This month the Union has been putting on a range of events to celebrate Black History Month. Although the events have had to be online, to comply with the covid-19 restrictions, there has still been a wide range of activities to appeal to everyone. These include NetflixParties, ‘Safe Space Discussions’ and fundraising quizzes.
The Union website states that, “Black History Month further aims to highlight the pride and struggles of people of black origin and other persons of colour from Afro-Caribbean background.” This year has been a real turning point in people recognising that real change has to be made in order to become a much more inclusive society, recognising our part (both historically and presently) in these hardships.
Over the summer, there were many protests across the world in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. These were sparked by the death of George Ffloyd, who was killed after being brutally attacked by white police officers.
The Black Lives Matter protests included marches and removing statues of historical figures seen to promote racism. For instance, in Bristol, protestors removed the statue of slave trade owner, Edward Colston, and threw it into Bristol Harbour.
Additionally, streaming services were targeted to take down films that were seen as having, “racist depictions” within them. For instance, ‘12 Years A Slave’ screenwriter, John Ridley wrote a Los Angeles Times op-ed, which stated that ‘Gone With The Wind’ was, “a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color.” Ridley asked for HBO Max to remove it for “a respectful amount of time” , which they did. However, they plan to rerelease it in the future with “a discussion of its historical context.”
Of course, this year Black History is very much at the forefront of society due to these protests, highlighting the need for change. The discussion has been opened and it is hopeful that the Union will carry on with these open-minded conversations beyond just this month. After all, it is vitally important that people have the facility to be free to share their views and learn whilst in a safe environment.
For more information, get in touch with the RGU:Union Black Liberation Network which aims to “represent the interests of our BIPOC students, to provide a space for discussion and take action on pertinent issues.” You can find more information at https://www.rguunion.co.uk/getinvolved/networks/bln/.