Created by your VP Postgraduate, Jane Chukwu and led by BME Officer 2021/22, Ashly Alava Garcia, this is the Black History Book Club.
Black History Month (BHM) gives us the opportunity to learn and celebrate the black communities and their impact on the wider society around us. Black History is a story and a conversation in itself. It represents joy for the days of liberation, the wealth in the richness that is the Black Culture, a mission to educate about systemic racism, stereotypes, prejudice & the unseated bias beneath the phrase:
"I am not Racist but…."
We want to go beyond just a month in the calendar and embed more progressive knowledge and conversations about the different cultures and ethnicities in our student body - One book at a time. We believe we should all take ownership in deciding the stories we want to hear and the learnings we want to take moving forward.
Coming up with the Idea
Education is the core of change, and VP Postgraduate Students, Jane Chukwu, proposed a way to facilitate this by developing The Black History Book Club (BHBC). This book club aims to provide a space for students to connect and learn through reading and self-directed learning. It also aims to empower through books, written by BAME Authors, a social network for BAME and non-BAME students to meet and have mindful conversations on race and share reviews on the club’s library. We can all play a part in creating an inclusive and diverse community and this is one of many things we are action-ing this year to enable sustainability in that regard.
Why I got Involved
As Jane would say, “you can’t be an ally to a people that you don’t know.” As the newly elected BME officer for the academic year of 2021/22, I want to foster an environment of curiosity and willingness to do better. I am a woman of colour, but I am not Black and therefore I have a social responsibility to listen to those whose voice has been silenced for many years and be a better ally. Reading gives you a chance to get a broader understanding and gain a better insight into how someone who has been discriminated might feel and how social injustice can have severe consequences in the lives of those affected. I want to get involved because it is easy to become a spectator and ignore what happens around us and not as easy to take action, however I truly believe this is a step in the right direction.
What We Hope to Achieve
We live in a world where racial inequalities and profiling are becoming visible and yet we still question it when it is coming from someone we know and like. Racism can sometimes be so subtle to the point that it’s almost impossible to recognize or challenge. It is up to us to decide how to actively respond and commit to continuous change around EDI, beyond what we think we know about EDI.
Our vision and hope is for the Black History Book Club to function as a blended community for Black students in Cardiff and a safe space for BAME and non-BAME students who are actively seeking more progressive ways to be better allies and advocates of racial equality.
The first step is through personal learning and self-motivated education - Educating ourselves on what covert and overt racism looks like to ensure that we are not part of the problem we are trying to solve for others. It is also about recognizing the impacts of racial profiling and understanding how easily social standards and decorums change within different cultures.
We hope for posterity sake that this initiative would become an independent social club for BAME and non-BAME avid readers. This is how we have chosen to actively promote unity in diversity and encourage learning communities.
They say great minds think for themselves. So if you think you want to be a part of this club and would like to get a copy of our first free book, click here.
Ashly Alava Garcia, BME Officer 2021/22 and Jane Chukwu, VP Postgraduate Students 2020/21