people are dealing with trauma in resilient ways.

We should always celebrate resilience: the human ability to recover or adjust to difficult conditions. But for many marginalized people, including Black, Indigenous and racialized people, being labelled resilient — especially by policy-makers — has other implications. The focus on resilience and applauding people for being resilient makes it too easy for policy-makers to avoid looking for real solutions.

Our society is marked by deep systemic divides and many are recognizing this fact in new ways. People of colour have to deal with racism every day — be it microaggressions at work or the larger impacts of systemic racism that can create life and death situations. These issues are constant. And the only way to survive is to be resilient.

In response to President Barack Obama’s call to be resilient after the devastating impact of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, activist and lawyer Tracie Washington told Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines: “Stop calling me resilient…. Because every time you say, ‘Oh, they’re resilient,’ that means you can do something else to me. I am not resilient.”

Maria Kaika at the University of Manchester picked up on that discussion:

“If we took Tracie Washington’s objection seriously, we would stop focusing on how to make citizens more resilient ‘no matter what stresses they encounter,’ as this would only mean that they can take more suffering, deprivation or environmental degradation in the future … focus instead on [trying] to change these factors.…”

Today, we are launching Don’t Call Me Resilient, a new podcast about race and racism in which we discuss solutions in the way Washington and Kaika are suggesting. We take listeners deep into conversations with scholars and activists who view the world through an anti-racist lens.

We explore these critical issues — from dealing with the pain of racism, to inequity in our schools, to Indigenous land rights — in a way that is intimate, authentic and at times, uncomfortable. Instead of calling those who’ve survived the pain of systemic racism “resilient,” this podcast goes in search of solutions for those things no one should have to be resilient for.

A woman stands at a police barrier on the street. Two white police offers in the background.
Vinita Srivastava, host of ‘Don’t Call Me Resilient’ has been a journalist for over 20 years: here she is reporting from New York City, in the mid-‘90s. Author provided

In our trailer, I refer to myself as Sister Killjoy: I first read this term in Ama Ata Aidoo’s novel, Our Sister Killjoy.

Listen wherever you get your podcasts

The first episode of Don’t Call Me Resilient went live on Feb. 3, 2021. You can listen to all of the episodes or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts. We’d love to hear from you, including any ideas for future episodes. Join The Conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #DontCallMeResilient.

Season 1: Race 101

Season 1 Trailer: Don’t Call Me Resilient Don’t Call Me Resilient is a provocative new podcast about race from The Conversation. Host Vinita Srivastava takes you deep into conversations with scholars and activists who view the world, its problems, and the way forward through an anti-racist lens. Instead of calling those who have survived the pain of systemic racism “resilient,” this podcast goes in search of solutions for the things no one should have to be resilient for.

EP 1: What’s in a word? How to confront 150 years of racial stereotypes We keep hearing stories about white and non-Black people – including academics – somehow thinking it’s ok to use the n-word. Ryerson University Professor Cheryl Thompson, author of ‘Uncle: Race, Nostalgia and the Politics of Loyalty,’ joins us to discuss how North American society spent the last 150 years creating racist stereotypes and language, how they continue to persist today – and what we might do to help stop it.

EP 2: How to deal with the pain of racism – and become a better advocate A global protest movement calling for an end to racism and police brutality sparked new conversations about race. But it also surfaced a lot of pain for those who deal daily with racism. Where do we go from here? The writer, activist and Zen priest Reverend angel Kyodo williams speaks about the pain of racism, and how she uses meditation to combat it – and become a stronger anti-racist activist in America today.

EP 3: How to spark change within our unequal education system Even before COVID-19, education experts were sounding the alarm about the future of racialized children in our schools. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only underscored – even deepened – the divide. Carl James, professor of education at York University and Kulsoom Anwer, a high school teacher who works out of one of Toronto’s most marginalized neighborhoods, Jane and Finch, join us to discuss the injustices and inequalities in the education system – and the way forward.

EP 4: How we treat migrant workers who put food on our tables Documentary filmmaker and OCAD University associate professor Min Sook Lee has been documenting the voices of migrant farm workers in Canada for two decades. What she has to say about how these workers have been treated during COVID-19 shatters any remaining myths about “Canada the Good.” How do we treat the workers that put food on our tables?

EP 5: Black health matters When COVID-19 first appeared, some said it was the great equalizer. But the facts quickly revealed a grim reality: COVID-19 disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous, poor and racialized communities. Roberta K. Timothy, assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, joins us to talk about her global research project, Black Health Matters, and why racial justice is a public health matter.

