CN: anti-black violence, death, police violence
As your Students’ Union we stand firmly and completely against racism. We also know that our Universities are not free from racism, and that it is not a uniquely American phenomenon. In the UK, black students disproportionately suffer physical and verbal abuse at University, black people are repeatedly killed in police custody, and only a few weeks ago a black woman, Belly Mujunga, died from Coronavirus after being spat on at Victoria Station. We stand in full solidarity with all those protesting racism, in the UK, America and across the world, now and always.
It is the responsibility of every single non-black person to speak out and act against racism wherever we see it, to actively learn about and counter our own racism, and to support those affected by racism by campaigning against it. It should not be the job of black students to justify or explain their experiences of racism. All white people benefit from systems of institutionalised racism and white supremacy, and must do all that they can to dismantle them.
As the CUSU BME Campaign has highlighted: “Silence is complicity - show your support and break the silence.”
If you can donate to funds supporting those protesting in the US, make sure you do - there are links in the BME Campaign’s post (compiled in this document).
CW: Police brutality, racial violence, death ////////////////////
The CUSU BME Campaign is deeply saddened to hear of the loss of more black lives as a result of institutional racism and injustice.
We want to discuss recent events that have impacted the black community and make it clear that it is not the role of black people alone to take a stand. Following this, we were also disappointed to see some of the comments under the recent Camfess post discussing white supremacy and wish to provide a response.
Police Brutality - The recent protests and media campaign for justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others, have once again highlighted the issues of racism, violence and injustice in society against black people. Issues of police brutality and the pertinence of racism should not be dismissed as an American issue and statements such as ‘it doesn’t happen here’ are simply not true. This is not up for debate and the lived experiences of many black students at Cambridge is evidence of this. However, it is not the responsibility of black students to explain why people should care about racism. Before engaging in an emotionally charged topic, educate yourself in order to avoid trivialising a matter that has taken the lives of countless innocent people.
The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/heres-why-we-dont-see-pro…/
Contains articles teaching about race, racism and police violence:
The Guardian (explores a case of police brutality in the UK): https://www.theguardian.com/…/iopc-launches-investigation-i…
Graphic Content - Although many have been shocked by the police brutality and want to share this with others, do not share videos of black people being killed, especially without a trigger warning. Despite how frequently it happens, it is not normal or healthy for black students to constantly see images of people who look like them being murdered. Be aware of what you post and how that may make others feel. There are better, and more productive ways of raising awareness and showing your support. Shock is not solidarity.
For other ways to show support please use these as reference:
The caption of this post explains this in more detail: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_28K3jnKz9/?igshid=bbmfh5dhxcjs
Racism’s Psychological Toll and how sharing graphic content can contribute:
Solidarity and Allyship - The fight for racial equality is one that includes everyone, and we trust that Cambridge is a community where complacency is not welcome. One example of action: If you see your friends, or people you know, engage in the Camfess post about white supremacy by mocking or dismissing black people and their experiences of racism, now is the time to call them out. The burden should not be on black students to do this. Understand that going over semantics of white privilege for the sake of intellectual discourse when black students are going out of their way to explain their pain is extremely insensitive, unnecessarily defensive and hurtful. As a non-black person, you cannot act as a gatekeeper as to what defines the black experience. Nevertheless, as a non-black person, it is now more important than ever to be an ally.
Allyship can also be shown in the way that you treat the black people in your immediate circles. Experiences like this can be extremely traumatic: reach out and make sure that your black friends are okay. Another way to extend your solidarity is through material support, you can donate to organisations as a proactive and non-performative way to support protestors and the black community as a whole.
A collection of political education resources, GoFundMes, bail funds and more:
To understand more about this please read: ‘White Fragility’ by Robin DiAngelo for a better understanding of why:
Anti-Racism resources for allies: https://docs.google.com/…/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-…/mobilebasic…
‘75 Things White People can do for Racial Justice’ article: https://medium.com/…/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-ju…
If you are a Black student, please remember that the BME Campaign and the ACS are spaces where you can access support. However you are dealing with this trauma is valid. You do not need to engage in conversations to justify why your life matters if you do not have the emotional capacity to do so. It is okay to limit your intake of social media or engagement in certain conversations if they feel overwhelming. You are not alone.
If you need help:
The University Counselling Service are now doing all appointments over phone — fill in this form to book an appointment: https://forms.counselling.cam.ac.uk/
You can specifically request to have a BME counsellor on this form if that is what you would prefer.
Everyone must stand up to racism. Call out those that write harmful/racist comments. Educate yourself on what may be triggering. Listen and respect the feelings of others - we cannot tolerate hate on any platform. If you witness any of these actions, call it out by educating others and letting them know that this is not accepted in Cambridge or any other space.
Silence is complicity - show your support and break the silence.
The BME Campaign have written an open letter to address what we perceive to be the inadequate response of Cambridge University and Colleges following the murders of Black individuals, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, to name but a few. We urge all those who too believe this is an issue to demonstrate their support in signing our open letter. Silence must be called out, and releasing statements without future action must be viewed as plainly superficial and performative. Our letter details constructive steps that can be undertaken across the University and Colleges, to ensure that a willingness for both structural reform and cultural change to tackle Racism continues into the future, and not just in the aftermath of death. We expect the University and Colleges to do better, and if you do too, then please sign.