Oct 07 2019

October is Black History Month. One of the aims of Black History Month is to celebrate the achievements of members of ethnic minority communities in Britain who have helped change the political, cultural and social landscape. Black History Month is a celebration of diversity and success, but also a reminder of the inequality that still exists.

Royal Holloway marks Black History Month each year. However, as a College we are acutely aware of the shortcomings of only focusing on race equality during this time. As such, as a College we make sure that a range of events occur throughout the year to promote awareness and understanding of race (in)equality in the HE sector and society at large and to support ongoing projects and interventions.

To celebrate Black History Month 2019 the following events will be taking place across campus:

1. BAME Achievement: Careers Celebration Panel

Monday 7 October, 6-7.30pm, Event Space, Davison Building

Celebrating success! Come along and meet inspirational academics and alumni from a wide variety of backgrounds as they discuss their journey to success. Speakers include:

  • Audric Tchouani, Managing Director of Quinton Novus Solutions
  • Leah Davis, Capital Xtra Presenter
  • Dr Shzr Ee Tan, Senior Lecturer in Music, Royal Holloway
  • Dr Vandana Desai, Senior Lecturer in Geography, Royal Holloway
  • Mary Pierre-Harvey, Director of Estates and Campus Services at Oxford Brookes University

2. Black History Month Archives Workshop.

Wednesday 16 October, 1-2.30pm, Archive Reading Room, Lower Ground Floor, Davison Building.

Join our College Archivist in this hands-on workshop to help to uncover the history of BAME students and colleagues at Royal Holloway.

Participants will be asked to look through material from our College archives to identify sources which reveal insights into the history of BAME students at Royal Holloway and its predecessor institutions. While there is some knowledge of the contributions BAME students have made to the College throughout its history, there are gaps in our understanding and this workshop is a pilot project to begin to correct that and expand on the knowledge we have. 

The workshop is open to everyone, no previous archives experience is necessary. Please book a place here.

If you are interested in a career in archives, our archivist Annabel will be happy to talk to you about her role and opportunities to gain voluntary experience with our collections.

3. BHM Film Nights

14th to 18th October, in collaboration with the African Caribbean Society, the History Society is excited to present a film week! Each night we will be showing a film and most will be accompanied by a guest speaker from the History Department. On Friday we will even have a pop-up seminar with Dr Emmett Sullivan before our final film night of the week begins! Before the showing of Hidden Figures the pop-up seminar will review the themes in the History Society’s Black History Month Film Week, and particular the way that the American civil rights movement and British multiculturalism have been portrayed on the big screen.

To find out more information please head over to the History Society Facebook page

4. The BAME Awarding Gap in HE

Tuesday 29 October, 12-1.30pm, Moore 0-08 Please RSVP equality@royalholloway.ac.uk as limited numbers

The phrase ‘attainment gap’ refers to the difference in ‘top degrees’ (a First or 2:1 classification) awarded to different groups of students, with the biggest differences found by ethnic background. This event consists of two talks that focus on the BAME awarding gap in HE. Dr Mhlanga will explore the underlying reasons behind underachievement in the HE sector in general, and Dr O’Connell will proceed to talk about a project taking place within the Department of Law and Criminology designed to address degree-awarding gaps in the department.

a) ‘Contextualisation of the BAME Awarding Gap’

Dr Thanda Mhlanga, Teaching Fellow, Centre for the Development of Academic Skills (CeDAS), Royal Holloway

Drawing on my childhood experiences in a former British colony and on ‘lived experiences’ in the UK Further Education and Higher Education sectors, I present university as a political space that facilitates the production, reproduction, normalisation and perpetuation of prejudice in modern society. I argue that in spite of the rhetoric about social inclusion, the UK education system is still inherently elitist: it reflects the underlying logic of Eurocentric enlightenment, and thus needs decolonisation. This presentation critically engages with the ideological reasons behind the under-representation of young people from BAME and lower socio-economic neighbourhoods in HE. Also, it contextualises the high drop-out rates of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and why those who complete their programmes underachieve.

b) ‘Exploring the Attainment Gap through Belonging Initiatives’

Dr Aislinn O’Connell, Lecturer in Law

This talk presents the methodology of an investigation into the attainment gap in a School of Law which offers undergraduate degree programmes spanning law, criminology, sociology, and psychology. Qualitative and quantitative data from a student survey as well as focus group discussions with students from across the School will be drawn upon. The talk discusses how programme and school identity can impact on student attitudes towards belonging and community in their department and how a lack of identity in these areas might negatively impact on student outcomes. Students’ feeling of disconnection was closely tied to their personal experiences, circumstances and socio-demographic characteristics, as well as to their programme of study within the school.

5. Diversity in reading lists - The Library

Look out for our special Twitter promotion for Black History Month, starting with an interview with Renee Landell, SU BAME rep. You can also discover some of our recommended titles on the Black History Month reading list. This highlights some of the areas of the collection which focus on ethnic minority research, notable figures in black history and diversity in our collection.

There is always more that can be done to help diversify our collection, so if there is anything you think would be particularly interesting for us to add, then why not complete the book suggestion form on the library pages.