The Founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto Is Going to Law School
Sandy Hudson on how she made it happen
Name: Sandy Hudson
Job title: Community organizer; podcast host; freelance writer
From: North York, Ont.
Currently lives in: Los Angeles
Education: BA in political science and sociology, University of Toronto; Master’s in social justice education, University of Toronto; currently working on a JD with a focus on critical race studies, UCLA
First job out of school: Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students of Ontario
As the founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, vice-chair of the Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) and a community organizer and activist for the past 15 years, Sandy Hudson has dealt with the law in myriad ways. So it makes perfect sense that she is now studying it as a first-year student at UCLA—and you can add a few more roles to that. “I edit a social justice blog for a college in Kalamazoo, MI, I still work with Black Lives Matter in Canada and I have a podcast [Sandy and Nora Talk Politics],” she explains with a laugh.
Law school was a natural next step for Hudson, who until recently was a CUPE union rep at York University, a role that led to her working with a lot of lawyers. And she’s still vice-chair and on the board of BLAC, a not-for-profit organization that provides legal aid services in Ontario to low- and no-income Black people who have been affected by systemic anti-Black racism. The lawyers she encountered through her work there shifted her opinion of the profession. “When I was younger, my conception was very different than what I now know a lawyer can be from a social issues point of view,” she says. “I take a lot of inspiration from the people who work there.” Being proven wrong about what some lawyers will do in the name of justice for Black folks is a lesson Hudson says she was happy to learn.
In turn, Hudson is herself inspiring as a long-standing advocate for those who have been affected by anti-Black racism, but it isn’t a role she came by naturally—it was something she learned over time. “With respect to how I made it, the trajectory for me was very unusual,” she says. “It wasn’t my undergrad [education]—it was everything I learned through organizing.” After years of being one of the only Black women at a mostly white school, Hudson found herself having to unlearn old behaviours. “The strategy that I employed for most of my life was to try to disappear within the system,” she recalls. “But being quiet and small doesn’t protect you from all the different things you’ll experience in terms of racism or misogynoir. I had to unlearn not being seen and be more comfortable being in a position where I could truly disrupt effectively.” Disrupter: another fitting title to add to her already impressive list.