Making sure BLM is here to stay

PUBLISHED 13-June-2020 · UPDATED 13-June-2020

Before the article begins, please be advised that we at Unilet Advisor stand steadfast against racial injustice in any setting, context or on any platform. We believe everybody deserves the right to study, work and live without fear of discrimination or restricted opportunities.
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We reached out to Oli after seeing a post on his social media that sought to act as a point of information for his fellow students at Exeter University. He kindly agreed to give his thoughts on a platform that students from across the UK can access.

Hello everyone! This article isn’t particularly jolly, but it’s important and I hope for it to be thought-provoking.

In light of recent events, I see a lot of trends highlighting the issues racism poses today. These trends are great; they raise awareness and the money directed to the right causes will also go a long way to help. However, trends are inherently short-lived.

The issue of racial injustice on the other hand, is not.

From experiences during university, schooling and personal life, I’ve found that when racism shows itself there is usually a strong response to it. Often, it’s quickly condemned and a strong show of support is presented to the victim. Whilst this is certainly vital and in no way should stop, my concerns lie in the weeks/months after where the discussion of racism is seemingly forgotten.

Artwork by Eva Byrne (Instagram: eva.b.graphics)

So, how can we students incorporate long-termism from the wave?

The core of it all lies in structural changes to university life and from that, an ability to shape the way people think. So, my first thought is making the discussion on racism a regular occurrence. Societies, sports clubs or any other bodies would be excellent platforms to promote this open conversation. Additionally, having conversations your friends and family about the matter to educate and help each other understand. IMO, the timescale isn’t super important, but I think a monthly occurrence initially would help to keep it fresh in the minds of listeners.

Now, as to what should be discussed, there are many topics and subsets of racism that would be of merit.

One subject of focus could be the subtle types of racism as, in many cases, people don’t even realise they’re being racist. I believe that tackling these might help to eliminate the illogical and ignorant feeling that being of a minority race is somehow negative or different. Some other examples to discuss are:

  • Stereotypes associated with various races, many of which are completely ridiculous, and lead to opinions of people that become very hard for those people to shake off.
  • A lack of understanding about why a POC (person of colour) may feel uncomfortable or less outgoing when attending majority white institutions where, in my experience, racism is still prevalent.
  • ‘Racial banter’. Cue the “but it’s just a joke” or “person X of colour laughed at it” or another ridiculous justification. Many POC would’ve been a minority at their school when this situation occurs and more than likely had no choice but to conform to this for fear of being shunned. (I should note also that every time I have written “racial banter” I do indeed mean racism).

More importantly, please do not think that the issues mentioned above even scratch the surface. I am mixed race English/Bengali, so my experience will only be a tiny subset of the overall problem. This leads onto my next point.

A huge amount of the threat racism poses is contained in that many don’t even know how it affects different people. This is, by definition, ignorance. Over the past week or so, social media has exploded with many posts and links/recommendations to help educate on the various ways racism takes place in society. I strongly urge you to take advantage of the information that has essentially been served up on a silver plate for you to use. Additionally and most importantly, apply what you’ve learnt in everyday life. I am no expert, but with most things in life, if you learn something but do not practice it, you are likely to forget. I don’t particularly think it would be any different here.

If you take anything from this, please let it be that you ACTIVELY think about how your actions may impact POC/those vulnerable to racial discrimination. Remembering that some things you may be able to do, aren’t as easily accessible to others based on their race. Lastly and most importantly, stay open to learning more about these issues, and APPLY that to your behaviour, as ignorance will halt progression.

Thanks for reading,
Oliver Shahidullah

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