Over the past week, following the murder of George Floyd, there has understandably been an increase in media attention on #BlackLivesMatter, bringing the importance of anti-racism to the very forefront of our lives. Whilst this incident happened in the US, racial injustice and police brutality are not limited to just one country but are worldwide including here in the UK.
We have been a little late in making a direct statement, assuming you know that we’re obviously against all forms or racism, not wanting to put out empty words, and perhaps in truth we were also worried about saying the wrong thing.
We now understand that it is not the time to be silent and we must use our voice and platform to stand firmly and completely against racism, to take a stance and to be an ally to our black community.
“It’s not enough to be not racist, you must be actively anti racist” – Angela Davis
We recognise the lack of racial diversity within our own organisation. We recognise our University, like many others, is not exempt from this conversation and we are actively working towards breaking down barriers to achieve racial equality, working towards reducing the BAME attainment gap and decolonising the curriculum. But we are only at the start.
We see racism every day in actions, words, and behaviours that are still inherent in our society, normalising the oppression and reducing opportunities for black people. We see a lack of accurate and positive representation of black people in the media, who are often labelled in the form of racial stereotypes. This lack of representation also extends to the Students’ Union but we are trying to change this. In the past year we have increased BAME positions on Union Council, and also proposed a BAME research project to the university. Again this is only the start.
It is paramount that people take this time to educate themselves in what it means to be anti-racist and how we can begin to to tackle systemic and institutional racism.
It is the responsibility of every single non-black person to speak out and act against racism wherever it is observed, to actively learn about and counter our own racism, and to support those affected by racism by campaigning against it. It should not be the job of black students to justify or explain their experiences of racism. All white people benefit from systems of institutionalised racism and white privilege, and must do all that they can to dismantle them.
The Students’ Union will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to racism and any other form of hatred or harassment based on people’s race, religious beliefs, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. There is never room for discrimination.
This isn’t going to change overnight, but we want to make it clear that we will keep working, keep educating ourselves and encourage others to do the same, and we will keep fighting for justice and make sure this conversation doesn’t stop until we see a real change.
Never stay silent. Black Lives Matter.