History, culture and change celebrated with Black History Month events
Published on 7 October 2021
The University of Dundee is celebrating UK Black History Month 2021 with a compelling programme of events designed to educate and reflect on the contributions, achievements, and experiences of the BME community
The Black History Month events, running throughout October, aim to highlight the University’s commitment to an inclusive learning, research and working environment, support for staff and students, and to a fairer and more equitable society for all.
Dundee’s multicultural history, Black Hollywood, and unconscious bias are the focus of some of the online events taking place. Dundee University’s Students’ Association (DUSA) have also partnered up with Dundee City Council and the Scottish BAME Writers Network to hold a series of intimate book reading events across Dundee.
“The celebration of Black History Month signifies hope, freedom, restoration, equity and a zero tolerance towards sectionalism,” said Zechariah Laari, Vice-President of Academia at DUSA.
“It’s our hope that students and members of the Dundee community will learn to welcome other cultures, faith, beliefs, idiosyncrasies and mannerism to build a community of understanding. The Scottish BAME Writers Network is a great partner for Black History Month due to their quality research, fact finding, and anthropological studies of diversity of thought and human lived experiences of the black heritage.”
One of the first of the events, taking place on Friday 8 October, will deep dive into Scotland’s colonial geographies and the country's role in the slave trade. Hosted by Dr Susan Mains, Lecturer in Geography and Environmental Science, it will also explore more recent UK-Caribbean connections.
“Before I came to the University of Dundee I was a lecturer at the University of the West Indies-Mona in Kingston, Jamaica for nearly 10 years,” said Dr Mains.
“When I was living in Jamaica I was struck by the brilliant academics, artists, and writers addressing Caribbean identities and stories and the important role they played in how we understand and challenge colonialist ideas about place and identity.
“When returning to Scotland this experience also made me reflect on the gaps in narratives of what Scotland means and who gets to be Scottish. It made me reflect further on what I had learned growing up, the omissions in, and problems with, those stories, and how I could contribute towards addressing these exclusions by working with colleagues and friends on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Alongside the events running throughout October, the University is committed to tackling racial inequalities through the externally accredited Race Equality Charter (REC) that aims to help improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education.
Professor Hari Hundal, University of Dundee Race Equality Charter lead said, “The UK has been celebrating Black History Month since 1987. A major objective of this event is to reflect on the history, achievements, and contributions of black people.
“Over the past year, the University has conducted its largest ever consultation about how racism and discriminatory behaviour impacts on its staff and student body both on and off campus. This consultation, alongside self-analysis of institutional staff/student data, has highlighted several issues that the University is firmly committed to addressing.
“This commitment is underscored within our University’s REC submission, which details numerous outcomes-based actions that are intended to strengthen the University’s culture around equality and inclusion for every student and staff member. It clearly indicates that, as an institution, diversity is valued and there is zero-tolerance for racist discriminatory behaviour.
“The University is committed to implementing the REC action plan irrespective of whether the institution is successful in its application for a Bronze REC mark.”
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