October is Black History Month, when we celebrate the achievements and wisdom of Black people from across the world. It gives the OU Students Association an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of our members, and to amplify the barriers felt by some students at The Open University (OU).
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is a strategic priority for the OU Students Association and our EDI Working Group, and therefore, raising awareness of barriers and celebrating diversity are just some of the activities you can expect to see beyond October. Throughout the academic year, we will be holding meetings and events to ensure we can empower and champion the voices of BAME students at the OU, whilst continually reflecting on and developing our services to ensure an equitable experience for all.
Why is Black History Month necessary?
People from diverse backgrounds still face prejudice, discrimination, systemic inequalities and the lack of opportunities due to the colour of their skin and their physical attributes. Black History Month is an opportunity for us all to learn more about the effects of racism, ethnic discrimination, systemic inequities and inherent biases and why we need to challenge negative stereotypes.
The Higher Education curriculum still focuses on traditional events and the achievements of White western figures whilst Black figures (particularly women) are one of the most marginalised groups in academia and the jobs market. Therefore, we want our students to have the opportunity to not only celebrate the lived experiences of Black and other Ethnic heritages and cultures but to also understand the impact this has had as a result.
Patrice Belton, Vice President Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)
‘Remember, celebrating Black History Month and the past, present and future voices of Black and Asian cohorts, isn’t solely about reminding ourselves of what harmed or divided us, as a global community, but also to remind and help us appreciate what sustained, empowered and connects us as one. Hence, understanding and embracing all of who we are (or were), seeks to help us appreciate who we can become and the changes we can make (today) to influence our better tomorrow.’
This year for Black History Month our plans include:
- 'Proud To Be' celebrating the Association's BAME volunteers and students
- Collecting feedback from our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Students Group
- Encouraging students to write words of empowerment to their future selves
- Asking students to share who their inspirational figures are
- Sharing reading lists to ensure the learning and discussions around equality, diversity and inclusion continue
View The Open University’s programme of events across the month