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BAME Network: Help us Breathe

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The BAME staff network has welcomed Vice-Chancellor Robert Van de Noort's announcement of a review on how we can improve the experience of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community at our University. In this message, the network reflects on George Floyd's death and racism in society

The Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community is facing a two-pronged crisis: COVID-19, which is taking a disproportionately high number of BAME victims, and the persistent and pervasive racism that permeates every aspect of our lives and claims its own fair share of victims - most recently, that of George Floyd in the US. The death of George Floyd is that of one of us. The BAME community here at the University of Reading feels the all too familiar emotions of pain, anger and fear expressed by our brothers and sisters in the US. We join the rest of the world and our institution in condemning racist violence. For, as Martin Luther King Jr. said in Selma, Alabama:

‘A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.’

We urge every person to stand up! Take a stand against racism because it shapes the experiences of our BAME community and chokes our lives. It determines whether we get jobs: only 12% of the non-academic staff and 17% of academic staff in Universities across the UK identify as BAME. It modulates our job satisfaction and determines our career progression. Over 5 decades after the end of colour bars in the UK, there are only 140 (0.7%) black, 1,360 (6.3%) Asian, and 2000 (9.3%) either unidentified or mixed ethnicity professors, of 21,520 professors. Worst hit is the black, female academic, who has a 1 in 860 chance of becoming a professor. In consonance with the rest of the sector, there is a dearth of BAME presence in the senior leadership of our University. Only 7.7% of the Senate, 11.5% of the Council and 12.5% of the University Executive Board (UEB) identify as BAME. Over 92% of our Strategy and Finance committee is white.

To stand up is to speak up! As Reni Eddo-Lodge said:

“Every voice raised against racism chips away at its power. We can't afford to stay silent.”

The UoR BAME Network, established in January 2020, would like to announce its Race@Reading series. Race@ Reading will share the stories of our members, capture our contributions to our spheres of work, challenge the barriers that obstruct our paths, and discuss how we can all contribute to a racially more inclusive institution.

We welcome the review announced today by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Van de Noort, to be led by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Parveen Yaqoob, with the support of the Dean for Diversity & Inclusion, Dr Allan Laville. In spite of the additional challenges brought upon our university by the pandemic, we hope that the opportunity provided will yield a fruitful and positive result.

To join the UoR BAME Network or inquire about our activities, please join our Microsoft Teams or mail bame.network@reading.ac.uk.

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