SMLC STATEMENT re. BLACK LIVES MATTER
The School of Modern Languages and Cultures is an inherently pluralistic body, defined by staff and students drawn from many countries, speaking a wide range of languages, and with a huge range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We pride ourselves in our commitment to diversity, respect and tolerance towards every single member of our community.
Against this backdrop, then, we are acutely aware that while recent events have involved us all, they have impacted on one grouping in particular.
The first of these issues has been the global Covid-19 outbreak, and the subsequent lockdown measures, which have seen our movements, our work practices and our very way of life massively restricted.
Statistics emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic, however, are stark: these demonstrate unequivocally that BAME people are far more likely to contract and even die from the effects of covid, with the Black community proportionately worst affected by far. For many, this factor alone has been a cause of concern and anxiety in these past months.
Then we witnessed the horrific killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which triggered a massive outpouring of grief and outrage in the US and around the globe, with protests held here in the UK too.
It goes without saying that we condemn the targeting of Black people by people or bodies in power, who believe that they can act outside the law, and do so with impunity. We wholeheartedly believe that Black Lives Matter and support the goals of this movement. Black people should never be treated as anything other than human beings of the same intrinsic value as any other. They, and everyone who chooses to walk with them, have an absolute right to protest the brutality and inequality which directly led to George Floyd’s death.
Yet it is not enough to speak out in support of these protests whilst assuming that the problem of historical and institutional racism is only an American problem, or a problem of racism in the police, say.
In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter campaign we wish not only to reaffirm our commitment to equality and just treatment for all our students, including and particularly our Black members, but also to acknowledge that we in SMLC must continue to work to make our School even more tolerant and fair for all. Where necessary this means reviewing our curriculum and reading lists, offering a platform for Black students’ views and, most importantly of all, listening to those views and acting on them to make them – and all our students – feel safe and valued.
We know that many of our students, including but not limited to those who are Black, have felt a great deal of anxiety concerning the situations that have developed over these past weeks and months. We want to remind you that in SMLC we put your personal wellbeing at the centre of everything we do: even though we can’t meet with you face to face at the moment we would urge you to contact your personal tutor, or a member of the School’s senior tutor team, by email or video link, to remind you that the University’s Wellbeing Services team is still operating and will offer virtual counselling and that – in collaboration with our Black and Minority Ethnic students – we will continue to seek ways to make the School a safer, fairer place for all.
Dr Ian Roberts
SMLC Senior Tutor & Director of Student Wellbeing
Link to the University’s latest statement:
Link to SMLC Wellbeing pages:
Link to University Wellbeing Services:
Link to SU page on Black Lives Matter campaign: