Black History Month 2021

The University of Dundee celebrated UK Black History Month throughout October 2021.

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The University of Dundee celebrated UK Black History Month throughout October 2021. We hosted a programme of events aimed to educate ourselves and reflect on the contributions, achievements and experiences of BME people among our staff, students and wider community. This provided us with opportunities to promote dialogue around equality, diversity and inclusion.

The University condemns racism and discrimination in all its forms. We are committed to an inclusive learning, research and working environment, to strong support for all of our staff and students, and to a fairer and more equitable society for all. In line with this commitment, the University will continue to identify and challenge institutional racism in all that we do.

The University recognises that we have much to do in tackling racial inequalities, and through our commitment to the externally accredited Race Equality Charter, we aim to improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education. Supporting Black History Month across the University is one of the ways we will learn from the lived experiences of our BME community.

Past events

Representing and sharing engaging journeys: reflections on collaborative transnational research and Caribbean-UK mobilities

As part of October's Black History Month activities, Dr Susan Mains presented an overview of her research and public engagement activities exploring Scotland’s colonial geographies and the country's role in the slave trade, as well as more recent UK-Caribbean connections.

Dr Mains is a cultural geographer at the University of Dundee who explores media images of place as a key component or her work. Her presentation discussed examples from: the 'Moving Jamaica: Scottish-Caribbean Connections and Local Global Journeys' photographic exhibition; recent pandemic news coverage; and discussions of race, inequality and the ongoing Windrush scandal.

The talk explored the varied ways in which collaboration and research can take place through inclusive practices and diverse stories about place and mobility.

Black Hollywood – The Early Years of African Americans on Film

Hattie McDaniel’s Oscar win for Gone with the Wind (1939) is often seen at a starting point for Black representation in Hollywood. However the story goes much further back and involves many other talented actors and directors, as well as a painful history of racism and segregation.

In this illustrated talk, University curator and film historian Matthew Jarron explored the early depictions of African Americans on film, with a particular focus on films from the 1920s and 30s made specially for Black audiences.

Hosted by Lifelong Learning Dundee in collaboration with University of Dundee Museums.

Connecting Communities with Clementine E. Burnley

Clementine E Burnley is a feminist migrant mother, writer and community organiser. She lives in Edinburgh. Her work has appeared or is upcoming in Magma, the National Flash Fiction Anthology and The Centifictionist.

She’s a 2021 Sky Arts Award Winner, an alumnus of Obsidian Foundation and a 2021 Edwin Morgan Second Life Grantee.

We joined Clementine for at a book reading event over a selection of African foods followed by a participatory workshop.

My Journey to a Career in Medicine

All staff and students were invited to join us online as we hear about the lived experience and personal journeys of our black colleagues.

Consultant Dr Ify Mordi and Undergraduate student Olukayode Oki reflected on what inspired them to undertake a career in Medicine, how they ended up here in Dundee, and their aspirations and goals for the future.

How to stand up to racism

This event was open to all Staff and Students at the University of Dundee.

Ath his event we explored how we can proactively stand up to racism and positively support our community to be a truly inclusive, safe space.

Our guest speaker for this seminar was Lou Chiu [she/her]. Lou is a culture and relationship coach and consultant, who specialises in supporting and developing allies. Prior to her practice, Lou has worked in further and higher education settings, and students' unions for over 15 years, promoting widening participation, student engagement and success, and belonging on and off campus. Lou shared her knowledge, experiences and ongoing research of staff advocacy and allyship.

Lou was joined in this session by Dr Yasemin Acar [she/her] and Dr Sufyan El Droubi [he/him], who brought their respective expertise on intergroup relations/conflict and equality law; to inform a wider discussion of how we can challenge everyday "micro" aggressions and help drive positive change.

Sugar, War, Identity: transatlantic journeys on pathway to first woman Dean

At this event we learnt about the lived experience of the first woman Dental Dean in the UK, Professor Cynthia Pine CBE as part of the annual June Nunn lecture.

Woven Together

Hosted by the Abertay Historical Society in collaboration with University of Dundee Museums and Dundee City Council.

Woven Together is a new community-based research project, exploring the history of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in Dundee. It is being led by the Abertay Historical Society in collaboration with the University of Dundee Museums and Dundee City Council and with additional funding support from the Alexander Moncur Trust. We aim to work with volunteers and communities across the city to uncover hidden histories of diversity and the cultural and scientific contributions made by Dundee’s ethnic minorities.

