One Week Into Black History Month

For Black History Month this year, we have come together with nine other students’ unions across the UK to bring you a fantastic series of webinar panels with a huge number of brilliant guest speakers.

What have we been up to so far?

We started out last Thursday 1 October with a discussion on the recent prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement and what this means for anti-racism work going forward.

Our wonderful panel guests, Larissa Kennedy (NUS President), Max Kafula (BME Students Officer, Lancaster University Students’ Union), Serena Owusu (Women of Colour Collective President, Royal Holloway University), Rianna Davis (Former President of BME Campaign, black fantasy writer and co-host of the Genuis Adjacent Podcast) and Alanna O’Garro (Social justice activist and coach) provided some greatly informative and invigorating discussions on how the summer has been for them, what gives them hope at present, and how universities can become anti-racist institutions. Their words resonated deeply with the audience and left those who attended feeling passionate and inspired.

We then turned to look at the specific university environment with a discussion on Being Black in Higher Education on Monday 5 October, where we were joined by Hillary Gyebi-Ababio (NUS Vice President Higher Education), Matthew Akinpelu (BAME Society President, Edinburgh Napier University) and Jamarly Wright (African-Caribbean Society President, Royal Holloway University).

Discussions focused on the awarding/attainment gap and the systemic inequalities which persist in universities, the language and terminology used in these discussions, and how all students can work to support anti-racism work in their institutions. We also touched on action that has been taken to decolonise the curriculum and looked to the future of decolonisation work.

NUS has recently launched the Decolonise Education campaign in order to imagine and create learning spaces free from racism, colonialism and imperialism.

We will continue to lobby for the decolonisation of the curriculum at Royal Holloway University, as it was one of the key recommendations in our Student Voice Report last year.

On Wednesday 7 October we were joined by two inspiring Royal Holloway alumni, Dunola Oladapo (Economics graduate, International Policy Consultant at the UN and founder of Luton Lights) and Gianina Harvey-Brewin (Ancient History graduate and Head of Operations and Employer Programming at Royal Holloway University), for a discussion on graduate employability and Looking Beyond Graduation as a Black Student.

Dunola and Gianina provided some extremely useful and practical advice for students entering the labour market, especially in the difficult climate at present, as well as provided some brilliant reflections on their experiences at Royal Holloway and in the different roles they have fulfilled since. The audience greatly appreciated the advice and connections made through the panel.

If you would like further advice you can get in touch with the Careers Service here. Gianina is also more than welcome for any students to get in touch with her over email at Gianina.Harvey-Brewin@rhul.ac.uk.

How can you get involved in Black History Month?

We are only one week into Black History Month and we are pleased to have another four webinars planned for the following weeks:

It is hugely important that we continue to celebrate black history and engage in anti-racism work all year round. We will continue to work collectively with black students, societies, and staff to bring about change, amplify black voices, and carry out actively anti-racist work.

If you would like to discuss anti-racism work further please get in touch with me at president@su.rhul.ac.uk.

I look forward to seeing you at our next webinar!

This webinar series is part of a Black History Month collaboration with University of Bradford Union of Students, Edinburgh Napier Students’ Association, University of Derby Union of Students, King’s College London Students’ Union, Lancaster University Students’ Union, Swansea University Students’ Union, Teeside University Students’ Union, Worcester Students’ Union, and Ulster University Students’ Union.