Monday 21-11-2016 - 11:24
Last year saw the first ever Black Leaders Conference take place, it was the start of something special and I’m really pleased that this year’s conference looks set to build on this great work.
Lack of diversity, barriers to career development opportunities and the inadequate handling of race equality issues have been highlighted as key areas through our Race Matters report and the 2011-2012 Diversity Survey. Since then it’s been conferences like this one putting race at the forefront to tackle these systemic problems. It is vital that we provide a space that brings together Black staff, officers and student leaders to talk about what matters to them and give them the leadership skills necessary to be inspired and thrive within the student movement.
It is imperative that we value the networks and achievements we have made in the last few years, Black representation is up again among policy making bodies such as NEC and we have our first Black, Muslim woman president Malia Bouattia. However with just 5 Black chief executives across our 600+ students’ unions there is of course much work to be done. Black representation of staff and officers is interlinked. For instance Black students may be more likely to approach their SU and get involved if they feel they are represented in that space via a staff member and vice versa.
As with many issues facing Black students and sabbatical officers, we recognise that we must support Black staff also to challenge the inequalities within our students’ unions and increase representation. The Black Leaders Conference is a part of our Race Matters work to challenge race inequality, increase Black representation and support Black leadership in the movement. It’s a rare opportunity for Black staff, officers and student leaders to come together to develop their leadership skills and get motivated about creating change in the movement. Delegates will also have the opportunity to listen to fantastic speakers including Lemn Sissay, renowned Ethiopian author, poet and broadcaster. Along with this there are specific times where coming together in your respective role is helpful, and tailored sessions throughout the day are available for staff and officers alike to look at their situations more directly with others who share their concerns.
We must not waiver on our commitment to challenge these inequalities, increase Black representation and support Black leaders. We must hear from as many people as possible to create the spaces that are truly representational and inclusive for all. Having these open and honest conversations and thinking about the steps we need to take to move forward gets us one step closer to carving a movement that so many of us desperately need. This is the most important event this calendar year for Black staff and officers to come together to think about their own leadership and also within their students’ union, building on the strategy and becoming the Black Leaders they want and can absolutely be.
We’ve committed, now we must make it a reality. Register your place today.
Aadam Muuse, NUS Black Students’ Officer