Shining a light on BIPOC authors

The Community Action Centre’s radical book club speaks to the diversity at George Brown College

The Community Action Centre (CAC) is providing a platform to celebrate the work of marginalized authors by hosting a radical book club that focuses on writers who are Black, Indigenous, or people of colour (BIPOC).  

The book club, called From the Margins, held its first meeting for the year on Jan. 21 at the St. James campus, which was radical not only because of the author. 

The book was free of charge with limited quantities, and it focused on the diverse groups that are represented at George Brown College (GBC).

From the Margins was a BIPOC book club at the CAC before it was revised to be much more. 

In addition to each author identifying as BIPOC, the meetings are themed based on the student equity groups represented at the CAC.

These equity groups include: LGBTQ students, women and trans students, international and racialized students, Black students, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students, and students with disabilities.

Finding the voices of these marginalized groups is not always easy, however, despite it greatly reflecting those of the GBC community.

Antoinette Salazar, a CAC staff member and head facilitator of From The Margins, pointed out that there are disparities in the artists highlighted in comics, books, and plays.

“We found it really difficult to find the actual voices of published people of colour that have disabilities,” she said, for example.

For the month of January, the equity group chosen was students with disabilities.

For this topic, a comic book named Mis(h)adra, by Iasmin Omar Ata was their focus.

Ata has epilepsy and writes about the struggles of Arab-American post-secondary students’ with this disability, and how it intersects different parts of his life.

Sarah Alvo, who selected the book for this theme, said they did so because the experiences addressed within the book are also ones that many GBC students can relate to, regardless of their identity.  

Alvo is a part-time disability support staff member at the CAC who co-facilitated the January meeting.

Salazar and Alvo both emphasize that From the Margins is not just a book club. In fact, attendees are not required to read the entire book to participate. 

This platform is a great way to meet new people in a judgement-free way, they added. 

Salazar said that she hopes the book club will serve to help others find a community within GBC, stating that she saw people making connections in previous meetings, and that it was a community-based, intimate conversation.

The book club truly lives up to its name by addressing diverse needs of GBC students, and shedding light on authors usually hidden in the margins.

From the Margins will continue throughout the semester, with meetings each month.

The next meeting will be on Feb. 11 at 4 p.m. at the CAC in the St. James A building, room 165B.  

Share

Shining a light on BIPOC authors