Be an up-stander, not a bystander
Our hearts are broken over what’s happening in the US, the result of centuries of racism and oppression. The UK, like the US, has taken too long to translate our ideals into action or change and we still have a long way to go. Being far from campus makes it harder to come together to support each other, but we must try. We’re asking all of our students – check in with yourselves, check in with us, check in with your lecturers – and most importantly, check in with each other.
We’ve seen the videos, the pictures and the stories go viral. Now is the time for us to act, to support our students and to help push for change. We know that sometimes it’s difficult to understand how to make change, how to be that catalyst and create a domino effect. We also know that if you’re not educated about the topic in hand, you’re more likely to stay silent. We want to help. We thought it would be beneficial to provide you with a range of links and resources, along with the facts, so you can educate yourself and understand why change is needed.
Being an Ally
Firstly, get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. You may feel it’s difficult to speak up when you haven’t lived the experiences of others. One key message to take away is to become an ally: ‘I understand that I will never understand, but I stand with you’.
- BAMEed have a great resource by Dr Muna Abdi to help anyone who isn’t BAME understand how to become an ally
- Luvvie Ajayi did an inspirational Ted Talk titled ‘Get comfortable with being uncomfortable’. She provides a great insight into how to speak up, how to start that domino effect on any topic, and the power speaking up can have
Next up, educating yourself. Privilege. It has been a prevalent topic in society. What does it mean when people say ‘White Privilege’?
A young graphic designer called Courtney Ahn created a ‘Guide to White Privilege’. You can find this on all social media platforms, as well as Courtney’s website.
There are so many books, online journals and articles that can help you educate yourself. Such resources are key in raising awareness about black history, how racism and microaggressions seem to be normalised within society, and how even to this day, racism is still rife around the world. Staff from the Union and University have been sharing some of their go to books:
- White Fragility, Robin Diangelo
- Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge
- Natives, Akala
You can access and download free e-copies of these and many others on the Decolonising and Diversifying book list provided by the University. They are continuing to add to this list so they can provide useful resources for people to learn more about these issues.
Supporting the Movement and Businesses
Finally, here are some ways you can get involved and support the movement. Sign a petition, donate, spread awareness:
- There is the ‘Justice for George Floyd’ petition, which has become the most signed Change.org petition of all time. You can sign it too
- You can donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, Black Lives Matter and not only can you donate to the George Floyd Memorial Fund, but you can see the list of the other memorial funds set up for the victims of racial violence around the world
- If you don’t have any money to spare, you can still get involved in donating your time. A video has been created on YouTube for people to watch and 100% of the ad revenue the video makes will be donated to the charities stated at the start of the video. There is also a list and links to the petitions that you can sign in the description. Remember, don’t skip the ads when they pop up during the video, that’s how they make the revenue!
- Finimpact have created an article with advice and tips around supporting black-owned small businesses. This article focuses heavily on the USA, however, some of the tips and advice can easily be transferred into how you can also support black-owned small businesses in the UK
You can spread these links around social media or through word of mouth. However, you decide to, it all helps.
Racism in the UK
- NCVO have created a thread on Twitter highlighting the work of UK voluntary sector organisations tackling racism that you can get involved in
- In 2019 The Guardian reported that black people are 40x more likely to be stopped by the police
- A report was published by the Home Office in 2019 where it was found that 76% of hate crimes in England & Wales in 2018/19 were racially motivated
- GOV.UK published its findings for ‘Destinations and earnings of graduates after higher education’. It showed that black graduates earn the lowest graduate salaries and experience the worst graduate outcomes
The BAME Experience at UH
And then there is the awarding gap. The national Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) awarding gap is 13% (UUK, 2019), meaning BAME students from the UK are 13% less likely to graduate with a 2:1 or a 1st, compared to white students. At the University of Hertfordshire, the current awarding gap is 21%. This is not the fault of the students, but one for the institution to tackle to ensure that every student has the same opportunity to succeed. We have just over 24,000 students at UH. 13,123 students are BAME, 4,292 of whom are black. Every student deserves to feel like they matter. As your Students’ Union our purpose is to represent all our students. We’re here to fight for equality and inclusivity so that our diverse population can thrive together.
Support at UH
If you need any support during this time, the University’s Student Wellbeing services are still working remotely, as well as our Advice and Support Centre. The University’s Student Success Officer (Equality) also recommends the following resources for black students and staff members at UH:
- Liberate. A meditation app for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour
- Shine. A free WOC (Women of Colour) owned app where you can check in daily, track your mood, receive daily quotes and do meditations etc.
- The Safe Place. An app for mental health resources and self-care tips
- Headspace. Did you know students and staff members with an @herts.ac.uk email address can get Spotify and Headspace for only £4.99 a month? Take advantage of this deal here
Educate yourself. Understand your privilege. Be an upstander. Make change.