This launch event was held online as part of Black History Month Scotland.

Connecting Communities with May Sumbwanyambe

May Sumbwanyambe is a librettist, radio dramatist, academic and award-winning playwright from Edinburgh.

Previous productions include; Ghost Light, (Edinburgh International Festival and National Theatre of Scotland), Joseph Knight, (BBC Scotland, National Theatre of Scotland) After Independence (Arcola Theatre, Papatango Theatre) The Parrot House (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) ‘After Independence’ and ‘The Trial of Joseph Knight (BBC Radio 4).

We joined May for a book reading event over a selection of African foods followed by a participatory workshop.

Unconscious Bias - Relevance and Risk Workshop

This workshop was open to all staff and students at the University. It looked at stereotyping and bias, why it happens, and the relationship with discrimination. We considered the potential impact on individuals and groups in the University setting and some steps we can take to reduce detriment.

The aim of the course was to raise of awareness of how stereotyping and unconscious bias can influence the decisions we take, to identify where these matters are likely to impact on the University and to provide some direction on how minimise that impact.

This workshop was organised by the University of Dundee's Talent and Development team.

Art and Design: Slavery and Disavowal

We joined Dr Michael Morris (Senior Lecturer, University of Dundee) to reflect on how art and design can illuminate histories.

How effectively can cultural and creative projects navigate and acknowledge Scotland's role in Atlantic slavery?

Building on historian Catherine Hall and psychoanalyst Daniel Pick’s description of the ‘disavowal’ of slavery, Morris explored projects which reposition thinking to acknowledge Scotland's role in Atlantic slavery, emphasising a willingness to fully see what was always available. From objects in V&A Dundee’s Scottish Design Galleries to contemporary artworks, films and walking tours Dr Morris examined art and design’s relationship to the avowal and disavowal of Atlantic slavery.

This event was BSL interpreted, live.

Why we need an anti-discrimination curriculum

All staff and students were invited to join us and hear about the need to develop a curriculum that anti-discriminative. Although diversity is improving in medical education, inequality and lack of diversity persists at many levels.  It is increasingly important that educators recognise and address discrimination, to produce healthcare workers with the necessary skills to improve the health of a diverse patient population.

Dr Cindy Chew (Consultant Radiologist; University of Glasgow) and Professor Lindsey Pope (Medical Education; University of Glasgow) provided insight into the steps being taken to develop an anti-discrimination curriculum and to share their experiences of addressing discrimination in academic and other professional settings.

The Sacred Task of Black Religion: Speaking Black truth to White power

James H Cone was an African American theologist and scholar who is widely considered to be the founder of Black liberation theology. His work focused on black power, looking at the role of religion and the preaching of a gospel which is based on white supremacy.

In this talk, Professor Anthony Reddie, Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture, looked at the role of religion within black communities and examine the legacy James H Cone left following his death in 2018. Himself a renowned theologist, Professor Reddie specialises in undertaking action research and works predominantly with poorer Black communities in the UK looking at racial justice and equality and seeking to explore how the Christian tradition can become more inclusive.

The Margaret Harris Lecture on Religion was part of Festival of the Future 2021 and Black History Month.

Bollywood Dance Class

University of Dundee staff and students were invited to join Usha Mani from Student Services to learn a new Bollywood dance.

Usha has been teaching Bollywood dance at the University of Dundee since 2018 and has conducted various dance events in the Global Room for Holi and Diwali. When we moved to lockdown, she moved her classes online and is adding an extra session as part of Black History Month. As the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion co-ordinator for student services, she organises these events to help students and staff from different cultures to meet via Bollywood dance.

Connecting Communities with T. L. Huchu

T. L. Huchu has been published previously (as Tendai Huchu) in the adult market, but ‘The Library of the Dead’ is his genre fiction debut. His previous books (‘The Hairdresser of Harare’ and ‘The Maestro, The Magistrate and the Mathematician’) have been translated into multiple languages and his short fiction has won awards. Tendai grew in up Zimbabwe but he has lived in Edinburgh for most of his adult life.

We joined T.L. Huchu for a book reading event over a selection of African foods followed by a participatory workshop.