Leila Neshat Mokadem

Black History Month 2023: Celebrating our diverse community with Race Champion Leila Neshat Mokadem

By Clara Maurillon - 29 September 2023

Join us in celebrating the rich tapestry of our diverse community for Black History Month (BHM) 2023 this October! Let's Connect, Create and Celebrate together to honour the contributions and achievements of Black people throughout history. Hear from Staff Equality Champion for Race Leila Neshat Mokadem to learn more about this year's theme, exciting line-up of events and how to get involved.

Can you tell us more about this year's theme “Celebrating our diverse community: Global Citizens at RGU and beyond”? 

"We’re all citizens at a local and global level and with so many diverse races, ethnicities and nationalities represented across RGU, we wanted to have a theme that acknowledges, reflects on, and celebrates that! 

"This BHM, we want to shine a light on our Black colleagues and students in the here & now but also to reach out and celebrate our Black alumni and global partners that are having a positive impact in our region and beyond, hence the ‘at RGU & Beyond’."

What does being a global citizen mean and how does it relate to BHM? 

"Being a global citizen can mean different things to different people, but can encompass our collective responsibilities to people and the planet; social justice, economic, and environmental actions we can all take to make our communities a fairer, greener and more equitable place to live and thrive. 

"BHM is an opportunity to really reflect on what each of us can do in our own sphere of influence to create a more equitable space for our Black colleagues and students. 
What could this be? Well, things like reaching out to staff and student Equality Champions, addressing awarding gaps for our Black students through listening to their needs and considering what equity measures we can put in place across the student journey to bridge that gap.

"It can be ensuring our curricula are more diverse, broad and with an international perspective, diversifying our reading lists, honouring the achievements of past and present Black trailblazers, critically reviewing why some groups are disproportionately represented in misconduct hearings, or welcoming more Black guest speakers and experts to our beautiful campus. 

"It can also be done through being an ally, by offering to mentor a colleague for example whilst being mindful that some colleagues may not feel they can ask for mentorship, so taking the first step and creating a welcoming space. We can also do our bit to develop diverse talent pipelines and representative leadership, educating ourselves on EDI practices and cultural conversations, being more inclusive about who is invited to the table and importantly who is being heard and offered opportunities. 

"Do we always include the same faces in our projects and teams? Or could we be more intentional and widen our circle to allow the lesser heard voices to feel empowered to contribute to the greater success of our university and to benefit the diverse communities that we serve?

"That said, I’m proud to see the new RGU plus Global Citizen programme emerging as a wonderful opportunity for staff and students to get involved in all things citizenship!"

Why did you decide to follow the framework “Connect, Create and Celebrate” for the bhm programme?

"To be meaningful, it’s important that BHM efforts for equity and inclusion go beyond just the month of October. So the framework of the 3Cs - Connect, Create, Celebrate - allows us to continue to connect with wider diverse communities, to create more equitable practices and my favourite C – celebrate - to celebrate our personal, professional and global identities, all year round. 

"I would urge everyone to think about what steps they can take (however big, small or tiny!) within Connect, Create or Celebrate, this Black History Month so we can learn, take action and have some fun along the way. Every effort matters and helps us get closer to our collective university ethos of creating an equitable environment to work, study and develop as global citizens. 

What activities are being organised at RGU and how can staff get involved?

"There’s lots happening across our campus, virtual spaces and via social media, for people to connect and celebrate through cultural conversations, inspirational talks, wellbeing walks, movie showings, panel discussions and much more! There are activities for staff, for students via the Student Union, and others that bring all of us together.

"Based on the feedback from the Race Equality Action Group there are online sessions on ‘Career progression’ and ‘Mentorship’ so If you’re even a little curious, I’d encourage you to check out the Black History Month webpage and take part. Or if you’d like to amplify YOUR voice in race equity, please come along to a friendly forum via the staff Race Equality Network, or join us in the Race Equality Action Group so your ideas, concerns and enhancements can be taken upward across the university committee structures.

Find more information on our equality objectives:

"Here’s to a wonderful Black History Month! I’d like to leave you with some lovely words of encouragement from Chioma, who is an active member of the Race Equality Action Group": 

"As we celebrate and commemorate the history, achievements and contributions that 'Black People' have made around the world, it is important to point out that despite the different levels of intersecting factors that we have experienced and are experiencing, we are not where we used to be thousands of years ago. Hence for this year's celebration, I employ us all to use the opportunity to connect and share our individual stories with friends and colleagues as we continue to strive towards being global citizens."  - Chioma  Onoshakpor FHEA, MSc, PgCert(RM), Lecturer in Management at Aberdeen Business School.

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