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Black Lives Matter: RUSU's Actions

 

How to be an ally

A guide to being an ally.

BLM working group

We know that we need to continue to support the Black Lives Matter movement even when the protests stop and it is no longer in the media. To make sure we are getting it right we have created a working group for students to shape the direction of where we go next and take a lead on RUSU’s commitment to the cause.

Previous meetings

9/06/2020

We had a small group of students join us for our first meeting and it was great to discuss some of the ideas they had for how we can support the BLM movement. These included:

  • Sharing information about historical events and people’s experiences to encourage people to find out more
  • Creating an opportunity for students to ask questions. We know lots people want to learn more and in order to create a space for people to confidentially ask questions we have created this survey. Fill it in and our students will do the best they can at answering it from their perspectives.
  • Supporting local BAME artists and creators
  • RUSU being transparent in what we are doing to support the movement and asking for help when we need it.

How can you get involved?

If you are interested in getting involved in the working group the date of the next meeting is: 24/6/20 2:30pm.

Send an email to Diversity Officer (diversityofficer@rusu.co.uk) and we can get you involved.

If you have ideas about how RUSU can celebrate and promote the Black Lives Matter movement but don’t want to be part of the working group then you can send us your ideas here. You must login to take part.

You can also use this link to share your experiences with us. We want to provide a platform for students to share with their peers their experiences of being a member of the BAME community. They could be positive, something you found empowering and want to share, or negative, an experience of racism that you would like people to learn from or understand how you felt. We will use these stories to shape our activities but also to share with other students. If you have a photo you’d like to share with your story, then please email it to diversityofficer@rusu.co.uk

Understanding the Black Lives Matter Movement

As we discussed in our very first working group meeting, we know lots people want to learn more about BLM. In order to create a space for people to confidentially ask questions to help themselves understand what it is about we have created this survey. Please fill this in and our students will do the best they can at answering it from their perspectives.

What’s happened so far?

Zeid, the Diversity Officer, has reached out to the MPs who represent Reading students for their comments on the BLM movement and to find out what action they will be taking.

We have received a reply from Matt Rodda MP, Reading East. Please find below his reply:

Dear Constituent,

Thank you for contacting me about the dreadful killing of George Floyd and about the Black Lives Matter movement. I have had many hundreds of emails sent in during the last week, raising a number of issues which I will attempt to cover in this email. If you feel there are any outstanding concerns which I have not addressed please do get back in touch.

The killing of George Floyd was absolutely appalling. I am strongly opposed to racism and I believe that black and minority ethnic people deserve fairness, justice and equality.

This racist murder by a group of white police officers needs to be investigated urgently and I hope that the case will be treated with the seriousness it deserves, both by the police and the courts in Minnesota.

It is difficult to imagine the effect of this on Mr Floyd's family. It is also clear that the attack has deeply affected local residents in Minneapolis and the black community in the United States, this country and around the world. Like many people, my thoughts are with the Floyd family and the black community. I would like to offer my support at this difficult time.

The murder and subsequent protests have also highlighted deep rooted inequality in our society. I understand the outrage felt about George Floyd's murder. I hope that the Government and society as a whole will listen to the black community and strengthen efforts to tackle racism at home and abroad.

Given the seriousness of the issue and the longer term deep seated problems of inequality, I am challenging the Government to condemn Donald Trump's response to the killing of Mr Floyd. I am also concerned about the use of riot control measures in the United States. I support the Shadow Trade Secretary, Emily Thornberry, who has demanded that the Government suspend the sale of riot control equipment to the US.

It is also important to remember that the case follows a number of troubling developments in Britain in recent years, such as the Windrush scandal, the Grenfell disaster and more recently the greater number of deaths from coronavirus among black and minority ethnic residents.

People in our community have been discriminated against in the Windrush scandal, which was a product of the hostile environment created by the Home Office and the Government. I have worked with councillors and other community campaigners to take up cases, challenge wrongful decisions and call for compensation paid to those who have been mistreated. But, it is important to remember that this scandal should never have happened in the first place and some searching questions need to be asked about how it was allowed to take place.

Many of the people affected by the Grenfell disaster were from black and minority ethnic communities, and I hope the inquiry will explain how and why dangerous cladding was approved for use on the tower. I am calling for a much stronger response from the Government to the problem of dangerous cladding on flats and other properties, which affects hundreds of people in Berkshire, a large number of whom are from BME communities.

I am also very concerned about the higher death rate from the coronavirus among black and minority communities. I believe there needs to be a much more detailed investigation to understand why this is the case and to urgently see what measures can be taken. Any attacks, including spitting, which are linked to the virus, should be treated very seriously. I should add that I was appalled by the attack on Belly Mujinga and I have discussed this with her trade union and supported their efforts to raise this with the Government.

As well as these immediate issues, there is also a real need to improve many people's understanding of inequality. I believe there should be a greater focus on teaching black history and world history in schools and more needs to be done to raise awareness among the community as a whole. Councils, community organisations and local schools have done some important work on this and should be commended for raising awareness of black history and I know from my own children how well black history can be taught in local schools. However, there is much more that needs to be done.

I want to reassure you that I will always do my best to support the diverse community in Reading East.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Rodda