Episode 16: We Mean You. Mahmoud Ababneh interviews Shuyin Yu and Trynne Delaney

Jan 25, 2021

Mahmoud Ababneh interviews Shuyin Yu and Trynne Delaney

This interview, hosted by Mahmoud Ababneh, is a conversation with Ph.D. student Shuyin Yu and recent Master’s alumni Trynne Delaney from the University of Calgary, discussing systemic racism in the institution. “We Mean You” is a direct address to those complicit in systemic racism, with calls for action, allyship, and antiracism support. Mahmoud, Shu, and Trynne discuss institutionalized racism in direct and candid ways, addressing recent experiences at the university, and the perpetual challenges, frustrations, and hurtful pains imposed upon the Black, Indigenous, and BIPOC student community.


Mahmoud Ababneh is pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of Calgary on Treaty 7 territory. His research centers around trans-Indigenous and postcolonial literatures, decolonization, and settler-colonialism. Mahmoud is an active member of the Anti-Racism and Decolonization Community Collective. He is currently teaching a global Indigenous Course at the English Department.

Shuyin Yu is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of English at the University of Calgary. Shu’s research interests are located at the intersections of critical race theory (focusing on East Asian diaspora studies), queer theory (specifically asexuality studies), and intersectional feminist theory. Most of Shu’s work is on children’s and young adult literature, food studies, and popular culture. She also dabbles in creative writing. Shu received her Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto and her Master of Arts from the University of Calgary.

Trynne Delaney is a writer currently based in Tio-tia:ke. Trynne’s writing consists mostly of musings about how we got here, where we are, who “we” encompasses, how to care in a violent world, and how to exist in spaces that are hostile to multiplicity. Trynne holds a Master of Arts in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Calgary, and her work was most recently published in GUTS Canadian Feminist Magazine, WATCH YOUR HEAD, The Lead of Canadian poets’ chapbook These Lands: a collection of voices by Black Poets in Canada, and more.


  • 4:30 – Introductory question on institutionalized structures in graduate programs and academic stubbornness
  • 13:50 – Addressing the University of Calgary, English department, PhD comprehensive exams, and the problematics around canon
  • 18:05 – Shu’s student-led initiative to remove the comprehensive exam requirement
  • 26:55 – Trynne’s experience with confronting a racist presentation at the U of C Free Exchange Conference
  • 36:40 – Recognizing and challenging racist microaggressions in academia
  • 44:12 – Trynne’s letter written to address systemic racism in the institution
  • 52:16 – Discussion on student activism, barriers to challenging institutionalized systems, and how students can participate as activists in a scholarly community
  • 53:55 – Student meetings that were held after Trynne’s letter, further discussing systemic racism in the institution, and requests to the department for action
  • 56:13 – Allyship: good intentions vs. active support for the BIPOC community, and what it means to actively contribute to antiracism
  • 1:01:10 – The institution’s response to student-led activism on antiracism
  • 1:09:45 – Past and present: understanding how the impact of activist work today becomes the legacy we look back on tomorrow
  • 1:14:30 – Revalencing how “English Studies” are experienced, practiced, and taken up by BIPOC students
  • 1:15:45 – Writing back: Trynne’s poetry chapbook death of the author takes apart Roland Barthes’ The Death of the Author to address authorship for marginalized communities
  • 1:18:00 – Writing back: Shu’s work in critical writing practice, and thinking creatively to challenge academic marginalization
  • 1:22:45 – Closing discussion on revitalizing certain fields of study, including counternarratives or literature that challenges the canon
  • 1:23:15 – Reference to This Place, 150 Years Retold, comics from Turtle Island
  • 1:24:15 – Putting history in context: Trynne’s historical class on the South Sea Bubble used resources to address how colonization affected marginalized populations during that period

We recognize the generous support of the Canada Research Chairs program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. We also appreciate the support of the Faculty of Arts and the Department of English at the University of Calgary, where our offices are housed, as well as the guidance of Marc Stoeckle at the Taylor Family Digital Library. TIA House is run by Larissa Lai, Mahmoud Ababneh, Rebecca Geleyn, Paul Meunier, Joshua Whitehead, Aruna Srivastava, Marc Herman Lynch, Marj Rugunda and Ryan Stearne.

Our music is “Monarch of the Streets” by Loyalty Freak Music.

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