Posted Thursday 1 October 2020
A message to students, staff and alumni from Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier:
As October gets under way, so too does Black History Month - an opportunity for us all to reflect on and celebrate the many achievements of the Black community in Britain and the rich and longstanding contribution people of African and Caribbean descent have made to British society and culture.
Black History Month is a time for us to recognise the importance of Black history in the United Kingdom, a history that is too often inaccessible, undervalued and overlooked. It is also an opportunity to continue important discussions about race and the lived experiences of Black people in society today - to listen, unlearn and relearn.
The exploration of British Black history raises important questions about who we are, what we can learn from our past and what we want from our future. The killing of George Floyd in the United States sent shockwaves around the world earlier this year and challenged us all to confront the scale of exactly how much more needs to be done to address racism, inequality and injustice.
In June, I wrote of our commitment to listening to and learning from our community, and set out some of the actions we will take to tackle discrimination and further advance race equality at Kingston University. Our resolve remains as strong now as it did then. We stand together in condemning racism and are committed to tackling inequality, disadvantage and prejudice in all its forms.
While we must commit to this each and every day, Black History Month gives an added impetus to engage in conversations, share knowledge and experiences and learn from each other at a particularly important time, as our new academic year gets under way.
Throughout October, the University and the Union of Kingston Students will be holding a series of virtual events and discussions that focus on Black culture and history in the United Kingdom, and provide an opportunity for students, staff and alumni to share stories and experiences.
Dedicated areas on the University website and the StaffSpace and My Kingston intranets will showcase resources, including websites, novels and non-fiction works themed around Black history, culture and race, which I urge everyone to explore.
During Black History Month, we will launch a series of events for our staff community with a listening event that aims to provide a safe space for BAME colleagues to discuss their experiences and hopes for the future. We plan to replicate this with a similar event for our student community with support from the Union of Kingston Students.
Suggestions received through these listening events will feed into a detailed series of actions that are being developed and implemented to ensure race equality is enshrined in every aspect of University life. Putting the student and staff voice firmly at the heart of our decision making as an institution and providing safe spaces for Black staff and students to discuss the challenges and barriers they face will be integral to achieving the change we all want to see.
I am looking forward to discussing our progress on these commitments with you and hearing from you about what more needs to be done during an online panel event being run in collaboration with the Union of Kingston Students later this month. More details will be shared on StaffSpace and My Kingston as these become available.
We will also be sharing a range of content on our Black History Month webpages and through our social media platforms across the next four weeks. This will include contributions to Black British history that have inspired members of our University community and profiles of Black people who have shaped the history of the Royal Borough of Kingston. I would encourage you all to share your own creative contributions about what Black History Month means to you, and hope to speak to many of you personally at upcoming events.