EP 6: Indigenous land defenders Two Indigenous land defenders join us to explain why they work to protect land against invasive development and why their work is necessary for everyone’s survival. Ellen Gabriel, a human rights activist and artist well known for her role as a spokesperson during the 1990 Oka crisis, and Anne Spice, a professor at Ryerson University, discuss the importance and urgency of defending land.

Season 2

EP 7: How stories about alternate worlds can help us imagine a better future: Don’t Call Me Resilient Stories are a powerful tool to resist oppressive situations. They give writers from marginalized communities a way to imagine alternate realities, and to critique the one we live in. In this episode, Vinita speaks to two storytellers who offer up wonderous “otherworlds” for Indigenous and Black people. Selwyn Seyfu Hinds is an L.A-based screenwriter who wrote for Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone and is currently writing the screenplay for Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black. Daniel Heath Justice is professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous literature and expressive culture at the University of British Columbia.

EP 8: Stolen identities: What does it mean to be Indigenous? Over the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of high-profile figures accused of falsely claiming Indigenous identity, of being “Pretendians.” These cases have become big news stories, but they have big real-life consequences, too. Misidentifying as Indigenous can have financial and social consequences, with the misdirection of funds, jobs or grants meant for Indigenous peoples. Vinita delves into it all with two researchers who look at identity and belonging in Indigenous communities: Veldon Coburn from the University of Ottawa and Celeste Pedri-Spade from Queen’s University.

EP 9: Model minority blues: The mental health consequences of being a model citizen The pandemic has taken a toll on our collective mental health. But according to a recent Statistics Canada report, South Asians reported a steeper decline than any other diaspora in Canada. Why? The idea of being a model minority — of having to live up to exacting high standards — is a big part of it. Two long-time researchers and activists join Vinita for an intimate conversation about that and other reasons why South Asians are struggling so badly, and what can be done about it. Maneet Chahal is co-founder of SOCH, one of the few mental health organizations specifically for South Asians. Satwinder Bains is the director of the South Asian Studies Institute and professor of social cultural media studies at the University of the Fraser Valley.

EP 10: Being Watched: How surveillance amplifies racist policing and threatens the right to protest Many of us know our personal data is being collected online and used against us – to get us to buy certain things or vote a certain way. But for marginalized communities, the collection of data and photos has much bigger implications. Vinita is joined by two researchers who are calling for new protections for the most vulnerable populations. Yuan Stevens is the Policy Lead in the Technology, Cybersecurity and Democracy Programme at the Ryerson Leadership Lab and Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is professor and Canada 150 Research Chair in new media at Simon Fraser University.

EP 11: Why pollution is as much about colonialism as chemicals. The state of our environment just keeps getting scarier and scarier, yet it feels like we have yet to find a way forward. Two Indigenous scholars who run labs to address the climate crisis say bringing an Indigenous understanding to environmental justice could help us get unstuck. A big part of that is seeing pollution through a new lens – one that acknowledges it is as much about racism and colonialism as it is toxic chemicals. Vinita talks to Michelle Murphy, Professor and Canada Research Chair in science and technology studies and leader at the University of Toronto’s Environmental Data Justice Lab. Also joining is Max Liboiron, author of Pollution is Colonialism, and associate professor in geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

EP 12: Making our food fairer One out of every eight households in Canada is food insecure. For racialized Canadians, that number is higher – two to three times the national average. In this episode, Vinita asks what is happening with our food systems, and what we can do to make them fairer with two women who have been tackling this issue for years. Melana Roberts is Chair of Food Secure Canada and one of the leaders behind Canada’s first Black food sovereignty plan. Also joining the conversation is Tabitha Robin Martens, assistant professor at UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems. Martens researches Indigenous food sovereignty and works with Cree communities to bolster traditional land uses.

Bonus EP 13 Will Smith’s Oscar slap reveals fault lines as he defends Jada Pinkett against Chris Rock In this special edition, we chat with Cheryl Thompson, professor of performance about how “the slap heard around the world” is part of a layered story of racism, sexism, power and performance.

Season 3: Refusal and resistance

EP 14: Unmarked graves of 215 Indigenous children were found in Kamloops a year ago: What’s happened since? It’s been a year since the unmarked graves of 215 Indigenous children— some of them as young as three years old—were found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. In this episode, Vinita speaks to Veldon Coburn, assistant professor at the Institute of Indigenous Research and Studies at the University of Ottawa about what happened, the widespread grief and outcry and the immediate political response, but also, how none of that lasted despite communities continuing to find bodies. Joining Vinita on the episode is Haley Lewis, Don’t Call Me Resilient producer and culture and society editor at The Conversation Canada. Lewis is mixed Kanyen'keha:ká from Tyendinaga and led our coverage of the findings last year.

