📝Conference Notes #4: BARC, Organising for Liberation Workshop
The POC2 team attend different conferences regarding diversity and try to take as best notes as they can. The “Conference notes” series is a summary of these events and are comprised of: any topics that they found interesting, talking points and/or links to resources that were mentioned.
The Building an Anti Racist Classroom: Organising for Liberation workshop was held over the weekend of June 15th and 16th at the Centre for Race, Education and Decoloniality, Carnegie School of Education, Leeds Beckett University. The aim of the workshop was to bring together all kinds of BME activists in higher education to re-imagine what a truly equal space looks like in order to work on improving EDI efforts and avoiding it becoming a box-ticking exercise.
More information and the summary report can be found below:
The first day began with the participants being brought to attention via a Tibetan singing bowl.
The organisers laid out the four main intentions for the event.
Additionally each of the organisers read out a quote that inspires them to keep working.
(My personal favourite/the only one I was able to write in time was “Your silence will not protect you” – Audre Lorde).
The “good” student
The first activity was entitled “the good student” where we talked about what currently makes a “good student” and then we discussed what would be a good student in an ideal world. [Red is current][Green is ideal world]
We are constricted on how we imagine a good student
Good students are key as they get jobs
Teaching Excellence Framework – how universities are assessed
Structured to keep out POC
Higher paid jobs consistently proven to be systematically racist
Discriminates against low income, disabled, those with care responsibilities etc…
Perfect attendance – “Presenteeism”
Penalises students for being sick
Penalises students for having to deal with general life things happening
Creates a class barrier as moving out and/or daily travel is extremely expensive
International students sent back to their home country if their attendance is bad
Sounding “right” (right being a western accent)
Racist/Discriminatory towards people immigrating from outside the west for education
Fosters the idea that you shouldn’t help your peers which is horrific
University literally isn’t a competition/race. Multiple people can get high grades and it does not affect others – there is more than one “first place” available
Consumers vs being marked down – students being a consumer is a neoliberal idea
Plays by the rules – conformity is very important
Students so not challenge their teachers out of fear of being kicked out – something many cannot afford
Change the system not the students – students shouldn’t have to work at an institution they pay for
Progression should be rewarded equally if not more than the people who are consistently good
Actually empathy not just repeating the same un-effective rhetorical strategies
Mechanisms we have for rewarding students are actually terrible
A significant transformation should not be treated less than achieving a first
Education is a process of learning and unlearning
Need much more support for international black students
Have to get good support and mentors for black students
[Gloria Anzaldúa was mentioned]
What does an anti-racist classroom feel like?
Here we discussed the issues that affect BME in universities and why.
“Even when we are inside we are outside”.
“The doors have been opened but the architecture remains the same”
Nooks+Crannies of academic departments need to be decolonised
Universities are sites of power
Reproduce white power (e.g. hall of principles)
Ethical + political values in which people assess who belongs
Safe spaces vs principled places
Asking black women academics if they are cleaners
Shaming people into a place of non-belonging
Working within shaming contexts
Impossible to look like white scholars so we have to look like us!
Negation + dismissiveness
Decolonising is being co-opted by white people!!
“Auditing the curriculum”
Take relaxing habits into the classroom
Snacks/Lighting a candle
In America institutions were made for black people due to segregation
This means today there are “black” universities with more diverse curriculums
This did not happen in the UK
POC are able to do EDI work without being tokenised and white members of the EDI team will follow their instructions
Students are treated as academics – learning is not hierarchical
Student activist long table
We were invited to take part in the long table event as we are student activists. We were given the starting question of “What are your experiences of anti-racist activism in education?”
Places students in a vulnerable position
Neglect of black international students who pay 2x the tuition of UK students
So busy trying to pay for school leads to no time for personal wellbeing
Graduate with a mentor > graduate with an institution
No conversation of being a migrant in universities
Staff give skills, not just emotional labour
Acknowledge student work as student labour
Explicitly state your politics
Informal networking is the norm 😦
Usually happens in a pub
Mentoring as a charity case instead of treating each other as peers
Explicitly state that your name will come first in papers you do significant amounts of work in
We’re kept too busy to do anything
There needs to be a formalised process with regards to facilitate diversity debates
Need to remember white students can recreate epistemological violence and the hurt extends to lecturers of colour
Talk by Dr Francesca Sobande
Dr. Sobane is a lecturer in the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University.
Online + media experience of black women
Online consciousness reading
Access to free decolonial resources!!!
Able to connect with others that are not available on the ground
Strategic use of anonymity online
POC lead places
Problems with anti blackness
Problems with anti LGBT+
Analyse your own politics
You should always be willing to learn
Work that is at the cost of ‘you’ isn’t worth doing
Overworking to not deal with personal problems
Mental healthcare professionals
Difficult to find actual useful ones, especially for BME and even more so for specifically WOC
Decolonising without tokenism
Your silence will not protect you Vs your refusal to comment is powerful
Take small wins ❤
What does everyday anti-racist work look like?
Financial stability and sustainability
How to make the terms of taking funds clear
Students ARE academics
Students ARE scholars
Put everything in writing
If it happened in a phone call follow it up with an email
Work out if somebody wants to work with you or for you
Black women are either lazy or warriors
No middle ground
Don’t need to involve yourself in EDI work which is harmful to your mental health
Black women are not workhorses
Black women are not cattle
Talk by Prof. Shirley Anne Tate
Professor Tate is a Cultural Sociologist with a research focus in intersectional thinking.
When I became an academic what did I want to do?
Help other black academics
Facing challenges + challenging back
Need toCHALLENGE racism
Coping with fear in the context of what we’re operating in
Thinking “so what” and doing it anyway
EDI work is a marathon not a sprint
Age + hope for the future
How to engage in the politics of hope
How to deal with anti-black hate
How to use it for political action
What do white people actively give up when they say they are anti racist?
Love + self love
What stops our liberation
Trust that people have good motivations + intentions
How to deal with white people co-opting POC culture
You’re not going to get anything from being the good student
Engaging politically through loneliness
Dealing with negation
POC under constant surveillance via students, colleagues + management
Negation of African, Carribean + Indian decolonial thoughts
Ethics of engagement + care
White people need to prove themselves worthy of us
For more information on conferences we’ve attended please visit our resources page or read through the rest of our blog. We are constantly updating both.
Written by Karel Green + Pruthvi Mehta. Edited by Karel Green. For more information see the about page or follow them on Twitter @thisismeonline + @q_the_ordinary respectively.
“I’m confident we’ll succeed.” – Dr. Price commenting on her work regarding the avian diseases that affected Pekin Ducks – for which she developed a vaccine as a result of her extremely effective research. 
Name: Dr. Jessie Isabelle Price
Life: 1st January 1930 – 12th November 2015 (85 years)
“Science changed me, and allows me to make contributions to the world and everyone, regardless of their identity should have that right”. – Dr. Jedidah Isler, Black Holes, Blazars, and Women of Color in Science|Nat Geo Live, .