Over the weekend the academic team have heard from a number of our students – both in email and in video calls - expressing strong feelings about the deplorable killing of George Floyd and the following unfolding events in the US, highlighting their concern that there hasn’t been an ‘official’ response from the department.
Thanks to all of you who have made your views felt, and for prompting an internal debate about such an important subject.
You will know that we don’t generally comment collectively on world events – but it’s clear that we should be reacting to this one.
We are aware that many of our black students in particular, past and present, have been left feeling vulnerable and uncertain after seeing coverage from the US – including black CNN journalist Omar Jimenez being arrested live on air while his white counterpart was left unmolested.
This is in front of a backdrop of the systematic undermining and targeting of journalists across the globe (including in the UK), by those who seek to disrupt the vital work that they do.
We have always been determined to support all of our students, particularly when they are faced with justifiable worries about oppression, discrimination and even violence.
We stand in solidarity with the #Black Lives Matter movement.
Diversity and equality of opportunity were fundamental founding principles of the Centre for Journalism, and continue to be our guiding core values. We value equally every single student within the Centre for Journalism family, regardless of their ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, gender, disability or background.
We recognise and value the ways in diversity enriches all that we do at the Centre for Journalism and we want to open the door to students who might not otherwise believe there is a future for them in an industry that for decades had been dominated by people who had come from more privileged backgrounds. We want it to be a place where voices from across the globe, with different experiences and cultural backgrounds meet, exchange views, learn from each other and – crucially – become the backbone for the news industry of the future. One that realises that it cannot accurately reflect the communities on which it attempts to report unless it is properly representative of them.
We have been successful with some of these ambitions. But not in all of them. And it of course remains a work in progress. We recognise that as a small all-white academic team we have not met our ambition to be more diverse – which is one of the reasons that we were recently the smallest University of Kent team ever to make an application under the Athena Swan scheme, which promotes diversity in academia, in order that we can better understand how to achieve this.
We’d like to hear from more of our students and alumni about all of these issues.
What could we do better?
How can we make sure that we are properly inclusive?
What do we need to address in our admissions process? Or the delivery of our teaching?
In the meantime we will continue to:
- Invite more journalists and guests from BAME backgrounds to deliver masterclasses and speak to students at the CfJ
- Support student and staff participation in direct social and political actions that promote human rights and racial and economic justice;
- Be agents of change for racial justice, from local to global communities, through our research, teaching, and community service;
- Promote critical dialogues within and beyond our department about how racism and other forms of structural oppression and structural inequalities affect us, our relationships, our organisations, and our communities;
- Acknowledge that silence and inaction contribute to the maintenance of ongoing institutional racism and other structural inequalities;
- Strengthen the curriculum by deepening content and expanding curricular offerings focused on advocacy, community organising, restorative justice practices, and intergroup dialogues.
Finally, this also seems like a fitting opportunity to remind ourselves of some of the exceptional work that students from under-represented groups have produced in recent years at the CfJ. The list below is from long-form Year 3 journalism projects over the past 3 years. It’s not exhaustive, and please note that not all of this work is available online, but where it is we have included links. We will extend, update and publicly promote this list to include work from other year groups – so please send further suggestions.
Busayo Alafe-Aluko: The Quest to Add Colour (Year 3 TV project 2020)
Jayesh Fernando: Being Brown and British (Year 3 TV project 2019)
Ayo Alli: The Lyrics Behind the Violence (Year 3 TV project 2019)
Reem Makari: Can you be gay and Muslim? (Year 3 online project 2019)
Asuni Olubusayo: Living with PCOS (Year 3 TV project 2019)
Srijana Rai: From Syria to the UK (Year 3 TV project 2019)
Mohammed Durrani: A divided country (Year 3 TV project 2019)
Salem Hassabala: Maqdala, the treasures that remain (Year 3 TV project 2019)
Catherine Tang: Breaking point, the anguish of a new generation of NHS doctors (Year 3 TV project 2019)
Selsabil Beloued: Could this be the end of the au pair? (Year 3 TV project 2019)
Ismail Khwaja: Changing young lives through football (Year 3 TV project 2018)
Indya Clayton: The Search for Black Blood (Year 3 TV project 2018)
Chandni Sembhi: the relationship between music and politics (Year 3 online project 2018)
Rashaud McBain: If they don’t want us we’ll do it ourselves (Year 3 online project 2018)
Ethan van Ristell: What's wrong with football governance? (Year 3 project 2018)
Joshua Flores: 225 in Angola (Year 3 online project 2018)
Jujia Li: Why did young people vote leave? (Year 3 project 2018)
Chandni Sembhi: The relationship between music and politics (Year 3 online project 2018)
Elaine Loke: Redfining plastic surgery (Year 3 project 2018)
Paavan Mohindru: The lack of Asians in football (Year 3 print project 2017)
Anita Nkonge: Grime Takeover (Year 3 TV project 2017)
Latifa Yedrouj: Cancer care at Medway maritime hospital (Year 3 TV project 2017)
Devina Serebour: Paying Tribute (Year 3 TV project 2017)
Ola Ojuko: The Black Face of Depression (Year 3 project 2016)
Andrae Akeh: Young, happy and clappy (Year 3 project 2016)
Vinesh Parmar: Copper corrision: Zambia's fight (Year 3 online project 2016)
Monica Samia: Gay enough for the Home Office? (Year 3 project 2016)
Finally – do remember that we provide you with a platform to air you views about this and any other subjects. Some of the best-read student blog posts on this Centre for Journalism web site will be read several thousand times, so don’t underestimate it as a way of making your own voices heard.
On behalf of the CfJ team