EP 15 Niqab bans boost hate crimes against Muslims and legalize Islamophobia Last year, as a Muslim Canadian family took their evening stroll during the lockdown in London, Ont., a white man rammed his pickup truck into them. Four of the five family members were killed. The incident sparked horror and outrage. But the truth is, anti-Muslim sentiment has been on the steady rise in the 20 years since 9/11. According to a report from July 2021 by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, more Muslims have been killed in Canada in targeted attacks and hate crimes than in any other G7 country. Our guest today says that instead of deterring anti-Muslim hate, Canadian laws are actually making it worse - in essence, legalizing Islamophobia. Natasha Bakht is an award-winning legal scholar who has spent the past five years researching the rise in anti-Muslim attitudes in North America. She is a professor in the faculty of law at the University of Ottawa and the author of In Your Face: Law, Justice, and Niqab Wearing Women in Canada.

EP 16 TikTok is more than just a frivolous app for lip-synching and dancing
TikTok started off as a platform to create musical, lip-syncing and dance videos. And right now, it’s not just popular, it’s the most downloaded app in the world. It’s not just fun and games though: TikTok has also become a platform to learn and expose yourself to new ideas. As TikTok is helping its users build strong communities, it’s also important to explore how the app’s algorithm is treating marginalized folks and their stories.

EP 17: Diamond mines are not a girl’s best friend When you think diamonds, you probably think of romance, weddings and Valentine’s Day. And it’s no accident we think this way: A century of marketing has convinced us that diamonds symbolize love. In Canada, glossy magazine ads celebrate the “purity” of Northern Canadian diamonds as an ethical alternative to conflict diamonds. And Canada has become the third-largest diamond producer in the world. But this marketing strategy hides enormous social problems that people living near the mines say they’ve experienced. This includes some of Canada’s highest rates of violence against women. The story our guests tell today is not one of numbers. Instead, they’re sharing narratives gathered and collected through interviews and sharing circles about how lives have changed after the mines opened. Our guests today are: Rebecca Hall, assistant professor of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University and the author of Refracted Economies: Diamond Mining and Social Reproduction in the North and Della Green, former Victim Services Coordinator, at The Native Women’s Association of the Northwest Territories

EP 18 Why you shouldn’t be afraid of Critical Race Theory Today we explore how applying critical race theory in classrooms across Canada helps both students and teachers. Teresa Fowler, assistant professor of Education at Concordia University of Edmonton joins us. So does Dwayne Brown, a PhD student in Education at York University, and a grade seven teacher with the Toronto District School Board. Both Brown and Fowler use critical race theory in their classrooms every day, and say that it helps them to see and evaluate their own biases—while also making students feel truly included in their own education.

EP 19 The powerful sounds of protest amplify voices of resistance How can a convo about marginalized voices and soundscapes of resistance amplify voices of resistance? How do sonic media practitioners use the practice of field recording as a form of protest and resistance.

EP 20 Has the meaning behind the Canadian flag changed? As we approach Canada Day — and the prospect of the return of “freedom” protests in Ottawa — let’s consider the meaning and symbolism of the Canadian flag. After weeks of the so-called freedom convoy last winter, many of us took a hard look at the symbolism of the Canadian flag and its recent association with white supremacy. Some felt a new fear or anger at what they feel the flag represents. But other communities have always felt this way about the Canadian flag. Other movements like Resistance150, Idle No More, Pride and Black Lives Matter have also raised awareness about challenges to Canadian nationalism and belonging. Both of our guests have studied multiculturalism, citizenship and belonging. Daniel McNeil looks at history and culture and the complexities of global Black communities. He is a professor and Queen’s National Scholar Chair in Black Studies at Queen’s University. Lucy El-Sherif is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto in ethnic and pluralism studies.

Bonus EP 21: About the Queen, the Crown’s crimes and how to talk about the unmourned In the middle of the tremendous outpouring of love and grief for the Queen and the monarchy she represented, not everyone wants to take a moment of silence. And there are a lot of reasons why.

Season 4: Challenges and hope

EP 22 The unfairness of the climate crisis Western industries and governments have refused to accept responsibility for climate change despite being the main drivers of it. Meanwhile, the Global South and Black and Indigenous communities globally have continued to bear the brunt of its impact. As world leaders gather in Egypt for COP27 — the United Nations Climate Change Conference — will this inequity finally be addressed? Join Vinita and Yvonne Su, Assistant Professor in the Department of Equity Studies at York University, to discuss our responsibilities towards those worst affected by climate change.

