HCRI Anti-racism statement
As an institute, we fundamentally do not tolerate or give space to racism, and we are committed to doing better when it comes to being actively anti-racist.
Since our first anti-racism forum, we’ve been working continuously behind the scenes to take steps moving forward with decolonising the curriculum, diversifying our Institute, and ensuring the correct procedures are in place for reporting, and eradicating racism. This included a teaching staff away day, where 50% of the day’s focus was on the above.
Some of our students got in touch more recently with an open letter to all staff, asking for more concrete progress and commitment to their expectations for the upcoming year and beyond.
Read our Executive Director, Professor Bertrand Taithe’s, letter of response, here.
We’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on the changes we can make, and listening to each other, our students, and wider discussions happening within the UK and beyond. As an initial step, we held our anti-racism discussion forum on the 11th June 2020, which was well attended by both staff and students. Some of the key points that came out of this were the following:
- Better communication of how staff and students can flag, debate, resolve or escalate concerns, including strengthening processes enabling the reporting of racist incidents safely and where necessary anonymously.
- Clearer warnings from staff when a lecture is going to include controversial content including historically racist documents in terms of reading/case studies.
- More diverse reading lists across modules, to ensure that marginalised voices are heard and represented. Where the historical dominance of Northern scholarship makes this more difficult, we will do more to engage with literature, cultural productions and other forms of commentary complementing traditional scholarly outputs.
- Improved options for students to study in-depth histories of colonialism and slavery, working with other more specialist departments to ensure our HCRI students can gain access to courses taught by specialists.
- Diversifying guest lectures, event panel members, and HCRI staff itself. This includes looking into possibilities for virtual events/video calling where distance/cost is a barrier, allowing students to access discussion and knowledge from speakers outside of the UK and Europe.
HCRI will work with the University to ensure University policies for the hiring process ensure that all staff are aware of being inclusive and unbiased in their decision-making. We will also seek out inclusivity and unconscious bias training opportunities for our students.
Please note these are just some of the initial points raised by staff and students, and we will be continuously checking ourselves against these, as well as anything else that is raised at future meetings and beyond.
The focus of the next meeting will be decolonising the curriculum, and will hopefully be attended by Decolonise UoM who will share their input. Look out for further details on date, timing and relevant resources shortly.
If you’d like to get in touch with us on anything we’ve mentioned above, or with any other ideas, thoughts or suggestions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.