Hello Black Lives Matter-LSHTM community! The last week or so we’ve been positively jubilant, celebrating the results of the US elections. But we’ve still been hard at work on anti-racism at LSHTM. Here are the highlights:
Presentation at the Global Health Lecture Series
The big news this week was the ¡dynamite! lecture given by Emilie Koum Besson for the Global Health Lecture Series, ‘Understanding Black Lives Matter in Higher Education’. Organizers shared with us that it was the best-attended lecture so far, and feedback was unanimously positive, so a huge shout out to Emilie for her excellent and well-researched explanation about academia’s role in perpetuating white supremacy and for the compelling case she makes for anti-racism in this space. See the recorded lecture here, and check out the bibliography and the slides on our website here and the LSHTM Intranet.
Some reading to continue this conversation:
Gender and Anti-Blackness in universities by Awino Okech
Seven things organizations should be doing to combat racism by Esther Choo
Fighting Racism in School of Public Health by Wandschneider and al.
Black People, Racism & Human Rights report ordered by the House of Commons and House of Lords and published on November 4th 2020
Meeting to discuss handling of racial bias incidents
After the student-reported racial bias incident last month, BLM met with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to discuss, among other things, the School’s management of racial bias incidents. Overall, we shared that it was important to separate the idea of ‘being a racist’ versus ‘doing something racist’, and recommended working together towards a model that will allow these incidents to be turned into teachable moments for both students and teachers, so that all of us can learn better how to overcome these “impasses”. Other groups will be included in the conversation and feel free to email us if you have ideas.
How to tell someone they sound racist For a 3-minute tutorial on how to have these tricky conversations, check out Jay Smooth’s classic (can a 2008 YouTube video be a classic?) lesson on how to call someone out for their racism without making it personal.
Head of department commitment to BLM and DGH activities
On 4 November, the Department of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology (IDE) held a department-wide meeting on Black Lives Matter and Decolonizing Global Health. The Heads of Department were fully committed to digging into these issues, with participants reading key articles ahead of time and taking part in small group discussions about how IDE can make positive contributions to decolonization in its work. As an example, the MRC Tropical Epidemiology Group decided to change their name to MRC International Statistics and Epidemiology Group. Find out why here.
In addition to expressing a strong expectation that all department members attend, IDE also shared the experience with other Heads of Department, who were overall very receptive to following this positive example. Similar events will continue to be held on these topics at the School, with the Public Health, Environments and Science (PHES) Department on November 12th. Contact your Head of Department and us if you would like help to organize something similar in your department.
Staff member letter to Council
In another example of LSHTM community members using their influence and voice to fight for racial justice at LSHTM, a group of staff members have penned a letter to Council, calling out their and the SLT’s inaction despite months of pressure for real change at the School. The letter cites the need for launching an external review within weeks, rather than following months of tortuous deliberation and delay.
Toolkit parts 2 & 3
On 27 October, we released parts 2 & 3 of our anti-racism toolkit, Our Values, which lays out Black Lives Matter-LSHTM’s approach to both anti-racism and diversity & inclusion at LSHTM. The toolkit also collates a number of initiatives from other universities that LSHTM can learn from. Finally, we reiterate our case for a rigorous external review of these issues at the School - something we have been pushing for since June 2020. And even though there is still (!) no concrete plan for this review, we are getting closer. Just a little more pressure ...
On the agenda
December 2020: We were really pleased at all the interest shown by students during the Global Health lecture on drilling deep down into the subconscious assumptions that researchers can fall into when designing studies that involve racially minoritized participants. So, in the next few weeks we will be ramping up our work inviting MSc students to work with us on assessing their approach to these subjects for their summer research project. We’ll let you know more details as we work them out!
3 December 2020: Black Lives Matter-LSHTM will give a presentation to the Finance Department, using some key themes from the Global Health Lecture Series webinar and applying these to LSHTM.