BIPOC Student Mentorship Program

The Institute for the Study of Somatic Sex Education is pleased to offer all students who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or Person of Colour), racialized, and/or mixed race an additional support on their SSE learning journeys. The BIPOC Mentorship Program is an emergent initiative launched in the summer of 2020 as a response to growing awareness in the field that financial scholarships are often not enough to ensure equitable access and transformative change. BIPOC learners often need and deserve dedicated learning spaces, leadership opportunities, and one on one support in order to thrive in the context of a racist and colonial society.

The BIPOC Mentorship Program consists of several components. Upon entering Core Course 1, BIPOC students will have access to mentorship calls with the BIPOC Faculty Liaison, in addition to the standard Faculty mentorship calls. Additionally, there is a closed Facebook group specifically for BIPOC students to share their experiences, resources, and questions. BIPOC students may also choose to attend the monthly BIPOC Community of Practice Calls where small group discussion and support are available. As the program develops, other BIPOC-specific affinity groups, electives, and other learning opportunities may be created.

WHY SHOULD I JOIN THE BIPOC MENTORSHIP PROGRAM?

No one is required to make use of the BIPOC Mentorship Program resources – this is an opt-in only program, as each BIPOC student is a unique individual with unique learning needs. However, many students have expressed wanting to be able to speak about experiences of racialization in a closed environment, without needing to worry about tending to the emotional responses of white students. Furthermore, racialized students often want or need to explore issues such as cultural reclamation, racialized-body trauma, and other topics specific to BIPOC practitioners of SSE.

Furthermore, in recognition of the fact that leadership in the professions of Somatic Sex Education and Sexological Bodywork is disproportionately white, there are opportunities for personal growth, leadership, and professional development in the BIPOC Mentorship Program that are specifically intended to strengthen the voices and career options for BIPOC students in our field.

WHO IS THE BIPOC FACULTY LIAISON?

The current BIPOC Faculty Liaison is Onika Henry. Her role is to develop and run the Mentorship Program, as well as to assist the Faculty and Institute Staff in developing racial justice initiatives. The BIPOC Faculty Liaison position is a short-term contract of 1-3 years per Liaison, as it is intended to create a recurring opportunity for multiple BIPOC SSEs to be employed within the Institute. The intention here is to bring a range of racialized perspectives into the position, as no one BIPOC person can be expected to represent all BIPOC communities. Furthermore, this allows multiple individuals to engage in professional growth through the position.

CAN WHITE STUDENTS JOIN THE PROGRAM?

Students who are white and not of mixed-race experience may not make use of the BIPOC Mentorship Program. Opportunities for white folks to explore racial justice and decolonization in our field will be provided elsewhere.

Students whose heritage comes from both racialized and white lineages are encouraged to join the Mentorship Program. The Program operates on a self-identification basis. We humbly request that all individuals who join the BIPOC Mentorship group spaces remain mindful of the intersectional nature of oppression, of colourism, and other social power dynamics that can operate within closed BIPOC spaces.

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