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Anti-Racism Day of Action: 10 February

Friday 05-02-2016 - 12:13

Next Wednesday on 10 February the Black Students’ Campaign are calling for a day of action against racism in education, to coincide with the national day of action against workplace racism called for by UCU Black Members.

This week’s newly-released research by the TUC into the Black worker pay gap further lays bare the myth of ‘meritocracy’, and confirms what many including the Black Students’ Campaign have been saying all along. Black students are subject to systematic barriers at every level of the education system – from entry to the so-called prestigious institutions, through to the pastoral and mental health support they often find lacking during their studies. And as the TUC’s statistics make clear these barriers continue to haunt Black graduates into employment, as they earn an average of up to 23% less than their white counterparts, in the case of Black-African/Caribbean.

Meanwhile UCU’s latest survey on Black staff experiences in academia found the experiences of marginalisation to be mutual across Black staff as well as students. The many anecdotes and data built up of Black students being inundated by micro and macroaggressions, and feeling isolated within their institutions, are echoed by Black staff who also find themselves in a more precarious position through casualisation and discrimination. Black postgraduate students find themselves worn down by the ills of the academy in both spheres - undermined as academics and undersupported as students – contributing to deep issues of retention that inhibit the next generation of Black academics .

This cycle of oppression cannot continue, and these longstanding issues cannot remain. The latest figures from the Runnymede Trust show that the overwhelming majority of professors – 92% – are white, with just 15 Black academics in senior management roles across the entire British university system. 


One respondent to the UCU’s survey wrote: “Black and minority ethnic staff, who are often more qualified than their counterparts, are often bypassed through indirect action or behaviours. Not only are there a lack of Black academics who progress through the alienation of the academy, but further still they are being mistreated and bullied out of their positions.”

We are told about ‘unconscious bias’ but as Josephine Kwhali says “I don’t think some of it is unconscious, I think that’s a get-out clause,”. After years of anti-racist debates, policies, strategies, universities banging on about increasing diversity ... if it still is unconscious, there really is something worrying about what it will take for the unconscious to become conscious.”

These issues are exacerbated by all manner of racist and ill-thought out government legislation, from immigration measures which treat international students and staff alike as criminal, through PREVENT rendering students suspects and educators as informants and so the stake remains for both Black students and staff to join in solidarity to combat the racism within the education system.

Next Wednesday on 10 February the Black Students’ Campaign are calling for a day of action against racism in education, to coincide with the national day of action against workplace racism called for by UCU Black Members.

Some ideas for activities to mark the day make include:

• Film screenings – UCU has produced a new film: ‘Witness’ an oral history project to record the experiences of black members in colleges and universities. https://youtu.be/0RDVNkbwHBA

• Distribution of UCU's new range of posters and leaflets highlighting examples of everyday racism experienced by UCU members.https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/4767/Campaigning-for-equality#challengingracism

• Supporting the launch of an important report based on a recent survey of BME members of UCU by having copies of it at the aforementioned screening. 

• Holding a joint meeting/discussion, and follow up with a social event. Maybe build for it by having stalls taking place across the campus earlier that day.

• Collecting quotes from your own Black staff on campus - taking inspiration from the #ITooAm… movements

• Share experiences and actions using #DecoloniseEduUK and #AntiRacism16


For further information on planning actions or if you need help with contacting your UCU branch please email me at: Malia.Bouattia@nus.org.uk

In unity

Malia Bouattia

NUS Black Students’ Officer

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