EP 23 Why isn’t anyone talking about who gets long COVID? Long COVID has been called a mass-disabling event. It hits one in every five people, and hits Black and Latinx women especially hard. Vinita dives into why that is - and why we’re not talking about it - with Margot Gage Witvliet, who has insights into long COVID both as a Black woman who has been suffering the effects of it, and as a social epidemiologist who studies it. Margot is an assistant professor at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. She has presented her long COVID findings to the United States Task Force on equity and COVID and runs an online support and advocacy group for BIPOC women living with long COVID.

EP 24 How to decolonize journalism For decades, Canadian media have covered Indigenous communities with a heavy reliance on stereotypes - casting Indigenous peoples as victims or warriors. This deep-seated bias in the news can have unsettling consequences for both how a community perceives itself as well as how others perceive them. Award-winning Anishinaabe journalist and longtime CBC reporter Duncan McCue is trying to change that both in the classroom and in the newsroom. He joins Vinita to talk about what Canadian media could be doing better.

**EP 25: Why corporate diversity statements are backfiring**] Companies have amped up their rhetoric about equity and inclusion, many churning out diversity statements. But Vinita’s guest today says their promises to promote anti-racist cultures without action plans can lead to greater blocks to success for racialized employees. Sonia Kang is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Management at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management - and one of Canada’s leading experts on identity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

EP 26 How can we slow down youth gun violence? In 2007, 15-year-old Jordan Manners became the first student to be shot and killed inside a Toronto school. Since then, youth violence hasn’t let up in Canada’s largest city. In fact, it’s getting worse. Devon Jones and Ardavan Eizadirad say it’s a major problem that needs a more holistic approach. Ardavan is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University who studies the root causes of gun violence. He and Devon run Y.A.A.C.E. –a community organization started by Devon that tackles the root causes of youth gun violence in Toronto. They join Vinita to talk about what has been going wrong and how to get it right.

EP 27 What’s so funny about race? A lot of comedians we know and love put race, ethnicity and cultural stereotypes at the centre of their comedy. This gives us - the audience - reason to laugh…and a way to release some of the tensions around race. Where is the line between a lighthearted joke and deep-rooted racism? And how far is too far? Vinita gets into it with Faiza Hirji, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Media Arts at McMaster University and stand-up comedian Andrea Jin. They look at how comedy can be an easier way to talk about difficult issues,, and at how we can find a way to laugh with each other, rather than at each other.

Season 4 credits: Vinita Srivastava is the host and executive producer. Our associate producer is Dannielle Piper. Our assistant producer is Rithika Shenoy. Rehmatullah Sheikh is our sound editor. Our audience development consultant is Ateqah Khaki. Our consulting producer is Jennifer Moroz. Theme music: Zaki Ibrahim, Something in the Water.

Season 3 credits: Vinita Srivastava is the host and producer. Our coproducer and audio editor is Lygia Navarro. Reza Daya is our sound designer. Our consulting producer is Jennifer Moroz. Vaishanavi Dandekar is an assistant proudcer. Lisa Varano is our audience development editor and Scott White is the CEO of The Conversation Canada. Theme music: Zaki Ibrahim, Something in the Water.

Season 2 credits: Vinita Srivastava is the host and producer. Our coproducer is Susana Ferreira. Our associate producer is Ibrahim Daair. Reza Dahya is our sound producer. Our consulting producer is Jennifer Moroz. Lisa Varano is our audience development editor and Scott White is the CEO of The Conversation Canada. Theme music: Zaki Ibrahim, Something in the Water.

Season 1 credits: Our coproducer is Nahid Buie. Assistant producers are: Ibrahim Daair, Anowa Quarcoo, Latifa Abdin. Sound engineer: Reza Dahya. Audience development: Lisa Varano. Theme music by Zaki Ibrahim. Logo by Zoe Jazz. Our CEO is Scott White. Jennifer Moroz is our consulting producer. Launch team: Imriel Morgan/Content is Queen.

Don’t Call Me Resilient is a production of The Conversation Canada. This podcast was produced with a grant for Journalism Innovation from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

This is a corrected version of story originally published on Jan. 27. 2021. The earlier story said Tracie Washington’s words came in response to a post-Katrina environment strategy for the city of New Orleans. Instead, they were said in response to President Obama’s call for resilience after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Want to write?

Write an article and join a growing community of more than 174,700 academics and researchers from 4,810 institutions.

Register now