Queen Mary Students’ Union stands in full solidarity with the family, friends and community of George Floyd in Minnesota, along with the countless others who have suffered similar fates - Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others whose deaths are less well publicized. To view the current protests ongoing around the world in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement as a solely USA-issue is incredibly misleading. The same pervasive systematic racism is very much present in our own society.
You only have to look at our recent history as a nation to see examples of structural racism and its effect. Examples include Grenfell and the treatment of the survivors, the countless black deaths that have had no justice, such as Shukri Abdi, the Home Office deporting members of the Windrush generation, in most cases unlawfully, and the double standards in treatment of BAME individuals by the state, for example the arresting of Black Lives Matter protesters for breaching social distancing guidelines, but ignoring those that flock to the beach and ignore the current government guidelines. There is also the issue around stop and search, here, within the UK. According to stop and search statistics from the government, “Black people had the highest stop and search rates in every police force area for which there was data”. This in itself, highlights the massive issue of structural racism - it’s just as overt in the UK as it is in the USA.
As an Executive Officer team, we ourselves have been lobbying Queen Mary University of London to acknowledge the issue of institutional racism, whilst we as a Students’ Union work towards acknowledging ours, because it is irresponsible to deny that institutional racism does not exist within our structures. These calls have been met with silence and a sense of reluctance to prioritise the issue, highlighting how oblivious the University is to it. As a Students’ Union, we have commenced a project to proactively look into our structures and our processes, which are barriers to BAME staff and students engaging with the Students’ Union. This is only the beginning to a much needed cultural shift. The same shift we want to see throughout the University and it’s structures, so that our BAME staff and students are able to achieve and prosper. The ethnicity pay gap needs to be addressed, the BAME attainment gap needs to be addressed, the curriculum needs to be decolonised and an understanding of white privilege needs to be widespread.
Our Black students and staff are far too often at the receiving end of systematic oppression. We owe it to them to speak out and use our platforms to raise awareness and fight for justice and equality.
You can engage with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and help to educate those around you - not just about the current events but also the importance of the history that has led us to this. Have a conversation with your family, some may not use social media and may not be aware of the things happening around them or had the opportunity to learn about the history behind it. Use your social media platforms to raise awareness, regardless of the number of followers you have. Diversify your social media - follow different accounts that are vocal about these issues and give you different perspectives. Engage in petitions. Educate yourself too, there’s always more to learn. But most importantly, do not stay quiet. Silence is taking the side of the oppressor and being okay with injustice. Silence is not an option.
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Kids of Colour - A platform for young people of colour to explore race, identity and culture and challenge the everyday, institutionalised racism that shapes their lives.
The Black Curriculum - The Black Curriculum is a social enterprise founded in 2019 by young people to address the lack of Black British history in the UK Curriculum. We believe that by delivering arts focused Black history programmes, providing teacher training and campaigning through mobilising young people, we can facilitate social change.
BLAM UK - Blam UK is committed to improving the wellbeing of peoples of African descent, which has been affected globally due to racism and racial trauma.
BYP Network - BYP Network is raising a £10,000 fund for households which have family members risking their lives to work due to financial insecurities. This fund will support key workers in the black community who are immunocompromised, chronically ill, asthmatic, elderly, or posing a risk to others within their households.
Black Protest Legal UK - A hub of Lawyers and legal advisors providing free legal advice and representation to UK Black Lives Matter activists and protesters.