***Content Warning: Racism, White Supremacy***
As term one is now in full swing, RAZZ would like to take this opportunity to look back at the much needed and valuable anti-racism work that students and societies at Exeter carried out over the summer period. Over the course of lockdown, many varied and dynamic societies performed important work that RAZZ believes is important to reflect on. We would like to use this termly article as a space where we can bring together and collate the anti-racist action occurring across many varied groups and societies at the University. Whilst we have advertised this space as a place where campaigns and projects contributing to this conversation can be highlighted, we acknowledge this is by no means a comprehensive list. If you or your society are curating a project, launching a campaign or just speaking up in any way about the systemic injustices wrought on communities by institutional racism, we want to hear about it. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with information about your campaign, we will publicise it on our social media platforms and will document and reflect on the work that has been done at the end of term one in the next Anti-Racism@Exeter article. Having these discussions and endeavouring to diversify our community is something we should all be passionate about at Exeter, and we hope you will be inspired by the work of these groups and contribute yourselves in whatever way you can.
FemSoc’s Share the Mic Now Campaign
With the purpose of amplifying black women’s voices at Exeter, FemSoc launched their #sharethemicnow campaign this summer. In continuation of the wider Share the Mic campaign which black activists participated in globally, FemSoc rooted their campaign in the Exeter community. It had a simple and important message which it is vital to understand if you want to make your feminism intersectional – ‘when the world listens to women, it listens to white women’. Over the course of a week, black student voices were made visible across the participating societies social media spaces and the lived experiences of black women at the University were bravely discussed and brought into the spotlight. From theatre societies like Shotgun, to subject specific groups like History Society, vital resources and facts were shared. Key injustices were highlighted and discussed, such as the erasure of black women’s struggles, the need for academia and the curriculum to address black history and the barriers that the black community have had imposed on them by white supremacy. We encourage all readers to visit the social media of the participating societies (listed in the poster below) and to listen and register the narratives and accounts that were shared.
Be the Change’s Environmental Racism Content
As part of FemSoc’s Share the Mic campaign, Otse Wyse discussed the often-misunderstood injustices of environmental racism for the sustainability group Be the Change. The infographics that were created by Otse and shared on Be the Change’s social media defined and illuminated the subject in clear and direct ways, defining environmental racism as ‘racial discrimination in environmental policy-making’ and condemning a political landscape in which ‘Black British children are exposed to 30% more air pollution than their white counterparts’. If you believe in environmentalism as a pursuit, it is vital you are approaching your activism from an intersectional angle. Otse’s coverage of the subject for FemSoc will enable you to begin this process. We recommend you looking further into Otse’s infographics and the resources that she provided about environmental racism which you can find on Be the Change’s Instagram.
The Launch of Opening Up Exeter
This summer marked the launch of Opening Up Exeter, a collaborative project founded by members of Exeter’s theatre societies. Opening Up can be defined by its key aims of ‘protecting discussions about student theatre, evading knee-jerk reactions from orgs and fighting systemic injustice post-Covid’. Opening Up Exeter has reached enormous success, facilitating vital discussions about how to diversify theatre communities at the University and how to enable progression in the face of masked bias in student groups. Their diversity discussion ‘We don’t have enough BAME performers for that – and other myths’ as well as their other meetings concerned with the climate crisis, queerness, gender and well-being among others, attracted dozens of people, and promoted conversations that are indispensable to the future of theatre communities here at Exeter. The space they curated was refreshing and accessible, and we look forward to what Opening Up can achieve this year. Give them a follow on Instagram to be made aware of when their next events are coming up and attend to contribute to their essential discussions about opening up Exeter and anti-racist action.
The Launch of Exeposè’s Amplify
Early in the summer, Exeposè established an entire section of its website and Print magazine dedicated to ‘providing a journalistic intersectional platform to focus on anti-racism, uplift the narratives and experiences of BIPOC students and highlight the role and engagement of white students at Exeter’. Since its genesis, Amplify has become an impressive space, which has promoted and published content which demands change, asks the Exeter student community to do more and shares resources we should be using to educate ourselves. Articles that have been featured include ‘Removing Racism: The Colston Statue’ by Bridie Adams, ‘Defunding the American Police’ by Emily Im, ‘Decolonising Hollywood: The White Saviour Narrative’ by Niamh Walsh and ‘An Interview with Maia Thomas: The Activist Behind the Black Lives Matter Protest in Exeter’ by Maddie Baker, among many others. We strongly suggest following Amplify on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the content they are producing, as well as reading their anti-racism pledge, which clarifies their desire to ‘make sure that the opportunity to be heard is extended to all members of our student body, especially those who have typically been marginalised and silenced by society’.
Ria Kalsi’s Positivity Platform Matriarch
Third-year English Exeter student Ria Kalsi founded her positivity platform Matriarch at the end of her first year, in July 2019. Ria was ‘yearning for a platform to express [her] voice’, and so, Matriarch was born, which she describes as ‘the Positivity Platform that strives to create, change, empower and build human connection’. Matriarch, a blog and Instagram, is a platform which shares amazing articles, resources and posts to empower, educate, and ‘end damaging labels surrounding race and gender’. Since Matriarch’s creation, the positivity platform has become an impressive space, with its Instagram reaching nearly 4,000 followers and the blog having its own Matriarch Community where like-minded contributors can share their thoughts and empower each other. On her platform, Ria has discussed many complex ideas, such as heteronormativity, body positivity, racism and anti-racism. The space Ria has created in Matriarch is innovative in its honesty. Some resources that we would like to draw your attention to are: White Privilege, Practicing Anti-Racism, Working BLM back into your dead Instagram feed, Defining Racism: A Breakdown, which is not an exhaustive list. We strongly recommend that you follow the Matriarch blog and Instagram page, so you can keep up with Ria’s fantastic work.
RAZZ Writers We Wish to Highlight
Over the summer, RAZZ writers have produced important content that we wish to collate and re-direct our readers to now. This summer saw the launch of RAZZ’s new column Reviews in Retrospect, which celebrates art and content made by BIPOC creators that deserves re-addressing and promotion. Reviews in Retrospect has already foregrounded work by bell hooks, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and Michaela Coel. We hope if any prospective writers are reading who wish to delve into a valued BIPOC creator, they get in contact and feature in the column. As well as this, RAZZ writers have produced thoughtful and defiant feature articles which seek to address injustice, including ‘We Cannot Be Complacent’ by Leila Lockley, ‘Navigating Conversations about White Privilege’ by Imogen Phillips, ‘Performativity and All-White Workplaces: The Racism that Happens Behind-the-Scenes of the Fashion Industry’ by Megan Finch, and ‘What makes you BRITish enough: Why Rina Sawayama called out the Music Industry’ by Tilly Attrill, among others.
If you want to speak up about racial injustices, please continue to email us at email@example.com. RAZZ is looking forward to seeing what can be achieved this year throughout Exeter’s student communities and societies and the change that can be achieved through anti-racist work.
– RAZZ Magazine Team
Featured Image Source: Pexels