Saturday 21 March is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationFriday, 20 March 2020
Saturday 21 March is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It is observed annually on the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid "pass laws" in 1960.
Bolanle Adebola, Yemisi Bolade-Ogunfodun and Santosh Sinha from the University’s BAME Network reflect on what the day means to them:
“The International Day for the Elimination of Racism immortalises the lives lost in the battle for racial equality across the globe. It is observed to remind all States and organisations to improve their efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination, and thereby eradicate the human costs of racism.
Racism erodes the confidence of its victims and severely undermines their well-being. Victims of racial harassment report feeling humiliated, excluded, upset and vulnerable. To keep themselves safe, they often disengage from core activities, which leaves them feeling isolated. The UK Equalities and Human Rights Commission in 2019 found that students from minority ethnic groups are being left behind despite their potential. Many have been forced to leave University without completing their courses as a result of racism. Similarly, it found that staff from minority ethnic groups feel excluded and are often overlooked for professional development.
Our University is home to nearly 6000 students and 500 staff from minority ethnic groups. Their experiences on our campuses ought not to be marred by racism in any of its forms. While our University’s 2018-19 Diversity & Inclusion Report indicates that there are very few reports of racism on our campuses, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission exhorts Universities not to take those numbers as representative of racist events on their campuses. Over half of the staff and more than a quarter of students who responded to its surveys stated that they had experienced racist behaviours on their campuses.
The Commission has therefore urged each University to facilitate discussions about race, as well as to provide and publicise effective reporting mechanisms that support the victims of racism. The recently established BAME Network will be working alongside the RUSU and other university bodies to ensure that all students and colleagues feel included and free to live their authentic lives.
Our approach to race and racism is important, not only for our BAME colleagues and students but for the wider University. Our ambition to be a world-class, forward-looking, confident and ambitious institution will only come true if we are able to recruit, develop and help support the success of students and staff from a variety of backgrounds.”