On the 18th of April, myself and 4 other Aberystwyth University BAME students took a trip to Swansea to attend the Black Activist Day, organised by the NUS Wales BAME officer. The day was spent networking with other BAME students in Wales and sharing experiences.
Along with inspiring segments from the panel including woman leaders of colour, to a dynamic and exciting talk on black leadership by Ceewhy from Black Impact, the Black Activist Day provided the perfect balance of inspiration and hope. It also helped us further understand the institutional structures in place that are preventing BAME students from attaining high grades and progressing in education. We discussed the attainment gap and the Prevent strategy which unfairly targets students of colour and looked at what we needed to do to overcome these barriers and how to take control of our own destinies.
As BAME officer, this was by far the best day I have ever had regarding my role. Not only was I surrounded by like-minded people with similar experiences, but I saw the BAME students that came with me ignited with energy, hope and a yearning to be more pro-active.
In their own words:
Regina Marianna Aiken
I found the whole experience educational, uplifting and refreshing. It was gratifying to witness woman of colour on the panel share their experience of success in leadership roles, 'walking their talk’ and the challenges they each overcame. Alongside this, listening to the discussions of the failing policy of PREVENT was sadly unsurprising when cases of clear injustice arose. It shone light to the importance of speaking against policies that manipulate the system to target communities and individuals with vague and misleading accusations. The final speaker sparked extra exuberance into me. The representative of the organisation Black Impact was one of continual inspiration. There were many messages to take away from this talk, specifically the message of creating positive solutions to existing social problems.
Throughout the whole day, networking and hearing BAME individuals share personal experiences in a safe space was very much needed. In terms of improvement, I think more students that not only identify as BAME, but also other groups should come along to share their perspective and thoughts on topics. A massive thank you to our BAME Officer Ammaara for organising this trip.
There was no better day or time, to converse about activism within the black community than on Wednesday, April 18th. The pathetic fallacy of my excitement and the weather, were inextricably linked as the Sun also mirrored the warm welcome we received from those at Swansea. When you may be crippled with a lack of motivation, emptiness or even depression; going to empowering events such as these, may steer you in the right direction for improvement. I instantly realised, how a lack of Black and other ethnic representation in various academia, can negatively affect the experiences of the youth, who suffer from the same oppression. Not only was I inspired to work on my leadership skills, but the speakers ignited the dying sparks I had, and resurrected the confidence to be loud, unapologetic about what I stand for and even more proud, of my Blackness alongside the magic that comes with it. If you ever doubted the butterfly effect theory, use my experience as an example as now I'll be on the road, to motivating more like myself.
Ammaara, Regina and Duanie will be attending the NUS National Black Students’ Conference in May.
Want to get involved?
Join the BAME network group on Facebook or send Ammaara an email with your experiences and ideas.
We’re currently seeking ideas for Black History Month Activities!
There’s lots more to come from Ammaara and the SU this year, but we need your help! The more student voices that get involved the more successful our ambition for change.