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Celebrating Black History Month 2020

By Nazlin Bhimani, on 15 October 2020

The Library Services EDI Committee would like to highlight some content you may find interesting as we continue to celebrate Black History Month 2020 (BHM2020).

You may not be aware but UCL’s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health have a newsletter which lists interesting online events, provides summaries on Black historical figures, highlights literature, and poetry and even shares recipes. The archive of the newsletter is available but you can subscribe to it to receive a copy in your mailbox.

Goldsmith’s Library, in conjunction with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture, is putting together an online event entitled ‘Liberating & Decolonising Historical Minds’ for 29th October. It features some interesting speakers including the historian and librarian Dr Elizabeth Williams. Do sign up for it if you can take the time off to listen to what promises to be a relevant discussion for us.

At the IOE Library, the BAME Resources LibGuide has been updated for BLH2020 and includes relevant content for schools such as Black historian David Olusoga’s Black History We’re Not Taught in Schools and the Black Curriculum created by Lavinya Stennett who worked with over one thousand teachers in schools, as well as the IOE’s Teach First lecturers, to come up with the curriculum.

John Amaechi’s talk on ‘The Big Questions on Race’ at the online RIBA Inclusion by Design Festival took place as part of Inclusion Week (28th September to 2nd October 2020). Amaechi, a former NBA basketball player, is an organisational psychologist and best-selling author. He recently caused a stir with his short talks on BBC Bitesize answering difficult questions such as What is White Privilege? and explaining the difference between being Non-Racist and Anti-Racist. More recently he gave an interview on TimesRadio where he highlights the everyday racism he and members of the Black community experience.

The RIBA talk is an eye-opener and recommended to anyone who is interested in organisational cultures and change (register with RIBA). Amaechi focused on how to be an ally to Black and Brown staff and how to work on being anti-racist (it doesn’t come naturally). To demonstrate how unconscious biases are appropriated, he showed the audience a video of ‘‘The Doll Test’ experiment which was conducted in 1940 by a group of US psychologists. By the age of four, children have already decided that Black / Asian / mixed-race people are ‘not good’. It is therefore important for us to be vigilant of our unconscious biases – and stand by our values for simply intending to be anti-racist is not good enough. Anti-racists should communicate their values in the workplace making it clear that they will not tolerate racism or any form inequality whether it relates to homophobia, islamophobia, misogyny, sexism, disability, etc. Amaechi does not beat about the bush. On nepotism, he says, if people get promoted to jobs because of the people they know, that a sure sign that the organisation has a problem. Additionally, those that are tired about talking about race after a mere three months (since George Floyd’s death) are the problem. Change needs to happen now because Black and Brown people have waited centuries for change and asking them to wait longer is akin to letting them watch a group gorging themselves whilst they are kept hungry. This, he says, is the indignity of racism. Listen to Amaechi – the clarity of his arguments surpasses other speakers on racism.

Addendum: John Amaechi’s talk on LinkedIn is here – this one focuses on how to be an ally.

 

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