Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. Helen Keller.
14th October 2020
This week’s post comes from the joint chairs of our Black Asian and Minority Ethnics + Network.
What does BAME even stand for? We are not an acronym, we are the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic + Network.
When the Network was first established in 2019, it was named the BAME Network. But it was not a name chosen by us – we, the Network, or we the people who are meant to fit within the acronym. It is not ‘bame’ – as if that is a word itself. BAME is supposed to stand for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. I will say that again, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. So, an already oppressed group of individuals has been oppressed even further, by reducing us to four letters many people do not even understand.
In recent weeks, the Network has discussed the issues surrounding the acronym, BAME. It was recognised that there is a total loss of identity in being referred to by a generic acronym that has turned into a meaningless word. The Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community is not a monolith. The acronym and the resulting word ‘bame’ create a false sense of homogeneity between diverse ethnic groups.
The Network have therefore decided to rebrand themselves as the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic + Network. We hope that the full words and addition of the ‘+’ symbol will prompt others at the University to recognise that we are individual, we are varied, we are not a monolith. We want to challenge the notion that using words like ‘Black’ and ‘Minority’ make people uncomfortable. It is not words that make people uncomfortable, it is the inequality and by changing the language we can start to address the inequality and oppression it stems from.
Chairs of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic + Network
Hello everyone, my name is Anjelica Johnson and I’m Co-Chair of the BAME Network. Having based my Master’s thesis on widening participation, the dichotomy between black and disadvantaged students achieving an upper-second and first-class degree, in comparison to their white counterparts was brought to my attention and sparked a desire to work with these cohorts of students and raise aspirations. Being a member of the Network has brought to light that there is still much work to do in ensuring these students are seen, heard, and supported throughout such a rich, yet challenging time of their lives as they work to improve their social mobility within an institution that is still considered as elitist. The Network in that respect, is a safe and accommodating space for students and staff to speak openly about their experiences which are often shared, and for our ally’s to listen and impart the knowledge gained within their peer groups and start conversations.
Hello! My name is Kristina Tailor and I co-Chair the BAME Network with Anjelica. When I moved from Coventry – a large, multi-cultural city with two very diverse Universities – to Gloucestershire, I was shocked at the stark difference between the two. Looking at the faces around me, one question seemed to come to mind: where am I? Things I took for granted in Coventry were a lot more difficult to come by here – it took a few months for me to find an Asian food market in Cheltenham, and I am yet to discover a Hindu Temple. The culture shock I experienced moving to this region made me question whether students went through the same struggles. Starting University is a daunting enough experience without feeling like you can’t connect with your surroundings or peers. Joining the Network is my opportunity to help raise the profile of BAME cultures at the University and support students to feel safe, included and heard.
As a Network, our current priorities are:
- Researching and addressing the Awarding Gap at the University of Gloucestershire,
- Addressing the sense of exclusion felt by BAME students – both academically through decolonising the curriculum, and socially through targeted activities, events and improving challenges of support,
- Challenging the senior management team to actively acknowledge racial inequality at the University in order to affect change at a senior level.
This October, we want to invite everyone to celebrate Black History Month with us. The Network and University have a number of guest speakers lined up:
14th October, 1.30pm, Teams Live
Neomi Bennett, Registered Nurse Practitioner and recipient of the British Empire Medal for her contribution to Health Care, started an organisation Equality 4 Black Nurses in response to racial discrimination in working with COVID. She will be talking about her organisation and about her experience of being racially profiled and wrongly arrested by the police for ‘having too dark windows’ on her car.
21st October, 2pm, Facebook Live
Lecturer in Psychology at the University, Dai will be talking about myths in race and IQ. He will briefly review the history of psychology’s dealings with race and IQ, to demonstrate that claims of scientific “fact” can’t be disentangled from political beliefs.
View on Facebook Live. Part of the Living Room Lecture series
Celebration of Black Music – A collaboration between students from the BA Music Business Degree and The Music Works
30th October, 6.00pm – 7.30pm Panel discussion, “Breaking down racial barriers within the industry” hosted by Dread MC
8.00pm – 10.00pm Live Performances including Griz-O and Natalie Oaks
Sign up via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-celebration-of-black-music-tickets-124102228105
We also supported the keynote speaker, Yvonne Battle-Felton organised by Christian O’Connell. Yvonne is author of ‘Remembered’ a fictional novel addressing the legacy of the slave trade in America and the impact it still has on the country. She spoke about writing as a form of advocacy.
Why not book in on the events and celebrate Black History Month with us.