It’s been said that humans have two ears and one mouth because we’re meant to listen twice as much as we speak. The key message of this salient parable is clear: listening is key to understanding. This active listening is also what led Caron Phinney, Assistant Professor, Diversity and Design at the School of Fashion, to create the first-ever Black Fashion Student Association, external link (BFSA) at Ryerson.

Founded in late 2019, the BFSA is a network of Black, students, alumni and faculty from the School of Fashion at Ryerson. The group was created to help build community and a safe space for the Black creators and inspire dialogue . Recognizing the importance of fostering talent, the BFSA looks to amplify opportunities for black students and connect members with networks both internal and external. It is equal parts social group and networking community.

The BFSA began to take shape before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the idea of creating a safe space for black students had been around years ago. Phinney, who has taught at Ryerson for 12 years, noticed that Black students in 3rd and 4th year were feeling depleted and discouraged. Phinney asked six Black 4th year students to dinner in the summer of 2019 to better understand their frustrations.

Read on about how ‘Black creatives broaden social narratives within fashion’.