Black Lives Matter - University of Bristol BAME Staff Network

Statement from the University of Bristol BAME Staff Network

On the 25th May 2020 George Floyd died after being pinned beneath three police officers for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Like Eric Garner before him, another victim of anti-Black racism, his last words were ‘‘I can’t breathe’’

The death of Floyd triggered a resurgence in the Black Lives Matter movement and protests have been taking place globally as a result. On the 7th June 10,000 people came together to show their support and solidarity for the movement in Bristol in a predominantly peaceful protest. This day also saw the statue of 17th-century slave trader, Edward Colston, pulled down and thrown in the harbour. This action has sparked divisive opinion, but it does bring to light the need to re-examine how such a legacy is considered in Bristol and beyond.

The deaths and events leading up to the most recent Black Lives Matter protests have brought the horrific reality of racism back into the fore of our institutions, our places of work and our world. For many of us in the BAME community, they are extreme examples of what we feel far too regularly; that our value is conceived of as lesser due to the colour of our skin. For some this may be felt through being talked over in meetings, through consistent mispronunciation and spelling errors in our names, through seeing very few people who look like us in positions of power or through being told that racism is a thing of the past. Fewer than 1% of all UK university professors are Black and with the BAME pay gap widening, representation and hearing BAME voices within the academy still has a long way to go. Alongside this, UK deaths in police custody, including deaths of migrants by immigration controls, are part of the institutionalised racism that we must now confront.

This is a time of intense pain for our community. We are experiencing overwhelming sadness, despair and exhaustion. We must recognise what we are feeling and support each other to safeguard our mental health as a priority. As a network, we will use our collective voice to lobby for positive and enduring social change. We welcome the Executive Team’s statement and look forward to being engaged in taking action on this commitment.

As an institution we have a shared responsibility to educate each other, both staff and students, on becoming anti-racist. To aid this we have highlighted key anti-racism resources at the end of this statement as this begins with self-education.

Racism is not an easy or comfortable thing to talk about, but these conversations need to happen across the University. As a network we urge managers and the Executive Team to allocate time and resources to ensure this happens safely and meaningfully at our university.

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