Hello Black Lives Matter-LSHTM! We were on break for the week of 6 July, but we came back stronger than ever on the 13th, and it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Here’s what we’ve been up to:
Senior staff engagement with BLM
Different faculty and senior staff members have reached out to BLM-LSHTM before and after the Council presentation to express their support for our goals, offered guidance and explore opportunities to collaborate, including Francesco Checchi, Jim Todd, Heidi Hopkins, Fern Terris-Prestholt, Clare Chandler, and Liam Smeeth. We thank them for helping us grow and offering new perspectives.
Communications with Council following our presentation
The Council Chair, Don Roberts, followed up on our presentation by pledging his and the Council’s support in fighting institutional racism and making the school a safer and more supportive place for BIPOC. The main ideas proposed in response to the BLM/DGH presentation were to (1) create a Council committee on Culture, Diversity and Inclusion, (2) design a review process with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to shape reforms, and (3) have the SLT produce an initial action plan by September. In our response, we were frank about our mistrust of the SLT and pushed for institutionalizing Black Lives Matter - LSHTM. The response from both Council and Kara Hanson were positive, and we should expect the school’s support (and funding) in the next stage of our work (!).
Institutionalizing Black Lives Matter - LSHTM: the FAIR Coalition
Several events led to the almost natural decision to institutionalize BLM-LSHTM. The structure will have a different name; The FAIR Coalition for Fight Against Institutional Racism Coalition. We’re currently working on our future organization structure and mission statement. We are looking for volunteers to help us design the future communication page and potentially a logo.
Meeting with Student Representative Council (SRC)
We had a great introductory call with the SRC President, Pablo Ruiz Cuenca, and the VP for Taught Courses, Katherine Barrett, who offered their support. We discussed projects to amplify the voices of students and we hope it will happen!
BLM members Sham and Emilie gave a talk to the Clinical Research Department in the Infectious Tropical Diseases Faculty (13 July 2020). Between UK and overseas participants, 70 members joined and the conversation lasted well over the allotted time, reflecting the continued engagement and interest in these discussions. We discussed the BLM activities to date, including the original letter, how the movement began, the Council presentation, and the feedback and reactions from this. A wide discussion followed around what we as individuals can do better, with comments and thoughts from many of CRD’s members. This resulted in a proactive response from the head of department about strengthening training and awareness within the School and as well as part of staff’s performance development review.
The ‘What Can We Do Now?’ toolkit
Our CRD conversation spearheaded the idea to design the BLM toolkit ‘What Can We Do Now?’ In recognition that the most important change needed in LSHTM is cultural, we hope the toolkit will help heads of department and all members of staff learn more about anti-racist praxis and what they can do now to make LSHTM a better place for BIPOC. More than specific advice, we hope to offer reflexive questions that people with privilege can internalize and apply to their daily lives. We will be making the draft available later, hoping to gather feedback from our community.
Call for volunteers
If you would like to be more involved, don’t hesitate! Join the BLM strategic planning group (https://chat.whatsapp.com/CQTaNHG8a8QG7hw6ja7F44) or write to firstname.lastname@example.org and introduce yourself and let us know what you’d like to work on. Right now we are looking for a good web designer or graphic designer to help design a logo for us.