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Black History Month and RGU

Emmanuel Akerele
In his community story, Student President for Education and Welfare, Emmanuel Akerele, looks ahead to Black History Month, which begins on October 1.

Black History Month is a celebration of black history, culture and pride. In the UK, the month of October is put aside to recognize and celebrate the contributions and the achievements of the black community and learn about black historical and contemporary figures who contribute to Britain. Black History Month further aims to highlight the pride and struggles of people of black origin and other persons of colour from Afro-Caribbean background. But why does it matter? Why celebrate Black History Month, especially within the RGU community?

Following the ‘Black Lives Matter’ global campaign that took off in May 2020 after the brutal murder of George Floyd in the USA, the university and the student union in a partnership statement reiterated commitment and support to its black community. In that statement, we pledged our promise to support the black community to deliver meaningful change to combat racism in our community.

As part of that promise, the university have now pledged its commitment to the Advanced-HE declaration that “racism exists on our campus and in our society, call it what it is and reject it in all forms”.

Over the summer, I have led the discussion amongst students, meeting once every week and are almost ready to launch a Black Liberation student network that stands to unite students from diverse backgrounds against racism. There’s also ongoing discussion within the staff race equality network and these two groups seek to tackle the issue of racism and eradicate it from our community.

Also, the student life team in partnership with the student union are also set to launch ‘report and support’ as a platform for reporting hate crime on campus and supporting victims of hate crime to speak up and speak out as survivors.

These actions taking place so far link into the student partnership agreement (SPA) 2020 which seeks to understand the expectations around values such as equality, tolerance and respect.

The first step towards meaningful change is awareness which hopefully leads to self-realization and discovery. So as we look forward to Black History Month this October, RGU and RGU:Union have been working hard over the summer to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to not just join in the celebrations of black origin, history and culture but to raise awareness about racism, sensitizing the community and actively join in tackling and eradicating racism completely.

I want to encourage you to actively get involved as a person of colour or an ally. Now is not the time to sit around and observe but to come together as one community and take a stand against racism. To get involved, please keep an eye on the student union website.

It is not enough to be non-racist but actively anti-racist, so let’s join in the global discourse as a community of intellectuals and challenge the norm, rebuke racism and reject it from our community.

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