Hope you are all safe and well.
This blog is all about the current #BlackLivesMatter Movement and is aimed to be educational and informative on the following topics:
- Eradicate Hate
- Decolonising the curriculum
- How to be a good ally
- How to stay safe during protests
- Why removing the statue of Edward Colston is not damaging history but making it
But first we would like to shout out to all the students who are at the forefront of campaigning for change – especially ACS for their powerful and insightful race discussion last week and the students involved in organising #BlackLivesMatter protests in Norwich and across the country at the weekend.
Eradicate Hate is a uea(su) anti-racism campaign devised by students to address racism on campus and ensure that students of colour are properly supported. The campaign is to educate the community at UEA on what constitutes racist behaviour, create an anti-racism culture on campus, and to inform students on how to report racist incidents and get support. This is especially relevant during a time of social and political unrest as the protests in support of Black lives take place globally.
Afia Khan, your Ethnic Minorities Officer, has explained the process and thought behind Eradicate Hate in these steps:
- “Eradicate Hate creates an environment where Black and POC students feel supported and know that there is a system which will support them in the face of racial hatred. As Eradicate Hate allows Student Support to identify who to help and how to support them
- Creates a campus with zero tolerance of racism. This includes following up racially motivated attacks with the appropriate disciplinary actions. Since you can also report anonymously, the data collected can help inform on how we can continue to create a campus which is racism free”
You can find Report and Support here.
Decolonising the curriculum is a nationwide effort to make different aspects of the education system less white and more diverse. It can mean many things, from the disproportionate ratio of BAME teachers - especially within higher education - through to what the subject matter is and how it is taught.
Decolonise UEA is a society at UEA that believes in the “diversity of Knowledge and Plurality of stories.”
“We are committed to decolonising disciplines across the institution and in turn promoting an inclusive learning and teaching environment at UEA. We strive for an organised platform that provides support and solidarity for students affected by and resisting colonisation. We provide resources and tools for students looking to integrate decolonisation scholarship into their research.” – Decolonise UEA Society
You can find their website here.
Being an active ally
If you are yet to become an active ally in supporting the #BlackLivesMatter Movement, the time is now!
Being an ally is more than virtue signalling (i.e. just posting a black square on your social media account). It comes down to your actions that enable you to become more educated on the issues faced by Black people and the systemic racism apparent in our society. For example, you can be proactive by signing a petition or speaking out to your friends and family (just to name a few examples). We all have different ways of showing our support and being good allies e.g. don’t feel you have to go to protests to become an ally if you’re not comfortable during extraordinary circumstances such as a pandemic - that is okay. It’s all about making a genuine effort. Going out of your way correcting and challenging microaggressions on a daily basis is a good example of being an ally. There are many resources out there to educate yourself on how to respond to people who are racist so please take some time out of your schedule to do some research.
I recommend checking out this thread of resources to start your journey.
Staying safe during protests
However, if you are going to protests, here are a few ways to keep safe:
- Don’t go if you are sick! If you are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 or suspect you may have come into contact with someone who has symptoms please do not attend these protests in person as you will be risking the health of others
- Wear a mask! This is particularly important in protecting others from Covid-19 as you may have it but not develop any symptoms. By wearing a mask you are decreasing your chances of spreading Covid-19 to your fellow protestors
- Keep a safe distance! As mentioned Covid-19 is contagious and by attending a crowded protest you could be increasing the risk of infection. While in some cases it may be hard to keep a 2 metre distance we advise you to be wary of yourself and others and the distance you keep
- Minimalise Shouts and chants! Shouting, singing and chants can spread particles further than just talking so be wary of the spaces you are in when protesting verbally. Adapt your messages of protests to signs and use noisemakers instead
- Bring a backpack! You could be attending a protest on a very hot day for many hours. Be sure to keep a bag with you with water, food and other resources like sun cream to protect you
The removal of statues
A controversial topic currently surrounds the removal of the statue of Edward Colston amidst one of the #BlackLivesMatters protests in Bristol. Some have argued this is a step too far as it is an attack on history. uea(su) believe it is far from that and instead is creating history.
Mini history lesson
- Colston was a slave trader and his statue has been around for 125 years
- As a board member of the Royal African Company, Colston played a part in the slavery of an estimated 84,000 Africans. Of them, 19,000 died
To keep Colston’s statue up this long was an insult to the lives of Black people and an example of institutional racism in Great Britain. If you believe that defacing his statue was not right I encourage you to educate yourself on the damage caused by Colston’s involvement as a slave trader and ask yourself the question: Should he have had a statue commemorating him in the first place?
At uea(su) we support the removal of all statues of figures who have had a detrimental affect against Black lives. We encourage a review of all statues for slavery links.