TW: This article contains frank discussion on anti-Black racism.
Following a racial incident during our online workshop with Ashamed magazine, Southampton Black Students’ Network have rolled out a ten-pledge charter for student groups, clubs and societies to sign in order to signify their commitment in tackling anti-Blackness.
The introduction to the ‘Student Societies Against Anti-Black Racism Charter’ states:
Following a possibly targeted, premeditated racial incident during a Southampton University student society event, we are calling on all University of Southampton student clubs and societies to pledge their commitment to standing up against racism. Racism comes in many forms, ranging from microaggressions and ‘jokes’ to severe incidents of abuse as was witnessed recently. Ignoring racist/anti-black incidents, no matter how ‘insignificant’ they may seem, makes you complicit and part of the problem. The purpose of this charter, therefore, is to show that your society is willing to pledge to take a series of steps to protect the interests of Black members, as well as the wider student community.
As part of the charter, signees must commit themselves to the ten following pledges on behalf of their society:
1. Refrain from the use of any derogatory or discriminatory language.
2. Refrain from any derogatory or discriminatory behaviour.
3. Call out anti-black behaviour amongst committee and ordinary society members.
4. Take a hard-line approach to any incidents of racism that occur during society events.
5. Publicly condemn the use of racist language.
6. Publicly condemn any racially-charged incidents that occur.
7. Adequately protect Black members from any risk of racial abuse.
8. Adequately train committee members to deal with such incidents.
9. Cooperate fully when someone considers our own behaviour to be harmful.
10. LISTEN to the concerns of Black students rather than silencing them.
Kendall Field Pellow, Founder of the Southampton Black Students’ Network had this to say:
This Charter is the first step of many our student societies can take towards racial justice as before we can fight racism we have to be able to see it where it exists. Our societies are fundamental spaces and communities for us students and it is important that we have a springboard to further the anti-racist movement within the spaces and communities we use. It should provide a basis for the concrete action needed to be taken by SUSU when racism takes place – action which we have not seen taken this year.
The VP Welfare and Communities recently released a statement on SUSU’s equality, diversity and inclusion work this academic year, which you can find here.
To sign the Charter, please visit this link and login via your University account.
If you’ve experienced or witnessed any racial incidents, you can report them anonymously via SUSU’s Report and Support tool here.
Further resources to help fight back against anti-Black racism are provided by the Black Lives Matter website.