Institutional racism is embedded, alive and thriving.
Department prejudice and discrimination are historical and entrenched.
And it’s going to take more than a small woke black girl to change that.
1st year is slowly coming to an end! With two and a half months left I came to reflect on my university experience.
My main aim when coming to university was that I would be “more than my course”. I wasn’t just going to go to lectures collect a good grade and go home. But, I wanted to do something different.
Especially coming into new territory (Northern England) I thought to myself YOU’RE COMING ALL THIS WAY DO SOMETHING UNPRECEDENTED!
One thing I knew I could be committed to was People of Colour. I knew I could work alongside, campaign for and work with POC.
So what did I do! I committed myself to various positions pertaining to activism and race, where I knew I could alter the experience of BAME people! Whether it was ACS, my department or student union! I jumped…no I leapt for an opportunity to work for BAME people hoping to do something unconventional.
Of course, my CV is going to be doing a MADNESS which is always calm (good). But, my reasoning for gaining these positions went far beyond the elevation of my future career.
I did this wanting to know that I could use my position to get POC voices heard. Whether that be, creating a safe space, dealing with discrimination or changing racial campus policy.
I WANTED TO SEE CHANGE HAPPEN
Now that I look back, I must have been inherently mad to think that these positions would actually give me authority above university leaders to actually create change, or at large resolve or even inherently changing institutional/systematic racism(sometimes I dream too big).
While these positions seemed good and progressive I seemed to have forgotten the fact that they were still…just positions.
Positions of false authority, placed to promote the IDEA of inclusivity but not to CHANGE inclusivity.
I was in my lecture one day and an incident occurred with one of my lectures in what I saw as using the N-word in a negative manner. First, it was the fact that he was a white man using the N-word. Secondly, he was using it in a nonchalant manner.
Being the Diversity and Equality officer of my course, I took the action that I thought suited the situation. I emailed my department head thinking that I could use my position (of false authority) to ensure that my lecture would reflect on his use of words and for the future not to use it again in such a manner.
Yet, I quickly realised that to them I was just another complaining student. While I did more than what most student would do (voicing my opinion) I would never change their minds.
A department that had been teaching race and using the N-word for 10 years plus, would never listen to a black girl like me. In fact, they probably laughed when they saw my email, I would laugh at my email now too.
At the time had this idea that I would be this majestic black woman that would fly over my university and change the way race and discrimination were dealt with. But, in reality, I hadn’t wakened up to the reality of institutional racism and ignorance.
For me, this incident was more than just a white man using the N word because that’s definitely nothing new. But, it was the fact that as a student of colour my opinion was useless, self-centred and ‘politically incorrect’.
Even though I was given the option of taking further action, I knew the end result would be hostility, for a department that was supposed to aid me in my educational journey (I would be playing myself).
Taking further action would be a distraction and a waste of my time, I could be using more energy for progression in my community).
So you must be wondering what did I do? What am I currently doing?
well, I had to ask myself a few questions.
– Do I continue next year in roles that I know will do nothing for POC?
– Do I leave these roles to do nothing?
– Do I find other ways to create change?
Honestly, I am not committing myself to these roles anymore! And I REFUSE to work through my university to do something for BAME people. Education is power and ensuring POC have knowledge on
How to deal with systematic racism
How to turn our struggles to productivity
Is my new venture!
As a person of colour are you struggling at university?
“Remember Black Joy is the greatest form of activism”sensi ashitemasu
Want to read more of my tips about university?